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Friday, August 22, 2014

A Richer Life: The Image of the American Dream in 1950

General Motors and the American Dream

At the center of a small town people pass each other on the street, stopping to chat, kids show off their new toys to their friends, packages tucked under their arms, boxes wrapped in brown paper.  At the supermarket the special is Rib Roast.  Across the intersection at the appliance shop you can see a great white Frigidaire refrigerator displayed in the window.  It is not a hot day; jackets are worn by all save a few ladies and children who grabbed a sweater that morning.  But the sun is shining on the green hills outside of town.

It is a perfect day.

I forgot to mention the traffic.  There are cars scattered around the intersection.  A big dark Buick Eight has the right of way as it passes the post office.  There are a few GMC pickups parked at the grocery store.  A Pontiac or two, a few Chevys and Oldsmobiles.  A Cadillac.  What you won't see is a Ford or a Mercury.  No Hudson, no Studebaker.  Not in this town.  Not a chance.

You see, this town was designed and created by General Motors.  The town isn't real.  It's just an image that is printed in brilliant color for magazine readers to enjoy.  To look over.  To imagine that their lives could be a little better, a little richer, a lot more like the American Dream.

Because when you buy a car from the General Motors family, you're getting a "key to a richer life".  After all, their motto is "More and Better Things for More People".  You can't argue with that.

Let's let the GM PR department give us their own take on the small town life.:

This is Main Street, U.S.A.  It is unlike any other Main Street anywhere else in the world.

It is rich in contentment and well-being.  It bustles with hearty and wholesome activity.  And as you see and know firsthand, it revolves very largely around the family car.

Along every Main Street in America, General Motors cars are a familiar and trusted part of the rich, full life Americans know.  And this is so, very largely, because General Motors men have never ceased trying to improve on their best, have never flagged in their zeal to build better cars each year than they built the year before.

Because of their practiced skill in Research, Engineering and Production, the key to a General Motors car is recognized today as the key to greater value.  It is perhaps not too much to say that it is likewise the key to a rich and satisfying life.

It is, perhaps, too much to say.  But they said it anyway.

I love these old illustrations.  I can't find the name of the artist who did this great scene.  If anyone out there knows it let me know.  I'm also intrigued by the very small print which says "Hear Henry J. Taylor on the air every Monday evening over the ABC Network, coast to coast."  I could Google his name, but I wanted to see if any of you readers know who he was.

So enjoy the rest of the day here in General Motors land.  As you can see, it's just the right sort of day to take your toy airplane along on a trip downtown.  After all, your dad bought a GM car, and that means your life will be better and even a little richer.

Well, at least that's what they said back in 1950.

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