Sunday, February 1, 2009

31 January & 1 February 1955 "Actresses, Advertising, Art, Dinner, Dessert, and a New Baby!"

Here is the time magazine from 31 January 1955. Grace Kelly (not yet Princess Grace) graces the cover, if you forgive the pun.
There is an interesting article about her entitled "The Girl in White Gloves". It goes on to say how she is quite different from the garish flashy do-anything bottle blonde actresses of the day. That she comes from money (albeit new money) seems to help her play that role of being choosy with her choice of roles. She is an interesting creation and very American, I think.
Her father became rich through owning the largest brick works in Philidelphia. He was the son of a farmer and became a brick layer who segwayed into a large company. He went to Henly(england) to row in 1920 but was refused as he was "not a gentleman" as he had "worked with his hands". He later went on to beat the Henley winner at the olympics and he sent his sweaty rowing cap to King George as a sort of, "I told you so". His son, who went to Penn State, later righted that wrong winning at Henly in 1947.
They were an interesting family: The American Dream of coming up from nothing and then outdoing the upper classes. This was the formula that was needed to make a 'Grace Kelly'. From Farmer to Princess in Three Generations, now that is American Ingenuity!
There is another article in this issue rather interesting. Entitled: "Death of a Salesman?", it espouses the fall of the radio announcer to the new movement of television ads. It is interesting to see that in 1955 commercials did not just jarringly interrupt your show:

"Manhattan Adman Frank Egan explains that the new trend is simply an effort by sponsors to make commercials as painless as possible for viewers: "In radio you could use a musical bridge between the entertainment and the message so that the commercials didn't seem so abrupt and jarring. But on TV, if you interrupt audience attention to plunge into a commercial, viewers get resentful." For this reason nearly all TV hosts and masters of ceremonies are supposed to ease the way into the sales message".
On NBC's Oldsmobile Spectaculars, Actor Lee Bowman dresses up in evening clothes for the sole purpose of saying: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, here is Ed Herlihy with a message from our sponsor . . ."

Although they are doing it to make you buy products, it is nice that they started the idea of advertising on television with the consumers comfort in mind and to make sure that the audience was presented with someone well-dressed and groomed. In 2009 advertising on tv is having to evolve now that tivo exists. More product placement is required to grab the viewer. I wonder if the return to the 'sponsered' show is on it's way? We shall see.

On the Art scece, there is an interesting article on Ben Shan, an artist I am really just beginning to learn about. He became perhaps the best, and most depressing, painter of the Great Depression. Shahn was raised in a Brooklyn slum, where the local toughs forced him to portray favorite athletes on the pavement with chalk. His review seems to express that he has begun to mellow in his age, as evidence by this bit from the Time article:

"One of the nation's most admired artists last week showed what he had accomplished in his last 25 years of painting. The retrospective exhibition at Manhattan's Downtown Gallery proved that in the past quarter century the art of burly Ben Shahn has mellowed and broadened with the man. The bristling dark mustache of his fiery youth has faded to white, and now it screens more smiles than scowls. At 56, after many storms, Shahn seems to have entered a calm sea."
What I find interesting is this: Here is an image from his Depression heyday entitled, "scabbies are welcome" from 1937. You can see how dark and desolute the painting. The general air of quiet desolution is evidenced by none of the figures facing the viewer.

Next, you see this painting from Post war 1947 entitled: "Vanity". It's as if you can see one of the characters from the previous paintings, having survived the war and the Depression, getting ready for the new bright decade of promise; the colorful background, the smile on his face.

