SMITH COLUMN: Remembering the days of Parade’s print magazine

Published 9:30 am Saturday, March 18, 2023

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Although I was not aware of what was going on, it was a little disconcerting in the last couple of years when on occasional weekends no Parade Magazine was among the inserts in the Sunday papers. 

That should have been a signal —t hat the popular supplement was headed for extinction. Then those absences seemed to come with intermittent frequency. Ultimately, the hammer fell late last fall when Parade Magazine disappeared from Sunday circulation altogether. It no longer was part of my weekend life as it had been for years.

Parade remains via the Internet, but that is not for this reader. When I read on the weekend, I make it a treasured routine to enjoy and savor. Reading the newspapers is a sacred ritual. When the chill of fall starts setting in, I take the greatest delight in reading by the fireplace with the smoke and flames providing an atmosphere which is comforting, uplifting, and inspiring.

Come April, I move to the screened-in porch to my favorite rocker and read the paper in the stillness of the morning with the deer nibbling at the greenery in the backyard and my favorite cardinal, Stan Musial, flitting about.

The computer can’t offer any of that, so recently I held my own funeral for Parade Magazine. (Expletives deleted).

While I’m not much on movie and television celebrities, I did enjoy the inside front page of Parade where Walter Scott posted a nice feature. “Walter Scott’s Personality Parade,” was a very interesting Hollywood gossip column. The real name of the author was Lloyd Shearer who wrote the column for years.

The in-depth feature stories were well done and, depending on the writer, were very insightful and entertaining. The sports profiles were some of the best — when good writers, with access to the inside, took you into the depths of the sports scene and the life and times of the heroes who were being showcased. 

Mickey Mantle, earning the wrath of his manager, the colorful Casey Stengel, for blowing bubbles in the outfield, the original Stan Musial in his corkscrew stance, a stately Willie Mays at the plate, the underappreciated Hank Aaron, the iconic Jackie Robinson, a youthful Sandy Koufax, who was born in Brooklyn and got his start at the unforgettable and seminal Ebbets Field; eventually Koufax came to hold the same view of the media as General Norman Schwarzkopf — keep all such practitioners beyond arm’s length. 

In fact, avoid them as if they were Tasmanian devils. No publicity is the best publicity became Koufax’s perpetual mantra. Parade magazine was founded by Marshall Field III in 1941 and enjoyed stunning success from the outset of its first publishing date of May 31. It sold 125,000 copies in its first year and by 1946 its circulation reached 3.5 million. 

Parade was the most widely read magazine in the U. S. with a circulation of 32 million and a readership of 54.1 million. Now that the publication is no longer distributed to more than 700 papers in the U. S., you can still find out what Parade allows via the Internet.

Before there was access to Parade, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had its own magazine, which was always fun to read, especially with its coverage of personalities and subjects related to the state of Georgia.

In the back of the magazine there was an interesting layout which showcased a pretty girl each week. 

It included a photo and a short caption about her accolades and interests under the heading of “Georgia Peach.”

For whatever it is worth one of the prettiest girls ever in Athens was Marianne Gordon, who later became Mrs. Kenny Rogers. 

She grew up on Bloomfield Street. With un-retreating temerity, I collected a photo of Marianne from her grandmother who worked in the Georgia football ticket office and sent it to the editor of the AJC magazine. 

The magazine printed the photo and a caption which resulted in Marianne becoming the beneficiary of a few modeling opportunities. 

None of the Hollywood starlets, featured in Parade, looked better than the AJC’s “Belle of Bloomfield.”