Thursday, September 17, 2009

17 September 1955 “Home Sweet Home”

Well, these images of the house were meant to be shared yesterday, but part of the unpacking process has been playing the game, “where is it”. So, though I had my camera, I did not have the cable that allowed me to share these images digitally. Silly, really. I guess the ease of technology sometimes makes it easy to lose the small elements that make it possible in the first place. I wonder if the first transistors (which are becoming a new thing this year, check an earlier post) elicited such responses as, “Well, if they get any smaller, we’ll never be able to find them!” I am sure to those in 1955 (even with transistor radios just appearing ) the concept of MP3 players would be unimaginable.  Not only that, I am sure they would also wonder, “Why on earth would you NEED so much music all of the time?” Another cultural divide opens.

It makes me wonder, how much did music play in the life of the typical 1955 homemaker? I know my music listening has more than been cut in half. At first I noticed it, but now I really don’t. I have a good record collection at this point and my record player is unpacked, but I often find myself not listening to music as often as I once did. I think when I return to painting (pictures not walls)I will listen more, but I am not sure. Is it bad? Good? Not sure it is neither I suppose, just a different view.

I have cd’s of music and radio shows that are in an ‘old radio’ in my kitchen, but even then, I don’t always listen. Although, I do know that many people say the radio was on often back in those days, but I don’t think we were bombarded with noise and music and sound as much as we are today. I am sure the homemaker in my age group in 55 with kids probably wanted to destroy the television and the noise it would hail with the children returning from school. A parent in 1955 must have looked down at the child splayed in front of  ‘the set’ glassy eyed and motionless and wondered, “When I was his age I would have been…” And he would have been, too! Only, think how much that has changed. We are so many generations into TV now that the concept of “when I was young” may come up, but honestly most parents today probably spent as much time in front of the TV as kids today, I don’t know. 

I remember a few scenes in movies of the 1950s with parents being annoyed by their enraptured children. In “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit” (which won’t be made into a movie until next year 1956) there is a scene where the father has to haul his children from in front of the TV, commenting about the western that is on. “Is this the only program on,” he comments only to be sucked into it himself while drying and re-drying the same dish he was helping his wife clean moments before. It does lure one in and I wonder why? Well, that was a big digression, on with some photos and news.

Here are some shots of my little antique home: In this first one you can see my orange sofa I rather like. orange sofaIt has made my color scheme here the rich oranges and reds of wood tones. While I worked on a concept in the old house for a color scheme for the house, here my furniture just seemed to tell me where it wanted to live and suddenly the disparate parts of my previous home came together and said, “Ta-da,  here is your color scheme’.

The deep red of the dining room melds into the oranges and warm tones of the wood floors and ceiling held in check by the pale blue walls. In this same picture on the old door (they are original if you can believe it and they have the old latch system that predates ‘doorknobs’) next the sofa is a hand painted sign that reads “bathroom”. This was for my mother when she lived here as with her Alzheimer's she needed help sometimes. I haven’t the heart to remove it, so it stays. Speaking of my mother, I call this shot ‘mum’s corner’.mums cornerThe chair was my mother’s chair while she lived here and this was a favorite spot of hers. On the antique table sits a photo of my hubby and his mother when he is a boy on their sailboat. You can just see the old picket fence out front that meanders crookedly along the sidewalk out front. The neighbors beautiful red maple is visible. It is nice to know I can just stroll out the front door and walk to a local eatery or ride my bike into ‘town’. Here you can see the wall color better and the old yellow upholstery of the chair, which was destined to be recovered, is now going to stay. It fits with the tones of the house and I rather like its aged shabby velvet.

Next to mum’s corner sits the piano.pianoThere is much love and frustration in this old thing. It was my husbands piano growing up. He studied classical piano and had at one point been set for Juilliard. The piano has followed us around. We have moved it six times. And one does not move it by themselves, so we have got to know the piano movers fairly well. It is a sight to see them move it. The legs come off and its elegant long beauty becomes odd and disjuncted as it is set on end and wrapped in moving blankets and wedged through doors by sweating men.

What is interesting about the piano now is our last move put it in this house when we had my parents here. They were nice enough to allow us to put it here and when we moved back to the cape to the other house, we had to leave it. That meant it was suffered to various tenants, but we did not want to move it again. Somehow we must have known we were coming back, for there it sat waiting for us. I remember when we finally got back in here that first day not even two weeks ago, after the tenants had left. I was unpacking in the kitchen and the sound suddenly filled the little house. It was so good to hear it sing again at the hands of my hubby.

The bust on it once sat as the mascot for my flower shop. She, too, has moved often with us. She always gets the place of honor, in the front seat of my car when the move.  Maybe I am afraid she will come to life and walk off to live with another less nomadic family. Though, I think now she may stay put.

