Tuesday, May 5, 2009

5 May 1955 “Damn Yankees, Cinco de Mayo, West Germany, Dining Room and Kitchen”

Damn_yankees_1955Today, May 5, 1955, the musical “Damn Yankees” will open in New York City.

This story is a modern retelling of the Faust legend set during the 1950s in Washington, D.C. The New York Yankees are dominating Major League Baseball at this time. The musical is based on Wallop's novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. I love how the right ‘underpinnings’ really make that 1950’s silhouette as it does her on Gwen Verdon.

carmen miranda  I couldn’t find anything about celebrating cinco de mayo in 1955, so I figured this album of Carmen Miranda was all I could give. Does anyone know if the U.S. celebrated cinso de mayo?

Today, West Germany becomes a Sovereign State. 

Germany surrendered at the beginning of May 1945. The bombing had ceased, but the population still lacked virtually everything needed for basic survival.

The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) becomes a sovereign state when the United States, France, and Great Britain end their military occupation, which had begun in 1945. With this action, West Germany was given the right to rearm and become a full-fledged member of the western alliance against the Soviet Union.

Many of the regulations and restrictions clearly indicated that the Americans, the British, the French and the Russians had divided the country up into four zones of occupation and had effectively taken over the control of the state. They then began to dismantle the German industrial plants.
However, the American strategy, known as the Marshall Plan, gave a breath of fresh air to Germany’s decrepit economy. Its financial and practical aid proved to be invaluable and paved the way for the German economic miracle in the 1960s.
It quickly transpired that people living in the Soviet zone of occupation had drawn the short straw in political and economic terms, but even more importantly, concerning their rights to democratic freedom. The Nazi dictatorship was replaced by a Soviet one and then Communist dictatorship in the region which became known as the GDR.

The country is to face stark reforms in terms of its constitutional law, now that western Germany is officially given back its sovereignty ( May 5, 1955).
konrad adenauer Chancellor Konrad Adenauer proudly announced: "Today, almost ten years after the military and political collapse of National Socialism, the era of occupation has come to an end for the Federal Republic of Germany."

I thought I would start with more dining room pictures. This project, which I allotted the month of April, has really taken up much of my time. However, as I have said before, thank goodness for 1955 organization and scheduling, as although the house was a bit of a shambles, there were still clean clothes, warm meals and ‘dressing for dinner’.

dinning room done tableHere is a shot of it as it now stands. There are still little things that need to be done, but I am calling it done enough to use. We did, indeed, have our first dinner here Friday night which was May 1st. It was bitter sweet, after having put down our sweet Gilbert the day before, but Gussie and I were able to get violets and pansies to plant on his little grave, so it felt a sort of May Day.

I had intended to change out the fabric on the seats of the chairs, but they had been recovered only two years earlier for my parents. The colors are those in the rug (also once my parents) and really I felt they did bring in that touch of ‘red’ that I will have in every room. Again, the shades of blue, brown, yellow and red throughout the house in various forms.fireplace set upTo tie that in, here, on the mantle shelf, I have my ‘good china’ which is shades of blue and touched with real gold, so I played on that a bit with the gilt statue center and placed it on two old books which share the red/burgundy shade of the seat fabric and the rug. I think it adds enough dark color to balance the lightness of the room. Of course, as I paint the mural along the upper wall I will use touches of that red throughout to tie it in. For instance, there will be a section of a hunt (fox hunting) and of course the gentleman will be in their ‘pink’ coats).

corner cabinet done doors closedI think my corner cabinet looks rather nice all trimmed and painted into place. Quite a change from this.corner cabinet corner 3 Here it is with it’s doors open displaying the bulk of my ‘good china’.corner cabinet done doors open wide shotAnd I used a shade in the trim of these dishes for the inside of this and the overmantle cabinet as I felt it was a better backdrop for them than the sky blue color of the walls.corner cabinet done dishes in door open

Now, you may have notices the beam in the ceiling with the chandelier. Here is that story: We have a house that we now rent out that was built in 1718 and is very ‘old New World’ as it was built before we were even the United States. It is a post and beam and the old beams and wide plank floors are the ceiling of the first floor. We have always loved that house and it feels very cosy and solid to live under a series of beams. I wanted this house, which is not a post and beam, to have that same feeling.

