Literary Digest Lampoon (Harvard Lampoon) - April 15, 1925 (64 pages)

This is the first full-blown magazine parody by the zanies in Cambridge.  I don't know about you, but I just cannot get enough Calvin Coolidge jokes.  Did you know that Coolidge donated $3.86 to repair "The Cathedral of St. Archibald The Agnostic?"  Well, it's right there on page 187 on the list with Margaret Sanger, W.R. Hearst, Jack Dempsey and Gutzon Borglum (who donated two million dollars in Confederate bank notes).

Apparently, The Literary Digest (1890-1938) was a highly-respected weekly public opinion magazine of the day.  The Harvard Lampoon parody was not well-received by the editors of the original.  It was their loss.  The humor was obvious and, although somewhat dated, much of it is still funny today.

The cover is a great parody of the painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" - "by Loiter".  George is wearing a top hat and is carrying a small hatchet.  His boat-mates are seen attacking a shark, netting a floating bottle, feeding a polar bear, throwing a snowball, and reading a newspaper.  The boat is "McConkey's Ferry" delivering ice.  There is also a sign in the Delaware River ice: "Welcome to Trenton - Board of Trade."

Throughout the issue, Lampoon writers quote fictional writers of fictional newspapers.  Examples are: "Turkey in The Straw", "Fly in The Ointment" and "Warden in the Ohio State Penitentiary".  Many of the quotes accompany some of the 14 excellent political cartoon parodies - many with Coolidge in the middle.  There are also four full-page ad parodies: "The Fairly Good Backard" (parody of Packard), "Wurtilizer - the 'P' - ano for the 'P' - ticular",  "Holeproof Hosiery" and "Kelly Balloons" (tires).

Silly, clever and non-sequitur humor notwithstanding, there is evidence of elitism (and racism) with stereotypical references to Jewish people and "culluhds".  Some of the "real" advertisements are also telling.  There is a two-page ad for something named "Valeteria" - "the new way of pressing that shapes your clothes."  It appears that the well-dressed (and well-healed) Harvard man could purchase a suit-pressing contract for $18 per week ($15 if booked by spring).  There is also a full-color, back-cover ad for "Arrow Collars" for that "desirable air of dignity and refinement." 

While this publication is certainly not the best of Harvard Lampoon, it was an excellent poke-in-the-eye for the stuffy set in 1925. [JAM 8/14/2009]

Front Cover - Washington Crossing the Delaware (parody)
160 Backard (ad parody)
162 Table of Contents
168 Harvard Lampoon Board of Editors
170 Wurtilizer (ad parody - drawing by Robert C. Roebling)
171 Topics of Decay (drawings by Roebling)
176 Forlorn Comment
180 Silence and Prevention
183 Lesseners of Art
186 Religion and Squash Service
192 Current Poetry
193 Cartoon by J. Williamson
194 Holeproof Hosiery (ad parody -drawing by Ernest Skierry)
195 Personal Glimpses (drawing by F.B. Hayne)
200 Sports and Athletics
208 Investments & Finance
212 The Lexicographer's Easy Chair
217 The Spice of Life
Back Cover - Arrow Collars (real ad)