Friday, January 30, 2009

30 January 1955 "Poet, Pulp, and Patterns"

Although I know this is current news, but John Updike died on the 27th of January and I just now found out from my husband (again, no modern news and such for me except what hubby mentions.)
This is a picture of him in 1955, which I was lucky enough to find. Though I would not be too familiar with him this year, some of his poetry and short stories were about in magazines. His famous 'Rabbit' series wouldn't be started until 1960. He was a great poet and writer. This year has really brought me to face with my mortality. It is a good thing, I think, as so many of us just get up and schlub through our days as if they are never ending. Well, really we better do and enjoy what we can, they are not here always. I am glad for this project and know that what I gain this year in knowledge, fun, experience, and yes even the blues and sadness, are going to be important to me as I grow old.

This is from a poem Updike wrote last year (2008)

It came to me the other day:
Were I to die, no one would say,
'Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
Of promise - depths unplumbable!
Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
Will greet my overdue demise;
The wide response will be, I know,
'I thought he died a while ago.'
For life's a shabby subterfuge,
And death is real, and dark, and huge.
The shock of it will register
Nowhere but where it will occur.

This is also a nice poem ( I hope you don't mind my putting these in) and although this Updike poem was not published until 1960 in the new yorker, it was in response to experiments done this year in 1955 by Clyde L. Cowan and Frederick Reines called the Neutrino Experiment. This experiment confirmed the existence of the antineutrino—a neutrally charged subatomic particle with very low mass

Cosmic Gall
Neutrinos they are very small.
They have no charge and have no mass
And do not interact at all.
The earth is just a silly ball
To them, through which they simply pass,
Like dustmaids down a drafty hall
Or photons through a sheet of glass.
They snub the most exquisite gas,
Ignore the most substantial wall,
Cold-shoulder steel and sounding brass,
Insult the stallion in his stall,
And, scorning barriers of class,
Infiltrate you and me! Like tall
And painless guillotines, they fall
Down through our heads into the grass.
At night, they enter at Nepal
And pierce the lover and his lass
From underneath the bed—you call
It wonderful; I call it crass.

R.I.P. John Updike.
It is funny and interesting how much of the modern world is being made here in 1955. The computer, medicine, tv, advertsing, grocery stores, premade foods, the list goes on. What is so very normal to all of us only began this short while ago.

Here is some interesting pulp, another modern ideal:

I guess this is the equivalent of Maxim magazine in my time. I LOVE that bathing suit however. I think if and when I return to 2010 there will NOT be a return to lowrise pants, skirts, bathing suit bottoms. I love never having to worry about bending over and wondering if my behind is sticking out. I also like displaying the fact that woman have waists!

It looks like if I wanted to read this little deadly, I'd have to keep it hidden. I can see me now, slipping into the pantry with a biscuit in my apron pocket and a cup of tea. I look around and casually saunter over to the tins of extra Flour. With a deft hand, this book slids out, slighty powdered from its hiding place. I lean against the counter, eyes glued to the dog-earred and well worn page, sliding the biscuit from my pocket to my lips. I nibble, wide-eyed, unwary of the abstract pattern the crumbs are making on my apron front.

"Mrs. -" calls out Gussie, "Do you want me to start on the Living room drapes...Mrs.-?"

"Cheese it! It's Gussie!", A quick jerk, spilling tepid tea and biscuit crumbs, my forbidden contraband plops down into the flour bin in an attempt to hide my guilty pleasure. Until another time, my steamy friend. Perhaps a sneek at you while the iron steams away and the washer hides my shame with its dull thud thud thud.

Or something along those lines, anyway! It does look a steamy book.

Speaking of Pulp, my husband (besides collecting vintage typewriters) collects vintage scifi pulp mags. This is intersting for me. He came into my sitting room the other day with these two little mags. One is from December 54 so only a month old and I think the other is from March. It is interesting, as I am sure my husband would have been reading these in 1955 as well as he has read them now. Only, of course, they would have been new.

I was really excited about the art. I am really getting into the modern art of the times, De Kooning, Pollack etc. It is an era of art that I have never bothered to really study other than what I was required to do at university (I studied art history). The contrast between pulp art/advertising art (which is rampant in 1955)/ and High art is quite striking. More future study for me! And more, hopefully not boring, discussions in the future for you. I hope you like art!

Here is breakfast this morning. As you can see, I am really into as much accuracy as I can manage. The milk bottle is authentic old milk bottle. It recieves my milk the second I get it home from the grocery store. It seems normal for me now to see it in the 'icebox' and to feel the weight of it as I am baking or pouring it out for hot cereals. I also love the oj glass container. I have two of these and one always has oj the other keeps tart pink lemonade for whiskey sours (our family version anyway) for cocktail hour with hubby, after work but before dinner. The gold star pattern on it is SO 1950's. I think I may need a vintage 'ice box' for these to live in, what do you think?

Yesterdays hateful errand of car repair (brake job) resulted in a fun day out with my vintage friend. We had a blast. Although she is not doing this project perse, she has been inspired to now dress vintage most of the time. You can often overhear us discussing the differing merits of an open-bottom girdle (which I prefer) to the more 'stay in place' power of a full legged affair (to much bother in the bathroom if u get my drift). It really helps having a kindred soul. It makes those times when I feel 'out of my time' less when I feel I have a fellow time travelor. It is making this project more fun and really chaning our realtionship as friends and coherts in vintage lifestyle.

After the afternoon of car repair we treated ourselves with a trip to Joanne fabrics as Vogue patterns were on sale for 3.99!! They are usually 27.50!! (that is .51 cents and 3.51 respectively in 1955 money) I love the way this pattern looks. It also has the evening gown pattern which could be a runner up for the April Opera Gown, but not sure yet.
Tomorrow I will start putting in bits and bobs of what I am learning from the interior design books of the times. I thought it might be a fun little excerpt every other day with pics and ideas an such. I know I LOVE looking at interiors and such. Do any of you?
Until tomorrow and thank you again for all your lovely comments on my 'blue day'.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mini post to thank everyone!

This is just a quick note, I will do my post tonight and again tomorrow, but I just had to really thank everyone for their great comments and support.
What was funny, was my blue feeling left me not wanting to leave the project, but to literally go back to 1955. It is almost as if the more I do and experience about it (though I know it is from the standpoint of the present) it makes me long for it more.
I fell renewed and energized. I sort of want to even add a bit more to my blogs, as I really have been reading alot of vintage interior design books and think a section every day or everyother day about various styles and ideas for the home from my various books. I am also excited to start doing these things to my home and will want to do before and after pics.
Thank you so much. I had to go out and get my brakes done today and I spent the day with my most sympathetic vintage friend who dresses vintage everytime we are together. Her car would not start today, of all days, so she went with me to the garage and dropped off the car with me and then we walked a mile on slippery sidewalks in our flats and stockings and hats etc to the local cafe and played cribbage, dished, and talked about fashion and such. SO, it was a good day and I have come home to so many wonderful comments. Thank you again.
I just had to post this between my getting dinner prepared and setting the table.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

28 January 1955 "Early Rise, The Blues, The War, and Wonderland"

January 28- The United States Congress authorizes President Dwight D. Eisenhower to use force to protect Formosa from the People's Republic of China.

