Tuesday, January 6, 2009

6 January 1955 New Senator

We have a new senator from South Carolina, who is shown here being sworn in by our vice-president, Richard Nixon. His name is Strom Thurman and he is a member of the Democratic segregationist party of the south. (did a chill just run through your bones?)

There is talk that when our president runs for another term next year (1956) he will keep Nixon as his running mate. I suppose, as an american with a husband who may or may not have had to be in Korea, supporting the man who is responsible for ending the Korean War (1950-1953) would be the american mind set. His running mate in '51 was Adlai Stevenson. I can't but help to think that with our mind set, my husband and I would most likely have been Adlai supporters. Here is a snippet of his speech at the election at the Democratic National Convention:
"When the tumult and the shouting die, when the bands are gone and the lights are dimmed, there is the stark reality of responsibility in an hour of history haunted with those gaunt, grim specters of strife, dissension, and materialism at home, and ruthless, inscrutable, and hostile power abroad. The ordeal of the twentieth century – the bloodiest, most turbulent age of the Christian era – is far from over. Sacrifice, patience, understanding, and implacable purpose may be our lot for years to come. … Let’s talk sense to the American people! Let’s tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that we are now on the eve of great decisions."

He was considered by republicans and working-class democrats as having an indecisive aritsocratic air and a know-it-all "egghead". (If I can peer into the future for the moment, not unlike poor Sen. John Kerry) I think, considering our own aims and feelings towards the world, we would have been for Stevenson, but it is hard to tell. I think I would have been college educated, as my family had been then, but it is hard to say.

It looks like there is a new craze for Do it yourself. I guess the increase in family homelife and the family unit and growing home-owners have naturally led to this. I have to say this would be little changed for me in either decade, however the tools might be a little simpler in 1955.

Fashions seem rather sensible, as well as ornamental. I have plans to make more skirts as they are simple to throw on with sweaters and tops that I have. The hats are small and I don't feel that odd wearing them out in public. The other day my friend and I (she too dressed vintage as promised) elicted some stares, but mostly nice, at the grocery store. We recieved two compliments on our hats and I found many women would look at us and then sort of adjust their puffy ski-style jacket or overbig sweater. As if, on some basic level, they felt the need suddenly to 'spruce up'. It makes me wonder, were we all suddenly one season to wear dresses and more fitted coats, would it be normal the following year that we all would. People do seem to have a sheep like 'following' quality.

