Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, December 5, 2011

11 Depressing and Hilarious Guideposts Covers

Posted By on Mon, Dec 5, 2011 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_guideposts_covers_amy_grant.jpg

Each Friday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from Golden State basements, thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

A heap of old Guideposts

Date: 70s through the 90s

Publisher: Ruth Stafford Peale and Norman Vincent Peale

This Cover Says: "Amy Grant: The First Story in Our Series on Loneliness"

Actual Guideposts Article Titles: "The April Fool Chickens" (April, 1985); "My Back Seat Victory" (June 1973); "What Happens When Love Fails" and "Attacked By Killer Bees!" (July, 1995); "How to Say Nay to Nagging" (April, 1986); "Bob Hope: Ambassador of Love and Laughter" (January, 1980); "The Secret of Mama's Mattress" (February, 1973); "I Always Wanted Curly Hair" (February, 1985)

Like a stiff Shirley Temple after a long day's toil, Norman Vincent Peale's Guideposts magazine takes the edge off American life through dogged wholesomeness. For 67 years, now, the monthly pamphlet has soften life's sharp edges with a layer of ecumenical Nerf. In the 1973 story "How to Handle a Lousy Job," about grinding through days filling up pricey cars at a service station, the narrator concludes, vaguely, that "I've got a lot going for me, thanks to God. And to me life is just wonderful."

The idea that it's better to smile your way through hardship rather than, say, demand social change is Guidepost's hallmark. I use "hallmark" advisedly. Next to Guideposts, Hallmark is the the province of whores and God-haters.

Anyway, as most of us enter the eleventeenth year of the Reagan depression, most Americans could use a little of that Guideposts spirit, which reminds us each month that our biggest problem isn't that life is brutish and unfair. Instead, it's that we fail to be as upbeat about that brutishness as the people in Guideposts.

Your Crap Archivist recently lucked into a pile of back issues. Here's the highlights, starting with the covers.

Sometimes, the optimism doesn't outweigh the reality:

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_guideposts_covers_norma.jpg

And sometimes, even the triumphs look a little sad.


Guideposts occasionally indulged in a sexy tease cover.

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_guideposts_covers_teens.jpg

How do you think that young lady in the top left felt when she found out she was on the cover with the dog strangler and the jaunty bugler?

A question in a headline is a good way to spark readers' curiosity.

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_guideposts_covers_christmas_tree.jpg

For the solution to that mystery, you'll have to track down the issue. But I'll tell you what the answer isn't: Evolution.

Surprisingly, the editors haven't been above base humor:

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_guideposts_covers_wind.jpg

Here's an article in a similar vein:

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_guideposts_pages_noise_detail.jpg


Some of the people on the cover of Guideposts look as if they wish they were anyplace else:

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_guideposts_cover_lillian_carter.jpg

This was the most intimate look yet Americans had enjoyed of the president's mother's ceiling.

And some people on the cover of Guideposts seem to have been photo-sniped in the grocery-store parking lot:

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_guideposts_covers_shirley.jpg

Once, they even ran a photo of a man being citizen's arrested by a whale.

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_guideposts_covers_shamu.jpg

Next: Celebrities! And the slow gains of women in society!

  • Pin It

Tags: , ,

About The Author

Alan Scherstuhl


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"