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'.


  1. Oh my gosh, I LOVE your milk bottle! I never even thought to do that (Hubbs is lactose intolerant, so we have to buy special kind), but actually putting into a bottle yourself--pure genius! Where did you find a milk bottle in good shape? I have one, but it's from a thrift store and thus no cap was included. Please, do tell!

  2. Well, I am lucky that one of my favorite local antique/junk/collectible shop has a booth of ALL old bottles and such. This one was perfect as it is a half gallon size (what I normally buy for the week) and it came with its plastic rim top. I didn't realize they had them back then and had planned on just using the paper discs that they came with, and these are actually not hard to find as they often had collectible things on them so they are around and kicking. YOu may be able to get some on ebay, then u just pop it on the bottle u already have. I mean u just really want to keep the icebox smells out of it, so it doesn't have to be tight seal. Good luck!

  3. Oh I am loving that pattern!! The drop waist and the full skirt looks gorgeous! And what a bargain! :)

    Gemma x x

  4. Holy crap, that is the dress I want for my wedding! And it's available! You have made me happy beyond belief. I love this blog and now I love it even more!

  5. Bree- You should get that pattern if you like it soon, as Vogue has a habit of putting out vintage patterns for only a short while. I think this reissue JUST came out, so RUN, don't walk to your local fabric store and get it. It is V1094 and good luck!!

  6. I love your breakfast table! It might be safer not to show my family though ~ bacon & eggs as a fairly standard morning fare? They'd be in Heaven!

  7. I love those pictures on your pattern. Good job on getting it on sale! :)

  8. I have been meaning to post on your "diary" since the first time I read it. I want to thank you.

    I have been a housewife for the whole 7 years of my marriage. A lot of the time I get a lot of grief about my lifestyle from other people who think I need get off my fanny and get a job, it had really started to effect me in a negative way.

    You're writing has given me a new respect for myself, and encouraged me to more things in my day to day life. I had forgotten the great joy of cooking a real breakfast with no pre-prepared goodies, the pure serenity in knowing I have accomplished the household chores and I can relax. You gave me this encouragement to be more, to be what I have always wanted to be. I know this is going to sound silly, I mean all you do is simply write about your day to day life, but sometimes seeing things from another side makes the world of difference. You are that other side and you have made a world of difference.

    Since I started reading your diary, my self-esteem has risen, I feel revived, and I happy with who I am again!

  9. Love your breakfast table - I found some teacups just like yours at a thrift store not long ago, and have been drinking my morning green tea from them. Also, I get organic milk from a local farm in just such a bottle, which I return for a deposit. These old-fashioned ideas are coming back - don't you love it? Am now inspired to decant my juice into a jug, and get commercial advertising off my table altogether. Who needs that at breakfast time?

  10. I love that bathing suit, too, although it doesn't look as though there's anything holding it up but optimism.

    Have you seen the mid-century interiors on the Daily Bungalow's Flickr photostream?

  11. cebs-I have to say thank you so much for your kind words. It really does a heart good to know that you have touched someone so. I hope that my future blogs will be helpful and hopeful. I know when I first started the project it was almost as if I thought, "okay, this is okay to really be into the home and housework because it is a project, a study" which I think is just part of our modern concept of a person staying at home as not being 'a real job', but I have come to find that it is the hardest yet most rewarding career (and YES it is a career) I have done yet! Keep up your own good work and realize that everyday you 'make your home' you are an artist. You have created a piece of art that others can live and breath and eat and love in, it is an amazing thing.
    jo-I was lucky with my dishes, as I got an entire set, dinner plates salad plates dessert plates servers etc. I love it, they are my 'everyday' dishes.
    Shay-I am gonna check out that site.
    Thanks again, everyone.

  12. I find it very interesting to read about this project. I'm sure you're learning alot from it, not only about the 50's but also about yourself and today's society.
    I love interior design and I'm looking forward to see more of that on your blog!

  13. I covet that milk bottle and the salt/pepper/sugar bowl set (is that a matching butter dish lurking in the back?)

    To add to the girdle discussion, I too am an OBG gal, which I think it a bit more period appropriate. Plus you can get the really long ones that go from under the but to over the bum.

