Thursday, April 2, 2009

1 & 2 April 1955 “Lending, Chocolate Cake, Shopping, a Breakdown, and WHY”

Boston's First National Bank has started a new-type personal loan based on the revolving credit fund used by business. The bank extends credit to a borrower based on how much he can pay back each month for a year, lets him write checks against it, charges him 1% a month on the outstanding balance and a service charge of 25¢ a check.

As long as he keeps up his monthly payments, the borrower can go on indefinitely drawing checks against his limit. To date, about 2,000 people have been approved for the revolving credit plan (average credit: $450), 100 applications are being made daily. [Here we see it beginning. The concept that you have ‘free money’. Just spend with ease and pay it back when you can, there is plenty for all, spend spend!]

woman with whitewall tires Colored Tires. White-sidewall tires edged with a band of blue, green or brown were put on sale by U.S. Rubber Co. The color band starts at the outer edge of the white sidewall and runs to the tread of the tire. Price: $16 to $17.50 above present white-wall prices. [I wonder, when did whitewall tires go out of fashion? I am not old enough to remember them on anything but vintage cars, does anyone know?]

I made one of the best chocolate cakes so far the other day and here is the recipe.three layer fudge cake recipe

I made my with two 9” layers, as that was the amount of pans I had, but would like to try it in the future with the three layers. I used the seven minute frosting and made it chocolate and then I toasted coconut for the top and sides. This was the fluffiest from scratch cake I have made thus far and it was very easy, as the ‘one bowl recipe’ which this is called, made it a joy to make.  Here it is in all it’s glory.piece of coconut choc cake choc coconut cake

I received some wonderful books from readers. two recipe booksThis first set is from a lovely lady who is lucky enough to live on a farm in Nebraska and has some wonderful farm stories and life with cows worth reading. Thank you so much and we shall all be benefitting from these in the future.

I also was the lucky winner of this book from Haven of Home’s giveaway.etiquette for everyday book There is some wonderful stuff in here that will begin showing up in my blog. I found some interesting bits in here where they say that manners have ‘changed greatly since the end of WWII” so here they are already noticing the change in people’s relationships to one another, interesting stuff, I promise you.


Now, onto decorating. I found some great bargains for my ongoing redecorating vintage style:

Here is a wonderful set of Heywood-Wakefield side tables. Two are matching lower end tables and one it a little taller square lamp table. They are the most wonderful golden honey maple that I used to hate. Now I really appreciate the color and the craftmanship of these tables, though mass produced, is rather fine. Solid maple. Their modern clean lines would work with modern 1950s furniture, of course, but also blend nicely with antiques and the more ‘early American’ look I am going for.

heywood-wakefield sidetables

Here are a lovely set of gold chairs. Again, in the old days I would have thought this hideous, but now I not only enjoy their playful take on the classic wing chair, I am not going to recover them but actually enjoy the nubby gold fabric. It fits with the overall color scheme of the house.

gold side chair1 gold side chair 2

I love the pleated skirts and buttons. They are actually spot on same color, though you cannot tell form these pictures. I am not sure if they will live together in the new living room cum library or if one will end up in the new dinning room makeover. Oh, I forgot the best part the side tables were $35.00 for all three! The two chairs were a grand total of $40.00 (that is for both). They are all so well made and would cost so much more even at an IKEA which would end up breaking apart in a couple of years and be made of laminate or something.

This darling little desk cost me all of $18.00. It is sitting right now in the corner of my kitchen but is destined to replace the antique table I use for my vanity. I love the paint and stenciling, but alas, it will be repainted to go with that color scheme. I really wanted multiple drawers for my vanity and this fits the bill. Don’t mind the hideous vinyl floor in my kitchen. I had nothing to do with it. When I originally planned to do over the kitchen, I was going to put in a nice wood floor, but now am going to do a vintage inspired vinyl or linoleum floor for easy clean up and the eat in section ( the future breakfast room off the kitchen) will receive the wood floor.


