Sunday, February 1, 2009

31 January & 1 February 1955 "Actresses, Advertising, Art, Dinner, Dessert, and a New Baby!"

Here is the time magazine from 31 January 1955. Grace Kelly (not yet Princess Grace) graces the cover, if you forgive the pun.
There is an interesting article about her entitled "The Girl in White Gloves". It goes on to say how she is quite different from the garish flashy do-anything bottle blonde actresses of the day. That she comes from money (albeit new money) seems to help her play that role of being choosy with her choice of roles. She is an interesting creation and very American, I think.
Her father became rich through owning the largest brick works in Philidelphia. He was the son of a farmer and became a brick layer who segwayed into a large company. He went to Henly(england) to row in 1920 but was refused as he was "not a gentleman" as he had "worked with his hands". He later went on to beat the Henley winner at the olympics and he sent his sweaty rowing cap to King George as a sort of, "I told you so". His son, who went to Penn State, later righted that wrong winning at Henly in 1947.
They were an interesting family: The American Dream of coming up from nothing and then outdoing the upper classes. This was the formula that was needed to make a 'Grace Kelly'. From Farmer to Princess in Three Generations, now that is American Ingenuity!
There is another article in this issue rather interesting. Entitled: "Death of a Salesman?", it espouses the fall of the radio announcer to the new movement of television ads. It is interesting to see that in 1955 commercials did not just jarringly interrupt your show:

"Manhattan Adman Frank Egan explains that the new trend is simply an effort by sponsors to make commercials as painless as possible for viewers: "In radio you could use a musical bridge between the entertainment and the message so that the commercials didn't seem so abrupt and jarring. But on TV, if you interrupt audience attention to plunge into a commercial, viewers get resentful." For this reason nearly all TV hosts and masters of ceremonies are supposed to ease the way into the sales message".
On NBC's Oldsmobile Spectaculars, Actor Lee Bowman dresses up in evening clothes for the sole purpose of saying: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, here is Ed Herlihy with a message from our sponsor . . ."

Although they are doing it to make you buy products, it is nice that they started the idea of advertising on television with the consumers comfort in mind and to make sure that the audience was presented with someone well-dressed and groomed. In 2009 advertising on tv is having to evolve now that tivo exists. More product placement is required to grab the viewer. I wonder if the return to the 'sponsered' show is on it's way? We shall see.

On the Art scece, there is an interesting article on Ben Shan, an artist I am really just beginning to learn about. He became perhaps the best, and most depressing, painter of the Great Depression. Shahn was raised in a Brooklyn slum, where the local toughs forced him to portray favorite athletes on the pavement with chalk. His review seems to express that he has begun to mellow in his age, as evidence by this bit from the Time article:

"One of the nation's most admired artists last week showed what he had accomplished in his last 25 years of painting. The retrospective exhibition at Manhattan's Downtown Gallery proved that in the past quarter century the art of burly Ben Shahn has mellowed and broadened with the man. The bristling dark mustache of his fiery youth has faded to white, and now it screens more smiles than scowls. At 56, after many storms, Shahn seems to have entered a calm sea."
What I find interesting is this: Here is an image from his Depression heyday entitled, "scabbies are welcome" from 1937. You can see how dark and desolute the painting. The general air of quiet desolution is evidenced by none of the figures facing the viewer.

Next, you see this painting from Post war 1947 entitled: "Vanity". It's as if you can see one of the characters from the previous paintings, having survived the war and the Depression, getting ready for the new bright decade of promise; the colorful background, the smile on his face.

Now, in 1955 when this article is written, we see this image entitled: "Beautitudes" It seems more dark and disjuncted than his Depression work. There he was mirroring the present day, their sad desperation, but the figures had a quiet human dignity to them, they 'fit' into their dim landscape. Here, the figure not only seems to be unaware of his landscape, which is no more than a bare sky and stylizied wheat field, He does not look at the viewer, nor himself, but down and seems to be attacked by heavy thoughts not unlike Hitchcocks Birds (which won't come out until 1963)
I think it is intersting to see that an artist, who is often a mirror of society, is somewhat disillisoned by the present day. The hope he had after the war has slipped into a sort of melaise.
This photograph from January 22 1955 reveals a similar sentiment. The Pentagon announced a plan to develop ICBMs(intercontinental ballistic missiles) armed with nuclear weapons. The beginning of the Modern world is upon us.
Now, to the more particular problems and successes of the home.

Last night was Saturday's 1950 night. It was suppose to be at my vintage friends house this week, as we switch off on Saturdays, but she has company coming today and wanted to keep the house clean and ordered, so I did it again here.
The menu was Chicken-Fried Pork Chops. (I used a 3/4 cup cornmeal and 1/4 cup flour instead of the crackers and I added Dried Oregano, Rosemary, and Parsley to the mixture)
Scalloped tomatoes, which was a great use of some leftover toast from breakfast. And Greenbeans with pearl onions.

