Friday, May 1, 2009

1 May 1955 “Thank you, Photos, and May Day”

First off, I am thankful to all of you who took the time to leave comments. It was definitely a hard time, these past few days, with the passing of my little dog.

As it happened, as it often does with pets, our little Gilbert carried a heavy weight on his shoulders. We very often, with our loved pets, place upon them the cares and woes we sometimes just can’t face. They are the unquestioning friend who let’s you cry on their shoulder, never asks why and never judges you. So much weight on the shoulders of that little dog. The leaving of my parents. My mother’s horrid disease. The final days of my youth. All of that and more tied into 12 pounds of furry smiles and tail wags.

I am, truly, glad to be in the midst of this project when it happened. And in many ways the projects lessons of maturity and ACTION have helped me to come to terms with these things. The passing of my little dog allowed me to final open up and cry. I saw the importance of a grave. A marker to what once was. A place I could toss the dirt, shed my tear and say goodbye to my youth, my mother, my little friend and a life that had gone.

Yet, here I am with flowers for the grave. Apple trees to grow and make food for my family. Work to be done. Projects to undertake. Letters to write. Posts to do. A life has formed up around me when I really felt I was hiding from an old one. I am thankful and relish the maturity and ACTION of my new days. Again, thank you. I shall not dwell. As, the world awaits and there is so much to do. So many things to create and enjoy and bake! Onward, we march, we homemakers. We are a tough lot.

I thought something light and visual would be good to follow yesterday’s blog. I just had to post this photo as it is so sweet and funny. How lucky these young men are, considering had they been born 10 years earlier they may have already contracted the dreadful disease.

polio shot

Credit: Image donated by Corbis-Bettmann
Leo Casey watches aghast as Charles Buzine, 6, receives a shot of polio vaccine. Leo's up next. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 29, 1955.


I found this image on a blog who posts found photos. Isn’t it fun?

kid 1950s For some reason I feel he should be called Charles or Filbert or something along those lines. I love that on ‘school photo day’ he is expected to wear a suit and tie and how about that darling hankie? You know his mother ironed that one!

Here is the TV Guide for this week: tv guide april 1955Aren’t her matching gloves and scarf adorable. I really think the fashions of those time took guts! It takes some pride of place and real confidence to wear polka dot gloves and scarf. It takes the same confidence and charm to wear a pink flowered hat to the grocery store. I never want to look back and think, “Oh, at least I blended in and nobody noticed me.” Especially when I see the smiles I sometimes get from older people. It is funny how an outfit, remembered, can bring a smile to someone’s face. They were proud of their clothes and have fond memories. I have to say if I saw someone sporting an 1980s outfit of acid washed jeans, baggy shirt with shoulder pads, neon jelly bracelets, jelly shoes and ratted burnt blonde hair, I would not think, “oh, how lovely to see someone wearing the 'old style,” Maybe it is just me, though, maybe there are a lot of you out there who do remember the 1980s and 90s fashion fondly, myself I think I cannot.

I found some nice photos on a genealogical site for Arkansas, so I hope they don’t mind that I am displaying them, but I found it rather interesting to see average people in the mid 1950’s and what they would have worn.

wheatley_family This is the Wheatley family. I was surprised that the young boy is wearing dungarees while in town and even the youngest daughter is sporting sneakers. florence_ava_earnistine_hathcock_cates These ladies have nice casual skirt top combinations. Although I adore the dress on the woman on the right. It looks almost dressy and yet what comfortable open toed shoes. I thought this family almost looked modern (except for the mother’s shoes, which I love and have a pair similar in red and white) harlow This one is from 1955 and I really like the younger mother’s (on the right) dress. goslee3 I think I will try to make something similar. I have not touched my machine since March, but come May that will change. Sewing day will be inserted into my routine, perhaps it will share ironing day. Most of the men seem rather casual, but all the ladies are sporting dresses and skirts and they all look fresh. I think dresses in the summer are so much more comfortable than anything else and they do look so nice. The young mother’s shoes are quite nice. A strap always helps give a nice turn to an ankle, don’t you think?

