Monday, February 9, 2009

11 February 1955 "Colds, Commercials, & Cookies"

Hubby and I were feeling a bit under the weather yesterday. He, as usual, did not miss work. I don't know about any of your signifigant others, but it takes malaria mixed with the measels to get my husband to stay home from work. I, however, am always at work (the home) and so my day was definitely affected by my cold like symptoms.

Not sure what would have been available to me, I just took an aspirin and ate an orange for breakfast. So, I spent some of yesterday trying to see what was available and what one would do in 1955 if they had a cold. As usual, my research turned up some interesting bits of information.

This poster from war time definitely would make you think twice before staying home from work. To think you were in anyway jeopardizing the 'boys overseas' would have made you buck up and work through the cold.

I think even as a homemaker during wartime, everything you did would have seemed important and therefore you would try to avoid a cold as much as possible or either ignore it.

I believe this is a UK ad from the 1940's and have any of my UK readers heard of this? Does it still exist? At least they had somthing to take, even for the placebo affect, right?

I love this ad, which is actually from the 1930's, and it apparently banishes depression. This was an interesting find as I wondered when in our society the term "depression" really came about concerning our mental state? I wonder what this was made of, let's hope not alcohol!

When I found this ad, 1950's, I had a strange memory of this item. It must have existed in the 70s and 80s because I have odd memories of sticking a plastic tube up my nose and breathing in a vicks menthol smell to help with my stuffed nose. I don't recall if it worked or not. This would most likely have been in my 1955 medicine cabinet along wiht a jar of Vicks and Aspirin and possibly this following product. I found the commercial for it, but could find no information on the actual product. Is anyone old enough to remember this product and did it work?

Here it is from 1955?

Antihistimines were available since 1947:

"By 1950 antihistamines were mass-produced and prescribed extensively as the drug of choice for those suffering from allergies. Hailed as "wonder drugs," antihistamines were often mistakenly perceived by the public as a cure for thecommon cold. Although not a cure, antihistamines provided the first dependable relief for some of the cold's symptoms.

By 1955 the prevailing thought was that antihistamines may actually be harmful to asthmatics by drying their lung secretions and making the secretions more viscous (thick). After years of indecision by the medical establishment, medical students were taught after 1955 not to prescribe antihistamines to patients with asthma. The debate and research into the potential benefits of antihistamines for asthmatics continued."

Having to go to the doctors in the 1950's started to really change. The concept we currently have of a physician was basically born in post war times. Here is an excerpt from somthing I just read explaining the change in the docotors office:

"A typical doctor's office may not have looked much different to patients of the 1950s than it looked to their parents, but a new generation of physicians was inside providing care. Sick patients received the best treatment that had ever been available, and they complained as they never had before. Using newly available medicines and fresh knowledge based on recent research, doctors were, for the first time, able to cure a variety of maladies that they previously had treated only with kind words and tender care. The doctor had access to more knowledge about the nature of disease than ever before, and he (women doctors were rare in the 1950s) was likely to take a more professional, if less kindly, attitude toward his work than older patients were used to. But the patients missed the attentive personal care they had come to associate with doctors"

The article goes on to say that many patients actually missed and preferred the home-spun kindly words of the doctor who would show up at the house, maybe have had dinner with the family.

Again, I am faced with another modern concept really born in this decade. The idea of the cold aniseptic doctor (and for we Americans the ungodly cost of healthcare and the crippling economic effects that Insurance and their lobbyists have had on our country is mind boggling) really began in the 1950s. I am certainly glad of the strides we have made in medicine (Salk will cure Polio later in this year 1955 which must have been a sense of relief to all parents) . That people can be healthier and live longer is the goal of modern medicine, but why do we need to take out the human equation in medicine? A very good friend of mine is an E.R. Physician and he is always reagaling me with stories of the other doctors egos and also the stupidity and 'ME ME ME' atitude so many patients exhibit today.

