Johnson-Smith Novelty Company, 1940
Johnson-Smith has been supplying a wide range of strange items for over 100 years, and this catalog, printed the year before the USA’ entry into World War II, must be some sort of high-water mark in the breadth of their offerings — a sort of Wish Book of novelties running to over 600 pages. Browsing through, it seems like nothing ever went out of stock, with brand new items placed next to hoary novelties that were probably first pictured in their original catalog 26 years earlier.
There’s a really interesting juxtaposition on these two adjacent pages near the back of the book. On the left page, men and women can learn to dance, because “Really good dancers are welcome almost everywhere.” You choose the style – you can be classic and elegant, modern as the jitterbug, a tap dancing fool (“Hostesses love it!”), or you can buy a Hula skirt and dance Hawaiian style. Because, as the old song put it, “the best things happen while you’re dancing.”
But if your partner won’t dance, then you could try hypnotizing them and convincing them to foxtrot through the power of suggestion. That’s what the fellow on the right-hand page seems to be attempting…well, maybe. Teenage boys might have other ideas for Hypnotic Suggestions.
In any case, he might have better luck if the girl wasn’t avoiding his glance. 128 pages of information for just 39 cents – such a bargain.