Monday, July 6, 2009

6 July 1955 “Better Use For Leisure Time”

I have mentioned before that since starting my project some of the 1950s ‘educational films’ I used to laugh at now seem to actually be good life guides. It is interesting how what once was easy to mock and think, “How silly, who even lived like that? What a strict time.” Now, however, I often find some of them rather good advice. So, I wanted to start this post with this short.  I like how it mentions how things were in the past for father and mother. I really think it is worth watching, so watch it first and then read along.
It really does show how today the work concept of 40 hr weeks really had begun then. Yet, here is the advice that says, look how far we have come to have only 40 hrs a week to work, so use your time wisely. Yet, I feel most of us (I know I certainly did!) waste or while it away. There really is a lot more satisfaction to ‘filling your free time’ with activities than just sitting about.
Here is another example of a movie I once laughed at.
In fact it was used in the funny Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode. It is true, what they joke about over the movie is hilariously funny, I grant you that, but now watching the movie without their jibing over it, I realize this video, too, is full of sage advice: Helping one another, looking good for other memebers of the family as well as themselves, dinner conversations more about pleasing one another than monopolizing the conversation and being rude. We may see this now and think, “How robotic” but really it was certainly seen rather stiff even then, but the element of truth of kindness and concern for others is quite true and wouldn’t we enjoy our time together more if we do think and act a little more in this vein? I think so, what do you think? I know when they say such things as “Pleasant unemotional discussion” it sounds stiff and odd, but really, wouldn’t you rather have a pleasant conversation at dinner and I think they really mean, no shouting or arguing, as it does affect digestion.
That brings me to another point I have noticed in today vs. then: We are very concerned with diet and food and how it affects us etc yet so many people eat their food in front of TV or in uncomfortable ways, propped on laps or out of pizza boxes. It has got to be better on the digestion to sit square and properly in a chair at a table, napkin on your lap, good conversation, than slapdash on the sofa watching the idiot box; just a thought.
Well, speaking of food, I bought some lovely blueberries the other day for a pie and wanted to try this quick and easy pie crust in one of my books. I did and it was quick and easy and so good I have to share it with you.
patapie recipe It was very easy and if there are any of you out there not quite ready to try your hand at homemade pie crust, this is the one to try first. There really can be no mistake, as you do not roll it out, everything happens in the pan. Simple and easy.
Here it is before it went in the oven:pie prebaked and after:pie postbaked It served up rather pretty, I think and it tasted wonderful. pie slice The crumbled ‘extra crust’ on top gave it a nice crunch.
Included in last nights dinner was a fresh salad made entirely from my garden. I snapped this shot in my garden as after picking the salad fixings in my antique bowl, I thought it looked picture perfect.picked veg There was lettuce and crisp cabbage and sweet snow peas and some chervil and basil as well. There is such a feel of satisfaction and contentment in eating from your own grown foods. I wonder, if we get the nerve up, what it will be to eat a chicken dinner from one of our own ‘homegrown’ birds. I know that the eggs are so wonderful and bright compared to store bought.
Well, as tomorrow is talking point Tuesdays, maybe I will just end today’s post with the Talking point: What do you think of the two movies I included today. I know they may seem severe, but do you think there is any truth or good advice in them? Would you think your life could be improved by taking some of the advice. What out of the two do you already do? And, finally, do you think it realistic in the modern world to try to follow such advice? I am anxious to see how you all feel and what you think.
Until later, then, Happy Homemaking.


  1. I love these videos. There are lots of things one can do for pleasure than plop in front of a tv or sleep the day away. What about just helping someone else so to lighten their load?

