Wandering Thoughts

I heard Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition last night, and a convoluted trail of thoughts led me to Baba Yaga,  Jack and Jill magazine, Lloyd Alexander, and the first time I tried to buy a book by myself.

My mother subscribed to Jack and Jill magazine for me when I was a child in the 1960’s.  I was fascinated by the stories in the magazine about Baba Yaga, the Russian witch who flew around in a mortar and pestle, and who lived in a hut on chicken legs. Mussorgsky portrays the witch sailing fiendishly through the air in her mortar, and  the hut walking around just like I imagine such a hut to walk.

There was no book store in my home town, and Sioux Falls didn’t get one until I was a teenager.  My mom always let me buy books at school from Scholastic, Services and I took out as many books as I was allowed  from the public and school libraries.  I discovered a wonderful book series by Lloyd Alexander called The Prydain Chronicles one summer in the public library when I was in Grade 4. The stories are based on Welsh myth, and I was disappointed to find that the library was missing one book in the series.  The librarian told  me that she had no intention purchasing  it, either.  Without telling my mom, I found the name and address of the publisher (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston) from inside one of the books in the series that the library had, hand wrote a letter in my horrible handwriting asking about the price of the book, addressed and stamped the envelope, and mailed it off.  A couple of weeks later I received a very nice reply kindly letting me know the price, which was more money than I had at the time, and thanking me for my inquiry.  I dropped my search, and finally found the missing book a couple of years later in the book store that opened up in the first mall in Sioux Falls.

My love for Jack and Jill magazine prompted me to subscribe to it as well as Cricket magazine  for my son and daughter. We found Baba Yaga stories in Cricket, too.  Imagine my delight when I saw that Lloyd Alexander was one of the editors of Cricket. Both children loved The Prydain Chronicles, as well as other stories by Lloyd Alexander. Funny where listening to Mussorgsky will take you.

What magazines did your family subscribe to?

52 thoughts on “Wandering Thoughts”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    McCalls (paper dolls in it!)
    Life –photos
    Good Housekeeping
    Highlights for kids (I loved the feature “find the hidden objects”
    Ranger Rick

    I just loved getting magazines as a child.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Mussgorgsky was a 19th century Russian composer whe wrote a piece called Pictures at an Exhibition after seeing an exhibit of paintings. Each section of the piece corresponds to a painting in the exhibit.


  2. i didn’t know about your witch in a mortar and pestle but mussorgsky and pictures at an exhibition has been a fave for years

    my house is magaxine free today as far as subscription goes but growing up was magazine heavy

    life, look, time, newsweek, sports illustrated, vogue, harpers, mccall national geographic, mad,architectural digest, psychology today, scientific america, art news, new yorker and many foodie mags were on the coffee table in stacks st my moms house as i grew up i realized as a young man that 12 dollars a year could bring hugh hefners bunny of the month to my testerone filled mailbox as well as the wholesome stuff i subscribed to . often 15-20 mags a month
    i am a esquire and harpers bizarre fan these days but in reality online exposure takes care of 99% of my magazine curiosity
    krista tippets on being site with blog and side bar stuff compliment her weekly podcast/ radio show
    brain pickings and other regular tweaks keep me synapsing away


    1. Next time you listen to Pictures, pay attention to the music just before the Great Gate of Kiev. Baba Yaga and the hut on chicken legs are just before the Great Gate, which is at the very end.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I believe that Anna and I have both taught Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in the Minneapolis kids art program. When I taught it I was doing third grade and the teacher wasn’t in the room for about 5 minutes so I actually let the kids get up from their chairs and desks and kind of stomp around and pretend to be the Hut on chickens legs. It was hysterical!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I subscribed to Ranger Rick and Stone Soup for my kids for a while.

    Growing up – drum roll…Dairy Goat Journal and Friends Journal. Not exactly thrilling reading for a kid.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My parents grew up in working class homes. Their parents struggled to put food on the table during the Great Depression. Magazines were were unthinkably luxurious. My mother was ashamed of her lower middle class taste, assuming that others could tell she was badly educated.

    Later my mother subscribed to Better Homes and Gardens and House Beautiful. There were cooking articles in her magazines, but she ignored them and keyed in on stories about home improvement. I grew up eating common food served in uncommonly pretty homes.

