Saturday, August 29, 2009

29 August 1955 “Quick Check In, What is your ideal?”

woman packing Well, I am still busy wrapping china that will only be unwrapped a few days from now. I am trying, like this lovely lady, to do so with a smile. Perhaps she is doing as I have been, dreaming of where her new things will go and how she will arrange her new home.

I haven’t time to do an actual in depth post, but I thought, following the last blog, we could continue with the neighborhood idea. Some of you have told me what your own neighborhoods are like in summer, now let’s talk about what our ‘dream’ or ‘ideal’ neighborhood would be?hoodephemera3   Would there be milk at the door and daily tradesmen peddling wares? Where would it be? Would it be full of neighbors or would you be more isolated? A city perhaps with a strong community spirit. While I pack and dream away, let’s discuss it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

26 August 1955 “Some New, Some songs, and a town through visitors eyes.”

tennis 1955 1st color telecast (NBC) of a tennis match, the Davis Cup.

1st airplane to exceed 1800 mph (2897 kph)-HA Hanes, Palmdale, California

The movie “Pete Kelly's Blues” is from this year. It takes place in the 1920s. It is interesting to see how they ‘represent’ the 20’s in a movie shot in 1950’s. I have notice that up until the late 70’s movies set in the ‘past’ often rely heavily on modern takes on the past. Today, I am frustrated if they do not do an accurate job of recreating a time period. I wonder then, if it didn’t seem to matter as much, because their own present style was often rather good, so one thought little of it. When you look at the styles of 1955, I wouldn’t want to completely lose their look just to recreate the 1920s, today, however, go ahead and get every detail down, because I don’t want to see any printed t-shirts with ‘23 skad00’ printed on them!

This version of “he need’s me” by Peggy Lee is one of my favorite and I have to admit I listen to it often as it is on one of my ‘radio station cd’s’ and on an album of mine as well. I now find out this rendition is from this movie.

And here she is this year doing the same song, I think to promote the movie possibly.

Well, I just wanted to put up something today. The packing continues.

After I settle in I will take pictures of my ‘new town’ that our home is in. It is very idyllic and nice. Today a friend was in from Austin TX visiting. We took a break and went to our favorite tea shop and had tea on the porch of the old building. It is on one of the shady tree lined streets of Sandwich and the ocean breeze blew our skirts. We relaxed and visited and the cool sounds of late summer surrounded us. My visiting friend turned to me and said, “You don’t realize how beautiful it is here. You know much of the rest of the U.S. doesn’t look like this. All the greens, the big trees, old churches and buildings”

I already appreciated our little town here on Cape, but seeing it through a visitors eyes made me love it all the more. As we left and strolled down the street, I heard bagpipes in the distance. There was a corp practicing at the local town school. I realized one of the reasons I love this little town is it is very New England. And, in being so, is much as I often fantasize about old England. Of course I have been to Old England and love it and would live there in a heartbeat, but it is very hard to emigrate to that country. Funny, when I think my relatives started out there, but then again, they left and said Phooey to the monarchy, so maybe there is still a little grudge there. Anyway, I was glad to see my ‘new’ town through my friends eyes. It makes all the stress and sweat of the move worth it.

I hope all of you are enjoying summer and get a few moments to sit on a porch, drinking tea or lemonade or G&T’s what have you, and enjoy or lovely summer. I would love to hear what some of your towns or areas are like in the summer.

Monday, August 24, 2009

24 August 1955 “Art and a Movie”

JasperTarget 1955

Here is Jasper John’s 1955 work ‘Target’. I had not thought about this work for a long time. Having studied Art History at University, I was subjected to so much visual imagery, it all began to blur and meld. Now, looking at this piece as a new piece, maybe I would even have a chance to travel to New York and see it, how would it speak to me. I definitely know how it speaks to me now.

This really makes me think, if an artist does his ‘job’ (and yes I do BELIEVE has a job to do other than just exist for itself) it can almost be a sort of time machine. Certainly, it should and is often a mirror of it’s present society, but too, as I think in this case, it is a glimpse into our future.

There it is, that big target, the masses; US. The faces, the consumers. The underpinnings of the ads and newspaper hidden but slightly visible. I think if I were to make this piece today, I would put a row of hands coming out of the bottom. In a way, we have been made targets, but we have asked for it and we continue to. We are becoming homogenized in a way.

Peggy Guggenheim asked, “Does economic capital drive cultural capital?” and I think, today, we have the answer: YES.

Well not sure how it would fit into the idea of it. There is a way to go about it for sure but not certain. There is a fixed point in time when it becomes apparent who we are and then we move both forward and backward from that point creating our reality. That point is immutable and immovable unless we let it slip.

Here you can see two images of young women in very mannish and strong poses. Most certainly Rockwell was referencing or adapting Michelangelo's Cybil in his representation. In fact, Michelangelo actually used men as models for these women.

sybil 1 rockwell_rosie

It is interesting the difference from this girl and her 1955 counter part here.bloom

Yet, here even the man himself has an almost effeminate quality. The work of strength and war is gone and the office worker and homemaker of the suburbs is the ideal. The western world is moving from the physical to the mental.

