Time out of joint

While visiting the gymnasium the other night, my companion picked up a Time magazine to skim while trudging on one of the infernal machines. The news was a bit dated: The issue had hit the street on January 15. Most of the pages were given over to the global war that we find ourselves in and its effects on the media, the labor force, the commodities market, etc. That old war hero McCain, for instance, was issuing yet more proclamations on how we could still win the fight.

While most of the news related to whom we're attacking these days, the publisher's note in the front of the edition boasted more cheerfully about Time's global reach: "Time has come to be...a truly international magazine (now that we are publishing special editions on every continent except Antarctica)." The ads, though, appealed to bedrock native values. Even healthy, square-jawed men drink milk! And, naturally, those men will want to drive a healthy, square-jawed new truck from Ford or Dodge!

The People page was filled with tales of minor mischief. A candidate for the governorship of Massachusetts had received campaign donations that were later found to be counterfeit pesos. Ah, dirty money and corruptible pols! A famously left-leaning Hollywood actor/director, while "laid up in his Hollywood home with cuts in his left ankle after kicking in a glass door because he had lost his keys, heard that the paternity suit filed against him by Joan Berry had ended in a mistrial." Ah, celebrities and their funny "accidents"!

Elsewhere on the People page, my companion G. noticed a local feel-good story that somehow had eluded the watchful eyes of C.J. and the sweeps producers at the television fun factories. Major Richard Ira Bong would be returning from overseas combat to wed his fiancee, Marge Vattendahl of Superior, Wisc. The nuptials were scheduled for February 10. The stiffly staged photo found the happy couple posing on a homey-looking staircase. Major Bong stood a few steps up, leaving the distinct impression that Miss Vattendahl is a good half-a-head taller than her future hubby.

The warrior's physical stature aside, Major Bong's name sounded familiar to me. And when I asked why that should be the case, G. informed me that there's already a bridge dedicated to him in Duluth--the Bong Bridge.

Before I'd had time to snigger about that, as numberless teens surely have and surely will, my companion recited some disturbing news. Buried in a few paragraphs near the back of the book, Time claimed that America's enemies are believed to be developing chemical and biological weapons to be tested on Jews. The report began, "it has been rumored," and the description that followed almost beggared the imagination in the magnitude of its evil.

Finished with her stab at physical fitness, G. handed off the magazine. Something here was out of joint, I thought, glancing at the illustration of one of our fighting men, framed by Time's trademark red border. The magazine, it turned out, had been at the gym for a while. The newsstand date was January 15, 1945.

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