The Formosa Resolution was a bill enacted by the U.S. Congres on January 28, 1955 that established an American commitment to defend Formosa (Taiwan). As a matter of American foreign policy, President Eisenhower promised to protect Taiwan against invasion by the People's Republic of China. The legislation provided the President with the power to intervene if the island was attacked.
The legislation was prompted, in part, by attacks on the islands of Kinmen and Matsu in the Taiwan Straits by the Chinese People's Liberation Army in 1954. Both islands had been held by the Chinese Nationalists government of the Republic of China led by Chiang Kai-shek, which then also controlled the island of Taiwan. Kinmen Following the enactment of the Formosa Resolution, the People's Republic of China and the United States successfully negotiated an agreement to stop the bombing of the islands in the Taiwan Straits. This peaceful result ended the First Taiwan Strait Crisis.
I was feeling a little blue today.
A sort of melaise swept over me.

The day started out fine enough, though it started early. Hubby had to leave early to get to the city for some business and the impending snow storm in the city was enough to cause him an early leave. I started my day at 6:30 am. Everything went as normal. I made lunch while boiling oatmeal and making juice and toast. I set the table and put coffee and tea on. I fed the dogs and was at the dinning room table as usual. Maybe just having everything just a bit off threw me.

After clearing up the dinning room and doing my morning dishes, I thought, I am going to take a little morning break, as I would just be getting started. I sat down to watch a bit of some old 1950's home movies we had found on youtube and put on a disc. I really think that was it.

You know the type: Old super 8's of someones vacation or xmas set to music, often sappy. There was one some children had done for their parents showing the two of them in their respective home states preparing for their wedding, then the honeymoon, etc finally their three children at young ages. I found myself crying. I suddenly felt left behind or somthing.

It is odd, as I realize I am NOT living in 1955, but I am REALLY immersed in it. I know I am typing on a computer right now, but it might just as well be a typewriter. My fiction and magazines and decorating books, all from the 1950s. Heck, even my manuals to care for my new parakeet are from the 50s. My music and any tv and movies I watch all 1950s. It starts to become normal, second nature. The human animal quickly adapts. I just saw all these silent smiling faces in full skirts white gloves and hats and thought, "that's where I am suppose to be". I really felt as if I was Rip VanWinkle and had just awakened to find all my family old and the world changed.

I don't know, maybe this project really can get to you.

The resulting day left me staring out the window watching the snow turn to rain.

A friend stopped by around 4:00 and it perked me up. I thought, "I cannot just sit and mope I have things to do. I am still catching up on ironing, because let me tell you rolling up damp clothes in towels and then starching and ironing, is not a fast task. Maybe I will get better at it.

So, I checked my daily list. I had to do the bedroom today, vacuum and empty and organize my closet. Took down our shower curtains to bleach and wash. Straighten and vaccuum the living room. I got going.
After my friend had left and I had stopped from my flurry of late day 'catch up' I was playing, I realized there was a package on the kitchen table. My friend had got my mail for me and there was somthing. I tore it open and it was my 1944 House Beautiful I had ordered. I promised myself literature and study in the 1940s for more context to where I am mid 50's.
A pot of tea later and I am feeling better.

It is so interesting to see the ads for women joining the service.
Here is a Wamsutta (bedding) ad asking women to join to allow a man to go to the front.
Here we see a father leaving his son in a radio ad.

Even a bookshelf takes on the import of father's return.

These show how easily it must have been for women to set down the rivetor, take off the trousers and put on the crinolins and make a home. The concept of those we love suddenly gone and possibly in danger of their own life is inconcievable. It is an odd feeling. It brought me out of my funk. It not only made be 'buck up' and get 'back to it', it took some of my blues away.

I have always felt a little out of my present time. I think anyone who likes vintage feels that a bit, a sort of romantic fondness for 'what was' even if we weren't there. I wonder, though, if I have stepped through the looking glass with this project? Am I going to find myself even more out of step with my peers and really feel very like Alice: wondering why every five minutes we have to change places at the tea table, or how skewered the world around me seems.
I only wish there was a bit of mushroom or a bottle of somthing to drink to help me. The question is, which side of the looking glass would I want to wake up on?
Let me know, if you have the time, am I crazy doing this project? Does it have merit? Sometimes a gal needs to know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

27 January 1955 "Mixed Marriages, Youth worship, summer clothes, A Housewives Battle with Cornmeal, and Cake"

Here is a cover from today, 27 January 1955, about Pearl Baileys marriage. She married in 1952 Louie Bellson, an Italian-American Jazz Drummer. He was a well known jazz artist. ( I would love to know what gossip columnists don't know about their marriage, but we can assume it was a healthy happy one as
remained married until Baileys death in 1990) It is interesting to me that at this time in history you can see a high-profile mixed couple. Although, this is from JET, a '
negroe' magazine as they would have called it,
no most white housewives probably did not have a copy of this. However, they were both very well known artists, so there must have been talk of it. As the modern age is quickly moving us through the 20th century, the speed and innovation really allowed racism and womens rights to take the forefront. Things like Jazz, though originally an african-american thing, brought together all sorts of people after WWI. And WWII gave many women the opportunity and the experience to go into 'mens jobs', as they had to. Though we were all expected to return to the home, a spark had been ignited then burned in many women. I really find this decade as the definitive moment in the turn into what we now know as the modern world.

In this mix of changing times, we can even see the beginning of how we really view women today. In one sense women are beginning to feel the power of their sexuality that they had not enjoyed in the last century. Only prostitues were really viewed as 'sex objects'. Here we see a young lady who is a librarian and yet she needs to pose basically pantless in a fitted shirt and
sexy pose. This image harkens to what we now see today, I think. The role of woman as sex object existed before, as I said, but you would delegate it to the prostitute or those who were in the first nude victorian photos, here we have a respected member of a community, a librarian, and since she is young and pretty she is now viewed as a sex object. Maybe it is merely because I am getting older myself, but there is somthing a little frightening about this turn in the image of women. It definitely is starting during this time. The new concept of 'youth worship' is really beginning now.

Here is an interesting article on the worship of the 'youth culture'. It shows the same woman dressed as a 'teenager' as well as a woman her own age should.

I have scanned in the whole article so you can click on it and read it for yourself. There are some interesting bits, for example, "There is a strong current of feeling in our society that the world spins mainly for the teens and 20s, and that anyone over 30-especially the woman over 30-had better take a back seat." It is a very interesting piece and you should read it if you get a chance.

When I saw the woman dressed in the jeans my
first thought was, "well, she does look younger," than I stopped myself and thought,"why IS that important? Is this part of the evolution of youth being of utmost importance? "It has always been desireable to be young and beautiful, but today(2009) it is just normal to see all the magazine covers plastered either with really young girls or aging movie stars airbrushed and facelifted into young outfits. I see daughters and mothers dressed identical where the mother is in tight jeans stilleto boots hair extensions etc, where she is copying the daughters style. I think it used to be the other way round. Rather this is good or bad, who can say. I honestly don't know. I do know that when I have tried to dress modern I would often do it with the eye of is this sort of 'cool' looking. Now, when I dress to go out I dress more for myself, because I like the way I feel when I have a hat and gloves and my hair is in place etc. I think I am dressing more for myself. What do any of you think? Does it matter if we appear to worship youth? Do we appear to be doing so today? I am curious. Has it affected us negatively or positively? Does it even matter, let me know.

