Saturday, October 31, 2009

31 October 1955 “Happy Halloween!”

halloween 6 halloween header 


I still have more Questions I have answered that I will post, but I had to do a Halloween post.

Here are some Teresa Brewer songs in the vein of Halloween. So fun!

Hubby and I were talking this morning about how different tricks or treats have become from when even we were younger. We were allowed to go in the dark and going at ‘the mall’ was not heard of. How much an example of our consumer economy when the ‘neighborhood’ for tricks or treats is replaced with the mall!

Though the ‘downtown’ neighborhood of my little cape town couldn’t be MORE out of a 1940/50’s movie. The old colonial and antique houses set together on crooked streets with great old trees pushing their way through side walked paths. I wonder how many children will trick or treat there? Most like many will encounter the mall instead. I am curious to find out.

Then we began talking about the freedoms of children today. How restricted they are. We found a product for toddlers that is a helmet and knee pads so it doesn’t hurt itself during the toddler years!

There is so much sensationalism on TV and news that sets fear into parents hearts even though nation wide since the mid 90’s crime has been going down. I also found this interesting, parents drive their kids everywhere due to the fear of their being kidnapped or attacked, but the number one cause of children's’ deaths IS auto accidents. And the statistic is that a child is 40% more likely to be hurt or killed in the car on the way home from school than just walking!

I then began to think about all the horrible CSI and shows of there ilk, that show dead bodies cut up, decomposing, etc. are there for any kid to see.  The type of death that is shown to children today is something that is very rare and one they may never encounter, yet actual death, that which we all face, is hidden. Old people, who are closer to death, are put in homes in great groups, separate from the young. I Remember my mother once told me back when she was little in the 30’s they still had the body of the dead relative in the front parlor as part of the funeral process. A kid today may seen endless images of bodies cut up, hurt, destroyed in movies and on TV, yet the actual natural state of the old and their death is mostly kept from them. The very natural process we all face is kept hidden away, the machine moves us further from our own natural states, in a way.

I guess, it just seems we isolate children and teens more and more from the realities of the world and then wonder at their ‘not growing up’. They have an odd mixture of over coddling and protecting mixed with insane amounts of over sexualized media. It is a very odd mix. I wonder what will their off spring be like?

halloween kids I also know that costumes, though available to buy in 1955, were still predominately made. If your mother did not sew, than old clothes and make up were used to make you a pirate or a princess or a hobo. halloween kids2 halloween3halloween 2 Today, SO many costumes, cheaply made of plastic and fabric sold for one night and then tossed away. What does that teach our children? If you need something for a night of creativity, go buy it and then throw it out when you are done. How about, use your imagination and with what we have around see what great costume you can make. The more I think about children today the more I see how we honestly are raising up our little consumers with no fear of making more garbage and buying their little lives into debt.

halloween 7 I just remember as a child the fun of getting to stumble about in the dark to do trick or treating. You would have a parent with you, but you would beg to get to run ahead and go to the next house, while they waited on the sidewalk. I am sure generations before me, they were allowed to go without the parents. I know that the world has more people and more cars since then, but it is another example of the consumer culture we live in when we drive our children in cars to their bus stop to be picked up.

Again, I am not judging as I have no children and I would be worried to death with my own children, I am sure, but I find it odd that parents are over protective in some ways and then in malls and large stores they just let them run off, where they should be watched. I just sometimes have those moments that I am in a movie and look around and wonder at all the crazy things going on around me. But, then again, perhaps it is I who am crazy, who knows?

halloween card1 Now, back to Halloween. There seems to be so many cards from 1900’s featuring Halloween.halloween card2 It must have been the custom to give cards for this holiday then. It seems there were parties and soaping windows and pranks were more a part of the night then getting candy from neighbors as evidenced by this cute card.halloween card3The little devils are getting toted away after a night of shenanigans!

  This is a very early Halloween photo from around 1900. It has an almost ‘modern sinister’ appearance to it, but that makes me wonder at my own lost innocence when I view things. halloween 1900

So, were I truly a homemaker and a mother in 1955, I could count on my my mother having enjoyed these types of Halloween at the turn of the century. Of course, their own fun and costume ideas could have been imparted onto the children of the 1950s, but at this time, the TV was a major staple and with comic books, the kids most likely didn’t care about grandma’s Halloween and just wanted to be superhero’s and cowboys and get candy.

50s witch So, no matter how you celebrate, have a great Halloween and a fine All Souls Day tomorrow.

I forgot about this scene in “Meet Me in St. Louis” which is suppose to take place at the turn of the century around 1900 or so.

And just for fun, I love this song from that movie, though nothing to do with Halloween.

Friday, October 30, 2009

30 October 1955 “Questions and Answers: Part Two of Three”

Here is the second installment of my questions and answers. I really found, going through these questions, how much I have changed and really studied this year. I hope you enjoy it and please, though they are my answers, chime in with your own ideas!

  • How completely have you changed your lifestyle to accommodate the 1950’s way of life.

I changed as much was/is possible and still functional. Obviously, the use of my computer was important in order to document my project. I have found, however, that computer (though once used for entertainment) now serves as a combination typewriter/reference library.

My dress is completely vintage. I wear girdle and stockings  (no panty hose) and mainly dresses and skirts. I have one pair of dungarees (blue jeans) that I wear for work around the yard or sometimes house work. These are high waisted and I can’t believe how much MORE comfortable they are than the modern ‘low rise’ jeans.  Hats and gloves, pocket books, and hankies, all  of these are of the period and many authentic when possible. Although,  my wardrobe of handmade dresses is growing, using vintage repro patterns. I am to the point where I am trying to take a very basic bodice pattern that fits me and then I ‘make up’ the rest of the pattern. If I see a ‘style’ I like in a movie or vintage Vogue, I want to be able to copy in a way that it feels ‘inspired’ by it. I think a sewing homemaker would have most likely ventured into her own pattern making. In fact, I am sure in High School and College level Home Economics, she would have learned pattern making. 

  • Where did you source your 1950’s clothing and décor from?

A mixture of local antique/thrift stores and church sales. I also found many things on ebay (my vintage cone bra for example).

  • Has your husband joined in with the 1950’s theme?

As I said, my husband is very easy going and never wonders at what I might do next. He takes it all in stride. He is rather 1950’s in many ways, already, such as his manner of dress. He owns one pair of jeans which he rarely wears. He wears mostly ‘dress slacks’ and even cotton pants for working in the yard. He wears ties, sweater vests etc and has a very 1950’s haircut. He does not wear tennis shoes except to go running, so really he blends right in. He is also a pipe smoker and collects and uses antique typewriters, so it was rather a nice fit. We seem to find ourselves very ‘at home’ in the 1955 role of breadwinner husband and homemaker wife both in clothing and attitudes.

I think our attitudes as two educated middle class people, we are very similar to our counterparts. Though I love vintage clothes and can get rather excited about talking about petticoats and things, we have very real political discussions concerning the period, much the way I think our 1955 counterparts would have.

  • What is your knowledge on Dior’s ‘New Look’ that came out in 1947, following WWII?

belle epoch Considering Dior grew up in a fairly wealthy household and had memories of his mother and female family in the luxury of the Belle Epoch, his New Look (so dubbed by the then editor of Harper’s Bazaar, Carmel Snowharpers who exclaimed, “It’s such a new look”) seems to be his response to what he fondly recalled and what was needed after the war. The New look1 new look2 new look3

I think fashion will always look back before it looks forward. Any true innovation of fashion always has some nod to the past. roman-statues-2regency In the Regency Period, for example, the look of the classical Greek and Roman statues were copied into the Empire waist.  Napoleon, feeling akin to the Roman Emperors, affected such changes himself.

