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.


  1. Oh I remember that A&P coffee. It was very good. If I remember right A&P was a New England co. I do not remember seeing it any where else. It is great to hear of the garden, I hope I am more settled next year. So wonderful to plan ahead. I too remember the 1940 house, and own it. I have played it many times feeling kindship to its ideas. Totally agree with the tv thing. I hate conventional tv. My husband has put cable in the bedroom as it was not in our apartment before and I feel like I could scream! I can not stand the intrusion on my peaceful domaine. I know what you mean about words. It is so true. I use to write so much in my childhood and the 20's but now hardly ever. It was so good to write to you just for the experience alone. When you write to a friend today they just email back. i have kept letters from my Grandmother who is now long passed and she had kept writings of my mother. As she died when I was so young it turned out to be such a blessing. My mother had sent me a post card while she was away that few days before she died. How different it would have been for me if my mother had not been a writer her whole life.
    Friends, write even if just a little, your friends and family will be thankful for it in years to come. Also get a nice pen. A special one that makes the experience special. I love a fountain pen and resently purchased one on ebay.

  2. Optimism and positivity make for healthy, happy households. Sure, we can be negative when the situation warrants it, but why be overtly so? It takes more energy to hate something and constantly think on one's disdain for something or so-and-so. It also uses more of the wrong muscles to create a frown and, in the long run, creates more pronounced fine lines and wrinkles on the face. So, Ladies, chin up and smile!

  3. I remember (in the 60's and 70's) my mother sewing and the electric current or something would mess up the tv reception. I was going to say that this minor inconvenience has been cleared up by the modern age, except that you probably don't have the tv on anyway, ha!

    Our neighbor's tree has overgrown so that our satellite dish is blocked. Pretty much everyone in the family has given up on trying to watch tv--and I couldn't be happier! Now, to cancel the satellite subscription and save that $67/month! (easier said than done)

    On the subject of pens--I don't know much about pen and ink, but I know that there were tales of little boys sticking girls' braids in the ink wells in school--which I believe would have still been going on in the 50's. Also, we used India Ink (?) in jr. high art class for a project.

    Jeanne's comment about pens got me wondering about pen and ink and when its demise occurred as well as its uses in art--I know 50sgal probably has the scoop on this topic!

    Oh, and we had A&P's here in the midwest (IL and MO) but perhaps they were headquartered in New England. A&P = Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, I think.

    Working hard at

  4. Wonderful post as usual! I have been trying to go more old-school myself by gardening (no luck yet) and sewing (right now it's curtains).

    Fun pictures today too. I didn't know they tried a Mr Cucumber or Mr Tomato. And the remote pic is fabulous!

  5. I am going to find out when exactly pens became what they are today. I have my grandfathers old fountain pen with the rubber blagger that you pull the little lever on its front to suck the ink in. I sometimes use this to write my letters to you. I also have the more modern version that uses the little plastic ink fill cartridges you can buy today (though they seem to be shrinking on the shelves). I also used to use a 'Scratch pen" when I was 'into the 19th c" when my hubby and I lived our recluse life in the outter reaches of the cape, I used a jar of inda ink and a 'scratch pen' It was wooden handled and you could change the nib for various size lines. My early diaries are smeared and splttered with ink droplets. Once, at university while on water with friends, my journal fell into a river. I retrieved it only to see the ink had run and left most of my memories of that year in the water among the weeds and stone.the first ballpoint (Biro's) pens went on sale at Gimbels department store in New York City on 29 October 1945 for US$12.50 each but I guess they were toyed with as early as the 1880s. I have to say, when I write my vintage letters, there is nothing as good as my fountain pen. I do, in a way, miss using the scratch pen. It forced one to stop and consider, as you had to dip and dab and I still have my desk set with the rolling blotter and a wax seal and some sticks of ceiling wax (always makes me think of Carrols "of cabbages and kinds")Maybe a post about writing and its implements are in order.

  6. If memory serves me, you had the whole veg-head set, did you not? I definately remember a mr. green pepper, at least! (Well, it was probably a hand-down toy from your siblings)
    AND that artist is fab! I won't try to recall the name (or go back up and 'snatch' it) but WOW! I love it.
    and just an added tidbit...the one job you didn't have, I the local A&P!!

