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The 1940s and 1950s in America have taken on a mythology of their own, imagined by some as an idyllic time when the daily life, dreams, and sensibilities of a nation were stable, solid, unchanging. Yet this was when the same mothers who sewed their children’s names onto collars for summer camp using needle and thread and who picked berries at roadside fruit stands to lay up ruby and purple jams for the winter, also read books about scientific parenting, squeezed high-end appliances out of slim budgets, and dreamed of Jetson homes.
What we now treasure as “retro” was a time of powerful transformation, as the extraordinary beauty
of the handmade past slipped slowly toward the outmoded, and as a nation we became restless for a manufactured perfection. How perfect, indeed, that we'd soon be watching as one while one of our own stepped onto the surface of the moon.
Number Five captures the moments before we moved into our Brave New World. The letters are subtly retro and just barely distressed, and are evocative of Betty Crocker cookbooks used by women in high heels and crisp aprons, signs painted on old barns along the highway, and slow summer days with Joltin' Joe Dimaggio (and his number 5 jersey) at bat. This was a time when modern machine-made was adored, yet handmade was the norm, and the functional hand-drawn still had a beauty all its own, whether or not we could still discern it.