Now, in 1955 when this article is written, we see this image entitled: "Beautitudes" It seems more dark and disjuncted than his Depression work. There he was mirroring the present day, their sad desperation, but the figures had a quiet human dignity to them, they 'fit' into their dim landscape. Here, the figure not only seems to be unaware of his landscape, which is no more than a bare sky and stylizied wheat field, He does not look at the viewer, nor himself, but down and seems to be attacked by heavy thoughts not unlike Hitchcocks Birds (which won't come out until 1963)
I think it is intersting to see that an artist, who is often a mirror of society, is somewhat disillisoned by the present day. The hope he had after the war has slipped into a sort of melaise.
This photograph from January 22 1955 reveals a similar sentiment. The Pentagon announced a plan to develop ICBMs(intercontinental ballistic missiles) armed with nuclear weapons. The beginning of the Modern world is upon us.
Now, to the more particular problems and successes of the home.

Last night was Saturday's 1950 night. It was suppose to be at my vintage friends house this week, as we switch off on Saturdays, but she has company coming today and wanted to keep the house clean and ordered, so I did it again here.
The menu was Chicken-Fried Pork Chops. (I used a 3/4 cup cornmeal and 1/4 cup flour instead of the crackers and I added Dried Oregano, Rosemary, and Parsley to the mixture)
Scalloped tomatoes, which was a great use of some leftover toast from breakfast. And Greenbeans with pearl onions.

I am not making my 'sunday cake' today, as I made a pie yesterday for dinner. I wanted to try something I felt was very 'modern 1950's' This recipe with it's canned pears and prepared graham cracker crust seemed to fit the bill. I did use a fresh lemon for the peel and I also juiced the same lemon for the lemon juice. This was my first attempt at meringue and it turned out lovely and I was quite proud. I slipped a bit of almond extract into the egg whites when I was beating them and it added a nice warm mellow taste to the sharpness of the pear and lemon. It was funny, as I felt this was a 'cheating' dessert for me. Although it was definitely home-made, the fact that I used canned pears and a prepared crust, there was still alot of 'home-made' in it. It was a hit and it was lovely, if I do say so myself, and I DO!
I am quite proud of how this merigue looks. Don't be fooled by the pie tin, this is indeed a homemade pie, but the crust came premade in the tin.
Here is a shot of my one and only piece (part of my diet: one piece of my weekly cake/pie/dessert) with a cup of tea.

Now, on the home interiors front, I have to show off my new 'Baby'. It is far from finding it's home in my kitchen yet and is in fact now relegated to the shed until it can get cleaned and the door sanded and repainted. It is a 1950's Frigedaire Deluxe. I know I know, it uses alot of electricity. I have gone over and over again as to wether this is a bad decision for the bills. I think after it is installed we will just moniter the bill to see how much more it has added. I am willing to take an additional amount out of my food or entertainment budget each month to allow it to live in my kitchen. Perhaps I am going crazy with my need to surround myself with vintage things, but I do think it is a beautiful machine. I have heard they will last forever.
Look how pretty she is inside. Can't you just see my milk bottle and vintage juice jars in here? My vintage glass pyrex refridgerator dishes will also look a treat all tidily stacked and filled with leftovers and marinading awaiting dinners, right?
This is the door and it has alot of stoage. That top bit that says eggs folds down and safely holds quite a bit (we go through a LOT of eggs around here).

The freezer door is really pretty, too, I think and it's quilted pattern makes me think of a Chanel purse. There is even a real metal ice cube tray. It has that ingenious lever you pull to release the cubes. I am planning on doing a lot of daily shopping so I don't need a big freezer here, however, I may want to get the must have accesory for any 1950s housewife: the "DeepFreeze" as they were called. A large freezer. I am not sure if I need one, but we shall see.
Look how lovely the handle is and it makes such a wonderful noise when you open it. This bit pulls down to open the door. So much beauty amongst function.
So, do any of you think I am crazy or do you like the idea of more vintage items?
Well, I am going to enjoy the rest of my sunday. I did not have Gussie yesterday (had to serve myself and set table and prepare etc) but did have her this morning. So, as I was working away on this post my kitchen was being cleaned, dishes put away, clean swept and mopped floor and a nicely arranged bowl of fruit on the kitchen table. Ahhh to be middle class in 1955, sometimes it is sweet.
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