Atomic Ranch Magazine – Midcentury Marvels – Two-Year Subscription (8 Issues) @ $36.95 (US).
Pros: Targets Boomers who lived mid-century. Monthly features such as Home Page and Ranch Dressing connect to readers. Contains a subtle application of relevant advertising. Superb photography and feature articles make this an archival-quality publication.
Cons: Not all Boomers who lived it loved it. Aside from the purpose of historical documentation, some aspects of Mid-Century Modernism are unattractive, impractical or otherwise forgettable. Published quarterly – fans have a long wait between issues. Per-issue pricing is $6.95 (US/Can) at the newsstand – though the two-year subscription discount drops this to $4.62.
In my quiet suburban hometown, North Street Circle was the place to be. The tiny, two-bedroom ranches that appeared to satisfy the housing needs of returning veterans had since been modified to accommodate the protracted gaggle of Boomer babies. Across town, the Veteran’s Project offered more of the same.
In the 1960s, local cornfields became the venue for treeless yards featuring dwellings of brick, steel, stone and glass. Both the disposition and square footage of the lowly ranch was now raised – allowing for game rooms and wet bars in which to entertain within the new-found freedom of the open-concept.
What may appear to be an era of conformity to some was remarkably creative in its architectural diversity. Atomic Ranch Magazine artistically documents the romance and reality of this pivotal, post-war period.
Using the latest issue as a guide, we find publisher Jim Brown’s tribute to the ultimate episode of Mad Men – the elegant, period-suspect soap opera (with a great opening credit sequence) that I abandoned post-first season. Four well-illustrated pages of letters-to-the-editor follow. To their credit, those with a gripe (can such a magazine be too upscale?) receive no short-shrift.
The first of five featured articles uses fourteen uninterrupted pages to illustrate and describe two California homes that fit the Mid-Century Modern (MCM) profile. Many of the dwellings that have seen print in previous issues are period-correct – down to the original blue linoleum countertops – though many with MCM bones are hybrids that feature modern kitchens and updates to heating, plumbing and electrical systems. In the profiles that follow, similar descriptive competence is bestowed upon homes in Michigan, Toronto and Houston.
My pick for Best Feature is a ten-page spread titled Domestic Goddesses – where period (1948 through the 60s) print ads for home appliances surround informative text. For all its nostalgic appeal, the Art Deco Cool of the 1948 Kelvinator fridge does not necessarily extend to the freezer compartment.
Did you know that the Kelvinator Foodarama, introduced in 1955, was the first side-by-side refrigerator-freezer? To my surprise and delight, the stainless industrial look of my contemporary, counter-depth Fisher & Paykel bottom-freezer unit mimics the mid-50s Thermador Masterpiece that appears on page 40.
Books and Backs
A bit of deserved self-promotion occurs with a page of available AR back issues. A pair of Atomic books from the team that brings you AR magazine are forever dwelling upon Palm Springs Architecture and Atomic Interiors.
The GE Monoblock MicroKitchen (which is still in the R&D stage) is the current occupant of this occasional feature. Available for the cost of a decent used car, this product is essentially an update of the semi-successful 1950s conglomeration that squeezes all your appliances into a solo module for dwellers who suffer a dearth of kitchen footprint.
Ranch Dressing is a fun feature that allows befuddled fans of MCM to submit a photo and description of odd or obscure flea market finds for clues from whence they came. The staff does the legwork, but readers often impart their wisdom, in subsequent issues, as to an item’s origins. Anyone who has ever perused the MCM inventory at eBay will appreciate RD‘s potential.
If your current dwelling qualifies as MCM, show your pride and send a photo and brief description. Home Page publishes three such summaries per issue.
Atomic Events combines upcoming gatherings of interest to Mid-Century Modernists. This issue includes a total of ten occurring from early June through November – all located within the continental United States.
Atomic Ranch Magazine is available at select newsstands and bookstores for the $6.95 (US/Canada) cover price. A one-year subscription (4 issues) is currently $19.95 (US) – two-years (8 total issues) for $36.95 – one-third below the cover price (Canadian rates higher).
My Mid-Century Mindset
Atomic Ranch Magazine – love it for its quality, lush and romantic approach, but keep that level head below the clouds. If MCM lifts your poodle skirt, be informed of the potential pitfalls. Many period examples suffer from issues related to age, poor upkeep and the initial application of sub-par materials and build-quality.
Despite these obstacles, preservation is essential – the razing of period architecture for the space to accommodate the scourge of McMansionism is a sad footnote to the era as a whole and to our childhood memories, in particular.
Five stars for the entertaining and informative Atomic Ranch approach to historic preservation.
All images generated by the author.
Atomic Ranch Magazine
P.O. Box 9624
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33310-9624