I promise more pictures in my own clothes. Yesterday I sat all day (well, I didn't do alot of sitting) in curlers. I loved how my hair turned out last night and forgot to have hubby take a picture. He loved the hair, and I wore my new navy swing coat my brown patterened skirt and crinolin, and brown fitted sweater. I really like my hair curled, but coming home so late as we did last night, I didn't set my hair. So, today I have it pulled up in a french twist and I readjusted my curled bangs. As I am only washing my hair once a week, keeping my hair spruced up is not as hard as one might think. In fact, I am finding it quite liberating to not have to wash my hair daily. You can see how the more elaborate curled short cuts of the day were not in fact time consuming, as u often are merely readjusting last nights curls with a few bobby pins and some spray, or if u merely wet your hair with a comb and set it the night before, it really seems easier than the chore of blowdring and styiling your hair everyday. I am now using hair spray, but I think my hair will actually be healthier without having it shampooed everyday.
I thought having stockinged legs exposed in the cold would be an issue, but last night was fine. Of course, I wasn't out building snowmen, but the house we went to for the party last night has a very long drive (U cannot see the house until u make two turns on the drive, that is how long it is!) and most of it was a sheet of ice, so we parked half way down and walked the rest of the way to avoid getting stuck. I am rather used to the stockings and cold air. I think I will be more affected by the heat and stockings, but on casual days I believe I will be allowed to wear pants and shorts. I am not sure if skirts would be worn without stockings if it is summer and u are wearing, say , sandals. If anyone knows, let me know. I will try to research it before summer. I know that during WWII rationing I would have had to draw a stocking line down my leg but in fact I would have been bare-legged, although only out of necessity. I did find out that seamless stockings had been around longer than I thought, but most women chose the seam as the other gave the appearance of a bare leg and that was not the desired 'finished' look.
I was much more prepared for breakfast this morning. I decided to use the dinning room again, although the kitchen was spic and span as of last night, I made sure of that. But, I found it easier to lay out the things that I could right away, the oj and cups and trivets for eventual hot things, the cutlery and napkins (cloth so that adds to the laundry). I set the oatmeal on to boil and the eggs (hubby got eggsalad with bacon today for his sandwich) and continued to prepare coffee and tea and get the other lunch things set. I was able to be at the table with hubby piping hot oatmeal served and ready to enjoy together. I really do want to not be the wife constantly running in and out for things. Having had everything ready, we were able to discuss 'current events' (today it was the above topic of Strom and Nixon). My husband did ask me if it was necessary to sit at either ends of our long dinning table and I told him I liked it that way as it allowed us to look at one another and have a conversation without turning our heads. It also allowed for the breakfast things to be placed comfortabley apart. He then agreed with me. I looked through my Amy Vanderbilts guide and could find no proper etiquette for the dinning room with your husband and yourself.
Today is ironing and bed linens. Vacuuming upholstery and curtains. Cleaning the fireplaces of ash. I want to go out, as well, as I need to purchase some flat sheet sets. My fitted sheets are not only cheating, but impossible to properly iron. I think I would have use of the car, even if we had only one. As I would drive my husband to the train (as in man in the grey flannel suit) and pick him up at the end of the day.
Oh, on the ruined cake front, there was a salvation. Yesterday, after getting hubby off and returning to the dreaded kitchen, I was able to reice the cake and it looked not too bad. There will be a slice a day in hubbys lunch. He said it was delicious.
On the husband front I have to say my husband seems as happy as ever. Last night my friends fiance' was listening to my friend and I ( she loves vintage as well and looked a treat in her grey wool pencil skirt and black silk blouse and horn rimmed glasses) talking about this or that recipe that we wanted to try. He laughed and at first we thought he was making fun of us, he then said, "No, I was just thinking how spoiled we will become with all the food. We will be eating like kings come summer" It made us both smile and for that moment I felt an odd pride. One in pursuing somthing that was exciting for me, but in it's doing brings happiness and pleasure to those we hold most dear. I can see that if you are happy with your spouse and he or she does not mind your being at home, there is alot of pleasure in making them happy through homemaking, if it is also rewarding for you.
On a more delicate matter, I have to say I really like the underware. I am fairly tall and stockings and garters are a dream. Whenever I wore modern hose, they were never long enough and would always sag in the crotch. I also have to say that I think men, at least my hubby, prefer stockings and garters. Think of how sensual you might look in a tight fitting bodice or cone bra and stocking and garters and now think how you look in traditional pantyhose, particularly if they are control top and of course you would not wear a slip or anything over the modern form. Just an interesting point.
I know it is still early days, but I have not felt put upon or trapped as of yet. I am giving myself time to study and read during the day on the time period and my husband is interested in my findings and brings me what he finds as well. There is enough time in the day, as well, to really care about my appearance. I was sitting at my dressing table yesterday for half an hour putting up my hair and doing my nails and for a second thought, "What am I doing, why am I wasting so much time on this" but then realized before I had that thought, I was truly enjoying myself on a very basic level. The result of that time also elicited positive response from my friends and husband on my hair and how I looked 'so nice'. One could get used to such personal time and such compliments. I do wonder how this will change me by the end of the year. Should I be frightened?


  1. Hi! I enjoy your blog very much. I was born in 1953, the youngest of 7 children. My oldest sister was 17 when I was born and was married in the late 50's, so I have an idea of both my Mum and my sister as adult women of the 50's. Regarding the stocking issue, I do remember my mother not wearing stockings around the house in the heat of summer but always wearing them when going out. We lived in a rural area on a farm not in the city. I actually remember my mother wearing a dress even if she was doing things outside on the farm, if you can believe it. She didn't wear pants/slacks until fairly late in her life. Heather

  2. I do hope I was okay to wear my dungarees to work in the house yesterday. I have seen this in my magazines, women working in trousers. I suppose I would follow the same, bare legged with a few friends, stockings (seamed of course) to anything more formally social. I am considering a dress for dinner concept for myself, as my husband is usally in a tie at dinner anyway, having come home from work.

  3. Me again! I'm sure you were right to wear your dungarees. My mother would have been a product of another era really having been married two decades before the 50s.

  4. When I wear a skirt with sandals in summer, I do wear stockings. I have the impression from what I've read that this would have been expected if you were going out in public in the '50s and '60s, but not necessarily if you were just staying around the house. In any event, when I first started wearing vintage and wearing stockings, stockings were generally sold either with a re-inforced toe or without one. Stockings without a re-inforced toe were referred to as "sandalfoot," which gives you the idea that it was customary to wear stockings with sandals.

  5. Hi 50s wife. I'm really enjoying your blog. I'm very interested in fashion from the 1920s through the 70's and have done some research. Trousers, slacks, and dungarees were acceptable for work around the home, especially more strengous activities like gardening and scrubbing the floor, but would have been frowned upon for anything else except very causal activities like clambakes, athletics, etc.

  6. As for as stocking during the warm months: around the house and for very limited actitivies (i.e. running to the corner market), it would okay to be barelegged with a full cotton skirt and sandals, preferrably with a tanned leg (tanned to suggest stockings). This would also be appropriate for the beach, resort wear, and casual picnics...in fact the playset consisting of shorts under a full wrap or buttoned skirt was popular for those occasions. For anything else, stockings, especially in town. Two good reference books that answer these questions: The Dress Doctor by Edith Head (published in 1959), and Elegance by Geneveive Dariaux (find the original..the recent reprint has been altered considerably). Elegance was published in the early sixties, but the writer was an older conservative woman, so most of the advice would have been applicable in the 50s, and she occasionally mentions what she would have done differently then.

