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Entries in disposable clothes (5)

Wednesday
Sep232009

Victor Cohn (1919-2000)

The prophets of misery and robotism too often focus their sights on the cocktail party instead of the school. They describe the life of past generations in nostalgic terms, but do not really compare the lives of average housewives or factory workers today with the lives of their grandparents and with the drudgery, ignorance and poverty that characterized and blackened the past. -- Victor Cohn, 1956

Victor Cohn (undated photo)Victor Cohn was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 14, 1919. He was raised in a lower-middle-class home, the son of Louis Cohn, a traveling salesman born in Chicago and Lillian Cohn, a housewife born in Minneapolis.

Cohn began his career as a journalist at the University of Minnesota's student newspaper, The Daily, where he served as editor from 1940-41. He developed a passion for writing impactful stories that connected emotionally, as well as technically (as he largely wrote about science and health) with readers.

Victor Cohn was an optimist. The kind of optimist who dared say the future had potential, that there was a chance everything could turn out alright. It is an attitude I admire, largely because it's an attitude I so rarely share. The problems facing the world today feel insurmountable in many ways.

According to his son, Jeffrey Cohn, his father's analysis of news about advances in medical science was tremendously insightful. Victor Cohn said that every story fit into one of two categories -- new hope or no hope.

In 1954 Cohn wrote a series of twelve syndicated articles for the Minneapolis Tribune titled 1999: Our Hopeful FutureThe series was expanded into a book in 1956 and follows the Future (with a capital "F") family; John Future, his wife Emily Future, and their children, Timothy, Peter, Susan and Billy Future. The Future family goes about their futuristic business in a world free of the technological obstacles which faced mankind in the primitive 1950s.

Pre-Jetsons and pre-Star Trek, the book serves as a kind of beautiful time capsule in which we imagine a distant and alien world. Disposable clothes, solar and nuclear-powered everything, TV-phones, lightning-fast transportation; the future was looking pretty sweet.

But Cohn was not an unreasonable man. His technologically optimistic book was a vision of hope for a better world, whatever form that took. While studying yesterday's visions of tomorrow it's easy to forget that people of the 20th century were not all wide-eyed rubes who believed the future was pre-destined to be shiny, happy and plastic. 

Such prophets who fail to balance good against bad too often would have us merely shrink from the tools that new decades always bring, and thereby acknowledge defeat in what is admittedly going to be a difficult struggle. A difficult struggle is man's typical state. Reject change, and we will be enslaved by it; others will accept the worst of it and dictate to us. Accept change, and we may control it. We need the voices of our more balanced critics if we are to remember to look inside ourselves, not just crow about our surface achievements. But we need the voices of optimists too if we are to see a vision ahead, if we are to see what we can accomplish. -- Victor Cohn, 1956

Thank you Victor Cohn, for reminding us that we must always be looking forward if we are to build a world where the "prophets of misery" are to be proved wrong.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Tuesday
May272008

A Glimpse Into 2056 (1956)


The March 10, 1956 Ames Daily Tribune (Ames, IA) ran this story about a local play called Futurama 2056. The entire piece appears below.

Food in capsules, clothes you can throw away - these are a few of the features of the future to be seen in the play, "Futurama 2056," which will be presented at the general meeting of the Ames Woman's Club Monday at 2:30 p.m.

 

The play, a comedy fantasy, written by Mrs. George Town, will show two children of the future clad in close-fitting disposable garments and wearing space helmets. These children are being checked out before starting for the Space Drome for exercise classes. Transportation for the trip is the ordinary air pedicycles of the period.

When the study room of the future comes into view, the club committee women will be seen discussing a financial problem of the period.

Mrs. AJ Knudson plays the part of the committee chairman in whose home the play takes place.

Daisy Johnson portrays the Lady in Charge of the Household.

Mrs. W. J. Peer and Mrs. Dean Dickson are delegates with voting power.

Mrs. Joe Lawlor will play a character with flash back tendencies.

Mrs. B. R. Rozeboom, chairman of the Drama workshop, has entered the production in the Play Festival competition. The entire cast plans to present it in Iowa City during the Play Festival period, April 6.


See also:
Closer Than We Think! Throw-Away Clothes (1959)
Disposable Clothes Just Around Corner (1961)
Closer Than We Think! Fat Plants and Meat Beets (1958)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)

 

Wednesday
Jan162008

Bearded Men of the 21st Century (1939)


The February 1, 1939 issue of Vogue ran this photo of the 21st Century man. The caption appears below. The picture can also be found in the book Exit to Tomorrow: World's Fair Architecture, Design, Fashion 1933-2005.

Gilbert Rhode banishes buttons, pockets, collars, ties. The man of the next century will revolt against shaving and wear a beautiful beard, says the designer of boilers, pianos, clocks, and metal furniture. His hat will be an an antennae - snatching radio out of the ether. His socks disposable, his suit minus tie collar and buttons.


See also:
Closer Than We Think! Throw-Away Clothes (1959)
Disposable Clothes Just Around Corner (1961)
Futuristic Hairdo Hit Women Like New Atom Bomb (1948)
Waitress of the Year 2000 (1939)
Fashion Wired for Sound in Year 2000 (1957)

 

Tuesday
Jan082008

Disposable Clothes Just Around Corner (1961)


The October 12, 1961 Evening Capital (Annapolis, Maryland) ran a story titled, "Disposable Clothes Seen Just Around The Corner." Excerpts appear below.

A research laboratory cuts its big laundry bill way down by sending dirty smocks, coveralls, etc., to the garbage pail. A housewife convinces her husband that her new party dress is a good bargain because she'll be able to wear it four times before throwing it away. Vacationers, ready to head home, stuff campsite trash and bedding into pillowcases and throw them into the campfire.

 

Disposable clothes are here - still being tested, but very much alive and kicking.


The article goes on to talk about the American public's issues with waste.

Part of the problem is one of salesmanship. Disposable clothes are still a novelty and command novelty prices. In addition, the American public is still hamstrung by the idea that waste is bad.


See also:
Closer Than We Think! Throw-Away Clothes (1959)
We Are Animals, Says Mr. Edison (1910)
Miss A.D. 2000 (Chicago Tribune, 1952)
Big Laughs Coming (1922)

 

Tuesday
Jun192007

Closer Than We Think! Throw-Away Clothes (1959)


Apparently the ability to throw away your clothes is worthy of more attention than the commuter helicopters everyone's flying around in the future.

This strip ran in the October 25, 1959 Chicago Tribune.

Do your clothes need to be cleaned or washed? Are you tired of the old patterns or colors? In the future, if your answer to any of these questions is yes, you'll simply throw the old clothes away - and maybe kindle a camp fire with them.

Much of tomorrow's wearing apparel may be made out of treated paper, intended for use a few times, then for discard. The Quartermaster Corps is already investigating the use of such processed paper for parachutes, disposable uniforms, pup tents, and other shelters. It wears well, and its insulating qualities make it usable in all kinds of weather.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Closer Than We Think! Monoline Express
Closer Than We Think! Lunar Mailbag (1960)
Closer Than We Think! Polar City (1959)
Closer Than We Think! Fish Bowl Swimming Pool (1958)
Miss A.D. 2000 (Chicago Tribune, 1952)
Envision Odd Styles in 1950 (Hammond Times, 1939)
Commuter Helicopter (1947)