Wednesday, April 15, 2009

15 April 1955 “Tax Day, McDonalds, and Renovation”

Tax day moved to April 15th in 1955:

Federal income tax was introduced with the Revenue Act of 1861 to help fund the Civil War. That Act stipulated that income tax "shall be due and payable on or before the thirtieth day of June". There is an unsubstantiated claim that the first income tax was paid only by the very wealthy, and they tended to spend their summers vacationing. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue is said to have argued, "The collection of taxes would be much easier if an earlier assessment was made, before they leave town." In 1895, income tax was abolished as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, overruling the Supreme Court decision from 18 years earlier. This gave the United States Congress the legal authority to tax individuals' income. The filing deadline was March 1 in 1913 and was changed to March 15 in 1918 and again to April 15 in 1955. Today, the filing deadline remains April 15, but, in the event that it falls on a weekend or national holiday, it moves to the following business day.

1st mcdonalds McDonalds as a chain restaurant begins today in 1955. speede logoThis is speedy and was replaced by Ronald in the early 1960’s. It was opened as a franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois by Ray Kroc. It was the ninth McDonalds restaurant overall. Kroc later purchased the McDonald brothers' equity in the company and led its worldwide expansion and the company became listed on the public stock markets in 1965. Kroc was also noted for aggressive business practices, compelling the McDonald's brothers to leave the fast food industry. This old ad shows some early ad IN current value the hamburgers would be 1.19, shakes would now be 1.58 and Fries .79 cents. [I really think this movement to one company growing large has really taken over the true American dream. I find it odd and scary that many people today will defend companies such as McDonalds and Wal-Mart saying they are part of the American way and the free market, but really a free market would allow there to be in place certain rules that would enable ANYONE to make it in business, thus making it free. The America where a local family can start a grocery business or restaurant or hardware store is really falling on the wayside as they cannot compete with the prices provided by the large chains. These companies often put other companies out of business and certainly do not serve great food. IN fact, food such as hamburgers and fries are not even that bad for you when made by you with ingredients you are aware of. I just sort of see this as a sad day. The day that moves one step closer towards our current over consumption and loss of individual rights and opportunities to be part of a free market. Can we turn it back? Do people want to turn it back? Do people care that they don’t know the people who run the businesses in their community and may never see the owners? I honestly don’t know.]

Speaking of food and local shops, I thought this comic funny:

pie cartoon

Isn’t this hilarious? It is out of my 55 American Home magazine.

simple ideasHaving been busy with my remodel, I thought these simple helps were interesting. I find that in my mashed potatoes, garlic and sour cream make a nice flavor. Which of these would you try?

I realize I should also be listing more of a ‘typical’ day now that I have started my renovation. So, for today I got up at 6:30 (though my alarm was set at 7:00) as I wanted to get a head start on the day. I made breakfast of cooked cereal Farina, toast, o.j., coffee and jam. Made hubby’s lunch and got him off to work. I then cleaned the kitchen and dishes. Off to don my dungarees and as it is Wednesday, I usually need to reset my hair. I just dampen the ends and set it in curlers and into my headscarf. I am usually not out marketing on Wednesdays, so this allows me to wear this about the house. I think when my hair is cut short I will get a permanent on the ends, so it holds the curl through the week better. Also, I can then set my hair at night and sleep on it, as I do not do that now as my hair is so long I find it often makes a mess of the whole thing!

Then, out to feed the chickens and gather eggs and sit down with my daily journal and my cup of tea. I make my daily list. This has come to be a very important moment in my day. This is the pivotal moment at which my day will commence. What I write down today is important and needs to consider the normal daily running of the house (meals planned, desserts, time for cleaning etc) and then what I think I can realisticly accomplish with my ongoing project and then, I make a little ‘wish list’. This is the part of my list that might get moved into the next day or spread into the week or end up in an overall ‘yearly to do list’. Sometimes, if I am especially fast and do not have to stop for unplanned moments, I can get to this list. I would say this is my new ‘reward’. It is interesting as a part of a ‘chore list’ actually receives the same excitement and fun that may have been used on the video game ‘the Sims’ in 2008. How quickly one can transfer that feeling of adrenalin and joy to another process. This definitely shows me that a person can change their desires and joy. There is hope, gals.