    As a kid I sometimes saw Boy’s Life or the Weekly Reader. The magazines I read were primarily Sports Afield and Outdoor Life. I especially admired the writing of a Field & Stream columnist whose folksy style concealed the working of an organized and precise mind. Decades later, when editing and writing outdoor articles, I used a colloquial style that disguised its underlying organization in much the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I forgot about Highlights. We got that, too, as well as Life and Look. Husband says they got Ladies Home Journal, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Readers Digest and Sports Illustrated. Many of my relatives got Farm Journal.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There seemed to be a lot of magazines in the house while I was growing up but can only remember McCall’s (thanks for the reminder about the paper dolls, Jacque) and Reader’s Digest for sure, maybe Good Housekeeping and/or Family Circle. As a young teenager, I read Teen and Tiger Beat but I think I bought them at the store instead of subscribing. I subscribed to Newsweek for a long time before they went digital. The only one I subscribe to now is National Geographic.

    Off to the North Shore (Grand Marais area) for the rest of the week……….

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Like Jacque, I remember the Betsy McCall paper dolls. I may still have an envelope of them stashed away in a closet.

    My mother got pretty much all of the ladies’ magazines of the day. Besides McCalls, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal, Family Circle, and Woman’s Day, there was Redbook, which had short stories. Most of those magazines are still around, and I like to look through them in the doctors’ and dentists’ offices. Now they are less about making crafts and sewing your own curtains, and more about what kind of gadgets and clothes you can order online. They are also very focused on food. They must just use the same recipes over and over; there’s usually at least ten recipes in every issue.


    1. You might be surprised at how dated recipes can be. A good cook can often look at a recipe and know it is from the 1960s or 1980s or whatever.

      In terms of copyright law, people have told me you have to change the identity or amount of four ingredients. I’ve never heard of anyone trying to enforce that. And in the age of the internet, it seems inconceivable that anyone would try to protect a recipe from being copied or slightly altered.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, how could I forget the Lutheran Standard! I started suscribing to the New Yorker when I was in Grade 7 or 8. We still do. The Lutheran Standard is now called Living Lutheran, I believe. We also got the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, and the weekly Rock County Star Herald.

    My dad was investigated by the FBI once in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s as a potential perpetrator of a pipe bomb explosion somewhere in our southwest region, since he was one of very few people in our region who subcribed to the Metro edition of the Strib. The pipe bomb was wrapped in the newspaper. They ruled him out as a suspect.


  9. I don’t remember magazines growing up, but the first magazine I subscribed to was Nature when I was in 8th grade. When I finally was stable enough to have an address to receive magazines, I went crazy. Finally got myself down to just a couple…and don’t donate to organizations that send magazines but don’t give the option to decline. Too much paper, too many piles. So now I subscribe to online issues of New Yorker and The Atlantic.


  10. We got Jack and Jill for a while, too, Renee – I loved when it came in the mail. For Joel we had Ranger Rick, and maybe Cricket for a while.

    My folks may have received Readers Digest, but rather than subscribe Mom would pick up at the checkout many of the women’s magazines mentioned above. Dad may have gotten “trade journals” having to do with guidance counseling…

    When visiting my grandparents, I remember Grandpa reading one called Coronet – maybe like Readers Digest – same size… Funny what you remember.


  11. Hi-
    What an interesting question; some days you make my brain work hard on these.

    We got a lot of farm magazines; Farm Journal, Hoards Dairyman, Successful Farmer, The Farmer, The Furrow (John Deere magazine), one from the dairy that I can’t remember the name of the magazine.
    And yep, Readers Digest.
    Up in the hayloft, off in a corner of the roof overhang, was a shredded, torn, copy of ‘Life’ from the ’50’s. I was always fascinated that was up there. Why?? You could only get too it when the hay level in the barn was not too high and not too low. And it’s not like it was a copy of National Geographic with pictures of topless Native women…

    In school I too did the Scholastic book fair and the order form. I think the magazine was ‘Dynomite!’; I would always order that.
    I bought Dennis the Menace comic books, but not the flimsy ones, the thicker ‘Pocket Full of Fun’ versions. I think I had all the editions, 1 – 21 or something. I’ll have to go look for them. After about the first 10 editions, they got thinner…

    In high school I started getting a science fiction magazine; I remember getting a copy of the first edition because everyone said it would be a collectable… can’t remember the name; seems like it had something to do with Issac Asimov?? Anyone know what I’m talking about??

