Thursday, January 8, 2009

8 January 1955 "some news, some fashion and some bacon fat"

Well, let's start with some news. Here is what hubby and I discussed over breakfast today:
Two Americans return to the free west from a Siberian labor camp and later
report there’s still a third American there. (Pentagon investigators say they have obtained the memoir of a Russian emigre and former prisoner who claims that dozens of American servicemen from World War II and the Korean War were detained in Siberian labor camps in the former Soviet Union. This last bit is from a modern article on it. What is scary is I guess there were some who were never released. Could there still be some there alive now? I shudder to think...)

Chs. Pfizer & Co. announces it has received a patent for the antibiotic drug

Sarah Churchill, daughter of Winston Churchill is jailed briefly in the County jail in Los Angeles. The charge was common drunkenness.

Fashion news – (this I did NOT discuss with hubby)
Christian Dior comes out against knees, elbows and super sophistication, but he thinks sweaters and pleated skirts are fine. “The knee,” he told the American Woman’s Club of Paris, “is the ugliestspot in a woman’s anatomy.”

As you will recall, gals, Dior gave us the NEW LOOK in 47. It was post war, materials were available, and Rosy the rivertor had to lay down her drill press and be feminine again. I have to say, though, that I adore this look. Here is the snippet about this dress:
"Chérie" exemplifies the "New Look" in all its salient elements: sloped shoulder, raised bustline, narrowed waist, and a monumental volume of skirt falling away from a padded hipline to below the calf. The New Look arrived uncompromised and complete, not as a tentative suggestion or stage in evolution. Here, the skirt is made of the full width of the fabric, selvage to selvage, disposed horizontally. Consequently, at the waist the necessary folding-under of the pleated fullness creates a compressed, thirteen-and-a-half-yard seam allowance, the substantial bulk of which pads the hips. This virtuoso achievement in dressmaking was reached by the compression of vast volume into an adjoining sculptural reduction. Dior prided himself on the handwork in his creations."
Some women actually protested the longer skirt, wanting to show their leg. Really the shorter skirts of the 1940's really developed due to rationing and women also needed the ease of movement that wartime elicted. Prior to the war, the 1930's saw a lengthening of hemlines after the above the knee look of 1926. It is funny how military a look the 40's had with their shoulder pads.

This dress is primarily remembered for having been in the wedding trousseau of Olivia de Havilland (who was married in 1955), this gray wool suit is the transfiguration of the man's suit as an expression of the feminine. More importantly, this suit, long anticipated by Dior's interest in tailoring and in menswear fabrics, is poised on the edge of his move away from the New Look's historicism toward a simpler, increasingly reductive, architectonic geometry. [The essential A-line of the 1960s began here. So says my crystal ball. This would be a good redux to do to an old man's suit from a thrift store. I am not sure if I would do that in 1955, though I would be industrious. I am sure I would have seen it in a magazine of the day as showing a movie stars trousseau would have most likely occured. This does look quite modern. As a housewife I would most likely not afford coture, but as an artistic person I would have copied what I could from my Harpers and my Vogue and let the mouths hang at the club and bridge nights!]

