Friday, April 10, 2009

10 April 1955 “Polio, Beauty, Storage, Kitchen Design, and ‘To be your own Marketing Sorcerer’”

Ruth Ellis shoots jilting lover David Blakely. [this is all the info I could find on this story, no images or newspaper articles, anyone know or remember this happening?]
Dr Jonas Salk successfully tests Polio vaccine
polio girl In some ways, the fear of polio was as terrifying as the disease itself. When the epidemic in the United States peaked in 1952, polio had struck nearly 58,000 people—mainly children and young adults. The most critically ill were confined to a mechanical ventilator known as an iron lung, robbed of their ability to breathe on their own. Others escaped on crutches, crippled but not paralyzed. Panic was pandemic. It is almost impossible to exaggerate the terror that polio caused at the time.
 polio boy shot In April 1955, when the results of an unprecedented nationwide clinical trial were announced and the vaccine was approved for widespread public use, Newsweek reported: “It was a summit moment in history. None before it in the field of medicine ever received such dramatic affirmation, instant public comprehension, and official blessing.”
[A discovery such as this must have seemed like a miracle. Seeing some of the images of the children afflicted with it really tugs at your heart strings. It does make me wonder why today we have not problem spending billions to pay interest to Chinese loans and bail out banks, but free healthcare for all Americans seems such an alien idea. The advancement in science and the benefits from it should be encouraged and allowed for all. And that is my 2 cents on the subject.]
I thought this was an interesting article on beauty.under chin care1 under chin care 2
I have no idea if it works, but I have just started some of it. I know my hubby gave me a quizzical look the other night when, sat before my vanity and he propped in bed with his book, he was startled by the sound of hand slapping skin. He turned to find me, cold cream on face, slapping myself under the chin. I turned and smiled, “You don’t think beauty just happens do you?” I said. It was a very 1950’s moment. Now, I am sure there isn’t one iota of proof that will look ‘younger’ with this regime, but you will feel good. It forces you to sit down and take time for yourself. You feel relaxed and it feels GOOD to massage your neck and throat. Posture is certainly important, so that bit is true. But, give it a try and don’t be surprised if you feel a little bit ‘Hollywood starlet’ before your vanity doing these things.
I have  been noticing many articles showing up on storage in my 50’s magazines. I wonder, and I could be wrong here, is this starting a new trend to coincide with the new consumerism? We now have enough things that we need space for them to live as well as ourselves? Flash forward to 2009 when a business like the container store exists solely to provide us with more options and things in which to store the stuff we have bought.Container1  I used to like the idea of this, and one of my main goals, my tenet of my new life, IS organization, but I am finding that a lot of what I need to store is now really becoming things to donate or pass forward. Fifty years earlier, in 1905, the middle class certainly were beginning their  buying sprees of the mass produced items that were fabricated to ‘look’ like nicer objects. There is a great bit about it in Edith Wharton’s book “The Decoration of Houses”( Which I have read before and am now looking at again. It came out in 1897 so it is an antique even in my day) talking of the cheap and shoddy bits of bric a brac coming out and how not to be lured into overbuying mass produced junk ( I am paraphrasing here, as I am not sure Edith Wharton would have put it quite that way!). They were beginning the consumerism ideal and the market was responding by mass producing the Victorian ‘suites’ of furniture we now see for sale in antique shops. They were not well made by their days standards and that concept of the matching suite was really born out of that time. That is really when the middle class began to stop trying to ape their upper class and their own form of design was sprung. Yet, their consumption was hardly stored. The Victorian (and in America even the Edwardian era was still heavily Victorian as it took awhile for trends to reach our shores) style of decorating was all about mass consumption and display. IF there was a spare inch of mantle then place another bibelot on it. Heck, why leave the mantle bare? Throw a heavily decorated cloth on it with tassels and how about three layers of draperies? What you did not have, however, was endless inexpensive clothes. Machine made clothes were starting to be more available, but the average family probably had one or a few pairs of ‘good Sunday clothes’ depending upon which rung of the middle class they lived on, and everyday clothes were most likely very few. The labor involved in cleaning and keeping things, though servants where still affordable, really didn’t allow for to much to store.  The only bit on storage I could find in my 1908 household discoveries book by Mrs. Curtis  was the store room for canned goods. While my 1951 edition of the “Woman’s Home Companion Household Book” has an entire section in the index for Storage  with quite a few entries including Hobbies and Collections. Now, there are books and magazines on JUST storing our stuff. When you are in the midst of it, and believe me I was (and still am, actually) it seems normal. But, when you really think about the amount of energy going into producing plastic bins to store things we won’t see in a closet, it is odd behavior. If the world were to be hit “Vesuvius style” and we were all suddenly frozen in this moment, what, I wonder, would the modern archaeologist think of these piles and piles of containers filled with items? I bet they would extrapolate that they were religious artifacts. Something our society held dear, to have them so carefully contained. Just a thought. So, here we really see the first moment of something you collect yet do not display occurring in the 1950s. The move towards pack-ratting, has it begun?