beam1I built this beam with two 2 x 4’a and one wide rough cut piece of lumber. I had originally intended to have other beams radiating off from it, but decided it looked good with the single beam. I will create this look more fully in my living room/library when that goes under my knife late summer. Oh, and the chandalier was very like an old wrought one I had coveted in a book, though they are rather expensive to have made or to buy, I found mine at a local tag sale for $2.00 dollars, it was ugly brass but with a few good coats of heavy flat spray paint for outdoor grills, it looks the part and fits the bill. I wired it myself, thanks to directions from the gentleman who works at our local lumber yard/hardware store. I am sure he had a story to tell that evening about the funny lady in the full skirt, ‘grandma’s hat and gloves’ sitting on the floor of the electrical aisle learning to wire a fixture. But, I digress:

So, as I wanted it to be less rough and more finished as it might be in a ‘nicer room’ of a house of this period, Here is an example out of my 1954 book “Treasury of Early American Homes”Webb House ParlorI decided to trim it out.beam2

beam3Here is a close up of the wood before it was primed and painted. I rather like the finished affect. beam4I am also glad I chose to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. It will help pull in the ‘sky’ of the mural as it happens. I will post pics as I draw out and paint this mural. I feel, if it were to take the remainder of the year, it might be a nice homage to this project.

Now, back to my book from 1954 of Early American Homes. Obviously, these homes are not decorated in Atomic Age Modern, so I wanted to show that not everyone in 1955 would be decorating ‘modern’. In fact, a wife of my age in New England would most likely hold fast to her antiques, slipping in the occasional modern piece here and there. When I do the kitchen, it will have the more rustic beam as seen here.shaker house kitchenbut will also address the darling colors, fabrics, wallpapers, and appliances of the day. So, my new kitchen’s style lies somewhere between this1950s-kitchen1 1950s kitchen2 and thisblue kitchen mixed with post and beam antiquity.

I am in my kitchen everyday and it is the center of my industry. I most likely will do this room last, as I can have time to really plan and think and live with color samples and ideas etc.

When thumbing through my copy of Dorothy Draper’s “Decorating is Fun” the other day, I was happy to see that we both share the idea that a comfortable chair is important in the kitchen:

My own inclination is always toward a comfortable, country sort of kitchen. If you have room for it, by all means have an upholstered chair or rocker by the window…Keep a magazine rack for books and periodicals or a small radio in the kitchen, too. Your kitchen can be the most convenient workshop in the world and still be the sort of place that suggests a jolly fudge-making party or an old-fashioned taffy pull”

Though my kitchen has not received its makeover I do use it the best way I can until that happens. b w kitchen cornerThis is the corner of my kitchen where I often wait for that cake or watch that ‘boiling pot’. I have my clock, my ‘old radio’ my magazines, a window and a place to set my cup of tea. I also have a comfortable chair in the dining room corner for lounging with extra guests. This chair will eventually be recovered in a tapestry fabric to tie it into the rug and dining room chairs. Though it looks rather stiff, it is quite comfortable. My dogs like to sit at it so they can view what is ‘going on’ during diner. They are a bit spoiled, I am afraid.

 dining blue chair

Gussie and I went antiquing the other day and, of course, were dress vintage. I cannot tell you how many people complimented us! One woman, one of the owners, on three separate occasions came up to us and thanked us for our appearance and even said, “I really love your style, I mean, I really do.” Then she looked at us a little longer and continued, “I honestly do”. How much joy a pair of gloves a hat and pretty dress can not only give to yourself, but others. It does make a gal feel good.

I really need to start documenting my outfits. It is so normal for me now, that I don’t think about it, but I am promised by hubby that he shall show me how to use the timer for my camera. If I cannot take the shots myself, most of my outfits will go unrecorded.

