Tuesday, May 19, 2009

18 May 1955” TV Tie-ins, Teddy Girls, Crepes, and dealing with the Blues”

rocky jones comic First TV tie in for kids. You can really see this is the beginning of the REAL TV generation. Being closer to 40 than 20 in 1955 I would most likely enjoy some of the TV programs and share in occasional TV nights with friends, but really the children of the 1950s (those darn baby boomers) really begin the framework to build our current state of dependency on passive entertainment. So begins the move towards the world we have today where we constantly need a toy jangled before our face or we get fussy and cry.

teddy girl I thought this girl looked rather 1980s, but this is actually a 1955 photo of an English “Teddy Girl” the counterpoint to the “Teddy Boy” of that era. The British Teddy Boy subculture is typified by young men wearing clothes inspired by the styles of the Edwardian period (1901-1910). The subculture started in London in the 1950s and rapidly spread across the UK, soon becoming strongly associated with American rock and roll music of the period. The U.S. film Blackboard jungleblackboard jungleplayed a role in this movement and when it was shown at a South London Cinema in Elephant and Castle in 1956, the teenage Teddy boy audience began to riot, tearing up seats and dancing in the aisles. At first, hearing of this subculture I thought, “hmm, here is a 20th c. example of a group looking to the past for inspiration”. But, I was disillusioned to find it was only for the fashion and that their attitude and behavior were anything BUT Edwardian.

The movie Blackboard Jungle was really felt to be a big role in showing and introducing the ‘teens’ at the time to rock and roll with Bill Haley and the Comet’s ‘Rock around the Clock’. I watched the film earlier this year, as it came out in 1955, and it was meant to show how harsh the teens in inner cities were becoming. The youth movement was explored to show how dangerous and what little respect they had. You can really see how it shows probably what most schools, even rural schools, today are like. In a way, rather than pointing out the horrid attitudes and disrespect of the youths to fix the issue, it instead glorified the attitude, fashion and music and probably had the opposite affect. I have begun to feel it was a tantamount point in Media forming the “youth is better, I hate old age, in your face” attitude that we take for granted today.

I wonder if we shall ever shake the current mindset that reveres youth, hostility, and self-obsession? Only time will tell, though with the current and continuing hold TV, movies, reality shows, and general media have over the world, I think not. It’s too bad because it does such a disservice to young people. It gives them nothing to shoot for. If they are revered and thought ‘cool’ for merely being young and rebellious, than they strive for nothing. Then, as they age, they feel useless and need to hold onto their youth never wanting to grow up. I really think being a grown up is underrated and it is too bad, as it can really be liberating and fun.

Since my hubby has started his new job two weeks ago, I have had to really scramble to make my usual routine function as it had. Thank goodness I was already IN a routine, but now it is definitely undergoing some restructuring, which is good in and of itself, as I feel it really is testing the skills I have gained thus far. While he once had a schedule of m-f at a set time, he now works all sorts of hours including weekends sometimes and days off are random. It really means I need to rethink and reshape things. That is also, really, why there have been less photos and recipes of late. Not that I have not been busy cooking, but only out of sorts and not remembering to take photos.

However, I did make some wonderful crepes yesterday morning for breakfast. crepes They were so yummy and really quite easy. I am going to be making some dinner crepes in the future. I had once, as a child, made crepes St. Gabrielle as a special treat for my parents, as I wanted to try and cook. They were rather good but really was my only foray into cooking. Here I am many years later, finding them wonderful to make and full of promise. Though there is a crepes heading in my Boston Cooking School book for crepes these were actually listed under FRENCH PANCAKES.  Here is the recipe from my Boston Cooking School book of 1951:

French pancakes are internationally famous for dessert, but they are also the basis for some very exceptional luncheon dishes and provide an epicurean way to use leftovers (I love that!)

1 cup pasty or all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

2 eggs

Mix Flour and salt. Add milk and stir until perfectly smooth. Add eggs and beat thoroughly. Let stand at least 1/2 hour.

Heat 5 inch or other small frying pan. Grease with a few drops of oil and pour in just enough batter to cover pan with very thin layer. Tilt pan so that mixture spreads evenly. When cooked on one side, toss or turn with spatula and cook on other side. Cook pancakes one by one. Roll up or fold in quarters. Makes 18 to 24.