The further I get into this experiment, the more I see how much that main question: that of humanity, seems to be changing during this decade (1950s). So many things that just seem normal to us today, even somthing you wouldn't consider like going to the doctors, has really been de-humanized. I don't think I am the only person who wants it back! We can have the advances AND the humanity. We are working, supposedly, to make life easier, and yet none of us have more time for anything. The subtle changes our world has made with the aid of tv and print ads as propaganda has let us throw away the chances we could have had for more time with our families and friends. We NEED to buy more and have the latest etc etc, so rather than live comfortably with less and focus more on going out our front doors and meeting our neighbors and getting to know the community and being a part of the community, we just feel alone and empty and wonder why. Maybe I am only speaking for myself here, but honestly I really feel that this hunt for more has become such a normal part of the last generations that we don't even question it anymore. I will step off my soapbox now...

Feeling ill has also made me want to do some of this things I like to do when feeling sick. This is to pop in a dvd put on my fleece socks and robe and veg. These things have not been invented, so I began to think of something Jitterbug asked in a previous comment, "What do you miss about the 21st. century" now I feel I can answer that better:
At first thought, I could think of little else save my dishwasher and microwave. I, of course, would miss my computer if it had to go away. But, I have since thought about it and here are a few things.
1.) Dishwasher (but this will not be so, as I see I would most likely have one, still deciding when to use it again.)
2.)The following dvds:
"Strangers with Candy" the series (I love Amy Sedaris)
"Kath & Kim" (the australian comedy. I heard they have made an american version which I can only guess is crap, if you will excuse my language.)
My period films, which is odd as they all take place before the 1950s (upstairs downstairs, Brideshead Revisited, Pride & Prejudice (the bbc version ) etc)
I think what I have found is that humor really evolves with your time. Although I am finding many things in 1955 that I actually like more than my present day, comedy is not one of them. With the exception of I love Lucy, the comedy of 1955 seems to not hit me on the same level as modern comedy. Now, I personally do not like american stand up comedy, but comedy seems to really be a mirror, maybe even more so than tactile art, of the times.

3.)Microwave. Though I mostly only used this for cooking bacon (my pan fried is much better now, though I did have a few black strips in the interium) and heating and defrosting. I find I don't drink as much 'leftover' coffee now. I try to make as much as I will drink or I drink more tea, as that is good cold and good reboiled. Reboiled coffee is not pleasant. Also, I have had to really learn planning my meals. No last minute frozen chicken from the freezer to the micro for quick defrost. Now, if I forget the night before, it's cold water in the sink. I did end up covering it with a 'gay' curtain after someones suggestion. I have all but forgot about it really. But every so often, I will reflexively reach for it.

4.)Diet Soda. Not until early 1960's will there be any Tab. The upside is I drink almost no soda (pop, coke, soda-pop, tonic whatever you call it in your area) and when I do drink regular soda it is an 8 oz bottle. I often think of ad that Jitterbug had posted of the housewife taking a break with her bottle of coke. That is EXACTLY what I do. I set aside some time, grab a magazine, open a coke and kick my feet up.

In that same vein I started to think of things that I use and are available now as well as 1955.
It really hit home when I found this ad.

I hadn't really thought about the fact that their are not sanitary pads. No light days thin little bits with their own adhesive. I know that there was a scare with Toxic Shock Syndrome after a few years of women using tampons. I also wonder, would I have hopped on board the 'Tampax train" so to speak, or would it have seem so alien to me that I would have stuck with my sanitary belt. Considering my age in 1955 I would have been using that horrendous belt for some years. Another thing we take for granted today.

Anyway here are some more items that I use that were in 1955. ( I just started using Pesopdent as i saw it was available then, also it is only .99 cents at my local shop! I often find myself humming the little jingle to myself and have now caught 'Gussie' doing it as well. Then or now, advertising does its job!

here is a commercial for ivory soap

Here is an ad for pepsodent toothpaste

here is an advert for Nabisco

here is tide

here is a great coke commercial

So, to give myself some comfort food yesterday, I made these cookies. The name intrigued me as it is a place I know well in Boston. Here is the recipe and here are a few of them on my plate. They tasted like a lovely blend of brownies, candy bar, and cookie. I used cashews instead of walnuts, as it was what I had in the house. I HIGHLY reccomend them.