  7. You are right. I forgot about that set, they were the older 1950s siblings toys. I wish we still had them, though don't know why, really.

  8. love your list! i, too, am a HUGE fan of scrabble. it's my favorite game. though i'll play boggle in a pinch..ha!
    you have inspired me to get a nice pen, ladies. i will ask my antique dealer dad what he can come up with. now to get a respectable desk at which to correspond.....

  9. Fifty’s Gal,

    Do mind telling us what kind of herbs you plant for tea?

    I started my garden in doors at the beginning of April. It was beautiful, and I was waiting to transplant the seedlings outside. I used organic dirt, which did wonderfully. Unfortunately, little flies began hatching and laying their eggs causing more flies to hatch. In the end, the larvae at all the roots, and the tomatoes are all that survived. So, after being so happy to have started so early, I just tonight started all over…sigh. (Hubby built me three above ground containers, which I’ll be trying out this year.) I still have my herbs to plant; I think I have about seven or eight different ones that I’m sowing.


    I hear you! We too have cable in our bedroom. I hate it. It is always on. I would just as soon not have a TV in there at all, especially with all the smut that is on.

    Oh! Fifty's Gal, I bought my first vintage hat today and my first vintage gloves yesterday! I'm so excited to wear them--I just have to get up the courage ;0) I did wear my gloves to the grocery store and home yesterday...It felt pretty odd. I like the fact that they protect my hands and arms from the sun, though.

  10. Zebu-I planted two kinds of mint, lemon balm (both grow like weeds and were transplanted from other areas. I don't care that they want to take over as they are grown to hack at and dry down cellar)Pineapple sage, Bergamont/bee balm, chamomile, Roses (for the rosehips) and that is what I have so far. I am sure there are more I could add. They, as per usual for herbs, are doing nicely. My bee balm is getting ready to bloom. I lost my bees this year from conoly collapse and decided to wait until next year to get a new batch, but there are plenty of other bee keepers in the area, so hopefully everything will get nicely pollinated.
    Tv in the bedroom cannot be a good idea. I am lucky, as when we did have tv and cable it was all MY doing, my husband has always hated tv and tolerated it when I had it, but of course with my project, it went on the wayside, and I have not missed it and he is glad of it. We do still sit down occasionally to a movie (it is our going out to a movie for 1955).
    Good for you. It is true it can feel odd wearing gloves in the warmer months. It is funny, isn't it, that during the winter no one would take a second look, but really, in the warmer months they DO protect your hands from the suns damaging rays. In fact, until the sun bathing began in the late 1920s people kept themselves covered as much as possible from the sun. They did not know why it damaged the skin. Knew nothing of sunscreen, and now here we are we moderns, realizing they had something back then. Interesting.

  11. Oh, I forgot, there are bugs, such as weevils, that lay their eggs inside of seeds. I wonder if your seeds came contaminated? Where they fruit flies, because if you overwatered and the seedlings started to rot a bit, that would attract fruit flies. Not sure, sounds puzzling.

  12. 50sgal,

    I never knew that bugs could lay their eggs INSIDE of seeds. The seeds are organic, so I don't know if they would have come contaminated or not.

    The flies indeed looked just like fruit flies. I never thought of over-watering attracting fruit flies (always just thought that it was fruit that attracted them). If that is the case, I did keep the soil very moist, so that would stand to reason.

    I never did see them eating the plants, and the plants looked healthy. DD had researched a bit and thought that their larvae were eating the roots and that that is why they died, which kind of made sense. Thank you for your input on that and on the teas. :)

  13. I am so glad for these comments. I could not help but laugh at remembering the buzz sound and fuzzy lines in the tv when things were run at our house too! When I read that part to my husband he laughed too. He said it was caused by the brush motor on the sewing machine.

    The gloves are a protectant too. Germs are carried on our hands more than any where except the bottom of the feet/shoes.

    Some forms of hepititis can live on clean dry surfaces for up to 3 weeks! I learned that in cna school.