Now, I will write this blog and then get to my dining room. There will be more installing of wood trim and measuring. I hope to get the rest of the trim up on the walls today and putty the holes. On my ‘wish list’ portion is to prime this wood. This may or may not happen today. Also on the wish list for today is to rough out the fireplace box and lay out plan of the delft tiles for the fire surround. This most likely will not happen, but when I stop for lunch I may play around with the tiles I have to see which tiles will make the final cut to be placed around the fireplace surround. Then, of course, I will have to stop to make dinner. I need to make a dessert today, as the last of the cookies are gone and the last of the chocolate bread pudding went off with hubby. It will be the ‘miracle one egg cake’ recipe with ‘velvety frosting’ from my 1951 Good Housekeeping book. I will have a picture and recipe tomorrow to let you know how that one turned out. My dinner will be a pork and beef roll stuffed. It is a recipe I have wanted to try before. I will post this, too, if it turns out yummy.

Then, clean up as much of the construction as possible, take down and style hair, throw on a nice dress and greet hubby. Dinner, conversation, wine. Usually an hour or so we sit either in my little sitting room or in his study and talk. Then he will go to his study and write and smoke his pipe and I will sit with my magazines and plans and think about more remodeling, most likely. That is a full day for me.

Well, you may have noticed there have not been many recipes and images of food and desserts of late and that is due to my ongoing redo of our future dining room. I had wanted to wait to show pictures after it was all done, but realized that is silly. I wanted to show before and after shots, but realize before and mid-makeover shots are good, as well. It can show all the layers and effort I am putting into it.

The room, a few months, ago served as a makeshift study for my husband, but he has since moved to a larger nicer space. It was our small kitchen when we first moved back from the city last spring, as the house had two kitchens at that point. Since we took back over the whole house, it served as a studio for me for a bit then my hubby’s study, now it is going to be the new dining room. It is not a large room, only 12 x 14, but it has a door that leads to the side yard where I will put a terrace for alfresco dining in the summer. Someday I will have a greenhouse/conservatory put here, with my own hands (that should be some interesting blogging I am sure) but for now it is a box with two doors and window and plumbing.

So, the first thing I did was sketch out the idea of the room. I just made a quick line drawing with some notations to myself (good luck deciphering it, but it is going into my ‘renovation 1955 file’)dining room drawing

Because the room is just a plain box, I really wanted to start with a good structure. A good skeleton of design is trim and wall definition, I think. This quote from Edith Wharton in her book “The Decoration of Houses” says it best:

Proportion is the good breeding of architecture. It is that something, indefinable to the unprofessional eye, which gives repose and distinction to a room: in its origin a matter of nice mathematical calculation, of scientific adjustment of voids and masses, but in its effects as intangible as that all-pervading essence which the ancients called the soul”

In other words, though the order of a wall’s division is often mathematical and divined a long time ago, if you follow some of these rules, rather or not you understand them, they will result in a harmony and balance important in good design. Because, really, if a room feels grounded and well thought out, you will feel so in it, I think. This does not have to be expensive nor, unless you want the highest level of perfection achieved by mahogany panels applied by a master craftsman, the same principles can be achieved with some inexpensive wood, nails, ruler, level and your imagination.

