Tuesday, June 30, 2009

29 June 1955 "Talking Point Tuesdays"

I have been busy, as usual, and wanted to address Jitterbugs questions to me about my project reaching its halfway mark. I am still really thinking about it and compiling my thoughts, so don't think I forgot.

Today, being "talking point Tuesdays" made me want to put to you something in the comments from my last post. A commentor asked Jitterbug how she was able to change from a night person. This let me to wonder, we vintage gals here do seem to want to change things about our own modern world. So, I put to you, what WOULD you like to change (even if you are not sure you can or it could happen) about yourself that you think would be more vintage and make you more happy. And what could you change (again, rather you think it could happen) about our modern world that would, in fact, be more vintage. And finally, what would you like to change about yourself (Realistically) and your own little bit of the world (again this time realistically)that would be more vintage and make you happier and more content.

So, let us discuss!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

26 June 1955 “Frugal Fridays and Gardening Saturdays”

I was thinking as we have Talking point Tuesdays, Frugal Fridays might be fun. Then, with me still feeling a little swoony yesterday and with my playing catch up on my housework, I found I hadn’t time to finish the blog.
Feeling sad about it this morning, I went out to my gardens with my camera.

We have had much rain here in New England of late. I haven’t had to water my garden the entire month of June! Last night we had the most wonderful thunderstorm and I awoke this morning expecting the usual: more rain. But, the sun is out and everything is fresh and dew soaked.

Here are some of the shots from my gardens:Here are my little grapes actually growing this first year. Perhaps there will be a few bottles of 50’s gal vintage 1955, set aside this fall.grapes beginning 1grapes beg 2 Here is my new clematis. close up clematisI bought it for these striking blooms. I have another that trails along my rustic picket fence, but that blooms later and is covered in little delicate white flowers, that look as if a sea of fairies are aloft above the garden. foxglove Here is a close up of my Digitalis, or Foxglove. These are so tall this year early because of all the rain. This plant is almost six feet tall, and its majestic pink and white heads bob over the fence waving to passersby.hydrangea This is a shot of one of my many Hydrangea bushes. These are often seen here on Cape, as our soil has the right PH to make them the most unreal blue you can imagine. I love this chartreuse green of the early buds. You can see in the close up shot how Hydrangea flowers are made up of so many tiny little four petaled flowers. Lovely, indeed. hydrangea blossom close tickseed upclose Here is a close up of one of my tickseeds. So pretty and bright this time of year.kale n cabbage Just look how my kale and cabbage is getting on. I think I may be able to make some kale and sausage soup this week!

Look how well my snow peas are doing. I love the light through them, as you can see the painterly like pattern of their little ‘veins’.snow peas closeup Don’t you want to pop one of these into your mouth? I have to say, when I pick them it is often, “One for me, one for the bowl”. There is nothing to compare to eating a fresh food straight off the vine, grown by your own hands.snowpeas bowl

So, I thought, “Well, why not discuss gardening (vintage and other) on Saturdays?” Certainly it is a day many of us may find ourselves in the garden. So, today I have melded these two together, but hopefully as I get my strength back and my momentum, we shall have these as two separate posts.

Now, frugality: though certainly going out of style here in 1955 somewhat, an older wife such as myself might look amazed at my fellow housewife in her early 20’s at the market. She could easily fill her new metal push carriages full of frozen ‘TV dinners’ prepared foods, endless pre-made sugar sweets and cookies. I, at least I like to think I would, would have WWII fresh in my mind.

During my illness the past week, I spent a lot of time reading. I was able to get back into novels, but I found myself really pouring through the 1940’s war time magazines.

As I have mentioned before, as part of this project, I didn’t want to feel as if I was just ‘plopped down’, as it were, in 1955. I wanted some back story. Being in my late 30’s in 1955 would have made me be a very real participant in WWII here in the Home Front. Though we American women did not suffer as greatly as our European and particularly English sisters, we had our own fears and certainly rationing. The magazines of this time are really full of such ideas and articles. It got me thinking, why shouldn’t I be even more frugal today? I should!

Every time I think this project has led me down a road and I think, “well, yes, now I see that is the best way” another road opens to show me even more paths lie ahead. For example, with my coffee, I already have lessened the amount I used to drink, why? It is expensive, really. I used to drink it throughout the day, particularly when I was in my studio painting, I would go through pots and pots, so much so that I had to decaffeinate myself. I am back to caffeinated now, though they did have caffeine free in 1955, because it would be silly to buy both kinds, as I used to. So there already is a savings. I buy less coffee and use less coffee, as I make a pot for hubby and I in the morning and he takes the rest in his thermos. For the remainder of the day I make due with a pot of tea.

Now, for both the coffee and the tea I have found a very frugal solution and perhaps many of you do this already, but I have just started this past month. Here is how it happened.

Hubby had left with a kiss on the cheek and I returned to my morning routine, dirty kitchen, dining room to clear and so on. I put on my apron, grabbed my ole’ faithful percolator and took out the metal basket to toss away the grounds. ( I am just going to interject here, that here is another ‘green’ solution that was the norm in the past. No paper filters! A metal basket that holds the coffee, you rinse it out and thoroughly scrub it once a week. No paper waste!) I stopped myself.

“Wait a minute”, I thought. “Why on earth am I going to toss these?” It is true that they go into a compost container that ends up in the garden for mulch later, but still, one pot of coffee? I thought, if this were the 1940s and we had coffee at all, a rare treat then, I would not be so willy nilly about it. So, I refilled the pot with cold water and set it to work while I tidied up the kitchen and dining room. Then, as I was done, so was the pot. I grabbed a cup and took to my little corner chair in the kitchen. What do you know, it was wonderful.

I had tried this in the past, which of course was the future, but I had an electric drip coffee maker. It always made it weak the second time. The percolator did not. It was as strong as if I had added more coffee and I did not. I also find a third pot can be made just as strong with the adding of one or two more scoops of coffee, thus you get another pot with only a few more grounds.

I have even, on days that I hadn’t realized how low the coffee supply had come, done so with my hubby. I didn’t tell him and he had no idea. It tasted the same and used less coffee. Now, with my tea I do the same. I make a tea pot full with four bags. If I want more later, I simply add only one more bag to the other bags and a full pot of tea and it tastes as fine to me. Of course using loose tea and a reusable tea ball or a strainer is more vintage and more green.

I find by merely using my imagination, a tool I fear may not always be at the ready for some modern people, that I can often find such solutions. Try it. Stand in your kitchen or somewhere in your house and think, okay the war is on and I am not allowed to buy more of such and such, what do I do? Or I can’t get any more fresh fruit for the week, how do I made do? You will be surprised with your own results. Though indelicate to speak of, I even find such things as toilet paper a real luxury. Think of the thin tissue paper you were probably allowed in the past, and before that, they were really green as they used cut up papers, magazines and who knows what else, of course now we are talking about not even having a septic system. But I do recall in the 1900 house program, the middle class family did have a plumbed loo but it was in the back garden as they were scared of germs and cut scrap paper was what they used.

So, frugality is only a fun imagination away. Think of it as playing house or make believe and then be thankful we don’t have to do it for real. But, one never knows what lies in the future, so better to be prepared and why not help shave down your food and household budget? We are all a little strapped now in this current economy.