Now, I fear, we are moving from the mental to the stimulant. The incessant need to be plugged in, tuned on, and passively entertained. What would Norman Rockwell paint of us today? Would there be a middle class nuclear family stretched out on the sofa, watching TV? No, actually it would have to be a canvas separated into four parts, each representing a room in the house. There is mother on the computer, piles of books on organizing strewn at her feet, unopened packages from the ‘packing store’ amongst the piles. Her face, cast in the glow of the computer, has an odd glare and transfixed smile. There is sonny, at the TV, video game plugged in. He is dressed sloppily, as is mother, and stretched out along the arm of the sofa, empty soda cans and chip bags and the tiniest hint of his rotund flesh sticking out from under his printed t-shirt. There is father, in another room with another TV, half-asleep in a recliner while some reality show is on, he half awake gaze is lit by the glow of the large flat screen TV balanced on some boxes, there in the corner stands, unopened, the mounting equipment for the TV. He can’t be bothered, his hand in a bag of chips and a half full bottle of beer. But, wait, where is sis? Oh, she is not in front of the TV nor the computer, but what is that? Oh, there she is tattooed, pierced and wearing her false anger as a badge representing nothing. There is nothing left to rebel against, her grandmother and mothers generation already did that. She sits, slumped upon her bed, various macabre posters blazoned on her wall as she types furiously upon her cell phone. There is a glimmer of a smile as the small green box-shaped light cast from her phone sends an eerie glow upon her eyes. And, perhaps there is a fifth part to this painting. The kitchen in the center. It sits piled with dishes. There are empty boxes of various prepared food boxes sitting about. The latest most expensive stainless steel appliances and stone countertops sit oddly sparkling, as if just removed from their box, almost untouched, but wait the microwave is a map of handprints and last minute attempts at heating food. The modern family, 21st century. Sort of bleak, I know, but that is what I would paint if I were Rockwell today and who would want a calendar of that?

Well, enough of that. While I am on the subject of passive entertainment, I thought I would at least send something good to watch in such a state. Unfortunately you have to go through Hulu to watch it (NO, I am not getting paid to advertise them but it is a good source for some old shows/movies) The movie is from 1954 and it’s called A Woman's World. Here is the movie poster.womans world movie poster It deals with corporate America and has an interesting message, of course unheeded today, but it is a good movie none-the-less. Maybe make a 1950’s movie date with popcorn and your hubby to watch it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

22 August 1955 “A Post-rant, Proud American, Cookies, Scones, and dreaming of Utility Space”


I don’t want any of you to despair when I go off on one of my tangents or rants. Surely, my being disgusted and upset with the modern world can BE a positive. For me it only ignites the fire under me to pursue more and more the ways of yesterday. To delve deeper into my own accountability and my own ABILITY to make and create more my own.
I know we, we few quiet homemakers, cannot as such change the government, but in our own ways we can affect things by how we live and shop. If we do not support those very places that are not responsible for their actions, who care more about how cheap their product is than rather or not it is using child labor or hurting small business, then they begin to weaken. Yes, some things can cost more when you try to live this way, but what I am finding out is that I can still spend the same amount but that I actually NEED less.

Think about it. IF you are in a big store where there are savings, great you are buying for less, but now they have EVERYTHING in there, so Oh you stop by an end cap display showing some cutesy plastic item to organize your things, I better get one they are only  X dollars and then Oh, what is that, what a darling thing and so cheap, so in the end you are still actually spending more, and buying things you DO NOT NEED and then going out and buying more Books on how to organize it all and the out to buy more containers to put all that you bought but didn’t need to store and make it orderly. It is a viscous wheel and I want off.

So, please don’t let my little rants make anyone think I am not happy to be American. I, in many ways, feel very American. I always joke that my ancestors came over and ‘created’ the us by taking it from my other ancestors and then married them. SO, I feel I am as American as they come, but I get upset when I see big business taking what I feel those in the 1950s wanted their new war free country to be and ruining it. But, we homemakers, we can change it. We do the shopping. We MAKE the home. We raise the children and can teach them from the beginning to be accountable. We can change the world an apron string at a time. So, do feel that I don’t feel there is nothing we can do, but quite the opposite. I really feel the more we can learn and recreate the skills of the past homemakers the better our lives will be and a better generation will be made. Many people, including those from our won sex, discount the import of a stay at home mother and homemaker, when it is probably THE most important job around. If the world collapsed and even medicine were gone we would still need to go on and raise up the next generations. It is the first and best job around. So, lets use our knowledge and ability to look around us and be aware of how the world REALLY is and then take that as a cue to change it for the better.

Well, I will get off my soapbox now and down to some practical things.

First off, I found the BEST Molasses cookie recipe on the back of one of my magazines. I love that the ad has a cookie for mummy and daughter to make. cookie recipe Isn’t it darling that you can cut out the recipe and put it on a card for your recipe card box? I think you could copy this image and print it out and cut it out for your own use. I would never cut the original (and thank goodness who owned it first did not) but now I can make a copy and cut it out.

