Monday, May 11, 2009

11 May 1955 “A little News and A Big Answer to a Question.”

The Japanese ferry Shiun Maru sinks off of Takamatsu, Shikoku; 168 are killed.

The Siun Maru was a Japanese National Railway (JNR) ferry that sank in the Seto Inland Sea after colliding with another JNR ferry, the Uko Maru, in thick fog on 11 May 1955. A lack of radar onboard contributed to the accident. Many school children were among the 160 people killed. The sinking of the Siun Maru encouraged the Japanese government to go ahead with the Honshu-Shikoku bridge project, the longest suspension bridge in the world. [I wonder if hearing of such a tragedy began the healing between Japan and the states. I have a few articles about how the Japanese were perceived post war in the USA. If I can find it, I have a lovely article about a GI who married a Japanese woman and how she was well received in her neighborhood and how her neighbors would be included in a tea ceremony she would sometimes have. It was very sweet and showed that the 1950s' as many want us to believe, was not, in fact, only a time of severe racism. In fact, having had been in Europe and fighting beside many varieties of people, probably played a major role in American perceptions of one another.]

revenge of the creature poster This movie was released today. Again, though the modern me was always fascinated by 1950s horror movies, the 1955 me, most likely would not go. I think it was more for children on Saturdays and Teens, but I might be wrong. Any of you old enough to know of these movies, correct me or give us your take and info. Who was the audience for these movies? I suppose many adults would be into it.

I think, the rise of this type of movie, much as horror films current increase in production, is an example in part of a society trying to forget the fear of the real world and to have the ‘bad guy’ be very clearly defined. Certainly, it is almost a release to see the ‘bad guy’ as a monster from outer space or under the sea than the subtle reality of the real ‘ monsters’ often in our own government and world. To have come out of WWII and recall WWI certainly, those who were once thought friends and allies became monsters to us. Even the ways of life and thinking had, in a way, become a subtle monster, but not one you could get your hands on. Probably the same reason Westerns became such a big genre in the 30’s thru the 50’s. The bad guy wears ‘the black hat’ and is killed by the good guy at the end. We felt a comfort in that. It was easy to understand and see good and bad and it helps to hide, for a little while, from the real world which is more often than not, all too grey.

I thought I would maybe make today’s blog my response to a great question I received from a commenter, Sarah:

Hi 50sgal!
I'm sorry to ask such a personal question but have you always been a stay at home wife? I am giving up my job in 3 weeks to stay at home - both of us are just fed up with rushing around all the time and have decided to 'do without' instead. (really it won't be doing without as we'll have the necessities just not the luxuries!)
I was wondering how you found the transition? At the moment I'm worried that I could easily end up spending everyday just channel hopping and then having a panic of activity just before my husband walks through the door! Do you have any tips for a newbie? How was your transition to being a housewife? Did you make the move before your 'time-machine' experience or did you do it so that you would be able to complete this wonderful project? What do your husband/ family / friends think about it? It was my husbands suggestion but some of my friends have been dismissive and my family downright hostile. I'm sorry for all the questions but I don't know anyone else who stays at home without children and the only blogs I have found on the internet are written by women who stay home for religious reasons (not that that's a bad thing - it's just not why I decided to).
I do love your blog - I have only been a regular reader for a few weeks but I have been reading back in your posts and the more I read the more I agree with you!!
Thank you for taking the time to read this (very long!) comment,

Well, first off No, I have not always been a stay at home wife. I have been really only a Homemaker since the inception of this project. What and how I lived ‘at home’ prior to 1955, I would not label a homemaker. Here is the rundown to my own path to becoming a Homemaker:

I have been not in the working field for some time, true. Before that, I did every thing from work for an artist, buy for an antique shop, work in cafe’s and finally ran and owned my own flower shop. After the last venture, I sold my shop and decided to take a break from the work world and decide why I was actually on the earth. The modern dilemma of ‘findings one self’. ( I have since found that rather than bother looking for yourself, it is better to get on with the business of living and you will appear soon enough. The modern problem of self and purpose soon fades when there is work to be done)

It felt odd, those first weeks. It is funny, as it has been over three years since then, but the first two weeks are really imprinted upon me. I had gone from literally being at my shop seven days a week, 10 hours a day to nothing. I had a booming wedding business, as the Cape is a desired location for weddings, and often found myself setting up at posh clubs or seaside locales, coordinating my designers with our cell phones, praying the heat would hold off, the flowers wouldn’t wilt and that the brides and their mother’s wouldn’t turn on us with knives. A very hectic life to suddenly, Nothing.

I remember that first day I woke up and and thought, “Huh, I don’t HAVE to be anywhere today.” My husband was still working, as he kept his job while I ran my business. We toyed with the idea of it becoming a joint venture, but decided our marriage was more important, owning a business is VERY stressful.

So, there I was, day one: no job; no responsibilities. No one was going to call me and say, “the flowers aren’t here or they sent the wrong ones or the cooler just died and all the flowers for three weddings are wilting” Nothing. Silence.

I remember, I got into my car and drove to our local little shop where they have coffee. I bought a cup, put on some music and just drove.

Cape Cod is very beautiful in the summer. This was late summer and the Cape was pregnant with possibilities. The beach. The shops. Nature walks. I was where many come for holiday and I had a full tank of gas, no worries and all the time in the world.
I drove towards the end of the cape, to Provincetown. I made it as far as Brewster, and stopped at a local park and walked. Then I went to some shops, playing tourist. I remember thinking, “Oh, this would be good for flowers, or I could use this for a wedding”. It was hard to NOT shop for the store. Where did my personality exist outside of my work. Was the definition of me only in the work I did or had done?

