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!


  1. I had a part time job a few years ago and it came up in conversation that one of my employers was about a month younger than me. She also happened to share a birthday with one of my relatives. I thought that was kinda neat, so I made a note to remember her birthday when it came around.

    The schedule worked out in such a way that I didn't work with her on her birthday. The next day that we worked together, I immediately wished her a belated "Happy Birthday!" and politely asked if she had had a nice birthday. She turned to me and said in an angry tone "How do think it was? I can no longer say that I'm in my early thirties!!" and proceeded to stalk off. I was really stunned. I'd had the same birthday the month before and I didn't think that much about the number.

    Today, I am much more aware of how some women of my so called "enlightened generation" are still letting their age determine their happiness.

    Hi, my name is Hairball. I'm 40, and I'm faaabulous! LOL

  2. Thank you for your visit to my blog, I'm pleased to have stopped by yours, It's very interesting!

    Victoria xx

  3. wow with mixed boundaries back then in the 50s they were really pushing the social and cultural boundaries. Good for them, I've never been for segregation anyway...

  4. amy-me either. Though there was much racism and sexism still going on, we really start to see that change in this decade. You have to start picking at the morter before the wall comes down.

  5. I am loving those summer outfits!

    By the way, I responded to your comment on my blog. That little daily menu you have going on looks good, but what do you do for snacks?

    Perhaps we should be so inspired (for our waist lines and for others') to start writing down what we're doing to lose weight? Hmm... I smell a new post to write! ;0)

  6. That is a great idea emer, yesterday snacks for me was a small portion of oyster crackers. But, I am trying not to snack and my husband is at work all day and on weekends, he is not a snacker. (he is the type who just naturally eats small portions doesn't like a lot of sweets but can eat large every so often and not gain a pound, it's his genes).

  7. Hi, thanks so much for your comment, I could have sworn I was following yours but found I wasn't (though I am now!).

    I saw a Poirot the other day that was set in 1935, so would probably seem terribly old fashioned to you but there were some lovely hats and gloves and I love the art deco furniture (which I know is well out of fashion twenty years later!)

    I hope the ironing and starching went well, your cake looks delicious xxx

  8. What a cool project your into! Living like the 50's... I could do something similar, but be the working girl at the office :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  9. ooh Elina, that would be such a great project, or should I say, it would be swell. It could be a cross between mad men and that great Katherine Hepburn movie "Desk Set"

  10. Re the clothes. Well, of course, in the late 1960s, it was not hip in the youth culture to care about clothes, and in the early 1970s high fashion changed such that models in Vogue were customarily wearing clothes that were previously considered only worn by streetwalkers. What I see is that we seemed to have substituted "hot" and "sexy" for beauty. I also see in clothes a lot of disrespect. Wearing neat and clean more formal clothes is a sign of respect--for our church, for our school, for the public. I cannot say that I am an exception to this rule, although I never wear anything less than office clothes to church, and generally in the office I wear a dress or a skirt. It irritates me when I see American sightseers walking around the nation's capital all dressed in LL Bean shorts and t-shirts as if they were bird watching--rather than paying their respect to the great history of this country. French women dress as we used to in the 1950s in public--neat, trim, hair in place, well-groomed, in heels. I would say that the general slovenliness of our clothes also helps disguise the slovenliness of our bodies--another problem the French have dodged.

  11. I agree with the point of the French. There was an article I read last year (and I think a whole book if I am not mistaken) about how French women eat high fat rich foods but are thin and alot had to do with not only portions, but the amount of time they take to eat. They linger and talk and enjoy and smoke etc. They even have the mandatory month off a year. I remember my first time in Paris as a young woman (20) I was quite surprised how the help in stores did not treat you like they do in the states. And when August rolled around so many of the shops just shut down for the month, can you imagine that happening in the usa? I, too, think somehow sex over beauty seems to reign supreme. Now, though I do wear trousers sometimes to clean (though today I wore a skirt) I always make sure I look 'good' when I go out. For instance I have to go get my brakes done on my car tomorrow, but since I am going out I will make sure I have my hat on, hair in place, hose and nice shoes and bag. It just seems normal to me at this point.

  12. The clothes of the mid-fifties don't tempt me much (although they're designed much better than the ones you find today!). I collect vintage needlework magazines (pre-1955) and post a lot of the patterns and projects on my blog. I love the models from the immediate postwar/pre-New Look era. Classy and attractive.

  13. I love what you are doing, how fabulous!

    And I love that you wrote you are at "The University Of Home".

    Choosing a dress for the opera looks like such fun <3 xxx


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