West Visits New Orleans

This edition of West is undated and there is nothing inside to indicate even a year. As promised on the cover, pages 2 and 3 focus on New Orleans, while page 4 briefly depicts other sites on the Sunset Route, including Houston, San Antonio, and Carlsbad Caverns.

Click image to download a 6.5-MB PDF of this brochure.

I try to be tolerant and not let my twenty-first-century values criticize twentieth-century advertising. But this one just sickens me a little. In addition to the cover, an interior photo of a black man dancing in the street is captioned, “this grinning lad was caught in the act of giving free rein to his animal spirits.” It was bad enough that white Americans kept blacks impoverished, but this made it even worse by making money turning their poverty into tourist attractions.


West Visits New Orleans — 1 Comment

  1. Yeah, it’s hard not be repelled by the picture of the black kid giving “free rein to his animal spirit”. I suspect that jarring note was not so jarring in 1940. The whole brochure looks like it was written in a New York ad agency by people who had never been to the South and really didn’t know what they were talking about. The whole verbiage is just ridiculous, with the “swell looking southern girls. (Southern girls, while generally pretty, are no prettier than girls from other parts of the country), fragrant magnolias (magnolias generally have very little fragrance), and chasing fireflies around in the dusk (there are a lot more fireflies in Minnesota than we have down here). I live in Alabama, and there are still people who come here from the north that are surprised we have paved roads, indoor toilets, and even access to the internet. 🙂

    So much of the South was still a thing of legend and an almost foreign way of life in 1940, well illustrated by this pamphlet. Black mammies and black kids dancing in the street was part of that legend. I live in Alabama, and most of that wasn’t true, even in 1940, but this was written to lure you to the dark and impenetrable South. I’m not surprised to see all the stereotypes that went along with that legend.

    Regards, Jm

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