Well, the weather this past week has been so odd. We have had nothing but rain and gray skies. Certainly it is good to aid me to continue to work on indoor projects and I have not had to water my garden since Thursday!, but it does hamper one’s mood. It was odd that our last sunny day was the last day of our sweet little Gilbert and since then, rain. Though one does not get over it, I am certainly feeling a ‘healing’ going on this week. Perhaps it is also the rain.

As I said, much went upon the shoulders of our little Gilbert, and he had become to represent the sadness and sudden removal of my family. Though I had thought I had really already ‘dealt’ with the feelings of the loss of my mother as she once was and my family in general, really I had merely done what is expected of me, and simply pushed it down deep inside and put on a smile. I have come to realize that on some level wallowing and constant rehashing of sadness, as we are often taught to do in modern psychology, can actually be detrimental to ‘getting on with one’s life’, I have felt that having to face it all in tears at the death of my little dog really did help. Now, however, I am honestly feeling rather healed. There is an almost elation in the act of facing a sadness then getting on with it. Another form of ACTION, really. Gussie and I had to face Gilberts death and even to bury him, but by the act of going out and buying flowers, planting them and saying good bye really to that part of our lives, it has helped me to move forward. Time travel really does teach a gal a lot, I suppose.

Today, with the rain coming down, I am going to mess about in my little sitting room. I have the whole room torn apart and am trying to reorganize to better help me in my study and research for the remainder of this year. It is a form of ACTION that is really cementing to me the importance of seeing out this year and to look with hope and excitement at what other lessons and knowledge lies ahead.

In the kitchen, I am now faced with study of my new diet book and anything else on nutrition for my family, as it seems, while I seem to be losing weight, my hubby, who has never had a weight problem, has had to have me buy him pants one size up! So, I fear cakes and pastries may take a back seat for a little while to be replaced with fruit salads. I think, perhaps, I may toy with the various fruit and gelatin ‘salads’ always being shown in my magazines, who knows they may be rather good. I have found out that Jell-O has very few calories. I also know that I can use my Knox unflavored gelatin to make my own fruit salads, infusing it with fresh squeezed juices and the like to make a more delightful dessert rather than just buying pre-flavored Jell-O's and throwing in some canned fruit. I shall approach this endeavor with the zeal of my cake making and see what comes out. Don’t worry, I will share the recipes, pictures and of course, opinions on it all.

Until tomorrow, then, Happy Homemaking and on to ACTION!


  1. your remodeling looks lovely! you should be very proud! good luck with your Jello! ~kelly

  2. Love the design you have done in the dinning room, just wonderful!

  3. It looks really good! I love that dining room!

    I'm dealing with my Action plan and I will write soon. I promise. I'll probably write the letter this weekend and send it Monday.

  4. Thank you, I worked hard and I really like the result. I cannot wait to start 'outlining' the mural. It will be nice to live in it as the mural comes to life and to have, at the end of the year, the photojournaling of it. I am rather proud and glad of my ACTION! Vintage, I look forward to your letter.

  5. Your dining room is a real success. The rug really grounds the room and connects the dark wood of the furniture to the lightness of room and is a timeless addition. Will you have pictures of the room set for a dinner party. My children are now enjoying vintage musicals on our family movie night. They were not sure about latest bunch I bought but after Annie Get Your Gun my eight year old declared it the best musical ever!
    I am glad the healing over Gilbert and the loss of your Mother(as she was) is progressing.
    It is interesting that ACTION can be writing on our blogs. On Saturday I wrote about my late Father's birthday and showed pictures of books and other personal belongings from before his marriage to my Mother. By the ending of writing this post I was crying but I felt that it was one of the most effective ACTIONS in my 21 years of healing since his death.

  6. Damn Yankees! is one of my absolute faves! Healing is a difficult thing. Though I try not to wallow, my eyes still well up while working when this or that thought on Gilbert comes to mind. He had a long and full life and he will be missed and remembered fondly.
    Antiquing (and always having a grand time doing vintage with you) certainly lifts the spirits, you are right! Those women were so sweet!