Though I have been so very busy packing and moving things (that’s the advantage of having access to where I am moving while still living here!) I am still sticking to my housework schedule. And of course, though it is hot, I still find time to bake. In fact my husband has another ‘request’ that I do some baked goods for work again. This time I have learned ‘no cakes in the hot of summer’. So, a tray of cookies. I am going to do these cookies as well as some great peanut butter chocolate chip that I tried yesterday. And I am not sure what I am going to do for the third cookie.

I also made a great meal of Lamb A’ la Marseilles the other night. I had got a good pair of lamb chops and wanted to try something new. Here is the recipe, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but it was delicious.

Lam A’ la Marseilles

Pan broil on one side. Place in baking dish, cooked side up. Cover with hot Mushroom Sauce. Bake 8 minutes at 450 degrees.

Brown Mushroom Sauce

3 TBS butter

Few drops onion juice ( I fried onions in butter and used that)

3 TBS flour

1cup cream

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1 TSP beef extract (I used bouillon)

salt and paprika

Brown butter slightly. Add onion jice and flour and stir and cook until brown. Pour on cream gradually while stirring constantly. Add mushrooms, cooked in butter. Season with beef extract, salt and paprika.

It was delicious. This is from my 50’s Boston Cooking School book.

I also made some wonderful scones the other day.scones I may have shared this recipe before, but here it is again. It is also from my Boston Cooking School Book.scone recipe I have noticed, for whatever reason, that we Americans seems to serve scones in triangular form while I have mostly seem them in the UK in our American ‘Biscuit’ form. I had always thought this was a new idea yet when I made these from this 1950’s book, it does indeed tell me to cut into triangles. Do any of you readers know if scones are ever triangular in the uk? I notice, which is not unusual, that we make our scones here much sweeter. Even I put in Ghirardelli chips to make them sweet. I also notices our American pronunciation of  Scone (SKOH-OWN) seems to be Irish or working class british, has anyone else noticed that as opposed to (SCAH-NN)? Just curious.

This leads me to a moment yesterday that I was rather proud of myself. As I have said (way too often most like) I have been inundated with packing, so my days seem to have a little chaos thrown in. Well, yesterday I suddenly had a craving for something sweet and I hadn’t anything made. My first impulse (I still get those 2009 impulses) was to just pop down to the store and ‘grab something’. Then I thought, “Why on earth would I go buy something when I have a pantry full of ingredients?”

The old me would have thought to make something myself would have been too much work. The 1955 me, who does it every day, things no big deal. In fact, I would be willing to bet if I added in the time of summer traffic and lines at the market, I probably whipped up those peanut butter cookies faster than I could have gone out and bought some. Then I was able to try out a recipe before I made some for my hubby’s work and the leftover dough went into the freezer for the future and the cookie jar was filled to the brim AND my sweet tooth satisfied.

It is really amazing how the more you do yourself, the more you make part of your routine, the less daunting it seems; score one for 1955!

Since dismantling my home to be moved to a new one, I have really begun to think more intently about my future house work. It is very exciting to think of that I have used this place, in a way, as a lab to experiment on the ways I want to clean and keep a home. I have many plans for the future dwelling, but I know many of them may only be dreams at first until things can be added. But, I had to share this image from my 1950 Womans Home Companion Household Book.utility closet They even have a floor polisher. I am not sure if such machines were only for linoleum, but I have a lot of nice wide pumpkin pine floors in the ‘new’ house and would love to see them shine. I think, however, that will involve more of the good ole’ fashioned hands and knees approach.

I am glad I did not go to crazy with my own changes here in this house (though I did quite a bit) but have allowed myself to work more than half a year as a homemaker and to see what is important in the kitchen, mudroom, pantry etc. Where last year it would have been simply based on esthetics, now my ‘makeovers’ will be Function and Form hand in had. Functional Beauty and the Beauty of Function will be the rule of the day for my future plans.

Speaking of remodeling and building, I am glad to see in many of my magazines of the time that women and men work happily side by side on such projects.building project

I love that this shows the husband and wife working together. I see so much of this in my woman’s magazines. The concept that the 1950s housewife was delicate with pearls and puffy dresses and didn’t want to break a nail is Hollywood for sure. I know I can build and paint with the best of them AND I still like to clean up in petticoats and pearls and go have tea with the girls.

We should, as women, embrace the duality of our power. We now feel that if you are pretty and dressed up you are a particular kind of girly girl, that is phooey. Women  are the BEST at multi-tasking. We can talk on the phone, cook, and hem a skirt all at the same time, so why can’t we build an addition, paint the house, clean and still look nice when we go marketing? And it is not a case of “Oh, we have to do that” it is more “YEAH, we GET to do that”. To dress up and feel pretty is important to women, I feel. Who has ever been nicely dressed with your hair just so and then thought, “Boy, I feel lousy!”. We can be both of these women.

 woman cleaning in pajamas 1950s woman in dress

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

17-19 August 1955 “Hurricane Diane, and A Break into 2009 for a GOOD Reason”