    OMNI! That’s what it was… will have to look that up…


    1. A friend of mine from church got Mad, and I too felt like I was really getting away with something when we would look at them (this was before I knew about Playboy…) I still love to pick it up at a newsstand and see what they’re up to. Love the “Scenes We’d Like to See” section…


  12. Nothing in my house growing up that you would call literary or incisive social commentary. As I recall, my parents subscribed to Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle, Reader’s Digest and, for a while, National Geographic. I had a subscription to Mad magazine and, when I was a boy scout, Boy’s Life. When I was about 12, I subscribed to Popular Electronics, which came with plans for building all sorts of cunning apparatus.
    When we were first married and for several years thereafter, Robin and I received Mother Earth News and saved them in bundles, expecting that they would come in handy when we were self sufficient, off the grid and rural.
    For a year or two, I had a subscription to Granta, an excellent magazine, but I couldn’t keep up. And that’s where we are today. We subscribe to something from time to time but for the most part they pile up unread. That seems counterintuitive considering how much reading goes on at our house, but experience has shown it to be the case.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My family didn’t subscribe to magazines as my sister and I were growing up but did buy the occasional magazine from a newsstand. Reader’s Digest for my mother and Anders And (the Donald Duck Magazine) for my sister and me.

    We didn’t subscribe to a daily newspaper either, but when dad was ashore, he’d purchase one at the newsstand every morning. I was keenly aware, and embarrassed, that the newspaper he bought was a tabloid rather than a respectable “regular” newspaper.

    Over the years in the US I’ve subscribed to a lot of different magazines, everything from The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian, and Psychology Today to Dirty Linen, Rolling Stone, and assorted cooking magazines. I was an early subscriber to Ms. Magazine, Utne Reader, Omni, and Granta (which I don’t really think of as a magazine). The only printed magazine I subscribe to these days is The Sun. I keep getting the AARP magazine despite the fact that we haven’t been members for years. Then there’s the publication that Costco sends out regularly. I subscribe to the digital versions of The New York Times, Washington Post, and reluctantly, to the Pioneer Press. I miss my daily printed version of the latter, but their delivery service was intolerable, and no matter how much I complained, they couldn’t fix it. Like tim I also get an assortment of regular newsletters on line.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Like Steve’s family we didn’t have many magazines when I was very young. Those were a luxury. But we did always have National Geographic and when I was a kid my folks splurged for Highlights magazine for kids. That was fun. When I got a little older my dad added Scientific American and Smithsonian and Nature to the mix. My mother was never a magazine kind of woman. I always love going up to my great-aunt’s cabin in the summer because she had the McCalls and she would always let me cut out the paper dolls. When Young Adult was a child we had quite a few magazines here most of which have already been mentioned but Ranger Rick and the National Geographic Junior were some of her favorites. I also went through a phase where I had some adoption magazines all of which I let go and Mental Floss which has now gone out of print. I still get National Geographic and Scientific American.


  15. I still get The Farmer (because it’s free) and The Furrow (free) and now a bunch of lighting / theater magazines (free) like PLSN, FOH, Lighting And Sound American and Stage Directions.
    I pay for Smithsonian and Air and Space.
    I highly recommend Smithsonian; there is so much interesting stuff in there every month.

    We used to get Newsweek, then switched to ‘The Week’, which we liked. But that’s kind of expensive too and I’ve let that go too.
    Kelly reads more things online than I do.

    Our Rochester paper is more ads than news. And I think it’s overpriced. So I often buy the Star Tribune. I’d subscribe to that but they don’t do residential delivery weekdays down here.


  16. These days I just subscribe to Big River, and I succumbed to Cottage Journal, which I’m sorry about – hardly anything in there has anything to do with my cottage. I let The Sun lapse until I catch up – I do that periodically, but will join up again at some point. Then there are those that come because we have AAA, or have donated…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. When Real Simple first came out, I bought a subscription. Regretted it with the very first issue. Nothing real simple about anything in, and more ads than you could shake a stick at.

    OT – a book recommendation. I’ve just finished an exquisite memoir by an Australian woman by the name of Cory Taylor. It’s called “Dying,” and that’s what it’s about. She wrote this book at a frantic pace during her last months of life. I LOVED this book. Not at all depressing or in any way minimizing the process of death. It’s a remarkable book, and I highly recommend it. The author died a couple of months after the book was published (about a year ago.)

    Liked by 2 people

  18. OT – I know we have several baboons who like to sing. Just want to make sure they know of this opportunity coming up on Sunday:
    “Attention, singers of all abilities: we’re partnering with VocalEssence for a community singing event to help celebrate the State Capitol grand opening! Check it out at http://bit.ly/2seGMNX, and don’t forget to share with your friends!”

    Liked by 1 person

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