Thursday, February 12, 2009

12 & 13 February 1955 "Colds, orrespondence and Carrot Cake"

Here is the New Yorker cover from Feb. 12 1955. Darling, I think.

This is a photo of former president Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess at the future Truman Library site.

Truman returned to Independence, Missouri to live at the Wallace home he and Bess had shared for years with her mother. His predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had organized his own presidential library, but legislation to enable future presidents to do something similar still remained to be enacted. Truman worked to garner private donations to build a presidential library, which he then donated to the federal government to maintain and operate—a practice adopted by all of his successors.

Once out of office, Truman quickly decided that he did not wish to be on any corporate payroll, believing that taking advantage of such financial opportunities would diminish the integrity of the nation's highest office. He also turned down numerous offers for commercial endorsements.

Can you imagine a president today saying no to continuing to recieve a salary. He was quite penniless and was able to make a book contract on his life and times which would come out this year. Thought the deal was for 670,000 dollars, after taxes and other payments he was left with about $37,000.

President Eisenhower sent the first U.S. military advisors to South Vietnam, to train an army under Ngo Dinh Diem. I didn't realize how early on our involvment with Vietnam had begun.

"The Geneva Conference (May 8 – July 21, 1954) was a conference between many countries that agreed to end hostilities and restore peace in French Indochinaand Vietnam. It produced a set of treaties known as the Geneva Accords, signed on behalf of France by Pierre Mend├Ęs-France and of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam by Pham Van Dong.

The State of Vietnam referendum of 1955 determined the future form of government of the State of Vietnam, the nation that was to become the Republic of Vietnam. It was contested by Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem, who proposed a republic, and former emperor Bao Dai (Bao Dai had abdicated as emperor in 1945 ) "

It appears the struggle between these two leaders will later lead us into the war in vietnam which so characterized the late 1960s. I often wonder, had we not been in such an odd war/police action would we have held more close to the ideals of the 1950s? Without the disillusionment of the ill-fated Vietnam crisis, would the divide of youth and adult represented by the government have happened?

What a year 1955 is turning out to be!

Now, onto other things:

I am still recovering from my cold all the while helping hubby to get over his. I have to say that having him home all day to clean up after and feed (he was unable to really get out of bed) made me realize how much more a child would add to your day. Now, I am not saying my husband is acting a child (in fact is overall a good patient) nor am I equating a few days of a sick husband to the constant demands of a child, but it did make me think. Here I am, running about trying to do my usual day, which I am usually alone in doing or having Gussie to put on a task, and I found myself trying to play catch-up all day. I continued to lose my normal order of things on top of also feeling ill myself. A routine one can follow when in the house alone compared to the unexpected happenings when one has someone there to care for is like night and day. How ANYONE could say being a housewife is not a job needs to walk in the shoes of one for a week to see how much you actually do!

Here is hubby yesterday. He was feeling well enough to use one of his vintage typewriters in bed. You can see how I was unable to keep the room tidy with papers strewn about and medicine bottles and typewriter cases. Though, the comfort of my hubby is far more important the tidyness of our room or the neatness of the bed. (On an interior design level, I do want to get some vintage bedspreads. I was happy to see the dark brown the walls I painted was actually a color available and popular in 1950s interiors, particularly if I want to have an 'early american' theme. You can just see the corner of the white and orange boudoir chair. I love this chair, it is in the style of a Louis XV Bergere. I will address the bedroom decor in a future blog)

While out on my errands this afternoon I was excited to recieve two lovely letters from readers in the mail! It is so exciting, as I cannot actually remember the last time I recieved a letter in the mail. Everything is email and you do find yourself keeping up with people more, but at the same time, the excitement of the letter in the post cannot be denied.
It was a ray of light in my busy day in my fog of illness. I had to get my marketing done, go to the post, get more medicine for hubby, drop some things off at a local sale that sells things for charity, so it was a nice surprise. Seeing those two letters waiting patiently in my little post box was rather exciting. One of the letters even appears to be on vintage stationary. I am rather excited to begin such coorespondence.
The feeling I had when I got home with the two little gems was one of a special treat. I said to myself, "get the groceries put away, make hubby and you lunch, clean up the kitchen, get hubby off to bed (again the child analogy of the little boy off to his nap!) and I can snuggle into my sofa in my little sitting room. I have just put on a pot of coffee and when I am done here I am going to snuggle down with those letters and enjoy the dying sunlight streaming in my windows. It definitely makes me feel very 1955.

