Monday, February 9, 2009

11 February 1955 "Colds, Commercials, & Cookies"

Hubby and I were feeling a bit under the weather yesterday. He, as usual, did not miss work. I don't know about any of your signifigant others, but it takes malaria mixed with the measels to get my husband to stay home from work. I, however, am always at work (the home) and so my day was definitely affected by my cold like symptoms.

Not sure what would have been available to me, I just took an aspirin and ate an orange for breakfast. So, I spent some of yesterday trying to see what was available and what one would do in 1955 if they had a cold. As usual, my research turned up some interesting bits of information.

This poster from war time definitely would make you think twice before staying home from work. To think you were in anyway jeopardizing the 'boys overseas' would have made you buck up and work through the cold.

I think even as a homemaker during wartime, everything you did would have seemed important and therefore you would try to avoid a cold as much as possible or either ignore it.

I believe this is a UK ad from the 1940's and have any of my UK readers heard of this? Does it still exist? At least they had somthing to take, even for the placebo affect, right?

I love this ad, which is actually from the 1930's, and it apparently banishes depression. This was an interesting find as I wondered when in our society the term "depression" really came about concerning our mental state? I wonder what this was made of, let's hope not alcohol!

When I found this ad, 1950's, I had a strange memory of this item. It must have existed in the 70s and 80s because I have odd memories of sticking a plastic tube up my nose and breathing in a vicks menthol smell to help with my stuffed nose. I don't recall if it worked or not. This would most likely have been in my 1955 medicine cabinet along wiht a jar of Vicks and Aspirin and possibly this following product. I found the commercial for it, but could find no information on the actual product. Is anyone old enough to remember this product and did it work?

Here it is from 1955?

Antihistimines were available since 1947:

"By 1950 antihistamines were mass-produced and prescribed extensively as the drug of choice for those suffering from allergies. Hailed as "wonder drugs," antihistamines were often mistakenly perceived by the public as a cure for thecommon cold. Although not a cure, antihistamines provided the first dependable relief for some of the cold's symptoms.

By 1955 the prevailing thought was that antihistamines may actually be harmful to asthmatics by drying their lung secretions and making the secretions more viscous (thick). After years of indecision by the medical establishment, medical students were taught after 1955 not to prescribe antihistamines to patients with asthma. The debate and research into the potential benefits of antihistamines for asthmatics continued."

Having to go to the doctors in the 1950's started to really change. The concept we currently have of a physician was basically born in post war times. Here is an excerpt from somthing I just read explaining the change in the docotors office:

"A typical doctor's office may not have looked much different to patients of the 1950s than it looked to their parents, but a new generation of physicians was inside providing care. Sick patients received the best treatment that had ever been available, and they complained as they never had before. Using newly available medicines and fresh knowledge based on recent research, doctors were, for the first time, able to cure a variety of maladies that they previously had treated only with kind words and tender care. The doctor had access to more knowledge about the nature of disease than ever before, and he (women doctors were rare in the 1950s) was likely to take a more professional, if less kindly, attitude toward his work than older patients were used to. But the patients missed the attentive personal care they had come to associate with doctors"

The article goes on to say that many patients actually missed and preferred the home-spun kindly words of the doctor who would show up at the house, maybe have had dinner with the family.

Again, I am faced with another modern concept really born in this decade. The idea of the cold aniseptic doctor (and for we Americans the ungodly cost of healthcare and the crippling economic effects that Insurance and their lobbyists have had on our country is mind boggling) really began in the 1950s. I am certainly glad of the strides we have made in medicine (Salk will cure Polio later in this year 1955 which must have been a sense of relief to all parents) . That people can be healthier and live longer is the goal of modern medicine, but why do we need to take out the human equation in medicine? A very good friend of mine is an E.R. Physician and he is always reagaling me with stories of the other doctors egos and also the stupidity and 'ME ME ME' atitude so many patients exhibit today.

The further I get into this experiment, the more I see how much that main question: that of humanity, seems to be changing during this decade (1950s). So many things that just seem normal to us today, even somthing you wouldn't consider like going to the doctors, has really been de-humanized. I don't think I am the only person who wants it back! We can have the advances AND the humanity. We are working, supposedly, to make life easier, and yet none of us have more time for anything. The subtle changes our world has made with the aid of tv and print ads as propaganda has let us throw away the chances we could have had for more time with our families and friends. We NEED to buy more and have the latest etc etc, so rather than live comfortably with less and focus more on going out our front doors and meeting our neighbors and getting to know the community and being a part of the community, we just feel alone and empty and wonder why. Maybe I am only speaking for myself here, but honestly I really feel that this hunt for more has become such a normal part of the last generations that we don't even question it anymore. I will step off my soapbox now...

