Taking a gander

Ed Rood
The 1956 Veishea Issue of the Green Gander magazine.

As I remember, it was during my sophomore year in high school that I first heard of Green Gander magazine. The “Gander,” as it was referred to by the more worldly and urbane students in our school, was said to be something rather racy. A publication definitely not for kids. 

Up until that particular day, I had never heard of the magazine. With Iowa State’s campus so close I figured it must be a mighty naughty publication to be kept so secretive.

Little did I know that Green Gander had been in production for 40 years before I was informed of its existence. (The first copy hit the campus on April Fool’s Day in 1915.) It had a unique slogan: “Every man’s got at least one good laugh coming. Maybe you’ll find yours here.” 

The publication was the creation of an Iowa State men’s journalism honorary, Sigma Delta Chi. Although it was well received from the get-go, it soon ran into some serious trouble. Seems there were no women permitted on the staff. 

The female journalism students started their own magazine, the Emerald Goose. It, too, proved to be successful. So much of a success that the men gave in and the two magazines became one. You guessed it, Green Gander.

Ed Rood

As time passed by, the quarterly publication grew from jokes and anecdotes to more suggestive jokes, features and pin-up pictures of female students.

In November 1959, the publication took on a drastic change. The college felt it needed to be toned down. Gander went from the before mentioned content to features promoting counseling service and marriage. The new editor was hung in effigy and one letter to the editor suggested that the latest Ladies Home Journal contained more humor than the Green Gander. It died a few months later. 

I did manage to get my hands on a Green Gander during my sophomore year. It evidently didn’t have much of an effect on me as I didn’t rush out and buy another one.

So here I am. It’s 2021 and the last Gander was printed more than a half century ago. Was it really racy and was I too naive to realize it? I had to find out.

I googled “Green Gander” and immediately received several opportunities to purchase one. Problem was, the lowest priced Gander was $10. The original price for a Green Gander was 25¢ the entire time it was in publication. I bit the bullet and bought one. I reasoned that it was necessary in my research.

The Gander arrived a short time later sent from a book store in Missouri. I had received the 1956 Veishea issue. One of the racy versions before it had been watered down.

I hurried up to my office and immediately thumbed through the 36 pages. The girls were attired in one-piece bathing suits that were anything but revealing. Much less suggestive than those seen today at any public swimming facility (if and when they are opened).

Probably the most shocking part of the publication was the price for pizza in several advertisements: 75¢ for a small and $1.35 for a large.

After reading each story, joke and cartoon I had to admit – the latest Ladies Home Journal is probably a bit more risqué. 

Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.