1955 flood Hurricane Diane was one of three hurricanes to hit North Carolina during the 1955 Atlantic hurricane season. Diane struck an area that had been hit by Hurricane Connie five days earlier. Diane was the costliest hurricane in United States history until it was surpassed by Hurricane Betsy in 1965, and was the sixth costliest U.S. hurricane of the 20th century
55 flood Here is a Connecticut street.
1955 flood PA Here in McAdoo PA Hurricane Diane put the normally dry "Celebration Creek" riverbed well over its bounds and flooded out the business section of the town.
Here is actual 1955 news concerning it:

new yorker aug 6 On a lighter note, this August 6th cover for the New Yorker feels very now as well. The picket fence, the biking, reading on a porch the old shingled house, this could be Cape Cod, though it as well could be parts of the Hamptons. I just thought it very free and easy and ‘in the moment’.
Love_Is_a_Many-Splendored_Thing Love is a Many Splendored Thing opens today. Set in 1949-50 Hong Kong, it tells the story of a married, but separated, American reporter (played by William Holden), who falls in love with a Eurasian doctor originally from Mainland China (played by Jennifer Jones), only to encounter prejudice from her family and from Hong Kong society.
Here is the preview:
The movie was adapted by John Patrick from the 1952 novel A Many-Splendored Thing by Han Suyin.

I have been thinking how we modern Americans are very much like our modern economy. We sub things out. We do not produce much on our own but rely on the hard work of others, for a price of course. The decline in farming, for example, in our country is amazing. There is so much production that does not even happen in our own country. What I find really interesting is that basically it appears the unions priced their members right out of jobs. As the increased amounts of money needed to provide all that was demanded from the unions (which over time became, themselves, corrupt governing bodies) were one of the factors in their plants moving and leaving the states.
For example, there are BMW plants in this country using American labor. They are NOT unionized, so the people are given a fair price for what they do and the jobs are there and it helps their community. Somewhere along the way the greed and want for money overshadowed the original intent of the union, which was a fair wage and good working conditions.  Then, suddenly, people expected more and wanted more not realizing how this adds to the price of the car etc. I am not, in any way, forgiving our American auto industry, by any means, but the whole system, our system of greed and unaccountability is to blame. We look around and of course we  say, “How did it happen, it wasn’t MY fault?!” Even the motor corps themselves seem to not be accountable, as they turn to our government for bailouts.
I am sure there was a time in 1955 when an auto worker made a wage decent for his family to live on. Cars were manufactured and he understood his part in the production. Maybe he even felt pride even if he did no more than assemble the latch that rolled down the window. He knew he was part of it, and his pride and accountability of place made it okay. Sure, the Jone’s may have had more, but their father was a doctor, so they could afford it. But, now we expect to have as much as the next guy without the work or reasons he may have more than we do. We somehow feel it is our RIGHT to just have more, so where does it come from?
I am not really sure where I am going with this, but I was just really mad and upset the other day when I really began to think about our country. My hubby is reading a book about Rome near it’s end and we have been discussing the parallels between their mistakes and our own current mistakes. They too came to a point where all things were made outside of their country and brought in. They reduced farming and at one point starved out cities due to that decision. The greed of self-fulfillment of what had once been the well managed early form of Democracy, the Republic, had slowly turned into crooked politicians who were the puppets of whomever had the money. It all sounded very familiar and it just made me angry.
When I look around and think how good we could all have it if we just realized what ‘good’ was. That it is not the latest cell phone and tv and more clothes and emulating reality tv. Your neighbor, your family, even your job, even if it is flipping burgers, at that moment in your life, it is part of an entire system in which you are part and should be proud. Sure, move ahead, go to college, plan to own your own business one day, but even all of that American dream is gone. It is becoming increasingly impossible to follow the ‘own your own business’ dream thanks to Wal-Mart and other such stores. Who can work for the local business, learn the trade and follow in the footsteps when they have to work with all the endless blue vested masses at Wal-Mart?
Even the college dream is becoming a sort of joke. Colleges and universities are becoming nothing but big business. The amount of money needed to attend and the gov. ‘loans’ that cripple the new generations are a joke. They are all set up to make money off the youth as if they are merely a demographic, but they are suppose to be the future generations. And after one spends all that money to get a degree what is their career? Certainly if you are a doctor that is fine, but what about the hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent for the Bach. of  Arts student who has to then work minimum wage to pay down more than the cost of a house! It is just a sick system, and I don’t think I can discuss it anymore right now. Does anyone else feel this way? I have to say, I don’t want to ignore the problem, but I do increasingly want to focus on the world of the past in a way to make my own future better. I definitely do NOT want to emulate ANYTHING modern other than some helpful technology.
Since writing this last bit I was introduced to a film. It is NOT from 1955, but modern. I only watched it because my friend said, ‘don’t wait, watch it now it is very important”. So, I did. Now, I am giving the link to you to watch. It is well done and worth it and if the 1950’s hasn’t changed my way of living, this will.
I realize in 1955 DDT and other chemicals were becoming the norm, but they did not know as of yet the danger. I feel those around then, the level of accountability of people in that time period would not allow what is happening today to happen. I am ashamed of my generations and this world. I do not want to close this post on a negative. I merely want to say, the one modern element of life I am thankful for is computer/internet. It is allowing the power of the press to be returned to the common man. We must know and want to know what is going on in our world and must NEVER rely on ‘regular news programs/tv’. I want, as part of our Apron Revolution, to not only bring back the community spirit, fashion, respect, and self accountability of the past, but I want us all to form and mold it into a new future. We MUST make a new tomorrow of well-rounded people who are responsible for themselves thoroughly and to the point of even their own food!
Perhaps we cannot change the world, but our little portions of it should certainly begin to reflect what we want in life and how we choose to live. There must be no division amongst us concerning differences in religion race creed, etc. We must, we modern vintage women, look to our homes and our heads to make and grow and create as much of our own world as we can. I don’t care if I have to work harder and longer into the night to make my own bread, or even, if it comes to it, buy local grown grain and grind my own flour! I want to know what I am eating, wearing, reading, thinking, watching, reading is an active part of my life. The ease and passivity of the modern world and its situational ethics has sickened me today. Let us go out, though, and make a better world. We will overcome, we homemakers!
Now watch this and give me your opinions.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

