Tuesday, May 5, 2009

5 May 1955 “Damn Yankees, Cinco de Mayo, West Germany, Dining Room and Kitchen”

Damn_yankees_1955Today, May 5, 1955, the musical “Damn Yankees” will open in New York City.

This story is a modern retelling of the Faust legend set during the 1950s in Washington, D.C. The New York Yankees are dominating Major League Baseball at this time. The musical is based on Wallop's novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. I love how the right ‘underpinnings’ really make that 1950’s silhouette as it does her on Gwen Verdon.

carmen miranda  I couldn’t find anything about celebrating cinco de mayo in 1955, so I figured this album of Carmen Miranda was all I could give. Does anyone know if the U.S. celebrated cinso de mayo?

Today, West Germany becomes a Sovereign State. 

Germany surrendered at the beginning of May 1945. The bombing had ceased, but the population still lacked virtually everything needed for basic survival.

The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) becomes a sovereign state when the United States, France, and Great Britain end their military occupation, which had begun in 1945. With this action, West Germany was given the right to rearm and become a full-fledged member of the western alliance against the Soviet Union.

Many of the regulations and restrictions clearly indicated that the Americans, the British, the French and the Russians had divided the country up into four zones of occupation and had effectively taken over the control of the state. They then began to dismantle the German industrial plants.
However, the American strategy, known as the Marshall Plan, gave a breath of fresh air to Germany’s decrepit economy. Its financial and practical aid proved to be invaluable and paved the way for the German economic miracle in the 1960s.
It quickly transpired that people living in the Soviet zone of occupation had drawn the short straw in political and economic terms, but even more importantly, concerning their rights to democratic freedom. The Nazi dictatorship was replaced by a Soviet one and then Communist dictatorship in the region which became known as the GDR.

The country is to face stark reforms in terms of its constitutional law, now that western Germany is officially given back its sovereignty ( May 5, 1955).
konrad adenauer Chancellor Konrad Adenauer proudly announced: "Today, almost ten years after the military and political collapse of National Socialism, the era of occupation has come to an end for the Federal Republic of Germany."

I thought I would start with more dining room pictures. This project, which I allotted the month of April, has really taken up much of my time. However, as I have said before, thank goodness for 1955 organization and scheduling, as although the house was a bit of a shambles, there were still clean clothes, warm meals and ‘dressing for dinner’.

dinning room done tableHere is a shot of it as it now stands. There are still little things that need to be done, but I am calling it done enough to use. We did, indeed, have our first dinner here Friday night which was May 1st. It was bitter sweet, after having put down our sweet Gilbert the day before, but Gussie and I were able to get violets and pansies to plant on his little grave, so it felt a sort of May Day.

I had intended to change out the fabric on the seats of the chairs, but they had been recovered only two years earlier for my parents. The colors are those in the rug (also once my parents) and really I felt they did bring in that touch of ‘red’ that I will have in every room. Again, the shades of blue, brown, yellow and red throughout the house in various forms.fireplace set upTo tie that in, here, on the mantle shelf, I have my ‘good china’ which is shades of blue and touched with real gold, so I played on that a bit with the gilt statue center and placed it on two old books which share the red/burgundy shade of the seat fabric and the rug. I think it adds enough dark color to balance the lightness of the room. Of course, as I paint the mural along the upper wall I will use touches of that red throughout to tie it in. For instance, there will be a section of a hunt (fox hunting) and of course the gentleman will be in their ‘pink’ coats).

corner cabinet done doors closedI think my corner cabinet looks rather nice all trimmed and painted into place. Quite a change from this.corner cabinet corner 3 Here it is with it’s doors open displaying the bulk of my ‘good china’.corner cabinet done doors open wide shotAnd I used a shade in the trim of these dishes for the inside of this and the overmantle cabinet as I felt it was a better backdrop for them than the sky blue color of the walls.corner cabinet done dishes in door open

Now, you may have notices the beam in the ceiling with the chandelier. Here is that story: We have a house that we now rent out that was built in 1718 and is very ‘old New World’ as it was built before we were even the United States. It is a post and beam and the old beams and wide plank floors are the ceiling of the first floor. We have always loved that house and it feels very cosy and solid to live under a series of beams. I wanted this house, which is not a post and beam, to have that same feeling.

beam1I built this beam with two 2 x 4’a and one wide rough cut piece of lumber. I had originally intended to have other beams radiating off from it, but decided it looked good with the single beam. I will create this look more fully in my living room/library when that goes under my knife late summer. Oh, and the chandalier was very like an old wrought one I had coveted in a book, though they are rather expensive to have made or to buy, I found mine at a local tag sale for $2.00 dollars, it was ugly brass but with a few good coats of heavy flat spray paint for outdoor grills, it looks the part and fits the bill. I wired it myself, thanks to directions from the gentleman who works at our local lumber yard/hardware store. I am sure he had a story to tell that evening about the funny lady in the full skirt, ‘grandma’s hat and gloves’ sitting on the floor of the electrical aisle learning to wire a fixture. But, I digress:

So, as I wanted it to be less rough and more finished as it might be in a ‘nicer room’ of a house of this period, Here is an example out of my 1954 book “Treasury of Early American Homes”Webb House ParlorI decided to trim it out.beam2

beam3Here is a close up of the wood before it was primed and painted. I rather like the finished affect. beam4I am also glad I chose to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. It will help pull in the ‘sky’ of the mural as it happens. I will post pics as I draw out and paint this mural. I feel, if it were to take the remainder of the year, it might be a nice homage to this project.