  7. Jenifir-isn't it funny, though, how much bloggin and really, writing, heals? I used to love to write and did it so often years ago. I even attempted some novels once and poetry, and then it just sort of slipped out of me. This year has brought back that love and it really does help. I think blogging is allowing the modern world to take on that much cherised act of antiquity, writing. I am glad of that, it can be the refuge among all the instant gratification of emails and ;) on texts. Also, I love annie get your gun and think I posted a song from it that I thought was a good 'theme song' for we vintage gals!

  8. The dining room looks lovely. You did a great job!

  9. Glad to hear you are doing well despite losing Gilbert. There is a fine line between wallowing and acknowledgment. The latter is clearly best. I hope you can at least see the newly planted flowers from a window!

    The dining room looks wonderful! The beam adds the perfect finishing touch, and yes, the 'dressing up' of it really polishes everything so nicely. You've done a great job!

    At the hardware store today, picking up my Bon Ami and lemon oil furniture polish (I wasn't kidding last week), an older gentleman said to me, "You have no idea what a pretty and welcome sight you are." He said it was nice to see a "young lady" with her hair done, dressed nicely, and all that. I mentioned that I'd left my gloves in the car (they looked a little silly to me with my warm winter sweater—yes, it's that cold here today—but I immediately regretted leaving them in the car as soon as I began walking away!) and he was amazed. Said I'd made his day...Had a similar experience while at the store with Hubby last night. The woman at the register said that the 40s and 50s were indeed better times in many respects and that yes, the movies were FAR superior to modern-day ones. :) It is funny how taking care with our appearance and dress can not only cheer ourselves up, but those around us! It's kind of nice being an accidental bluebird of happiness.

  10. Oh, I love it! I want to live at your house!

  11. Jen B-so true and I love that thought "accidental bluebird of happiness". Isn't it wonderful to make others feel good through what you wear and of course it does wonders for yourself. It is infectious, as then you want to do it more and to look nice always, it is a happy infection!
    Forest lady-thank you that is a fine compliment.

  12. I found your blog 2 nights ago while surfing the internet trying to find a community of women who believe in the old fashion ways of life. I went back to your first entry and read ALL of them (took a couple days). I look forward to reading your blog and the comments others have written. I really think modern women have taken on SO much that we dont leave time for the important things, life husbands, children, and our homes. I admire you for what your are doing. I'm in lawschool now and am engaged to be married this August, and I also work part time. The reason I say modern women take on too much is because not only do I Work and Study I still clean the house, do the laundry, and clean. If I could just focus on those things I know I would be so much happier and I would enjoy life and do all the things I want to. So my plan is to practice law just for a few years save up then I can stay at home which is very important to me especially when I have kid, luckily for me My fiance is 100% on board with this.
    I also wanted to say one last thing.. I am very sorry about Gilbert, I think you are handling it beautifully and with such strength and dignity. My dog Maximus died in October it was very hard and I still miss him, its nice that I had my fiance we supported eachother, and it sounds as though you have a lovely supporting husband.
    Anyways Sorry that I rambled so much to you but you have to understand I just read all your blog entries in two days lots of backed up thoughts.

  13. Thank you for sharing all those before and after photos – you are VERY talented! :) It all looks SO beautiful.

    I hope you will soon take photos of your daily outfits, as I think they will be very inspirational. I dress fifties styled every day, but I take the best from the era and do not dress so perfectly fifties as you do. But I do want to get inspired. And yes, I am considered a little weird at all my jobs, but most people compliment me too. I think they aren’t brave enough to dress that way themselves, ha. ;)

    Oh, the sky cries over Gilbert! It does here in Denmark too! We’ve had nothing but rain for the last week and the weather report says rain during our weekend too, and we’re going to my tiny cottage with SIL and her husband, ough! :(