16 August 1955 “Some Videos for a Sunday”

This is a great movie about the importance of hair and safety for the WWII woman. Here you can definitely see that the 1940’s ‘roll’ was dictated by safety.



I don’t recall if I posted this one before, but it is rather good. The acting is a little wooden, but then again, people were more forgiving of such things as they were not surrounded by constant visual entertainment as we are today.



Sure, this is 1952, but I am sure the styles would not be too varied for this year. They are adorable and I love the ‘convertible’ bathing costumes.

I am not sure if I have posted this video before, but it is cute AND it does help with ‘cooking terms’.

Enjoy and have a fun summer Sunday!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

11 August 1955 “The 1955 I-Pod, Atomic Power, Child Care, Baking Failures, and that Blasted Girdle”

tr 55 radio

“The TR-55, released in 1955, was Sony's first transistor radio, and the first to be made in Japan. The use of transistors rather than vacuum tubes allowed the device to be much smaller than earlier radios, and allowed them to be the first truly portable radio from Japan.”

Tokyo Telecommunications, later to become Sony, began the production of this little radio today in 1955. Although, this year it would only be sold in Japan, and Americans were not thinking of Japan as producing anything but cheap products (in the 50’s made in Japan was similiar to our made in China. Even the original Barbie Dolls that would come out in 1959 were produced there). By 1958 under the name Sony, Transistor radios were being sold. The idea of a radio needing a cord was becoming old fashioned and you could take your battery powered radio with you anywhere.

Again, we find another movement happening this year that leads to the way we live currently. This bit I found online sums it up for the transistor to today:

The TR-55 served as the template for almost all the portable gadgets we use today. Everything from the iPod to the Game Boy can trace its basic handheld design to the TR-55’s form factor. More importantly, use of the transistor became widespread in all electronics allowing for the development of LCD TVs, smartphones and netbooks.”

plane crash 55 El Al Flight 402, a pressurized four-engine propliner plane,  was an international passenger flight from Vienna, Austria to Tel Aviv, Israel via Istanbul, Turkey, on July 27, 1955, which strayed into Bulgarian airspace and was shot down by two Bulgarian MiG-15 jet fighters and crashed near Petrich, Bulgaria. All 7 crew and 51 passengers on board the airliner were killed. This must have been such a fright as plane travel was still fairly new.

Speaking of planes, I love this August 1955 issue of Mechanics illustrated.mechanic mag 55 It purports the ‘atomic planes are closer than you think’. I like the concept that we are thinking about alternate power sources at this time, however, luckily this was not ever realized. Speaking of atomic energy, however, in July of this year the town of Arco, Idaho was the  first town ever completely lit/powered by atomic power. Unfortunately, on 3 January 1961 it became another first, when the reactor that powered the town had a meltdown, causing three deaths. It was the world’s first (and the us’s only) fatal reactor accident. Here we again see the innocence of our world as we play with the powers achieved so quickly in WWII. It is an example of our innocence fading, I believe. I know it is a romantic and unrealistic notion to want that innocence back, but one can understand the current generations ennui and bitter sarcasm to living when one considers what we have been through thus far. But, oh, how I wish we could be innocent enough to be the young girls waiting for doors to be held, hopes of making families and sipping lemonade on porches, the aging happily among our growing families raising and sharing life with our grandkids. Yet, we have obese shut ins playing computer/video games 12 hours a day, day-care, spending, cynicism towards family life and community, distrust, and an increasing aging population left to rot away in nursing homes. Can we turn it around? Are there enough of us who want to do so? How can we do it?

On a lighter note,

This Aug 55 cover of Elle with Bridgette Bardot is lovely.bridgette bardot 55 Her shoes, the beginning of the pointed toe and thinner heel that we associate the 1950s, really only are beginning  now and will reach their zenith in the early 1960s. Her dress and petticoat are so fresh and lovely.

I have had readers ask me in the past about vintage child care/rearing. I found this interesting article in a magazine the other day and thought I would share the first half of it with you here.childcare1childcare_2 If you like it I will scan and post the second half. If you click on the image it should appear large enough to read. There is quite a bit on childcare and here I am more than half way I think this project must just naturally grow into something bigger.  

diet_foods I thought this interesting, that specific Diet foods are showing up. Where once there would have been mention of how to watch your weight with suggestions, or not an issue of weight during the Depression, we can see the beginning of the plenty becoming an issue of ‘too much of a good thing’. Are any of you old enough to have tried any of these diet foods and if so, how were they? I am sure they must have had saccharine.

