Saturday, March 7, 2009

7 March 1955 "Peter Pan on TV, The Executive Homemaker, Liver, and a Scavenger Hunt"

On March 7, 1955, NBC presented Peter Pan live as part of Producers' Showcase (with the show's original cast) as the first full-length Broadway production on color TV. The show attracted a then-record audience of 65-million viewers.Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard had already won Tony Awards for their stage performances, and Martin won an Emmy Award for the television production. It was so well received that the musical was restaged live for television on January 9, 1956. Both of these broadcasts were produced live and in color, but only black-and-white kinescope recordings survive.

Peter Pan opened in New York on October 20, 1954 at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York for a planned limited run of 152 performances. The show had been sold to NBC, which ensured that it was a financial success despite the limited run. It played its final performance on February 26, 1955. The show closed so that it could be broadcast on television, although box office continued to be strong throughout the Broadway run.

FROZEN ORANGE-JUICE prices will go up because of the recent cold snap in Florida and pessimism about next year's crop. Two big producers, Birds Eye and Libby, McNeill & Libby, have just boosted wholesale prices 5¢ per dozen six-oz. cans, and the rest of the industry may follow suit. Retailers are expected to pass on the increase.

Now, I want to continue on with this large article in a 1953 magazine a friend had given me. I have really just started to look at it and it is really a great and thourough piece. I am going to continue to cover it over the next week, as it is long and deals with The homemaker (Mrs. McClosky) on many levels, from the breakdown of her day, to her decorating, her realtionship with her husband and family, and how they entertain including recipes as well as how she spends on clothes. The recipe for the hamburger casserole is from this feature.

Today I am going to show the breakdown they have done representing what a homemaker would be earning over the year. They show a total over $200.00 a week if they paid someone to do the work she does in the home. This in todays money is $2,074.01. this would mean she would earn $12636.00 a year in 1953, in todays money that is $99,552.35 a year!

One of the costs I found interesting. It states that it would cost $354.53 a week for maid, which is about $17,000.00 a year. Now, I only have Gussie twice a week so that would be around $100.00 a week in 1955 dollars. As it so happens, I may be losing Gussie as she has some new responsibilites with the local theatre, so I am suddenly faced with that 1955 homemaker dillema: "I have lost my housekeeper, what can a gal do with rising prices and help so hard to find?"
The article goes on with some wonderful photos and lays out the various roles that Mrs. McClosky plays.

Here she is in the role of the plumber.

Here she is as bargain shopper and decorator. So, In the coming week I am going to eventually have the entire article and photos and recipes from this feature. There is a lot of information to cover and I don't want to just cram it all into one post.
I love this shot of Mrs. McClosky, as it proves my own theory of what a homemaker wore while cleaning. No June Cleaver pearls and heels here. I was actually taken aback a little, when I first read the article, as I really saw myself in this shot. I wear cuffed jeans socks and loafers or flats and a man-style shirt and often have my hair in a scarf rather in is set in curlers or just held back while I am cleaning. I love her old electrolux, as well. I really like that vacuum and may need to add this cannister to my cleaning closet. I could have one vacuum per floor, how is that for decadence?
Speaking of cleaning, yesterday morning I had a nice little suprise. I was doing my normal morning routine of straightening up the bedroom and making the bed. Part of my bed making includes a nicely folded pair of pajamas under our pillows. As I was gathering up the bedclothes to make the bed, I lifted my husbands pillows to find a neatly folded pair of his pajamas. He had done it, by habit, on his own! I couldn't believe it. Now, my husband is a neat man by habit anyway and before 1955 I would say his closest and clothes were often more organized and hung up than mine. However, here I had simply made this small habit a part of my routine and suddenly, without his thinking about it, he folded and put his pajamas in place as that was how he has become accostomed to finding them.
Also today, after breakfast, before I realzied it, he had emptied the dishwasher for me and picked up the breakfast things. Again, it is not that he has not helped me in the past, but my new 1955 routine often involves me so rapidly clearing away and cleaning up, that he never even really had the chance. But today (he is off weekends) he just did it, naturally. It was nice. Normally I have Gussie on weekends, but, she is getting involved in a local theatre production and may now have no free time to be Gussie. Luckily todays 1950's meal is at Vintage friends house, so I won't feel her absence as the dishes won't be piled at my house, nor will I need to have the kitchen in high-prodcution for a large meal for a group of people. However, last Saturday the meal was at my house and I had no Gussie. I really found myself scrambling to catch up on Saturday evening dishes. Thank god I had the dishwasher. That is sort of a very 1955 moment, as well, out with the help in with the automatic aides!
But, I digress...back to my original point. In my articles and books it says that by my example of tidyness and thoughtfulness around the house, the other family members will follow suit. And, as I am living the experiment, I got to see first hand it is true. I am glad I am getting into these habits, as if we were ever to have a child (a BIG if) I feel I would be a little more prepared for what type of home life I would want for a child. The structure and routine. I am sure all of you mother's just rolled your eyes and thought, "You just wait honey, your routine goes out the window when that baby gets home" which I am sure is true, but I would feel that once I wanted to regain that routine, I would be able to doso from having been in the routine at one point. I could revisit it, as I had already learned and lived it. This project would either not exist or be much different had I a little child running about. Would I still try it? Well, considering how crazy I am and my desire to challenge myself, yes I probably would. To much more hilarous and frustrating results for all of you, of course!
Now, onto food and recipes:
I learned last night that hubby is not a fan of Liver. I have always loved liver, but rarely can find it in the store, and up until 1955, never really thought of preparing it. The last time we were at our favorite diner I say they had liver and onions on the menu. I believe this is a very 1950s meal. Although, not everyone loves liver. I happen to adore it and was so excited to see it while marketing. It is so cheap. SO, here are the ways my cookbook tells me to cook it.
I pan fried it. I started with bacon (of course!) and made enough to crumble the bacon on our salad and to leave a piece each to place on top of the liver when served. Next, I pan fried thinly sliced onions in the bacon fat until lovely and brownish yellow. Next, I dipped the liver in a mixture of cornmeal and flour mixed with seasonings. This went into the bacon fat. The result was wodnerful. Like I said, my hubby did not like it, but like a trooper he ate most of it. Though, the way I prepared it was lovely, as a liver eater I really enjoyed it and the onions in the bacon fat were heavenly. At least my hubby had room for dessert which was this:

The presentation was not quite what I had wanted with this, as my egg whites did not stiffen. I think there was water in the bowl I used and I learned water in eggwhites will keep it from stiffening. However, the taste was not affected and I really liked the result as did hubby.
It was a cross between a rich homemade pudding and a mousse. The changes I made to the recipes involved me dividing the milk quantity between milk and whipping cream (in its liquid form of course I would NEVER use prepared whip cream, although I know it was available then.) I think next time I will toast the coconut before I use it or toast some to sprinkle on the whipped cream on top. I love cooking with a double boiler and a whisk, as it makes me feel like a chef. I imagine a crew of helpers lined up about me as I make the important finishing touches on my grand meal! A homemaker has a rich imagination. I think it is one of the most important elements to homemaking, as it gives you all the ideas to make do with what you have.
So, one of the reasons I did not get to my blog yesterday was that I was out on one of my Homemaker Scavenger hunts. I am lucky in that we have many little antique shops and a local church has a year round 'rummage sale' where a gal can get a very good deal. So, here are some of yesterdays treasures:

I was excited when I saw this hamper, as I often see this ad in some of my vintage magazines. I love that Groucho Marx somehow seems to be the appropriate person to sell a hamper, I don't get the logic, but I love it anyway.
The ad says these hampers start at 8.95 and I bought my hamper at $8.00. Of course in 1955 money that would only be around .60 cents while really these cost close to $60.00 new (that is in 2009 money by the way) I love that it is still around. I also know it is vintage as I found some scraps of old newspaper with the date of 1953 and an old tinker toy inside. I wondered how long this had been sitting in an attic waiting to come home with me. One day little Johnny was playing around with his mothers hamper and lost his toy piece. Then, when grandmother was old and ready for the home, daughter put this horrid thing away in the attic, hoping to deal with it later. There it sat, its little tell-tale scrap of newspaper and tinker toy, aging and yellowing with the passing Cape Cod summers and winters heating and cooling it. Now, once again, it will hold clothes waiting for monday washdays.
I love the lid and the detailing as it is a heavy plastic that is marbelized. The detailing on the top are like two fins on an american car from the 1950's. I guess they really DON'T make them like they used to.

I have been hunting for some matching side tables for our bedroom. I found these yesterday for $10.00 for the pair. They are so 1950's 'Early American' and they fit the bill perfectly. I love the side detailing and the botton shelf is perfect for a collection of magazines or books to keep at the bedside table without cluttering up the top. Also, the built in lamps have a swing arm to may reading in bed easier, and though the shades are not wonderful, they are easily remedied with covering of new fabric or just purchasing a shade I do like and replacing them. They are nice solid wood, and I think maple. Very well made and I love the styling.