I ended up driving a lot that week. I would throw my bike in the back of the car and go. I walked a lot on the beach. We didn’t have our boat yet, or I would have had that.

Then opportunity came in the form of a place to stay on the ocean. My hubby’s grandfather has a house on the water. He had a boathouse, where sailboats were kept and it contained a small two floor apartment. We moved there, bought a boat (a 30’ Morgan sailboat) and hubby left the security of his 10 year job.
So, we became vagabonds. Hubby grew out his beard and we sailed. Our days were dictated by the tides and the weather. It was a free time and we had fun AND adventures, including some close calls on the sea. We made various jaunts back and forth to the Vineyard (Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts for you non-US readers).

After awhile, the money lessened and hubby became bored not working. He rejoined the workforce and now had a commute to the city (Boston).

Luckily, my lovely husband did not insist upon my return to work. I wasn’t ready. I really felt the work force was not for me. I returned, for awhile, to one of my old love :horses. I began riding again and took some lessons at a local stable. I even began Polo lessons (something I promise myself to return to one day).

Then, there was what was to become the eventual drama of moving my family ( my mother had contracted Alzheimer's as mentioned in a previous post) out here. At first, I was happy. It was nice to rebuild relationships and to share family Christmas. That, in and of itself, is a novel’s worth of emotions, happenings and final outcomes. To make it short, during that time, we moved out of the boathouse and to Boston to the Back Bay.

I really consider the path to my current happiness in life to really start from Boston. We were lucky enough to live on Commonwealth Ave. which has a central park way that runs up and down the street. A great spot for the dogs and walks etc. This is where I really began to peek in the mirror. To take brief glances at my idle pointless life and wonder. “What?” “Who?” My hubby didn’t always seem to love work, but he seemed happy. He certainly wasn’t wondering ‘who he was’. I did not have that.

I returned to my love affair with art ( I studied art history at university). I began some classes at the Museum School and really loved it. This lead to my acquiring a studio in Somerville. It was small, but it was my own little place to exist in paint pots and have sketches hanging. What I noticed I liked most about this studio, was setting it up. I built walls and installed antique windows. I drug up the two flight of stairs old sofas and recovered them in IKEA sheep skin rugs. I dumpster dove old Persian rugs and layered them on the floor. I found myself having as much time and even more effort in ‘making over’ the studio than actually painting. I did do a lot of painting, though, and my classes really pushed me to pursue that. But, I was really just making a faux little home somewhere. I loved our apartment and we were lucky to have the first floor, so we had 15 foot ceilings with old moldings and fireplace, wonderful wood floors. But, it wasn’t really my home.

Then, the world sort of suddenly stopped in a way. The current recession hit and after trips back and forth to the Cape all the time I figured, let’s conserve and move back there full time.

So, we packed up and said goodbye to our flat in the heart of the city and to my little studio and moved back to the Cape. I didn’t realize how much I actually missed having a yard and being in the ‘country’ until I got back. I went full tilt into planning gardens and getting bees, though still feeling very lost in a way. I sort of felt on autopilot. I had many things I wanted to ‘get back to’ my painting and reading etc. But, really that first summer was spent between my Father having a stroke, my mother’s increasing illness and keeping myself distracted with swimming and the ocean.

By the end of last year I had really just discovered blogs. After seeing other people try similar projects I thought, “well, let me see what it is like”. I have always loved history and study, so it could be the next ‘diversion’. It was one of the best decisions I think I have made in a long time.

You ask how my transition to homemaker was and really it was sort of gradual. I had thought it would be a good project in that I could use it as a focus to pinpoint my loves of design and fashion etc. What really was meant to be a sort of year long history perspective/ personal study has turned into a lifestyle. Really, it has either turned into me, or I into it, or somehow, amongst the old magazines, ironing and baking, I just sort of emerged. It really began to seep into every part of my life.

You ask how others have taken to it. I think, for the most part my husband, being used to my various schemes and whims, just took it in stride. Then, he began to see the luck of having wash done and beds made and meals prepared without having to consider it. I think, lately, he has almost begun to see that indeed, this is not a whim, but an honest to goodness change. I am not sure how he feels over all, if he thinks I am just sticking to something a little longer, or if I have truly found a new form of happiness. He is very supportive and I am very lucky, no we are very lucky, to have found one another.

I think the most surprising and one of the hardest parts of this experiment was how two of my ‘friends’ responded. One, really my best friend, sort of went 'gung-ho’ for the whole thing. She found herself dressing vintage all the time (she already loved 1950s clothes and sewing so it wasn’t a stretch) but she was so into it, so fast that she was soon talking to me telling me she wanted one day to have her ‘career’ be a homemaker. I was happy to have someone so in it with me for the long haul. However, maybe she dove in too deep too fast. There was a moment when she suddenly, and I still do not know why, just stopped. She stopped calling me. I heard through a mutual friend that she and another friend were talking about me and not necessarily in a positive way. Here I was, going along living my life and doing what felt right and good and then I found out two of my friends were beginning to do the things without me and purposely not inviting me. I was told they thought, “ I thought I was better than them and that I wouldn’t enjoy what they were doing because it was too modern and not 1955”. It really began to be almost an insult from their lips, “Oh, your ‘project’” they would say. It was as if I had set about to offend or set myself above them. How this happened, I do not know. For me, it was almost overnight, I went from having a close friend who shared my passion, to someone who was talking about me and planning days out without including me.

I will never really know why she felt or feels that way. I cannot walk her path nor she mine. And, really, maybe that was the problem. In searching for her own path, she saw me suddenly have such purpose, she thought she would follow me along on my road. Only, setting herself up for what she thought I thought was the norm for everyone, she turned on me and when I spun around to laugh with her, as we have done in the past, she was gone. Her little hat and white gloves were put away. The dresses and crinolines replaced with her jeans. And our bond severed. We are still friends, certainly, but it feels different. Maybe 1955 was just too far away for her and she didn’t like the commute.