The idea of copying a previous time period you are fascinated with is not an new idea at all. Even the colors, sleeves and necklines of the 1870’s Victorian period were a direct nod to the French era of Marie Antoinette. 1870s dress  1872 worth gown marie antoinette And so Dior, after the war, wanted to give back to the world some of the beauty and femininity of the world that had been lost in the war. A world he most likely could remember in the tactile sense of youth; the rustle of the petticoat, the sway of full fabric from a small sashed waist. And I really do think that the New Look was a way to bring back some of the good that was lost after the world changed in an almost innocent way. We could leave the ideals of privilege and class in the past, but let there be beauty and femininity again. In a very simple manner he gave back a sense of luxury and innocence that had been lost.

With the restriction of fabric during the war, the look of the 1930s (which was returning to a longer skirt) certainly directed the look. There was only so much fabric.  A new silhouette was really needed in the fashion world. The hard military shoulders and knee length skirts of the war couldn’t be further away from the New Look, with its yards of full skirt, soft sloped shoulders and nipped in  waist.

What I find interesting is at this time and really only until the late 1960’s, what the fashion houses dictated as fashion would affect most people. Even if you were not wealthy, if the ‘fashion’ was a full skirt to mid calf that meant the wealthy in New York would wear a Dior original, but also the young wife in Idaho also would follow suit. That was why there was such an outrage against it by those who wanted the freedom and sensuality of the shorter skirt. When, in reality, they could have simply just worn what they liked. And THAT is the big difference in our two worlds. Today, a woman wears what she likes. And to that, I am happy. Yet, I do wish there was a return to the idea of a ‘style’ that could be set and then copied by those in their own way. Somehow it almost seems as if that allows more originality. Because, it seems when we are given the option to wear anything, we always revert back to jeans and T’s. That is fine if you choose that and it doesn’t choose you, yet I hear from women all the time how they WISH they could wear vintage, or have the nerve to wear hats. It is odd that given MORE freedom we somehow feel more restricted, odd isn’t it.

Now, I am not saying I want to put holds on anyone’s freedoms, but what I am saying, ladies, is that for those of you who long and pine for the days of beauty in clothes, you have the choice our grandmothers DID NOT! So, watch some old movies or read old vogue, look at Edith Head designs and get to sewing! The world around you can be changed. You might be the woman brave enough to wear that veiled 1950’s hat and gloves to the store, party or church and other women will think, “Oh, my, how adorable”. We always do. No matter how removed we can pretend to be from fashion as women, let’s face it, fashion has existed BECAUSE of us. Again, another powerful part of our woman’s history. We WORE the corsets and bustles and farthingales. Men may have manufactured them, but WE gave them life! Embrace it! Sometimes I feel that we as women are so powerful, but we feel the need to hide or suppress it. If it takes nerve to wear a full on 1950s outfit down to the girdle or even an 1850’s, then we can do it! You might affect the style in your own town and honestly wouldn’t you rather be thought of as having your own style than not thought of at all?

Well, I got off topic a little, I am sorry, that bit was more for my post, back to Dior and the New Look.

I have often wondered if Dior was also influenced by a very small trend that occurred right after WWI started. Many fashions then were needed to become practical. . The idea that women would suddenly need, en masse, to take over male roles of work was beyond comprehension up to this point, though we often forget that there was always a class of woman who worked hard physical labor, servants. Their role certainly became easier as fashion became less complicated, but then they slowly were done away with as the century progressed. But, fashion was for the wealthy and then the copiers of fashion, the middle class.  That is why I think the “War Crinoline” look became popular that spring of 1915. We had not yet realized what the new roles for women would entail. The fashions had become rather mannish and stark and this was a response to a need for the feminine form. When you see the fashion plates, you can easily see the new look. Particularly in this image, the navy dress and the pink dress with an overlay could probably have simply had a tight belt at the waist and been worn in 1949 as Dior’s New Look.

1915warcrinolintrend_thumb1 In the spring of 1915, however, fashion changed radically with the introduction of an outline known at the time as the 'war crinoline.' Hemlines crept upward and the skirt was now very full and bell-shaped, with wide collars and sloping shoulders.

So, this odd year of overtly feminized form of course was quickly replaced with the more practical war clothes of WWI.

So, having both grown up with ladies of high society in lush exuberant gowns and having living in Paris during the stark years of the war as well as the severe silhouette of Chanel in the 1920’s, this was really a groundbreaking look. Yet, and I am sure he was aware of it, it was highly influenced by the past. And, even the ‘war crinoline’ of 1915 is merely a reinterpretation of the 1840s-1860s Victorian period of full skirts culminating in wasp waist full skirt and sloped shoulders.

I think, much as I have found with my own project, we can and should look to the past for inspiration and ideas. In a way, those who have already lived have had to make mistakes and it is silly for us not to learn from them. Dior saw a need in both Fashion and probably in his own heart, after the devastation of the war, to a return of gentler more comforting times. The era where ladies had small waists, milled about in full gowns and sat daintily sipping tea under large hats, and thus the NEW LOOK was born. That, anyway, is how I see it.


  • What do you think of this style of clothing, with the 8-inch waist and 25 meters of material in one skirt alone?

For myself, I adore Dior’s look. I am tall and can carry a full skirt mid-calf fairly well. I do recall there being a backlash from women at the New Look because they had to cover their legs after the freedoms of the War and certainly for a shorter frame it might not be as complimentary.

Since I am living in 1955, the New Look is not so new any more. My skirts, for the most part, are very full. I actually prefer a full skirt with petticoat over the pencil skirt, though I do wear those as well. My full skirts tend to run a little closer to the knee, as would be happening now in 1955, and by 1962 you would still have that silhouette but the skirt would be just at the knee, also very flattering. Compared to the later 1960’s short straight A-ling dresses, I think the New Look is a woman’s best friend. There are many ways to hide ‘flaws’ in the New Look, while the mini dresses of the 1960’s bared all.

There is something supremely feminine in the New Look. The fall of the skirt, the way it moves and the sound of the petticoat and crinoline. Even my housedresses that I clean in are full skirted, though often worn without my petticoat, they are a joy to clean in, as I can move about freely, are very comfortable in the summer (when my girdle was only worn ‘out in public’ as I was told my ladies of the time that was correct).

What I can say to any of you who have not worn the New Look, you must try it at least once. There is something etheral about walking into a room feeling the movement of your skirt and the way it falls as you sit. It gives a lovely look, and I have to say, in it’s suit form, is very smart. I love the looks of other time periods, say the 1920’s, but if you are fuller figured, the New Look is for you!

  • What do you think this meant for women? Did you find this a form of oppression and push for conformity for women, or did you find this luxurious and ‘housewife’ ideal appropriate?

I think any intentional form of ‘oppression’ through clothes upon women is rather a modern ideal. Perhaps, other than Poiret’s hobble skirt of the teens, which literally restricted movement of the legs, fashion on women was never ‘inflicted’ in my opinion.