Even kitchen lay out and storage was changing in the 1950’s the closed cabinets and ‘built in’ storage was all the rage. wood-cabinets-20 R While,  fifty years earlier, a kitchen was in essence a work room with open tables and shelves, clean but really a ‘let’s get to it’ sort of place. 1950 kitchen   The idea of the kitchen being really a decorated room in the house which needed storage for multiple sets of dishes, decoration, and storage etc. The more the conveniences of the modern world increased and there were more prepared meals and machines to make it easier, suddenly we needed more space to put it all in. Certainly a kitchen in a large 1900 house could have been bigger than a 1950’s version, so perhaps the storage started out of necessity and with the disappearance of the servant, the wife needed to be in there enough to merit it being a ‘part’ of the living of the house. Yet, it is interesting to note that they really began selling the idea of built-in custom looking cabinets over free standing items. It would be hard for a DIY project to make a bank of matching well hung cabinets, while to simply place a table here and a chopping block there is not that hard. It is these subtle plays of one’s desires in the magazines that leads to one “NEEDING” the new kitchen. “Well, how will I store all my gadgets?” How, indeed.
hoosier2 The Hoosier cabinet was really the first idea of the idealized storage in kitchens, but it’s premise was everything in one cabinet. Somehow this ballooned into the entire kitchen being the ‘Hoosier cabinet’ in a way, by the 1950s. Why buy one free standing cabinet when you can have banks of built ins?
hooseir cabinet Here is a page from my 1908 manual that shows a Hoosier cabinet and has some interesting information, you can click it to read it.
homemade kitchen counter This page from my 1908 homemakers handbook shows a handmade counter to aide in dishes and less steps in the kitchen. This looks really nice to me (sort of the original old fashioned pre 1950 idea I had for my kitchen).
The power of marketing has become very self-evidenced in the changing of my own esthetic. I have always loved 19th. c.  and earlier style. My kitchen plan for this house when we first moved back was to make it very 19th c. I bought an old copper lined wooden sink. A 1910 gas range (still not installed) and I had plans of open cabinets and shelves and individual pieces of furniture. I had been carrying the idea and image around for awhile. But, just in the past three months, I have already changed my plan for the kitchen into a 1950’s dream of built ins, metal cabinets, cheery breakfast room, vinyl/tiled floor etc. I now really like that look. I have come to respond to it, but it was not really there before the project. So, is my personal style, are any of the things we think we like that we count as part of our personality, really ours? I have done a 360 in my design idea. Am I still me? I have been morphing into a new person, really, with this project, but my personal style ( see that word ‘personal’ in there) has changed somewhat. That  really shows me the power of advertising. Here are old magazines, really dead in a way, but I have rolled back the stone on the Egyptian tomb and the curse has come out upon me and now I am doing the bidding of the magazine. Must decorate 1950s!(Insert Zombie style voice there accompanied by my outstretched arms and slow marching movements)
I do know that having my home a certain way makes me feel good. Perhaps, security in an uncertain world? Perhaps it gives one a feeling to combat their own mortality, “I am making something that will live on” (though it most likely will not). The very core of esthetic has been flayed open before me and I am left, again, wondering what is it all really mean? How is it all tied into me as a human on planet earth? It doesn’t frighten me, nor scare me, but I do find it fascinating. Should I, then, follow my current trend in my kitchen. And, if so, were I to do “my year 1905” next year, will I feel as if I need to change it? Or, should I only allow myself to maintain the 1950s for a period of time so as NOT to change my esthetic? To hold myself into a sort of “Design Limbo”, as it were. To see the power of it and then to yield it like a great marketing sorcerer. I mean, I know the stuff works, right? So, why not use it on myself? Design my home to fit into my esthetic from the 1950s (though my love of antiques still holds and there will be room for pieces from earlier centuries) but then only allow myself to read and study design and magazines from that moment. It could seem almost like I am depriving myself of something, but honestly, if I were never to read another design magazine or book for the rest of my life except for those from the past and up to 1959, how bad is that really? Certainly I could not go and waste my time at Borders looking at new magazines or buy more things that will pile up in the landfills.
So, you can see how what might have sounded crazy at one point actually seems to have a sort of ecological and smart logic to it. Why let myself succumb to new trends? Why add to the stuff I already have once I achieve the look and finish I wanted? That is the trick of modern marketing, you HAVE to have it and then something new comes out and forget that old stuff, that is so last year! But, what if I don’t let any other trends come into contact with me? What if I only shop for house things at antique shops and yard sales while holding my 1950’s esthetic aloft like a great wand to conjure up my 1950s dream home? Will I then NOT want to change things around? I hope so, for if that is the case look at all the time I can spend in my community and in writing, which I am really coming to find an important part of my day. I could spend more time on learning to grow more of my own food and maybe more of my own animals (goats give milk, right?).
So, could there be a movement that really would be a green movement that says, Pick a time and live it. Be in the modern world, but don’t be CONTROLLED by it. IF you love 1970’s design (even if you don’t spend a year only reading their magazines and you may be surprised how quickly you will be drooling over shag carpeting and avocado green appliances!)Then only allow that era to influence your need to buy. Then you will have to buy old things, which means making less, which means consuming less, of course that would mean less production, but then maybe more effort could go back to farming and local grocery stores and less giant stores with ill made particle board furniture that will break in one year. It is an interesting concept, one in which I am definitely going to keep following to see where it leads.