There are some variations of these that I will make and then share the recipes with you in the future. When I made these, I first cut up some apples and cooked them in butter and cinnamon, then placed them in the crepes, sprinkled with confectioners sugar and a fresh slice of apple and served with maple syrup and jam. They make a great breakfast or dessert. I found them fun to make and by making them individually, they cooked perfectly and the batter does not have the tendency to cook unevenly or oddly as sometimes I find pancake batter to do.

Lately, we have been talking about dealing with the blues. I know this past year and the beginning of this year for me has had some sad times. As I have briefly mentioned in previous blogs, I have had to deal with my mother’s Alzheimer's, my fathers stroke, putting a beloved pet to sleep among a myriad of other woes. Yet, this year particularly, I feel I have become better equipped to deal with it. The reason? This project has allowed me to grow up. That is not to say that grown ups do not feel sadness, but the way in which I have dealt with my own personal sadness and blues this year has been with ACTION.

I really think older generations, particularly the generation of the 1940s-1950s, after having come through the war and the Depression, had their own way of dealing. They had very real and tangible losses and sadness, yet they had to go on and continue for themselves and for others. Certainly, a woman would break down and weep at the loss of her son during the war, but she would also set aside her own grief to help others and to help the ‘war effort’. This ACTION could be a boon. It would be a salve to sadness.

I think the other element in the elixir of joy after grief is community. Again, that same woman would have lost her son, she would have had others with the same situation or others with sons still alive and fighting and for them, she would stand up and put on a ‘happy face’. There seems to be a difference between denying your emotions and feelings and really ‘trying out happiness’. Certainly, you are sad or lonely one day and you feel it, but I find the less you dwell on the actual sadness and the more you try to take ACTION, any old thing, clean out that back pantry you have been meaning to get to, scrub out the grout you never have time for, and if you can see someone for lunch or coffee, put on the face you would want them to see. Sometimes, practicing happiness will eventually bring it out in you. I think this form of not dwelling is not repression. Repression, to me, would be to deny it or act as if there is nothing wrong, I think that is different than accepting your sadness, but knowing you don’t like it. We hardly wish to be sad or unhappy, so we need to act as if we are not and take our minds off it to ‘cure the blues’.

I am sure this sounds very trite or simplistic, but, in all honestly, it is very real to me now how I deal with my sadness or a blue day. The 2008 me would often dwell on sadness or how I felt bad. I would spend hours, sometimes days, just wondering, what can I do to get over feeling this way. Maybe I will go get some coffee and magazines at the bookstore. Perhaps, I will go shopping somewhere. Or, I will talk with someone about it endlessly, the sadness. Really, all that ever did was help me to dwell and stay in the moment of sadness.

The way in which we now, modern folk, address our personal sadness and depression is actually rather new. It came out of the Freudian psychology of the 20th c. By the late 1950s early 1960’s the ‘analyst’ was the new pet. Evaluating your emotions, raging our your feelings, it was in vogue. The very fact that we now place so much importance on our mental health is due largely to that. Now, don’t get me wrong, we should be healthy mentally, but what I find odd, is many women from this time period 30s-50s) seem to have overcome enormous obstacles of death and loss and came out smiling and honestly happy, raising families and keeping active. We seem, now, to be always talking and dealing with our emotions. They have become some sort of tiger loose from its cage we are always trying to capture. There are countless books and shows and TV about how ‘we feel’. Endless talk shows to express how we feel guilt and sadness and anger, it cannot be good for us, surely, all this dwelling in sadness and anger. But, honestly, it really does go well with our passive sort of society of TV and entertainment. The ‘act’ of sitting and dwelling on our sadness and bad lot in life seems really to fit right in.

There is a similar element to this as there is to the glorification of the sexual and the rebel. Those who once were the fringe of a society became glorified in a way. It is rather odd, when you really think about it. Now the rebel youth with an ‘in your face attitude’ is the norm. The sexy teen is just part of the world. Grown woman today on television often say with pride, ‘Yeah, I am a bitch, deal with it’. We glorify rudeness, why therefore should we not exalt sadness and self-obsession?

Again, I do not want anyone to think that I am trying to simplify or to ignore anyone’s sadness, but there is a reason mothers in the 1950s would most likely tell a sad child, “Well, you have it much better than I did or think of the poor children in Africa”. It was not an evasion of the emotions, but a check to say, PERSPECTIVE. And to learn the lesson that world does not revolve around yourself. A very grownup realization that many don’t come to. Again, please don’t think I am saying it is selfish to feel sad, but in what I have found, I think it can help you to get out of the sadness.  It is true that many people have it MUCH worse than we. People who don’t know clean drinking water or basic healthcare. That doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to feel sad one day as we sit in our comfortable homes but it does mean, ‘count your blessings and put on a smile’ sometimes it really works.