When we stopped saying clothes were important what other things did we throw away with the concept? Self-worth? Maturity status?

Now, speaking of clothes, it looks like I will be quite comfortable this summer. Obviously, when I am shopping or at a more formal gathering, I will wear hose and gloves and hat. However, we spend quite a bit of time on the water and in boats and on the beach in the summer, so these will be quite appropriate and comfortable.
I want to have some garden parties (hopefully trying some 1950's planting and landscaping schemes as well) so I should be quite comfy in these little numbers. I think the dress with the bag could be used for shopping but not sure if I would still wear hose, anyone know?
This sunday was our usual day of sleeping in and then a big breakfast.
There I was: adorned in apron, pets staring up expectant (they love the increase in bacon consumption) waiting for the bacon to cook as it sizzled away with the perk of the coffee.
I took out, with pride, my saved cornmeal mush from the 'icebox'. I had made it a few days earlier and thought, "I am saving this to fry up with Sundays breakfast". Opening the lid, it
seemed to have congealed, but it was only an inch think along the bottom of the pan.
As I perused my recipe retrived from my little recipe box, I felt confident in the next step until...I had set it wrong! It was meant to have been put in a loaf pan, presumably so it would resemble a loaf cake in size. The insturctions said to slice it 1/2" thick and to roll it in dry cornmeal and fry it, of course, in bacon fat. I had forgot to thoroughly read my directions.
I thought of my new acquistion of the household manual. I had just been reading it the night before on the subject of 'hired help'. It said in training a new girl to be sure to go through all the directions and mesaurments of recipes with her at first to make sure she understands. Now, here I was, suppose to be the lady of the house and I could not even follow simple directions. I looked about, making sure Gussie wasn't looming with her dissaproving stare, nope, just the dogs, me, and the bacon.
"Well," said I, to no one in particular, "I'll make do. I am industrious"
But, no matter how I cut it or rolled it or squeezed it, it merely fell to a new form of mush in the pan. It just sat there mocking me ( I swear it was mocking me) spreading out in its hot bath of fat.
"Try to contain me, will ya?" it seemed to say, sounding like a character from an old cartoon "wise guy, huh? Why I oughta..." it rang in my head as it relaxed further into a greasy blob.
Then, it dawned on me. When all else fails what does a 1950's housewife do with any leftovers? Why, she makes it into a patty of course! Salmon patties, creamed corn patties, heck Bacon patties, if I wanted.
So, I scooped out the wretched slop I had thus made, regretting the lost bacon grease (this stuff is gold, I tell you) and commenced to make patties. I took sections of the gelatinous cornmeal mush and shaped them into proximities of patty shapes. I squeezed them a bit with paper toweling, to sort of dry them out, toweling them off like a new baby.
Then, carefully now, not to harsh and don't rush...I slowly lower them into their dry corn meal dustbath. Gently powdering them with the stuff, as if I am lightly powdering a childs bum with talcum(yes the child metaphor really works here). Ever so gently now, lift it slowly, carefully, don't mind the spattering bacon fat leaping ever close to your hands; let it scaled and spit at you. Stare it down, You are HOUSEWIFE! You are strong and resiliant!
There you go now, my little corn meal baby, into the fat. Nice and sizzly now, brown, damn you BROWN!
I heaved a heavy sigh when I slid that spatula under the first little cornmeal patty and delicately flipped it over. A nice browned fatted patty. What more could I ask for?
They even looked quite pretty on the plate there, next to the eggs and bacon and little toast points.
Another victory for Housewife kind.
Housewife:1 Cornmeal mush : 0
I had a little problem with my sunday cake as well. I made my usual 7 minute frosting, adding chocolate and coconut. However, the coconut made it rather stiff and unweildy to icing the cake. So, I added milk to it: big mistake! It became too runny and slid down the sides of the cake. Gussie was still here at this point, as it was late in the evening, and she turned to me and said, "I would have just heated it on the stove to loosen it up". Great, foiled by the hired help! It would most likely have been the right solution. I just stuck it in the freezer until it stiffened a bit and then coated it in the toasted coconut I had made earlier for that purpose. So the resulting cake did not look very nice, but boy oh boy does it taste like seconds, as my husband
put it! I thought I would share the recipes.

Here is the cake recipe. I love this recipe. It is the second time I have made this type of chocolate cake and it is so moist yet dense and wonderful. It really is fudgey.

I made this recipe for the filling. I was going to originally use it for filling and frosting, but I did not have any evaporated milk (another item I have since added to my list to keep stocked in the growing baking section of my pantry) so I used cream. It made a wonderful buttery sweet filling, so I just used it between the layers of the cake. It made a scrumpcious combination and the toasted coconut on the top is sooo yummy. That was also the first time I have toasted coconut. It is amazing the amount of things I have learned in under a month! Sometimes I feel like I am at the University of the Home.
Well, until tomorrow then. I hope everyone has a good day.
Yesterday was my laundry day, so today is ironing and starch. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

25 January "Tragedy, Atomic Time, War, Hats, Food, Movies, and Realizations"

25 January 1955: The Remon-Eisenhower Treaty was signed today between the United States and Panama. Among other things the treaty granted the United States, with no cost or 'trick', the military base held in Rio Hato, and the Rio Hato beach as well, for a period of 15 years.( The base was given back on 22 August 1970, after the government of General Torrijos refused to renew US use.)
25 January 1955: In early 1955 Jill Kinmont, who was the reigning national champion in the slalom and a top prospect for a medal at the 1956 Winter Olympics, had a bad fall. While competing in the downhill at the Snow Cup in Alta, Utah, she suffered a near-fatal accident which resulted in paralysis from the neck down. It ironically occurred the same week that Kinmont, weeks shy of her 19th birthday, was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. (She was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1967. She was also the subject of two movies: The Other Side of the Mountain in 1975, and The Other Side of the Mountain Part II 1977.) [I find it refreshing to see a woman on a cover of a magazine doing a high-profile sport. I think we can see that, though hardly a job open to any woman, this avenue of acceptance in an olympic profile sport must have made some girls feel empowered.]

Columbia U scientists, led by Louis Essen, develop an atomic clock accurate to within one second in 300 years. What are atomic clocks? They are radio controlled clocks that tune into the radio signal emitted by the U.S. AtomicClock located in Fort Collins, Colorado. They reset themselves multiple times every day to the exact hour, minute, and second and automatically change themselves for Daylight Savings Time. Now, international time is defined by atomic, not solar seconds. (Louis continued to work on his atomic clock and by 1964 he had managed to increase the accuracy of the atomic clock from one second in 300 years to one second every 2000 years! )

25 January 1955: Russia ends state of war with Germany.

Here is a poster for US troops in Germany after the war. I am sorry that it is so graphic. There are some interesting facts about the US soldiers in Germany after WWII. For example, "Between 1950 and 1955 the Allied High Commission for Germany prohibited "proceedings to establish paternity or liability for maintenance of children." Even after the lifting of the ban West German courts had little power over American soldiers.
The children of black American soldiers, commonly called "Negermischlinge" ("Negro half-breeds"), were particularly disadvantaged, since even in the cases where the soldier was willing to take responsibility he was prohibited from doing so by the U.S. Army which until 1948 prohibited interracial marriages.
In the earliest stages of the occupation, U.S. soldiers were not allowed to pay maintenance for a child they admitted having fathered, since to do so was considered as "aiding the enemy". Marriages between white U.S. soldiers and Austrian women were not permitted until January 1946, and with German women until December 1946.
(Despite the grants of general sovereignty to both German states in 1955, full and unrestricted sovereignty under international law was not enjoyed by any German government until after the reunification of Germany in October 1990.)