  1. There was a film in the early 80's about Ruth Ellis starring Miranda Richardson and Rupert Everett as her lover, the racecar driver that she killed. I remember seeing it and then reading a book that I picked up in England.

  2. Oh, interesting. I could find no info on it, thanks.

  3. Interesting... I don't know if we can pick a time, but I certainly do think that the way to solve the financial crisis is to cut back production of stuff we don't need (Quick side note, there has to be a difference in what is produced in developed and underdeveloped countries), and go back to basics.

    The container store thing is interesting... I have a bit of a box and storage issue. I miss not having that much. I need to start clearing stuff out but it's hard as a student when I have 60tons of books.


  4. Angel-I feel you about the books. I have been lugging books around for years. My hubby and I are avid readers and I inherited some antique books from my grandfather AND I collected antique books. We have tried to pare down, but now that we have decided to stay in this house for some time now, my plan for that is a built in planned out library with all our books finally alphabatized and catergorized and out to look at, touch, read, and enjoy. But, as a student, I know that can be hard.


    Enjoying your blog, keep up the good work.

  6. Wow, thanks anonymous. What an interesting story and interesting to point out that it help lead to the abolition of the death penalty in the UK by 64 while we still, in this country, practice it. Interesting, indeed.

  7. Richard Vobes did a murder show on Ellis a few years ago. It's not on his murder shows page now ( but I probably still have the mp3 archived at home. Even though it's modern, I could send it to you if you like. Think of it as listening to radio the way it used to be (and still is on parts of the BBC)

  8. Oh quick thing I forgot, my Aunt had polio when she was little, and she's got problems with walking.

  9. 50'sgal- could you use some of your 1900's things in your 50's kitchen? Since you lived thru the GD and WW2 you'd probably keep anything that's workable.

    What I love about some modern kitchens is there's a "new" trend of open shelves and furniture, or cabinets that look like furniture. I'd love to re-do my kitchen this way. It was remodeled in the late 1980's by the previous owners and we updated it a 4 years ago but that was just a little fix, not my dream kitchen. Maybe one day.

