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World of Tomorrow
As viewed from yesterday
Chances are I would never have found Old Florida Book Shop if it hadn’t popped up as a — wait for it — advertisement on Instagram! I don’t know what’s more ironic, that or the fact that five minutes later I had already texted a friend and asked if she’d like to go there. Well, we did go there, and so did the other hundred local Instagrammers who also had seen the same post pop up on their screens. The place is like stepping into Harry Potter or something pre-internet.
The Old Florida Book Shop is tiny and spreads out vertically rather than horizontally. It’s a beautiful place, and anyone who wants to step into a time machine that takes you back to ca. 1939 (or whatever year you want as long as they had the printing press) should go here. It cleanses your brain and realigns your senses when you look at shelf upon shelf of paper books.
My friend and I squeezed ourselves into the narrow spaces between people and thousands of old books, and began exploring. A quiet hum permeated the place. A cat slept on the old ornate table that acted as a pedestal for the cash register. A gigantic old leather book as big as a dining chair stood high above us on a tall book shelf. It looked like a book from Hellraiser, but we learned it was instead filled with Gregorian chants.
I spotted a stack of old magazines and figured you might get a kick out of seeing a few pages out of New York Times special commemorative issue for the New York World’s Fair from March 5, 1939, that I brought home with me.
The first thing that strikes me is the color! “Whaddaya know!! They had color printing!” Of course they did, and it looks glorious. Look at the blue. Stunning.
Being Old Hollywood fanatics, we are in this household especially fond of the year 1939. Holding a magazine from this year was quite something! I didn’t open it until I came home, and to be completely honest; this magazine was a gift for my husband. I knew he would get a kick out of it.
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Why can’t advertisement in the year 2023 be like this? The bold choice of the empty blue mysterious sky being pierced by the modern marvel - the aeroplane!
Onto the table of contents. Do you recognize any names? You should.
Imagine, you’re reading this magazine in March, 1939, and you see this piece by H. G. Wells. The World of Tomorrow — skim through his visions and take in the illustration.
The reoccurring theme is “man” and “woman” - we humans. Gosh how refreshing!
Power in the service of who? Of man. Of mankind. Of us humans. Nota bene.
Above is one of my favorite illustrations from the magazine. It reminds me of something from Logan’s Run, doesn’t it? Around this page I always lose my voice. Literally. I am highly allergic to this old magazine and whatever particles drift from it and into my lungs. My eyes begin to dry up and I sound like I have worked in a chalk quarry for seven days without water. But let’s press on!
And then… “Conqueror of Time and Space Communications” — I mean, you can be the most cynical puddle stomper but you cannot avoid thinking of where we are now. Where all this funneled into. The now. This image looks so… accurate.
To quote a line from my favorite 1939 movie, The Women.
Finland! The peaceful corner of Europe. Eight months later Finland was invaded by Russia…
How much does a magazine like this cost, you ask? I paid $20 for this copy which is in good shape. And five minutes ago I saw a copy on eBay for $355 and another one for $12.99. But it doesn’t matter. What matter is the peculiar feeling of time. It hit me as some kind of temporal Santa Ana winds that leave me feeling wistful. I stand in the tomorrow holding the brittle pages of yesterday.
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