Magazines #3: Boys Life Magazine - Be Popular and Kill Things

Paging through a November 1965 issue of Boys' Life magazine, I was struck by two definite recurring themes: (1) be popular at all costs and (2) "happiness is a warm gun". Article after article and advertisement after advertisement is either about fitting in or firing weaponry.... sometimes both.  It's no wonder these Boomers rebelled and started a peace loving counter-culture!

The caption to the photo at the top of this post reads: "What's the sign of a popular boy? He's outgoing, friendly, fun to be with, building much of his life around others. How do you measure up?"

I wonder how many boys read this and instantly felt like total shit.
In five short years, that same boy would still be making that same stupid grin - except, in 1970, he'd be smoking a big fat doobie and could give a flying shit about greeting others with a smile.

And when young Boomer boys weren't frantically trying to impress others, they were busy blowing away animals.  Field & Stream and American Rifleman don't have as many gun ads combined to equal the number in this Boys' Life.  Okay, most of them are BB guns, but still....

Damn! Even mom is getting in on the action! My parents never let me shoot my BB gun in the house. Did yours?

Click on the comics/gun ads below to view full size.

I guess they weren't as sick minded back then, but when I read the title of this ad, I can't help but chuckle.


  1. Just think of all the cute little critters you can blow away into little bits??? I love the pictures on the ad at the bottom. Yeah, we had a b-b gun and my brother shot at me with it when we were kids to see how many pumps it takes to break the skin. You gotta love big brothers. He must have been reading these papers in the 60s.

  2. We could never shoot in the house, but my mom was the best shot of all of us.

  3. They didn't >let< me shoot in the house, but that didn't stop me from putting a .22 bullet in the dining room wall.

  4. Daisy Air Rifle! You'll put your eye out, Ralphie.

    You don't mention that Boy's Life is a publication of the Boy Scouts. I was a Boy Scout in the 1960's and love this magazine. Boy's Life celebrated the outdoors. Something you didn't see much of in my old city neighborhood. I would have owned that Nov. 1965 issue but for the life of me I don't remember the content. I was 14 years old and probably skipped the article on how to be popular with girls.

  5. What a load of crap. You're a typical post-modern product: insincere, more enlightened-than-thou, smug, judgmental, sanctimonious, smarmy, hypocritical and mocking.

    Having read the Boys Life issue in question on-line, I can say with all honestly that you're either a serial exaggerator or an outright liar.

    That issue has a lot of material on many different subjects. Yet you single out a smattering of ads for different types of guns, an article about bear hunting, an article where hunting is mentioned in passing and a few paragraphs long article about being popular to mock and attack the magazine as a whole. No mention is made in your post about the article talking about the importance of education written by an African-American teacher, (in the segregated 60's no less), the article about slot racers, the ads for scientific equipment, the articles about sports achievements, the mystery story and the informative articles about science, history and literature. The stuff that set you off (ads for guns and the popularity article) account for maybe 1% of the issues content.

    Many of the gun ads are for BB guns. BB guns, not machine guns. Last time I checked, BB guns are not used to "kill things" but for target shooting. Are are you that much of an anti-gun extremist that even BB guns and shooting at targets gets you into a hissy fit frenzy? Second, there is not a damn thing wrong with hunting. That's how we get food, you know. Also, nature is red in tooth and claw. You think all animals just co-exist peacefully in some little enchanted meadow like a cartoon? I hate to tell you this, but animals are constantly hunting and killing each other. It's a basic foundation of nature. Of course a mid-60's mag would have more articles about hunting, fishing and being outdoors, because back then kids actually went outside on occasion. Neither target shooting or hunting is an example of "violence."

    As for the "peace loving counter-culture" garbage, don't make me laugh. The hippies were about as peaceful as Nazis. The only time they were peaceful was when they were too zonked out on weed and animal tranquilizers to do much of anything. When they weren't they were busy inciting riots, blowing up buildings, and robbing and killing either other at unprecedented rates.

    Then again, you might be one of those left-wing cheeseball wussy hypocrites who defend video games where the goal is to shoot prostitutes and rob stores as 'freedom of expression' but wet themselves over the idea of someone killing a deer to feed their family.

    As for the *one* popularity article (not the page after page missives you make the magazine sound like), you completely distort its message. In fact, the article makes a point of stating that you shouldn't "be just a joiner" and that "being popular doesn't mean that you must collect friends the way you do stamps." All the article does is offer some good advice about how you can be more involved in the world and create lasting friendships throughout life. How any sane person can interpret advocating being friendly, courteous, involved in the community and being considerate of others as advocating "popularity at all costs" is beyond me. Sorry, but I don't share your apparent horror at the idea of smiling and greeting people by name.

    If after you read the article you reaction is an insecure "I feel like shit" instead of an open minded "that sounds interesting, maybe I'll try it out" than the problem is with you, not the article.

  6. Ummmmm...yeah. Okay then.

    BTW this is not a serious blog. This was meant to be funny. You seem a little stressed.

    Calm down. Maybe a shot of brandy will cool your nerves. If not, maybe take up smoking... maybe get laid... something.