Wednesday, June 3, 2009

3 June 1955 “Elvis, Marilyn, Bathing Suits, Cleaning Products, and a Busy Wife”

elvis 1955 june This is a shot of Elvis at the Fair Park Coliseum in Lubbock TX today in 1955. Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery were there also. Elvis is gaining in popularity, but most likely I am still unaware of who he would be. I wonder, as well, when he does begin to reach fame, would I have listened to him? Not being very young nor having any teen children or any friends with teen children, I would probably have known of his songs, but most likely Rock n Roll would play little in my life. I would most likely happily listen to the more mature popular music of the time and my 30s and 40s standards I grew up on. Of course, there is also classical (Romantic, Baroque etc. as well) and opera, of which I love in modern times and have acquired some albums of such works.

seven year itch I believe I mentioned this movie before, but I found out it premiered on June 1 and then opened today, June 3 1955.

The original 1955 review in Variety was largely positive, but expressed disappointment that Sherman (The male character) remains chaste.  I suppose here is another point in time when the media wants to push the ‘sex envelope’. I am not saying I wish movies to be censored, by any means, but I do think overt sexuality for its own sake is banal and uninventive. Much like many things in the modern world, things for the sake of shock or merely to represent themselves, seems the norm. The subtlety and nuance of old films from the 1930s seems lost in some ways in mainstream American movies. And I think that Seven Year Itch would not have been as sweet had he ‘followed through’ with his fantasy nor would Marilyn’s character been who she was had she ‘done the deed’.

jet 1955 This issue of Jet from June 2 1955 features the ‘covered-up look’ in beachwear 1955. Certainly, this does appear more modest than some 1940s numbers, yet in a very 1950’s way is rather sexy in the way a 1950s small waist full skirted strapless dress is sexy. mcalls beachwear pattern This McCall's pattern from 1955 shows the short short and casual top. I think, this year here on the Cape, I would live and dress a much more casual style than I would in the city or even during the ‘off season’ here. I am not sure if mid-thirties would be too old to wear such an outfit to the beach or lounging. Of course, I think excess pounds may reduce my desire to wear these short shorts!1950s beach fashions Now, aren’t these adorable? I love the second one in as I think the halter and tight fitting mid section with a looser bottom would be rather flattering for my figure. I think the last looks like a darling dress and would make a gal with heavier thighs feel more confident at the beach.1950sjantzen02b It is funny how in the past men’s bathing suits were rather sexy and revealing and somehow they have, here in the USA, grew in length and bagginess to the knees, while women’s suits have become almost strings. I have to say there is nothing I hate more on a man that the American knee length baggy swim trunk. I adore the tight straight across thigh tight trunks especially with the sewn on belt.1950s bathing suit man I definitely think this looks much nicer than this.usa_suit I know in Europe men still wear a more tight brief style and I can imagine it must be more comfortable. These are like swimming in loose pants, I would imagine. I do think it odd how overtly sexualized modern women’s suits are while this is what is normal for men’s suits. Makes one think, does it not.

Still, all in all, my fictional mother would have gone to the beach much like this.1910s_keep_offa And she must have been appalled seeing ads like this from the late 1930’s that I would have been dreaming of wearing one day to the beach as this shot of Carole Lombard in the 1930s. Isn’t it a darling suit, though and I would love one like this today.carole lombard 1930's swimsuit

1940s suit I know this suit is more 1940’s, but isn’t it darling? I love the pattern and the gathering at the breast.

In fact, I have many photos of relatives from this time period and my art  of the time that I lived on the water and we were beach bum sailors were taken from images of these relatives enjoying the beaches in pre WWI days. Here is one of the works I did in that vein. It is painted on board and they are taken from family photos. The house was a home my husbands family owned on Nantucket (an island here off the shores of Cape Cod in Massachusetts for you non American readers).painting 1The fluidity of the figure into basic forms and the bareness of the wood was definitely influenced by my time living on the ocean. I would walk and comb the beach everyday and spend hours in the upstairs of the boathouse thumbing through page after page of old photos from the 1890s-19teens. This is probably the most ‘modern’ my work has ever been and that was in the execution while the subject matter was definitely antiquated.  I have a painting in this same style of relatives in old bathing suits and caps, but I cannot find it, so will post it another day. Although, it is very stylized as is this one so it is not readily apparent they are in bathing costume.  I painted on plywood and wood board, allowing the grain to dictate horizon lines and such. As an example as to why I considered this particular style more ‘modern’ to my earlier works, here are two paintings I did in my mid twenties. dog painting shoe painting You can see I was influenced by Van Gogh and Cézanne during this period. The dog is a painting of one of my I.G’s (Italian Greyhounds) and was influenced by a larger painting of Kind Edward’s (the Edwardian kind Edward) dog. Though I have not as yet picked up a paint brush (except for walls and furniture of course!) in 1955, I believe I shall before it ends. I am feeling very inspired as of late and would like to see what happens when I return to the paint pots and canvas. We shall see what we shall see.

 woman cleaning 1955This past week, as I have been so busy, I sort of ‘cheated’ one day. I now use, almost solely, as my house cleaning product pine-sol mixed with water. It takes a little more elbow grease to use it, but it smells good, disinfects and is very cheap. I am not even a 1/4 of the way through my first bottle which was under two dollars!

