Readers Digest, May 1961—Part 1

Why am I live-blogging a 46-year-old copy of Reader’s Digest? For the long answer, see the previous post. The short answer? “Because nobody has any danged historical perspective anymore.” Besides, the niche is wide open. I pretty much own the old-Reader’s-Digest-live-blogging position. So here goes.

When this copy of Reader’s Digest (“Articles of Lasting Interest” it says on the cover) hit the grocery store check out lanes in April of 1961, I was not yet 18 months old.  JFK had taken the oath of office only a few months earlier. The first ever airing of a Beatles song on American radio was still almost two years away.

Essentially, it was still the ’50s. What we think of as the ’60s wouldn’t really begin until the Kennedy assassination in the Autumn of ’63.

On page 29 we find a full-page color ad for the new Chevy Corvair Monza.


Note that the car comes equipped “with a de luxe steering wheel.” I wonder when deluxe quit being two words? Broken up like that, the modifier looks French.  

The Corvair was a very cool and innovative car design that was ultimately killed by a publicity-grubbing, fear-mongering Ralph Nader. The murder weapon was his book, Unsafe at Any Speed. Years after the Corvair had been discontinued due to plummeting sales, tests by the NHTSA and several car magazines demonstrated that a lot of Nader’s accusations against the Corvair were bogus.

Nader, Unhinged in Any Era.