So, my advice in that vein is, even though you may only be choosing to become a homemaker in modern terms, be prepared for odd responses. Women today, for some reason, will often react to this decision as if you have lost your mind or as if you are ill. They may treat you as if you have contracted a disease and they certainly don’t want to catch anything that means they have to iron and cook. But, and here is what is important, If you find that you love it, as I have found, it won’t really matter. We all have many friends through our lives and sometimes we grow apart. It is just part of life. But, the true friends and those who will hold you up and support you even when you make decisions they think are odd, ARE the true ones. It is a good sorting mechanism in a way. When those who do not understand, question you, tell them you have all of women’s history as an example. There have been centuries of we women who ‘stay home’. Even though we are not expected to today, there is much benefit to it.

I have come to really feel that there is inherent in many of we women, the desire to nest and build the strength of the home. It takes a great strength to go on and continue with the work of the home during wars, and it was not only WWI and WWII. Women have been those strong home warriors since the first time people stopped being nomads, set down their roots, planted crops, kept animals and waved their sons and husbands off to battle. The very study of the woman at home is very interesting and can and has filled countless texts. For example, the woman of the middle ages had much more power and rights than her Renaissance sister. The middle ages often saw women on landed estates running the show while their men were off to battle. They had not only to manage all the household (and though there were scores of servants sometimes, these women had to know how to run and aid them) and handle money and decide on crops and building etc. Unfortunately, one of the backlashes of the Renaissance for women, was it was the time that their place began to become 'decorative’. Though, in all honesty, it was not only men who put us in that place. We all know how a gown and a pretty bit of lace can make a girls heart race, but women lost many personal rights to freedom and land ownership then. It was the time that ‘thinking’ began to take importance over ‘doing’. Another example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

We need now, really, to take pride of doing and regain our thinking together. So, if you feel the pride of place and the importance of the home that has been our women’s history, that can often give you the courage to look the opposing women in the eye and say, “ I am doing the most important career there is. I am living history”.

I found very little resources and that is why my trip back to 1955 has been such a rich source. Of course I wasn’t really intending on becoming a homemaker permanently. I just wanted to see what a woman in 1955 at home would have experienced. In 1955 a woman choosing to be a ‘homemaker’ was not ridiculed. Though, there were women in university and doctors and lawyers etc back then, they did not mock or look down on their sisters who chose to ‘stay home’. I have often commented that my trip back to 1955 is really an education in the ‘University of the Home’. And, of course since then, I really believe my role of homemaker no longer merely a year long ‘project’ but my ‘calling’ if you will. A place I feel rather ‘at home’ if you will excuse the pun.

My advice for you concerning, and I quote; “I'm worried that I could easily end up spending everyday just channel hopping and then having a panic of activity just before my husband walks through the door!” First and foremost, get rid of the TV. I know this sounds drastic and you don’t have to literally get rid of it, but try perhaps not having cable or any means to have a variety of channels and then try covering it up or putting it in a closet for a few weeks. Then bring it back and use it as a means of casual entertainment. Watch movies on weekends, say, or an occasional show with your hubby. This is THE biggest distraction. The other, of course, is the computer. I have really tried to be strict with myself and use it only for my blog and of course my research. I even feel guilty as I do not read and comment as much on others blogs as I would like, but I have to be careful or you will find your day gone in such activity. Use it as a reward for that ‘break time’.
Secondly, treat is as a job, no a CAREER. You are both your boss and your staff. So, give yourself designated break times. Make a lunch and sit and read a magazine or look at some blogs with a sandwich and tea and maybe a sample of your latest baking experiment. But, know first and foremost,this is a REAL CAREER. You can either just live in your house, where you do the minimal to eat and sleep there and use it as a place to hang your clothes and watch your TV or you can MAKE A HOME. To do that means you have to treat it as a job. Make a schedule. You can be flexible with yourself, after all you are your own boss, but plan each day. Even if you just scribble down a few things you would like to achieve that day, the power of ‘crossing off the list’ is not to be underestimated. You will soon find you cannot believe how much you can do in a day and your desire to ‘channel surf and go online’ will slip away, as doing is more fun the being. I am sure there are people who would like to try this sort of life and think, “well, I can just control myself with the tv” but I am telling you, at least from my standpoint, that tv is probably the cause of and continuing enabler of modern angst and laziness. Really, just try it a month without it, you can always get it back and you know they will rerun anything you wanted to see.

What is great about the Homemaking Career, is it really can be designed to your needs. There are many constants and set rules that should be obeyed. Learn to cook and bake. Learn to sew (if you have no desire to make and design your own clothes at least learn to sew on buttons mend tears and rips) Washing and Ironing each take a separate day and the study of stain removal can save a lot of money, but there is a lot of leeway for personal growth. If you always wanted to paint watercolors, that can become part of your day, as you learn to do more and get through your lists, you will have time and energy to pursue those passions you have. You will be surprised at what you learn and how differently you look at life.

I am really also a newbie. I have become a homemaker since January of this year and yet, I don’t feel unqualified to give advice on homemaking, because in my trials and tribulations, I do feel I have amassed a set of skills and knowledge, but and here is the Third thing: KNOW YOU HAVE NEVER LEARNED IT ALL. I don’t think there will ever be a time when a good homemaker says, ‘Well, that’s all I need to know’. Really, that is true in anything we do, if we wish to do it well. I think is was Socrates who said, “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”. In other words, there is always more to learn and really isn’t that exciting? I would think even a great chef would be a wiser one if he knew there were more and better ways to make and prepare food. So, in that, approach each new chore and task with the idea that you are learning. You will make mistakes, but not only will you learn you may discover another way and then you can share it back into the community of women, who will thank you for it. Nothing is ever done so good that it is not done again a new way.