I read a story of one homemaker in the Depression, that as she could not afford the yeast to make bread, she merely made a version of pan cakes which were easier and cheaper and used those as ‘sandwiches’ with a little butter and sugar sprinkled in.

Sometimes my pantry, if I have not paid close attention to its restocking, teaches me to be frugal. The other day Gussie and I were set on making chocolate chip cookies, but alas, no chocolate chips. So, I invented my own recipe, based on my old standby in my Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.

Really, a chocolate chip cookie dough is a great base to go off and create any version. In mine, I made it as usual but in lieu of chocolate chips, I took my bakers powdered chocolate and used three TBS powder and one TBS oil and mixed it into liquid (as you would for a chocolate cake) and added that to the batter. Then I found I had a little spare coconut, so I sprinkled that on top. They were lovely and wonderful tasting.poormans chocolate chip cookies I will make these again, for sure. I call them ‘poor man’s chocolate chip cookies’. Really, if you had any spare bits and bobs of nuts, a few choc chips or even plain, chocolate chip cookie dough really is wonderful and wonderfully cheap. I have a recipe that uses real butter, which I may return to when I am no longer in 1955, but as bad as it might be shortening is a staple in a 1950s kitchen. I believe I have listed the choc chippers recipe before, if not and you would like it, I will post it, but really any chocolate chip cookie dough recipe will work.

1950s overstuffed fridge To me, this image represents what I want to get away from in the 1950s. Certainly, this seemed wonderful and the thing to do, but we have to remember, the threat of the bomb coming and the memory of WWII lead to this stockpiling. But, really, it was the dream of the 1950s advertisers to play on that very fear. Over buy and stock up ‘just in case’. Really, my age in 1955, I don’t think I would have done this and I would have also recalled how ‘hording’ was very looked down upon in the war time years, as there was only so much to go around. Today, the fear of bombs is replaced with the falsehood of ‘savings in bulk’. Such stores as BJs exist on that falsehood. Perhaps it might be cheaper to buy twenty of something, but when it needs to be kept frozen or refrigerated, you are basically paying more money in the energy to run the appliance, when the stores are already doing that for you. The more I look to the 1940s to understand my place in 1950s the more ‘wise’ I become to the way in which, even to this day, advertising has controlled and manipulated our spending and thus the way we live now. But, I digress, you know I have to throw a little ‘rant’ in there now and again, right?

Now, to the garden:

I think growing your own food is certainly something to chalk up to wise frugality. Particularly if you can start many things from seeds. I hope to, as a project next year or possibly this fall, to make a little green house, so I can start my garden earlier and perhaps, even, try my hand at growing tomatoes in winter!

garden book1 I believe I showed this title in a past blog. It is from 1949, so the war is over yet the frugality is still important. This magazine has some great tips.

I am going to share this whole article on growing your own vegetables, as I find it so interesting. You should be able to click on each page and see it full size.veg article 1 veg article 2 veg article 3 veg article 4

The bit about watering young plants with buried cans in very green and ingenious. This saves water and cans from the garbage. The idea of mulching (fog 9.) it with old newspaper is such a good idea. I remember reading about Lasagna Gardening a few years back, thinking it a new idea. Here it is, the frugality of the past. I like the coil spring idea of fig. 14. I assume this has you using your old springs from beds( before box springs) and such, another green reusable idea. It does make me think of this silly old video I saw once.

I have a pile of socks to darn for my hubby. I realized, of course, I have no idea how to darn a sock. No one has ever taught me. I have seen the little wooden mushrooms in antique shops which are used for this purpose.sock darner-5 Yet, I have never attempted it. Then, it got me to thinking that certainly darning for nice hand knit wool socks must be different than a tighter weave cotton sock. I found this link for darning a blanket and socks. Here it is. And here is a great video showing how to darn a wool sock. True, the video itself is not vintage, but certainly the skills are and that is what is important. The article that I linked to said you can darn an cheap cotton sock by using a bit of old t-shirt of old sock, so I suppose one would stitch the patch in. Really, mending is certainly a dying skill. Again, not to harp, but the ability to run down to Old Navy or Wal-Mart to buy a shirt for a few dollars has lead to our loss of a skill set, cost to our pocket books, feeding the consumer need, and contributing to the horrors inflicted upon fellow human beings in communist countries such as China. Is it not true, that by our buying those products we are supporting their horrors? It is so easy when it is not in front of our faces. Any way, besides all that, mending will certainly help in all matters frugal as even if a new shirt is only 10 dollars it is still free (somewhat) to mend what you have and keep the 10 dollars, non?

Speaking of mending and taking care of things, Gussie, Hubby and I had a discussion the other day at the dinner table about caring for things. I mentioned how as a child my own mother (herself from this very generation) would tell me not to sit on the arms of sofas and chairs, don’t lean back or tip in a chair, don’t sit at odd angles etc. I realized at the moment we were discussing it, how such a social behavior, passed down from generations, was as much about frugality and waste not want not as it was about being ‘ a lady’. Certainly, the furniture will last longer and be in better condition if it is treaty kindly. Today’s attitudes of act and sit and be ‘free’ may seem another form of social freedom, but now looking into it, I see how such an attitude makes it a ripe world to continually sell and resell cheap and shoddy things. Think about it. IF we are not taught to care about or sit properly in furniture it will break. If it is cheap we don’t care as oh well we can buy another anyway. The whole mindset of that lazy care free attitude is actually just another element into waste which is counter ‘green-culture’. Again, I really think as we begin to think more about being green, just buying some ‘simple green’ at the store is not the solution. The very fabric of our society and its morays and norms will need to be called into question and realize to preserve and persevere means treating things as well as people with care and consideration. IF we want something to last, we need to treat it thus and perhaps we could and would want a nicer think hand skilled locally that cost more if we realize if we care for it it might be around for our grandkids, which is cheaper overall and means less things thrown into landfills.

Again, the paths the project leads me down often surprises me. In some aspects it can seem scary to have the very basis of your daily life and how we interact and consume called into question. But, when we realize, it is not done to make oneself feel better than another or to feel superior or ‘right’ but in fact to help us all to realize that such changes in behavior and attitudes towards one another, spending, how we treat things and how we care for our homes and prepare and grow our foods and, yes, even how we sit in chairs, is really a means to a better ends. Anyway, isn’t it more fun, ladies, to sit in a nice chair in a clean room with our legs, ankles crossed, sipping tea out of nice china we care about eating home-made treats. And, honestly, it doesn’t have to always be about a tea party. I really think the very way in which we live is not bad, per se, but certainly has come about by the very over-spending consumer culture in which we live. How can we expect young people to respect and treat one another with respect if we show it so little to one another and even our own furniture and pocketbooks. We may all be surprised at how our modern culture is, but we must realize it is changeable and can happen with us one at a time. One thing I have notices is care and consideration is contagious. Without even saying it, others will see it, view it as different and then nice and pleasant and want some themselves.