    Also the dinner time reminds me of my home as a child. We were always clean and neat and polite. No one ever came to the table shirtless! Ewwwww! When I grew up the men still wore suits and if not a jacket always undershirt and button shirt. Oh I miss those days. I am sick of T shirts and jeans on men.
    We knew what dinner conversation was and dinner was a relaxed and pleasant time.
    Many a time I told my children " that is not dinner conversation".
    Some how they lost it along the way, eating in front of the tv or gulping food to get back to the computer now. They do not really look at dinner as comforting as they are so busy rushing.
    It seems that only eating out in a non fast food style brings back their ability to slow down. How sad for them. They will realise what they are missing some day but their children I fear will be grown and gone.
    Maybe I should tell them to watch the video!

  2. I liked both videos and yes, there is truth in them. The one about not wasting your time is such a common sense advice. As for formal dinners, it's not always possible, but when it is I think it's worth trying.

    People mock those films because it's easier to be lazy, rude slobs than to try and live according to a higher standard.

    Greetings from Holland

  3. Beth from Upstate NYJuly 7, 2009 at 6:34 AM

    What the film about leisure time misses is that women's leisure time is less and less. This is not only because more women are working outside of their homes but also because as we develop more "labor saving" devices, our standards are raised. Yes, removing the carpet tacks, hauling the carpet outdoors and beating it to remove the dust was arduous work, but how often did one do it? Maybe once or twice a year? But with the handy vacuum cleaner, our expectation is that the carpets and rugs will be spotless year round. The mother who washed clothes with a wringer washer probably owned one or two work-a-day dresses and a nicer one for the Sabbath. I suspect most of us have far more clothes than that, which we launder rather than attempt to keep tidy by using an apron.

  4. Beth - The flip side of that is that our standards are lower in many ways. It used to be that people wouldn't eat in the living room or wear outdoor shoes in the house for example. When you're wearing your outdoor shoes while sitting in the living room eating takeout pizza for dinner the carpet gets a lot dirtier, a lot faster. When I was young we ate in the living room in front of the TV every night and never removed shoes in the house (my mother hates it when people take their shoes off) so the carpet needed vacuuming every day. Our neighbor was an elderly lady (born shortly after the turn of the century) and she had several rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpet. Once every few months she'd lift them up and beat them on the terrace. Her flooring always looked better than ours despite the less frequent cleaning just because she was neater, always ate in the kitchen and changed to her slippers as soon as she came in the front door.

    Even with high standards I find I can almost always complete my days work in 3 hours or so. Labor saving devices like a washing machine, dishwasher, and my beloved Dyson mean I can whip through chores in no time.

  5. Of course both videos have good advice, nowdays we have forgotten about having dinner like that, I mean, people is always in a hurry, many kids have to stay alone at home and eat what they want because parents are working.
    At home, we try to have dinner together, serve nice, and sometimes we say a prayer, BUT not all the time we can...because we have to go back to work , but it would be better for everyone to have dinner like that, make it an important time to share as family, in the video, all of them wearing ncie clothes and so on, now days there are no that thing, I would like fashion were like that.
    Everybody nowdays should watch those videos and try to learn something, of course some might laugh and said it is too "old fashion" BUT if we do what they say we could feel better.

  6. Loved the vids. I also agree with you completely. Times have changed and I fear it has been for the worse. There really is no real "homemade" anymore and no quality family time and things like that that made families and people truly connect with one another.


  7. I wonder if the technology and greed that has separated us all will be the very device to bring us all back together? Now that the computer allows a more active role in it's makeup, do you suppose we shall slowly, though its medium, find one another again? It shall be interesting to see. I do feel that we here are making a step in the right direction, we Apron Revolutionaries!

  8. Well, I know that I certainly waste far too much time "moping about." Luckily, though, a recent art experience has begun spinning a few wheels. So that should help me make good use of my free time. As for pleasant, unemotional table talk, well, that's something I need to work on. I'm a little like a sailor, and that needs to change.

  9. 50's Gal,

    I showed some of those "old" films to my children a year or so ago. One in particular was about helping our parents and you know what - the kids helped out around the house without being asked for a few days.