I am not making my 'sunday cake' today, as I made a pie yesterday for dinner. I wanted to try something I felt was very 'modern 1950's' This recipe with it's canned pears and prepared graham cracker crust seemed to fit the bill. I did use a fresh lemon for the peel and I also juiced the same lemon for the lemon juice. This was my first attempt at meringue and it turned out lovely and I was quite proud. I slipped a bit of almond extract into the egg whites when I was beating them and it added a nice warm mellow taste to the sharpness of the pear and lemon. It was funny, as I felt this was a 'cheating' dessert for me. Although it was definitely home-made, the fact that I used canned pears and a prepared crust, there was still alot of 'home-made' in it. It was a hit and it was lovely, if I do say so myself, and I DO!
I am quite proud of how this merigue looks. Don't be fooled by the pie tin, this is indeed a homemade pie, but the crust came premade in the tin.
Here is a shot of my one and only piece (part of my diet: one piece of my weekly cake/pie/dessert) with a cup of tea.

Now, on the home interiors front, I have to show off my new 'Baby'. It is far from finding it's home in my kitchen yet and is in fact now relegated to the shed until it can get cleaned and the door sanded and repainted. It is a 1950's Frigedaire Deluxe. I know I know, it uses alot of electricity. I have gone over and over again as to wether this is a bad decision for the bills. I think after it is installed we will just moniter the bill to see how much more it has added. I am willing to take an additional amount out of my food or entertainment budget each month to allow it to live in my kitchen. Perhaps I am going crazy with my need to surround myself with vintage things, but I do think it is a beautiful machine. I have heard they will last forever.
Look how pretty she is inside. Can't you just see my milk bottle and vintage juice jars in here? My vintage glass pyrex refridgerator dishes will also look a treat all tidily stacked and filled with leftovers and marinading awaiting dinners, right?
This is the door and it has alot of stoage. That top bit that says eggs folds down and safely holds quite a bit (we go through a LOT of eggs around here).

The freezer door is really pretty, too, I think and it's quilted pattern makes me think of a Chanel purse. There is even a real metal ice cube tray. It has that ingenious lever you pull to release the cubes. I am planning on doing a lot of daily shopping so I don't need a big freezer here, however, I may want to get the must have accesory for any 1950s housewife: the "DeepFreeze" as they were called. A large freezer. I am not sure if I need one, but we shall see.
Look how lovely the handle is and it makes such a wonderful noise when you open it. This bit pulls down to open the door. So much beauty amongst function.
So, do any of you think I am crazy or do you like the idea of more vintage items?
Well, I am going to enjoy the rest of my sunday. I did not have Gussie yesterday (had to serve myself and set table and prepare etc) but did have her this morning. So, as I was working away on this post my kitchen was being cleaned, dishes put away, clean swept and mopped floor and a nicely arranged bowl of fruit on the kitchen table. Ahhh to be middle class in 1955, sometimes it is sweet.


  1. Oh my gosh! I remember those ice trays. I have to say that I don't miss them. :) I remember needing to run the bottoms under warm water to help release them. Having said that, there are a lot of good memories attached to those metal ice trays, especially the lemonade and kool aid ice cubes we always made in them.

    The fridge is fantastic!!!! Definitely use it if it doesn't cost much more than what you are using now. Why not? Where did you find it?

    Great job on the pie.

  2. I love that fridge. I had one in the '80's, unfortunately my daughter broke the handle when she was a little girl, you are very lucky!

  3. Very neat fridge! I remember being a small child and visiting someone who had a robin's egg blue vintage fridge (I'm nearly 40 so this would have been in 1974 or so). Not sure how old it was, but it definitely had the rounded shape of the vintage fridges.

    Just found your blog several weeks ago from a posting in the organizing section of a discussion forum I frequent.

    A suggestion for a wonderful 1950s movie: The original "Father of the Bride" with Spencer Tracy and a young and radiant Elizabeth Taylor (1950). It had a sequel, "Father's Little Dividend" (1951) in which Taylor and her movie husband have their first child.

  4. Your pie looks divine! Yummy. And the fridge is great, why not give it a go? Hope you show us once's it's been repainted.

    Mel xxx

  5. Oh, I wish this were the robins egg blue, although I am having it repainted and am debating if I should keep it the original white or make it that vintage blue? That is/will be the predominant color in my kitchen. It will be robins egg blue/red/yellow.
    I am putting the father of the brides on my must watch list. I have never used these metal ice cube trays so it will be interesting to see how they work.
    I will definitely post an 'after' picture when it is done. I will be doing before and afters of the various rooms I will do in my house as the year goes on as well.

  6. Hey 50's gal! Thanks for visiting my blog. I've been following you since your inception and I think this is just brilliant. I've added you to my blog list so everyone else can come over and check in with you. Keep up the good work! You're a great respite for me after a long day!