Get as many books on homemaking as you can lay your hands on. Go to your local used book stores, thrift stores, tag sales. Failing that, there is always EBay. Here are two books I would really recommend. They are from the late 1940’s early 1950’s. Also, any old cookbooks often have tips on homemaking and there are countless tips and articles in old magazines.

household book americas housekeeping book

I am finding that the concept of vintage knowledge sort of goes hand in hand with a happy approach to being a homemaker. There has not been much written of late that really addresses, I don’t believe, in the way they once did. Now, many books are very specific and narrow where these old books are rich with many skills. Really, a good homemaker is a well-rounded Renaissance woman, she can do it all, look good doing it, and is well read and pleasant to be around; she is dependable and often depended on. Now, who wouldn’t not want to aspire to that?

I think one of the most important aspects I have found with this project is my voice. I feel more adult in a way and yet still feel very youthful and free. It is odd that so often I felt “I wonder if and when I will feel like an adult?” I always expected there would be a day when it would just happen. And yet, I think subconsciously, there was a fear that ‘being adult’ meant no fun and no frivolity. I have since found that to be the opposite. I think what I feel now in my own ‘adulthood’ is that the fun and frivolity I feel to dress in a vintage outfit and just go out feels freer as an adult, because how I felt before, I would have been concerned about what ‘others thought’. That is really an immature thought. Of course, adults feel this, but I always admired how really old people just sort of did what they wanted and didn’t care. That is the level of maturity that is very freeing. Not that I want to go out and hurt people and not care, but the worry of “do I have the right things or am I wearing the right clothes etc”, having that gone is a great release.

So, I hope that answered your questions and didn’t scare you away. It is one of the most rewarding and sometimes frustrating jobs, but boy is it a boost for your self worth. The skills and knowledge you can gain from learning to make and run a home is endless. The happiness you gain from the happiness you bring others is another boon to homemaking.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Henry David Thoreau:

“Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.”

31 comments:

  1. Some people are going to take a woman's decision to be a full time homemaker as a judgment on their chosen lifestyle. I am one who can only be at home because my husband and I believe that the financial sacrifices are worth the rewards of having me at home. I try very hard not to go around with an attitude that says I am morally superior to others, because I am not. I'm just a person trying to find my own little niche in the world. Still, there will be people who sadly cannot accept me being at home as it is not an acceptable choice in their worldview.

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  2. draw up a list and cross things off... it's the only way all my chores get done.

    if people look down on you for being a homemaker... tell them you are a 'domestic engineer'

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  3. This is such a timely post for me, as was yesterdays post. I am currently wrestling with the decision of returning to work or not. I am off for 3 months following some surgery and in my heart I know I want to stay home and be a homemaker. My kids are grown and I have no 'excuse' to stay home other than it just feels right. I know I will cop plenty of puzzled and possibly annoyed reactions from friends and family as to why on earth I would want to give up a well paid job(particularly in a recession) just to stay home. I know many will think I am being lazy and selfish.
    I have always loved being a homemaker and my husband is very supportive of me leaving work I guess I just need to give myself permission to do it and not feel guilty.
    I feel privileged that I even have the opportunity to choose, I know many people don't have the choice not to work.
    My husband resigned yesterday from a job he hated and is taking a job closer to home that he will enjoy. It pays less so money will be tight but I believe my staying home will enable us to stretch a dollar even further.
    Thank you for your insightful and delightful blog. I am a fairly new reader and enjoy it immensely.
    Cheers, Michelle(Australia)

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  4. Thank you!!! It was so nice to get to know you more. You are really brave to expose yourself and your journey, possibly making yourself vulnerable to attack and riducule. You have been so open and honest.

    "Even though we're not expected to today, there is much benefit to it". (Staying home.) I'm so glad you found your calling. The same womanly calling I love and enjoy. Thanks to you and a few other blogs I continue to developed my skills in so many areas. Oh the joy of this career! Making a home is pure fulfilment and I hope you continue in this vein for all the happy days of your life.

    There IS always something to learn and explore in being a homemaker.

    Thank you for sharing so intimately all you are learning, thinking and discovering. You're a great writer and a true inspiration. From Linda

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  5. I have worked in many jobs in my lifetime,some would be considered even creative (writer, editor) but the most creative job has got to be homemaker. Where else can we use all our skills and intelligence to the upmost in order to create an environment in which our families can thrive. Our governments could learn a lot from the homemakers of the 50s. Keep going back in time for your research as I am sure much of the knowledge wives had in the 50s would have come from their mothers and grandmothers.
    Hope to see pictures of your dresses soon. I adore 50s style. I remember wearing crinolines in high school...they really made our waists look small.

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  6. Girl InterruptedMay 12, 2009 at 12:04 AM

    I Absolutely Love this post! I just get great joy from reading it, partly because I wish I could be you or at least be me as a stay at home wife, I wish I could stop the 750 million things I do everyday that will make me "successful"(whatever that means) but not happy or satisfied.
    I think you gave some great advice I can't wait until im done with Lawschool to try it out!
    Also, I'm sorry to hear about what happened with your friend. Have you talked to her about it? Maybe its just some sort of misunderstanding.