  1. I remember those vicks vapor-up-the nose things! I don't remember if they worked or not but I do remember having to snort one a time or two as a kid. Hope you're feeling better soon!

    and...can I just say those cookies look fantastic?! I'll be hanging on to the recipe.

  2. I grew up in the 60's and we had the Vicks thing! My mom would also slather us with Vicks and send us to bed if we had a cold. Love the size of the Coke glasses-compare to the 64 ounce monsters of today!!!

  3. I was born half way through 1959 and as a child I definitely used one of the Vicks inhalers. We used to take one to school when we had a cold to help get us through the day. At home mum would dissolve some Vicks in a bowl of boiling water and then I had to sit with a towel draped over my head and the bowl of Vicks in the little "tent with me and strongly inhale the fumes. It certainly cleared the head and gave the face a rosy glow too.

    I do agree that so many seem to have been sucked into the idea of buying more and more because they "deserve" these things. From experience I know that people who don't play the bigger and better game are treated with suspicion. It is difficult to judge people when they are playing by different rules and if you are not trying to keep up with or pass the Joneses then what are you doing? I think it comes down to judging people on their perceived monetary wealth, most easily done by assessing their level of conspicuous consumption but is that really any way to make a decision about someone's human value and who are we to judge anyway. It seems a very immature way to live your life.

  4. Mmm those cookies look delicious!! :)

    We had Vicks inhalers when I was a child (1980s). They are still available - you can get them here: Nice and cheap! :) And they do work pretty well - just don't sniff too hard, as they dry out your eyes!!

    Gemma x x

  5. oh kitten what a great post...i often imagine the comfort of having a doctor stop by...the one on one care for your family...and the piece of mind of being able to reach the actual doctor at home for a question...aaahhh wouldn't that be wonderful!

    loved the honor of the 40' and 50's housewife felt as she did her part for the boys over seas...even just the small part by not gettin sick...oh and the ritual of sendin' your lil'one to bed as she brought up bowls of chicken broth...hmmmm what i a time...hope you feel better kitten

  6. They still make the vick vapor sticks. They are great for congestion. You can also buy the salve which you rub on your chest. This is all my grandmother used on us when we were kids. It still works.

  7. I'm 36 and I remember those Vicks inhalers. I don't remember if they worked or not, but I loved the smell so I would pilfer my dad's and sniff it as often as possible. :)

  8. Those vicks inhalers are still around and work like a charm I always have one in my bag the were also great for sniffing during morning sickness they were my little miracle friend

  9. Hope your cold gets better ASAP!

    Those cookies look yummy. Maybe after finish off the chocolate cobbler I made I'll try those!

    Jenny wrote: "From experience I know that people who don't play the bigger and better game are treated with suspicion."

    Mr. Hairball and I frequently get looks of amazement when others discover that I am a childless housewife, we share a car, don't have cellphones that do everything but make our breakfast, don't watch reality television, etc... We're just a couple of misfits doing our own thing and that really does make some people uncomfortable!

  10. Ha, I'd forgotten all about Vicks inhalers, we had them when I was growing up in the 80s, they really worked rather well. I love that fact that you miss Kath and Kim, it is such an Aussie show, I know people's mothers who were just like Kath (horrible sweaters, gumnut earrings, the accent, etc). Hope your cold gets better soon!

  11. Ooh, so much to talk about from this post! Hmm, first I love "Kath and Kim", very funny. If I lived in 1955 I'm not too sure if I would have a telly, if I did there would be limited programming, not all day. The UK population were still predominantly radio listeners back then, and the radio shows were hilarious, we still listen to them now.

    Hmm, I can honestly say Yeast-Vite didn't catch on. I'll ask my FIL if he remembers it. Vicks sinus stuff is still around, my DH is probably using it right now (we both have stinking're right he's at work).