As you know, I have been extra busy this month. In addition to my usual growing chore list, I have had to add the moving of my household for Sept first. So, as an example, this Monday was, as usual, laundry day. So, in addition to those usual chores of sorting laundry, doing laundry, folding and sorting for ironing on tuesday, I had to add scheduling my move. That entailed my going about and making a list in my little homemakers journal of various items that I want to move, when I will move them and what needs to be donated or sold or given away. This leaves not much time to do my blogging. That is why I am hopeful that you will be patient with my shorter posts this month.

The point of this is that I had a great funny story to share with you and have not really had time to tell you. So, here it is now:

A few weeks ago my hubby asked me to make some baked goods for his work as two co-workers were going to be leaving. I am fast becoming known as the ‘good baker’ at his place of work. It is a source of pride for him and me. I also find it very 1955 that he should come to me and request some of my baked goods for such an event. I, of course, accepted his offer.

Now, we have been blessed this summer with unseasonable cooler weather. Here on Cape Cod we often do not get a spring per se. It is often cooler winter weather and then almost over night one walks outside and the leaves are out, the birds singing and it is warm. This year we had cool and rainy weather well into July. For me, it was a dream, as I do not like hot muggy weather. It was also divine providence for my project as I have not had too much worry about being overheated in my girdle and slips/petticoat gloves etc. Now, of course, that weather has left us, as if a dream we had it is now replaced with damp muggy August weather.

So, the day in question, the day before I was to have the cakes ready for my hubby, the heat returned. It was soo hot and I had to do extra marketing for the items for my cakes. It was very hot and I felt it best to put off the baking until that night. Now, in hindsight I see that was a mistake. On some level I felt it was a bit of modern me just putting it off, but as I thought of it further I realized that surely such a decision could be normal for a 1955 homemaker. The heat mixed with the oven etc, best wait until it cools off.

But, it did not cool off. In fact, in seemed to get hotter, but I donned my apron and my smile, put my hair up Rosy the Riveter style and was off. I had planned two types of cakes and cupcakes. That mean two variations of frosting. One was to be a fresh lemon frosting with fresh squeezed lemon juice and fresh lemon zest. That went off without a hitch and into the ice box to keep cool.

Then, things began to go downhill. As the oven continued to increase the sweltering heat in my kitchen and the sweet icky gooey mess of various batters and frostings on my fingers drove me mad with the taste of sugar in my mouth, I had a very uncomfortable feeling. Down, amongst my skirt and apron and slip I felt rather itchy and overheated. It was the first time I had hated my girdle.

I have since found by talking with someone of the area and the age that Cape Cod, being a summer seaside town, was often more casual. Certainly, this does not mean the level at which we are today, but it was not heard of to see housewives in pedal pushers and white keds or sandals in the grocery store and one could go girdle-less in a breezy cotton summer dress and sandals. This is a style I have since adopted, but had not as of yet. The cool weather and my determination had not allowed me to try that.

So, there I stood, the day waning (it was close on midnight at this moment) and I was hot, itchy, coated in sugared frosting, one set of cakes cooling the other cake turned, for convenience, into cupcakes.

The main cake was to be my standby chocolate fudge cake ( I have shared this recipe in past posts) and it was to be two layered and decorated with writing and frosting trim. Fine, I had done it be without a hitch. But, the heat and moisture in the air was beginning to make everything melt. The frosting I have made before became wetter than usual. I figured, “I will just add more confectioners sugar, as that always stiffens it”. Then moving to the pantry, hot girdle sweated and frosted, I reached for my jar of confectioners sugar, lifting it to my eyes. NO! It was empty. I had none left. I quickly unscrewed the cap, scraping madly like a wild monkey at an impossible coconut, to no avail.

I wandered slowly back into the kitchen. The heat of the stove hit me like a wave. Every dish and bowl seemed to be dirty and thrown about the place. What was I to do? What I felt like doing was crying. I took a breath and a glass of ice water and thought, “Oh, well, it will be fine as it is.” And I began icing my cake.

The first layer went on and I slathered on the frosting. It seemed rather runny, but there was little I could do so I forged ahead. Then the second layer and the icing continued. It seemed to be working. For whatever reason it was holding together and I figured, “I am going to pull this off”. I smoothed out the chocolate frosting and began piping on the white trim and the lettering. Then, I moved to finishing my cupcakes and getting the set and put into their tin vintage plate carriers.

Then, my hubby walked in and said, “Oh, no, what happened?”

What could he mean, I thought. My back was turned on the cake, I was busy reclaiming my strength and feeling I had overcome the obstacle of the baked goods and the hot night. I turned to see what he saw: the piping and lettering on my cake had turned to mush and began sliding down the side of the cake as the top layer took on a life of its own and decided to take a trip south. What a mess!

I burst into tears. My hubby didn’t know what to do and he felt bad. I felt I had let him down. He said, “Don’t worry I will go and buy a cake” and he went off, at midnight, to our local grocery store to by some horrible store-made confection. He would have to show up tomorrow after bragging about my baked goods with some hideous over sweet treat in a plastic dome with a barcode and price tag on it!

