14 April 1955 : Elston Howard becomes the 1st black to wear the Yankee uniform. Howard became the first African American to play for the Yankees, and got a hit in his first at bat; the team had been relatively late to sign black players, but finally acquired Vic Power and Howard. Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play on the leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers in April 15, 1947.
This ad from from 1954 Good Housekeeping shows the diet plans are beginning to show up. Though, I don’t feel the images in the magazines, even fashion magazines, are as dangerous about how they expect a woman to look as the modern versions.
I had hoped to have images of our vintage Easter dinner, but we did not celebrate it as planned as a few people had got colds. And, being in the midst of my dining room redo, I was fine with that, as it allowed me to stick with my building/design plans and not have to worry about preparing a large meal. So, it has been moved to this Saturday and hopefully it will also be the first time we can use the new dining room. I know it will not be done, completely, but hopefully enough to have the table in there and etc. I will include before and after shots for that.
I collect old magazines and periodicals. Before 1955, I was rather obsessed, you might say, with Edwardian and early WWI era publications/decorating/fiction/social history etc. I was thumbing through my 1899 Ladies Home Journal over the weekendHere is an ad for a washing powder. I wonder if it is still around.Here is an ad for Ralston breakfast food.And another view of the 1900 idea of a ‘new kitchen’ as exhibited by this form of the Hoosier cabinet.
Looking through these magazines I realized my fictional mother (I being my age now in 1955) would have been young, possibly only 4 or 5 when this magazine was out, but my fictional grandmother would have read it. I imagined, perhaps, that I had the magazine in 1955 for the same reason I would now, in that I am interested in the history of women’s social role. However, I am not sure that I would have such a concept in 1955. I may have looked at it with a passing laugh and thought, ‘Oh, thank God, I don’t have to wear that corset.” or “Look, they are only just talking of heating your home” as I sat in my heated and insulated kitchen, listening to my dishwasher hum and my laundry machines work away in the cellar. This really hit me. Here I would be, in 1955, very much aware of how far we have come. It would be apparent every time my Grandmother would visit. And, what would she think of it all? Of course, it isn’t as if she were just teleported from 1899 to 1955, she was there as the inventions and social changes happened, but none-the-less it must have been amazing to view. Then, I think about 10 years ago from 2009. In 1999 the internet existed, surely, but not on the level it does today. Cell phones (mobiles) were around as well, but not everyone had one or used them all the time. I remember there were still things said like, “Oh, I hate when people have cell phones and talk on them in public”, now I hear complaints if the person is talking loudly, but the phone in the hand or those wretched blue tooth ear sets (which I cannot believe are good for you) are common place. And yet, for the most part we just sort of go along, collecting up new technology, without really thinking about it. It is just part of our daily lives, certainly.
However, it does make me, all the more, want to continue to study and look back all the time. I cannot help but judge my current day and life through the eyeglass of the past. I wonder, shall I ever NOT do this? I don’t know, really, come 31 December 1955, what I will do? Will I stay in my current role? Will I go to 1945? or why not 1935? Or, being content with my current lot, live in a sort of amalgamation of 1955/2010?
I was reading another person’s vintage blog and they were discussing hair washing and etc from now to the past. Someone mentioned Saturday was hair washing and setting day for the week. I had to laugh, as it was Saturday that I was reading it and my hair was freshly washed and set and tied up. I worked on my chores all day, hair tied up and set. This is just normal for me now. Will this continue so? I like the routine of it. I guess, what I really have come to love about 1955 is the routine. I used to say and think that I hated routine. That mundane continuity was the bane of my existence, but actually it is a very happy and safe feeling. Perhaps, it is that I am closer to 40 than 30 and thus such feelings should just come along naturally, but I am not sure. I think the chaos of my house plans, the tearing up and redoing, has always been something I have done in the past, but now as it happens WITHIN the order of my 1955 day, it seems as if I get more done and don’t honestly feel more tired or more overwhelmed and if anything feel less so.
For example, yesterday was a lovely sunny Sunday, and having been indoors all day Saturday working on painting and trim in the dining room, the outdoors called. Hubby and I went out and spent the day working in the yard. He brandished the chainsaw and we felled a few more trees and trimmed up brush for the woodpile and had a lovely burn. Yet, I had got up at 8:30 (my Sunday wake up time) and we had had a full breakfast of homemade pancakes, bacon, oj, coffee, tea the normal. I worked through out the day, but still, instinctively, came in and whipped up lunch. Then, at the end of the day as we sat relishing in our great burn, the fire dying softly and the cool air slipping in and telling us, yes it is still only April, I thought, “Oh, I need to make dinner and a dessert for today.” Rather than feeling overwhelmed, I just stood up went in the kitchen and threw together dinner. We had lamb chops and homemade French fried potatoes ( I am getting really good at those) and veg. I also made a chocolate bread pudding. By the end of the day, we had worked in the yard, had dinner and dessert and the kitchen was clean. I know in 2008 we would have ordered pizza or Chinese and accomplished less. I know I would have complained of being tired in 2008 and yes, I was tired, but I didn’t really have time to dwell on it, because there was dinner to make and dessert and wood to stack.
I find myself less self-obsessed now. I think more about what needs to be done for the day, or how I feel compared to 2008, but sometimes even that slips away and it could be 1955. Really, it is almost a sort of timelessness. I think having the luxury of being home helps with that. When I am out marketing usually the modern world becomes more apparent, but then again, when I am at our little local village shop, where canned goods are stacked on wooden shelves, it might be 1955, except for the flat screen TV over the newsstand. What is funny, is now my hubby sort of recognizes the difference. This morning we were sat down to breakfast and I hit my coffee cup and spilled onto the tablecloth. It was a slow motion moment and I saw the coffee fly up into the air and splat, down it came, onto my clean table cloth. Without thinking I swore. It sounded odd coming out of my mouth. I have not, really, tried not to swear. I have not made it a point in any way, but it just sort of happened. I think, the more I am working on my daily schedule and learning the less I get angry, somehow. After I said it, I looked at my husband, who was, strangely, also surprised. “Looks like the modern woman is back” he said, without missing a beat and we both laughed. “Thank goodness it’s laundry day,” I said.