Now, on a lighter note:

Yesterday, Saturday, was our vintage hang out day. Three of my vintage friends and I headed to the shops (antique shops and a great weekend 'junk' sale). We had great fun.

It was the polar opposite of my encounter with the teens in the mall previously in the week. We all wore our vintage hats, shoes, coats, gloves etc. I wore my 'new' swing coat over my full crinolined black and white skirt. I love the way the full skirts fit over dresses when wearing a full crinolin. My friend and I were in one of the booths, trying on hats and oohing and ahhing over a 1950's tv, when an older gentleman came up to us and said, "Excuse me girls ( I love being called 'girl' it makes me feel so young) I just have to say that you look so wonderful. I am not just saying that, but I mean it from my heart", he went on, clamping his aged hand to his chest, "It makes me feel good to see you so nicely turned out". How wonderful! He seriously made me feel so good. It only increased my determination in the project.

We then proceeded to have THREE more compliments while at this 'junk' sale. The older man, who made the first comment, would see us again as we would pass by on another circuit of the sale, lest we have missed some hidden gem in a cardboard box somewhere, and you could see his face light up.

Next, we headed to our favorite antique store which has an entire back corner set up like a vintage clothing shop: shoes, hats and gloves, handbags, luggage, mink stoles etc. We have made the trip a few times, so when the proprietor sees us enter she gets a big smile on her face. This time, particularly, as we were all wearing pieces we had bought last time.
"I love to see people actually wear the vintage things," said she, smiling and coming to show us some new things she had got in. There were some nice things. We all got hats. My friend found three.
I found this lovely little gem. It is a nice soft silk and I love the ribbon and jewel work. I was so excited when the proprietress pulled this little number out. I think I may have even shrieked a bit, though in a dignified manner. It is so loverly and fits like a glove. It is a little sheer, or I would have a picture of me wearing it. I was quite excited as the color looks nice with a peignor I had won earlier in the week on ebay. There is a beautiful mink stole that is tres' 50's chic and I am determined to get it for the coming April opera sojourn.
It is nice to have a shop like this where one is surronded by vintage things and can really feel that you are in a different time. What a difference to that wretched mall. Hopefully our patronage on saturdays will encourage her to get more things and help her to stay open during these economic hard times.

Next we headed to our favorite diner. After we were all settled into our booth one of the waitresses came up to us and complimented us on our outfits and asked if we knew of the website Daddyos, which we said we did indeed. (Here is their website I personaly find them a little pricey and I really like to buy vintage or to handmake things, but they do have a nice website.) She seemed quite excited as if she was glad to know there were other people who were attracted to that era and style of dress.

This is a shot my friend took standing towards the mirror next to our booth (we seriously have a favorite booth). You can see how all the wonderful steel/aluminum/chorme on the ceilings and around the windows.

Here is a sample menu from a diner in 55 (though it is not from our diner, I think it is from a diner in Virgina or somewhere) but I was glad to see that the prices at our diner are still comparable by todays money. The breakfast on this menu for .90 cents would be equivalent to about $7.06 and actually you can get a similiar breakfast at our diner for less than that! Interesting. Of course food was probably still going down in price from the rationing and such that had happened during the war.

Later, when we stopped for coffe, a woman in her 50's came up to us and said, " I have to ask, our you with an organization or something?"
"No," we replied. "We just love to dress vintage"
"Well, you look lovely. I remember my mother wearing those darling hats, she is in her 90's, and she would get such a kick out of you"

It made us all agree that we wish we did belong to such an organization, whatever said organization would be, and that we wonder if we could start one. Who knows. Maybe another project for the back burner of this project year?

Then it was home to quickly stash away our new finds and to get ready for the evening. One of my friends had to get home to make her bread pudding to bring over for the nights meal. I had planned on making my 'Sunday Cake' a day early for the nights festivities, but had spent to long at the shops and had a huge meal to prepare before me.

Thank God for Gussie! We have decided that every other Saturday night is a definite Gussie night, as it is the night for vintage dinner at my house. While she began some of the cleaning of the dinning room and setting the table, I started on the meal. I had Gussie also help do things like shred the Romaine lettuce for the cesar salad, slice the bread for my homemade croutons. She made the lovely little 'bishop hats' as she calls them on the plates with my new set of linen napkins. She even served before turning into a guest. Also, when we needed or forgot things and needed dessert brought in, "poof" Gussie reappeared to do so. It made hostess duties much nicer.

Here is the table just before we sat down.

I did a pork roast with an orange-honey glaze. A white sauce for the asparagus tips/babycorn/mushroom bake. My shinning glory, for myself at least, was the homemade cesar salad. I did it all from scratch. The croutons made fresh from french bread and the dressing, which is so yummy, was fun. I will never buy cesar dressing again, as this was too good to forget. It gave me the opportunity to 'coddle' an egg for the first time. You boil it for 45 seconds before adding it to the other ingredients in the salad oil. Everyone raved about it, even one friend who doesn't really like salad dressings. One of my main reasons in choosing the cesar salad was it was prepared by Lucy in the movie we were to watch that night after dinner: The Long Long Trailer.
This is a great movie. We all laughed through it and it made me realize what a comic genius Lucy was. There are many episodes of tv shows I will occasionaly watch from this era and the humor seems quite dated, but she just had a sort of timelessness to her humor. I highly recommend it to anyone. Also, the dresses Lucy and her friends wear in the movie during the packing the trailor scene are to die for!

As I was writing this blog I thought maybe the contrast between that wretched poster to U.S. soldiers in Germany showing the atrocities of the war and then the fun I had with my friends shopping and eating wasn't respectful. Then I realized, this is a very 1950's moment. Here we have been faced with the horror of war. Many of us would have lost men (brothers, fathers, husbands, sons) to the war. The men who did return would carry with them the horrors of the war and both physical and emotional scars. But, the country and its people had to brush themselves off and say, "we have to go on. We have to make a better world." They had to still go shopping and laugh with friends in diners.
Despite the racism and unfair treatment of women in the 1950s, the more I study the context of the time in which these people lived, the more I can sympathize even empathize with them. I am becoming almost protective of this generation, not to make excuses, but to say, look at the world they did create for their children and grandchildren. It was done with hope and love. The prejudice was based on centuries of atitudes and also the fear of what 'outsiders' had done to their homes and men and way of life in the ravages of two world wars. And yet, the 1950's really was an accelerated movement to our modern times. It laid a groundwork for the equality we are still working for. It set the tone for the rights women wanted to face. Here they had a freedom never really felt before WWII and then said, " I will return to the home". For some it was wonderful, but for those who found it stifeling, had they not allowed themselves, as a whole, to feel the need to go into that role, I don't think the movement to the freedom women now have would have come about as quickly. It was a trial by fire and if it did not suit them, it allowed, if not them, at least their daughters to come into a world where birth control was available in 1960 and increased roles in the workplace and government were forming.
I do think it is sad that the career of housewife/mother had to be left on the wayside. It really is one of the most important roles a person can take on. To have the abilites and patience to make a home and create a life for others as well as to recieve the joy they get themselves out of such an act, takes courage and hard work. I think a lot of the atitiudes of 'youths' today is really from an unstructered homelife and I think we have all let commercialism and a skewered sense of 'liberation' make our economy such that it is not possible for us to have one parent at home or, even if no children, one spouse. I think it is a sad state of our human condition that many people are looking to change or wanting to find a way to change it.
I have just recieved my 1947 copy of "America's Housekeeping Book", which jitterbug had inspired me to get. The first sentence in chapter 2 states, "Housekeeping is a real job". That has really hit home with me. It has a seriousness about it. It is there in black and white, printed up in a book. The statement has a solidity to it, a sort of pride of purpose. Who knows it if will become my life long career, but it certiainly has taken on a pride of place in my concept of what Life really is. My values are quickly changing and here I am not even a month into my project.
Now, I am off to bake my sunday cake.
I hope everyone had a great Sunday.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