This young mother looks quite comfortable. goslee1 Her shoes are sensible and if I had to venture a guess, I don’t believe she is wearing a girdle, or perhaps it is a more ‘relaxed’ girdle. The little girls dresses are darling. I am sure not many will agree with me, but I hate to see little girls nowadays wearing mini versions of jeans and sweats or those horrible velour ‘track suits’. If I had a little girl (which luckily for her I do not) she would be in all kinds of darling dresses. If mummy can clean and garden in a dress, she certainly could play in one. And I LOVE the playsuits of this time period for children.playsuit Practical and yet adorable and look at the little matching beach jacket. So much nicer than seeing saggy wet disposable diapers (nappies) at the beach!

This one feels so ‘me’ while doing my shopping (though sometimes I wear heels) cunningham_mildred I love that hair length and style! So breezy and cool.

Well, Happy May Day. I am not sure how any of you or if any of you celebrate this holiday anymore, but in the 1950s there were parades and queens and maypoles etc. Here are some pics

mayday1 mayday3 mayday2 This would have been how my fictional grandmother would have celebrated it, most likelymayday5

I vaguely recall a story my mother once told me that when she was a little girl, they would gather posy’s of forget-me-nots and pansies and violets and hang them secretly on the doors of the older people in her town. It sounded lovely. I don’t know if anyone celebrates it anymore, does your town?


  1. Long time reader, first time poster. Had to comment about May Day, since it's one of my favorite holidays and one that sadly very few celebrate. Growing up in Iowa, we children would make baskets out of Dixie cups with paper handles, fill them with popcorn and candy and leave them on the doorsteps of friends. You had to ring the doorbell and run. If you were caught, you were kissed. Now that I'm a mother in Colorado, all my neighbors think me strange, as this "holiday" is foreign to them, but something I'm doing with my children, and who knows, maybe one day, our neighborhood will be full of ringing doorbells and laughing children on May 1.

    As always, thanks for your musings. I look forward to your posts!

  2. 50's Gal,

    In our elementary school the children make May Day baskets of paper and then flowers of tissue paper and pipe cleaners. The teacher then gives them a pre-typed note wishing the recipient a happy May Day from the school to glue on the basket. The children are instructed to leave them at the door of a neighbor who doesn't have children at the school so the spirit of community is spread beyond our school community.

    It's all very sweet and the neighborhood looks so cute with so many door knobs decorated with these beautiful baskets.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures.


  3. May Day! It's been years since I came across anybody except the gang from my ol' neighborhood who knows the magic of May baskets! I dropped some off for my little nieces just a few hours ago. They're too young for candy, though, so I filled them with little gifts. I remember that May baskets were always filled with the most feminine, delicate candies, like after dinner mints.

  4. May Day...Not here, never, really. To be honest, to me, the first of May usually means that Derby Day isn't far away, and having been a horse racing fan since the day of my birth...Well! There are mint juleps to prepare for (super-secret recipe), Derby pies to make, workouts to follow...

    Loved the pictures, thanks for sharing them! Some of the dresses are really lovely, and it's interesting to see the shoes.

  5. I like the third photo (after the TV Guide). The mother and three daughters look like they've been giggling all morning--that will never go out of style.

    The looks on the girls' faces make it seem that mother is cracking a joke rather than scolding them.

    Working hard at

  6. I love how "matronly" the figures of the moms are, and how they still dress well.

    Lately I've been reading blogs bewailing the current obesity epidemic; you'd think from reading some of these people that all women were shaped like Kate Moss till 1985.

    But the moms look like, well, MOMS!

  7. Exactly anon and although we all want to be a healthy weight, I was rather down on my extra pounds until this year 1955 and now with my high waisted troussers and dresses and skirts and girdle etc, I feel wonderful and as a result, without trying have been losing weight. Probably less 'stress' eating, as I have no time for stress, too busy!

  8. Great fun pics. I love feeling I can look normal and need not strive for unrealistic body type. I always thought that dumb as no one in my family photos looked any different than those you have shown. This weight thing and unrealistic thinking realy is new compared to where women have been in history. I mean just watch old movies and you see women were ment to change body type with age and were still beautiful!
    I just want to say my heart goes out to you about Gilbert. I have faced situations where I had to make the same decision for my pets. Sometimes saying good-by first knowing the decision one has to make and resolving oneself to the fact helps. Tears will still be shed even years from now but better to love than not at all...
    I have a lovely surprise for you and if I can get it into my computer I will send it to you. It is an original of my Grandmothers and you and your friends will find it a fun item for your vintage gathering. My crazy work schedule leaves me only Tuesday free so I will try to work on it no later than that if possible but I promise not to forget. Untill then, prayers to you and yours

  9. Those playsuits for children are great aren't they? We have a photo of my father in the mid 1940s when he was two or three wearing a velvet playsuit (or romper suit) in a refugee camp in Austria during the war!