As I said, I have never said, “okay, not as much swearing, it’s not 1955” And, honestly, I don’t know if it is or isn’t 1955 to swear in your home. All I know is I swear A LOT less than I did in 2008. It was just an odd moment.
I had another 2009 moment earlier in the week. Gussie was helping me move my antique corner cabinet into the new dining room so it could be built in and such. (it is an old built in piece from an old house. I think it will look lovely when done, but you will be the judge of that when I have my picture book of the beginning to end process) Anyway, she suggested just caring it outside and then through the side yard into the side door that leads into the new dining room. I thought it would be easier to bring it into the hall. The first floor bathroom is off this hall, so we tried to bring it into that room and the turn it into the sharp turn of the door to the dining room. It wouldn’t work and it got stuck. So, I figure, I will take the door off the bathroom. Simple, just hammer the pegs up through the hinges and it comes off, no such luck as they were painted shut, so we figure, we shall move the cabinet out of the bathroom then, suddenly, the shelves in the top, which I thought were permanently fixed, came unfixed and pushed open the glass doors which have little knobs on the front making it too large to get out of the bathroom door. SO, Gussie had to wedge her hands in there and move them around, careful not to break the antique glass panes in the door, which took some time and resulted in her scratched hands. Now, we get that out of there and I am determined to try to get the door off again. THIS is the part where I became 2009 girl. I was hot, frustrated, angry and I had a hammer. I tried carefully to hammer the pegs out to no avail. Then, 2009 girl came in. I lashed out with the hammer, banging senselessly on the door. There are some doors in this house that will be replaced, but this door is actually a nice solid wood colonial style paneled door, but it received the brunt of my anger and hammer. My anger and impatience won out and left me more frustrated, more angry, a really banged up door and still the thing just hung there, mocking me. Now, the reason I felt this to be my 2009 self was the impatience and childishness of the moment. I have not been trying to consciously (up until now) to really change my personal attitude in this project, but I have just been noticing that I get angry less, have more patience and feel a little happier of late. I am not sure if it just comes along with the quite determination of mastering household tasks and needing to be calm while using grease and ovens and, you know, grown up stuff. After I was sat down there in my bath, Gussie quietly trying not to stir my anger, the corner cabinet wedged in the hall and I on the floor of the bathroom, with a hammer and a banged up door, I really had to thing. “Hmmm, how am I not like a two year old child right now?” I want something and I want IT NOW! IF I don’t get it, I lash out. You don’t have to have your own children to know that that is how a child acts. I thought two things, 1.) Thank God I do not currently have a child. What a display I would have shown to him. and 2.)Wow, I haven’t felt that way in awhile and I really hate it. I don’t want to be a spoiled brat. It gets me nothing. There is no mother off in the distance that will come and get me what I want and make it all better.
That is when I realized how the 1955 part of me that is growing will really need to be the mother to that 2009 brat. Sometimes I am going to have to sit her down and explain to her that life is not about fast result and always getting what we want. Sometimes it is better to hold our anger and not let it all out. It really got me thinking a lot about modern psychology. How that whole concept of ME and expressing your feelings and let it all out really has hurt us on a social level. It is fine if you need to not keep things bottled up, certainly, but there is an extreme where one feels that their emotions and their needs are greater than any other thing and I don’t think that is always true. The old videos that show you how to behave at dinner and around strangers which we now view as repression, is really just common courtesy and if you have to pretend a little bit that you feel okay around others or that you are happy, you might just end up convincing yourself that you really are and then , you know what, you will be. I am certainly not saying that if something bad is happening you need to ignore it or pretend your world around you, but merely ‘think of others’. Such a simple thing and I wonder how often we modern people actually do. Holding doors. Offering seats on buses. Saying ‘excuse me, please and thank you’ such simple things but think of how little we may encounter them in public. Again, another level of the modern world is opening up to me and revealing itself, all because I got mad at a door for being in the way of my cabinet!
Well, when hubby got home he helped me move it around the outside as Gussie had suggested. It took all of five minutes and couldn’t have been easier. If I had just had the patience and thought it through, I would have saved us our grief and the door its hammer marks. How like that angry hammering is our modern world. We want it and we want it NOW. The internet isn’t fast enough. We have to wait in line at the store. The person in front of us isn’t driving fast enough. The next show or movie we want to see isn’t out fast enough. We are all in such a hurry to rush about and for what? It is really still amazing to me how much this project has forced me to peel back the layers of my own personality. To really open myself up and look at all my bad traits and habits, but strange that the maturity my 1955 self has doesn’t feel mad or ashamed at having them exposed, instead realizes that personal growth and learning are part of being an adult. I hope I can end this year with the 2009 brat growing into a nice young well mannered lady ready for the world. Perhaps I will have a ceremonial merging of the two selves at the year’s end. She can be a brat, that 2009 girl, but her heart is in the right place and I think she really wants to learn. I think I can do it.
I thought I’d end with this view of some pretty spring hats. I just think they are so crisp and darling. I love the small hats of the 1950’s as they are so easy to wear and look so smart. The model at the bottom in the white gloves has the hair I want exactly. Now, to only find someone who can replicate it for me.