22 & 23 January 1955 "Tragedy, New Government, Permanents, Ridicule, and Coffee Cake"

Here is the New Yorker Cover for 22 january 1955 and it feels about right in both 55 and 09, depending on where u live. Snow and mailboxes, that about says it. This same cover in 2009 might show snow piled up outside and someone huddled in front of their computer.

22 January: Norwegian government of Einar Gerhardsen forms

23 January, 1955: In the UK an express train travelling from York to Bristol derails and overturns at Sutton Coldfield station killing 14 and injuring many more.

Some lighter news:

In this article on hair from january 1955 it states that "the Italian Boy cut is out." (If you click on the pic it should open up large enough to read the whole article). It looks like my hair length now or maybe a little shorter will actually be more appropriate for the coming year. It is too bad, as I was hoping for summer time to get a good short cut that was easier to curl. I think as a fun project, though, I am actully considering perming the ends of my hair (as it recommends in the article). If it doesn't work out the permed ends were going to be cut off anyway. I always associate perms with the 1980s and have only had one perm in my life, and it was horrible and took for ever to grow out. However, it does seem to have true vintage hair you need a perm to help hold the curly styles required of the day. I think that is why sometimes when I have watched movies set in the 1950's the hair never seemed quite right. It seemed to bouncy and frizzy, and this was probably because they were just setting modern freshly cleaned hair not permed unwashed hair with setting lotion. I know that my hair holds a curl fairly well, but halfway through the day when I use the hot rollers on my 'hair washing day' it has gone all limp. I have also discovered that modern pump hairspray is a no go for vintage hair. It has to be areosal or it gets to damp and flat.

I am going to ask my vintage friend to help me with my 'Toni" as I do not want to make the curls uneven or not done properly. Here is a great article about women getting together to do each others permanents.

Speaking of trying to have accurate hair and clothes, I had my first negative reaction to my appearance the other day. It was in the mall, which is a place I try never to go. I had to walk thru it to get to the book store where I was meeting a friend. I was on an escalator going up, possibly primping and making sure my hat was properlly adjusted, when I heard snickering: a couple of teens. They were whispering, looking at my outfit, and smirking. It felt odd. My first response was to run my tongue discreetly along my teeth, one never knows when parsley or some such is waiting there to turn your smile into a toothless grin. No, and of course I was not smiling at them. I casually turned to make sure I wasn't streaming toilet paper along my heel, a recurring fear of mine when visiting public restrooms (another place, like the mall, that I try NOT to visit unless necesarry) Then it dawned on me: it was my outfit. It was an odd feeling. I have come to feel quite normal in what I wear now. This day I was wearing a vintage hat with a veil on, gloves and handbag, vintage swing coat, full skirt (with crinolin) seamed stockings and heels. I would think at the most I would just look like an old lady, but maybe that is what threw them. I mean I am not young in my book, but I guess 30's seemed to young to be 'all made up'. I then thought, "You know if I was wearing what I had on earlier when I was cleaning they would probably not have given me a second look." This, of course, was my dunagarees rolled up, flats, gingham collared shirt, hair pulled up in ponytail and no makeup (except for my lipstick, I alwasy put that on and as a wife of the 40's I think I would still have that thought of the 'red badge of courage' as it was called during the war. Women were encouraged to at least wear thier lipstick, I suppose it was for morale or to make any men returning home to see some femininity. But, I digress...). I would not, however, in my 1955 life go out into a public place to eat or shop dressed that way. Perhaps a quick run down to the store for a quart of milk, but even then in my middle class respectability you would never know who you would run into.
Now, being human, my next response was to look at what they were wearing. Probably some modicum of childhood playground politics swirled about the recesses of my brain, urging me to find somthing laughable about their outfits. It is not a pretty attitude, I know, but it was there, none the less. Here is what I found: To my current sense of style and what seems normal from what I see on 'tv' and in magazines, they looked like homeless people or vagrants. I am not saying this to heal my own hurt pride(ok maybe I am a little) but when I studied what they were wearing I could see how people must have reacted to the first hippies. The girls hair was basically a mess by 1955 standards. Long and cut in layers but disheveled and tossled all over. She had on jeans way too tight for her heavy thighs and grungy black tennis shoes. Her jacket was basically a hooded sweatshirt with skull design.Whatever could that mean? Was she in some sort of mourning? Had a relative died and if so, what a light hearted way she wore her sombre weeds. The boy was wearing pants 3 sizes too large, which were all but falling off. "You could see his underpants sticking out", said my shocked 55 fevered brain. His boots looked like workman boots or perhaps those belonging to a lumberjack and his pants puddled about them, as if he had come to own them cheaply and therefore did not care about the inconvienance or safety issue of wearing such large troussers. His hair stuck out at odd angles and was crayola red in parts." Had he been in a fight? Was it dried blood? Was there a Kool-aid accident at home that he had got caught in the middle of?" I let my 55 sensibilites wander and take hold of what I saw. His hooded sweatshirt must have been his father's or, like the large troussers, been found at such a bargain he did not need to care for fit. It was far too large for his small frame. His facial hair reminded me of my victorian grandparents portraits at home. It was all an odd affair and I found I needed to address my compact over my coffee while I waited for my friend, lest I should look anything like that unfortunate pair I had encountered on the escalator.
You get the picture. Obviously I used a little poetic license here and am well aware of this rather normal teenage couples standard mall outfits. However, you can see how through my eyes they should look thus? It is odd to place yourself so out of your time and then to jarringly pop back in. I mean at home of course I use the computer (though sparingly and only for research for this project) I am only using vintage items, seeing vintage tv and movies and magazines. My friends have been very good about what they wear when we are together. I end up in a very insular little 1955 world and because of that, day to day modern things have taken on a new reality to me.
Another example of this happened yesterday. I was busy cleaning away and in the downstairs bathroom there were bits of little soap segments left from the last bar of soap. I was picking them up to throw them out and replace them with a new bar. At that moment I thought, "you know during the war I would have saved these". It was an odd moment, not only because I was not alive during the 'war', but here I was in 2009, pretending it is 1955 and thinking within that timeframe of the 1940s where I would have had to ration. A time I had never been. Through my research I always try to put my perspective of what is now available in 1955 to what it would have been 10 years earlier. It was an interesting moment, because much like that wife in 55, I knew I could go and buy endless bars of soap relatively cheap and yet, here I was throwing out good bits that would have once been very important to me. It is these momentst when I really can see this experiment as an amalgamation of history and art. It sometimes has a performance art quality about it. There are moments too, like this, when I think, are we going to return to pre 50's ideals of plenty as we try to conserve and deal with the ongoing recession. I mean should I have saved the soap. It was still good, wasn't it. Why should I throw out somthing that is still viable? I know during the depression they would save up soap bits and put them in a bit of old unmendable stocking, then you could still use it in the stocking for washing and such. Sometimes my time machine goes in and out of decades so fast it makes my head spin!
I was also thinking of what Jitterbug had commented on my last blog that what I am now doing seems interesting due to the newness of it all. I totally agree. This is all new and exciting, but I guess could become drudgery. However, what I noticed is I am making a good attempt to still have social time and also my marketing time has been fun. I take breaks to go to local charity shops and anitque stores to buy up things for my increasing collection of vintage items. This is an exciting part of my day that might only be equal to a 1955 wives shopping to buy things for her home. This also brings to mind rather it is 55 or 09 someones social and financial situation. I am by no means rich, but I do have the luxery of being home and to have some time and a little money to buy a vintage thing here and there and overall this makes for a nice quitely fulfilling life thus far. Will it become tedious or more worklike? And yet, my housework, though somtimes enjoyable, does seem like work. Even my cooking and baking I take with the seriousness of a career now, which I think is how it would have been viewed.
I forget somtimes how much I do take my role as a career. For example, last night we were meeting up with friends for a birthday party at a restaurant. This gave me the whole day without a dinner prepared by me at the end of it. So, I sort of mismanaged my time and I thought, "Oh, I can tear about the dinning room and move this furniture and start this project" I ended up just being able to get thru half of my projects and get the house back to some semblance of neatness before taking time to set my hair and get ready. I had a maid night with 'Gussie' as I knew this party was coming on. She did all the floors for me and the front hall stairs and folded away some towels that didnt quite make it in Mondays wash, and pressed my skirt for me. Anyway, the whole point of this story is this left me no time to make a dessert for hubbys lunch for today (this weeks cake didn't make it to Friday for some reason). So, this morning I gasped," Oh heaven's to betsy, darling, I haven't a dessert for your lunch. Just let me whip something up fast". He laughed at me and then I stopped and realized. I was being very serious, as I needed a sweet for his packed lunch. Then I had to remember that a month ago I maybe would have made his lunch but most likely he would have just ordered in or picked somthing up in the city, and my baking was few and far between.
He said, "Don't worry about it. I am not going to die if I don't have a home made dessert in my lunch" (he's a sweetie by the way) And I think had it actually been 1955 this would have happened. As, hopefully, I would have married a sweet man then and he would have been less concerned about the outcome of my accomplisments in the kitchen if I happened to forget to make dessert. I did, however, throw together a coffee cake and it was done just before he left, so it went, warm and yummy, into his lunch. It is funny how the skills I am picking up make a simple thing like a homemade coffee cake really simple. Compared to my normal full on cakes it WAS easy. You take melted butter and brown sugar and flower and crumble it, reserving some for the top. Then just beat an egg with a cup of milk and throw that into the mixture, whip it up, pop it into a greased and floured 8" pan, sprinkle the reserve half cup on top and into the oven it goes for 30 min. That is fast baking for me nowadays.
I really do see this all as a career possiblity as well as a learning challenge, an art piece, an involved history paper and a great opportunity. I think when the end of the year arrives I will have learned alot about myself and the time and our country in general and how we have come to where we are now. I cannot honestly say rather or not I will go into 1956. I mean, when I started this I figured just normal modern life to return at the end, but I am not sure from where I am looking now. Many things will most likely stick around. I think alot of the fashions will hold on. We may never have regular tv again, which we are both fine with. It will be interesting to see.
Oh, as an aside, someone commented on my last blog why don't I write out my blogs and have someone else put them on the computer for me. If any early readers remember, I had originally planned to do this, but you had encouraged me not to bother. I would like to know how many of you think I should not have access to the computer? I do use it for research for the time and news as well, it would be hard to find out as much news unless I had an endless supply of papers, but I suppose local libraries have them on microfiche. So, let me know, should I not use the computer at all? Just curious what any of you think about it?
Until tomorrow, then. Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