    Do as I do: Reserve the cakes for the weekends only! That way it is a party to have a piece of cake. If you don’t have it each day it suddenly becomes special! A fresh fruit in hubby’s lunchbox will be perfect for him. Please share more from that lovely vintage diet book! I’ve downloaded the scannings and will use them for real. Such great advice. Have a lovely day, dear. :)

    e-hugs from rainy Denmark

  14. Girl interupted-First, welcome and seond, thank you so much for taking the time to read all my entries, that must have been alot. Even I, as of yet, have not gone back and really looked at the progression. I think I am so 'into' my life now that I am looking back daily to the 1950's but not back to my own year. I am sorry about your dog and your fiance sounds wonderful. Good for you, for seeing now the plan ahead and forging forward. We have come to call that ACTION here, and it sounds as if you have a plan that ends with you happy at home. Honestly, if you have a sweet husband who is understanding (as I do)being a homemaker is a wonderful career. And just think what you will bring to the table with your education. I think we homemakers are such a varied lot and in a good way. Again, welcome.
    Sanne-how funny that you should have the rain too! Yes, cakes will be a weekend treat for awhile and I am going to start working on fruit inspired summer desserts, one doesn't want the oven pumping out heat all summer anyway, although I have to say it has not been very warm here, lately.
    I agree, it does seem to take 'courage' to dress vintage. Others admire my clothes and ooh and ah, so either they are just being kind and thinking me nutz or for some reason think they cannot, themselves, also wear such clothes. It is not has I have a magic key that allows me to do it. Now that I have started with this project I see no reason to stop. I hope you are enjoying your new job. And maybe the sun will peek out for your little party in your summer house this weekend.

  15. Your dining room looks so good. I'm really looking forward to how it will look with the mural.

    I'm really eager to see how your kitchen will turn out. I love the idea of having a nice, comfortable chair in the kitchen area. I have a spot where a chair and small table would fit nicely, so I think I might just do that.

    The comment about your husband's expanding waistline answered my initial curiosity about whether or not he would gain any weight while eating baked goodies every day. I'm sure he'll miss the daily baked goods. :)

  16. I have been following the blog with great interest as my family immigrated to Canada from the U.K. in 1955 when I was 11. It is fascinating reading for me and helps me understand my own values and which ones I still hang on to from that time. The women of the 50s were so resourceful and hardworking...it's what we need a return to during these troubled times. Thanks for going there.

  17. PL-thank you. I am please with it. The mural will definitely pull it together, as it is crying out for outwork right now. It still is recieving little bits here and there, for example the chair now has a companion fold out table for resting coffee or to pull out when a larger buffet supper is served. The kitchen may be the last thing, though my next project is adding a screen porch off the kitchen that will evolve (with time and money)into an additon of the kitchen as a breakfast room, seating area and walk in pantry. It will all get documented. Get ready for roofing 50's gal! (that is me talking to myself by the way!)
    Gardener-b-That is so interesting and thank you for reading my blog. I agree that women of old were more resourceful than we are expected to be today to our own detriments and actually, my blog for today, which I am currently working on, is about that very topic. I do think we need to move towards those skills, both out of the joy of resourcefulness and due to our current economy and even when it gets better, it can happen again, so better to be prepared with skills and know how, non? I am so glad to have gone there. I love that an idea born form the modern concept of diversion and entertainment has turned into the lesson of adulthood and self-sufficiency.

  18. The dinning room turned out gorgeously!! That pale blue color is magnificent and it shoes off your china very well. I love seeing before and after's--and your whole house will be an amazing after, I know it! Keep up the good work!

  19. Your dining room turned out beautiful!! I can't wait to see the mural.

    Jello is a good idea. My kids love it. I once overheard my youngest, who was 4 at the time, tell a friend, "My mom can make Jello... from scratch." Considering the pre-made Jello cups available now I guess I should be proud. LOL


  20. Thank you for the dining room praise, everyone. It really feels good, considering it was my sole focus last month. In the midst of it I thought I had bit off more than I could chew in a month, and really it isn't completely done (have to tile the fire surround and do the wet bar) but it is usable and looks pretty so I did meet my goal. I do plan on the mural sort of evolving over the next six months, so that makes me feel I have some time with it. It is nice that I am back to writing and feeling the desire to paint and draw again. I have MORE to do than last year and yet find the time and desire to want to do what i WANTED to do last year, if that makes any sense! Now, I feel bad not posting yesterday and am going to get to that right now. It is hard when the rain has stopped and the garden calls! But, that is what schedules and ACTION is for, right?!

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