  14. 50s Gal,

    I just have to say again that as I read your posts (I am now on the April posts) that I feel such a renewed sense of self and encouragement. I always used to make sure that I was presentable whether it be formal or informal. Over the last few years, I have let that go. I also have been on a woe-is-me party because I have to work and would rather be a full-time homemaker. Though the pity party isn’t over yet, I have gotten a new courage to try again. Since I have worked for the past 10-11 years, I have let my housework go and bemoaned the fact that I no longer have time to keep house, be creative, cook nice dinners, etc. I am going to try harder to get that back despite having to work. I know that I don’t have the ideal that I would like, but that doesn’t mean that I should stop trying.

    I am a vintage woman at heart (1800’s, 1950’s) and many times feel that I was born into the wrong era. I dislike the world today in many ways, i.e. commercialism, noise (TV, loud cars, blaring billboards and advertisement), sensual everything, and the list goes on. Your stance to take on some of the things that were real—some 1955 thinking—and make a change is wonderful. Your insights are phenomenal and resound with my own heart-felt thinking.

    You are a great encouragement to me. Thank you. :)

    P.S I’m not sure if you (or anyone else) is still looking for a safe and effective deodorant, as I had noticed in a previous post about aluminum. For roughly three months now, I have used a homemade concoctions. I got the recipe from a blog site and will pass it on if anyone is interest. It contains coconut oil--my new-found friend—which is useful in MANY areas. It works as well as any store-bought I have tried over the years, and as I am a heavy sweater, I have tried many! I love the fact that it is safe for your health, cheap, and easy to make.

  15. zebu-We would love the recipe, at least I know I would! I am so glad and proud that you feel moved by my ramblings. I am not sure of your situation, but perhaps, you could make a move towards becoming a 'stay at home' one never knows until you really start cutting back and cutting out. If not, as you said, why not still do it and try?
    I often feel I am in the wrong century, as well, but then wonder if it were 1950 I would pine for 1850, as perhaps it is my temperment. Though, it is very true that we are are a growing number of people who long for the simpler times of the past. certainly, we do not have to do away with the benefits of the modern age, but why, because of their great technology, not combine them with the thoughtfulness and self reliance of the past? I don't know, but I am going to continue to try and find a way to merge the past and the present.

  16. 50sgal- I apologize for not answering you sooner... we were out of town. If I can get my time machine to work, I will be headed to much the same time frame as you, give or take a year. There is so much that appeals to me from this era. I look forward to hopefully chatting with you more.

  17. Here is the recipe girls. I originally got it from
    My daughter refrigerates hers in a regular deodorant container. I keep mine at room temperature in an old single-size yogurt container and apply with my hands. It melts almost immediately, so there is no globby gook. The coconut oil is expensive, but the batch will last you for a long time. I love knowing that I am no longer putting aluminum into my system, especially in an area that is right by lymph nodes.


    ¼ cup Baking Soda
    ¼ cup Corn Starch
    5-6 Tbs. Coconut Oil (I use “Jungle Products” Coconut Oil. It is extra virgin, cold-pressed, and non-GMO)

    50’s Gal,

    My situation is that I am married and was a stay-at-home mom for many years. We pinched pennies to the nth degree, I employed all the frugal ideas that exist, I think, and loved it. Due to various reasons, about 10 or 11 years ago, my husband decided that he no longer wanted to be the only one working (he worked two jobs for years). So, I went to work. It is easier on him now.

  18. How cool, Zebu. I never thought of making my own deo. I hate the idea of the other kind damaging my body. So do you like the way it feels? What exactly does the coconut oil do?


  19. Anon.,

    I DO like the way it feels. it's not runny or sticky--it just is.

    I believe that the coconut oil is the base used. It was probably chosen for its healthful properties.

    I also use it in my pie crusts, and green smoothies, as a facial/body moisturizer, and hair moisturizer.

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  22. Fifties Gal, I know this is YEARS late, but I am reading through your adventures in 1955 for the second time; this time more thoroughly and including the comments from your marvelous readers.
    In re: to Mr. Potato Head, the kit would include only the PARTS: the eyes, noses, lips, accessories, etc. YOU provided the vegs yourself. I didn't own this fascinating toy (I'm a 1953 model, myself), but my best friend, Dana, did. You'd have to beg the potato or whatever from your mom, and I still remember the distinctive smell from the raw potato. Just a word to say hello and put in my 2c.


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