You never know, you may wear a nice dress and hat somewhere and inspire a stranger to do the same and she will feel the pride of it. Perhaps, a guest will notice how nice it is to dine on homemade desserts eating out of nice dishes in a room without a TV on and think, “Why can’t I do this at home, as well” We don’t need to move to stiff formality at all times, but certainly if we respect things more, when we have that day of relaxation with popcorn on the sofa with a movie, it will feel all the more sweet for the relaxed attitude.

Spreading respect and happiness in self-sufficiency may sometimes get viewed as you seeming ‘holier than thou’ but when others see it is really a form of happiness that they want to share with their friends, they may want to join in rather than ridicule. Even when something is old, if it is new to you and others, it might first be viewed with suspicion, but when done with goodness and kindness at its heart, people will pick up on it and want to be a part of it. I really think our Apron Revolution is needed in these times more than ever.

So, go out there and spread respect, frugality, and self-sufficiency through example. It is the kindest and softest sort of uprising I can think of!

Happy Homemaking.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

25 June 1955 “I am back, somewhat. News, products, computers”

Well, everyone, it is so lovely to be back. I am not 100% better yet, but it feels good today to sit in my little sitting room again, my view of the garden, my little dogs curled on the yellow sofa and the soft chirrup of my bird singing away in her little cage.

Well, let’s get back to it then:

Here is the New Yorker for today. I think this cover, with its pattern of leaves over the various gardening figures, would lend itself very well to a fabric or wallpaper, don’t you? If it were done in a solid color it could be a 1955 version of Toile, non?

new yorker june 25 1955

This is from the 15th of this year 1955, but still thought it a good example of how much the 1950’s were about positive change. walter brown

I love this bit I found accompanying the photo:

On June 15, 1955 Walter M. Brown was awarded a Ph.D. from what is now North Carolina Central University. Today he is a professor emeritus and former dean of the School of Education at North Carolina Central University. He holds a B.A. and Ph.D. from North Carolina Central, and an M.A. from New York University (NYU). Dr. Brown is also an accomplished calligrapher. He is a member of the Carolina Lettering Arts Society and the Triangle Calligraphers’ Guild, and has taught calligraphy at NCCU, Durham Technical Community College, the Durham Arts Council, Butner Correctional Institution, the Chapel Hill Museum, and the Duke Institute for Learning In Retirement.

Don’t you love that he taught and was proud of calligraphy? I have to say rather black or white, I would rather see such a person as a role model for my child than a rapper. Education, pride and self-reliance seems to be out of fashion replaced by the desire for things.: fast new cars, ‘bling’ etc.

 newspaper 25 june I just thought this a cute ad from today from a newspaper. I see that “Batman” must have been a continuing series you waited for at the movies. That seems odd in today’s instant gratification world and yet how then the grandparents from the 1900’s must have thought the whole TV entertainment industry strange and fast-paced. “In my day” I am sure they said to their grandchildren, who rolled their eyes, watched howdy doody and played with their plastic toys. Really, this is the first such generation of consuming children. Those who had gone before, now now more. Even the elderly today are really from the beginnings of the consumer culture. That is why, in a way, I feel like we vintage gals need to hold the torch of the past to the cave walls and decipher the hieroglyphs of the past. We should keep pre-consumer skills alive and well. We may be seen as silly romantics today, but one never knows. There may be a time in our future when we have spent it all, money is devalued and a great recession would only allow the masses to try and care for themselves. If that time ever came, we could be those who could teach and help those fumbling in the dark.


When I saw this bit from the Mickey Mouse Club, which would be on now, I first thought, “I can’t imagine any modern child having the patience to even get through this segment”. I also found it rather interesting that they would show a child how to make their own cookies and also assume that a parent would give the responsibility to a child to handle an oven etc. I don’t have children, so I am not sure how it is done today, but I get the feeling that children are much more ‘babied’ or ‘coddled’ today than they were in the past. I know, in the 19th c. certainly, younger children were expected to do ‘adult things’ sooner and read sooner including things like Latin on one end of the scale and home economics and shop on the other.

It seems we have a much longer life expectancy now, but instead of trying to follow the old path of learning as much as possible early on, the babyhood of entertainment and ‘jangling the keys in front of baby’ goes on longer. Or parents spend money and time in things like soccer and dance, which though good athletically, what about education and play being the exercise? Again, I will NOT pass judgment as I have not earned the right, not having any children, only making observations. It does seem, though, given our longer time on this earth in the modern world, we would want to fill up that time with knowledge and achievement rather than time-wasting. But, what do I know?

I did notice another thing about this little clip, the ‘recipe’ was “go to your cupboard and get your ‘Minnie mouse’ cookie mix”. So, here, really, begins the advertising to the children. When you consider the early days of TV, I am sure the greatest audience was the child. It was new and becoming the norm for them to have TV in their lives, so advertise to them. Surely they would tell mother what they ‘wanted’ from the store. My generation in 1955 would have lived most of my life without even the concept of TV, so I would have been a poor audience to advertise to that way. They would have got me in the ladies magazines.

As I mentioned, early on in this experiment, I was already a magazine reader. I quickly found myself indulging as usual with my vintage magazines. As I can see, looking through earlier posts, my ‘desires’ and esthetic began to change merely by being presented with the advertising of the day. It had sat idle for fifty years, but all it took was the spark of the page turning to have me coveting vinyl flooring, ‘new appliances’ etc. Although, I began to see how economical I could now do over such a kitchen, as these items were cheap or no longer loved. It got me thinking again about recycling and advertising.

There are so many things already made. The dump, antique stores, salvage yards, yard sales, attics, basements, etc. They are all full to the brim with things already made and still working.

Case in point, I used to have a coffee pot fetish. My hubby laughed at me for always buying the latest and most gadget-ed thing and I never had only one. Now, everyday I use my percolator. I think it cost me but one dollar at the local church basement sale. My old Kirby does me justice as do my everyday dishes.

I know advertising has been a part of our lives for a while now, but it still amazes me to what degree it affects us. Especially now that the new ‘green’ is in. Producing more products to purchase hardly seems green. It is true in some respect that if you are not the person who is going to simply make their own cleaner from simple things, than perhaps we are saving the environment that way; but, honestly, it is just a lazy excuse. Sure, they may make a brand (at a higher cost I might add) of something that is not as full of chemicals, but how do you think they make it? There is still a factory pumping it out some where, there is still plastic bottles, etc. It is just replacing what we should be doing with an easy answer. I really fear that when it comes right down to it, there will be no easy answer.

I don’t know how long we can go on in this vein of consumption. Perhaps another one hundred years, I don’t honestly know, but I do fear how any new concept of ‘how can we change’ is always repackaged and sold to us in an easy answer, “Just get out your debit/credit card and buy the answer”.

My time of illness sort of allowed me the opportunity to do something I had been considering for this project. Go without my computer. I have to say, though not intentional, it did afford me to see the day more 1955. It was not a good way to try it, for I could not see if I got more done, as I have been exhausted and in bed often, but it did allow me, even more, to enjoy books. I have always been a bibliophile. Yet, these past years have seen me turn to the printed page less and less. Now, in the quiet house in the sick bed of 1955, I turned to books.
I reread E. M. Forrester’s Howard’s End to name but one.

Yet, I am not sure, now, that I need try a week sans computer. I don’t know that it is relevant. Certainly, I am continuing my project, but it is becoming more and more about what I CAN do and what I should NOT do.