There were certainly those who may have suffered with the corset, probably Victorian servants in upper class households for example, but for the majority of it’s existence it was no more oppressive than a modern bra. In fact, I don’t believe it was until later Victorian (1870s-1900) that the ‘tight lacing’ of the wasp waist was really a infliction on your body.  A corset of say the Regency Period or even Victorian around 1840 was more about holding a shape to conform to the fashion. Now, I am not saying I want us to have to wear corsets or girdles, but I am saying that in the past society lived in a more patterned way. Really, any woman could have stopped wearing her corset, she was not literally being ‘forced’ into it everyday. But the moral fiber and laws of society themselves required you, if you wanted to participate, to follow those rules. Do I think those rules were set only by men, no. This is something that I think really needs further study. I am sure, for every one woman who despised her corset, there were ten ladies reveling in it. This concept that men, until the 1960’s, held us in an iron clawed grip is, to me, a farse. We have more freedoms now and I am glad for it, but we have always had the potential for those, but we chose, collectively, to focus on other aspects of our society. Women, by nature, are nurturers biologically. You have only to look at other mammals to know that. So, we tend to be the ones who quietly allow there to be serenity, to make a comfortable home to live in. What we need to realize now is that equality is not about FORGETTING or throwing away anything we think, as modern women, is servitude: such as homemaking skills! We really do a disservice to our own history in so doing.

I think there were definitely women who had tasted the freedom of the workforce during the war and did not want to go back. Certainly they would prefer a different look and actually the office look at the time was more streamlines, with fitted jackets and pencil skirts, but for the women who did want to return home, it must have been a luxury. As I said, there were many women who actually protested the New Look, but it had nothing to do with ‘men’s oppression’ and in fact most men, had they had the choice, would have not wanted it either, because really the look of the war showed much more leg! And that is another thing I have noticed about modern times. Men obviously like to see women. The new look was more about how we felt as women in being pretty. It covered us up more, but we didn’t care as we were pleasing ourselves not the men. Today, fashion seems to be akin to strippers and lingerie models. Somehow the ideal has become to be as sexy for men as possible. Now, that seems more degrading to me than getting to wear pretty dresses with frou frou and fun, which many women DO enjoy rather men do or not.

So, I can only really speculate what was really felt by the common homemaker. For me, coming from a world of jeans and very few dresses being seen except for ‘nice dinners out and parties’ it was like the joy of a little girl getting to play in her dress up box or her mother’s closet. I would think that must have been true for some women, especially war brides as I would have been. If you are lucky enough to have your husband return home, the thought of making that home, raising children, decorating, going out and looking beautiful meant a great deal to them. Even in my experiment I cannot ever fully know how it must have felt to go from your world exploding around you and the constant fear of death to the reality that you could dress up and be pretty and have parties in your new home with new things and color everywhere! It must have seemed, for many, a magical time.

  • What are your thoughts on women’s role during this era?

I think one of the main elements of my project was to see, was the primary role of women of the time as homemaker (and mother, though I do not have children) a good or bad one?  Though certainly after the war, women were expected to give up their jobs to the men and become wives, many did not or they continued working while being married.

I think what I have found is that one of the main roles of women throughout recorded history has been that of Homemaker in one way or another. It is only after this year that I am beginning to see what a treasure and important aspect this is to Women’s History. Rather we feel, by modern standards, that it was ‘enforced’ upon women, I am afraid that we are now too quick to judge. I have found that the attitude “Oh, Just a Housewife” slaps the face of all our fore sisters in the face. Our role of nurturer, nester, and all that has become homemaking is riddled with skill and accomplishment. I think now that women have CHOICES that Homemaker should still be a valid one. I also feel much of Homemaking skills should be taught to both boys and girls at a young age, as to care for oneself, to be self-sufficient in this way is important. Rather you have a husband making the income or you are single, such skills as cooking/baking, mending clothes, being budget wise, familiar with the working of appliances, making clothes etc, all these are important elements.

So, though we see the 1950’s primarily as a time that woman was a Homemaker or a nurse or schoolteacher, the children of these women were open to more careers. There were also women doctors and engineers etc. I do feel, however, that the role of woman in this era as a Homemaker should be taken more seriously. I feel that role and all it entailed could even help today in our economy and planetary crisis. The green movement could be greatly improved by following the rules of the old homemakers household, where things were reused, repaired and garbage was considered reusable, before becoming garbage. Even the ability to make more things from simple stock ingredients reduces the amount of garbage we make with packaging. I always laugh, particularly now, at bottled water. If we were to time travel to 1955 and tell them that you would have to pay for water in a bottle, I am sure they would have laughed at us. But, we aren’t laughing, we are buying it by the truckloads and many other pre-packaged things and clothing and cheap furniture and the list goes on. I think much of what we make fun of as the role of the homemaker may prove to be a solution for all if we want to seriously restrict our garbage, but unfortunately, our consumer culture does not want that, because then we will buy less, but that also means more savings for us. We really will begin to see the Homemaker’s skills as a remedy for the ills of our current economy and nation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

28 October 1955 “Question and Answer: Part One of Three”

I received a letter from a follower that asked the following:

As a part of my literary journalism subject, i have to complete a 6000 word feature story about a topic, utilizing both primary and secondary research.

I think that what you are doing with your blog is amazing and i commend you on your efforts! It is quite my accident i stumbled upon your blog whilst doing some research for my story. I want to focus my story on the 1950's fashion and how it was reflective of women's evolution during that time (post WWII). I would love to be able to talk to you about why you are spending the entire year living in 1955 and why you have chosen this year and what you have discovered.

I have a million questions I'd love to ask you - how people have reacted to you doing this, how it has impacted on your life, are you happier etc.

I was honored that she should think of me and I have therefore (with her permission) included her questions and my answers. I found it an interesting way to look back at this year and thought you might enjoy it as blog posts. There are 21 questions in all, so I am going to break them up over a few posts over the next three days.

As you know I can get a bit ‘wordy’ so it is rather long, so I want to do it as three posts of the questions and my answers. I hope you find it interesting and not too long winded.

  • What inspired you to start this project?

Looking back now I can actually find deeper reasons for this need to return to a time period in which I never actually lived. A need to find myself in a way that I did not yet understand. Initially, I found myself drawn to the 1950s through the fashion and pop iconography as well as films of the era. It also has many preconceived ideas, at least in this country when you say 1950’s, many people have similar ideas and images. I wanted to test those ideas and assumptions and see what I found. I was not to be disappointed.

I have always had an affinity for the past. I love history and all its facets. I think many of us have read historical fiction and thought, “What if I could live then?” Although I adore the 19th century, the more I read and looked at the pop iconography and media on mid 20th century America, the more I became intrigued. It became apparent that with a few minor exceptions (computer, modern cars) I could, for the most part, really re-create 1955. Even now, thinking upon the idea gives me goose bumps.

I had seen reality shows address various time periods and was sometimes amazed at how modern the people remained within the constraints of the ‘past’. Somehow, I felt I could do it better. I had actually seen another blog of a young lady trying to relive 1950’s but she found herself really challenged and psychologically I think it was too much for her, perhaps it was because she was also a young mother. For me, I am childless. So, with a pliable husband and a willing friend (she was to become Gussie our sometimes maid) I forged ahead and have not looked back.

Now having lived as best I could in 1955 for almost a year, I have to see this choice had its own elements of psychology for me. It has changed me and challenged me in ways I never thought. Though the initial concern was wearing the clothes etc, the reality of it became the learning and skills involved in being a 1955 Homemaker, skills I now cherish and to which I wish to add.

Why the 1950’s?

Again, as I had initially found, it seemed a decade not too unlike our own in terms of technology. No home computers, but phones, cars, TV, Magazines, Dishwashers, Washer and Dryers.