20 & 21 January 1955 " Scrabble, TV, Socialism, and Chicken Supreme"

19 January 1955: Scrabble was introduced as a new board game.
21 January 1955: Tv scandal?

Why Panel Shows are ‘Rigged’. Interesting to note this was almost two years before the Charles Van Doren Twenty-one scandal that put these early games show out of business for a decade.
Just for fun here are some views inside the 55 tv guide. I found these images online. It is interesting to see what was on and the 'articles'.

Television is vastly becoming an integral part of daily life. Here is an interesting article on what the BBC was doing to give time to families at dinnertime. Actual Blank or dead air during the dinner hour. Can you imagine that in 2009? Actual dead time aimed to help the family draw the children away form the mesmerizing affects of tv and have a family dinner. Not so strangely, this never caught on in the us. Consumerism and Capitalism always seemed to have won out post-war. I love that the writer of the article admits, basically, that it is impossible to just turn the tv off, which would in effect give you a blank screen, I mean how is his wife to sew buttons or he to mow the lawn if good tv is on. [Interesting to note that today tivo is given as a reason to get some of your life back so you can just watch what you want, however, we had it for awhile a year ago and I found myself watching more. I am glad, this year, to have no tv. My husband has never really liked watching it, so for my project the cable was gone. We save money and I am not tempted. He gets current news from online and out 'tv time' is watching shows on disc of the era. And I love the quiet of it. I think as a childless couple in 1955, too, we would most likely only watch tv as we are now. There is no need to have westerns blaring after school or howdy doody ringing throughout the house.]

On the topic of our current national mindset being formed in the 1950's, here is an interesting full page ad from onr of my Ladies Home Journals. I love that they equate the government building of a neccesity like electricity with socialism. Also, you will note that the ad is sponsered by the power company. I have mixed feelings about this. I don't really want a huge goverment nurse-maiding me, but at the same time, here you see a coporation using the media and fear to push its agenda. Why have the government run the utilites when there is money to be made?

Well, that is enough news and politics, on to the homemaking.