    They're now marketing full-sugar coke as "all natural" over here. As it is officially a health food I shall drink more of it.

    I think what you say about community is dead on. I used to think I was the only person who felt that I would rather have the strong community of the past than the affluent community of the present. Crime was a rarity in 1950s Britain; petty, crappy crime that is. There was too much social consensus, you respected your neighbours, you depended on them too. We've lost this. I remember as a small child in the late 1970s women in my gran's street getting together to help each other with their spring cleaning. As a six year old I would go to the corner shop and buy sweets, also go to the park with my friends to play. There were so many adults around that my parents and grandparents trusted that we had incredible freedom. I too wish that we could have positive social and scientific developments of the present and keep the strong communities of the past. However, we abanonded community (and practised humanity) in favour of individualism and consumerism...rant, rant, rant, rant, rant...

  12. Well, luckily new generations can be taught new things if only our current generations could see the world was not always this way.
    I talked to a gentleman the other day who was a child in the depression. He said that they would have 'neighborhood' parties where they would take turns going to one anothers homes and feeding and raising money to help that family pay their mortgage etc. This was done throughout the neighborhoon. Now, I could never imagaine that in our new depression. The large conglomerates get an 'oops we made a mistake'and our government bails them out, while the individual families lose their home. Many say, why did they give so many bad loans out to people, what about the fact that we had a man-made overinflated realestate market for a few to make money from only at the expense of the families trying to own a home. Food and garments are still rather cheap, but housing is insane, job loss increasing, it is such a scary time. If our country is heading into the new depression, we are really unfortunate, as we do not have the social mentality/skills to help one another out. We expect to be nursemaided by everyone like our government, who doesn't care for the little man. I know what you mean rant, rant, rant...
    Is there a solution?
    I need to do a post on community person/person relationships, as I would love to see if anyone has any concrete ideals to help heal it. I know with this experiment I have been itching to get out and be more a part of my community, but can I do it successfully and can I really make a difference?

  13. How timely, I'm dealing with a cold right now as well. 50sgal, I agree with what you've said. In order for things to change though, a fundamental change in how we treat each other has to happen. There is such a lack of respect towards others overall in our society. How can that be changed? I don't know. My Dad was saying that one of the things he remembers most when he was a young man was how the men tipped their hat when a lady went by, or how they stood up when a lady walked in to the room (not in their own home, of course, unless it was a visitor that came in to the home). Based on how women were treated by men back then and how they are treated now, he thinks that women lost a lot in their quest for liberation (not that they shouldn't have fought against what should have been fought against). He thinks they made a huge mistake "liberating" themselves from the respect and thoughtfulness of men. Despite the wrongs that women had to face in their day, my Dad said that they still had more respect from men in general. It's the whole throwing out the baby with the bath water scenario again; there's no need to throw out the good with the bad. Over-reacting to a problem can be just as bad as doing nothing about a problem.

  14. I totally agree that in our liberation we lost somthing. Many scoff at the idea of a man holding a door for you, but it went beyond that, a younger lady would hold a door for an older lady and sometimes gentleman if they were elderly, or help older people with packages etc. Courtesy and trust towards one another is really gone. Just as many people today really feel more afraid of the world when there was a study done showing we are actually safer than we have been in a long while. There is a great site/blog hubby showed me called 'free range children' where a woman is allowing her young child to learn and do things, really in the 1950s would have been no big deal. Many people are upset with her for letting her son take subway alone or walk alone to school, but without the respect you even show to a child in allowing him to learn and listen to your rules regarding safety then how will any of us ever grow up? And being a grown up means consideration for others and thinking of someone other than yourself. I am afraid we are all just a lot of big babies running about. Even modern politicians have such a childlike self-involvment. I am not excluding myself from this. I have been wanting to become more grownup and less me me for sometime, really thinking about it and this project is really showing me what a modern concept it really is. I don't know if we can ever change, but maybe if we can just change those around us, our family and friends and close neighbors and community, it will at least be better for those who try.