Of course, this is the American version of 1950’s. I have come to find out how much this decade for Europe and other countries was in fact still very restricted with rationing continuing and very little money. But, in my country, it was  sort of re-birth  or Renaissance of the middle class. A new middle-class was coming of age. A home for every returning G.I. with a postage stamp lawn to garden and barbeque, a new car in the drive, 2.5 kids, a dog, the club, PTA; the whole epitomized reality that we now make fun of or aspire to. This American middle class concept was new and shiny.

There was certainly a middle class in America before that, but the 19th century middle class was vastly different and even exclusive of  blue collar workers or laborers. One needed to be somewhat educated or have a certain type of job. Rather a bank clerk or a lawyer, you could be various degrees of middle class, but in post WWII America, a car mechanic, a laborer, could be middle class. There was an equality to it that had not really existed before the war, I think.

I have  become so intrigued by this decade, as I do feel it was,  culturally and political, a turning point for out country. I have almost become defensive of it and its generation, as we are now mainly lead to believe that the 1960s were the liberating decade. When really the 1950’s saw many changes occur that lead into the 1960s. Rosa Parks this year, 1955, will refuse to sit on the back of the bus. There were already white picket lines pointing out the ridiculous attitude of “no blacks at the counters” in cafe’s. The overall sense of unity and a new world that occurred during this time really was the beginning of the equality we still strive for today.

Certainly, when taken out of context in the modern world, the 1950’s can seem such a time of  constriction and oppression, but put into its place not so far from, say 1900, it was a very free time. Many people were getting better jobs and wages, as I said the middle class was more open and available, and the idea that the color or our skin or our sex determined our abilities was already being questioned in a LARGE way compared to say 1910.

  • What is it that fascinates you about this era?

I really feel that we sort of stood on the precipice of  a great choice in the 1950s. Post war technology and medicine began to grow so rapidly and after all the bloodshed of the war, I think the human condition was uppermost in most peoples minds.

Somehow, though, we had a chance to embrace it all and move towards an equality that I think was very American. Yet, I feel our choice went towards what we could HAVE rather than what we could DO. This was a time when the political world was poised, through tv and such media, to really take it’s control.

It is funny to me that in the beginning of the 1950’s McCarthyism  and fear of Socialism and Communism seems to really have been used to keep we Americans in a state of fear that somehow molded us into consumers. I am actually baffled today that we do not think anything of bailing out huge companies that were failing (though they failed us in outsourcing and closing local factories to move overseas) but we still stumble when it comes to healthcare. The very right of every US citizen to be healthy. It would seem, after the carnage of WWII that healthcare for all would have been important.

Of course, at this point in time the cost of healthcare and the large growth of the insurance companies and the increase mentality of ‘lawsuits’ had not come about. But, it was the beginning.

So, this time almost has a magical moment, I think, particularly for American’s because it seems to be that point in time when we could have taken one of two paths. Yet, it is still close enough to living memory that somehow we could get back some of the good. We could have technology, modern things AND humanity. That is what I hope we can begin to realize and I honestly think study and showing the truth of this decade could help modern people to start making choices that will lead to a better America and one that is in fact more true to our countries original intent.


  • What has the response been from family and friends for your decision to spend the year in the 1950’s?

Well, my husband took it in stride. I have a lucky marriage in that my hubby and I are both creative (he writes and plays piano) and are big ‘thinkers and philosophizers’. We have done various things seen odd by friends. We once both quit our jobs, bought a sailboat and did that for six months. So, this was just another adventure: He as the middle class business man, I the happy homemaker. We have both fell rather easily into our roles, much to the surprise of a few people, I think.

I actually had an odd instance in that one of my close friendships was sort of lost due to my experiment. This particular friend was so excited by my project that she would even visit me in 1950s garb, go  girdle shopping together, and she began to talk of her own wish to be a homemaker. Unfortunately, through a series of events that I am still unclear of, she broke off from me. There was no discussion. I heard through a mutual friend that she was upset about a post I had written concerning modern video games, though she herself did not read it. She took it the wrong way. We are now starting to resume our friendship. I have come to realize that many of the realities of was coming to know questioned her self and place in the world in a way she was not, and is still not, ready to accept or consider. I was surprised by it.

I have also felt sometimes by various friends a sort of “Oh, how cute what you are doing” in a sort of thinly veiled guise of, ‘How silly’. But, as I have stuck to it and really do outwardly act and feel different, I think most people now just accept it as fact about me.

  • What’s the most important thing you have learnt?

I have learned so much. Being rather prosaic, I will rant on about them here, but I think the most important thing I learned was the importance of Self-reliability and concern for the world in which I live. Really, I have learned MATURITY.

In many ways, I feel my eyes are so open to the modern world because of this project. Even my concept of the new “green” way of thinking was challenged. I found the very act of consuming less and really reusing and repairing and saving was just a normal part of the past while our modern response to it is to buy MORE products that will somehow lead us to less waste, which of course is ridiculous.

It is odd that I needed to travel to 1955 in order to better understand 2009. It was a trip worth taking, however.


Tomorrow, I will post more of the questions and answers, I hope you enjoy it and not find it too wordy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

26 October 1955 “What I Learned From My VICTORY WEEK and more”

55 plymouth This is an advert for a lower end Plymouth. I wonder what happened to the bench seat? Did it disappear because of some sort of safety reason? Was it to keep the woman from sitting snuggled to the man, as you see in old movies, in case of an accident? Does anyone know? I have to say it looks so much more comfortable and practical than bucket seats, and boy do you lose things down between the seat and console, at least I always seem to.

So, VICTORY WEEK has ended and here are some of the things I learned. First off, I can be even more inventive than I had already thought. At the end of the week, for a dessert, I had a few apples and some butter left, but not enough for a pie, so of course Baked apples. This recipe was actually quite nice as it felt very ‘apple pie’-ish and yet much lower calorie without all the crust!


4 Tart apples, cored

2 TBS butter

1 TBS flour

1/4 cup brown sugar (I actually use white sugar and put a little molasses drizzled.  I know only make my own brown sugar with one tbs molasses to every one cup sugar. It is cheaper and it allows me to have molasses in the house for other reasons without buying that and brown sugar)

1/2 tsp vanilla

Nutmeg and cinnamon to taste

Pare apples half way down. Put in baking dish, pared side up. Melt butter. Stir in flour and mis well. Add sugar and vanilla. SPread over apples. sprinkle with cinnamon etc. Bake at 425 until crust is set. Lower temperature to 350. Bake until apples are tender (about 30 mins.)

I also noticed that, as I had mentioned before, I can stretch the amount of meat we eat even further with really not too much notice from hubby. I found myself eating less for breakfast, as well, as I would give up my rations for hubby since he had to have energy for his day of work, while I could always have a midmorning snack of say bread crust and jam.

I have to say that I surprised myself and feel that, though I do not want to deprive myself, there could be at least one week a month where I really trim back the groceries and not have it hurt too much. In fact, I am going to readjust our budget to a weekly budget from a monthly budget (A tip I learned from one of the films I showed you) so, in so doing I will enable myself one week a month to have a little extra from the grocery budget to either store away in a ‘Kitchen Emergency Fund’. I figure this fund could be like the Kitchen’s Pin Money, so one week if I have spent the budget for groceries but realized I forgot flour or something, I can steal it form there. Or, if there is something for hubby’s work where I need to bake extra or make something for he to take to work, it could come from there. I might, being of the artistic bent, make a darling little container out of an old cigar box or jar decorated to keep somewhere in the kitchen. So, budget-wise I feel VICTORY WEEK helped there.