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  7. Hairball-it is so true. For some reason the decision to stay at home is so strange and bizarre to other women. I have no idea why. If I said I was going to be a telemarketer, I sometimes wonder if people would think me less odd, as I am off somewhere getting paid for a task. For some reason, women seem to think if you 'stay at home' you are either a lay about watching soaps and eating bonbons, or some backward slave,doing her husbands bidding and tied to the kitchen in chains. Again, possibly media played into it. Obviously with both people in a family working more money is made and thus it feeds greater into consumer culture. How can you compeletly control a people if women are at home, being thrifty? I know it sounds very 'espionage' but I really feel that advertising used 'womens lib' to subtly parlay we stay at homes into the work force because we NEEDED the money to buy all those things we NEED.
    weenie elise-I like that, domestic engineer. It is funny, when you are asked 'what you do' many times, in the beginning, I felt the need to explain about the project or I wanted to experiment etc, as if 'Homemaker' was somehow NOT a job. Now, I say proudly, I am a homemaker. It is odd, people seem to just dismiss this, and yet if I said, I work at mcdonalds somehow that would give me more respect? Not that working there is bad, but why is it that working in a specific job, even one you hate, somehow makes you percieved better. Of course, I may, again, be trasferring my own feelings to others and really just struggling with my own decisions. Though, I am very happy with the choice.
    Michelle-that is amazing, as I mentioned my husband, too, has left his higher paying job in the city to work closer. I really think had I not begun to learn my 'new skills' this choice would be harder or would lead to me having to take some part time job I would loathe.I honestly think that many couples, even during the recession, could actually become one income families, but it would mean giving up things they think they NEED. There are many places to cut cost that people don't want to see.
    Linda-thank you so much for that wonderful comment.I suppose, my story is unique in a way, but then really many modern homemakers probably have an interesting path to their career. It is not a normal path, it seems, anymore. One rarely starts university with the goal, "I will be a homemaker one day" which, honestly, is rather sad. I think the journey we take makes interesting elements in our homemaking and that is why I think we can all learn so much from one another, we homemakers and lovers of vintage.
    Gardener B-That is very true, about looking before 1950, which I do try to do. I am actually currently going throuh my latest collection of mid 1940's magazines and am approaching some of my garden as if 'there is a war on'. It really results in a very 'green' approach. I will truly try to get more photos of myself in my outfits. I get so busy that I honestly just forget, but I will try. I LOVE my crinolins! They do make your wais appear smaller and are fun to wear. I love the 'whish' of them.
    Girl interrupted-how lucky you will be to have that education and you will find yourself applying what you have learned to homemaking. Somehow, this career really adapts itself to your skill set and opens you up to learn more. There is something very democratic about homemaking. It takes us all in, we women from different walks of life, and brings us to a similiar place. I think that is why vintage/homemaking women really could forge such a great bond, regardless of economic, social, religious, and ethnicity. It is the great equalizer. And, when you become a homemaker, you are hungry for knowledge and realize, sometimes for the first time, that KNOWLEDGE does not always come from a book but from the lips of those who share your love and goal. I really think so much of what women have done as homemakers through the use has not been properlly documented and viewed as critical and important knowledge. Now, with the recession, people are turning to these skills to help them through. Really, I think, we should never be without these skills and then we are less dependent upon the economy and more upon ourselves and neighbors. I will be excited to see how your path 'at home' unfolds. I am still friends with my friend but perhaps we have merely grown in two directions, one never knows. It certainly was founded on a misunderstanding. I almost felt apologetic for my decisions, but then realized, I have got to live my life the best way I know how. There is no anomosity, at least not on my side.
    Thanks again, everyone, for all the great comments. I really feel such a great bond growing with all of us.

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  8. Well 50's Gal, you don't need to answer some of the questions in the letter I posted yesterday... lol.

    Like I've said before, even if you don't stay a homemaker forever the skills you've learned, like organization, timekeeping etc will help you be superwoman if you do start working.

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  9. A great post as usual. I'm glad you decided to give your answer in your blog; it was such a nice, in depth answer.

    In one of your earlier posts you talked about "action" and my mind immediately translated that as "achieve". I think the reason for that is because there are so many busy bodies that don't actually get anything done, so the word achieve just seems to hit the mark better for me. I think your posts are hitting a personal note with me because although I've been a homemaker from day one and have lived/live a simple life, my life was filled with raising kids. My life has been hitting a transition with our kids getting older and soon heading off to college, etc. It has really hit me lately that, before I know it, my life will go from the focus of raising kids to a life without them living here anymore. Your experience is giving me a glimpse of how full life will still be without kids around. I have moments when I think about what my days will look like as these changes take place, but it's just so hard to imagine. I am getting a clearer picture though by getting to have glimpses your life. It's so good to see a homemaker providing such a positive picture of how full and meaningful a life you can create even if you don't have children, or your children are no longer at home, and that being a homemaker in those instances is not an excuse to be lazy. You obviously have a full and meaningful life, not a lazy one. I dread the day when the last child leaves home and I'm asked when I will be getting a "job".

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  10. I am so enjoying your blog! I love all things vintage, particularly the 40's and 50's, because that's the era in which my parents grew up.

    I made the decision to "come home" after the birth of my second child and I've never regretted it. My own Mother stayed home, even after my sister and I were grown. She set a good example by loving what she did...her home and family were her life, and she did her job proudly and beautifully.

    I have people who wonder "what I do all day" now that all my children are in school. That never ceases to amaze me, as taking care of a husband, three children, and two cats is a more than full time job. But I am thankful for the the opportunity to do it. It gives me more satisfaction than anything else. I look forward to continuing to get to know you through your blog...thanks for sharing your life with us.