    What I wonder about all these storage bins is what they'll do in our landfills, especially as we keep hearing about the toxicity of plastic.

  10. Anonymous-I too wonder that. Why even make them? Here is what I think is bizarre. You buy something in packaging. Then you throw out that packaging in more packagin (plastic garbage or bin liner) then you don't need it out or use it all the time so you put it in a plastic package you buy at a store that sells plastic packaging. It all seems so normal until you really start to think about it. Just think of the amount of plastic in the landfill JUST from milk cartons. Once glass milk bottles delivered and then returned, sterilized and reused went away, look at all the plastic from just that alone! (I know in UK, I think, there is still some milk deliver, am I right? but not in most of usa) Just that one small aspect and in may have been done in the name of 'health' but was most likely to have a product to make and to sell to a market. I am pretty sure sterilzed glass MUST be healthier than plastic that leaches chemicals. Again, marketing, niche marketing, selling, garbage, new idea, market it, make a need followed by fear (health or safety, or NEED) then buy, obsolete, into the landfill and all over again.

  11. anonymous- I most likely will use some of my 1900's things WHEN I redo my kitchen. It will be one of the last redo's I do as I really want to study and take note of how I use the kitchen and how that evolves so it will be efficient and done the right way as I am ONLY going to do it once, as I am with the rest of the house. NO one I knows believes that, but I honestly mean it. Only time will tell, I guess.

  12. 50'sGal- That last anonymous post was from me, S. I signed off too fast- sorry.

    There is a company that delivers milk in glass bottles and you leave them for pick up at your next delivery. It's good Rsbt free milk but not organic. We got it for a while but we're not big milk drinkers. There was a lawsuit filed against the company because a customer seriously injured her hand when a milk bottle broke as she picked it up. I buy it occasionally at the grocery store (it's available there too- not just delivery) but not on a regular basis.


  13. How like our modern world that woman thinks it is not HER fault that she cut herself on GLASS! How insane is that! How could it possibly the milk companies fault because of her actions, was she truly unaware of what happens with glass? I think the entire concept of 'Oh, well I;ll sue' is one of the things I hate most about the modern world. NO ACCOUNTABILITY. That's like sueing your doctor because your baby bit you! "I didn't know babies grew teeth! IT's not my fault and YOU delivered him, help me give me a settlement, hurry!"

  14. I heart organic milk in cartons. They go right in the recycling bin!

  15. Your desire to stay in the 50's reminds me of Tasha Tudor's love for the 1830's. Even though she was born in 1915, she wore the clothes and lived a good while without modern utilities. Her determination was extremely admirable--like yours.

    There was a 1955 Life Magazine article written about her (she was 40 in your year).

    While your time periods are not the same, your commitment and dedication to another era make you seem like Tasha's kindred spirit.

    The connection just hit me...and I thought it worth mentioning.

    Working hard at

  16. Kris7-I love Tasha Tudor. I feel honored to be compared. I, too, have been an artist, perhaps I should do a childrens book, but with a 1950's theme and we would have another parallel. I am going to try and find that life article. Thanks

  17. I loved this post, very interesting to see food storage and kitchens over time.

  18. Those skincare articles are interesting, apparently now experts still maintain that when putting on creme you are meant to smooth it on in an upwards motion to keep your skin wrinkle free. I don't know if it works though.

  19. Interesting skincare article...Though the massage part can't be bad!

    As far as the change in the style of kitchens, I think in part this is because in the 50s, there was more entertaining in the house, something folks didn't have time for in earlier years. Many Americans were working 18-hour days, 7 days a week. Once again, as in Victorian times, life was centering around the home and family that had at least some time to be together. That is at least my uneducated opinion on kitchens. More people were in the house and visiting (and, yes, those fun new appliances!), so perhaps it was felt that kitchens needed to be more "presentable"? Also, people probably weren't bringing freshly slaughtered meat in from the barn, so to speak. There wasn't as much dirt and muck due to other technological advances, so maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to decorate the kitchen as well, whereas before they'd been far more utilitarian. Just a guess. Your thought about the loss of household servants is probably right on as well.

