Wednesday, January 7, 2009

7 january 1955

Famed contralto Marian Anderson made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on January 7, 1955, as Ulrica in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. She was the first African American to perform with the company. I would love to say we would be there for the opening night, but we have not been too nyc in a few years. I do love opera and cannot wait to go this season in my vintage gowns. We are to see Don Giovanni in April. Believe you me, there will be YARDS of tulle involved and I can wear my 1950's mink cape. It is nice to know that in my time here(1955), things are beginning to change.
Perhaps, while staightening my husbands study today I would have come across a bit of flesh colored paper that would have caught my eye. Maybe I was tidying up his papers and putting his pipes back in their rack. While putting books back on shelves and dusting, an odd bit of paper sticks out of the corner, there, behind that collection of Dickens. I tug, but it seems caught. Well, what is a busy wife to do, I don't have all day and these shelves have not been really thourghly dusted in months. As I take down the Dickens, three books at a time, there it falls at my feet :Paper sex; colored glossy images of bare legs (no stockings perhaps? Hussies). I am greeted by Miss January 1955 herself, Betty Page. The cover looks marvelous. I go in and want to be shocked, looking around first, hoping no snoopy neighbors are peeking in windows unwanted. But, I can't help myself, I must see. I notice the darling haircuts or the pretty gowns, while they are still on, of course. I stand up straight, quickly dust off the empty shelf, carefully replacing my accidental smut, slipping Dickens back in front. I straighten my full skirt shaking myself free of dust, the sound of my crinolines breaking the silence of the room. They sound matronly, antiquated after all that bare flesh. I grab my little wooden cleaning basket and back out, slowly. The door shuts rather hollow on the empty clean room. I feel a little different today, perhaps, a little more of the male psyche is revealed. Oh, I can't be bothered to think on it, I have that cake for the church bazaar to get to today. (or something along those lines, I hope you don't mind my artistic license. I would love to have a copy of this, but this copy sells for a lot now, especially since Page's death)
Last night the hubby and I watched a 1955 episode of Groucho Marx. ( Here is a link to it on youtube. I cannot embed it, as it is not allowed. It is worth a watch )
This is most likely the type of television we would have been watching it on. This is a 1955 version, so I suppose this suggests that my husband bought the latest model. [My hubby and our friend LOVE to mess about with taking modern (2009) technology and mixing it with old. I have been promised a re-creation out of an old computer screen and hidden componets, a tv such as this that would allow me to watch old shows with the technology hidden. It if works, there will be pics and a link to how they did it.]
Back to the show. It was interesting to watch as it was more real. I mean the contestants were not actors (at least I don't think they were) and the reaction between they and Mr. Marx seemed more accurate to actual conversation. I thought it was the epitome of my time period, as the contestants are a college beauty queen and a college star quarter back with a movie star brother. Mr. Marx's conversation with the girl, though she is of course young only 18, is very child like. A lot of 'sweetheart and honey' that you might not hear today for the fear of sexual harrasment charges. I don't know, perhaps it is my own sequestered and deluded state being all snug here in 1955, where my biggest worry is the reds and nukes, it seems rather sweet. I am sure it would not seem so if she were 35. I discovered it only cost a dime to use the pay phone in this episode. I learned that "Let it snow" was written in 1945 and so on. Here is a commercial that would have been on It is interesting that "easy off" still exists, but today in a spray can. You can really feel how the beginning of the modern world of consumerism is rearing to go. It would all seem like a brave new world to me, having lived through the depression and WWII. Would I have been disgusted by the amounts of advertising? Would I have not noticed it? Is it becoming such a normal part of my day? Of course, I only watch one show in the evening and somtimes none at all. My magazines are filled with ads, but I only give myself part of the day for that and probably more than I would have had as I am using it as a study time as well. I do have old radio programs I listen to, but I think there would have been more ads then I can find on the radio. My hubby and I are always dissecting the social network in which we live and trying to be aware of it, but having come from the 30's and 40's would we still be that way? Or, is it that we are merely a product of a time when personal analysis is part of your everyday life? In our youth,(1920s and 1930s) if you would have been depressed I believe you would have been told to 'get over it'. It certainly would not have been called depression. Maybe the blues. I read that in the 1930's depression would be referred to as a 'complex' and that they would not use medicine but tell their patients, "Try and be grateful, as well as thankful and appreciative, for whatever good may be in their life, and normally the depressed patient would eventually recover" I wonder, would they actually recover? I wonder what the suicide rates would have been for those who needed medication? Did they need medication or are we just a society more used to using it to solve problems? I honestly don't know. I am sure there were individuals who just had to live with it or end their life, they would not have been recorded as a death due to depression, so we will never know I guess.
On to lighter more personal things. Here are two pics of my friend and I mugging it up 1955 style. My friend is on the left with the veil and I on on the right. She is probably as into vintage as am I . It helps having her as a compatriot. Although she is not living the lifestyle all the time, whenever she visits and we do things together, she is dressed vintage and listens to vintage music with me. It makes a difference and I think the social aspect of couples (her fiance' is the fellow who is working on making an old tv for me with my hubby) coming together for cards and drinks and listening to records. I think I would be even more social in 1955 than I am in my modern life. But, I make do with what I have and am grateful for it.
Here are a few of my vintage things that I use everyday. The first picture is of a sweet little cake tin that I adore. I think this might be 1930's, I imagine this would have come with me from my home. The next Photograph is of my wall in my kitchen. The entire set of dishes I recieved from hubby for xmas for this project. I love them. You can see how the cups are like tea cups, but this is indeed what we drink our morning coffee out of. That leads to picture number three: The perculator. I love this little thing. It takes awhile to perculate but it looks so pretty. Once hubby is in the dinning room before his breakfast I unplug it and bring it in, placing it on a trivet. It stays hot throughout breakfast and indeed, I am sipping at a cup from it now. I am also proud of my wall clock. It is an authentic 1950's kitchen clock (notice the plug). No battery powered repro here, and it is my favorite aqua color. It is useful in the morning, as I need to coordinate my breakfast making and lunch packing. I wonder, as I glance at it each morning, how many years ago did a housewife depend on this little device to get her kids off to school and hubby out the door? Was it a quiet friend, as she finished off her dishes and maybe stole a break with a cigarette, a magazine and a cup of coffee. It ticked away as a neighbor dropped by the back door to the kitchen under the guise of sugar borrowing, to see how spic and span her floors were. Did it witness the local gossip of who did what. How many greasy jelly smeared hands slid across it's face? Did it watch as the children grew, went away to college and their own kitchens and counted down the time when the grandkids showed up, hot cookies and ice cream at the kitchen table while granny puttered about. Did it end up in the back of a closet after the wake dishes were done and the kitchen cleaned up to sell the old house. How long had it sat, dust filled and unloved, in that cardboard box I found it in at the local junk shop? Did it wait for me to bring it back to life? Did it smile, just a bit on its face, when it felt the old electricity run through it again? Now, it keeps me company as I wipe down the dishes or baste the ham one more time before hubby gets home. Will it only end its life in another cardboard box one day? Wondering where I have gone?
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