My research and my writing, my posting to all of you, I would miss. Indeed, I have missed it. So, I do hope you will forgive if I forgo the experiment of no computer. Certainly, I am in 1955 in a way, but I feel as if I have my little time machine that allows me to hop to and fro to share with you what I have discovered. After all, what sort of ‘time-travel writer’ would I be if you could not read my words?

Until tomorrow, then, Happy Homemaking. I am slowly getting back into the swing of things.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

23 June 1955 "ill"

I am sorry everyone, I have been ill for the past few days and still getting over it. I don't want you all to think I have abandoned you. I do hope you will come back and continue to be a part of our community here, but I need to get my strength up before I can even manage to post.
Keep up the discussions and I will be able to hop in when I am better. Thank you all for your patience. Perhaps, it has been all the rain we have had here in New England, but here I lie, exhausted and one of my concerns, besides getting so behind in my chores, is all my gals on Blogger, so do know I am thinking of all of you.
Until later, then, happy homemaking.
Any good home remedies for a Spring Cold?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

20 June 1955 “Sorry, Solid Potato Salad, and Discussion”

Here it is, another day, and no post. I am very sorry. I am so busy and my normal routine has been topsy turvy with rental viewings, hubbies work schedule all over the place and just general business. It is no excuse, certainly. As one of my main tenets of this project has been to properly organize and find time for all things. And, yet here I am again. I have so much to talk about but have not had the time to put it down very well and I do hate to think of too many slap dash words thrown together.

I have pictures of my garden. Some recipes to share. Ideas and Ideals growing in my fevered brow and very desirous to share, but one does want to do the thing right. I am certainly to be busy tomorrow, Sunday, but must and will make time Sunday evening to set down and get my thoughts and ideas out to share with all of you.

To tide you over and because it is a great video, here is a video of the Ross sisters from the 1940s who were not only great singers but amazing contortionists/gymnasts. Watch the video to the end and be amazed!

Again, in the meantime, I want to say I am so sorry to see our dear friend PL leaving us. She will be greatly missed and perhaps she will be persuaded to return to us once she has settled into her new home and routine. Also, let’s keep up the discussions:

Do you think if the economy continues to go downward, we will, even those of us with no interest in vintage, find ourselves embracing the ‘old ways’ (canning, growing own food, keeping poultry, making own clothes, eating out and prepared foods less) and if so, if the economy, again, spikes and the world seems brighter and richer, will we chuck these things aside again? In other words, will we learn our lesson this time?

Also, if the economy continues to become bleak will entertainment show more escapists drama of wealthy people and fantasy, or more real hard lined representation of those ‘in trouble and need’? And, will it affect how we entertain ourselves or do you think paying for cable TV would be the last thing a family would do to save money?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

18 June 1955 "Rather busy"

I am sorry to everyone, I have had a rather busy two days with my little rental cottage I have spoke of before. Running about like a chicken with it's head cut off and all that. I shall be back tomorrow, I promise, with a proper post.

Until then, how about more discussion. How about this:

When the 1950's homemaker was faced with extra challenges to her regular schedule, how do you think she coped?

I was also thinking, a woman in her 60's still keeping house in 1955, would have had such a different beginning in the 19teens when she was just starting out. She most likely had at least one maid, possibly even live in. How do you think she coped and would she be buying all the new fangled products for cleaning, do you think, or would she have stuck by the old standards? And would she miss the friendship of the maid and having her about?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

16 June 1955 “Talking Point Tuesday”

time-machine So, today's ‘Talking Point’ is three fold. First, if you had a time machine would you go back to the 1950s or another time? timemachineWould you go back if you could not return to your own time. And the final part of the question, using the time machine of studying history and research, what things (clothes, attitudes, etc) could we revive realistically to make a new ‘modern vintage’ lifestyle today?

Also, just so there is no misunderstanding of yesterdays post, I am still continuing my project. My ‘rant’ was my own realization that I can remake my present and be very much in the world and still have my 1955 lifestyle. That was meant for my future. I am still determined to finish out this year best I can 1955 style.

Now, for those of you who want to play, lets hear from you for today's ‘talking point’.

Monday, June 15, 2009

15 June 1955 “Cold War Fear, Duck and Cover, Anachronism and a New Kind of Vintage.”

Nuclear bombs, the atom bomb, was a very real threat in 1955. We tend to forget about the heavy threat that hung above the heads of those around then. Certainly, looking back we can see the happiness and joy, but never really know that feeling they must have had. Their fear had also the reality of having lived through WWII so I am certain they honestly lived with the threat upper most in their minds. But, again, as this generation is showing me, the ability to live fully and happily in the face of adversity seems to be their strong suit.

Today in 1955 was a nation wide civil defense test. Here are some films not very accurately portraying what you would do in case of the bomb:

Here is what children had to see in school as early as 1951.

Of course, the famous ‘Duck and Cover’ film.

In the 1950's, the issue of evacuation was not in any sense frivolous at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. For example, while President Dwight D. Eisenhower began lobbying congressional leaders on behalf of the highway proposal he would submit on February 22, 1955, he was preoccupied with the Formosa Straits crisis that erupted when the People's Republic of China appeared ready to cross the straits and attack Chinese Nationalists on Formosa (now called Taiwan) over control of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu. This was a major international crisis. In Eisenhower's Biography was stated about 1955, "the United States in early 1955 came closer to using atomic weapons than at any other time in the Eisenhower Administration."

On March 11, 1955,  Civil Defense Administrator Val Peterson told a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee that all citizens should build some sort of underground shelter "right now," stocked with sufficient food and water to last 5 or 6 days. His recommendation was based on knowledge of what a hydrogen bomb might do when intercontinental guided missiles are perfected. When that happens, he said, "we had all better dig and pray. In fact, we had better be praying right now."

In addition to this, there was really no certain explanation or realistic idea of what would happen if there were a bomb and subsequent fall out. Massachusetts Governor Christian A. Herter, said:

“For example, we have no idea whether or not raincoats are preferable to cloth coats, whether hands or faces should be kept covered, whether or not riding in an automobile with all windows closed provides a degree of protection, and whether or not radioactive particles permeate windows or the walls of buildings, or seep into cellars.”


civil defense test1 Thus, the concern for urban evacuation became a real problem. The possibility of urban evacuation was put to the test on June 15, 1955, when the Federal Civil Defense Administration staged Operation Alert in cities around the country, including Washington, D.C. As The New York Times observed on June 16, "This was the first Civil Defense test in which the Government actually left Washington and in which account was taken of the lethal and widespread effects of radioactive fall-out."civil defense test2 civil defense test3

This fear and worry being a constant thread in the fabric of their lives, those of 1955 went on. They married, had children, built homes, loved, laughed and generally did it all in style, because one never knew. Or, perhaps, because one did live for the moment in joy and planned for the future and its uncertainty. This attitude, though we are not currently threatened by bombs (except the growing problems with Korea that I don’t want to contemplate right now or perhaps because of them!) could be one we could adapt. A sense of momentary joy and happiness coupled with well planned future eventualities. It beats the modern live in the moment be always entertained and never think of tomorrow.

