Monday, January 24, 2011

Thombeau's Weekly, 1936

Reading Thombeau's Weekly while on the beach in Cape Cod was one of mother's favorite pastimes because it made Rose Kennedy nuts.  Of course, Mother loved the articles, but it was the way that its editor framed his opinion pieces that drove Eunice and Jack's mother crazy.  Everything was logically free-form and Mrs. Kennedy couldn't wrap her mind around that.

"You know that when the children were young, I would set up a bulletin board with little articles of the day on the wall of the nursery," Rose would begin to blather on hoping Mother would take the chit-chat bait. 

"That's nice," Mother would reply, riveted to an article on how Gloria Swanson taught Joe Kennedy to be a cunning linguist.  "Really nice." Of course you would only get that type of information in Thombeau's, sandwiched in between pictures of the latest in honor guards wearing avant guard uniforms and recipes for rattlesnake stuffed filets.   

And who can forget those crossword puzzles!  Each puzzle was really hard - "MOMA and Dada" required that you knew the names of the mothers of the founders the Dadaist movement. Now that was one for the records - and if you were clueless enough to think that the puzzle was about baby talk, well, you missed that boat. 

But if you completed the puzzles and found the code, and solved that insiders puzzle, then fabulous things could happen in your life. 

The puzzle father completed (Bead's, Bangle's and Bible's) gave him the password to get into San Simeon for the weekend.  And even then he had to show it to Hearst's butler to prove he had actually completed the puzzle in ink just to get in the door.  But it was worth it; it's how I ended up with Cary Grant and Randolf Scott as my God parents.

An eclectic mix of articles, images and probing questions, it's daring expose "Your Manicurist, Friend or Fiend?" shocked California.    It was a guaranteed seller at the newsstands - even housewives in Azusa and El Cerito kept it in the house because it made them feel as if they had arrived.  Isn't that charming?

Of course Jackie made sure every room at the White House had the latest issue of Thombeau's on hand.  Rose bore a stiff upper lip.  She didn't get it, or the allure of Oleg Cassini (which Thombeau's reported on, in depth) and she "missed the only magazine that (she) could evah love," the long defunct Woman's Home Companion, Damn it!

It was daring, and it wasn't for everybody - and if it were, well then, it wasn't Thombeau's.  And simply put, if you didn't get Thombeau's Weekly magazine, then you would never get Thombeau's Weekly.  Savvy?


  1. LOL!!! You are so insane and I love you!!!

  2. Thom, make sure your nails are dry before you open that fan mail.

  3. why i would never subscribe to such rubbish!
    of course, you can always send it for free.

  4. Well evidently you did because it has your number on it!

  5. I heard that there were secret houseboy centerfolds for the original first 25 subscribers, but these issues have never surfaced.

  6. And who would have thought that the shy, awkward girl who ghosted Peenee's society column in Thombeau's Weekly would leave such a plum assignment a year after this edition appeared to make a name for herself over at Harper's Bazaar. That Vreeland girl shocked us all.