In this same room is the living room fireplaceAt one point in our living here years ago I had wanted to paint the wall and ceilings. Though, it most likely would have been done as the colonial period progressed, the work and detail of the exposed wood is too beautiful to cover with paint and it shall remain as it is. At least my wood paneling is the real thing so somehow I love it. The little chair on the hearth was mine as a small child and I can remember rocking in it for hours in my favorite red nightgown. Leaning there on the right (it will get hung on that wall when I get the right hooks) is an antique cranberry rake that I found one day in the back of an old shops basement when they were having a sale. Cranberries have a big history with the cape. The wood and hand bent metal match the patina of the house’s wood perfectly. Again, it is as if the things I have loved and collected have been waiting for this house. Even the old brass compass/sexton on the mantel has been hid away in it’s old box in storage, now it sits proudly waiting for the Whaling captain to return.

Now, in the dining room I have a lovely deep cranberry red. Another color I will not repaint. It looks a little more blood red than it is in the photo herebar but my hubby’s old pre-civil war map of New England looks wonderful against the color and even  “Hereford” my stuffed pheasant, seems happy here. This demi-lune side table works great as a bar and extra linen storage in the dining room. You can see the whiskey decanter is rather low, sometimes we need a little nip to help us get through the unpacking process.

In this same room is a built in corner cabinet. I think readers who have followed me for awhile will remember that I had an antique corner cabinet I put in the dining room redo I did at my other house. The funny thing is, that cabinet, had I left it in its original red color, would have gone perfectly in this room, but alas, it is now being enjoyed by the new tenants. But, this dining room has its own built in corner cabinet.china cabinet dining roomThe interior is painted a soft yellow and I was going to paint it the soft blue of the walls to go with my good china, which is rimmed in that color, but I rather like the warm yellow behind the blue and it ties into the kitchen , which is off this room, in the same yellow with red and blue accents. (I’ll show those pictures later).

So, that is the house thus far. The pictures really don’t do it justice, but you can see how simply old things live here with me. Any modern 1950’s items are either in the kitchen or will end up in my studio. I am happy with it. Normally, when I move into a new place, I immediately want to change everything, while here it feels right. The combination of memories of happy and even sad times with my family and friends mixed with the mellow tones and odd angles and slopes of the floor (if you stand in the living room you can drop a marble and it will roll towards the dining room, rather like being on a ship) just seem to fit me somehow. I mean, here we are,the pair of us, anachronistic to the core. We both look ‘of another time’, yet plopped down into the modern world. We will simply shine in our antiquity and let others either enjoy or disregard us, but we both feel very grounded in time. There is a sort of solidity to attaching oneself to a time that has gone by. You can feel a certainty that is not available to you in the unknown future. It gives you a rock upon which to stand as the deluge of life and its uncertain current rushes by. Perhaps, it is indulgent or unrealistic, but it does help one to have a strong base upon which to view the world.

Now, today I am making some blackberry jam and an apple and blackberry pie. Recipes and results will follow tomorrow.


  1. Beth from Upstate NYSeptember 17, 2009 at 5:46 AM

    About tv viewing habits: When I was growing up in the 60's parents never allowed children to watch the set when they had friends visiting. They would shoo us out of the house. When you went to a friend's house you played outside with a ball or dolls or you played a board game indoors. My children's friends do not know how to do these things. They only want to play games on the computer, or even just stand and watch one another play computer games. When they were younger, like 7 -10, I used to allow them to make cookies with their friends. This was a great treat, as few of the other children were allowed to make messes in their own kitchens or had any idea what teaspoons and tablespoons are all about. Now that my children are teenagers the kitchen has lost its allure. Their friends are completely uninterested in anything without a monitor. And so I have conceded the point, because otherwise no one would ever come over to visit them.

  2. As a homeschooling mother, I too have lots of little people who come to visit and they are without exception thrilled to bake cookies, bake bread, or stir up a batch of muffins. It is so heart warming to see young ladies who still enjoy the pleasures of home and homemaking.

    Your "new" home is just lovely 50sGal! I envy you so much the history of your home. I was to inherit my maternal grandparents home but unfortunately it was sold to cover medical expenses. The person who bought it tore it down as soon as the ink was dry!

    Many happy thoughts for you 50sGal! ~Mrs.J~

  3. The house is very sweet Donna! I wish you would consider painting the ceiling though. They are so dark! But, I'm sure they are beautiful. It must be an odd mix of excitement/rememberance moving back into a childhood home. We always moved around so much, so I couldn't even tell you where my childhood home would be! :)

  4. A super stylish set up! I love the wall colors, and I'm a particular sucker for that teal color in 'mum's corner.' That may be my favorite picture, it's just filled with serenity.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thank you all for you lovely comments. Just taking a break in my daily chores. I have still considered painting the ceiling, at least the wood between the main beams. As I said, it would have been painted in the past and it does feel dark during the day, we shall see. I think I will live with it and see how I feel. What do any of you think, painted or left wood? It is very dark wood, being so old.

  6. It just looks wonderful!
    So glad you are feeling 'at home' and enjoying the year!
    I rather like the 'dark' feel...reminds me of our home in the early 60's...wood paneling and dark ceiling. Very comfy and 'at home' warmth.