So, I was rushing around and needed to clean, as usual, and thought, I am just going to by the bleach bathroom spray. I had used it in my kitchen and bath before and I could spray it, walk away, and come back and wipe and go. Fast and easy. It is modern and more expensive, of course. So, I used it on my kitchen, wiped down the stove fridge counters etc. I thought, “wow that really saved me some time, though I am a bad time-traveler using this product”. I came in the kitchen later, after everything was nice and dry and it had left a horrible film on everything. I ended up having to take more time with my pine-sol and a rag to get it all straight. Moral of the story, “haste makes waste” and “ a penny save is a penny earned”. So true.

It seems around this time, in the 1940s and 50s, specialized cleaners for everything are really beginning to show up. However, most homemaking manuals tell you to use simple things in different solutions for cleaning everything from face to clothes to floors.

These ads from my 1899 Woman's Home Journal show their soap products are meant for all things, not specialized. wyandotte sodafairy soapI do have to say using less products on more things is not only cost effective, but less confusing and less ‘stuff’ around, which is really good for overall tidiness.

woman with cake 2Hopefully, this will be me this Saturday! Boy oh boy, do I have to pull out my 1955 homemaker scheduling and ‘superwoman’ powers this week. Besides cooking and baking and throwing a party for my hubby for his birthday (his actual birthday was the 1st of June) this Saturday, I now have to make and decorate a cake for a work party for him. I have to get gussied up as well and go with him to meet his new co-workers and bring a home-made cake. He bragged of my delicious cakes and now I have to prove it.

In addition to that, I am building a side deck before the party, spreading some mulch, putting some sod down and making a full on dinner for our birthday guests. This is going to be a busy week! But, really, being a homemaker/wife with ambition, one does over schedule. I think that if I keep over scheduling my days in my calendar for the rest of this year, I will be happy with what I have achieved at the end of it. Do send me some Homemaking ACTION power, all of you, because I shall really need it this week!

I will share recipes and pictures of my cakes, don’t worry and until later this week, happy homemaking.


  1. Happy belated birthday to your DH!!

  2. By the way, what type of pine sol do you buy? I love some of the bathing suits of that time. Very modest and still beautiful. If I were not worried about a odd tan I would wear one lol

    Happy late Birthday to your husband. Hope the party goes well.

    Regular, a certain scent? Do you o 1 part solution and 1 part water? I might have to try this. Can it be used on everything?

  3. I use the store brand and I use the pine version, don't use the lemon or scented versions. I did a post once that people didn't like the scent to they took out the pine element that actually made it naturally disenfect and replaced it with lemon flavoring. I use about 1:4 ratio of pinesol to water. I keep it in a squirt bottle for kitchen and bath and use it in a bucket for mopping floors. Great on tile and linoleum. I have used it on wood, but usually use murphys oil soap. The first time I used it I thought the smell was a little weird, but now I love it and the smell when I come home in the kitchen always makes me smile. It just has that vintage, just cleaned the floors and counters, feeling. Thanks for my DH for birthday wishes.

  4. That man's bathing suit in the Jantzen ad is wild! Check out those peekaboo sides!!! I'd never really thought of it before, but it's very interesting how men's and women's bathing suits have gone in opposite directions in terms of coverage. Best of luck in all the birthday festivities. Are you going to hit the new job in full-on 1955 apparel?

  5. Thank you for sharing your art and inspiration. I would love to find a retro styled suit made of modern materials. I do not wear one very often (too much sun does not suit this girl) but I think a real vintage suit would only have disinegrated elastic which would be unflattering and uncomfortable. I have yet to find a modern one built for more womanly figures. A friends husband has a retro suit that is far more flattering than either the baggy of speedo suits. I am used to using murphy's oil soap and I am interested in trying the pine-sol. What is the environmental impact? Action wishes are already in the ether!

  6. Have you tried vinegar? That is what I use and I think it cleans everything amazingly! It doesnt leave a film on anything. Happy Late bithday to your Hubby and youre going to do fine with the party and everything, from what Ive read you can do anything, but good luck!

  7. My mother was 40 in 1955 and she really liked Elvis but I think she was the only mother in town that did. She mainly listened to big band and other songs from the 40s. My parents 'song' was "Night and Day". I think the swimsuits from that period are far more flattering to the average female body than the current styles.