As I had mentioned before, it also made me think more about my garbage. When you have your cupboards more bare (and I tried to stick to what I had for the week without taking from the pantry to get a more ‘rationed’ experience)you think more about what you throw away. I have already, since 1955, done this more. Most things are saved for future meals or for the dogs etc. But, bread crusts, or half eaten toast began to look like future meal filler. I don’t throw much food away, but sometimes at breakfast if hubby didn’t eat all of his egg, but part of it (and the dog’s won’t eat it, they are very picky) it would get tossed. I found myself saving it in a Tupperware to add to ‘cottage pie’ later in the week. Some would think, “Oh, no, germs, that’s garbage'” But it was only my hubby and I eating it, so it wasn’t as if I was giving it to company. Really, the level to which we waste food is becoming even more appalling to me. I can’t imagine in nursing homes and public schools and hospitals what they must throw away!

I also began to think how during the War, the country could rally together against a common enemy and work to ‘Save for Victory’ “Garden for Victory” etc and how, now that we do realize how much we waste and hurt the planet etc, how that some sort of common goal of “Unified Victory” could really work to make all our lives better, but that in our modern Consumer drive world of big box stores and etc really controlling the government through lobbyists, how that could never happen. It really got me thinking that if in the new year, if one of my ‘projects’ is to promote more community and to see if you ladies would, in your own communities, want to foster your own “Vintage Club/Apron Revolution” clubs a sort of Vintage Junior League, maybe we could, ourselves, help with such ideas. When ladies come together we can often accomplish a lot. Especially since, even in the modern world, the government and many still very male-driven organizations wouldn’t even notice us. We would just be groups of nice ladies in hats and gloves having charity teas, but how honestly such an Apron Revolution could really help us locally. Posters, meetings, bake sales, etc all to help us become aware of how to not waste, how to scrimp and manage our money, how to repair and use old and not continually buy buy buy and throw away. I think it just sounds such a lovely idea. I am not sure how we can go about it as of yet, but I DO know it will be part of my New Year Project.

You see, the one main element I felt during the VICTORY WEEK was the lack of camaraderie that must have existed amongst those women who had to ‘get along and get to business’. We have one another here online and I am glad for that, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could foster it in our own communities as well? It seems a little intimidating to me as well and yet I feel driven enough to try it somehow. So, the idea of community, thrift and waste really were driven home from one week. It is amazing how when you really just approach a day  more alive or awake to your actions how you really feel in control of your life and empowered in a way to make it better for yourself. I mean, when I ran out of things during VICTORY WEEK I had to make do. I had to stop and think and manage something out of it. It really made me feel, even more, that the mind and imagination are one of the prime tools of a homemaker and so needed to achieve our ACTION!

I also, more than ever, really found that the kitchen really is a mix between a science laboratory, art studio, and Think Tank. If you have the right BASIC ingredients, you can make just about anything! From Glue to Bread to Window cleaner, so buying pre-made is really, even more so, going to be uppermost in my mind.

So, VICTORY WEEK had made me make the following concrete changes to my routine.

1. One week out of the month is a VICTORY WEEK (I will cut my weekly budget in half and buy what I can with that and make d0 and the rest goes into my darling decorated “Kitchen Pin Money” box/jar

2.Less Waste. Before anything, food or other (such as my dryer lint) goes in the garbage I stop and think, “Is there ANY use for this, or can I make this product myself so I don’t have this box/bottle/container to throw away?

3.The idea of community. To share my findings (as I do here) but in some form in the new year within my own community.

So, all in all, I would say VICTORY WEEK was really a success for me. I feel now as if I can take every challenge head on and rather I fail or not, I know I will learn something. I think that is one of the main lessons learned this year, that doing more and trying to challenge yourself doesn’t lead to disappointment or frustration, but to liberation and empowerment. I can make my own jam, wear the pretty dress, clean, organize and save. Do I miss the time I don’t have for hours of TV or mindless shopping? NO.

50s beauty Now, I think along with being a homemaker and learning to budget and save and manage, another element is as important. It is another thing I think really lacking from the modern world and one that certainly could easily be reintroduced. The idea of glamour. Feeling pretty and well groomed. Even if you don’t aspire to vintage clothes, there are many pretty modern ‘nice or fancy clothes’ that deserve a daily wearing. I think this coming week I will try and focus on some beauty ideas and tips. I need to get some get photos of simple hairstyles I now wear. Having short hair and bangs allows so many different ways to wear hair and so much easier to care for than long straight in your face locks. It seems as if even the creativity in ones hairstyles is gone. A person gets a cut and style and that is it everyday. With the right cut (one you can even maintain yourself ladies to save on your budget) you can have different styles for different occasions and still feel ‘movie star’ gorgeous throughout the day, even if only the grocer or the dog sees you. You deserve to be pretty for YOURSELF and as it becomes more of your daily life, you will WANT to go out and mingle and ‘show it off’ more.

I also want to share in tomorrow’s post an interesting thing. One of my followers, I believe she lives in Australia, is writing a paper and wants me to answer a series of questions for her. I am, with her permission of course, to post the questions and my answers as the next post. I think it should be interesting. I am hoping when she finishes her paper she could somehow link the final result for us to read.

I fogot, a commenter gave these wonderful tips on stretching milk and butter. I have not tried it yet, but am going to. Here they are:

"Speaking of stretching and conserving. I thought I would pass along a couple little hints first,about butter. (since you mentioned butter in this post) Here's a very inexpensive way to "stretch" your butter. (this only works with butter NOT margarine) Let one stick of butter come to room temperature. Put it in a bowl with 1/4 cup of canola oil (good for you) mix with electric mixer till the oil is incorporated in the butter. Then slowly add 1/4 cup of cold water to the butter while the continuing to mix with electric mixer. Mix until creamy and smooth. Store in the door of the fridge and it will be softer to spread then regular butter. (I do a pound of butter at a time...4 sticks of butter, 1 C. oil, 1 C. cold water = 2 lbs. butter!)

Also, stretch a gallon of milk cheaply too. Split a gallon of milk between 2 gallon jugs. Add one can of evaporated milk to each jug and fill with water. TaDa...2 gallons of milk! Or if you are down to a half a gallon, add a can of evaporated milk and fill with now have a gallon of milk again!"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

24 October 1955 “Tea Parties and Buffet Suppers”

I have not found my usual time to post my blog today. I would like to discuss the end of VICTORY WEEK and share some recipes, but for this Saturday night, I offer you up these helpful movies about “Arranging a Tea Party” and “The Buffet Supper”. I found them, though simple, rather helpful and fun; just a reinforcement of common sense.

Let me know what you think. Perhaps, in the future, we should propose a tea party day a month, or buffet supper for friends or  something along those lines. We could try and get back into such habits and share recipes, ideas, and outcomes.

Next, is a movie laying out a Buffet Supper. I love that they show a younger woman asking and learning from an older woman. She could be a wise neighbor or a parent or grandparent. Buffet suppers can be nice for holiday parties, such as tree trimming or cookie baking party, since a more formal sit down meal would most likely be left for actual Day of the Holiday. What do you think of the advice, silly or helpful?


Thursday, October 22, 2009

22 October “Some News and Vintage Week Thus Far”

new yorker oct 22 1955 This is the New Yorker cover from today 22 October 1955. I think it very telling of what is coming our way. The increasing technology and impending waste. Here you can see the old Victoria, the old 30’s radio and now the mad is carrying up his out of date TV set with the tiny little screen. Flash forward and replace the attic with a landfill and welcome to our future.

time oct 55 This Time from 17 October features Ed Sullivan. A new force in tv.