  14. Speaking about homemaking being a career, just last night a 17 year old girl asked me what my career was. I told her I was a homemaker, and she laughed at me. Her reply was, "That's not a job. You don't get paid for that." My reply to her was, "What does money have to do with it? If you are getting to do what you really want to do, and what makes you happy, why does it matter if you are getting paid? I love being a homemaker, and it's what I really want to do. Why would I do something else, that I don't enjoy doing as much, just to get money? I'm doing what I really want to do." Her surprised response back to me was, "Yeah, but don't you want to be something? When most girls are asked what they want to be, they say they want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or something. They don't say they want to be a homemaker. Yes, they say that they would like to be a mom someday, but after they have their career." My response, and the end of the conversation, was, "I am something. I'm a homemaker, and it's what I've always wanted to do. I never wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, etc. I'm getting to do what I've always wanted to do. Money has nothing to do with it (meaning money does not dictate what my passion and interests in life are)."

    I am grateful that my husband makes enough money so that I can continue to be a homemaker. I know that there are situations where this in not possible. I know I am fortunate to be doing what I really want to do, and my husband really appreciates what I do. We are a happy, contented family, doing what we all do...that's what matters.

  15. I love everything on the table! I really thought the pictures were from an old cookbook.
    Love your blog. I've been reading it since you started, but this is my first comment.
    Cissi from sweden

  16. red lipstick-there will definitely be some interior design happening in the futue with pics
    Teru-it is, indeed, a matching butter dish, though they are actually two different companys, but I mostly collect kitchen items in that blue, my friends call it my 'signature blue' and when we are shopping I often here, "Oh, they have this in your signature color". The milk bottle I LOVE. I got it from a local antique shop that has a section DEVOTED to old milk/cream bottles and antique cans an such.
    PL-good for you! It is SO true that much of modern girls idea that Homemaking is not a career is based on 1)no money 2)it is not being a professional. It is funny that women had to fight tooth and nail to be allowed other careers and now if they choose the old time career of housewife, they are laughed at. We are always the hardest on our own sex, I wonder why?
    ZiZZi-After I took the photos and put them up I thought, "wow those look SO vintage, but nope that is my real table and my real life. I think because of the vintage cloth and dishes in the old color and the antique milk bottle etc it looks that way. I always thought they tinted the old photos in the magazines, but when I saw that I thought, "No, it is just because of the color of the pottery and tablecloths etc"
    Thanks everyone.

  17. Thank you for visiting my blog and your kind comment. I think what you're doing sounds really interesting. Not sure I could manage it though!

  18. Thank you for introducing me to John Updike! I've never read anything by him before, but those two poems piqued my interest, and I'm definitely going to find some more of his work to read. I love the way you talk about all sorts of things in your post, from current events, to fashion, to your musings on what life was like in the 50s. It's always a pleasure to read.

  19. I would have been amused to see the looks on the faces of anyone eavesdropping on you and your vintage friend's girdle conversation. :)

    I do agree with you totally about open bottom girdles, I've been wearing them daily for years. I also think they're more appropriate for the 1955 time period you've chosen to adhere to in your project. I believe panty-girdles were available at the time, however, in talking to several older ladies I know, my grandmother in particular, I thing the view among most at the time was that open bottom girdles were preferred and deemed to be somehow more acceptable, panty-girdles being relegated for occasional wear under more casual attire.

    I for one, think they are great for providing the required support and figure control as well as doing an excellent job of holding up my stockings securely and keeping the seams straight, especially the ones with six, as opposed to four, garters.

  20. 1 more vintage-alas my main girdle only has four, but it does seem to do the job. It is my newest one and is in fact not a vintage one perse, but I found at a local store that same company making them as they did then but new in the box and I got to try one on before I chose. It seems my black coffee, dry toast, and bacon fat diet is paying off, as I was able to go down a size in a girdle. I am really surprised how comfortable I feel and how odd I feel when I do not wear one (with my dungarees, I wonder would they have worn one then too, I don't think mine would fit under my dungarees?


 Search The Apron Revolution