    Chrissy

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  11. wonderful post! how interesting to read about your journey to where you are now. i have been a homemaker almost since i was married and have never regretted it for a second. there are days, when i have sick chicks, or things aren't going well, that i realize this is much harder than any other job i ever held, but also the most important, both short and long term. we can change the future with our little "mundane" jobs. many blessings to you. xo, kelly

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  12. I found this post pertinent to my life. I have primarily been a homemaker for the last nineteen years and have four children. For some of those years, I chose to work about 8 hours a week out of the home. I was doing this as an intellectual/social challenge more than for the money but you get used to the money. In working outside the home, I missed the fun things about keeping a home while still trying to do everything I had done while home full-time. It took away from the ease of family life and made everything seem a little(or a lot) rushed. When I was pregnant with my first child, we had just moved to Ottawa for my husband's job. Often the first question people asked me when they met me was "when are you going back to work?" which I found really irritating. I have now stopped working outside of the home and our lives are all the richer. We are learning to live without the money.

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  13. You are right. When I first quit my job to stay at home, I thought it would be like when I stayed home with my children years ago, but now my children were all grown up, so my days were not as full. I didn't experience any persecution, as most of my work friends wished they could be a stay at home wife, too, and said so. The first two weeks, I was lost. I felt unproductive and isolated, although the isolation I liked, as I'm rather introverted at times anyway. After the first two weeks, I began to get into the flow of being at home and filling my time. I spend way too much time on the tv and on the computer, so you are right in that not starting those habits is probably best. Being at home gives us much more freedom to pursue personal interests, and I've gone from Native American flutes to painting to playing the mountain dulcimer, writing short stories, recipes and cooking, etc. etc. When you said your husband was used to your schemes and whims, well mine has had to become used to it, as that is just part of me. I can say there is no feeling I've ever had in any business, even running my own, that compares with the satisfaction I get of having my WHOLE house clean at one time, a hot meal on the stove, all the laundry done, and myself showered and made up. I just need a good swift kick in the behind to get rid of all of my excuses.
    I was thinking today that my grandmother never accomplished any newspaper worthy things with her life, but she was a great mother, grandmother, cook and housekeeper, and for her, that was enough. I think I can be happy just to be half as good at those things as she was!

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  14. I know I'm something of an oddity but I really don't understand women who don't want to stay home. I know some WOHMs who constantly complain about not having enough time to do stuff and tell stories about dropping off their sick kids at daycare. They claim they can't afford to stay home then in the next breath talk about the expensive new car they're buying or the fancy vacation they're going on. I've heard women claim that they need to work so they can afford to take their kids to Disney world every year yet if you ask the kids they'd much rather have more time with their moms than go to Disney World. Really, I read a study on the very subject a few weeks ago!

    It's amazing how quickly attitudes have changed towards housewives. When I was a child it was very much the norm for moms to stay home. I only knew one mother who worked and that was only during the day when her kids were at school. Now I'm a freak of nature for staying home and I'm not even 30 yet! It's absolutely mind boggling.

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  15. Thank you for this very detailed response to the question you received. I really appreciate what you are doing and it's helping me make these decisions in my own life. I am finding there are a lot of people out there with questions like this. Generations of women have grown up without ever even considering staying at home without working and keeping their home life running smoothly for their entire families.

    I hope to be in this position soon.

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  16. Thank you so much for the window into your home and heart. You really help my attitude. A lot of times I procrastinate about dinner...and believe me, most days I don't look forward to the task.

    Your attitude is contagious and instead of rushing through housekeeping duties, I'm learning to slow down and enjoy the process. I remember as a kid looking forward to when I would have my own home to take care of. What a shame that housekeeping has come to be a burden for so many.

    Your encouraging words are good for scores of women to hear. I think the feelings you reveal are how many of us truly feel, deep down into our real selves.

    The comparison between maturity and not caring so much what others think of you--incredibly insightful and also good for many of us to hear!

    I have been disappointed by friends, too. So many women I meet seem to only want my friendship to use to their advantage, like a free babysitter. Are these women insensitive...or just stretched too thin and grasping for help? I don't know, but I miss the true and sincere friendships I had many years ago.

    And, even though I don't comment every day, please know that I look forward to each post. I'm sure a lot of readers are the same.

    We appreciate what you do so much. You are vintage, but yet...a pioneer into the future!

    Kris7
    Working hard at www.sccworlds.com

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  17. Thank you everyone for your kind comments. I am glad that you enjoy my ramblings. It is very nice to know there are so many of we like minded women out there. It does make a gal feel good. Today is a sunny day and there is alot on my plate, so perhaps today's post will be about today's ACTIONS. Thank you again.

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  18. “So, we became vagabonds.” – SO exciting! :)

    I’m SO sad to hear about your best friend turning her back on you. Isn’t it possible to invite her and have a talk with her about what went wrong, perhaps she misses you too? I do certainly not hope it is Gussie/”vintage friend”? Since she has been so supportive and I think it has been so good for you having “vintage friends” in your project. I truly don’t understand the reaction of these friends, since you could have had a homemaker club instead of talking behind each other’s backs. So sad!

    Thank you for this very clever and heartwarming post – which just made me more envious! ;) I play homemaker each day when I come home from work, but I would love to be a fulltime homemaker. I am so tired and stressed at my new job, and often feeling stupid when I go home. Not the best feeling, but this is how it is when starting a new job and being bombed back to stoneage, ough. I know it will be better soon, and that I will gain more energy to do my tasks at home, but it may not happen for a long time to come. No more blubbering from little Denmark. Enjoy your homemaker job, you lucky gal! :)

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  19. I don't have the luxury of staying home, atm I'm living alone and even when I don't a third of my boyfriend's wages go on alimony and child support.

    But even if I did I think I would work part time, not because there is anything wrong with not working but because I flit from hobby to hobby and find that I need work in order to make sure I don't sit doing nothing when the house is clean.

