Thursday, June 25, 2009

25 June 1955 “I am back, somewhat. News, products, computers”

Well, everyone, it is so lovely to be back. I am not 100% better yet, but it feels good today to sit in my little sitting room again, my view of the garden, my little dogs curled on the yellow sofa and the soft chirrup of my bird singing away in her little cage.

Well, let’s get back to it then:

Here is the New Yorker for today. I think this cover, with its pattern of leaves over the various gardening figures, would lend itself very well to a fabric or wallpaper, don’t you? If it were done in a solid color it could be a 1955 version of Toile, non?

new yorker june 25 1955

This is from the 15th of this year 1955, but still thought it a good example of how much the 1950’s were about positive change. walter brown

I love this bit I found accompanying the photo:

On June 15, 1955 Walter M. Brown was awarded a Ph.D. from what is now North Carolina Central University. Today he is a professor emeritus and former dean of the School of Education at North Carolina Central University. He holds a B.A. and Ph.D. from North Carolina Central, and an M.A. from New York University (NYU). Dr. Brown is also an accomplished calligrapher. He is a member of the Carolina Lettering Arts Society and the Triangle Calligraphers’ Guild, and has taught calligraphy at NCCU, Durham Technical Community College, the Durham Arts Council, Butner Correctional Institution, the Chapel Hill Museum, and the Duke Institute for Learning In Retirement.

Don’t you love that he taught and was proud of calligraphy? I have to say rather black or white, I would rather see such a person as a role model for my child than a rapper. Education, pride and self-reliance seems to be out of fashion replaced by the desire for things.: fast new cars, ‘bling’ etc.

 newspaper 25 june I just thought this a cute ad from today from a newspaper. I see that “Batman” must have been a continuing series you waited for at the movies. That seems odd in today’s instant gratification world and yet how then the grandparents from the 1900’s must have thought the whole TV entertainment industry strange and fast-paced. “In my day” I am sure they said to their grandchildren, who rolled their eyes, watched howdy doody and played with their plastic toys. Really, this is the first such generation of consuming children. Those who had gone before, now now more. Even the elderly today are really from the beginnings of the consumer culture. That is why, in a way, I feel like we vintage gals need to hold the torch of the past to the cave walls and decipher the hieroglyphs of the past. We should keep pre-consumer skills alive and well. We may be seen as silly romantics today, but one never knows. There may be a time in our future when we have spent it all, money is devalued and a great recession would only allow the masses to try and care for themselves. If that time ever came, we could be those who could teach and help those fumbling in the dark.


When I saw this bit from the Mickey Mouse Club, which would be on now, I first thought, “I can’t imagine any modern child having the patience to even get through this segment”. I also found it rather interesting that they would show a child how to make their own cookies and also assume that a parent would give the responsibility to a child to handle an oven etc. I don’t have children, so I am not sure how it is done today, but I get the feeling that children are much more ‘babied’ or ‘coddled’ today than they were in the past. I know, in the 19th c. certainly, younger children were expected to do ‘adult things’ sooner and read sooner including things like Latin on one end of the scale and home economics and shop on the other.

It seems we have a much longer life expectancy now, but instead of trying to follow the old path of learning as much as possible early on, the babyhood of entertainment and ‘jangling the keys in front of baby’ goes on longer. Or parents spend money and time in things like soccer and dance, which though good athletically, what about education and play being the exercise? Again, I will NOT pass judgment as I have not earned the right, not having any children, only making observations. It does seem, though, given our longer time on this earth in the modern world, we would want to fill up that time with knowledge and achievement rather than time-wasting. But, what do I know?

I did notice another thing about this little clip, the ‘recipe’ was “go to your cupboard and get your ‘Minnie mouse’ cookie mix”. So, here, really, begins the advertising to the children. When you consider the early days of TV, I am sure the greatest audience was the child. It was new and becoming the norm for them to have TV in their lives, so advertise to them. Surely they would tell mother what they ‘wanted’ from the store. My generation in 1955 would have lived most of my life without even the concept of TV, so I would have been a poor audience to advertise to that way. They would have got me in the ladies magazines.

As I mentioned, early on in this experiment, I was already a magazine reader. I quickly found myself indulging as usual with my vintage magazines. As I can see, looking through earlier posts, my ‘desires’ and esthetic began to change merely by being presented with the advertising of the day. It had sat idle for fifty years, but all it took was the spark of the page turning to have me coveting vinyl flooring, ‘new appliances’ etc. Although, I began to see how economical I could now do over such a kitchen, as these items were cheap or no longer loved. It got me thinking again about recycling and advertising.

There are so many things already made. The dump, antique stores, salvage yards, yard sales, attics, basements, etc. They are all full to the brim with things already made and still working.

Case in point, I used to have a coffee pot fetish. My hubby laughed at me for always buying the latest and most gadget-ed thing and I never had only one. Now, everyday I use my percolator. I think it cost me but one dollar at the local church basement sale. My old Kirby does me justice as do my everyday dishes.

I know advertising has been a part of our lives for a while now, but it still amazes me to what degree it affects us. Especially now that the new ‘green’ is in. Producing more products to purchase hardly seems green. It is true in some respect that if you are not the person who is going to simply make their own cleaner from simple things, than perhaps we are saving the environment that way; but, honestly, it is just a lazy excuse. Sure, they may make a brand (at a higher cost I might add) of something that is not as full of chemicals, but how do you think they make it? There is still a factory pumping it out some where, there is still plastic bottles, etc. It is just replacing what we should be doing with an easy answer. I really fear that when it comes right down to it, there will be no easy answer.

I don’t know how long we can go on in this vein of consumption. Perhaps another one hundred years, I don’t honestly know, but I do fear how any new concept of ‘how can we change’ is always repackaged and sold to us in an easy answer, “Just get out your debit/credit card and buy the answer”.

My time of illness sort of allowed me the opportunity to do something I had been considering for this project. Go without my computer. I have to say, though not intentional, it did afford me to see the day more 1955. It was not a good way to try it, for I could not see if I got more done, as I have been exhausted and in bed often, but it did allow me, even more, to enjoy books. I have always been a bibliophile. Yet, these past years have seen me turn to the printed page less and less. Now, in the quiet house in the sick bed of 1955, I turned to books.
I reread E. M. Forrester’s Howard’s End to name but one.

Yet, I am not sure, now, that I need try a week sans computer. I don’t know that it is relevant. Certainly, I am continuing my project, but it is becoming more and more about what I CAN do and what I should NOT do.

My research and my writing, my posting to all of you, I would miss. Indeed, I have missed it. So, I do hope you will forgive if I forgo the experiment of no computer. Certainly, I am in 1955 in a way, but I feel as if I have my little time machine that allows me to hop to and fro to share with you what I have discovered. After all, what sort of ‘time-travel writer’ would I be if you could not read my words?

Until tomorrow, then, Happy Homemaking. I am slowly getting back into the swing of things.

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