    Personally, I'm rather glad our kitchen doesn't have bare wood floors and such...and note that the 1905 kitchen is "decorated" on the back wall!

  20. Oh, I wasn't saying it wasn't decorated I was saying it was more self-decorated that the 1905 manual tells you how to build a kitchen cabinet and line a sink and backsplash while a 1950s variety we see really has more things that you would buy or that you would need prefab and installed by a professional. Neither is good or bad, just pointing out how, again, the idea of buying things is beoming more apparent. A 1955 housewife would have and buy things in a way and at a rate that would have been unthinkable for her grandmother. They would have had to make do and in making do they still made it pretty and homey but a more rough and tumble homey less sheets of glass and endless matching metal cabinets and stuff. Just interesting from that 50 year change.

  21. I think I know what you're talking about, 50sgal. Many people try to capture the
    past by "decorating" their home in an “old fashioned” style, and surround themselves with those things that make them “feel” as though they were living it, yet they are not actually living it. There is a difference between the life you live creating the feel and look of your home vs. having a decorated home and life that does not reflect the life you live. I think people instinctively know that something is missing and this is why they try to capture it through their emotions/senses. The only way to really have it, as you mentioned, is to live it, not to live it in our imaginations or in our decorations and surroundings. To capture real, true, meaningful moments, we need to live those moments which bring meaning and joy, not to live out prepared moments of happiness that leave us when the things go away or no longer hold our imaginations. In saying that, I don’t mean not to prepare, for example, having tea, etc., but not to plan happiness by having tea, etc.; plan having tea as a way to spend time with someone, let the happiness and joy come out of the moment itself. By giving ourselves to others through moments shared, the joy comes from that. We don’t need excess things, or a prepared environment to enjoy real moments with others.

    I remember in a Reminisce article once, the man who wrote the article talked about how comical it was to him that so many homes nowadays have big kitchen with huge stoves and every imaginable cooking utensils, appliances, gadgets, etc., yet, according to statistics, more family eat out more often than eat at home. The article spoke about that general contradiction at length, but this is what stuck out for me. When women really did stay home and cook all three meals, they did not have the luxury of a huge kitchen with anything you could thing of to go in it (their kitchens were a reflection of what actually happened in there), and now that women are in the kitchen less, they have more than what such a kitchen would suggest happens in there. How many women have wooden spoons and aprons that never get used, or rarely get used, but are there for "decoration"? Or have the big pro series stove, bottles of pasta, etc. on the counter, yet it’s primary purpose is decoration.

    BTW, I gave a comment on your last post as well.

  22. PL-so true, very well put. And, again, I am not trying to seem 'preachy' or tell anyone how to live, only in living differently I am seeing the vast difference in how I use to 'imagine' living compared to 'actually' living. Now, I actually use my antique meat grinder. It looked neat and had a certain atmosphere, now it grinds leftover meat to make food for my hubby and I. My aprons are no longer decorative, but are soiled with floured handprints and wear along the edges from contanstly grabbing and using it as a utility throughout the day. I find myself grabbing and using the decorative items (for example the cute vintage copper gelatin molds) now their decorative use coincides with their utlitarian purpose. It is a prime example how the kitchen got bigger and bigger with more utilities and then less cooking actually happens. I am sure there are huge familiy room/kitchen combinations decorated to the hilt with stainless and granite etc and an eating area and I bet the majority of the food is microwaved and the family eats on the sofa. I am not saying that is bad, per se, but why, then not have a room with a microwave, sink a small oven and fringe and a sofa and tv? The allusion of what people still want or else what they THINK they want or still want still plays a role in their daily decision making. Is it done because of the subtle play of the tv design shows, magazines and books on how we can live. Why, again, live a life when you can buy the props and make one up. We have all come to live in a strange stage play of existence, our homes like elaborate theatre sets, the allusion of homespun charm. But, why? I think it funny that I have had to basically put myself into a year long play with 1950s props to see how much I was already doing that in the modern world and how much of our world is based around idea and fantasy as oppsoed to actual tangible items and use. Even our economy is a great allusion. We rarely use or see cash and our money is not backed by gold. As I have said before, I have looked behind the curtain and seen the great OZ is just a guy pulling levers. I cannot go back because I cannot pretend anymore. My 'make believe' life of 1955 is somehow more real than the actual 21st century existence I lived. Odd, indeed.