    I do think that the computer technology is very helpful as a teaching tool and to find others with similar interests as a community. That being said there are some people who spend more time living virtually on game and message boards than they spend living their own lives. I think you have it right in that you are busy living and enjoying your life but you use the computer as a tool to learn and to teach others.

    I have often wondered how women scheduled their days during the 1940's and 1950's. Thanks to the internet I have found tips on homekeeping and child rearing as it was done in the past.

    Rhonda - I've recently moved and in my new home we have a new rule. We eat at either the kitchen or dining room table. My housework is so much easier than it used to be. I think you are on to something there.

    Michelle in Canada

  10. As many of you know I redid my dining room a few months back and we eat all our meals in there now. It is actually a hallway away from the kitchen, and I like that. It allows that room to be set for dining and conversation and the mess of dinner stays in the kitchen until we have had our dessert. Sometimes, like this evening, after we had our dessert, we retired to the living room to have our tea and a quiet after dinner chat. It is a good way to wind down from the day. I don't see this routine changing after 1955 for me.

  11. implementing a weekly formal dinner is something I would like to do. Usually during the week my husband gets home much later, so we usually eat separately. be quite honest if we do eat together, I've just gotten home from the gym and he's changed into his basketball shorts and a t-shirt. How wonderful it would be to dress up for each other again and have a date night right in our own dining room! And much cheaper than going out to a restaurant :-) We don't have kids or anything but we do both work full time jobs so I'm not convinced yet that we could commit to a formal dinner every night, but even once a week would be such a pleasure!

  12. I love the family dinner date movie. It’s not as much funny to me as it is wholesome, polite, and respectful. I remember well Grandma dressing for dinner, and she still does. It’s not the dresses, as it once might have been, but she ALWAYS takes pride in her nails, her hair, and her clothing.

    Love your comments, Anon!

    I also liked the first video, and I know that I can improve in this area. What great motivational films these are. Thanks, 50’s Gal. :)

  13. Isn't it funny how your perception changes? I honestly used to make fun of these movies and granted they still are a little stiff, but they were not made to be great pieces of well acted cinema, they were meant to use the modern tool of 'movies' to demonstrate a positive way to get along. I think as the economy is the way it is and if jobs become harder to come by, we may find more couples sitting down and looking at their finances and thinking, well, lets have one good job with one bread winner and the other person stay home and manage the house and budget and make what we earn stretch. It really is a good system and I am now completely convinced our present mindset that it is either degrading or impossible has been fed to us by the advertising world so that there are more earners who want to spend to make up for the lack of ease and economy one stay at home actually provides you. I am curious to see how things will change. I feel we vintage gals are already making a step in that direction. We do not always 'dress' for dinner here, but my hubby is always in nice clothes (what others would could dress slacks he never wears jeans and only tennis shoes to run in)and I am usually in a dress. There are days, like sundays, when Gussie and I will specifically dress for dinner, changing into a clean dress/skirt and makeup. It really is a 'date in your own home' and so much cheaper than a restaurant. It is true you have to clean up afterwards, but I don't have to tip anyone, pay more for the food, I love the ambience, my dogs are allowed and I know what has gone into the food and not wonder if it was dropped on the floor and scooped up!

  14. I didn't scoff at the videos at all.

    I took notes.

  15. Beth- I get your point. Many of the labor saving devices are wonderful but took the workload more from the men and children. While the work is easier for women too it didn't take away the traditional jobs.

    Take your laundry example- the men and kids would bring up the water from a stream or well, the men would carry the heavy laundry out to be hung and the dirty water out. Now we have running water and drainpipes so the men and kids are free from their traditional laundry work. But women still do the actual washing, folding, and putting away of the clothes. (Unless you have household help, children who do chores or a hubby who will do non-traditionally male jobs.) I know that some of us have gone back to hanging out our laundry and but now we're the ones to carry it outside because laundry is now considered totally in the housewife's jurisdiction.