I thought I would take a peek at my Amy Vanderbilts Everyday Etiquette to see what her chapter on Coorespondence had to say. It really does not address any very personal letters of friends to friends (which I hope my letters to these 'new friends' will become) but I thought this was interesting. [The book is laid out with questions she recieved in her newspaper article she wrote with her answer.]
I like this one, as it states, "Like all housewives, I have occasion to write some business letters..." I thought it was very interesting in the way of showing how even on this level a housewife was seen as a person in a career.

Thanks to a tip from another reader, I found and bought this on ebay. It just arrived today and I am excited by its contents. I will be sharing its tips and photos with you, don't worry.

I did manage to make a cake yesterday. I found the recipe on this site where old 1950's index card recipes have been saved. I hope it is okay to reproduce the recipe here.

Carrot Cake Attributed to the name "Hazel"

Beat well:
4 eggs,
2 cups sugar

Add: 3 jars - 3 1/2 ounce sieved carrots (use baby food)
1 cup oil
1 cup crushed pineapple - drained1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts - chopped ( I used Cashews but walnuts would be better, I bet)

Add:2 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

FrostingMix thoroughly until smooth the following:
1 package - 8 ounce cream cheese
1 package powdered sugar (32 oz)
1 cub butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 pineapple juice

This made a wonderfully moist cake, but I think I took it out too soon or else it was meant to be a sheet cake, as the two 9" layers I made did not hold together well and really the frosting is the glue holding it together. It is very good and moist. The frosting is wonderful and we had some left over and it is good on warm homemade bread. Gussie thinks we should use the frosting as icing for homemade cinnamon rolls, that sounds like a post-illness project to me.
You can see what a gooey mess it is, not one of my prettier cakes, but so moist and yummy. It was odd, too, to buy baby food. The recipe doesn't say what size baby food, so I assumed they only came in one size. Wrong, baby food comes in a myriad of sizes and containers. So, I just bought the smallest size glass jar, as I figured that would be close to the original. Also, substitued the cup of raisons for one cup of fresh grated carrot. I think the raisons would have been lovely in it, but I didn't have any in the house.

We have been talking a lot of late in comments about the idea of the 1950's woman as being percieved as a doormat. I like the way that one of the readers put it about someone holding a door open for you, that it is like "not giving someone a birthday gift, because they could have bought it for themselves".
How we can view the simple act of courtesy and respect as being a victum I don't know. I definitely like that we have opened a dialogue about it. I think today courtesy and respect are viewed as weak positions. Everyone is out for themselves.
This letter in the "Teen-agers" section of my Amy Vanderbilt Etiquette book really shows what a different concept we use to have towards one another. This is a letter from a teenage boy! I think again a certain level of courtesy which in effect is really consideration and respect, is gone. I hope we can get it back!

This might seem an odd thing to end on, but this playboy from 1955 has an almost considerate approach to it. Rather than a cover full of cleavage, you have two darling ladies in cute outfits in the snow. Even the innocence of the cartoon snowman makes it appear as if a "Highlights Magazine" compared to todays version of Playboy and such. It is almost saying, to those of you who do not want to see the nudity inside, at least here is an enjoyable non-offensive scene on the cover.
I hope you are all well and until tomorrow...


  1. Hope the health of everyone in 1955 improves! I do want to reassure you that there are many teenage boys in 2009 who are thoughtful and polite. Mine for instance, is a darling, though I can't imagine him ever writing to an etiquette maven for advice! Don't despair for the modern world - there are many, many thousands of families living a simple meaningful life, taking the best of both the past and the present and living a satisfying life in the modern world. Maybe we should stop talking about 'old-fashioned' values, and just talk about values. I don't think they really change. I would be appalled if I thought my son didn't care if his girlfriend got wet in a rainstorm, and I would also be appalled if I thought he didn't have the gumption to work out the solution to that particular problem without recourse to the etiquette pages!