  23. PL- I love Reminisce magazine. I used to go to this gym where a lot of older people in my town workout (it's very reasonable and even more so for seniors) and every month someone left their copy for others to read- we all did this but most people left People magazine and the like- YUK! What a wonderful observation about kitchen design.

    I have a 1930's kitchen that was redone by someone who didn't think of the functionality. It looks nice but it's hard to do a lot of cooking in. I wish they left it alone so I could work with it the way it was intended. Although I know it was updated in the 50's and again in the 70's based on the old cabinets and counters left in the basement.

    50's Gal- I use my wooden spoons and aprons regularly. But it's not so common. On occasion I run out to catch the trash man, the mailman or say hi to a neighbor and I get the most kind and respectful comments, and then something negative about themselves- like if they just cooked or cleaned with an apron they'd be a better person. ??? No, of course not, but that's the ideal that's sold along with aprons and wooden spoons.


  24. I really found the polio portion of this post interesting. As a mom of two young children (1 and 3 years) the vaccine safety debate among parents is on my radar. We give kids around 39 shots or doses of vaccines in the first 2 years of their lives. It does seem scary but when you think of the alternative, something most people in my age group in the United States have never seen - a true fear of a devastating childhood disease, we can't really appreciate the technology that is ours for the taking. It may be true that vaccines are not 100% safe but the alternative of widespread physical destruction of a disease among children would be a terrible thing. I can't imagine the fear parents had then. I'm sure this fear is still felt intensely in parts of the world today in which access to basic health care is not available. I still remember asking my father (born in 1950) about the round circle scar on his arm and having him explain that it was his polio vaccine.

  25. I have been enjoying your blog for weeks now and thought it was time to comment as my reading of it has lead to interesting conversations with my Mum. She emmigrated from England to Canada in 1956 at the age of 11 so she has very clear memories of the fifties in England, Ireland and Canada. She had received her polio vaccine before she moved and has clear memories of the pools being closed that first summer in Canada and the general hysteria/fear surrounding the spread of the disease. I believe that North America when it came to pulbic health. She is still very aware of public health and often shows concern about peoples general lack of hygiene which, to her, includes getting fresh air and robust activity. At almost 65 she looks much younger than her contemporaries despite smoking and a long-term rheumatoid arthritis. One of our family friends (and my french teacher) in grades 7 & 8 had suffered polio and was permanently disabled from it. His stature, walking(he used crutches), and hands(wrists permanently flexed) were allop affected yet that did not stop him from being a great teacher, an amateur pilot (he built his own aircraft) and a thoroughly entertaining individual. He was around twenty years older than my parents so he must have lived through the depression (in England I think) so that might explain some of his strength of character which is a trait we do not discuss much these days. I also went to school with a boy who acquired polio from the live vaccine (also disabled but with a strong character) and my own children have had problems with the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine so I see both sides of the vaccine issue. Jess, the arm scar is more likely small pox which was part of the standard shots until after my early childhood.
    I saw the Ruth Ellis story on film too but I had discussed it with my English grandmother when discussing capital punishment.
    As for kitchens, most cooks of the past would likely have chosen any modernizations that were available and affordable and decorated them to make it a more enjoyable place to work. Most women could not help but make utilitarian things more pleasing to look at: aprons, tablecloths and quilts. I do find it odd that modern homeowners put so much money into creating the perfect kitchen but do not really use them. We have renovated two kitchens but only after they wore out. Both of our houses we have owned were built in the late 60's/early 70's with the original kitchens which unlike the houses were not really well-built or practical. As I do a lot of cooking from scratch, a well designed kitchen is hugely appreciated. In our first kitchen redo we were convinced to give up our table and replace it with an island. We did not make that mistake with the second kitchen and our family of six eats most meals together at a large table.
    I will enjoy future posts.

  26. This is a very interesting blog--and interesting at a lot of levels, really. I remember the Polio Vaccine first hand, as I was in junior high school at the time it was announced. I remember the March of Dimes contest we had in our school to see which class could raise the most cash and so forth. And I remember getting the shot when they were finally available.