Now, though my house is in fact a cape cod style and I want to give it a colonial/early American feel, I actually chose a more craftsman wall paneling style. This is a general idea where you see the paneling is high on the wall.craftsman_main_pic I liked the feeling of the higher wainscot with a smaller area of wall at top as I think it feels very cozy and will make us feel as if we are sunk into our dining experience. This gives me a nice small band around the room where I am going to paint my mural. So, with just a plain drywall wall, I taped off roughly where the paneling would go and painted the top half AND the ceiling sky blue ( a background for my future mural). wall taped for paintingThe next picture shows how I painted the bottom an off white color that I will also paint all the trim and cabinetry in the room. I then applied a carved chair rail piece that came pre-primed and was very inexpensive, but I liked the design of it. wall trim unpaintedThen I bought strapping (which is really cheap construction grade wood) that is literally one dollar for an eight foot piece. This cut in half gives me two 4 feet sections to apply on the wall. I have not added the horizontal pieces yet, as you see in the example above. So when it is all done, it will get primed and painted out one color. Now I have the look of largely paneled walls, though it is just drywall with wood applied. The result will still give the room and the eye the look without the cost of actual sheets of paneling. You can also see in this picture the drawers to an old victorian mahogany dresser that had been living in my kitchen. Do not feel bad that it has got painted, as the wood was water stained and such and it really looks crisp and nice. This will serve as my sideboard and linen and silverware storage. You can see even with the trim unpainted and not finished how the wall feels more ‘right’ somehow.

Next, here is the corner where the antique corner cabinet is installed.corner cabinet cornerYou can see the patching and unpainted wall. Next, the tape and sky blue paint.corner cabinet corner 2Then the infamous corner cabinet (if you read my earlier post that featured this cabinet you will know what a time Gussie and I had trying to get this into this room, resulting in my discovering how much I want to change my ‘tantrum’ attitude.) Here it is in place. It was a lovely cape cod barn red, but in this small room if I do not paint out all the ‘built ins’ the room will feel very small and crowded. I wanted a lot in this room and I think I will be able to achieve it without feeling crowded by giving things a ‘built in’ appearance.

corner cabinet corner 3

Here you can see that I have trimmed out the cabinet up to the ceiling and added medallions at the corner and primed it.corner cabinet corner 4It now looks like it belongs in the room. And here it is with its first coat of the white that will be on the paneling and all the trim.corner cabinet corner 5 The one unfortunate attribute to this room is its white tiled floor. I debated removing it for a nice pine floor, but the cost was silly and their is nothing wrong with the tile (remember this was a small kitchen at one point), so I will solve that with a nice area rug under the table and chairs and really, it is a nice surface to clean if food is spilled. I will make the rug big enough, though, so if any dishes get dropped they will not land on a tile floor!

Some of you may remember this half of a hutch I purchased at a local sale for seven dollar. It is nice wood and even the back is actual wood not wood paneling. It is very 1950s early American. I had intended it for our future breakfast room, but found it would work very nicely in the new dining room. After toying with the idea of it becoming a hutch I realized it would make a wonderful unique top to a fireplace over mantle. The room has no fireplace, but I will have a propane gas log installed come fall, so I am building out the surround for the firebox when that can be put in. Here is is unpainted.

fireplace hutch unpaintedHere is is primed.fireplace hutch primedAnd here it is hung on the wall into the studs.fireplace hutch painted By bringing it right up to the ceiling, now the top trim makes it look built in and below it will be built the fireplace. I think this built in fireplace with dishes displayed above rather than a picture or mirror is a smart look in here. Anyway, I will have the wall mural painted all around, so I won’t really have any need to hang artwork. I put a lovely robins egg blue green color inside while the outside receives the same color as the paneling and trim. Now, I really think the detail around edges shows up so much more as white over a deeper soft blue, don’t you?

From my Dorothy Draper book, “Decorating is Fun”, I have copied here a list she has for dining room equipment. I like that there are blanks on the page so you can add to it.

dining room equipment list

So, that is what I have been up to. You can see why I have not had as much time to make picture worthy food, but I hope you enjoy the process of the dining room renovation as much as looking at my various cakes and pies. A homemaker is, after all, as much as a carpenter, designer, painter, and planner as she is a chef.

This song from 1953's Calamity Jane should be our Vintage Gal Theme song! The song starts after a bit of the dialogue. Worth a listen!