  7. Wow, thanks for all the advice everyone. I think I will get that edith head book ( I loved her fashions for the old movies!) alhtough technically it won't be published for another four years. I think I remember seeing hose labeled 'sandalfoot'. When I read your comment it was one of those ah-ha moments. I remember when my husband took up the pipe a few years back, we were sitting and he was looking to clean his pipe and we both said, "PIPE CLEANERS" and it struck us, o yes, they are not just for crafts!
    Thank you so much all of you for coming along on this journey, it really makes it more fun and I feel lees intimidated.

  8. I was doing a giveaway on my blog and I'm sorry that you didn't win. I DO, however, appreciate your comments and wanted to let you know.

    I promised it would be random, but your entry caused me to want to bend the rules!

    Thank you,


  9. I found your blog today. Good luck with your project! :)

    I don't like fitted sheets myself. I'd much rather tuck in the flat ones. I also use two pillowcases on each pillow to help keep the pillows cleaner. I put on a pillowcase and then insert the end of the pillow that has the pillowcase opening into another pillowcase. It does create more laundry but, I can go for longer until I need to wash the pillows. Since I like white sheets and pillowcases, I don't have problems with them matching.

  10. I am having fun reading your blog and the comments.
    It's a little weird to realize that people are researching in books a time period one has lived thru and remembers.
    So I am wondering why you don't just ask someone in their late 60's or ealy 70's about alot of these things? Someone who graduated from high school in '58 is only 69 right now--they would have been 15 during your year and would be a great resource.
    so here's my 2 cents (funny, the computer doesn't have a cent symbol anymore)

    summer wear: where are you living? here in Southern California, bare legs were OK if tanned (as mentioned above), and with casual, loose skirts. Stocking were worn to lunch, dinner or appointments. Strappy sandals with heels were worn with stockings that had light colored heels and toes (this practice existed thu the late 60's--til the total mini/hippie thing did that look 'in'.

    Etiquette books: women were more likely to get their info from women's magazines of the day: McCall's, Ladies Home Journal, Women's Day. I remember alot of joking about the formality of the Emily Post and others.

    I think your meals would be fine sitting across from each other in the middle of the table (or next to each other).
    p.s. Daddies usually went straight to the bedroom and removed their ties and shirts before dinner: changing into a sport shirt or Hawaiian shirt. Dress shirts were too hard to keep clean, so they avoided eating in them, ditto neck ties. Also, when they came home they removed the entire suit, hanging it up to 'air out', since dry cleaning was really expensive. Khaki pants or flannels were OK around the house in the evenings- with a 'Mr. Rogers' style cardigan (cute!)

  11. Wow, thanks for your advice. I WISH I had someone to talk with from that time period, but honestly they are either too old or too young. I know Amy Vanderbilt is not to be taken TOO seriously, but it is fun as I am sure people did read it. I think it was on the best selling list as well.
    The Mr. rogers sweater is up my husbands aisle, that's for sure. Not so sure about the hawaiian shirt, though.
    Thanks again.

  12. I was born in '53. Dungarees and skirts with sandals and no hose were ok for rural places. If you went to work or church or any place else, stockings were required, even with sandals. I myself remember wearing sandalfoot stockings even in the 60's and 70's. Your toe always poked through them, as they were not toe-reinforced.

    My grandmother always wore a housedress, but would sometimes go without girdle and stockings if at home by herself. If a guest came over, she would excuse herself and go in the bedroom and put them on. If she was wearing them and then got hot or uncomfortable, she'd take off the girdle and roll the stockings down around her ankles (not very attractive).

    Bare legs were for resort areas, not for in the city or if you were going any place. Plus, you'd wear a girdle so you wouldn't "jiggle" and look improper, and then you needed stockings to hold it down so it didn't ride up.

  13. My mother only had one pair of dungarees, Hers were girls jeans. They had side slash pockets and a side zipper. She only wore them when she would be on a ladder using the soft clay like stuff used then to clean wall paper. So maybe 3 days a year. She never wore any other slacks till the very late 60s. For added warmth under our dresses and skirts in winter we wore what we called snuggles. They were cotton knit close to knee length undies to wear over your girdle. It helped keep the cold out. We sometimes wore knee soxs over our hose with boots when we were going to town if we were walking or taking the bus when it was snowing. Then once there you took the sox off. Put your heels or other shoes on in the tote you carried for them and took your boots or snow shoes and put them in. In winter also had split nylon half slips that had a full leg and looked like culottes over the snuggles if we wanted to further keep our legs warm. As ou are saying you are just learning but back then everyone knew how they dressed and what was proper and accepted..or not! Sarah


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