Monday, January 5, 2009

5 January 1955 "Alvis" Presley

Good morning, here we are another day deeper into 1955.

I found an old bill for a show at the city auditorium in San Angelo (not sure what state?) for a show with various singing artists. "Alvis" Presley tops the bill. It was spelled Alvis. I suppose he is just starting to really begin to hit the scene. According to the accompanying article snippet, "in this 1,855 seat auditorium, hundreds of teenage girls rush the stage for autographs." I suppose as a childless housewife, it would be some time before I heard Elvis. On August 15, 1955, "Colonel" Tom Parker became Presley's manager, signing him to a one year contract, plus renewals. Several record labels had shown interest in signing Presley and, by the end of October 1955, three major labels had made offers up to $25,000. On November 21, 1955, Parker and Phillips negotiated a deal with RCA Victor Records to acquire Presley's Sun contract for an unprecedented $40,000, $5,000 of which was a bonus for the singer for back royalties owed to him by Sun Records (Presley, at 20, was officially still a minor, so his father had to sign the contract.
I guess they didn't really promote him until next year (1956). But, I wonder as a young couple would we have listened to Elvis? However, a young couple in 1955 was probably 20. I am not 20, so perhaps I would have stuck by my old standbys. I think rock and roll would probably slip me by, most likely, for a few years. Being a teen in the 1940's I would most likely still enjoy the ole' crooners.

This is an image and small article in my "The American Magazine" magazine, of which I have quite a few from 1951 thru 56. The article tells of this business based on the new fad for matching pets. These two ladies (identical twins) run Poodles by Dana, on NYC smart Madison Avenue. They'll rent you a dog to match your costume. "Supposing you have a red dress and a mink coat and want a French poodle to match," says the article, "Nothing to it. They will dye the dog the exact shade of your dress, encircle its neck with a mink collar, and deliver the pooch to your door." You are also allowed to purchase the pooch if u like him, apparantly, and u can take him back as often as u like to get his hair colored. Funny. I suppose this was the equivalent of the chihuahua/paris hilton dog craze of the 'future'. I wonder, though, as my mother in law has a poodle. On my trips to the city to shop and look chic, would I have borrowed him and had my had at it. I can see the mess in the bathroom now, pink food coloring all over my clean bathroom floor. They do look a treat, I have to say.

Well, tv is definitely a part of our culture here in 1955 as seen by this comic in my jan 55 magazine. I watched an episode of I love Lucy, which has been on since 51, on the 3rd of January. This was the day it actually aired. I know I am being anal about the dates, but I am sure this will loosen as I move forward just out of necessity. It was the episode in which Ricky purchaes a new car and teaches Lucy how to drive. It is still funny to me. I guess Lucy really sort of created what was to become the 'formula' for modern sitcoms.
Last night we went to 'the movies'. This involved five of us at our friends house. They have a projection tv that fills the wall, so it is really like going to the movies. Everyone dressed 'up'. I wore a dress, sensible flats and a cardigan. Even though we were at someone's home, it was meant to be a 'going out to the movies'. So I took out my 1954 copy of Amy Vanderbilts "everyday etiquette". I could find nothing about what to wear to the movies only actual theatre. I did wear a hat, as did my two female friends, mostly as we think it is fun to show them off. I suppose I would have worn a hat a gloves to go out.
Amy suggests, "when in doubt, wear a hat and gloves. If you arrive at any gathering and find everyone hatless, you may always remove your hat." She also goes on to say that wearing gloves in a hot climate or season can be uncomfortable, but it is better to at least carry them. She says that in NYC she wears white gloves on even the hottest day as she would rather have the discomfort than the grime of the city. That is funny, because it is the first time I really thought of that aspect of gloves. Not just the proper attire, or to complete an ensemble, but to protect yourself from grit and germs. It does make sense. I did wear gloves, as it was cold, but of course took them off for our stay. I have to say my girdle does pinch, but I sort of feel comfort in it as well. It causes me to be more aware of my posture, which in turn forces me to sit more upright and therefore I have not had a backache yet!
The movie we saw came out this year (1955). It is an Hitchcock film, "The Trouble with Harry". In the opening scene a young boy playing with a toy gun in the woods (foreshadowing I suppose) stumbles across a dead body. I couldn't help but think he looked familiar. It was the Beave, from leave it to Beaver, of course this show does not exist yet. You would think I would have noticed his name in the beginning credits, but I was too captivated by the opening credit images. They were so modern, simple line drawins with a very stark and sharp angle. They had that swedish modern feel much of the furniture 'today'(1955) has. I really liked the movie myself, perhaps more mild than other hitchcock films. There was pretty scenery in the opening shots as well.
Now, on to how I have been coping: Due to our having to go out last night and my deciding to make a 'burnt sugar cake' to take with me, I had to leave the kitchen messy. I am sure this must have happened to wives who poorly planned their time for the day, or did, as did I , attempt a recipe not realizing the amount of time involved. The cake and then frostening both needed caramalizing. It takes some time to heat up dry sugar over the stove to a melting point, then adding boiling water, etc. And this is the first frostening I have ever made from scratch. It turned out great, but I made that fatal error with cakes and tried to ice the cake hot. MISTAKE. The top layer proceeded to slide off the botton and the whole mess melted onto the kitchen table. I was left sad and upset. I had spent so much time on this only to have to leave the house empty handed and to know of the mess I must face this morning. I was too exhausted to do it last night and besides I needed time to run upstairs and touch up my face and slip into clean clothes.
I was able to put on a fine breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast (not at the table today) and fresh squeezed oj this morning despite the mess in which I had to do it. I served it in the dinning room (hence no toaster) and therefore saved my husband the necessity to see the messy kitchen. While we chatted over 'current events' with our coffee this morning, my mind kept wandering to the mess I had left and how I was antsy to get back to it. I hope my obsession with the home won't lull me away from caring about discussing topics at breakfast. I suppose this is all the more reason to make sure the kitchen is clean BEFORE breakfast, so I can have a civil discussion with my husband before he is off to work. I have to admit, as I was fumbling around with breakfast, a mess in the sink, the kitchen table a shrine to last nights cake failure( I swear to God, that cake stood like an ornament to my mistake, all lopsided and congealed drips of frostening. The table with a sticky mess!) I could not but help think of the clean dressed and aproned headless woman in my cookbook. Everything ordered and done properly. Rather than feel a failure now, however, I feel I want to work towards such a household. Clean, organized and comforting, so when I want to enjoy a good read or conversation with husband and friends I can. We shall see if it is possible. I do know not having the tv as a distraction helps immensely. I didn't watch a lot of it before, but now I never touch the thing, unless we are going to watch 'a show together'. I do feel like it has given me extra hours in the day.
Another period moment happened this morning too, I found myself humming a Doris Day tune. Just singing along to the song in my head. I have not missed 'modern' music as of yet, but we shall see. I find alot of the current music (1950s) is fun to sing along with. My friends and I were belting out the Doris Day tunes together in the car the other day on our shopping trip.
Well, that is enough computer time for me. I have laundry to do and iron. I clean bathrooms today. ( I am using comet and sponge and a mop and an old wringer bucket. I don't know if they had spray bathroom cleaners.) I am wearing my 'dungarees' and a head scarf covering my curlers (we are going out tonight so I need good hair) and a gingham check shirt, white socks and penny loafers. I hope I am not dressed too much like a teenager, but I am not planning on seeing anyone until tonight, and I don't think any neighbors will drop by for sugar. IF they do, they had better knock hard to be heard over the Kirby.
Have a great day everyone.