Feeling ill has also made me want to do some of this things I like to do when feeling sick. This is to pop in a dvd put on my fleece socks and robe and veg. These things have not been invented, so I began to think of something Jitterbug asked in a previous comment, "What do you miss about the 21st. century" now I feel I can answer that better:
At first thought, I could think of little else save my dishwasher and microwave. I, of course, would miss my computer if it had to go away. But, I have since thought about it and here are a few things.
1.) Dishwasher (but this will not be so, as I see I would most likely have one, still deciding when to use it again.)
2.)The following dvds:
"Strangers with Candy" the series (I love Amy Sedaris)
"Kath & Kim" (the australian comedy. I heard they have made an american version which I can only guess is crap, if you will excuse my language.)
My period films, which is odd as they all take place before the 1950s (upstairs downstairs, Brideshead Revisited, Pride & Prejudice (the bbc version ) etc)
I think what I have found is that humor really evolves with your time. Although I am finding many things in 1955 that I actually like more than my present day, comedy is not one of them. With the exception of I love Lucy, the comedy of 1955 seems to not hit me on the same level as modern comedy. Now, I personally do not like american stand up comedy, but comedy seems to really be a mirror, maybe even more so than tactile art, of the times.

3.)Microwave. Though I mostly only used this for cooking bacon (my pan fried is much better now, though I did have a few black strips in the interium) and heating and defrosting. I find I don't drink as much 'leftover' coffee now. I try to make as much as I will drink or I drink more tea, as that is good cold and good reboiled. Reboiled coffee is not pleasant. Also, I have had to really learn planning my meals. No last minute frozen chicken from the freezer to the micro for quick defrost. Now, if I forget the night before, it's cold water in the sink. I did end up covering it with a 'gay' curtain after someones suggestion. I have all but forgot about it really. But every so often, I will reflexively reach for it.

4.)Diet Soda. Not until early 1960's will there be any Tab. The upside is I drink almost no soda (pop, coke, soda-pop, tonic whatever you call it in your area) and when I do drink regular soda it is an 8 oz bottle. I often think of ad that Jitterbug had posted of the housewife taking a break with her bottle of coke. That is EXACTLY what I do. I set aside some time, grab a magazine, open a coke and kick my feet up.

In that same vein I started to think of things that I use and are available now as well as 1955.
It really hit home when I found this ad.

I hadn't really thought about the fact that their are not sanitary pads. No light days thin little bits with their own adhesive. I know that there was a scare with Toxic Shock Syndrome after a few years of women using tampons. I also wonder, would I have hopped on board the 'Tampax train" so to speak, or would it have seem so alien to me that I would have stuck with my sanitary belt. Considering my age in 1955 I would have been using that horrendous belt for some years. Another thing we take for granted today.

Anyway here are some more items that I use that were in 1955. ( I just started using Pesopdent as i saw it was available then, also it is only .99 cents at my local shop! I often find myself humming the little jingle to myself and have now caught 'Gussie' doing it as well. Then or now, advertising does its job!

here is a commercial for ivory soap

Here is an ad for pepsodent toothpaste

here is an advert for Nabisco

here is tide

here is a great coke commercial

So, to give myself some comfort food yesterday, I made these cookies. The name intrigued me as it is a place I know well in Boston. Here is the recipe and here are a few of them on my plate. They tasted like a lovely blend of brownies, candy bar, and cookie. I used cashews instead of walnuts, as it was what I had in the house. I HIGHLY reccomend them.

9 February 1955 "Unions, Clean Houses, and Feathers"

Today, 9 February 1955, the AFL and CIO merged after a long estrangement.
The AFL (American Federation of Labor) was founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1886 by Samuel Gompers as a reorganization of its predecessor, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions.The AFL represented a conservative "pure and simple unionism" that stressed foremost the concern with working conditions, pay and control over jobs, relegating political goals to a minor role.
The CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) "proposed by John L. Lewis in 1932, was a federation of unions that organized workers in industrial unions in the United States and Canada from 1935 to 1955. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 required union leaders to swear that they were not Communists. Many CIO leaders refused to obey that requirement, later found unconstitutional.
The CIO supported Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal Coalition, and was open to African Americans. Both federations grew rapidly during the Great Depression. The rivalry for dominance was bitter and sometimes violent. The CIO (Committee for Industrial Organization) was founded on November 9, 1935."