This is a large heavy maple hutch top. It was only the top and it is definitley 1950s "early american/colonial". It is SO heavey and well made. Even the back slats of wood are individual pieces of maple. This was a steal and will end up either in the new dinning room or the breakfast room. It will most likely recieve a coat of paint to go with the room and will set atop perhaps a nice dresser to serve as extra china storage. I have a collection of vintage milk glass dishes that might look lovely displayed in this in the breakfast room, in which case I might paint it a pretty butter yellow with the inside robins egg blue. I would try it first in its natural wood tone, as well, to see if I like it that way.
Now, you can never have enough trays, I think. I found this lovely vintage set of metal painted trays for .50 cents for all five! The colors are much nicer than this image is showing. They have a lovely faux bois (fake wood design) background. They are small enough to make for easy carrying, but large enought to bring out supplies for the barbeque or to serve the ladies iced teas on the verandah.


  1. (skimming again...)
    whites will not stiffen if there is ANY type of 'debris' in the bowl. everything has to be emmaculate and bone sure you don't get any yolks in, at all, either!
    looks yummy, though

  2. I found a copy of Ladies' Home Journal Home Decorating book (copyright 1954) for a dollar this morning...had to think of you!

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  5. Just getting caught up on your posts. Your last one was great. I loved the conversation she had with the "workingman". What exciting finds! That's amazing that you found that clothes hamper, and in such good condition as well! That screw in lamp on your side tables is the type of lamp I need to replace the missing one on my night stand. Anybody have any idea where I could find one?

    That article is really neat. It's great to have an article on an actual homemaker of the time. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the article.

    BTW, I am fellow liver and onions lover. :)

  6. I am so envious of your resources! A downside of living in Los Angeles is that regular folks like me are constantly competing with set decorators for "the good stuff." My favorite shop is in Niles, is one of the things I miss about not living in Northern Indiana anymore.

  7. i love the posts i am addicted, just thought it would be interesting for you to do some research on the mothering side of 1955 what sort of birth options were around and pain relief and the sort of things they had for children how different the prams where and how children were dressed i've seen some really interesting pics of how different highchairs and things are thought this could make for an interesting post

  8. I found this wonderful blog last week and now have read it all. I love it! I really enjoy the conversations that are taking place in the comments. It is interesting to see the changes in our way of life and thougths since 1955. I look forward to what the future holds for you to discover and for us to consider.

  9. I saw that version of Peter Pan on stange with my mother! Obviously not in 1955, but they did the exact play (a female Peter Pan and all) when we saw it. I even owned the movie (the original) and I loved it!

    I was just telling Hubbs about that breakdown of what a housewife is worth! When that mean ol' Marine was trying to tell me it wasn't a real job, I was trying to recall what they said the figure was per year. Maybe I'll print off a current one and take it in to show him.

    I love the bit about your husband's pjs. That's so cute! We can change men yet!

    Looks like you found some real beauties on your scavenger hunt. Hubbs and I have a table just like the pair you found--only ours came from Wal-Mart and was definitely more than $10. But it too has the swing arm lamp (ours is also black wood, which is what we like). It's amazing the quality things you can find in a thrift store compared to the crap buys you can get a retialer's these days, isn't it?

  10. Just had to comment on small children and a household routine: I actually developed my household routine after I had children (I have a baby and a preschooler). Children thrive on routines and rhythms - gives security. Of course there is a place for spontaneity or for unseen things that trump routines. However, it's so nice to know what comes next - really frees up my mind for creativity such as you were describing over your double boiler :) So, I'm one mother who is not snorting. My daughter knows that we always go to market on Tuesdays, that we eat pancakes on Saturday mornings, that I hang out laundry every sunny day, that we clear the table when we're done eating, that we hang up our pajamas when we get dressed in the morning, etc. etc.

  11. Wow, Margo, great to hear such a routine. I can't think of a better foundation for a good child rearing environment than routine. The ability to have a stable foundation seems the choice precept for creativity, intelligence, and fun for a child. Good job! Let's hope if I ever join the motherhood ranks I could try to do so!

  12. LOVELY furniture you got on that hunt!
    I think the bedside tables will look fantastic in your bedroom, I remember your photo of ill hubby. Pls post photos when they are in their right element. :)

  13. I'm loving your blog! Great finds there, and I really like the end tables. DH and I went out for dinner on Sunday, and I had liver and onions for the first time in a long time!

  14. Hi - i came across your hutch as I have one similar that I am thinking of selling (but it has a bottom part too). Anyway, it was a hand me down and I don't know much about it and I thought you might be able to tell me if it was 50's and what a fair price might be to list the piece.

    I could email you the photo. Thanks in advance for any help you are able to provide.


  15. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often. is a one-stop shop when it comes to living room sets. You can find any furniture ranging from classic to contemporary designs from all over the world. If you are looking for sectional sofas, loveseats and sleeper sofas, they are all here.


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