  1. Well written! That was a fun read. I felt like I was watching it just from the description.

    Sorry your cake didn't work out.

    I hear you about having the work up to date so that it's not weighing on your conscience.

    No TV works for me as I rarely watch.

    The computer, however, is another story...

  2. Just found your blog and I think this is a great idea - we're having a project making vintage underwear if you want to join in (sorry if this increases your online time!) - link is back on my blog. x

  3. You've inspired me to turn off my TV and do some cleaning... That is a feat you should be proud of!

    You mentioned a couple things about age in your post today that got me thinking. You mentioned being a 'young couple' but being older than what would have been a 'young couple' in 1955... I was thinking you could adjust your age for inflation, or whatever you would call it. In many ways we, as a society, age more slowly than in the 50's. Though, maybe women mature more quickly... I suspect a woman in her mid-20's today is much more experienced than in the 1950's, but probably more because we have more that we are allowed to experience.

    The other thing you mentioned was about dressing a bit like a teenager and I think that it is interesting how so much of what we associate with the 50's today is from the adolescent culture... rock 'n roll, B-movies, hot rods, rolled up jeans, saddle shoes etc. Adolescence was a booming industry in the 50's so I think it probably did take over a lot of stuff, but I wonder if then, as so often happens now, the adults tried to get in on what the kids were into?

  4. Don't forget the radio! Radio was still huge in 1955 and would probably have been on several times a day in the typical household. Here's a radio log from the New York Times for January 5, 1955:[n]55-01-05-(Wed).pdf

    You can see what a variety of programs were still being broadcast by radio. Many of them are still available in mp3 format:

    I was laughing as I watched an episode of "That Girl" last night from 1966 and realized that in a scene where the main character is feeding pigeons in the park she's wearing her gloves. Even a decade later, women are expected to be wearing gloves when "on the street." It's too bad about your cake. Good thing you have another room where you can serve breakfast without having hubby see the mess!

  5. Wow, thanks jitterbug, I was depending on cds in the old fashioned radio we have that has a secret cd player. I want to get radio programs and commercials from the radio as well. Yes, a dinning room is really useful in 1955.

  6. Hey girl!

    Just so you know, San Angelo is a city in Texas about 3 hours North of San Antonio.

    And there's your useless trivia for the day! ;0)

  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog :-D

    Hmm, advertising I suppose was known very differently in the 50s as to what it is like now. I wonder if a woman was only influenced through magazines?

  8. I think the radio and tv certainly influences a 1955 housewife. Also, the big grocery stores we know today were certainly spawned in this decade.
    Thanks for that Emer, I thought it might be Texas, but didn't want to assume and then offend.
    Concerning gloves, it's compeletly normal that I wear them now, but come June, it will be odd. I hope I don't drop a glass of lemonade on someone or somthing, they may be slippery!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I assume your garments dried quickly so you could get to your evening out!

    I hope this is OK. Please delete if not. I won't be offended!

    I'm having a giveaway that ends tonight for a 1952 hostess handbook. I wanted to make sure I got the word out to those who love vintage and would appreciate a good book like this!

    Stop by and leave a comment to enter.



  11. I too enjoyed the "The Trouble with Harry". That said, my two favorite 50's Hitchcock films are "Dial M for Murder" and "Rear Window".

    I've made a burnt sugar cake a few times and it is such a good cake! I cheat and make it in a 9x13 Pyrex pan. That way I can slap the lid on it and stick it in the refrigerator so it will keep until DH and I can eat it all.

  12. I always find that wearing day gloves really finishes an outfit off. I also like the fact that I can touch things and once my gloves are off I don't have to constantly wash my hands when out. It's a shame though that gloves worn out of season (ie - winter) causes many a frowning second glance.


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