Now, my current project is the new dinning room. I had settled myself to wallpaper it. I spent some time at a local store the other day trying to decide. I had just settled on this onewallpaper1 when I came across this one in the store. The first I would have to order and it is not cheap, wallpaper. wallpaper2This one they had a few rolls of and was marked down to $9.00 a roll! It is actually more blue than the picture shows, but also has touches of green and tan in. So I got two rolls for $18.00 as opposed to one roll of the above for $70.00! Since then, though, I may have decided to use the wallpaper when I redo my little sitting room where I study and write this blog and instead, paint a mural on the walls of the dinning room. I have not painted in some time and it would allow me that pleasure as well as making a nice view for the room we do spend a lot of time in. For, until the breakfast room can be done (who knows when) we eat all meals in the dinning room. There is a door in that room that leads to our side yard that will receive a patio by my hand and it over looks the chickens, which are fun to watch and would make a great spot for summer alfresco dinning. There will be picks of this progress, I promise.

   I also bought these two pair of ‘costume’ jewelry earrings to start a nice vintage earring collection. I have only a few pair of vintage earrings and they are real pearls and nice, but I want some variety and I don’t need to spend a lot to look nice. Both these pair cost me $10.00 total! I do like them, what do you think. I would like to convert them to pierced though, any suggestions?

earrings1 earrings2

Now, onto my rant for today, which is really just a self-realization. I seem to be having a lot of these lately.

I felt bad that I have not posted a blog in the past two days, but the research I began on the U.S. budget and about the contribution to litter, health, and overall culture that the growth of fast foods has put upon our country has seriously depressed me. I wanted to retreat into my safe world of vacuuming and cooking, but somehow it felt as if I was hiding out. I, since then, have had a good ‘sit down’ with myself and have come to realize I need to strike a balance. I cannot feel bad that I need to focus much on my home right now, as I am still in the process of organizing and really trying to get everything ship shape, so it can run smoothly and that I can have a home that is easy to maintain and in which to entertain. In so doing, I won’t, at the end of that, just have a nice decorated organized home to sit in reading vintage magazine in pretty clothes, but will, in fact, have a center to continue my research and to try and help and create change in my own community.  A place to commune and meet to try and change my community for the better. I really want my eventual ‘vintage club’ to become an organization of like-minded vintage loving people, but not merely to just enjoy one another and vintage, but to take that vintage spirit out into our community. I want us to help and grow our community. To try to encourage others to shop locally and raise money to help locally. I am not sure how to go about doing it, but I am going to try. I figure, I don’t have children and the time I would spend on their welfare can go to this endeavor.

I realize, since this project began, I have probably thought about children more than ever in my life. The thought that I could have a well run home and be an adult made me feel I could, in fact, contribute to the positive growth of a child and make a better person for the future. Now, I feel I really want to try to help and inspire and encourage those who are already here. I don’t know if a gathering of ladies who like to wear girdles and gloves can solve any problems, but I know if we were to get together and try, we could do something.

I have, as well, come to terms with the idea that I do need first and foremost to continue training myself in my homemaking skills. I need a home that is ship shape from bottom to top. When my home is set to receive guests, is easy to maintain its cleanliness and I can whip up a buffet for 20 at the drop of a hat, I will be poised to go out into the world, much in the way a 1950s homemaker most likely did. I know that women of this class and calling did volunteer work. They helped in their neighborhoods, held committee meetings, and took care of their family, their homes, themselves. These are the real hero’s I now look to. I know it can be done, as they who have gone before us have done so. I may not, through my future small group,  be able to change the world nor maybe even do more than make a small ripple in my community, but at least I will go down fighting. I will know at the end of each day that I have lived for myself in my habits and for others. This is a feeling I don’t want to lose and in fact want to get more.

I mentioned to a friend that the past two days have sort of been a revisit to the ‘modern world’ somewhat in that I felt really affected by my findings so that I didn’t get my housework done, we had Chinese food last night, instead of my cooking, I went shopping (though only vintage shopping) instead of writing my blog, I watched some “tv” (it was vintage don’t worry and no real commercials) and now I felt horrible. She said, “Oh, that’s so sad. So you can’t relax and just be lazy, that is really sad” and I was shocked by her answer. “I don’t want to be lazy!” I said, “I don’t want to just relax and think about myself and how I feel and hide away, I feel better AND happier, doing things. Laziness no longer  a reward to me. I would rather have free time working in the garden, or organizing a cabinet, or doing something. Just sitting and watching things on screens is not fun for me. Or buying something to make me feel better; to fill the emptiness inside, I don’t like it anymore and probably never really did”.