This got me to thinking about my own life and my plans for my future and how I want to continue in the vein of Vintage. I am something of an anachronism at present and that lead me to ponder that very state.

Anachronism: a person or a thing that is chronologically out of place; especially : one from a former age that is incongruous in the present.

This is the rough definition of anachronism, which I have oft felt was a good example of my own place in the world. Yet, with my time travel to 1955, I am beginning to feel less the need to feel ‘out of my own time’.

Certainly, living within the past in a sense makes one feel more adjusted to their own present, if the past is that for which they long. It is a sort of ‘setting it right’. Aligning one, finally, to a time that feels more natural.

However, of late, I have begun to see the necessity and yearning to be more ‘in my own time’. No, that doesn’t mean I am getting cable, low-rise jeans, a job where I can talk about the latest ‘24’ episode around the water cooler. It means, that I have come to realize, I am not happy with merely ‘longing for the past’ or yearning for the ‘good ole days’. Now, after on some level trying somewhat successfully to recreate the past, I want a new and better future (and present) that is made the way I like. I feel as if with keen study one can choose those elements from the past and make them into a new and better future. I want my life to be not a modern tableau of the past, but a new future built from the means and ways of the past.

The synonym of anachronism is out-of-date, outdated, dated, old-fashioned, old, obsolete, archaic, antiquated, outmoded, obsolescent, passé and the antonym is contemporary. I don’t care if I look ‘out of date’ but I don’t want to feel as if I am obsolete. I think making a new “present improved with the archaic” is possible and can make a contemporary existence that just has not yet been done.

I don’t think any other time in history could we, as we can today, really pick to live the way we want. The ease of technology and success in healthcare allow us to focus on the other parts of life that matter to us. It is in some ways seen as old-fashioned to live without a TV, or stay at home while your husband works, or have one car, or allow your children to go out an play without supervision. Yet, these are all things we have control over now. If our yearning for these is true and strong, why can they not become contemporary ideals for others?

I wonder sometimes, when I try to trace my constant love of the old, has it something to do with making one feel more invincible or safe? If we feel we are living in the past, then the future is more certain. We can see it and read it in old text and pictures. Does it give one the sense of being immortal or pushing back that eventual fear of the grave a little more? I don’t know, but sometimes I wonder.

I do know that my connection with things of the past has always in some way been a part of my life. And, even though the late 70’s are now the past and a time that I was alive, I do not long for them. Is it because it was a time I actually lived? It is, now, the past. Or, is it because in my own living history do I feel we were still very much the way we are now, grown children looking for entertainment and looking to the “ME” first? I honestly do not know, but I do know what I like and now admire about the past and I do also know I want to make these things into a new and better future.

I have always been drawn to the 19th century, for example, but again, am thankful for the present with medicine. Surely, my husband and I may have been dead long ago with the then present medical care of the time.

But, this feeling, this longing and need to study and view and decorate and even to the extent now,  garb myself in the past, it is a tangible thing. It has validity and purpose and worth to me. Not, I think, in some silly sham way of ‘playing at make believe’ for that would have been the old ‘modern’ me. The new ‘antique me’ realizes how much one needs to be a ‘grown up’ in the past. How important it is. So, with this new found need and joy towards maturity, how does this manifest itself with vintage? I don’t want to give up the things I have come to love in order to live in the modern world. I don’t want to feel that I have to set on the wayside the ideals and hopes I have come to feel as a 1955 homemaker, merely to feel I can ‘relate’ to those around me. I want to live in the present in a mature and responsible way, to take on more projects and responsibilities “within the vein of the vintage”. My dresses may look out of date, but I designed and sew them my selves. I may not be watching the latest show on TV, but I am here and now living in the present if I choose to take that same time to clean and read and create. If my entertainment is old and new movies, the new will be carefully chosen to be worthy of my free time, not just some summer block buster that cost a disgusting amount of money so we can sit mindless for two hours drooling at a screen in the dark watching the cool explosions or disemboweling of people.

I think the vintage sensibility and the vintage design esthetic has a very real place in the modern world when coupled with one old fashioned idea: ‘to think’. To consider the world and ponder and decide what is ‘really going on’ and decide to choose on the side of self-fulfillment even when that means it is harder work, or more likely to ostracize you, or be a less popular route. Because, at the end of the day, rather it is 1955 or 2055, I have myself to account for to myself and I don’t want to feel that I have let myself down or just ‘gone along with the flow’ because it was the easy or popular thing to do. I want to make a happy fulfilled future built with the maturity and ideals of the past. Is anyone else game?

Until, tomorrow, then:

Happy Homemaking.

Friday, June 12, 2009

12 June 1955 “Some News, An Artist, and a Positive Rant”

ALUMINUM-NICKEL shortages will be eased by diverting metal from the Government's strategic stockpile to private users. For 1955's third quarter, the Office of Defense Mobilization, which released some metal earlier this year, will release another 200 million Ibs. of aluminum and 3,000,000 Ibs. of nickel.

FRUIT PRICES will soar this summer because of spring freezes in the South, California and Michigan. Prices of plums, apricots, watermelons and peaches will go up, at least until late Northern crops start coming to market. On Southern markets, peaches are selling at 25¢ apiece.

mrandmrspotatovintage This toy was available in 1955. Interesting that there are also Mr. cucumber and tomato etc head.

coffee ad 1955 COFFEE PRICES are bouncing up again for the first time in nearly a year, after an agreement among South American producers to regulate exports instead of dumping surpluses on the market. A. & P., Safeway and Grand Union have boosted prices 2¢ to 3¢ a lb., and other big roasters will probably follow suit.

Zenith_Flash-Matic_ad As every TV-set owner knows, the biggest nuisance in watching television is having to get out of the chair to switch stations. Last week Zenith Radio Corp. brought out a new set equipped with electric eyes, permitting the viewer to sit as far away as 20 ft. and control it with a special pistol-grip flashlight. By shooting the beam at one slot alongside the screen, he can turn the set on (and off): by aiming at a second slot, he can switch stations; by aiming at a third slot, he can turn off the sound. Cost about $75 more than conventional TV sets. But the gadget is more than a sales gimmick; because it makes a sport of knocking off the sound when the commercial comes on, Zenith has a new weapon in its fight for pay-as-you-see TV. ( I think in an earlier blog post I showed an image for the ad for this idea. This is in a June 1955 Time issue. So, it begins. Why get up to change channels? Why get up at all!)

I was surprised to read the following in Time for June, for it seems they DID in fact continue with the sitcom and still do to this day!

Rhymes with "Think." The decline of situation comedy, only last year the most popular TV fare, is so evident that CBS is throwing it out wholesale. CBS is canceling 16 new half-hour shows. Situation Comedy Writer Lou Derman gave the reason in last week's trade sheet Variety: "We've allowed our shows to become unbearably dull, repetitious, predictable, wild and sloppy. We've ignored a public that's sick and tired of watching, story in and story out, about Bringing the Boss Home to Dinner; and Forgetting the Wife's Birthday; and Getting Into This Disguise So's Husband Won't Recognize Me; and Is My Wife Killing Me For My Insurance Policy?; and Did He Forget My Anniversary?; and The Old Boy Friend; and The Old Girl Friend; and Let's Make Him Think He's Going Crazy; and Bringing the Boss Home to Dinner . . . Fellas, we've just about dug our own graves! . . . We've gotta think. You know what that rhymes with. Our stock situations do."