    By the way, I went out for the first time in vintage seamed stockings and suspenders, with a coat-dress, pencil skirt and medium heeled suede peep-toe shoes yesterday, and wow, it was such a difference! I felt like a real lady, it was such fun, and the stockings were really very comfortable, with no saggy tights crotch (the bane of my existance). I think I might make stockings part of my everyday wardrobe.

  10. I think whenever people dress nicely they look better, regardless of weight. Putting on real clothes and shoes, not glorified sweats and running shoes, just feels better.

    I bought my girls playsuits from Lands end when they were little. They were so sweet. A big sleeveless swing top and bloomer pants to cover the diaper with traditional pictures like bunnies or flowers with matching trim. I hated when they outgrew them so I gave them to my friend for her daughters.


  11. my girls have really gotten into their "play dresses" the past few years. it's so easy to find cute sundresses and cotton shift-types that are inexpensive. so much cooler than capris, and no worries about modesty! i am so frustrated w/the short shorts and halters for little girls. too much skin!! how does this teach them respect for themselves when their whole body has been on display since birth? oy vey.
    thanks for the fun pix. ~kelly

  12. I wore similar clothes as a kid in the late 60's and '70. I remember stretch terry and stretch velour zip-up playsuits that I wore at the beach. I also remember sun-dress and bloomer combos when I was long out of diapers and may have been older than 3. My mother dressed my sister and me in dresses that she had made most of the time. I wore them to school unless it was snowing(rare in Victoria, British Columbia) and in the summer if we went to the grocery store(or left home for any other reason) we had to change out of shorts and into a dress. With that kind of upbringing it is no wonder that I am more comfortable in dresses, skirts and tailored slacks than in sweats, jeans, or shorts. My Mum really felt that people got too casual in the '70's... no wonder she loves your blog as much as I do.

  13. Those dresses are adorable! I want some too! I would love to flaunt them all Summer. I still owe you a photo of my new fifties style dress with roses, it is SO lovely and I think it will be a Summer favourite. Perhaps I should enclose the photos in my next letter for you. :) I also want the polkadotted gloves and scarf, so lovely! How about your sewing projects, I know they are delayed due to the carpenter-job, but I so much want to see photos of your creations. A sewing day sounds like a good idea.

    If I had a girl she would be wearing dresses too, but I don’t! I have a lazy teenage boy. I think that is good. I would have drowned a girl in pink, lace and dresses. ;)

    In Denmark we don’t celebrate May Day, I don’t think we ever had. But the Swedes (our neighbouring country) still do today.

    I celebrated May this weekend by washing and scrubbing all our garden furniture. I also washed the upholstery-covers and ironed them afterwards, so now everything looks SO lovely. And yesterday evening the rain began, so so much for making the garden furniture nice. But it hasn’t rained in about a month now, so it is OK. I hope we’ll get nice weather for the coming weekend. We are going to my tiny Summer cottage with my SIL (DH’s sister) and her husband. They love our renovated RV. We will make nice barbecue dinners, go for a walk on the beach and in the forest and go to the nearby country-city. We will drink old-fashioned drinks and play board games in the evening. It’ll be SO nice with an extra day off. :)

  14. I agree with you completely about the fashions of today. If I have a daughter, she's going to be stuck being a "vintage 1950's girl" like her mom. I've pretty much mapped out her entire wardrobe from birth to age 21 and there's not a pair of jeans or a track suit to be found in it anywhere. She'll have to be happy wearing dresses and skirts all the time because I think it's so important to teach girls to look and act like young ladies.

  15. The ten years I spent recently in Texas showed me that little girls in dresses and big bows in their hair were NOT a thing of the past. Almost all little Texas girlies prefer to wear dresses for play.

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