    I agree our cleanliness standards have dropped, mainly due to the clutter brought into our homes by mass consumerism. We never wore shoes in our home growing up and don't do it in my own home. Yet this creates a jumble of shoes by the back door to clean up. I think new Mc Mansions homes are built with gigantic mudrooms for all the stuff we think we "need". Mudrooms do keep the clutter out of the kitchen and living areas but why do we "need" so much?? And then it's another room to clean.

    I liked both videos. The first one about leisure time was surprising being made during this time. But I suppose after the busyness of the war we didn't want a society of some would say we have now. I heard a comedian yesterday joke about the ratings on video games- why have "M" for mature because if you're playing video games doesn't that answer the question??

    The dinner one was nice and I think our desire to cram in as much as we can into each day has taken us far away from tranquil dinners like the one shown.

    Hopefully there are enough like minded people who are tired of the rat race and get back to real life. Apron Revolution! Apron Revolution! Apron Revolution!


  16. S - you are so very right about the technology today being designed to remove the responsibility of the men and children from chores. Men used to help do up the dinner dishes or the kids washed MOM loads and unloads the dishwasher (which we don't have - we take turns on dishes). Men used to haul water and laundry, now we have washers and dryers. Now, should they invent a dryer that folds, irons and puts aways the clothing, then I will be impressed.

    I read that the amount of time the average housewife spends on her "chores" in a week hasn't changed significantly since 1900. Yet, more women work out of the home? Little wonder we don't have "time" to stop and have a meal as a family. Take out, anyone? Why cook, set a table, then have to clean it all up after working all day when I can order take out and put all the garbage in the landfill....

    I try very hard to have dinner at the table each night. One thing I have noticed is that the more we eat at home, the less I like to eat out. I don't care much for the food, I HATE having to wait 20-40 minutes to be seated, I normally am appalled as to the cost. I typically leave thinking I could have prepared something better for ALOT less.

    I also find something else. I get a huge amount of joy out the comments from my hubby. We will eat out, and he says things like, "you cook better", or "I wish we would have eaten at home". That makes me feel good. Additionally, I find that if we eat out alot, I tend to not feel well. I don't know why, but the food doesn't seem to digest as well.

    And yes, we are a society of loafers. We live to waste time. Think about it. We work hard to get the time to watch TV, play video games, or chat for hours online in virtual games or on message boards to total strangers. Yet, we don't play with our kids much anymore. They go to dance, soccer, baseball and other organized events where we can sit and text on our cell phones while they play. We don't even frequently know who our meighbors are. Anyone else see something wrong here?

  17. Lorrie- Here's a link to a book I read that speaks intelligently about how technology hasn't lessened the workload as much as we think, especially for women.

    I got it at my library.


  18. 50’s Gal,

    Was your husband always into dressing nicely? That is wonderful, and I am curious as to why he chooses not to wear jeans.

  19. He actually would wear jeans sometimes when we first met, but since our being together he just wore nicer clothes as the jeans wore out. I began to be the person who would buy his clothes for him (well go pick them out anyway as he hated shopping) and so he would wear what I bought not caring one way or the other. Now, even when he runs, he wears cotton trousers or cotton shorts, never 'running attire'. I cannot remember when it happened, but it has been for some time. I went through a stage when we were first together where I would wear long early 1900's style gored skirts and shirtwaists and he his attire and his old fedora hat. At one point, in the small coastal town we then lived in, we walked everywhere, as we chose to live without a car and even computers back then, we were tru luddites! Once, as we were walking, me in my long skirts and he in his old fedora and pipe (he was all of 21 too!) a woman stopped her car and told us, "I have to say, I love your style. I always see the pair of you round town and think how brave you are. Keep it up!" I had actually forgot about that until just now recalling when my husband began dressing more 'dressy'. He has told me he is more comfortable in trousers than jeans. It is nice. I take it for granted and then I will see other men in 'casual wear' or the ridiculous pants below their underpants 5 sizes too big and think, "These are the people laughing at what I am wearing?" His hair cut, as well, is very vintage and he always slicks it back with groom n clean that I buy for him in a tube. It isn't greasy nor does it stain linens. I am lucky in my husband and not just because he dresses 'nice'.