    You also have some interesting comments on kitchens. I feel very strongly that people should design their kitchens for themselves, as opposed to thinking only of the resale value or, even worse, going with whatever is "hot." A basic rule of physics is that whatever is hot will eventually cool, which is fine for soup that burns one's lips, but rather detrimental for a kitchen remodeling that has cost forty thousand dollars or more!

    I don't share your enthusiasm for 1950s kitchens, but that's just me. I will say, though, that I have seen some wonderful recreations of this period. In the end, though, it's an aesthetic decision, which necessarily means that it cannot be right or wrong, just different for every person who considers it. Even so, I was particularly interested in what you had to say about kitchens as a whole and 1950s kitchens in particular.

    I have done my own share of research on the Internet for my blog site and came across the Hoosier Kitchen some time ago. They absolutely fascinate me, as does that whole idea of modern kitchens. What you had to say about kitchens with cabinets coming into vogue in the 1950s was particularly interesting because we moved to Helena, Montana in 1950, and my father, who had once worked as a carpenter, did a lot of remodeling in that house.

    The house itself had first been built in the 1880s, and whenever Dad took out a wall, we found square nails. Also, because of the period in which the house was built, it had a separate pantry that adjoined the kitchen. Tastes had changed by then, though, so Dad closed off the pantry to the kitchen, gave it a different entrance and made it into a sewing room for my mother. The kitchen was of a fair size, and had both base and wall cabinets. There was no dishwasher, of course, and the sink was a single-basin in the beginning. Later, Dad replaced it with a double-basin sink, and we all thought we'd died and gone to Heaven!

    Thank you very much for sharing your observations on that long-ago time. You brought back a lot of memories of that old house and its kitchen and the man who first taught me how to use hand tools. I'm a cabinetmaker now, but whenever people praise anything I might be fortunate enough to make, I always think back to the Old Man. There's a Jewish saying that sums it up: "If I see further than my father did, it's because I should. I'm standing on his shoulders."

  27. Thank you for that wonderful comment Joseph. It is nice to hear from men, here, somtimes. I am glad you are finding my blog interesting. It really, for me, has allowed me to put a magnifying glass onto my life, as there are so many things I like to do and study, that rather than have a haphazzard jumble of ideas and projects, I have found an interesting funnel, if you will, in which to pour out all my ideas, thoughts and projects. Thank you again.

  28. That is really interesting, PL...Good point. We try to decorate appropriately AND live in it! It probably helps that I love to cook.

    Also, 50sgal, I see your point about the decorating. My great-grandmother lived to be 99 years old, dying just months before her 100th birthday. I would often sit and think about the changes she'd seen, and talk to her. Her stories about sleigh rides up and down Woodward Avenue, complete with jingling bells on the horses for Christmas, were like hearing tales from another world!

    BTW, about the plastic containers...I do reuse ours, as winter-sowing containers for seedlings. I plant my seeds after New Year's and put everything outdoors, then my seedlings are tough, hardy, and don't need to be hardened off or anything. There's a great website about this, I'm a big Greek-yogurt fan, so...we have quite a few of these plastic things.

    I do wish more things came in glass bottles, though the ones we have I simply can't bear to throw out (our town doesn't have a recycling program). Many are used for canning, others are turned into rather unconventional vases or holders for other things.

  29. Jen-that sounds interesting about the plants and am going to check that out. I have my tomato plants out already, even though the garden store said, "Oh, no, you can't put them out yet!"
    It is interesting how glass jars seem to be special somehow. I, too, try and save things that come in glass, though I have to buy milk in cardboard cartons, but we save these and use them when we have fires and this time of year they help with the outdoor burns when clearing brush and burning. Good job!

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  32. I'm late commenting here as I am reading through your blog -- but I well remember the polio scare of the 50's. I was about 4 years old when I got my first polio shot (they hurt terribly) and then they went to the sugar cube vaccine (much nicer). My parents had personal friends whose children were not vaccinated in time and their children were left crippled and one even a quadraplegic, which was so tragic. I recommend vaccinations. I'm not convinced that they cause autism. I had my children vaccinated against just about everything.


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