1955 art piece Simply called no 198, this painting is oil on masonite panel by the artist, Eugene Von Bruenchehein (1910-1983) He was an American outsider artist ( a term I loathe) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Von Bruenchenhein worked as a baker, a florist, and a grocer. ( I have done two of those jobs myself, perhaps I have found a kindred spirit).

His wife Marie served as his muse and he is best known for his photographs: hundreds of portraits of Marie in exotic costumes and settings. He frequently made use of the double exposure to give his photographs an added touch of surrealismMarie_3. The photographs evoke pinup girls of the 1950s such as this one here.marie I had never heard of this artist before and find his paintings to have a touch of craft in them. Certainly, they appear almost embroidered or stitched in some way. Interesting stuff.

I thought I would today “rant” to the positive. I don’t want to be seen as always going on about how bad this or that seems. So, today, I thought, let me praise what I have come to love and wish to include into my ‘future’ from the 1955.

Saving grease. I just had to start a paragraph with that, as I was going through my little list of things I had jotted down that I do know in 1955 that I want to continue to do. There, at the top, as proud as Punch was that phrase: “Saving Grease”. Simple, perhaps disgusting to some. But, really, what a lot that little phrase says and represents to me. I know save my bacon fat and other fats that I cook in. Something I would not have done before. Really the whole way I look at garbage and waste is different. We always save our cardboard and scrap paper and use it in our fireplace and will more come winter to help start fires that will provide heat. Waste not want not. Even my composting has come to be a more well thought out plan, as many of my 40s and 50s gardening books are very keen on it. It certainly is not a new ‘green’ idea.

That brings me to my second item on my list: Gardening/Victory Garden. I have always loved gardening. I have tried to do it wherever I have lived, even when we were in the city, I found myself making frequent trips to the Cape and helping to plant up and help with relatives veg gardens. I love English gardens and Italian Formal gardens. I have always loved plants and decorating with them in a landscape is not unlike paints and canvas. However, this year I have found myself choosing so much more that gives back. Certainly, my veg garden has veg, of course. But with that has come my ‘tea border’ with planted perennial herbs for dried teas. My grape vines planted there with more space being set aside to put as many of those in as possible for wine firs and foremost and then jams and for the table.

My little Orchard, though it may not bear one single piece of fruit in a few years, is for both beauty and contemplation and also to feed my family or sell surplus to local farm stands.

I was rather excited yesterday to see little blossoms forming on my row of blackberry bushes I just put in this year. It so excited me, as did the thoughts of blackberry jam and wine, that I started planning out where else to place them. A hedge around the whole little ‘orchard’ will be planted up over the years.

Now, when I go to the garden store, I think, “how can this plant serve me”. I have even set aside areas in my yard where the wild weeds seem to do well. I have a lovely patch where dandelions, big as brass, grow among wild clover. Dig them up, NEVER, they feed my chickens and new chicks every day. Why throw away something that grows with no aide of mine nor water and provide nourishment for my chickens that give me eggs for my table, and maybe one day, if hubby can do it, meat for it as well. I am certain there was no dandelion killing during the war. You can eat the greens and roots and make wine of the blossoms. So, that idea is most likely here to stay.

Simple Entertainment. That is on the list. Lately, of a cool rainy night (and we have had many of those these past weeks here in New England) Hubby, Gussie, and I have sat down with a fire, some tea and a good round of Scrabble. (My Scrabble board is from 1948, by the way). We also love to read in this house and sitting about reading while the rain pours, also feels rather good. Something done less when there is a tv about. When we do have the tv it is really a ‘night at the movies’ and we enjoy it for the duration of that and then it is off. That leads to another discovery I hope to keep around.

Sewing. I dabbled in it before, but now find it a joy, when I have the time for it. I think, come fall, when the projects outside are less doable, the sewing machine will be whirring away. I am self-taught, so what I do may not look exactly professional, but it feels good to know I can make an outfit, slipcover, pillow etc of my choice.

Return to the Love of Words. I have always loved writing in some way or another, but the past ten years or so, I barely wrote a sentence. No need, what with email and cell phones. I didn’t even keep a journal any more. Now, however, thanks to the blog and my gardening and home diaries, I write often. I find myself using and recalling words more easily.

I remember when I saw the “1940’s House” (which I am dying to see again) that the grandmother, who was most changed by the experience, found that she could write and recall words and phrases more. She had thought it was old age that had lead to her writing and loss of vocabulary, when in fact it was simply not using it and being lazy and watching tv. I think of that woman often, now, with my experiment. I wonder, today, if she has stuck to her local shopping, walking in lieu of driving etc.

I am sure there are many more things I could spin positive. Certainly, I love the clothes and the confidence in a particular style. Whether or not I shall always wear only 1950s styles, I am not sure. We shall see, I suppose.

There is much I have to thank 1955 for, personally. I also, in my positive rant, wish to state I am glad for much of our modern world, as well. Medicine. Equality. Opportunities for women. Certainly, there are many modern positives, my future goal, I think, is to somehow take the things I love of the past and to study more of what I might love of the past and infuse my future with it. I want to be open to the things I might feel are negative of the future and try to set those aside. I think, really, rather you like the 1950s or the 1850s or even 2009, looking and accentuating the positive seems to be the way to go. Striving and pushing oneself to a sort of semi-perfection that is elastic and changeable and accepting of the mistakes you will make along the way as par for the course.  As the Johnny Mercer song tells us, “Accentuate the Positive, eliminate the Negative.”

Until tomorrow, then, Happy Homemaking.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

11 June 1955 “Tidbit Thursdays: Jazz, Animation, Office Attire, Green Bean Bake, and the Future”

Today’s talking point, a question really, how would your day today be different, do you think, if you were living in 1955? Don’t worry if you are a working woman, there were many of those in the 1950s, but consider what things you do automatically and how it would change with the date.

I think Thursdays will also be a good day to post some various 1955 items:

Jazz is often associated with the 1920s, but it lived and lives on. Living this year in 1955 has opened my eyes to some music I had never before tried.

Herbie Nichols is a great jazz pianist, have a listen.

This animation is so wonderful. It is the sort of antithesis of what can be done quickly with computers, though I am sure were she alive today, Lotte Reigner would possibly be toying with that medium. Modern technology is good and I am not against it, only sometimes I feel it replaces content. IF something can be done quicker or more spectacular, why does the story have to suffer?

This is from 1955 and is Jack and the Beanstalk made by German silhouette animator Lotte Reiniger and film director. She later became a British subject.

How about some 1955 Office Fashions, gals. And Yes, the boss is also a woman!

I have had this dish, though never made it myself, but this year Campbell’s comes out with their green bean bake:


1 can (10-3/4 ounces) Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk 1 teaspoon soy sauce
Dash pepper
4 cups cooked and drained green beans
1 can (2.8 ounces) French fried onions, divided
In a 10"x6" baking dish, combine soup, milk, soy sauce and pepper. Stir in green beans and 1/2 of the can of onions.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with remaining onions. Bake 5 minutes more.
Makes about 4-1/2 cups

Barbara Streisand in 1955, she is only 13 but here is a recording of her!