It was at that moment that I realized how much I have gained already from this experiment. I have already changed a major part of my modern personality: that I used to think reward is sitting on my bum, staring at moving pictures and eating. This was once a treat. Something I did look forward too (no wonder I have gained so much weight in the past few years!) This is the ‘ideal day off’ that so many people think homemakers have, “Oh, you must get to sit around and watch t.v. and eat bon bons all day!” Ha!, now that is not fun but a punishment!

So, again, my vintage reality has stepped in to save me. 1955 took me up by my shirt collar and said, “What are you doing? Don’t waste your time wallowing in your own misery and just don’t WASTE YOUR TIME”. We all only have so much time, really, so why am I going to want to spend it sitting and staring at moving pictures or just buying things that I don’t need?

I feel renewed and am more ambitious than ever to get back to it. I can try to sympathize with my 1955 self and think of the days during the war when you were exhausted and depressed and just wanted to curl up in a ball, but you couldn’t. You WOULDN’T. You’d get up, dust yourself off, and get out there and do it for others if not for yourself. Then you’d be taken out of yourself and really feel a happiness that I have never felt before. I am not even really doing that much for others as of yet, except trying to make a nice home for my family and friends, but that already gives me more satisfaction than watching t.v. and eating snacks, the old ‘relaxation’.

I thought of the grandmother in the British reality show, “the 1940’s house”. I haven’t seen it in a few years and I own it, but can’t really watch it as it hasn’t been made yet, but I suddenly recalled the end of it. How she, the grandmother,  was so greatly changed by her time in 1940’s. How she stopped shopping at big stores and didn’t buy prepackaged anymore. Her grandchildren said, ‘Yea, we used to have a cool grandmother and now she is gone off her rocker’. That really hit home for me. Here she was, an older woman and a grandmother and all she had really learned was to grow up. She didn’t need to be ‘cool’ to a 10 year old way of thinking, but in fact be a grown up. To take responsibility for her actions and her family and her community. She took a few minutes to just think, “ I actually spend less by shopping locally and not just buying cheap prepackaged foods. I help my local community as well as get to know them. My free time is spent in working and enjoying it not watching t.v. and just ‘goin down the pub with my daughter ‘. I don’t know why I hadn’t remembered that before, but I recalled how it had changed her.

I feel the same. This has changed me. I can’t ever totally go back to that person on Dec. 31 2008. I can’t. And, really, I don’t want to.  I have so much learning and growing and growing up to do, really. But, you know what, for the first time in my life I WANT to be an adult. Here I am closer to 40 than 30 just realizing it, but I don’t think I am alone in our modern world in that. I don’t want to be a perpetual baby trying to ‘find myself’ and only seeking personal enjoyment in video games and tv and entertainment only. We are so over stimulated, that we bore so easily and constantly need to be entertained, like great spoiled babies, wanting someone to rattle their keys in our face to amuse us. I actually want to grow up. I want others to feel this feeling. I cannot explain it. It has an elation and happiness to it that I cannot explain. I have never ever felt this particular form of happiness before. And all of it came, along with the sadness and frustration, from opening my eyes and looking around at the world in which I live. REALLY looking at it. Asking myself WHY?

That should be the vintage creed ‘WHY’. Why am I buying this? Why do I need to rush. Why do I watch so much tv. Why do I think it is cheaper and better to shop at this chain? Why do I only wear my ‘nice clothes’ at funerals and weddings? Why can’t I cook my own food? Why can’t I sew my own clothes? Why can’t I grow my own food? Why WHY WHY!

Even if it is only in a small way, in some little aspect of your life, stop what you are doing and ask yourself, why am I doing it. It might be a good thing that you should continue to do and do more of! Or, you might wonder, why am I doing it? Did the tv and magazines and popular culture tell me to do it?