I really like the new look. Since wearing a gridle and finding it secretly wonderful (it can pinch, but it gives more than a corset ever has and I have worn a corset) I would LOVE to get one of these little mini corsets some women wore to get the wasp waist. Some of Diors early New Looks had padding at the hips to help thin the waist and also a version of the 1860s hoop skirt, but these did not take on, as unlike the floor length skirts of their victorian couterparts, the bell like movement with a shorter skirt lenght often lead to revealing more than one wanted. What do you think of this little corselette? What do you think of the new look's feminine soft shoulder, full skirt, small waist, longer skirt? Would you have embraced it or picketed for shorter skirts? Although I do not have kids, I can bet it is easier to move about with a full skirt past your knee with kids in public than the micro-minis that are in the future.
So, today I made homemade pancakes. I came to realize that pancake mix is merely the dry ingredients and the just add water most likely has powdered milk. From scrath, pancakes are quite simple. 1 cup flour, 2 TBS baking powder, 2 TBS sugar ( I added cinnamon too), an egg, and here it is gals, as it read in my 50's cook book (2 tbs oil, melted butter, or BACON FAT). Well, guess which one I chose. I mean, the bacon is there right in front of me frying away. It has become a sort of morning companion of mine. Its sizzle, its aroma mingled with the coffee perk perk perculating away, it's intoxicating I tell you. This moment had a sort of hitchcock movie moment for me. The bacon was snapping away happily in the pan, my finger (nice red nails too) slid down the list of ingredients and bam! I read the words "or Bacon Fat" the music crescendos, I look to the bacon, its inticing hot crispness lures me in. I look back, tremulous, my finger shaking a bit. Did I read write? Could it be? Yes, BACON FAT, it says it right there in black and white. I return my gaze and the camera swoops in "Da Da Daaaahhhhhh" I'm doing it. And I did. They were lovely and yummy. My husband said, after his first mouthful, 'are these homemade?' to which I happily replied, "yes they are, honey". "They are really good" and you know he helped himself to a second stack. I had an image of an old commercial I had seen about coffee where the woman is worried to her neighbor that her husband wasn't happy about how she made the coffee. "he never asks for a second cup at home" she says. So, quitely to myself I thought, 'he always asks for a second stack at home'. And, instead of feeling foolish or silly or unliberated, I actually felt kind of proud. It is these little moments like this when I actually feel I am having a genuine 1955 moment. There is so much modern that I cannot get away from, like this computer I am typing on, but sometimes, when I am at my dressing table curlers in, or in the kitchen in the morning, or cleaning with the loud roar of the kirby in my loafers and rolled dungarees and scarfed head, that I have to stop and say, wait, what year is it?
I have to confess, though, that I did spend some time last evening on the computer. I told myself it was like looking at magazines or reading, and it was to veiw other blogs and such. It is hard to not use it. I would not even mind so much, but it sucked me in so, that when I went to bed I hadn't the energy to do the dinner dishes and there they sat, cold and congealed this morning: A symbol of my housewifery failure. But, let me tell you. I love a dinning room. It used to be that unused space that many people were doing without, but when a wife wants to be a little lazy, a clean ordered dinning room with breakfast all set up and lovely can really make up for that dripping cold faucet of cold congealed fat awaiting one in the kitchen. A happy wave goodbye and then the return to my failings. What is a woman to do? I suppose this happened then, too. There were probably many messy kitchens in the evenings, but this is usually when I do the dishes and hubby helps dry, but we wanted to read last night and I to use the computer. I, however, am not going to make a habit out of it. Can you forgive me my failings, dear readers?


  1. The part about you deciding to use bacon fat in your pancakes was hysterical!

  2. A bad housewife like me, would have made the Husband do all the dishes LOL !
    Loved reading about your pancackes! sound yummy .
    From sesga x

  3. Loved your bacon fat story. And I totally agree with Dior about the knee thing (at least with my knees!)

  4. I do love words that paint a picturte. Bravo!

    Bacon fat IS divine, isn't it?



    Here are 13 ways to use BACON GREASE! The first 10 are from 1942.


  6. I also have a weakness for anything cooked with bacon fat. I'll have to try them with pancakes.

    As for your questions about the New Look. One of the things that's great about wearing vintage clothes is that we have the opportunity to switch decades and styles on a day-to-day basis. I love the New Look and have several dresses in that style, but I love to have the opportunity of wearing a dress with a shorter and less voluminous skirt when I feel like it. The corsets that women wore with these dresses are still available on Ebay. I have a Warner's Merry Widow from the New Look period and I love it. It does pinch, but it makes my waist as small as Scarlett O'Hara's. It does, however, give more than a Victorian style corset (I have worn one of those too). An authentic Merry Widow can be expensive, though. You can, however, achieve a somewhat similar effect with the waist-cincher that is still made by the Rago company. A New Look dress without one of these '50s style corsets just doesn't look right, in my opinion. I think, however, that the very little waist-cincher featured in your picture would not do the trick with most dresses of the period. You need something a little fuller.