  2. well that is nice to hear. I am glad that they do still exist. I suppose there will always be those who live with respect and courtesy and pass that on. I guess I was just thinking that overall, I would say the average teenage would most likely not be holding an umbrella for his girlfriend and carrying her parcels for her, but then again, what do I know of teenagers?
    That does make me feel better though, and I hope you thank your son for being a gentleman, right?

  3. Yes, there are polite teenagers around; there are always exceptions to every “rule”. :) My oldest son, who is 14, is very polite and respectful. We have taught him over the years to open doors, etc. The sad thing is it's definitely not the norm. My children, especially the two oldest children (one in high school and the other in junior high) can’t believe how thoughtless the other kids are at school. When we taught the children manners as they were growing up, we explained to them why it was important to treat others with respect, not just something that we were making them do because "we said so". So, understanding the importance of treating other people with respect, and not seeing other kids do that, has them...sad? disappointed? frustrated?...(I don't know quite the word to use). Most of the kids just don't seem to care about others. Unless parents consciously make their children aware of how to treat others, they just seem oblivious to their behavior, and mentally, continue to treat others as they did when the were around 4-5 years know, when your thinking is still self-centered, which is normal for that developmental age, but it's not normal for that to continue into adulthood.

    Treating others with respect, especially in our own family, has been the foundation of raising our children. We have ingrained in them that, “People are more important than things.” For example, if our son gets mad at us because we won’t let him play games longer (this doesn’t usually happen much anymore), first, I remind him that he doesn’t have the right to treat us that way, especially when we have done nothing wrong, and if he’s going to continue to be willing to treat us badly because of games, then the games are going away. We will then remind him that there’s nothing wrong with being disappointed that he can’t play games longer, but he MAY NOT treat us badly because of that. I don’t know how many parents teach their children how to separate how they feel and how they treat others. We have taught the kids that they need to be in control of how they respond to their feelings, and not let their feelings control them... “You need to do what’s right no matter how you feel. Your feelings are not the boss of you, and you should never let them have that power.” Of course, when they slip, that’s when “I’m sorry.” makes its appearance.

    BTW, 50sgal, it looks like you're taking good care of your husband. He looks nice and comfortable in bed with his button up pajamas on.

  4. What I see from a lot of college students is a lack of boundaries which may appear to others as being self-absorbed or disrespectful.

    After only working with faculty as an administrator and coach for 6 years, I took an interim position last fall working with graduate students at an elite graduate school to teach them how to be professors. I was SHOCKED by their level of familiarity. I received emails from them where they addressed me the same way they would have addressed their best friend and would drop by my office and expect me to drop everything to solve their problem (that they could have solved on their own, actually, if they had thought about it). I don't mean to sound like one of those self-righteous professors. My point is that I was quite surprised by the difference in student behavior in just a short time frame. Once I called them on it and told them it wouldn't go over very well when they became professors, they quickly became more cognizant of their actions.

    Interestingly, I read in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education that, because there is such a shortage of jobs, college career centers are holding workshops on how to be respectful and be aware of appropriate behavior when networking with alumni who might be able to help graduating students get jobs.

  5. I used to laugh, with others, when we would view the old 1950s films they would show children at schools on how to keep clean and neat. How to have good posture, how to be be respectful with your parents etc. We would laugh and think, "how militant" and yet now I think on them and now that I am in the midst of this experiement, I realize they are actully a good teaching aide.
    I doubt your college age professor bound kids would even need such reminding had they just learned basic boundaries and politeness at elementary level.

  6. Speaking of lack of boundaries, thought it was interesting that even the "etiquette" columnist doesn't seem to get it, although she did finally come up with a helpful answer:

  7. Even your husband looks suitably 1950s in his pyjamas and glasses! I like the way he has taken the typewriter to bed with him. The Playboy cover is so sweet, without the title you wouldn't even know it was a 'men's magazine'.

  8. Even hubby matches the fifties style!
    Get better soon both of you. :)

    PS: I love the Playboy cover, so tasty!

  9. Oooh I am jealous of that book! I've been reading your blog from the beginning trying to get a few days worth in at once. What a wonderful project and thankyou for sharing - I only wish I had found you while you were actually doing the project!


 Search The Apron Revolution