Monday, September 28, 2009

28 September 1955 “A Rant, Marmalade, News, and Fall Fashion”

 woman thinking As I begin to come closer to the end of 1955 I am finding myself more and more thinking of the future. I know,at my initial attempt at a 1955 woman, I first tried to buy as many things to ‘re-create’ the time as possible. I then found this action to be my modern ‘consumer driven’ need merely replaced by this challenge. I wanted to try something new, so what do I buy to do it?  Then as I began to use and appreciate the old things from that time (which I could buy cheaply and were still working), I began to discover how things are now made cheaply to be bought inexpensively and then tossed away to buy new. The garbage and pollution and money wasting of my time was more revealed.

Now, I am beginning to see that if I were a woman in 1955 I would not be buying old appliances to use, but would be excited about the future and wanting the ‘new items’. I would also expect to pay more but now it was a piece of machinery that can be maintained and fixed to last a long time most likely my lifetime. That is where I began to really see the difference. Particularly 1955 was really a year of plenty and growth. The world seemed to be promising and opening up for everyone. So the new and latest was what was wanted but the higher cost mingled with better craftsmanship made the purchase something to work towards and then take care of, the responsibility of action which seems to be devoid in a world where things are cheaply made, cheaply sold, then tossed on the scrap heap for new.

The world after WWII was all about the future. The past was unbearable and needed to be forgotten. We NEVER wanted to return to that place and time of war and destruction; “New and better” was des rigueur. But, now I find myself and many others longing for a past and that past seems to be right at that pinpoint in time when we looked to the future with hope. It seems to be an almost gateway to a new possible future.  I think now we look back in fondness at this time perhaps because we were perched on the beginning of a great new future. We were just getting it right and then somehow we took a wrong turn somewhere.  I am beginning to believe this is because we had that chance, that moment to make a new and better world and in some ways we did but in others it is as if we have given up that main element of humanity. The connectivity and responsibility of individual pride and action and the combined need of others.

So, I think the reason there are so many of us that look back fondly or are drawn to this time, this post war time, is that was when we had our clean slate. The page was blank and we could write on it. What probably happened was we had to get behind our government and think, “Go, U.S.A.” so we could win a war against Hitler, and then we just wanted to believe that government was there to protect and help us. But, it only takes a few bad apples. I even wonder if our silly involvement in Vietnam had not happened, would there have been hippies? Maybe people would have thought to look to their parents and older generations to learn and grow instead of the “Don’t trust anyone under 30” mantra of the baby boomers. And, now these same boomers, who are well over 30, expect the subsequent generations to pay for their old age.

It seems that we are moving slowly (or quickly rather) away from the local community. All our needs our being met by a few major companies that are moving into place to control the world. I know it sounds like farfetched conspiracy theory, but think about it: Stores like Wal-Mart that contain all the things we ‘need’ and even local drugstores are chains, food and clothing also chains. The landscape of  America is slowly being homogenized into an ugly sameness and we all blindly seem to follow it. Your phone company, as an example, is so inhuman and heartless.  Good luck trying to talk to someone in this country (more jobs outside our country thanks) or do something as simple as address a bill change of address. Everything is automated or shipped out to places far away. Are we headed to a world where we are merely plugged into three or four major corporations that control our food (Monsanto-if you saw the documentary I recommended) clothing needs and styles, communication? Even if we want to try to become part of our own community, how much can we help grow and make our own towns when there is still a Wal-mart, a CVS, McDonalds, Gap, Old Navy, Stop and Shop, etc.? On some level, this year has made me open my eyes and that is good, but on the other hand, I think I am becoming to feel more and more powerless as the year passes. I want to believe we can, we Apron Revolution, make a difference. But, when I hear about the world, at least our country, and it’s chains and corporate ownership of the very seeds we grow food from, it scares me a little.

I am sorry this is such an embittered post, but I feel and have begun to feel so frustrated and sad. Perhaps it is the reality of 1955 coming to an end and knowing 1956 isn’t really around the bend. There is a part of me that wants to just quietly live in my safe bubble of make believe, but as I see so many more of you seeming interested and craving for an ‘old way’ of life, I really do increasingly feel an obligation to somehow use this awareness of ours to grow more opportunity for the future. We cannot take on the big corporations, nor stop government, but maybe if we could, through example of simple pride and responsibility and a work ethic, begin to attract a few young people. The masses forming  lines to the malls and old navy and EB Games might have a few people who look our way and think, “Hmm, it is harder work to make my own clothes, or learn to cook, or read for an hour and lose some computer/TV time, but I feel better and stronger and more in control”. I am not sure if any of this rambling is making any sense. But, in my fear of our present and future I want to, in fact feel I NEED to, try and make the future better is some way and to make opportunities for future homemakers and self-sufficient and community driven ideals.