Tonight in 1955 CBS would broadcast in color for the first time and did this production with Mary Martin and Noel Coward. Unfortunately I can only find the b/w version of the show, but good anyway. Here is a clip of Mary Martin and then one of Noel Coward.

churchill victory poster I thought I should report on VICTORY WEEK thus far. I have to say I am surprised by a few things this week. First off, I felt maybe the list was rather sparse, but was surprised when it cost similar to what I had been spending, but I did include prices for things that I would not buy every week. I have noticed, much to my surprise, that I have not starved nor felt slighted as of yet.

I think the biggest fear was only one dozen eggs. Obviously, however, were it 1940s wartime I would most likely have chickens and therefore have more eggs at my disposal. I, myself, have kept chickens until our move (I am building a new chicken house come spring for new chicks) so would have them. However, I bought the dozen eggs and said I will stick with it.

The first move I made to conserve these precious eggs was at breakfast. Every morning (seven days a week) I prepare a ‘full’ breakfast for hubby and I. Sometimes it is waffles or pancakes or your basic egg bacon toast. Whatever it is, there is always eggs involved. So, this week, I did what I would have done during wartime, gave up some of my own eggs. Now, my hubby most likely would have been off fighting, but had I a child or grandparent at home (the role my hubby is sort of serving for this week’s project) I would give over my rations to them. So, at breakfast with eggs, he gets his usual two eggs over easy with toast, bacon while I chose to have one toast and black coffee. The result of this is that I realize, I can eat less. I think I may actually have dropped a pound or so this week due to my choosing to just eat half of what I would normally eat at breakfast to conserve our supplies. In so doing I realized, I was not hungry at all and therefore have been overeating. No surprise there, as I do need to drop some pounds. It was a nice realization and an interesting way to gradually lower my food intake. By focusing on the project at hand and not on ‘I am on a diet’ (which techinically I wasn’t) I just have begun to show my body I am giving it less.

Next, I have noticed that even with my already reduced amount of groceries since this project (which is the opposite of what I had anticipated thinking “Oh, I will be cooking all the time and baking so I will be buying so many groceries”)I can do with even less.

For example, the meat supply. Since I bought probably half the amount I would normally get for the week for this VICTORY WEEK, I have had to conserve it. I have found that the amount of meat I would normally serve, say a chop or steak each for the two of us can be cut in half and even more so. When I take a chop that would have served one of us and cut it up and serve it with potatoes or rice mixture or bake it in a dinner pie, I don’t need as much and yet we don’t feel we are doing without! My husband has not said he is hungry at all and it seems he too has lost some weight this week (he is already thin and loses weight without effort, so unfair!) In fact, he often gets comments at work for his lunches which are leftovers or made up of leftovers. His co workers are amazed when he had a side dish of a fresh made cabbage dish, etc.

I had also imagined my reduced butter amount would be hard, but I have not made as many desserts (better for the waist) and what I do make is more precious and therefore we eat less, eat slower and savor it over a cup of coffee (also a luxury during the war, I imagine)

So, here I am again, expecting what you would think from the modern perspective, “Oh, no, cut back our food, no way. We would starve and I am not going to torture my family” When really, as Americans, I believe we eat far too large portions already. I have heard Europeans remark on our restaurant portions before in amazement at the quantity.

This week has again cemented for me the homemakers (and really anyone in any aspect of life) best tool, Imagination. They do say Necessity is the Mother of Invention and when the chips are down and you just don’t have something and you say to yourself, “No, I am not going to go out and just buy it right now” you make do.

I found that white sauce is a great extender to things. Any sort of gravies extend what meat you have and make a fun and delicious and filling meal. Here is a fun realization one of our commenter's (she was anon or I would give her name) realized.

Out of desperation one day, I made the cheese sauce and instead of macaroni, I had gotten two heads (really good price) of cauliflower, making, of course cauliflower with cheese sauce. I served it with rice. Surprise. It was good and filling as a meal, but not very colorful. (I was into monochrome that day)! With the leftovers for the next day, I thinned it with a bit of milk, and with a hand blender, pureed it. Voila! A cheese and cauliflower soup.

I think this weeks experiment is definitely going to have me readdress my usual grocery buying. It also has got me excited about shopping locally, as I now know that who cares if meat is half the price at stop and shop, if I only really need half the amount, I can spend the same at our local place. We really have been conditioned to think, “It’s cheaper therefore I can have more and ta-dah, my life is better” when really that means: too much food so overweight or unhealthy or spoilage and waste, too many things so pack it away and pile it up in your house and then toss it into the landfill, too many clothes that you don’t wear or are shoddily made and last a few months and get tossed out etc. Waste Waste WASTE! And really, I thought trying to do away with such things would mean living a dire monk-like existence of self-sacrifice, but really, it is just a matter of rethinking our life in terms of what we eat and use and then it is an easy pattern to get into and I don’t feel as if I am being deprived of anything.

I think the other main thing I have realized with this project is that we, humans, are a people of habit. Get us into a groove and we just go with it and it seems normal or as if we have always done it. So, changing the pattern to better save money and cut down on waste and help your community and give a blow to the consumer culture is not so hard. And, one you begin you will get into that human groove of habit and it will become rote. If many of us began doing this, we would really realize the power we do have over our economy and our lives.

Now, another thing I have noticed this week is my attention to waste in other areas of my home. I was using the dryer this week (as it was too rainy to hang out clothes and I have not yet, in the new house, made a place to hang indoors) and hand the lint in my hand and was about to toss it out when I realized, “Why am I throwing this away?” Here is a great soft wad of cotton and wool fibers, beautifully washed and dried, why toss it. I thought how this could be used to stuff a toy ( I know I have heard that it can be flammable, but again I think we can just be safe and wise with it with children). It made me think of all the little things I just toss out without thinking. I already have began to save glass jars from bought items to use in canning and storage. But, something like dryer lint you don’t think of, but it really is a nice soft clean wooly product. I found some interesting uses for it online and one sounds rather fun: clay. I borrowed this recipe from a random blog and hope they won’t mind my posting it.

Dryer Lint Clay

Here's recipes for making clay out of dryer lint.
  • 1 1/2 cups lint from the dryer
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 drops wintergreen mint flavoring
  • Old newspaper
  • Paint

Place the lint in a saucepan and cover it with the water. When the lint is saturated, add the flour and stir until it is smooth. Add the drops of wintergreen oil flavoring. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it forms peaks and holds together. Pour it onto newspaper to cool. Shape and model figures, or cover a form with it, such as a balloon. Allow to dry for 3 to 5 days, then paint and decorate as required.

What a fun thing to do with kids, or for me as an artist. And we had talked about Christmas decorations before, and if you don’t have family heirlooms and you do want to make a new theme each year, why not make it out of this clay and other ‘left over’ items?

I am sure there are countless other uses. I used to felt things and was wondering how it would work for that.

I met an older woman the other day who approached me to say she loved my outfit (dress, hat, vintage purse you know the usual for me). We began talking about various things and I mentioned how I was trying my VICTORY WEEK. She mentioned something they did in ‘the old days’ to conserve things. She said, of course, everyone wore stockings and when they were beyond wearing/repair they used them to stuff toys and also, I thought this really cute, as a soap minder. They would save up hand soap when it got too small to use and would just melt away to waste and collect it up in an old stocking. Then you tie it off and all the bits are held together with the stocking and you can still wet it and use up all the soap until it is gone and of course you can hang it up to dry in the bath, so the soap doesn’t deteriorate away, how clever!