  15. Yes, I know what you mean. I think in trying to get the "baby" back, women need to be careful that they are not trying to bring the "dirty water" back as well. I'm sad to say that I have talked to one too many women whose idea of doing things "the old fashioned way" in their homes also includes being a doormat, which I have spoken about before. What logical woman is going to follow that type of woman's lead? That just makes them resist the WHOLE idea. We need to show women that we want to bring back the good stuff, not the bad stuff.

  16. I am so going to try those cookies. Man, they look good...

    About the tangent of respect/women's liberation, I recently read something that put it the best way I ever heard. Women being mad at doors opened for them is just the same as being mad at someone for getting you a birthday gift because "it implys that I can't afford to buy it myself." Courtesies can be used by bad people, but in themselves they do not imply weakness/inferiority. Quite the contrary, they are supposed to show honor.

    For colds, I have never taken an antihistamine for a cold and all I ever take when I am sick is vitamin C, cough drops, and maybe Tylenol if it I need pain relief. Of course, the right foods (soup, etc.) help a lot too. Anyway, I have noticed that my colds seem a lot shorter than most people's colds around me, and they are the ones taking the medication for it. Maybe suppressing the symptoms prolongs the cold?

    Speaking of doctors, you might want to look up concierge doctor services. It is a really fascinating "movement" that is growing and sounds very cool to me.

  17. Reading this post made me realize how many of the little things i use daily are taken for granted!

  18. we always go to the same clinic so know quite a few of them...actually I went to school with the daughter of one of them

    hope you're feeling better soon

  19. It must have been time for a "community cold" ;) I didn't suffer from a cold but from a raging sinus headache that lasted several days :(

    I agree with PL in that when I'm working with younger women, they believe that doing things the "retro way" implies being a doormat. Not the case at all!!! My beloved Grandmother Lois is my role model. I often channel her when I'm feeling stuck on what I should do. My grandmother and her mother--My Grandmother Daisy--were incredibly strong women who knew how to create loving environments and communities around them. They knew how to be assertive without being combative. They didn't have a lot of schooling but they were incredibly smart and fairly well read. My great-grandmother helped run the family farm and ranch. My grandmother was one of those office ladies that worked in the back offices of the local Sears Dept. store.

    My other grandmother, whom I didn't really know because she died when I was young, ran her own business--hairdresser to the stars--long before having that kind of business was chic and made front pages of gossip magazines. For Christmas, my mother gave us photocopies of letters my grandmother wrote to her oldest sister in 1952 where she talks about having to go to the photographer to have a new portrait taken for the newest round of newspaper ads for her salon.

    All three of those ladies had successful careers while also putting family and home first and foremost in their lives (and providing a lot of service at the church).

    They would (politely) correct anyone who suggested that to be a proper homemaker meant that they should be a doormat. :)

  20. Hairball- I know what you mean about people being shocked. When hubby and I first were married we moved to the far reaches of a summer resort area which was practically devoid of people except for summer months, lived wihtout ANY car and used our bikes to get to work and buy groceries. We could only do things within the vicinity our legs or bikes could carry us. I remember how a walk into town and to the local drugstore to buy new ink pen cartridges (we used and still do mostly fountain pens) and pip tobacco for my husband (when you could still buy this at local drug stores, no more now, it is behind counters and lock and key)Many people thought we were odd, but when all of our friends were paying off cars and trips and uni, we were living frugally but happily saving, writing and enjoying the solitude of an off-season beach town. One of my reasons to try this experiment was to try and put myself into the normal 'mode' a 1950s housewife would have and I am finding, that there is no such mold. ONly what you would make of it with what was becoming available.
    I really am impressed with all the ideas on courtesy and politeness vs. the doormat image. I really need to put this somehow into research and a blog. It is possible to be both polite and think of others and still have self-identity. I think only thinking of yourself is easier and thus we have to come this, but really we cannot only be the people who feel this way.
    All very interesting.

  21. I have two comments.

    1. You can still get those Vicks inhalers here in Australia, and in fact have one in my bedside table drawer. They're practically useless....but....I still have one.