  20. On the subject of one income households and frugal living, would you please consider doing a post about saving up to buy your first home?

  21. I certainly would. I could address it both from the modern standpoint, particularly the inflated lies that lead our us economy into the false housing market which we are all (including those who are losing their homes) suffering from and the then idea after WWII that was really the time that the idea that the masses could be home owners really took off. Affordable houses for all. Little houses made of ticky tacky. on a personal note, do you Hairball, currently own or are you saving for your first home? Not to get personal, just curious to the question. I do think it would be a very good and pertinent subject addressing the 1950s and today.

  22. 50s gal...this might be too personal of a question and I would certainly understand if you didn't want to answer...but I've read your entire blog now and I'm just curious as to how much income your family makes, and then how much debt your family has. I see through your blog how you're managing everything and how you've learned great tips to cut down unnecessary expenses, but I've just been curious as to what kind of income/debt ratio you're working with. I ask only because right now with both hubby and I working, we're pulling in well over six figures, with a fairly low bit of debt, and hubby is very very nervous about the thought of me not working next year, if we're fortunate enough to conceive this fall. I'm not nervous at all about it, knowing what I'll be able to contribute from home, but it would be reassuring to hear it from another "apron revolutionary". Or...if you aren't comfortable talking about actual numbers, would you talk about what kind of average income was there for a one-income household in the 50's? Thanks :-)

  23. On a personal note, do you Hairball, currently own or are you saving for your first home?

    We plan to buy our first home sometime in 2011.

    According to Sperling's Best Places, the median home value for my town is $119,680 while the median income is $44,092.

    Looking forward to your post!! :)

  24. I am excited to write it and Mrs F I will address somewhat my own personal income and how it has affected our decision to not be a 'bread winner' in that same post. I hope I can do it justice.

  25. Oh, that is so wonderful, 50’s gal, on dressing in the 1900’s fashions. How great that you two don’t care what other people think! Wow, what a difference that is in our worry-about-others-think society. You know, one of the Duggars made a comment very similar to yours when asked why they all dressed alike in their particular style. I admire your steadfastness and guttsiness (if that's even a word ;)

  26. Leisure: In our family, "hobbies," or "interests," may be defined as skills that not only give pleasure, but enhance one's life. My husband and I have a large skill base, and all of our now adult children have developed skills that required a steep learning curve. If a skill doesn't require work to learn, it probably isn't worth learning. As a note, those who have not developed an interest(s) that require a solid learning curve are ill prepared for retirement. Most people who have no interests beyond work do not realize that work is their only real interest. For my great grand father, work was his only interest, and he "retired" from three jobs, modifying his job to fit his physical abilities, working until a few years before he died in his mid-eighties. My father worked until he was 78, modifying his job to match his physical needs.

    Family Dates: We have always eaten dinner as a family. Even when my now adult children's working schedules do not permit them eat dinner with us at the regular time,(although we may wait for them if it isn't too late), their place is set, and their portion of dinner is set aside for them. They almost always miss this time with the family. If we are able, we sit with them while he/she eats. As an aside, we females wear dresses/skirts exclusively and the men dress nicely. The boys all knew how to tie a a tie at a very young age.

