0ne of my favorite possessions, which I picked up a few years ago at a flea market, is a copy of the December 21, 1942, issue of Lift. At $1.00, it cost me ten times what it would have cost my mother, who graduated from high school that year, or my father, who was soon to enlist in the Navy. Recently, as my generation has begun to face the possibility of a peacetime draft registration that would include both sexes, I have found that my issue of Lift, once no more than a period piece, has gained a timely poignance. In its portrayal of a nation obsessed with war, and with the roles men and women should play in war, it suggests a number of disturbing comparisons with our present situation.
The sacrifices necessary to war pervade not only most of the articles but many of the advertisements in Life's 1942 Christmas issue. "Please don't call long distance this Christmas!" Bell Telephone requests. "It may be the 'holiday season'—but war needs the wires." An ad for the United States Rubber Company portrays a young mother explaining to her infant son that his father has been lent to his country "so that in the years to come, young mothers everywhere . . . will be able to say 'Merry Christmas' to their sons." The magazine's cover story, "Lonely Wife," is a photo‑essay whose text offers advice to wives of servicemen. Move into a smaller place, but make sure "your husband is the master when he returns on furlough." Take an evening course in camouflage. "Volunteer work is another good outlet." The males who remain at home are "wolves" to be kept "at bay"; in one photograph pretty Joan, the Lonely Wife, enterprisingly keeps a potential wolf's hands occupied by having him help wind her knitting yarn. Another photo, of five women playing cards, is captioned: "Company of other women, of little interest when husbands are around, is now appreciated by Joan." She is last pictured in church kneeling in solitary prayer before a war shrine, beseeching the Lord "to take into thine own hand both him and the cause wherein his country sends him."