  7. PERFECTLY wonderful........Congratulations on this homecoming...Dianne

  8. Personally, I would paint the ceilings. I like rooms that feel more open and airy. I do love the pictures ad am very happy for you. We had an oportunity to purchase my paternal grandparents home (some of the money was needed for medical expenses), but I just couldn't do it. It would have ALWAYS felt like Ethel's house to me. No matter what I did to it.

  9. Well, we are lucky in that this home is not my parents home nor where I grew up. We were lucky enough, hubby and I, to buy this house from a friend about 10 years back. We moved my parents in for two years, so that is where I get the memories of my family. Luckily the house is also filled with the 'first home' memories of hubby and I as we struggled through the various things one must learn to be a homeowner, case in point, drain the garden hose before winter which we did not. This resulted in a great fountain of water spraying up the side of the house in the dead of winter, as it froze upon the old panes, making a lovely sculpture but scary none the less. I am torn about the beams. The local 'museum' houses (which are the same age as this one) have the beams unpainted, I think I might compromise and paint the boards between the beams white. I can get authentic milk paint (tho no lead added of course) where you use the pigment and milk etc as they would have done. It is hard to decide. The ceiling is made up of the large boards of huge trees. There was a law back in pre usa times when we were still under the king of england that trees a certain width belonged to england and could not be used by the colonists. The only way you were allowed to use such a tree is if it were felled in a storm, thus the term "wind-fall" was born. These beams are definitely a windfall tree, though some are marked and we have been told they may be from the hull of a ship. Any way, my point being with that history it is hard to paint over it. Perhaps I will do an area as a test spot and see what we come up with. There is a nice feeling of coziness that I also love, as this is not the type of house meant to have open sweeping vistas.

  10. maybe as a compromise (for the ceiling) you could tack up some fabric? It would also double as a bit of a sound barrier for the gaps between the planks. Just a thought, probably not authentic '50's solution, but I figured I'd throw it out there.
    When's the housewarming party?? :)

  11. Maybe we could do a halloween/housewarming party. This house has always been good for halloween parties.

  12. i would be cautious about painting the wood just b/c it's so old! i'm kind of a purist that way with historical stuff....but i see the point that it is rather dark. i wonder how the fabric idea would work???
    the party sounds like fun~even with no details. i love fall parties, all the candlelight and autumn colors. mmmm, hot cider sounds pretty good about now!!

  13. And don't forget cinnamon doughnuts!

  14. So glad you're finally home and getting settled after all that hard work.I'd imagine you can barely believe all you've accomplished over the past weeks.

    Re radio/music during the day at home - I do go through stages but generally I most enjoy the peace and quiet as I work around my home. From Linda

  15. doughnuts!! yes! i think you have inspired me to just bring on the fall food this weekend. the kids would be so thrilled to have cider and doughnuts!! and i have been craving pumpkin pie for weeks. i made pumpkin choc. chip muffins, but that didn't quite do it....

  16. Absolutely stunning ... beautiful. Have a great weekend. TTFN ~Marydon

  17. Donna, your home is just beautiful! The part about leaving the bathroom sign up from when your mother lived there brought tears to my eyes. How bitter-sweet it must be.


  18. S-it has been bittersweet. I will be happy and singing along and then my hand will run along a bit of shelf or rest on the arm of her old velvet chair and I will feel the lump in my throat, but I am happy to have the memory, at least.

  19. “I mean, here we are,the pair of us, anachronistic to the core. We both look ‘of another time’, yet plopped down into the modern world. We will simply shine in our antiquity and let others either enjoy or disregard us, but we both feel very grounded in time. There is a sort of solidity to attaching oneself to a time that has gone by. You can feel a certainty that is not available to you in the unknown future. It gives you a rock upon which to stand as the deluge of life and its uncertain current rushes by. Perhaps, it is indulgent or unrealistic, but it does help one to have a strong base upon which to view the world.”

    Wow, 50sgal, this paragraph really touched me. The giving of solidity by being attached to a time; the groundedness accomplished not caring what others may think. Thank you for this. It urges me on to a sampling of this myself. As in this horridly sped-up world, the unquenchable din every hour of every day, and the pressure one feels just to make it from dawn to dusk, a refuse is a much sought after relief.

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  21. Hi i have just found your blog and i was really excited when i was reading it. I love the 1950's and 60's and have so far designed my whole downstairs with orginal furniture and items for the home. I always wear my 50's style apron and have just lately this year started sewing and making my own along with curtains and cushions out of vintage fabric. My kitchen has a gorg red formica table along with the chairs and the stools etc. I use all the orginal dishes, bowls etc and my kids love it. I have some gorg record players and listen to my Dansette all the time along with my bakerlite radio its an age when i feel most comfortable and relaxed, I like nothing more than to be cooking in the kitchen or sewing. We have a small tv in the corner but you don't notice it. It is hardly ever used i have arranged my early 60's sofa and chairs around each other rather than the tv so its nicer to sit and talk and socialise with each other. It was a fantastic time of brightness, colours after the war and fun. I am so pleased to have found your blog and will enjoy following you. Dee ;-)


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