I was mortified. I felt such a failure. Thank goodness I had the sense to ask him to also pick up some confectioners sugar for me.

That night, in bed, I ruminated on the days events. Where had I gone wrong? What planning could have been better or what mistakes recovered? I didn’t know and wasn’t sure but I didn’t want to be beat, so I set my own alarm on my bed side table for 5 am. I wasn’t going to give up without a fight.

The next morning the alarm woke me with a start. In the early moments of waking I had forgot the horror of the night before. I wiped my eyes and checked the time, Oh, yes, now I remembered. I slipped quietly downstairs like a child on Christmas morning, only instead of bright tinsel and gleaming packages I was met with filthy bowls and pans oozing with gelatinous chocolate batter and the oversweet smell of my previous nights failure.

Well, here went nothing. It was not much cooler, but it was a bit. I opened the new bag of sugar hubby bought, grabbed the bowl of frosting and began adding and whipping. I scraped with all I could muster to save that cake and luckily I had baked an extra layer just in case, so with that fresh unused layer and what I could salvage from the rest, I managed to form a cake-like object with writing and decoration. I felt I had, in the end, done my job. And, in a way, I felt I could feel the proud stares of past homemakers smiling down on me. “Way to go, sister”, they seemed to say, “You did what you had to do.”

In the end, the baked goods were a success and I felt bad for the previous nights emotions. Yet, it is moments like these that I feel the most akin to my predecessors. It is at these times that I really feel a connection with that part of women’s history and our task in the kitchens. Like any artist, there must be the process. There will not always be success and sometimes we have to scrap the paintings. But, sometimes, as that night, there is a salvation of sorts. And, like in some paintings of old, when they have held up special lighting to discover another painting underneath the artist had gone over, most likely in frustration, if there had been such a light held to my cake you would find it built on the failings and frustrations of that hot July night in my version of 1955.

So, lesson learned and I thought I would close with this ad that I came across today and had to laugh. girdlerash

Boy, do I know what they are talking about there!

Until, later, Happy Homemaking.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

8 August 1955 “Movie Day”

Again, I am busy preparing for my move. I am also, crazy as it sounds, having another tag sale tomorrow.

I made some new things recently, like fried green tomatoes, and will post pictures and recipes later.

I thought today you could watch this film. It is rather long, 25 minutes, but I really like it. I know there was a time I would have watched this and been mostly appalled or wanting to be offended, but quite honestly there is some good advice. Take it for what you will. The clothes and houses are great. I know it is from the early 1960's but it is still very 1950s. Enjoy and let me know what you think.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

5 August 1955 “Dianne’s Day, Teen Fashion, and Art”

After receiving a wonderful comment (which follows) from one of my readers, Dianne, I had to reprint it here. I hope that she does not mind, but her recounting of a day in 1955 was so perfect, I felt it needed to be addressed.
I was so inspired by her glimpse into her past that I felt I had to add these photos I found. They are NOT Dianne's, but they had a feeling, to me, of her day recounted. I hope you enjoy it.
    To 50's gal and all: I will be very glad to tell you why 1955 was my favorite year. I was in high school in 1955 and it seemed liked a period of time when everything was exactly as it should be. Have you ever experienced that? While 1955 actually straddled two school years, they were both great. I loved my teachers, my classes, and had some wonderful times with my friends. I had my favorite teacher for homeroom and English class. We were studying Chaucer, lots of Shakespeare, the Globe theater, and English poets and their poems.50s girls studying I loved every minute of it. Perhaps if I share a favorite weekend it will help you understand. My girlfriend and I had planned a special weekend with me spending Friday and Saturday night there. I always loved being at her home and to this day it remains one of my favorite houses. It was a large two story house with a lot craftsman style. The living room was dark green with a great deal of crisp white woodwork,a white mantel, and white craftsman style build in bookcases with glass doors.craftsman living room The comfortable sofa and chairs were slipcovered in a softly muted large floral print. It was our plan to take the bus downtown on Saturday morning to buy matching outfits.50s knee highs We had each saved $2.98 to buy gray corduroy bermuda shorts and pink knee socks (probably about $.59). It was one of those beautiful October days when the sky was a perfect blue with fluffy (cumulus) clouds. We got home and changed into our matching outfits: pink sweaters, gray corduroy bermuda shorts (they had a very different cut than shorts today), pink knee socks, and penny loafers. After lunch, we headed off (walking) to the neighbor soda fountain for dessert.annette1 Two happy teenaagers getting a strawberry ice cream cone and a vanilla fountain Pepsi. When we got home her father was finished with his Saturday chores and offered to teach us how to waltz. He was a distinguished looking man, silver hair and also a silver gray mustache. He had a beautiful speaking voice. A record was put on and we took many turns waltzing around that attractive living room with this gentle man. Of course we were so pleased we had gotten these special outfits to wear on this beautiful October day. That night we attended a party (we did not wear our great outfits, we were dressed up) and that gallant man escorted us to the family car to drop us off at the party. teen dance This October 2009, it will be 54 years ago that two excited high school girls spent an absolutely perfect Saturday afternoon waltzing around a living room with a distinguished gentleman. By 1965 that world didn't exist any more; it was as obselete as the dinasaur. I do not mean any disrespect to those who love the 1960's and the bright,happy colors of that time. Most likely teenagers today wouldn't have a clue how to understand that day, and might even ridicule it. But for me, my heart belongs in 1955 when I wore full skirts with crinolines that rustled and swished when I walked and could enjoy a day like that October Saturday. That day is firmly fixed in my Happy Place Memories. Best wishes to all and thank you for reading about one of my favorite days and hope it helps you understand why I love 1955. Dianne
This made me, again, think of a 1950’s teens wardrobe. How I honestly feel that a teen girl then was really given the opportunity to dress for fun and for herself, not to be ‘sexy for boys’.teens-soda teens-3-clothes teen-petticoat teen-player teen-balloon teens-swing Compare that with these modern fashions leather teen attends the A Time for Heroes Celebrity Carnival Sponsored by Disney, benefiting the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, held at Wadsworth Theater on June 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Again, I am not a prude and in fact I am only getting to realize that the 1950’s really was not restrictive except in the way that it restricted what men could stare at. There really is a truth to being treated the way you represent yourself. One of my friends told me she watched some tv show about modern teens in abusive (as in beating and broken limbs) relationships increasing. I am not saying, put on a puffy dress and you get respected, but there is an element in the way one feels and represents oneself in their clothes. Then, the fashion allowed one to be ‘cool’ in the latest style while still having fun with fashion in a way that skimpy sexy clothes that aren’t ‘situation specific’ can be. I don’t know, maybe I am just rambling or overheated from all my packing, what do any of you think?