Just ask why.

So, here are some of the findings that made me feel sad and as if I could do nothing but curl up in a ball or try to ignore it:

Uncle Sam has never had trouble spending the taxpayers' money. By 1960 it had more money to spend than ever: the federal budget grew from $42.6 billion in 1950 to $92.1 billion in 1959. After World War II the government had sharply reduced its expenditures on defense from a wartime high of $83 billion in 1945 to $42.7 billion in 1946. By 1950 national defense spending—at $13.7 billion—only consumed approximately 35 percent of federal government outlays. Although defense spending soared again during the Korean conflict by more than 75 percent, it fell again by 1960 to less than 60 percent. Payments to individuals, which in later decades often meant welfare or social security, remained at roughly 30 percent of the government's outlays during the 1950s.

Each year since 1969, Congress has spent more money than its income. The Treasury Department has to borrow money to meet Congress's appropriations. The total borrowed is more than $11,000,000,000,000 and growing. Even when government officials claim to have a surplus, they still spend more than they get in. We pay interest on that huge debt. And now the Treasury is having trouble finding lenders!

In Fiscal Year 2008, the U. S. Government spent $412 Billion of your money on interest payments* to the holders of the National Debt. Compare that to NASA at $15 Billion, Education at $61 Billion, and Department of Transportation at $56 Billion. -- As of 28 February 2009, the total interest spent so far this fiscal year is $148 Billion.

Imagine if we spent half of that ‘interest payment’ money on free college education and free healthcare. And so many people still feel that those two things free are somehow socialsim, but our money going to pay interest on money borrowed that I government chose to take from places such as China which is COMMUNIST, I just even can’t imagine it. I really needed this trip to 1955 to see that ‘our America’ is now really slipping away. Pride in local business and economy is replaced with easy spending at large chains that just give more money to those we are already in debt too! How DARE they have 412 billion in interest and NOT have health and education for all? What happens when China calls in the debt? What if we don’t have the money (which we don’t) then what? So right now, our government is telling us that is it more important to try to pay down loans we could not afford more than the education and health of future generations. NO wonder we are a nation of spenders without thinking, that we have so many people defaulting on loans they could not afford originally, this pattern of spending and throwing the smoke screen of ‘oh, no don’t have health or education free, that’s socialism’ while they grow the government and in its debt bigger and bigger.

I am actually quite scared. I thought my biggest worry would be if I could handle my girdle or if I felt that time would seem to restrictive in the 1950s instead I am seeing how sad I am, representing those women who set out to make a new world from their homes by caring for children and keeping the home fires burning to only end it all in a world such as this. I am honestly not being dramatic, now, especially after I started looking at spending and such, so disgusted by the very act of going out and buying anything from someplace that is not a little mom and pop, as it feels dirty to me. I know a lot of you will think I am crazy or silly, but when I think that I have gone into Walmart and purchased things it now makes me actually feel dirty, as if I was cheating our world and stripping away the america we could be for all of us and not just for a few who are on top. We are basically living in a Consumer Dictatorship. Free market is now a joke, as who can be that happy American pulling himself up by his bootstraps, starting his own business, when he can never compete with the top 3 corporations. And, when they begin to fail, like GM, the government just throws ‘our money’ at the problem, while if ‘Joe Smith’ down the street started a business and it began to fail, the best he could hope for is bankruptcy and possibly losing his house.

So, now if someone were to ask me ‘what is the hardest part about tying to live in 1955” I would have to say “Having my eyes open to our modern world and that none of the good things I see in 1955 could really exist for us anymore and I don’t know why they ever left us”.

Our national debt in 1955 was 209 billion today it is 11 TRILLION. when I used my inflation calculator it told me that the national debt in 1955 put in to today’s money would be 1 Trillion. So, our national debt is ten times greater than 1955  and we had come out of WWII and the Korean war. Something has to be done.

There is a great quote from William Weld (a good Bostonian) that goes, "There is no such thing as government money - only taxpayer money."

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