Here is a case in point for me. Yesterday I had a ‘bad day at work’ which means those in the house have to suffer at that moment. I have not had many bad days, but I was just sort of out of sorts as I am adjusting to a new scattered schedule and I wanted to make homemade doughnuts yesterday to have with hubby for breakfast. I had made them before, but wanted to try a new recipe. Let’s say they did not turn out. The oil was too hot, the kitchen was suddenly a mess, Gussie came down in the midst of it and hubby too and I became upset and they received the backlash.  I was angry and upset and very ‘self-centered’ at that moment. It was true this was anger, not sadness, but believe me, had I allowed myself to only dwell in it, later in the day there could have been a pity-party. Or, perhaps if something happened like this and those around you just don’t want to deal, as we don’t have the pull together spirits often exhibited in older generations, they would have went off and I would have sulked and later in the day I could have been left to feel, “well, who cares, I work hard in the house no one appreciates me” etc. But, that is not what happened. Hubby said, why don’t you just toss it and start over as if it is a new day. Gussie said, “Yes, and here I will help clean up” and away we went. Before you know it, a new clean kitchen, eggs and bacon on the stove the, coffee percolating away, and we all sat down to a happy breakfast.

In this instance, of course, I had others to help me out of the funk; the community that is so important. But, there are many times that I am alone in the house and have felt blue. I remember early on in my project I had a very blue day, I believe I even did a post about it, that I had been very down. I had found some old home movies on YouTube from the 1950s. Watching the silent happy families smiling and living and of course, dressed as I was, I felt sort of ‘left behind’. I felt a connection more with these people than with my own world. This, however, was just self-obsession. I was truly sad, but I was still exhibiting my 2008 behavior of self-evaluation. Rather than just enjoy these movies and possibly use them as fodder for a good post about the time, I turned it inward and felt alone and sad. I was a newbie in 1955 then, now if that were to happen (though it does happen less I have noticed) I would get up, and DO something. ACTION is really a salve to such wounds. I think my sadness in that moment was also the masked sadness for my mother and her really being gone from me. In those silent laughing faces I saw my young family I never knew (as I was born late and therefore very much an only child) the young mother I never met smiling and laughing in the joy of a bygone age. I realize that now, but not from years of self-analysis or seeing a ‘shrink’ but from doing. From living out a life now that is real and tangible. I do and make things everyday that is very real and in those moments, sometimes, I feel a connection to my mother that I could never feel sitting and weeping or crying my heart out to a psychologist. Sadness is and will always be a part of our human experience and the best way to deal with it and enjoy the rest of life is to really work through it, take yourself ‘out of it’.

I think with our modern sadness we have, again, sort of thrown out the baby with the bathwater. Modern psychoanalysis teaches us to dwell on ourselves and our emotions to the point of excluding the outside world. We need to acknowledge our sadness, certainly, but we do not want to be sad so we need to set about changing it. IF we are fat we want to be thin so we try to change it. If we do not like a room we repaint it. So, if you are sad and blue one day, actively try to change it either with action or community. I know part of the sadness we have talked about is being sort of without community. WE vintage gals sometimes feel out of the modern world and would like more vintage gals around us. Hopefully we can use the computer to alleviate that a bit.

I have actually been toying with the idea of setting up a separate website that we could use to chat on and post recipes and use as a vintage forum, but I don’t want it to seem to take away from my project or to be too modern, but if it could be a sort of ‘vintage club’ for all of you that live all over the world, it might be fun. A place that would allow us to forum together and to also remind each other, okay we have had some fun here, now get off the computer and get to work! But, let me know what You think. I won’t do it if it seems a bad modern idea. I will consider it and put it into my daily tasks to find out how I would put such a think together if any of you felt it would be fun to visit and share your things there. Let me know. If you are a reader and have not commented, but would like such a place, let me know. We are, after all, a community, so I think a vote on it is only fair.

Well, I am off to do my ironing, it is Tuesday after all. I hope everyone has a fine happy day and remember, we are all here for one another.

Happy Homemaking and remember, ‘put on a happy face’

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