Portrait of Father, 1955 hockney David Hockney was born on July 9, 1937, in Bradford, England. This is a painting of his father. Somehow I thought it fit with our dear friend Diane’s story, as this was painted in 1955 and it is of a distinguished father. I find I am struck by the color and style of this Hockney. I have been tempted and drawn, of late, to return to my paint pots and canvas. I have not, as yet, done so. But, somehow deep inside is boiling up ideas that I can take to the canvas from this year. The ideas and ideals, the skills and respect that has been growing for this lost generation needs expressing somehow.mark rothko I have mentioned Mark Rothko in the past and this painting is from 1955. I have to say it has come to mean to me, somehow, all that I loathe of what is to become in the art world. The over painted expression of the “I” over the viewer. The importance of the artist’s ‘feeling and moment’ over the response required from the viewer. To me it has come to represent the laziness and unaccountability of the modern world. “Why should I work hard to represent an emotion or object or time” the artist might be seeming to say. “I don’t have to worry about how the viewer responds, let them figure out what THEY see”. Just my opinion.conspiracy This painting, also made in 1955, has much allegory and yet can be viewed in its beauty of color, form and composition. He was part of a time when industrilzation was seen as the god and beacon of new man. He often chose to view the changing world much the way I have come to see it. The corporation and greed over human dignity. His beliefs were to get him into trouble in the post WWII era time of the “Red Scare”. His brother, blacklisted screenwriter and movie director Herbert Biberman, was one of the Hollywood 10, jailed for contempt in refusing to answer congressional inquiries about his socialist political affiliations. I feel, in this case, I can see and feel now much more of that world in an image such as this than I would ever take away from a Rothko. In a sense, Rothko and later, I feel, Warhol, represented that very thing they may have meant to poke fun at:over-produced un-indvidualized art and craft. Mass produced images and non-specific almost machine done productions. There is much of the mirror in art, don’t you think?
Well, no recipes or cleaning tips this time around. I do have a funny story (though it wasn’t at the time) of an incident I had with a cake, a hot humid night, and preparing for baked goods for my hubby to take to work. I shall recount that. I also promised to talk about 1950’s beauty tips and products, I too will get to that, don’t think I forgot.
Well, until later then, have a great day and keep homemaking!

Monday, August 3, 2009

3 August 1955 "Free Online Cookbook"

I am going to start by saying that some of my posts my be less indepth and involved this month, August, as I am trying to back up one house and preparing the second where we will move come Sept 1. I am going to try my darndest to keep up with my blogs this month, but do know that come Sept, I will be settled in enough to do my usual more thorough well thought out posts.

For today I thought you might enjoy this: I had a commenter right me and tell me she found a book at an estate sale called, "Mrs. Owens Cookbook" and wanted to know what I knew about it. What I found out is that it was first written in 1870s and had a few reprints. Then I found this great link to the 1903 edition that will allow you to download it for free or read it online for free, so have at it gals. It is not 1950's but very intersting anyway. Enjoy and I hope it works. I had to use Firefox browser to get it to open to read online, but downloading might be easier and then you can read at your leisure whenever you want. Here is the LINK.
Now, here are some random summery 1955 photos to enjoy:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

1 August 1955 "Checking In...Having a Yard Sale"

I have been busy again and getting ready for a yard sale for tomorrow. I am determined to be prepared for our move come Sept.

Any good finds you want to share you found at yard sales?

I wonder how common they were in 1955?
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