Well, how has your VICTORY WEEK been going? Any of you finding you need more food? Any of you who have not tried it, are you tempted yet?

I know  I have been remiss in posting photos of me. I have had my hair cut shorter in September, into a 1950s pageboy. page boy 1950_s_pageboy It makes it easier to curl and style. I wear mine often with brushed forward straight bangs, but curl those as well, depending on the day. I will get some photos. I am going to try some more sewing today and will post some pictures of the dress I plan on making today.

Keep Homemaking and Apron Revolutionizing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

20 October 1955 “Schedules Interrupted, The Value of Things and Canned Salmon-YUM! ”

I have had a rather busy week with out of town guests, my hubby had a few days off, and we had some family visits, and while all of it was fun, it does make a homemaker’s schedule get a little off track. Of course, in so doing, it just goes to show how important the schedule is, in the first place. There were still complete meals made, there was ironing, there was cleaning and desserts, not in there normal pattern of course. childcare 1950s It did help me though appreciate the mother’s out there. It also made me realize for those mother’s who are not able to be a SAHM, it must be so hard. My heart goes out to them.

The chaos that must exist with children must only be compounded by 12 hour work days, day care, and rush rush rush. I have to say, were we ever to make that final decision for a child, there would be, for me, no doubt that I would have to be a stay at home. I can’t imagine any proper boundaries, stability, or calm without one bread winner, one homemaker. That is not to say it cannot be done by others, so please don’t misunderstand and think I am condemning those who do it otherwise. But, for my and my personality and what I have come to begin to expect of myself, my home and the overall quality and tranquility of my life, I would need to be there for the child.

petticoat girls This would probably be me with my daughter more than this image.miley and mum In the previous pic daughter dresses like mum while in the second pic mum dresses like daughter.

Perhaps, it is just a childless view and you with children would like to tell me different (which by all means do!){Don’t you adore that hint of petticoat though? I love the detail in something only seen with a breeze or sitting a certain way. It tells of an importance and value to small special things.}

That does lead into my subject I had begun to think about: The Value of Things. ( I inadvertently published my rough of this idea on yesterdays post and removed it, though I am sure some of you saw some random paragraphs that made little sense!)

For me, it all started the other day when a little porcelain figurine fell from my new box of Red Rose tea.redrose tea I had not bought Red Rose tea in awhile and when I opened the box, the little figurine fell out. It was a nice surprise and it got me to thinking. Before all the mass production (though it was starting in 1950s-then Japan was as to today’s China for mass produced cheap products even the first Barbie Dolls started in 1959 were manufactured there)things, items had a different value. Objects; Possessions had an entirely different meaning.

I remember a scene from Ethan Fromme, Edith Wharton’s tale of the hard life in rural New England, made by PBS. It is actually a really good adaptaion to film. There is a scene when they drop and break a special pickle dish that the main character and his wife had recieved on their wedding. When the main character’s wife, Zinnia, finds out that it has been ‘put back together with the gluepot’, she exclaims, “Not even when the minister himself came to dinner did I take this out of it’s cabinet”. To modern ideals, this would seem silly. Simply pop down to any local shop and grab a new one for $1.00.

So, initially, when we think about this we feel what I believe consumer culture wants us to feel: “Oh, who cares, we can live better and easier, no worries or frets the way they did in the old days, break it, lose it, smear it with dirt, we can BUY MORE!”

Well, there is some truth in that. We are not as some may have been at grandmother’s house, not allowed to touch. Not forced to sit and behave or to, really, care for things. But, I am again beginning to see how this sort of thought not only leads to our continued casual attitude towards buying and spending, but to how we treat not only our things, but one another.

Now, surely is there a parallel between a broken pickle dish and hurt feelings? I don’t know? Maybe. I know with the internet peoples attitudes and anger towards one another is so easy now. You can say the most hateful, hurtful things with no consequences at all. So, how long before it seeps into actual face to face attitudes. And, in fact, at ‘big box and chain stores’ I see horrid behavior all the time. We are not dealing with the local man or woman who owns a shop that we see at school or church or community functions, just endless people in matching shirts with name tags to whom we pelt our bad attitudes and anger because we are not ‘being served as we DESERVE’.

I have touched on this before in this blog, the way we, particularly Americans I find, have this feeling that we, when we are consuming, DESERVE so much. We are becoming a nation of spoiled brats who, when not served immediately or how we think or with the BEST PRICES we stomp are feet and act in a way we would have been punished in kindergarten.

Somehow, what started as a way to look at our children and our lives as easier and not ‘so stuffy like the old generation’ has lead to our current state of mindless tantrums, endless spending and piles of ill made things, easily replaceable so therefore ill-treated!

I have seen this often in adverts pertaining to children, the dirty sofa, the filthy rug, who cares, just wipe it up with this product and this throw away paper towel. Why treat your child to respect the furniture, wipe their feet and have consequences for ill behavior, such as running in the house with muddy feet or throwing a plate of spaghetti at the wall. How do these children grow up? I know how, into generations that think they can do, spend, behave, waste, ignore and have tantrums as much as they want because THEY are the most important thing and THEY deserve to be heard. Look at our politicians and various ‘news programs’ of yelling and accusing and really gossiping people. I honestly am beginning to feel as if the world is being run by great grown babies who better get what they want or else!

I can see this idea really starting now in my 1950’s magazines. I found this advert for aluminum that at first seems innocent enough.aluminum ad 2 aluminum ad 1 Certainly, the ad with the crayon drawings aren’t saying don’t scold your children for this, but it is beginning to show that maybe ‘who cares’ the lil’ scamps, it’s easy with modern technology to wipe it clean. The same for the little boy, of course boys will be boys and you shouldn’t hang from the window, but with the strong new technology, it won’t hurt it. Here, I see a promise of a freer childhood and less stressful life without as much worry, but really this is sort of idea that has lead, I honestly believe, to our current state of no consequences, we can buy new, wipe it under the carpet, no worries.

I think this generation, the war generation, really bought into this idea and liked that their children could live in a world more free and less restrictive. They had fought and lost so much in WWII and the world had changed. The old ways seemed bad to have lead to what it did, so permissiveness and lax attitudes were beginning towards children. The very way of raising kids were brought into question with modern psychology and Dr. Spock.dr spock book Yet, in their zealousness and love for their kids and for all things new and better than the bad old past, they started something that I think has not turned out as they had hoped. Of course, human nature stepped in and mixed it up a bit and the intentions of  safer more loved children has turned into our generations of people unaware of consequences or real responsibility for their actions.

So it seems odd to me that our modern world, which has  so many things and are over-filled on items and products and stuff, value it so little. Our free time with time saving devices seems to not be realized. We have so much so easily and yet treat what we have so poorly, that certainly we must not care that much for it.

Back to the little porcelain snow man from the red rose tea box. He had a certain quality to him. A special feeling that was imbibed from knowing I would have to wait until the next tea box came out and/or I ran out of tea. I toyed with plans in my head to build a little knick knack shelf for them in my kitchen. There it became a little goal for me to work towards: not just a thing piled with countless others in unopened drawers.

In a way, the acquisition of things in this old way, through patience and work, makes not only the item have importance, but the process. Then, my modern self popped in and I checked ebay and of course there were many sets and varieties of the figurines to be had at very little cost. But, were I to do that, to just order a bunch of them, they would mean very little. They would indeed just sit in the back of a drawer and collect dust.