  7. Wow, thanks for all your comments, I am glad to see I am not the only one with a penchant for some bacon fat! I am going to look for a merry widow and/or a waist cincher. I need the look! When my year is done, I too shall love the freedom to choose from decades. It is really a modern thing to choose skirt lengths, it seems, as the women who picketed to have the new look not allowed, they could have just worn what they wanted, but I suppose it was just not an option. I sort of like, right now, that I need to stick to a certain time period. It gives me a structure I am not familiar with in the modern world. I will check out the bacon site too, yum. Tho, I will have to get an extra strength merry widow if I eat TOO much bacon.

  8. One thing that is great about the Warner's Merry Widow is that you have a choice about how tightly to be hooked in. There are two parallel rows of eyes for the hooks. I would definitely suggest a looser hookup if you're going anywhere near bacon pancakes. Seriously, though, I do eat less when I wear a waist-cincher or a Merry Widow. They are definitely effective diet aids.

  9. That is a definite for me, then. If my girdle has helped me already to eat less, a merry widow might be the diet aid for 1955. Thanks everyone for reading, commenting, and helping me. See you all tomorrow.

  10. I started kindergaren in '55, and remember it well: listening to the soaps on the radio when we ate lunch (campbell's soups and jello).
    We didn't see many corsets or high fashion--these were young housewives with kids to raise on a limited post WW2 budget. But I do remember knealing before a row of mommies to measure all of their hem heights to see who was the most fashionable! Otherwise, they wore jeans and blouses most of the time, and hi-waisted girdles when the dress required (rather than merry widows: those were for weddings only). I loved the fashion magazines, and mostly the ads. I collect those magazines now--you should feel free to follow those crazy recipes in Ladies Home Journal or McCall's magazines, it's what we ate! (not alot of fresh veggies back then).
    enjoy your year!
    (ps, I currently live in a 1905 bungalow: no dishwasher or othe features--it's 1905 by default around here!)

  11. Wow, Jen, thanks for the info. I may be bugging you for more info in the future. I love fashion and not sure how that would see itself thru in 1955. I am actually really becoming more interested in my 'history', what lead up to where I am now 1955. As a childless couple, I also wonder if we would be frowned upon in our community. I think I would only wear the merry widow to more dressy occassions as well.

  12. My mother told me the other day that when she was a little girl (in the '50s) hugging an aunt meant hugging a girdle. It made me laugh!

  13. It's like saying 'aunt flo is visiting', my friends and I have said this jokingly for awhile, but I think it is now rather appropriate slang for your monthly 'visitor or curse'.

  14. Hi Nice Blog .In this, the body is studied by regions rather than by organs. This is of importance to the surgeon who exposes different planes after the skin incision and who, of course, must be perfectly familiar with structures as he explores the limbs and Knee cavities.

  15. Yes, I remember something like a corset or merry widow as something that was worn under a wedding or bridesmaid's gown.

  16. Isn't if funny how you can forget yourself and even the year? I was a few years ago living in a very quiet village with not much through traffic and was quite consumed with the 1940's and what that had to offer. Suddenly out of nowhere I heard an eerie sound ... that of an air raid siren. I was in the bedroom tidying at the time and froze. My eyes widened and instead of wondering where that siren was coming from, for a brief moment I wondered if I would fit under the bed and if I'd be safe there as we had no Anderson Shelter. Instead I got to my feet and ran to the window to investigate further. The sight of modern cars outside and modern clothing on next door's washing line quite threw me. I still have no idea where that siren was coming from!


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