First off, again I am sorry this is a two-day post. I find the more I become engrained into 1955, the less time I have to post. But, then it forces me to sit and really go thru my articles and things I have found online and think of the whole perspective of the project. I do look forward to that time, late morning all the dishes are done and put away and clean kitchen that I slip into my little sitting room at my desk and pour over various articles I have earmarked here and there. However, the act of getting dressed, of making an involved breakfast, setting the table, making sure I have a clean apron on, all of these things are becoming second-nature and in their doing take up time. I am rather enjoying it and don't really notice the time go by.
I originally thought this project would be a great way, as a history buff and someone into the mid-century ideal, to experience it as just that: a project. However, I am fast finding myself enjoying it so much that I almost feel a duck to the water. The intial modern college educated 21st century woman's voice telling me, "don't be silly, these things are fine through the microscope, but u must not, cannot enjoy them. You are not a mindless housewife!" This little voice grown over years in the modern world and often Jimey Cricketed into my subconscious has so quickly become silenced. I find, in fact, that I am not mindless, but in fact so living in the moment that it matters little. Odd that I needed to time travel back to 1955 to live in the moment of time? I often find, and I don't know if this is due to merely my own nature or a matter of course for the modern mind, that I have had to live with a series of questions running a teletype through my brain. Always thinking, "how will this be when I am old? How will I be viewed by others if I can do this or that by this specific time? What should I try to be doing? What can I do? What do I want to do? What is important enough to involve my mind and actions?"
I lived in the aspect of wanting to feel that I WAS living up to being a modern woman in that I could do anyting. However, I felt frozen by the endless prospects and rather disillusioned with their outcomes. I know of other women, my age in their 30's, who have careers, but are still waiting to find what it is they 'really want to do'. I am not saying that I wish all women had no choice and must be forced into the role of homemaker. I AM saying that for myself, someone whom I felt was a fairly intelligent educated modern woman, I find a kind of joy in standing back and looking at my folded and ironed clothes that I have never felt in any of my other endeavors. When I have set a nice table and set out a meal which I think is an amazing amalgamation of science magic and art, I feel good on a very basic level.
It is odd that in doing what so many modern people think as 'mindless work' I am, in fact, probably the most mindful of myself as I have ever been. I am more introspective and self-evaluating but on a very basic level. Maybe a lot of modern boderline depression (not chemical for I know there are many who need medicne) but those who are not clinicaly drepressed but feel a sometimes nagging ennui with themselves and their life if they are just too hard on themselves with unrealistic expectations. I wonder if the vast pool of opportunity in which we live coupled with the need to consume feed by the daily propaganda in our lives leads to a basic unfulfilled feeling in modern man. Many people today look at the ideal we see as the 1950 nuclear family and say, 'how unrealistic' and yet I am finding that trying to attain a perfect home is not as unrealistic as I found the desires of modern life. It is all quite odd. Even my husband and my choices for not having children have of late began to seem different. We were uncertain of the point in children or in that they should have a certain amount from us monetarily before they should be brought into the world, now I see, if it were in fact 1955, I most likely would want to add them to the mix. It would make it all more complicated, but somehow it seems right. I have not shared these thoughts with my husband, as I cannot magically turn my 1955 child back into someone else like I do with "Gussie", my 1955 maid who turns magically back into my friend.

Well, enough said on that and this time, really, to the home making:
As Monday was wash day I wanted to do a 'one pot meal' as they are often called in my cookbooks and magazines. I found a great recipe online from a woman's relative of the 1950s. I hope it is okay to reproduce the recipe here, it was rather good. ( I love that the woman's name was Snodgrass!)

Chicken Supreme by Ruth Snodgrass

Cook one large hen and shred — add to the following,
2 cups fresh bread - (picked into small pieces)
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 tsp. paprika
4 well beaten eggs
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
Pimento to taste
1/4 c butter
1/2 cup milk
Mix all ingredients and bake 1 hour or until firm.Serve with the following sauce:Make white sauce with 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup cream, 1/4 cup butter, 2 cups broth — last add 1 can mushrooms — salt, pepper and 2 hard boiled egg yolks chopped up.

I had no mushrooms so I used green beans and it was really good. It also made enough to go into my hubbys lunch the next day and I would use the sauce recipe again for any vegetable dish. The recipe didn't say the oven temp so I just did 350. Also, instead of a whole chicken I boiled chicken thighs and made the stock and then shredded that. I made enough stock to reserve some in the freezer for soup later in the week. It is amazing what you can get out of some chicken. Sometimes I feel like that childrens story, Stone Soup.

Last night was Roast pork and potatos. Creamed corn (so 50's and so yummy homemade-tho I did use canned corn).
I am going to take a page out of Destination 1940's book and try to do more hot cereals for breakfasts. I already mentioned the grits, though I know I made one southern reader shudder when I told her I had put sirop on it and brown sugar. I was told the correct way to eat grits is with butter and salt and pepper. But, as I told her, when a New Englander is faced with a breakfast item, our initial response is to put maple sirop and brown sugar on it. I am going to try corn meal mush tomorrow morning. Any other good 50's morning hot cereal recipes out there?

Here is a meal straight out of my Ladies Home Journal and I really want to attempt it for one evening. Perhaps I will do this for this saturdays meal.
I really want to try the rosemary jelly as I have a nice rosemary plant in my greenhouse window I use for cooking. It sounds like it would be lovely with veal and also lamb.

Well, until tomorrow then, have a great day everyone.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

18 & 19 January 1955 "Communism, Television, Cakes, Maids, and Confessions"

January 18, 1955: The Chinese Communist People's Liberation Army seizes the islands from the Republic of China (Taiwan):

The Battle of Yijiangshan Islands was a conflict between forces of the Republic of China Army and the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China, over one of the last strongholds of nationalist (ROC) forces near mainland China on the Yijiangshan Islands. The conflict occurred from Januay 18, 1955 to January 20, 1955 during the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, and resulted in a PLA victory and the complete destruction of the ROC garrison.

[This basically is just the beginning of a growing communist china which still exists today. It is funny to me that we don't mind turning a blind eye to the injustice of this country just so that we can go to walmart and buy a dress for 10 dollars. Sure, some little 5 year old can work 20 hours a day so I can save a few pennies. I hope this is changing. Luckily, I can let this fear slip from my thoughts and focus on the fear of nuclear bombs and rather my cake rises. How does a wife and homemaker find her place in a world, rather it's 1955 or 2009, where injustices are occuring? I suppose it always has and always will be the case. Will the human animal ever change?]

January 19 1955:"The Millionaire" TV program premiered on CBS

"The premise was that John Beresford Tipton( the millionare) would give his monetary gifts in part to see what effect they had on the recipients and his/her immediate circle of friends and family; sometimes the effects were good, and sometimes not so good, but was usually entertaining;

The series captured the imagination of the audience who wanted to believe that good fortune could come someday from out of the clear blue sky; Of course the series also included bequests to people who also blew their fortune due to their flawed character, so this series ended up being a kind of modern morality tale."

[It is interesting to note how this sort of hopeful idealism made the 1950's. It seems the result of comeing out of WWII. After WWI we had the 1920's with its reckless abandon and celebration in a sort of "God, it's over and done with. This wretchedness which we have never seen the likes of before and will never have to again, is over: So, Lets dance! Then, after WWII, the seriousness of rebuilding a new and better human race was apparent. The idea of a new and perfect world: throw away all that is old and remake fresh, new and plastic. When we really see that, we can understand so much of why people and our society did what it did in the 1950s. They were hopeful that 'out of the clear blue sky' fortune could come their way. And while they waited for that break, they realized the importance of making families and the return to Home.
I think it funny when people today scoff at the young couples of that time. It is so easy, our generations so far removed from what they had to go through, to say, "Oh, how silly. How unimportant it all is. Who cares?" But, I think we are all starting to realize how important self sufficiency is and how important making a clean happy home is to the value of living. Why do we have to live in one great big commercial which says we need to be Paris Hilton and have 500 dollar shoes and drive expensive cars? I know that advertising concept of 'appearance' began in the 1950's, but when it began it was done in a spirit of rebuilding and making better a society so that there would never be a need to another war and to make a generation that was free of that stress and worry they had, themselves, endured.
I am sure in the backs of all the minds of those smiling faces from faded black and white photos, there was that fear. The full skirts, clean and ordered homes, doors being held opened for women, family units and new homes for all and a car in every drive. Happy smiling shinning new civilization, but they all knew, deep down, "we had better appreciate what we can make now and enjoy one another now. We must love and respect one another, for tomorrow we or our sons may have to go off and face what we have had to face. Let's make as much a utopia as we can, so if and when that time returns, we have it to hold onto."
But, I digress.