Until later, then, Happy Homemaking.


  1. I don't know where to begin on my comments!

    I'll work backwards--I love what you're doing with the dining room. I love that you're pulling it together with minimum expenditure. I also love that you're doing it yourself! Very impressive.

    I have just recently joined you in the new plane of looking forward to chores with the same excitement I used to reserve for entertainment. The accomplishment is an amazing rush!

    PLANNING has taken on a whole new level for me and it is making things happen! Projects that I want to do, a house that is continuously clean, and meals that are nutritious and thrifty have all eluded me. Finally these things are coming under control.

    As you've heard from many of us, your blog is definitely an inspiration.

  2. So great to see your room taking shape. It is exciting to follow it along. I have done many a project like this and the final reward of a job done well no money could pay for. you will love it and enjoy it much more. Looking forward to more pics.

  3. Great Job with your dining room. You are so clever. Thanks for sharing the progress with us.

    I'm so encouraged by your thoughts, discoveries and practical examples. I'm even more productive because of you. Thanks! From Linda.

  4. Linda-how nice, I am glad I can inspire and light a fire under you. Don't you find homemaking and creating your surroundings so rewarding? I am excited to have a finished collection of my thoughts and ideas and finished images of my redo on my house by the end of the year. I should, perhaps, have a flikr site dedicated to that, only I am not sure as it would mean more use of the computer which really is not yet in existence, what do you think?

  5. I disagree about the McDonald's argument. We have two McD's in our town, also a BK. But there are hamburger joints and so forth, with far more expensive and presumably larger and tastier or more specialized burgers. There is room for everyone.

  6. Well, that is good. I guess I just see the concept of fast food as hurtful, but I was mostly considering the small burger joint. The type of place that can sell burgers like a diner cheaper (but not as cheap as mcdonalds) the only thing that seems to be the counter to the fast food is to make a higher end burger, which is great, but I just feel bad that a mom and pop burger joint can't coexist with mcdonalds, that's all. Also, the area I live land is fairly expensive, so it is hard for people to make it with such competition. I am lucky as there are no fast good restaurants allowed in my town with the exception of a Dunkin Donuts which is now growing into a sort of burger king. We all have our own opinions on ideas, I guess I just see a sort of innocence disapearing and I used to think, "Oh, well, who cares, let it just be whoever wins and gets bigger is better", but maybe as I am getting older I am starting to think, "Well, why not make certain rules within the system so smaller business has a chance to grow and WHY does a busienss have to get HUGE to equal success? Isn't it better for more peple to have a chance to make more variety of place than a few large places making less nice food. And certainly our obesity problem isn't from people going and overeating at the higher priced burger places. Because, sometimes there is a consequence for really cheap food (both in price and how it is made) everything has a consequence and we all pay for things somehow in the end. SO, that is my two cents, but I am glad that not everyone agrees with me, otherwise debate would be pretty boring, wouldn't it? Thanks for you comment Anonymous.

  7. I am loving your 'new' dining room. All that hard work and thought will make it so special when it is finished. I know what you mean when you mention the reward of working on a project - I 'rewarded' myself this afternoon with one and half hour's work in the garden - and really, that kind of reward just keeps on giving, doesn't it? Your ultimate reward will be a fabulous dining room, which no amount of Sims hours could ever come near! Well done you.

  8. I agree about McD's and the food being not so great. There is in a small city nearby a true hamburger joint that is wonderful. It is a little off the main drag through town but well worth the effort. They only serve burgers and fries with sodas to drink. It has no inside seating,limited hours of operation, and even less parking. They open at 11am and close at 7pm. They mainly serve the industrial workers community. Been around as long as I've lived here and it was an institution when I moved here 20+ years ago. This particular "mom and pop" is still around because it doesn't try to compete with BK (which is 2 blks away on the main drag). It knows its customer and caters to them. Great food.
    The pictures of your redo are great. The paint job really has made the room look bigger. Love the corner cupboard.