Now, when I see things held dear and passed down over generations, they had a sort of spirit or joy to them. Rather it was a well known oil painting a well off relative bought on the grand tour or an impoverished old aunt who, though she had very little, saved a few cents from her pin money to collect up those spare buttons and collect some little china figurines. Some how, having everything cheap and available makes everything, well, cheap and available. It’s intrinsic value that we perceive as a human is skewered. Rather than our need for things going away and we just being happy with little, our innate “want to have” goes overboard and we are left with acres of things:plastic toys to recapture our youths, endless items piled and piled, closets full of cheap clothes worn once or not at all. In this way, the item almost has more value than the person. When the item was hard wrought few and meaningful, it reflected in our opinions of ourselves.

There seems to be, then, more of a backlash than I originally thought concerning our ideal of “buy more its cheaper” and the over production of  cheaper goods. I know it hurts local business and of course the environment through the endless garbage, but it also hurts us: People.

We don’t care about one another as much because we also don’t care for our the things.

I just really feel as I approach the end of the year, all the various ‘realizations’ I have come to in 1955 are starting to come back together and form the intricate pattern that is really the root cause of our country’s problems. The economy, the environment, our weight problem, our community relations or lack there of each other, the seemingly two-sided fight of democrats and republicans: It is all part of this same idea, this same concept. We must not have too much too easily and without consequence. We must treat one another and our things with care and maintain them and care for them and not feel they are disposable. We must think and act accordingly and know there ARE consequences for our actions.

So, more things cheaply is not only bad, it is the very poison in our society. We want to have an evil that is tangible: A person or a group of people to point the finger at when really, it is all of us. We are the problem AND the solution and unfortunately I think only if we each consciously make the decision to not buy buy buy and to make the things we do have more well built and then take care of them, we will continue down this path, but even though we are told we can go on forever like this, lower prices more products better life, I feel we are heading to a horrible conclusion.

So, when we hear such slogans as “Save Money. Live Better” we can understand that it is a lie. Spending wisely, supporting locally, and always asking why and caring for what we have, that makes a better life, not a simple trip to the local shop.

Well, that is enough of my soap box banter-onto the kitchen and VICTORY WEEK:

I purchased two cans of canned salmon as part of my weekly groceries. I know, when the week is done, buying local fresh fish might be more, but will help my community and I can simply buy less. This week, however, is about trying to use less so here are some fun recipes for canned Salmon. They are from my 1950’s magazines, so they are not war-time recipes, so you can use them as you choose. I am going to make the soufflé, but am going to only use one can of salmon and some other filler to stretch my food out this week. I hope there is enough left for hubby, as it is using up two of my precious weekly egg rations.

They can be clicked on and will be large enough to read and print out for your own recipe boxes. Let me know if you try any of them and how they work out.salmon recipes 1salmon recipes 2

Monday, October 19, 2009

18 October 1955 “Modern Frustrations and Victory Week”

bored housewife I had meant to post this blog yesterday, but instead was given another reason to be frustrated with the modern world. Our Internet service, which is through Verizon ( a loathsome company) was shut off. There was a mix up of course which resulted in hours on the phone, being transferred to various locations et al. All very frustrating. It is sad to me that even if one wants to be a compliant little middle class family, paying their bills on time and being good citizens, we are still suffered to the whims and failings of a company SO big, that it has customer service in India, Tech support in Mexico and Billing in who knows where. So, due to their error, I am still left without internet until this afternoon, so hopefully I can publish this today.

It made me again realize how the small local store/ company is such much better at customer service. If a local shop treated me the way this company has continually treated me, they would not last long. If the town heard of ‘Mr. Jones’ treating someone poorly, or suddenly adding services to my account, it get around town and he would have to deal with it. There is a certain level of community and resp0nsibility connected to local business that does not need to exist on the level companies currently are run. What could I do? I could NOT have internet, but then how would I do my project and continue to build my relationship with all of you. I hate feeling so trapped by such poor service knowing there is little I can do about it and will have to deal with it again in the future! I am planning on trying to find a new provider, but know I am merely exchanging one headache for another.

This post was originally entitled, “The Value of Things” and now as I am adding this addendum about my internet service, I realize how fitting it is. Truly, the value of a person today, in our present world, is merely there pocketbook. We are simply consuming machines that are so dependent and so plugged into the world, that we can be fed horrible service with endless ‘hidden fees’ and we just take it and move on. The percentage banks charges for overdrafts (which happen now because they will allow someone to use their debit card for greater than the amount they have in the bank and then charge up to 200% interest, that is worse than the MAFIA). I was offered today, during my ordeal on the phone, to be given the ‘convenience’ of having my account automatically taken from my bank or credit card. I can see how this would so easily add up to young people. They are taught nothing about savings and therefore just use their debit and credit cards without paying any attention to what they actually spend. It would be so easy, then, for a company such as Verizon to tack on (as they did to me but I was able to call and ask why)services here and there without the young person knowing. This adds up, gets to be a late charge, they are allowed to charge whatever they like for interest add to that the interest from the bank and is it any wonder there is so much debt? But, the easy answer of “Don’t Spend More than You Have” becomes cloudy and gray. A young person today really has no idea of money. There is very little cash, so much is used in debit/credit card form and late fees and eventual college loan dept is all des rigueur for our young generations. It makes me so worried and fretful of our future economies!

Now, onto victory week. Being unable to connect to all of you, I hope those who wanted to start it this week are still on board. Here is the list of my costs for my week adhering to my list.

Bread (one loaf)                                                                 1.79

Meat (30 oz. roughly 2 lbs)

      pork loin 1 lb.                                                                 3.29

      chicken thighs 1lb.                                                        2.99

Butter (two sticks-this was on sale this week!)         1.00

oil (12 oz)                                                                                  1.95

Bacon  (3.29 a lb I purchased 1/2 lb as indicated)  1.65

Eggs (one dozen local eggs)                                               3.00

Potatoes (5 lb bag on sale this week!)                            1.99

Milk (half gallon)                                                                     2.29

canned fish (2 cans of salmon)                                          3.98

Canned Veg (3 cans .69 cents ea)                                     2.07

Fruit (five apples)                                                                    3.00

Snack (one bag popcorn)                                                      1.99

Fresh veg (I was given fresh veg from farm)                   0

Flour (5 lb bag)                                                                           2.50

Sugar (1/2 of a 5 lb bag)                                                             .99

Oatmeal (steel cut rather expensive but good, 1 lb.)  4.99

Jam (homemade)                                                                           0

Chocolate (one 8oz bag of choc chips)                               1.99

Golden Syrup (16 oz.)                                                               4.79


This made a total cost of                                                       46.25

My normal weekly bill is between 40-50 for the two of us, so I believe this was due to the fact that I bought baking ingredients for this specific list and I bought from the local meat market so that was higher than usual. Now the test will be, using less, but buying local, how will it affect my weekly cooking. We shall see. It definitely would be highly impacted by having my own chickens, as eggs are such a good source of protein and such, but then their feed would need to be added into my monthly budget. So, how did everyone else fare with this shopping list? What did it cost and are you nervous about the this coming week’s menu?

My original post about ‘value’ I will put off until tomorrow, as I am going to post this as soon as the internet is back on. For those of you not participating, how do your food budgets compare? Do you shop for the week? Do you shop daily? Share and we can learn from one another.


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