This little movie clip shows what the future might look like coming from this year. Here is the link. The video is right on, though much easier with less equipment, we have video phones if we choose to use the computer, but no one wants to see who they are talking to I think, and the electronic music is rather interesting.

Well, let me know how you feel your day would be different, 1955 style, if you like. Also, let me know what other items might be fun to list for ‘tidbit’ Thursdays. I was going to do some links to some vintage clothing etc, but I don’t want to seem an ad. I am already angry that my site has that stupid ad thing on it. I don’t know how I signed up for it and I don’t know how to take it off. I certainly never make any money from it, so if anyone knows how to delete it, let me know.

Have a great day and Happy Homemaking.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

10 June 1955 “A Disaster of Speed, Planned Obsolescence, and Waste Not Want Not”

Tomorrow, 11 June 1955, there will be the worst to date (even now) accident in terms of the human toll in motorsports. At the Lemans race a racing car involved in an accident flew into the crowd, killing the driver (Pierre Levegh) and 80 spectators.
This disaster sort of hit a note with me today concerning what I wanted to talk about, that being thrift and conserve etc. It makes me wonder, why do we need to go faster?
Certainly, at breakneck speeds, what do we accomplish except waste of gas and possible injury? Why do we need, in certain areas, to increase and always grow and make new and therefore need to keep buying. Think of cell phones: do you recall a time when you bought a phone for you home and really, unless you wanted to change the color, you just kept it? Now, we must have faster, more gadgets, smaller, new colors the latest in our phones. I have tried to keep a cell phone, but the blasted thing inevitably breaks down: Designed and PLANNED Obsolescence!
We certainly want to get to a hospital quickly if we are in need of aid, but do we need to drive everywhere quickly? Does our need to be faster only increase the things we need to do out of the home and then lead to our being more harried and rushed?
1910 buick I am sure this car is an old bone shaker, but can you imagine if we still used this conveyance how we would conserve our trips and, save our speed and gas, and certainly enjoy our time more, as we would have not as much expectation to be everywhere so quickly. I am sure to see the children in the back sitting willy nilly, our first response is to gasp, but honestly even their safety is less in question if you are traveling 25 mph tops and others are doing the same.
I now I am being extreme, but it is to make a point. There is so much of the modern world that we just assume Has to be. But really it is only because we all, collectively, buy into it. Would cell phones have grown and become what they are if only a few people bought them? They are nice to have in emergencies, but how did we fare before them? What did soccer moms do before there were cars to take children to things? Did they do more near home? Did their children have more freedom to walk or bike to places? Were they expected to be more ‘grown up’ earlier and be at home helping cook and clean and work around the house? I wonder.
Again, I am not playing the ‘World was better than’ look through rose-colored glasses game. I am merely putting the idea out there. What was better then? What is better now? Why do we blindly accept every new thing as a fact and feel the need to go out and buy it. Planned Obsolescence. And, we buy into it.
1950s family watching tv Were VHS tapes not good enough? Certainly the quality was not what is is with blue ray DVD, but did it matter? Does it affect the quality of the experience? Does it become more about how clean and great explosions and special affects Look  as done by computers, or is it about the quality of the story? Is a story, now, only good if it has amazing special affects? If the story were told without them, would it hold up? Why do we need more and more? How are we, now, different from those one hundred years ago in our needs? Are we different, or are we more demanding?
Certainly, many things have improved, but are we more servants now to consumerism and want and entertainment for all of it? Surely, with our technology, we should have the choice and power to choose how to live our life and have more ease than ever before in history. And yet I see that we all just blindly follow trends and lead ourselves into debt and trouble for want of new toys.
An example of the expectations of one generation to another, in my 1948 “Woman's Home Companion” Household Book, there is a section( with detailed descriptions) on how to upholster an overstuffed chair. It takes you down to the frame, has you hammer on webbing and refasten and coil springs; Not toss it out and go to Wal-Mart and buy something that will fall apart in two months, then toss that on the increasing garbage piles. It assumes you will take apart what you have or what you have got from someone, and redo it. A level of personal expertise that no modern book would expect of a modern person, buy why?
Are we more helpless or less clever than past generations? Certainly we know more, we think, so how could it be hard for us to try? But, that is just it: It is hard, at first. It is a challenge, and why try? Why not just go buy the thing, it’s only 50 dollars to get a cheap chair, but really why not save the money?
woman with check In the money management section of that very same book, there are some interesting figures. It goes into great detail breaking down each of these, and I will list them if there is any interest in it, but here is the rough break down of expenditures.
Shelter 20-25%
Food 35%
Clothing 10%
Operating Expenses 10-15%
Savings 12 1/2 %
Personal Comfort 10%
Then, I found this paragraph interesting under Installment Buying
It is always preferable to pay cash for anything bought in a retail store, since otherwise the credit must be paid for also. It might be wise to find out how much installment payments would cost and to put aside that amount each month until there is enough to pay cash. This, incidentally, is a good way of determining just how much can be saved by cash payment, because the number of installments put aside will be fewer than the number which would otherwise have been paid to a dealer.”
There is much good knowledge in this old book. Many things, myself, I am still struggling to get right. And yet, never has anyone taken the good sense to just sit down and talk of such things. I know of many people who just spend without budget or concern. It is the norm, at least it seems so to me.
After yesterdays ‘green’ discussion mixed with what I have been considering today, I really feel like we have moved away from practical learning and doing. Parks are great for recreation, but we also need land to grow our food. The way we now live, it is as if we think food just magically comes into our life or that it is manufactured, when in fact the grain even in wonderbread had to be grown somewhere. The meat neatly packaged at the super market had to be fed and raised.
Here on the cape we have had all our train tracks ripped out in the 1990s and replaced with paved paths for leisure bike rides. At first it seems a good idea, benefitting health, but how often do the majority of people use it? My hubby and I once took advantage of it when we lived without cars and bikes were our main source of travel, but really to make paths for an odd Sunday's  day off outing? Think of all the travel that could be done from town to town and off cape for less using less energy had the tracks been left and the trains allowed to run. B
The ideas of parks as places to sit on grass (or not sit on the grass as some signs say) why not land for locals or townsfolk to use to grow local food or spots to graze small animals such as goats etc. I know there is some of this beginning, at least with growing our own food, but I really began to think about how we use and live in our towns and cities now. How we have slowly let the actual making/growing/craft and skill move out of our towns cities and countries, until we are really importing so much of what we use. It is as if we are turning our whole country into a bedroom community. Certainly,It would seem ‘icky’ to have the smell and the mess of animals in common area or places where they are forbidden, but if we were expected to clear up as much as hygienically possible, then who cares. The Boston Common once was a pasture for grazing cows. Surely, that would seem odd today, but why not a section where there could be some local animals raised for food and milk and eggs for people. We certainly have enough homeless who need food and there are many who would like to buy local.  How have we become squeamish prissy individuals that don’t like the smell of animals, or to know how the food gets on our plate?
Certainly I am not saying everyone should be farmers, but there used to be a middle ground between a large farmer and just a dwelling consumer. Now the majority of us merely buy our manufactured foods and products unaware of where they originated. But why do we do this?
I really think, if the buy local and green concept is going to really do any good and follow itself to good roots, such concepts as how we now use our shared space and land where strip mall after strip mall goes up, will come into question. Honestly, how many places do we need to buy jeans and house wares? What if 1/4 of that land was used to farm and grow, even if it were a business. A plot of land where others might rent a space to keep goats for milk or chickens for eggs and then they can sell some back to the community to make money and those who buy would support their neighbors. I know it sounds odd or severe, but when and will we ever really be a country that can rely upon ourselves. I understand the need for a global economy, but isn’t it more realistic to work within our own borders first, for if others stop trade then what would we do? I even understand that some farmers are actually paid not to farm? How can this be?
Here in American it sees as if we have slowly pushed out the actual making and manufacturing of our products to other countries and removed the practical from our schools. Certainly it is important to know Shakespeare and learn to use a computer, but to also know how to cook , balance a check book, build a chair and fix a car, these are important skills as well. Unless you are in an exclusive private school where the students are most likely to end up in a situation where all these type of things can be done for them, such actual knowledge should be des rigueur for our younger generations and ourselves, I might add.
Some where along the way( it seems to have happened after WWII) we have moved from the practical towards unskilled masses wanting to be always entertained.