  9. I love your dining room also. I hope you will enjoy many wonderful meals in your new dining room.

    I agree with your viewpoint on Walmart and fast food joints. I don't mind them so much in the larger cities - but I do think smaller towns lose a lot by allowing them. Smaller businesses just can't compete and it is hard to find other work when your local business fails. I love shopping in small towns at stores that aren't part of a chain.

    Michelle from Canada.

  10. A website you might enjoy checking out about the war years in Canada.

    It has some interesting information that would be a few years before your time. Enjoy.

    Michelle in Canada.

  11. I am very much enjoying reading about your process of redecorating and your changing outlook as well as the debate going along with. While a flickr account is bringing in more technology, it is a very useful vehicle to show details and start to finish results of specific projects. It may also bring in more readers for your blog. I tend to agree with your thoughts on Mom and Pop businesses. I miss being able to take my children to these places. A few years ago, we drove from Ottawa to Winnepeg on the Trans-Canada Highway (Canadian equivalent of Rte. 66?) and were very disappointed to see how many of the motels and small independant cafes were closed down. We brought the kids to the ones that were still open because in a few years they may no longer exist. To me the idea of travelling by car and only stopping at Tim Horton's (coffee chain now owned by Wendy's) is horrible. Why would anyone travel if they just want the same things wherever they are? I also miss our local hardware store that closed a number of years ago due to competition from big box stores. It seems ridiculous to have to drive to get picture hangers.

  12. Great website Michelle. Thanks

  13. I'll probably comment on more of this later, but SCARF! You can easily set your hair in pincurls with bobbie pins and put a scarf on it to sleep in. I do this all the time and it's not uncomfortable and gets the hair ready for the next day.

    That said, I couldn't be bothered last night so set my hair this morning and went to work looking like Rosie the Riveter.

  14. Yes, homemaking in all it's aspects is Rewarding with a capital R!! I'm sorry that I don't know much about flickr accounts, but anything that gives us more of you, has to be worth it, even if the computer hasn't yet been invented. THANKS for all the sharing you do, even commenting on the comments. You certainly do accomplish A LOT! Again from, Linda

  15. I like the colours and the fact that it's all being done with your own hands.

    As soon as my mother goes away, I'll get back to my routine which she's ruined because she's doing everything her way and beating me to the punch.

    Other than that, my bedroom plan is coming along really well, I'll get the before pictures on my blog and then post the during's and the afters.

    I can't wait to see your finished dining room. What's the next project?


  16. I feel remiss in only getting back to comments today, but yesterday was rather busy and I had a day 'in the garden'. I am glad everyone likes my progress so far in the dining room. It certainly is taking longer than just 'decorating' (i.e. painting the walls and such) but I really honeslty believe that good bones, a nice strong skeleton, is so important to a room's overall design and comfort. If any of you live in a plain builders box but drool over say a craftsman cottage, then get some basic power tools, sketch some ideas and go window shopping at the hardware store. It is fun! It can be challanging and I am far from a master craftsman, that is for sure.
    Again, I hope I did not offend with my comments on McDonalds. I suppose if I were a 'reporter' I would state the facts and leave my 2 cents out, but what fun would that be?
    Well, busy day ahead and I have to get my blog done for today. I am excited to see others decorating, it's fun to share ideas and inspiration.It sounds as if no one will be 'dissapointed' in me if I do a Flikr account of my ongoing renovation and really I can stick other random pics from my project an such up there. It is a good source. AND I will, if it kills me trying, learn to do a podcast. That is one of the items with an asterik on my 'wish list'. Back to blogging.

  17. Your remodeling is looking great! BTW, how are things going with the chickens? Are they giving you lots of eggs?

  18. PL-Many eggs and I have two aracaunas so some of them are 'colored' eggs (soft greens and blues). I am actually getting some chicks this week as four hens actually don't provide quite enough eggs for me, being a busy homemaker and baker.

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