    The past two days I've been finishing work very early, I've headed home made lunch, done the dishes and tidies up but after all that, I end up with a "now what?" feeling.

    But women who do stay at home have my total respect and admiration

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  20. Thanks for sharing this, 50s gal. I hadn't realized that you once owned your own business, and was interested to read more about your journey. I'm trying to figure out my next move in life. I'm not sure yet that I would want to stay at home full-time, or could afford to, but I would like very much to be able to afford to work less. I really enjoy cooking, baking and gardening and find great satisfaction in them and keeping a house. Your column was great food for thought.

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  21. It's funny that you should mention when does a person finally feel like an adult. It was a defining moment for me. I knew I was an adult when I went out and finally bought an ironing board rather than huddle over the floor trying not to burn the carpet. It wasn't a job or an apartment or bills. It was taking care of my space and my clothes. I've never looked back. As a single girl living abroad I'm not a homemaker but I still take great pride in turning my small studio apartment into a home. (Although I moan about the lack of a garden or real oven.)

    I understand the confusion and hostility though. I get it and the surprise as well when people learn about my choice to pick up and live in a different part of the world where I don't speak the language. I think some people just can't think outside of the box that society has put us in. It used to be that people were surprised when women wanted to work outside the home full time. Now that it's the norm they are surprised when some women want to stay home. We should follow our passions. And some women's passions are at work. And other's are at home. Or abroad.

    Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog! Greetings from Japan.

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  22. 50sgal, I hope you don’t mind me sharing with all of you that I’m having a boohoo day. :( I try not to let the fact that I don’t know any other women like me get me down, but I’m having a down time right now. I love reading this blog because it’s nice to connect with like-minded women, but none of you live in my neighborhood, so I’m still lonesome for that real life connection. I try not to get on the internet too often otherwise I find myself “living” in the computer and not living my real life. I mean, I can’t take you out with me when I go hang up clothes, or having you here to chat with while baking and then sharing the end result while taking a break to talk about life and how to live it in a more real manner, etc. It sure would be nice to have a good friend over on occasion to visit for the day, to hang out with me and do those things together. So, today is one of my sad, lonely, depressed kind of days. Do any of you have these days as well? Is there anything you do to make getting through them easier? I am grateful to be able to come here for a “visit”, but it just isn’t the same as having someone “in the flesh” to visit with…know what I mean? Thanks for listening.

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  23. PL,
    I have those days too and it can be very lonely.

    It's nice to have friends in RL that enjoy some of the same things as you do and can be supportive of you when you are having a bad day.

    Hope you are feeling a little better by the time you read this.

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  24. i have those days too. i think there is a certain degree of isolation to being a SAHW/M. much of it is all you, all alone, dealing with YOUR LIFE and YOUR FAMILY. so it's nice to find kindred spirits, where ever they may be. i hope that as more women get in touch with their inner homemaker, we will all have more real life friends to share a cup of coffee and a chat right at our doorstep. :) until then, we can dream! ~k

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  25. I do, sometimes, have those days. I used to have a close friend who did like the vintage life, but, though we are still friends, that portion of our life is sort of gone. I feel very bad, as I had intended to write my blog today and then I cut my finger this morning and have been so busy, now I feel I should have pushed myself to do it, as it would be one more 'friend' moment for you. I hope you do feel better. It is funny, too, to have you mention the isolation of women at home, as I have been thinking of that of late, perhaps I will address it tomorrow in my blog, yes I PROMISE There will be one tomorrow.

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  26. Dear 50sgal

    I'm so sorry that I have been so late in writing a response to your beautiful post. I'm afraid that I'm a very poor writer and have been trying to think of a way to communicate how humble I feel that you put so much time and effort into your answer to my comment.

    Your explanation of how you came to stay at home was very personal and I just wanted to thank you for welcoming us into your life in such an intimate way.

    I am really going to take your advice on board. I think my main worry was that I wouldn't be a good homemaker but you have shown me that actually I have no reason to be - I haven't done it before! I wouldn't expect to walk into any other job and be good at that from the beginning.

    I am now planning to start slowly, with the essentials, and take it from there. There are so many skills and crafts that I would like to be good at that I was completely intimidated by it all! When I read how much you do in a day I am daunted by the prospect. I think I 'll try to start with a routine that provides the basics and then hope, as I get better at things, to be able to add in baking, gardening and decorating etc.

    I have printed your wonderful post and put it up in our kitchen so I can read it and be inspired!

    Thank you again for your kindness, consideration and honesty.

    Sarah

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  27. Sarah-I am so glad my answer helped you. It made me reflect upon myself and how I am where I am right now, so you, too, helped me. I think one of the wonderful things about we women, rather vintage, homemakers, mothers, professionals, etc, we give advice but we also listen. The very skill of quitely taking in the world and digesting it, then parlaying it into ACTION, is what makes us so darn good at our jobs especially homemaking. I do alot in a day, it might seem, but there is not measure for what is the 'right' amount. Believe me, when I get into a project, sometimes things don't all get done. I will be happy to hear about your progress so come back and tell us. I am excited for you. Good Luck! We are all behind you!

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  28. Thank you for responding to my post, Ladies. I do feel a little better today. Yesterday, I put my Doris Day music on and listened to her happy voice while I finished doing chores. Last night, our PBS station had a program on Carol Burnette. Aside from the sad parts of her life, it was very enjoyable and funny to watch, which helped to lift my spirits some. It reminded me of my childhood years watching the Carol Burnette Show with my parents and and how fun it was to watch my Mom laugh so hard. It wasn't very often that we got to see her belly laugh like that. It was as much fun and enjoyable to see her laugh so hard as it was to watch the show. Maybe it's time to check out The Carol Burnette Show from Netflix.