When you really think about the hours spent at entertainment (TV, movies ,video games, computer) for a person today compared to someone even 50 years ago, it is staggering. We have become such lax passive participants in life, that we even expect simple techniques as balancing budgets to become a sort of entertainment. Suzy Ormon is an example. She probably is just telling her followers common sense, but in a media format it gets paid attention to and seems some great secret. When, really, it is skills we should all have and have been taught or could teach ourselves, but unless we see it on tv or in a magazine, it seems to have little value. It seems we have become a sort of people who do not have self-motivation or determination to make our own decisions and understand where and why we do the things we now do.
It took time to create the type of people we now have who, for example,  make 8 dollars an hour to think it normal to pay over 300 a month on a car that is instantly worth less as you drive it off the lot.
I don’t know the exact moment in time when this seems to have started. I know I have sort of picked on the baby boomers of late, but I do sometimes find myself going back to that first spoiled generation.  They seemed to have got all the love and warm cooked meals of their parents generation and spent their parents money at college where they learned to hate and scorn those very skills.  And to make fun of the separate strength women and men had during the time of crisis and call it unfair. Then, not wanting to grow up, they turned to drugs to find alternative realities, all the while expecting their grandchildren to somehow magically become the adults their parents were in the 1950s to help support them in their old age with social security. I know that sounds harsh and it is hardly a fair look at an entire generation, but I do see examples of such people in my sphere.
But, let’s not point blame. It is good to follow a line of reason to it’s purpose to see what happened so it doesn’t happen again, surely. To learn from our mistakes. But, the key point being to learn rather than to point the finger of blame is what is needed, I think.
That leads me to another element of today’s society, which seems to be the “blame game”. It can be easy to look to others as the source of our own woes and unhappiness. There are countless talk/chat shows devoted to just that. Parents who themselves have had a child at 16, did drugs, and most likely were horrid to their own parents get on and cry and wonder how it is that their child does the same thing. People shout and point fingers at the unfaithful lover, the over eater, the enabler. Sometimes it is true that others are part of our own problems, but the actual majority of blame goes to ourselves. That, however, is a pill too hard to swallow, sometimes. So, why should we?
We worry about the world we live in and then when we are told what we can do: stop supporting big chains, save your money, use cash and not debit/credit cards, make your own food/clothes, restrict your entertainment budget and time, that is all too hard and we don’t want to hear it. So, we turn the TV on, sit in the darkened room staring at the computer, and wonder why our world is the way it is.
I know how hard it is to tick through that list of things to try yourself to feel you are changing, at least, your own portion of the world. It is hard, but very rewarding.
Now, having had to for this project, I am for the most part unplugged. It makes the world feel a more thoughtful place. That is I feel, on some level, I can both hear and think more without the distraction. And then it comes right down to it: Distraction.
It is all a big distraction. Wave the keys in front of the baby to make her stop crying. Here, look at the shiny pictures and the funny people on the TV and computer, while I slip in these ads for things you must have. Here, now, is advertising for a way of life disguised as entertainment: Reality shows that reward and highlight bad behavior and greed.
We now always expect something for anything we do. Certainly, we expect pay for our work, as we do need to live. But, if we do not have instant gratification for our pleasure hours (i.e. all the time we are awake and not at work) we don’t want it. Learning an instrument is hard work and the pay off comes AFTER all the frustration and struggle, but why not have the feeling of merely playing in a band with this video game. The concept of virtual life is slowly creeping over all of us. We are giving up our own personal power and self gratification and skill sets to mindless entertainment, and it really scares me.
I may seem as if I am trying to ‘take all the fun away’ but this is not about what NOT to do or what to merely take away, but what we are missing out on. By not getting or trying to do ourselves, by always seeking fulfillment in objects and entertainment, I think we are selling our lives short.
I don’t know how we have come to be this way. Certainly, if you are fabulously wealthy, such a life is more doable, though probably still empty. But, in that case, if you suddenly feel the need to change, it is easy to do. But, for the majority of us, we get caught in the web of needing things and entertainment and then we are stuck at jobs we hate with endless bills and now way to entertain nor do anything ourselves, so we buy more to distract: the next video game, the next cell phone, the next computer. They all cost more and we NEED them to distract from the unhappiness of our lives. Then, we don’t know how to cook dinner or make dessert, so we buy prepackaged food. More garbage, more calories, more waste, more money, therefore more time to work for more  money to feed the need for new toys. It is a maddening wheel slowly perpetuated by advertising through our entertainment media and we somehow think we cannot get off.
Can we get off?
How do we begin?
Really the very real concept of just entertaining ourselves without great expense seems to be undoable. Even watching TV is expensive. If you asked someone in 1955 to first pay for the TV and THEN keep paying each month to be able to watch shows, TV would have died out. Those people would have laughed at you to think, “Pay to watch TV, are you nuts?” Yet, a few generations later and we, none of us, can’t wait to pay for anything, it is so easy. We don’t see the money. It is some magical thing that goes automatically from our work to our bank and we use little plastic disks to purchase things. I never see the money, so it is easy to spend more than I have. I never have to see the food I eat nor how it is prepared, so more prepackaged chemical filled products please, as long as it is easy and doesn’t interfere with my leisure time.
I know I have really gone on this rant before. I also know I am as guilty of these very ‘sins’. But, in realizing my own involvement in them, has made me realize what a hold they have over me. And, trying to free myself from some of it, has made me realize when I do have a success at it, how wonderful I do feel.
I don’t want to seem preachy or the bossy school mistress, I only want all of us to realize how much potential we do have. We are certainly not less skilled than past generations and we have so much more, so I want us to take what we have and enjoy it along with reviving our own skills. The more we can do ourselves and save and help our family, the more fun and enjoyment will we get from our leisure entertainment time.
Try a new skill this week. Make something you thought you could not even try. What if you fail? Try again, right? The more you try to do yourself the more you will find yourself living your life instead of passing the time.
Happy Homemaking.
 Search The Apron Revolution