  8. Jitterbug-well, the job is not mine, per se, it is an office party for a member where my hubby works. It is the first time I will be meeting most of the people and I have to bring one of my homemade cakes and now cupcakes to boot and yes, I will be wearing my 'normal clothes' that is petticote, full skirted dress, cardigan, hair freshly curled etc.
    Jenifir-Your welcome. I never show my art to anyone and those painting are so old. The two inspired by van gogh/cezanne were done in pure pleasure and though I can render things fairly true to form, it was just pure colorful expression. Even the old boots were painted in happy tizzy of loud opera arias with my dogs at my feet! The more 'modern' painting ws really my response to living in the boat house and obsessing with the old family photos. It is nice to have all of you, as I normally do not share my work with anyone. Also Pine sol (actual pine sol or a store brand that is NOT scented) is made with pine oil as in from pine trees. The original formula is from 1923 but the scented varieties do not disenfect and are not as 'earth friendly'. It does say not to use on bare wood floors but varnished are okay.
    circled dolly-I have tried vinegar, as others have mentioned that and baking soda, which I thought was a certain 6th grade science experiment waiting to happen, but I was told you put downt he baking soda on the stain and then add the vinegar and the resulting bubbling removes the stain. I have used some and I keep vinegar and water in another spray bottle for windows and stainless steel.
    gardener b-that is amazing, as Elvis was not even really ELVIS in 1955, so she must have been into that music scene. Good for her. I love the song Night and Day! I agree with the swimsuits. I would love to make a vintage one from a pattern with fresh but vintage material. I cannot find any patterns for actual bathing suits, though, so if anyone knows of any, send me the pattern co. and number and I will start hunting around.

  9. Esther Williams (the swimming star) offers really nice vintage look bathing suits very much like that black one in the picture of Carole Lombard. Just fyi. The quality is amazing and there are many different fabrics to choose from...I got one in leopard and always get compliments on it and feel beautiful and even sexy without feeling naked.

  10. Just to add my recommendation for Esther Williams swimming costumes too! I have a black one and a pink with cherries one - I purchased them from What Katie Did retro lingerie here in London, but I know they are more easily available in the USA. They are so flattering and practical too - I swim 3 times a week and they work as well as a traditional 'speedo' costume. I want the leopard one too!

  11. I was just talking about (read: complaining) how American men wear trousers to the beach this week. In a couple of years they'll go in footie pyjamas! Spouse, however, is not American and sees no point in wearing all that loose cloth if you are actually going to swim. He has a lovely, small brief-like suit that is much more appropriate.

  12. saltytalk and natasha-I say, good show, I found the website for those bathing suits and I think I may need to get one. Certainly it is not 1955 to order them, but esther williams and the style certainly is! They are rather dear, though, but one good black one will do me fine this year and hopefully can take the pool and ocean beatings.
    Teru-good for you, I forgot that you landed a Brit, good show to you for that. Honestly, I think the brief tight fitting men's suits are rather attractive on men, I mean, they are least likely to have fat thighs and bottoms and yet they have loose fitting suits while we, prone to a little more down there, have string and lycra! Unfair!

  13. Thank you for sharing your art, both pieces are so full of life and movement! The greyhound is my favourite, but then, red is my favourite colour.

    Not sure about the men's suits, most American men are just too, um, zaftig, I guess, for that to be attracted. My hubby almost hurt himself laughing when I showed him the pictures! You are right about the ladies' suits, though; I own a vintage suit from the late 40s or early 50s and would LOVE to get my paws on an Esther Williams. The vintage Rose Marie suits are my favourites, but they're also quite expensive. Your observations are interesting as well.

    I use vinegar & boiling water to clean just about everything save the hardwood floors (vinegar strips wood). Works like a charm and saves a fortune! Plus the cider vinegar is a nice deodorizer, too...That gets used near kitty Buckley's toilet. Not too much information, I hope!

  14. Hi, 50's gal and fellow devotees. I haven't commented in a while- it's a busy time of year for us with school ending and all the hoopla that surrounds it.

    First off, I love the retro bathing suit pictures. It's nice to see a sexy woman with real thighs, not a buff babe but a lady. What's the name of that Ester Williams swim suit site? I cannot find a swimsuit this year to save my life and the ones I have really needed to be replaced last year.

    I have pictures of my Grandmother in those bathing dresses from the 20's. They were probably very hot but when you consider the skin cancer prevention they're not so bad.

    My mother liked Elvis but she was a high school and college student in the 50's so she was his target audience. She still liked his music as an adult and I remember her being upset when he died.

    Nice to be back...


  15. Those red bathing brief for men are almost pornographic! ;) In Denmark and most of Europe only young men and surfers wear the baggy pants, my husband is still the “speedo-type”, and since he is neither young nor tall and slim I like him wearing them. Son, who is almost 16, slim and very fit, looks great in his baggy pants on the other hand.

    I adore vintage bathing suits and would love to own one like Ms Lombard’s, since I think it is much more flattering than modern bathing suits. I have some links where you can buy vintage styled bathing suits, I haven’t bought any yet since most of them don’t ship to Denmark or the shipping is very expensive. But I am VERY tempted. You might take a look:


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