Today, January 19 1955, is also the day of the first ever televised news conference with President Eisenhower.

"Eisenhower got some impressive public relations mileage out of this event, because his administration had taken steps to recognize the young field of television journalism...(this was similiar to the fireside chats heard on radio earlier)This gave the objective to 'go directly to the people' with news. It enabled the president to present his message over the head of Congress and other opponents in a way that cannot be criticized."

[again, here in 1955, we see the simple beginnings of the manipulation and propaganda that our current technological media has allowed. We take it for granted now that politicians can use such media and we see why it is they wanted to use it. What is good about 2009 is that with the internet no one agency can control it. It has a life of its own and can be used by the people.]
Well, that is enough news for today.

I apologize for another combined two day post, but I was so busy yesterday. I recieved two new cookbooks saturday and they are rather good. They are more like little mini books almost, but they are jam packed with
great recipes. The French one is even published in 1955! I am itching to try some of the recipes. I used the New England cookbook for sunday morning breakfast. I made Corn Meal Griddle cakes. They were so yummy. I reproduced the page, so when you click on it it should enlarge enough to read. I love the artwork and there are many variations. The basic recipe was rather fun. I loved taking the beaten egg whites and spreading it, like icing, over the batter, then you fold it in. Both of these books have a great bit at the beginning that informs you how to scald milk, fold, etc. That is quite helpful for me, really, as I don't know these things. I am learning. So many of the books of the period assume you know how to scald milk and the like.

As I was cooking up a storm this weekend I thought, "you know if I had a daughter, or a son for that matter if he wanted, I would be showing her these things." There is so much practical living that none of us learned, or maybe I am speaking out of turn, I know that I, at least, did not learn. I mean I am still learning how to do my laundry properly for goodness sake. It's as if the more things become easier i.e. we have to buy things already made for us, the coporate structure of "buy more, we'll do it for you" is making us a load of idiots who cannot make our own clothes, cook our own food, etc. For example, while doing my marketing on saturday, I noticed a new product which was pasta and sauce in a container (more packaging) that you microwave. I mean how hard is it to make pasta and sauce that you have to have it pre-made? I hope I am not too preachy today, but I honestly feel this way. I mean, so much of modern life scoffs at the very basics of living. Silly, really.

Now, back to my cooking frenzy this weekend: I am going to just show the recipes from my cookbook, so if you would like to try them, you will have them. Here are two of the recipes I used for last nights dinner. They both turned out lovely and I added a bit of grated parmesean and extra sharp cheddar to the potatoes and backed them just to melt the cheese. The meat was lovely and juicy. My husband gave me a great compliment at dinner. He said, "Wow, this looks like restaurant food" when it was placed before him. "This tastes so wonderful, I really feel like I am at a fine restaurant," said he. I am not kidding that he wouldn't stop talking about it even after dinner. It does make one feel good to make a happy setting and enjoyable experience for someone else. [I, too, think this is a very 50's concept of giving of oneself for the joy of another. Some might say, 'well, he gets his food cooked and his clothes washed', but I also get to stay home and enjoy making my home while he is out in the city toiling away to earn a living. I think we each give equally for one another and in so doing enjoy the two combined.]

I had one of my 'maid evenings' last night as well. Having her to help do bits and bobs and keep up with the dishes and set the table while I did the cooking was nice. One funny moment, which I guess is a confession of sorts, happened like this: I had the meat browning in fat on the stove, just finished and set aside the custard for the cake to cool, and I had slipped the cakes out of the pan and into the freezer to cool. I had broken up some bread into a bowl to make the stuffing and it called for melted butter so, without thinking, I cut the amount of butter I needed, slipped it into a bowl and popped it into the microwave. As the buzzer went off on the contraption my 'maid' and I both looked at each other; the clock ticked, the fat sizzled, I swear the custard gave one last little bubble. The room hung with the anticipation of what we had just done. I moved, with trepidation, towards the blinking eye of the robotic monster in the wall. Popped open the door and handed the little bowl to her and said, "Well, Gussie, here's a 10,000 dollar bowl of melted butter". We both laughed. When my friend is my maid I call her Gussie after the maid in Mr Blandings Builds a Dream House. She just seems like the perfect family helper. As a microwave WAS invented in 1955, it's cost at 1200 1955 dollars put it somewhere in the range of 10 grand. Oh, well, what's a gal to do. I cannot hide the microwave, as it is built into the wall. If it were a portable, I would have hid it away in the far reaches of the basement, but alas, I must merely fight the temptation to use it.

After this fine meal we had this weeks cake: two layer yellow cake with a custard cream filling and white icing. I LOVE the 7 minute icing. I made the chocolate version last week. I have included the recipes for the cake, filling and the entire page for the 7 minute frostening with all the variations. There is even a pictoral view of the best way to make the frostening. My schedule has now become to bake a new cake on sunday and then it goes in hubby's lunch all week and supplements some desserts after dinner. I had a little problem with my cake this week. All of the recipes say to pour the batter into paper-lined pans. Well, for the past two cakes, I hadn't any paper, so I used shortening and then floured it and it worked out fine. However, this week while marketing I bought some wax paper and the result was not good. Gussie and I decided that the wax in the paper melted into the batter and tore when we tried to remove it. Luckily, I was able to patch it up, it just wasn't as tall as I had hoped. We think I should have used parchment paper. Somtimes I feel like a child reaching for the hot stove and wondering what will happen. I am sure a lot of new wives felt this during this time, though they probably had more 'at home' training than I have ever recieved.
Here are the cake and icing and filling recipes.

So, the dinner went off without a hitch and Gussie, having been turned magically back into my friend, enjoyed the evening with us.

The previous night, Saturday night, is our movie night with our vintage couple. We are taking turns every saturday to have a 'movie and dinner night'. It was her turn this time and of course, we dressed vintage, well I do every day anyway, but I took extra time to do my face and hair. I wore a new hat of navy and white silk. She made baked cod with capers in cream sauce, cucumber and onion salad, and for dessert: our favorite diner food, bread pudding. It was all very yummy.

We just went along with the evening and after dinner the two of us had her cook books out as we went over recipes we want to try and then ended in her sewing room discussing patterns. The 'boys' did most likely what they would have done in the 50's and talked toys. Though, they were discussing computers and Linux and building a computer project they have, it certainly was not unlike two 1955 men discussing the latest television or other technology. It was nice.

I have to decide if this saturday, which is at my house, will be a french cooking theme or a new england theme. Itching to try both of my cookbooks.

Well, I guess I have rattled on long enough as there is laundry to get started. Today is laundry day and that is an all day chore. One nice blogger gave me a link to make my own dry starch from cornstarch, so we shall see how that goes. Hopefully my husband will have a closet full of crisp tidy clean shirts by the end of the day and not some ghastly stiff unwearable shirt-shaped boards. I can't help but think of various sitcom situations involving starch. Maybe, if I starch my girdle good and strong, it will help me to decrease my waist a few inches, hmmmm...

Until tomorrow, then, have a great day all.
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