  27. anon-good for you. That is wonderful. Zebu-I didn't really used to think about the clothes until someone told me they thought I was brave. I had to laugh "There are many more brave actions than wearing victorian balmoral boots and floor lenght skirts" I thought. But, it occured to me that many people are afraid to dress 'differently'. Even those teens who seem to think they are dressing 'differently' are really just follwoing the rules of their sub-culture and if they veer out of it they will also be chastised. I really see how we humans are such sheep following along and if anyone sticks their head above the flock the others want to push it back down. I just feel life is so short that worrying about what I wear or what people think about what I wear is the least of my 'worries'. I hope that if there are any of you out that that wish you could dress vintage but are 'afraid' maybe try little bits at a time. A petticoat with a fuller modern skirt at first. Or a vintage shoe etc. Get your toes wet first, if you need to, but if you have a desire to wear something beautiful or intricate, who cares, just think if we took someone today with their jeans and printed t and tennis shoes and transported them to 1955, they would think they were either a messy teen or going to a costume/fancy dress party as an 'athelete'. It's all relative and we all have to cover our body, so why not cover it with what we like and what makes us feel good. Goodness knows there aren't that many things that can be so simple that make us feel good. So, give it a try if you are secretly wishing to. You don't have to be a 'closet vintage' girl (that's anyone not just you zebu, I don't know if you dress vintage now or want to, do you?)

  28. Thanks so much for the Seven Little Foys clip. What a wonderful pleasure to watch Hope and Cagney go at it. Back in the day when entertainers had to actually have talent. My goodness, thank you. I have ordered this DVD from Amazon simply to have this dance sequence in my collection. I had no idea Hope could dance like that, but I should have known. Wow! -- Mykal

  29. I definitely want to dress vintage and am getting my toes wet. I have started wearing a straw hat with a black ribbon occasionally and now own a vintage purse that I have used a time or two. The hat is not vintage but is getting me more comfortable with wearing them. I have a vintage dress hat that I haven’t had the courage yet to wear but will. You have a great outlook on the whole matter that it really SHOULDN’T matter.

    I also LOVE the 1800s and other eras. There is a mansion in town that gives tours. I called yesterday to start volunteering and was hoping to be able to dress vintage. They said that they no longer do that, but I am going to ask if I can. The home was built in 1903, so I will have to research and then find a dress or two and shoes from that time period. At least then, I would have a reason to dress. The closet vintage me HAS to come out!

  30. oh zebu-I love the early 1900s fashion look some up online. I might throw in a couple fashion looks from then on my next blog. I am sorry I have not posted, but I have really been thinking and roughing out my post on the home buying then and now and the concept of money today and then with the one income family. I know, I probably spend too much time and should just rattle something off, but I like the process and really thinking about my post. Again, I am glad to have a quick modern format to try and use a more vintage approach of a magazine article where I research, rough it out, include images and try my best to edit it (though not always successfully) so hold on, if you are waiting for this post. I am glad as clothes are such a great way to celebrate yourself and life. For every odd stare or giggle I get I get just as many if not more compliments. A woman even complimented my vintage bag the other day and I don't really think about it any more as it is becoming more 'normal'. I have a nice little collection of summer bags, maybe I will photograph them for this upcoming post.
    mykal-I am glad you liked the clip and in encouraged you to get the film. It is wonderful and Bob Hope really was multi-talented and in an approachable way. Today it seems either someone is super specialized and thier 'dancing' has to have impossible gymnastics, or they are just 'actors' who could never sing nor dance. There is a sort of missed innocence mixed with studied talent and one feels they either need to be an uber expert or not try. Sad indeed. I like your site as well, and my hubby is a huge sci fi fan, though mostly books and literature and art, but some film. One of my favorite old 'camp movies' is Forbidden planet with a young and more serious leslie nielson. Unfortunately it does not come out until next year (56) for me or I would have talked of it already, as the sound track was cutting edge and really introduced 'electronic' music into a mainstream way that was to come.

  31. 50sGal: I'll be getting to Forbidden Planet soon. It is one of the most beautiful sci-fi films of the era. And, as you mention, it has a very inventive score. I'm talking myself right into doing a post very soon. -- Mykal

  32. 50’s gal, that would be great if you through in a couple of fashions on your next post. And, I would love to see your vintage bags, as well!

  33. I meant for my previous comment to show up on this post because these are the videos I was referring to. Sorry about that.

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