Vintage Magazine display ‘a stroll down memory lane’

Owner plans to open his Nostalgia Center to public soon

Long before computers and the internet, people saved magazines and newspapers with articles and photos about important historical events during the 20th century.

Shelves were filled with headlines such as “JFK shot,” “Pearl Harbor bombed,” “Wright Brothers fly plane,” “Wall Street crashes” and “World War II over.”

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Since the 1980s, Fran DiBacco’s passion has been to save vintage magazines from the last century, and he has amassed a major collection that will soon be on display at his Vintage Magazine Nostalgia Center in Paulsboro.

“The center is a 10,000-square-foot stroll down memory lane honoring the greatest generation during the greatest century in the greatest country,” said DiBacco, an investment specialist by trade who hopes to open his museum to the public by late August or early September.

Two weeks ago, Gloucester County Commissioner Denice DiCarlo and Director of Veterans Affairs Robert Jonas took a tour of the center at 1460 Grandview Ave.  and were amazed by the collection of 135,000 magazines sorted by month, week and year back to 1900.

“I was very impressed with Fran DiBacco and his (museum),” Jonas said. “He has put together the history of this country dating back to the early 1900s through magazine covers and articles and memorabilia.

“Fran is very excited to open the museum to the public,” he added. “He has worked long and hard gathering so much memorabilia from the past and presenting it in an organized way that will make it easy for anyone looking for a specific time period to find. The amount of articles and information is overwhelming.” 

“When you first walk in, it’s rather breathtaking,” DiCarlo noted. “To see so much history organized in a way that tells a story much different from our traditional history books was uniquely captivating …  

“You could spend hours and hours looking through it all.”

Military history is abundant at the museum, something Jonas liked.

“I lost a great uncle in France in World War I,” he said. “I served in the Army, during the Vietnam era, serving in Korea after the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea (in 1967). I feel that to see and learn about the history of this country, from the early 1900s to the present, would be very educational. 

“It would be impressive to the students to see actual pictures and articles as they were reported and captured in real time.”

Jonas suggested the museum would be ideal for school field trips and for visits by  youth groups. DiCarlo agreed.

“I do think the younger generation can learn from visiting the center once it opens,  because it will show them what each era was really like, particularly what things were like while the wars were going on,” she said. “I’m sure they will be surprised to see the lack of children’s labor laws in the past, or how women and minorities were portrayed in the news or in advertisements.

“I think they have all heard these stories or read about them in a text book, but to see them first hand in a magazine or newspaper photo or article will be a different way for them to consume and learn about our nation’s history,” DiCarlo added

The commissioner expressed the importance of the magazine museum to residents of Paulsboro and Gloucester County. 

“For the older generation, the value will be the ability to step back into the past and be able to see, touch and be reminded of events that they lived through,” DiCarlo explained. 

“For me, I hope to bring my family there once it opens in an effort to connect and talk to them about the past events that were memorable when I was growing up,” she added. “Events like when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded and how somber the nation was at the time, given that we all consumed our news via the TV and most of us watched the explosion real time.

“I remember being at a sporting event which was paused so that we could hear an announcement that we were at war,” DiCarlo concluded. This magazine museum will ignite those conversations.”

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