Now, back to my book from 1954 of Early American Homes. Obviously, these homes are not decorated in Atomic Age Modern, so I wanted to show that not everyone in 1955 would be decorating ‘modern’. In fact, a wife of my age in New England would most likely hold fast to her antiques, slipping in the occasional modern piece here and there. When I do the kitchen, it will have the more rustic beam as seen here.shaker house kitchenbut will also address the darling colors, fabrics, wallpapers, and appliances of the day. So, my new kitchen’s style lies somewhere between this1950s-kitchen1 1950s kitchen2 and thisblue kitchen mixed with post and beam antiquity.

I am in my kitchen everyday and it is the center of my industry. I most likely will do this room last, as I can have time to really plan and think and live with color samples and ideas etc.

When thumbing through my copy of Dorothy Draper’s “Decorating is Fun” the other day, I was happy to see that we both share the idea that a comfortable chair is important in the kitchen:

My own inclination is always toward a comfortable, country sort of kitchen. If you have room for it, by all means have an upholstered chair or rocker by the window…Keep a magazine rack for books and periodicals or a small radio in the kitchen, too. Your kitchen can be the most convenient workshop in the world and still be the sort of place that suggests a jolly fudge-making party or an old-fashioned taffy pull”

Though my kitchen has not received its makeover I do use it the best way I can until that happens. b w kitchen cornerThis is the corner of my kitchen where I often wait for that cake or watch that ‘boiling pot’. I have my clock, my ‘old radio’ my magazines, a window and a place to set my cup of tea. I also have a comfortable chair in the dining room corner for lounging with extra guests. This chair will eventually be recovered in a tapestry fabric to tie it into the rug and dining room chairs. Though it looks rather stiff, it is quite comfortable. My dogs like to sit at it so they can view what is ‘going on’ during diner. They are a bit spoiled, I am afraid.

 dining blue chair

Gussie and I went antiquing the other day and, of course, were dress vintage. I cannot tell you how many people complimented us! One woman, one of the owners, on three separate occasions came up to us and thanked us for our appearance and even said, “I really love your style, I mean, I really do.” Then she looked at us a little longer and continued, “I honestly do”. How much joy a pair of gloves a hat and pretty dress can not only give to yourself, but others. It does make a gal feel good.

I really need to start documenting my outfits. It is so normal for me now, that I don’t think about it, but I am promised by hubby that he shall show me how to use the timer for my camera. If I cannot take the shots myself, most of my outfits will go unrecorded.

Well, the weather this past week has been so odd. We have had nothing but rain and gray skies. Certainly it is good to aid me to continue to work on indoor projects and I have not had to water my garden since Thursday!, but it does hamper one’s mood. It was odd that our last sunny day was the last day of our sweet little Gilbert and since then, rain. Though one does not get over it, I am certainly feeling a ‘healing’ going on this week. Perhaps it is also the rain.

As I said, much went upon the shoulders of our little Gilbert, and he had become to represent the sadness and sudden removal of my family. Though I had thought I had really already ‘dealt’ with the feelings of the loss of my mother as she once was and my family in general, really I had merely done what is expected of me, and simply pushed it down deep inside and put on a smile. I have come to realize that on some level wallowing and constant rehashing of sadness, as we are often taught to do in modern psychology, can actually be detrimental to ‘getting on with one’s life’, I have felt that having to face it all in tears at the death of my little dog really did help. Now, however, I am honestly feeling rather healed. There is an almost elation in the act of facing a sadness then getting on with it. Another form of ACTION, really. Gussie and I had to face Gilberts death and even to bury him, but by the act of going out and buying flowers, planting them and saying good bye really to that part of our lives, it has helped me to move forward. Time travel really does teach a gal a lot, I suppose.

Today, with the rain coming down, I am going to mess about in my little sitting room. I have the whole room torn apart and am trying to reorganize to better help me in my study and research for the remainder of this year. It is a form of ACTION that is really cementing to me the importance of seeing out this year and to look with hope and excitement at what other lessons and knowledge lies ahead.

In the kitchen, I am now faced with study of my new diet book and anything else on nutrition for my family, as it seems, while I seem to be losing weight, my hubby, who has never had a weight problem, has had to have me buy him pants one size up! So, I fear cakes and pastries may take a back seat for a little while to be replaced with fruit salads. I think, perhaps, I may toy with the various fruit and gelatin ‘salads’ always being shown in my magazines, who knows they may be rather good. I have found out that Jell-O has very few calories. I also know that I can use my Knox unflavored gelatin to make my own fruit salads, infusing it with fresh squeezed juices and the like to make a more delightful dessert rather than just buying pre-flavored Jell-O's and throwing in some canned fruit. I shall approach this endeavor with the zeal of my cake making and see what comes out. Don’t worry, I will share the recipes, pictures and of course, opinions on it all.

Until tomorrow, then, Happy Homemaking and on to ACTION!

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