I understood that we had unions, but until discovering this I had no idea that the afl-cio once were separate unions. I also find it quite interesting that The Taft-Harley act, which I had mentioned in an earlier blog about McCarthyism, even affected labor unions. Many stars, including Lucille Ball I belive, were considered Communist and a threat during that period. By now (1955) this had ended and Sen. McCarthy was found to be untrustworthy and had been forced to resign. (Funny how no matter what decade we are in, the politicians seem to not be trustworthy. Good intentions don't always lead to good people, it seems.)

Here is some news from 1955 concerning a labor strike. (if the youtube video did not show up, here is the link to it

This is an odd paste job I did, but this article was somewhat scattered about the magazine. It is an article on cleaning from my 1944 House Beautiful entitled :"Don't Clean just where it shows!"
It advises:
"Promise yourself this spring to clean all the forgotten places around the house. Here are some reminders. Cross just one or two jobs off daily and in a month's time the job will be done"

We are still in the war when this article came out. The Post-War wife (though there are numerous ads for the post-war home) has not yet, actually come to pass. I know, of course, that we wanted clean homes, but at this point in time most of the men were at war. I think, on some level, articles like these were to help the morale of our women at home who maybe were not working in factories or their entire day was not filled with war work. Busy hands stop idle minds, I would think was the mindset. It probably was a boon to go about your day trying to forget about the reality of the present moment in hopes of making that perfect home for when, "Johnny came marching home." You really can see the beginning of the 1950's ideal of the homemaker forming here, I think.
With that said, there are some good tips here. It might seem a bit obsessive, but really I find (as I am sure the 1940s wartime wife found) the more you do the more you can handle and then you add on some more and before you know it, it is second nature. Let me know if any of you try any of these things or do them now as a matter of course? I am not so sure about the bedspring cleaning, as I am not even sure if our bed has springs?

According to the article, I am not sure if I am yet up to snuff as a housekeeper.
"Bureau drawers reflect your brand of housekeeping, too. Try lining them with oilcloth (as we discussed in the comments of the last blog!) that can be kept dust free with a damp cloth"

With many of us using the longer lasting more energy effecient light bulbs nowadyas this advice seems as sound now as it did then"

"You dust lampshade as a matter of course, but lighting experst tell us that dirty bulbs steal precious light, too. So remove the bulbs form teh sockets seveeral times a year and wash them in soap and water. Between washings, do dust them."

This one is pertinent to today , for me:
"Slipcovers may look ari-tight, but don't be misled. When you remove them, be sure to brush or vacuum those deep crevices in upholstered furniture where dust and moths like to congregate."
Today I had a little mishap with my slipcovers which u will read about next, but a quick question: In my housekeeping books and magazines there seems to be so much mention of moths and fear of moths getting at your clothes. I even have an attachement for my old Kirby and some old chemicals (which I am sure are highly toxic) specifically to fumigate for moths. Does anyone have trouble with moth anymore? I have never had a moth attack my clothing. Have any of you ever had to worry about or prevent for moths? I am really curious about this.

Now, my little laundry mishap concerning my sofa's slipcovers. Here is a warning to any of you: if you are planning on washing the covers on your downfilled sofa cushions, be prepared to 'pluck your washer and damp clothes like a chicken'.
I found this out today. Having begun vacuuming the upholstery, so proud of myself, I thought, "these covers need a good sound washing." I mean, I was only trying to be thorough and maybe it is the sunny day that got me thinking of spring cleaning.
I carefully removed the down filled cushions and placed each of them ever so gently in garbage bags to keep the feather mess down (note to self, see when plastic garbage bags were actually invented, anyone know?) I then zipped up the covers to hopefully keep any stray feathers from escaping. Proud as a peacock for my ingenuity towards the precaution of the feathers, I went down to the laundry room and softly dropped them into the machine.
Having been so sure of myself, without paying any attention to the inside of the machine after taking out the washed slipcovers, I threw my next load of clothing in, thinking nothing of it.
I was rather surprised, to say the least, when I took out the subsequent load of clothing to find it tar and feathered! Well, okay, there was no tar, but you'd be surprised how damp wrung clothes act as a great adhesive to the feathers the cushions had left behind. Let me say, there were some harsh words being uttered in the laundry room this morning. I am sure the dogs even cowered in their corners, for the language mummy was using.
So, with the air let out of my balloon of cleaning pride, I sat with damp clothes upon my lap plucking away. A feather here and a feather there. I tell you, I felt a special place in my heart for all our old relatives who had to pluck their own birds and for the sad little kitchen maid, bent over a bucket in the basement, plucking away as a matter of course for her day.
Well, being a housewife is never dull, at least not when you wander so blindly into it as I seem to do.
Until tomorrow, then, have a great day!
 Search The Apron Revolution