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  29. PL, I do hope you're having a better day! Down days are normal, I guess. It happens to all of us. Also, what about Andy Griffith Show? I do not know, maybe it's because we practically live in Mayberry ourselves, but the sweetness of that show plus the guileless characters and the whole community, a real one (for TV)...It has become a guilty pleasure in this house!

    50sgal...Firstly, it's very sad to hear about the rift opened up between you and your friend. Perhaps (we hope) it won't last long, and she's only acting this way because there's a wound there, not to mention that you're really sticking to this. Doubtless we've all been there, and taken our own disappointment with ourselves, merited or not, out on the person we see being successful at something we'd like to do. Eventually, though, it usually goes away and the scar recedes into the past along with the cut that caused it. Let us hope all returns to normal, or something close to it, soon.

    This post...It was amazing. Do you know (no, of course not...), after reading it, as I made supper, I asked Hubby to read it, because it is remarkably similar to what I went through myself. I must confess that it took my reading the comments to realize just how personal this is for you to say, because it is so...alike. In many ways. Maybe we're kindred spirits of a kind. It was a little shocking, but anyhow, it's going to be printed up and placed at my desk for inspiration. I could probably write something much like it myself.

    (Oh, before I forget, and my hair IS blonde...They call(ed) it "Home Economics" for a reason, didn't they? Budgeting time, money, food, everything efficiently? Put me head to head with one of these TV talking heads any day. Bring it, bring it to the girl with pin curls and victory rolls and gloves!)

    The biggest surprise and thing most often dealt with, though, as you note, is the reaction from others, especially women. They really do seem to think we're sleeping in, shopping, watching television. It's remarkable. They always seem to ask, "So, what's next?" as if "homemaker" isn't...good enough. At first it was really hurtful, because it even comes from family, and even church people, who supposedly put such a premium on the home. My father is always suggesting I go get a job here, or here, or wherever (when I have a job, plus trying to start my own small home-based business).

    Your suggestion that it was really some sort of conspiracy to get women out of the home, making money so they'd consume more (some, granted, by necessity so they COULD work) sure sounds right to me. I have my own theories...lol

    Now, it has seemingly become ingrained, and a woman who wants to stay home and keep her home and family and spend less in the process is laughed at, mocked, and looked down upon, especially if they don't have children. Never mind that we make goodies and casseroles for the neighbors while the laundry runs in the background.

    "Women today, for some reason, will often react to this decision as if you have lost your mind or as if you are ill. They may treat you as if you have contracted a disease and they certainly don’t want to catch anything that means they have to iron and cook. But, and here is what is important, If you find that you love it, as I have found, it won’t really matter."

    It's so true. That said, it helps to have others who see it as a good thing, or who are trying to make the same life. And to think women have a nesting instinct...Goodness, it's seen as an insult today, but it's true! Maybe not all women have it, but lots of us certainly seem to. We're just the quiet ones, perhaps.

    Lists are awesome. It's an idea I started, dropped, then took up again because of you, and now the list is with me throughout the day. It's amazing what scratching something off does for the soul!

    Oh, and you mentioned women in different eras. Even in the Proverbs, chapter 31, we see a woman who runs her household, the servants, oversees the plantings of vineyards (or she buys one, I can't recall), raises the children, did the marketing, and makes beautiful clothing for her husband. I found it fascinating to see that a woman had such power back then considering how backwards it was all supposed to be! You might want to check it out, it's pretty fascinating. Of course, Proverbs has all sorts of good advice about running one's home and wallet, too. ;)

    Anyhow, I could chatter and chatter, as suggested earlier. Ultimately, it seems that doing this is rather like swimming against a very powerful tide, and it requires a plan, confidence, fortitude, and a place to commiserate. Dealing with the reactions of others also requires a sense of humour!

    BTW, based on your recommendation, I picked up "America's Housekeeping Book" and LOVE it!

    And thank you for this blog. It is truly an inspiration and just plain fun to read.

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  30. Jen B- I just now found this response to this post and thank you, I am glad it touched you. I do wish I had someway of seeing when comments are left on older blogs. The add on I have the shows the last 5 comments often doesn't work or show up. Thank again, all of you.

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  31. Hi 50sgal

    You don’t know me and I don’t know if you’ll ever see this comment.

    Anyway, I've been reading your blog from the beginning so I have no idea what will happen in future posts, but I'm enjoying your story. It was wonderful to learn more about you, but I'm sorry to hear of any rifts you might have had along the way.

    I myself am a stay at home mom and although I haven't done all that you have, you've inspired me to do more.

    I want to share with you a comment someone left on my blog after I described a normal day in my life, which led me to do research on housewives and ultimately led me to your blog:

    "You have a lovely home and seem like a very nice person, but I am a little bit shocked to read that you basically 'read blogs' and 'talk to Mom for an hour' a day. While your husband works? Is that really respectful to him? Your daughter is in school, shouldn't you be doing something more productive with your days? Blogging? Not exactly the best role model for your daughter. Again, I am sure you are a wonderful person, and your home *is* lovely, but I found the post a bit self-indulgent. Sorry. "

    You can read my post here that this person was referring to:
    http://ruespeanutbutterandjellylife.blogspot.com/2010/01/more-than-you-wanted-to-know.html

    Obviously you can see that I have some work to do in the housewife arena, but I didn't think I was that bad of a wife until I got that comment.

    I have a feeling it was more of a dislike of me staying home than what I did during the day, but what thrills me to no end is that I found your blog in the process. So, thank you. Thank you for being brave enough to do this project. I’m still learning myself after doing this “job” for 20 years. Now back to your story….

    rue

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