  7. I would think that a nice yellow fridge would look good with your blue color, and yellow is such a cheerful color in a kitchen.

    Just some thoughts that are rambling through my mentioned your diet and the one piece of dessert a week and that made me wonder if you have come across anything that talked about diets in the 1950s. It would be fun if you could share what they did to lose weight at that time. Also, the original Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book has a great, and really fun to read, section on proper nutrition and the different food groups that they promoted. Have you seen that yet? That probably would have been in your kitchen in 1955. If you have it, or do get it, it would be great if you could scan the page that shows the 7 food groups for proper nutrition to share with those who don't have that cookbook.

  8. PL-I do indeed have that cook book and you anticpated me as tomorrows blog was going to have the first scan of the nurtrition requirements and I was going to add various scans later on dealing with the food groups and portions and vitamins an such. I have a couple new cookbooks, too, so those will begin to get scanned and shared as well. The yellow would be nice as it is going to be one of the secondary colors in the kitchen, as I love bits of yellow and red with that robins egg blue.
    Also, I did post a small scan of my 'lunch diet' from one of my womens magazines in an old post and I was going to start sharing tomorrow as well, that with my diet must come exercise and it is through Jack Lelanne. So, check back tomorrow for those.
    Tiz-thanks for the tag!

  9. More "memory lane" items! My grandmother had a blush pink frig, and we had a small white one. The freezer compartment was approximately the size of two half-gallons of ice cream!

    I, too, struggled with those ice cube trays and was happy to have the plastic!

    How is your diet going? I logged four pounds and 3 1/2 inches lost!


  10. during my first marriage from 1989 to 1996, we had a 50's kitchen, complete with the 1953 GE fridge originally owned by my ex-husband's grandparents, then parents. We had it repainted and a new rubber door gasket put on, but it worked like a charm and is probably still running. Yes, our electric bills were very high because of it. Due to it's small size (about 8 cubic feet) we had to maintain a full size fridge in the garage for practicality's sake. I do recommend you keep your new fridge well-defrosted when you start using it, as it will run better that way.

    My folks have a 1959 GE that is pale yellow with a pale pink interior and round rotating shelves inside it at a cabin they own. I covet that fridge ;)

  11. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and commenting! I am perusing your blog right now ;)

  12. ooh pink and yellow AND rotating shelves sounds wonderful! I will have to get used to defrosting, though I think it is covered in my America's Housekeeping Book.

  13. Easy way to defrost (years ago I had in an apartment I had a fridge with a freezer that was manual defrost):

    Put a pan of boiling water into the freezer and close the door. This will really help. Use a rubber spatula to pry the ice off the freezer walls. Make sure to have plenty of towels/rags on the floor to catch drips!

    50sgal, I'd love to have links for the websites you are using for research. What are some good ones? I'm living vicariously through you. I always enjoyed watching the "living in X year" programs on PBS, such as The 1900 House, Manor House, Pioneer Valley, etc. Entertaining AND educational (I love history, too).

  14. I love your new baby, the fridge, I remember growing up in the 70's all my parents could afford was one very similar and it was white. Boy it use to hum and hum and hum...

  15. 50sgal,
    Ooooh, I'm excited for this post. Isn't that section on nutrition in BC so much fun to read? I had so much fun reading it, and even wondered how it would be to create meals following those guidelines. This is a great website for retro recipes...

    Now that you mention it, I vaguely remember you mentioning something about a weight loss meal. Now, I need to go find that post.

  16. That fridge is FAB!!! I want one too! :)

    Of course it uses more electricity but consider it and find out if it is worth it. If you love it then use it. Sometimes one should do something unwise just because it is lovely. I have for long wanted a SMEG, since it looks so vintage, but it is very expensive in Denmark and dear husband doesn't like it.

    Enough comments for today, I'm so happy I am able to post comments. I hope you receive my mail. Have a lovely day, dear. :)

  17. Sanne- I am glad you found a way to comment, I am just now getting to all your lovely comments. I have seen the smeg as well, but I am a stickler for authentic, I know, it's silly. I just like to know and think of the hands and meals that have touched and sat in that fridge all these years. Somehow I find a romantic notion to old things resurrected. Nuts, right?

  18. Love the blogs...about the vicks nasel inhailer yes, I used it alot growing up. It worked great and fast and I still have a rather large jar cobalt blue with original top and half full of regular vicks! You need to use so little and my family was not prone to sickness so after raising the 7 kids I still have some!

  19. Jeanne-Wow, that is impressive that you still have some left. Vicks is a good product, the great use of eucaplytus!

  20. We had a refrigerator like that at home. Make sure you do not accidentally puncture the walls of the freezer when you defrost. Deadly gas, I think.

    The ice-cube trays were easier to fill, harder to get the ice cubes out! But nice. It is nice that more things were made of metal back then.


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