    2. The US version of Kath and Kim loses a LOT in the translation. Your description of the US one is pretty accurate. We, however, are into a new season here and laughing at the exaggerated depiction of suburban life in 'Fountain Lakes'.

  22. OMG PL! I am totally sobbing right now. And it is only 7:30 in the morning for me!

    Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Hugs all around.

  23. Thanks for the link PL let's only hope!

  24. I loved all the vintage ads, although most of them are American products (I live in Denmark) they are so fun and nostalgic.

    If you want to go all the way with vintage products I recommend you to visit, that sells washable pads and the Keeper, which is a rubber cup (invented in the 30's) that holds the blood instead of absorbing it. I have sold the products in Denmark earlier and cannot live without my Keeper. The pads are very comfy and after use you just soak them in cold water and throw them into the washing machine. Both products are great for the environment, your health and your economy. But it's up to you if you want to go all the way. Just a tip. :)

  25. Hey - I'm able to post comments now! Wooohooo!!! :)

    I've just sent you a long mail, hope you enjoy it. I ADORE your blog and check it every day. :)

  26. I am REALLY late to this party but I wanted to say:
    A) I LOVE your blog. You are doing all the things I wish I could, but don't have the guts to. You are a brave lady indeed to go into a mall! (Heck I'm not even living vintage, and DETEST the mall 'experience')
    B) Hubby and I have the typical Texas allergies...any shift of the wind can suddenly cause you to become horribly stuffy (you know, you can't breathe through your nose, and when you blow your nose nothing really comes out type of thing)...The Vicks Inhaler works like a DREAM to give you a solid minute of regular breathing.
    C) "I totally agree that in our liberation we lost somthing. Many scoff at the idea of a man holding a door for you, but it went beyond that, a younger lady would hold a door for an older lady and sometimes gentleman if they were elderly, or help older people with packages etc. " I'm not sure where all you ladies are from, but thank GOODNESS I live in the South! I've heard of the phenomenon of women getting upset at a door being held open, but never witnessed it (although I have, from time to time seen AWFUL manners at letting a door shut in someone's face). Personally, I have the door held open for me 70% of the time, and 20% I hold the door for someone else. That 10% stems from the times I am completely alone, deplorable manners, or have been in New York. ;)
    Seems Chivalry and old fashioned Decency is not dead everywhere!
    Good luck to ya girl, I look forward to reading your blog for a long time to come!

  27. I just found your blog so I'm busy catching up. My question is do you use the old fashioned belted maxi pads now (they are still available from or are you not going that far?

  28. rebecca, I didn't know they were still available, I am using pads though, but I think, according to my magazines, that tampons are actually available.

  29. I remember those inhalers -- they worked, but I refused (and still do) to use them because they were strong and kind of made me gag. Also, they have recently found out that they are addictive (habit forming). So!

    As far as the sanitary products: tampons existed, but they were thought not to be proper for virgins because they might "damage" something, if you get my drift. Not surprising that the women in the ad is not a teenager. Toxic Shock Syndrome was not known until the 80's I believe.

    Those sanitary belts were awful -- pins worked better.

  30. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  31. I am looking for the "Dad's Cookie" commercial that aired when i was little. It showed a little kid trying to reach into a dad's cookie jar but couldn't and the song went like this...."The most frustrating thing, the thing that I hate about life when you're just 3 foot 8..cause it's one inch too far to the dad's cookie jar and I love those dad's cookies, those crunchy dad's cookies, I keep trying and trying and trying...still it's one inch too far to the dad's cookie must be fine when you reach 3 foot 9!" I loved that one and can't find it anywhere...any ideas?

  32. I have a vintage 'sanitary belt' that is pink and came in its original packaging. Today, the 'green' movement offers many washable and belted version of these and they are becoming rather 'the thing'. Though they did have 'tampons' in 1955.
    I will try to find that dad's cookie commercial, and possible ask our readers and see if anyone knows of it.

  33. I just had a quick search and found that Yeast-Vite is still available in the UK. £4.69 for 100 tablets.


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