Perhaps it has been my move that has added to this feeling. It has become symbolic for me, as the year ends, to suddenly replace my location and return to a place that has history both my own and the country’s and face the challenge of this modern world in our ‘simplistic’ things. Our cell phones and DSL all set up to make life easier, and yet all the work and struggle to deal with them. I don’t want to throw out the “baby with the bathwater” I know these technologies are good for us, but what have we given up for them? We cannot get it back in the same form, but there must be a new way, a better way than we have now. There has to be a way to connect and grow and make a world around what is happening and still take the time and effort to make our own things and control our own lives more, shouldn’t there? Am I crazy? Do you think we can, a rag tag band of ladies (and gentleman) donning aprons and cookbooks with a penchant for sewing and old records, really make a difference? Should we make a difference? I am finding myself more and more determined to use this technology to somehow make a new year, not 1956 nor 2010 but some amalgamation of the two. The power of modern conveniences, as my 1955 counterpart would have wanted (the dishwasher, the blender, the washer and dryer these were intended to make her day easier), but what have we done with the free time? What would she have done with the free time?  We just seem to have filled it with ‘needing’ more and using credit until we find ourselves so in debt we must have two income households so we can keep paying and buying into the own destruction of our hometowns and the very look and feeling of our country. My 1955 self would have marveled at the new gadgets and bought them as she could afford them, but with her free time she would not have had more ‘tv time’ or ‘gone shopping with the credit card’. She would have used the time to freeze or can more food, plan more for her own family, more time in the sewing room or at the Junior League or helping in her community.

I know that “stay at home” is not the norm now. Most towns don’t have neighborhoods full of women who can meet and plan in the afternoon, but now we have this: the internet. So, we can meet per se and share and laugh. I don’t know, I think there is hope for a different tomorrow, but I don’t think I can plug myself back into the blind shopper along for the spending ride. I can’t even buy a coffee at a local Starbucks without baffling at my stupidity. A year ago a five dollar latte was nothing to me, today a two dollar cup of coffee seems a sin to me when I can get a pound of coffee for only a little more. It’s the trap of consumerism that I want to let go of and return more and more to the power of self-sufficiency.

Yet, even that word, self-sufficiency, often brings to mind neo-hippies and flowing beards or cultish people living off the grid far out in the country. Though there is nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t have to be only that. We can have a pretty little dress and heels, hat and gloves, and have just canned for the upcoming winter, sew our own clothes, use some devices less in lieu of by hand and still be self-sufficient. Make that bread yourself or buy from your local bakery, or if you don’t have a local bakery, maybe think about starting a small one with some friends. We really need to take back our Present. I think it is good and healthy to look to our Past to make it better. We are so conditioned to the moment now, that clothes from last year and ideas are meant to be forgot and to move forward, but that is a dangerous way to be. It seems the less mindful and aware we are the more we feed into the system of endless buying to fill the void and then we must work more to pay it off, but never wondering or looking to see, why do I have the void? “Why do I feel alone, or empty or unsatisfied? Somehow buying more things at lower prices isn’t making me feel better, I wonder why?”

I told my hubby the other day, when I saw an older person in a wheelchair, that I now sometimes feel a little trepidation when I think of the last of the ‘older generation’ dying off. The world is going to be left in our hands and the hands of the baby boomers and it seems scary. As if somehow, those people we did fight in WWII and were part of making our country in the 1950s, when they go, chaos will truly reign. The last of the grownups are gone, get to playing. It seems silly, but it has led me to really think more and more about what I want my future to be.

That is another element that the homemaker had that no one ever talks about now: the time and ability to think. We can make fun or joke about the unsatisfied woman ‘at home’ left to be bored watching her stories, eating chocolate while her husband goes out fulfilled in his work. But, that seems to be part of the modern propaganda to keep us FROM home. Because, the more we can think  about the world we live in the more we will open our eyes and realize what a mess we really are in! The power of thought and self-contemplation and direction is one of the homemakers best tools. If she were a super-hero it would be one of her main powers. “Look out, that corporation is taking over!” “Don’t worry” cries Super Homemaker, “Let me think on it”…”I have it, just stop buying their products/services and see them fade away!” “AGHHHH”, cries the corporation, “They realized the power was in their spending the whole time, curse you Super Homemaker!” or something along those lines.

The power of thought and thinking is our best defense and tool, but the modern world has made sure to stifle that. Tv, Computer, Video games, Malls, Cheap things to buy, easy fattening food, all of those things allow us to not have to or to not get to take the time to think. But, if we ever want to change for the better or even just affect our own lives, we have to. We have to sit still and quiet and really think about our life and the world around us and then get off our duff and get to work to change it!

Now, enough of my soap-boxing, I should share some real tangible things with you.

I had promised to share my grapefruit marmalade recipe with you, so here it is with some other fun sounding marmalades you may want to try:marmalade recipes

I think the Tomato Marmalade would be wonderful on meats, don’t you?

Now for some news.

On September 22,  Independent Commercial Television (ITV) begins broadcasting in the UK. It is interesting to see they are showing American TV such as Dragnet and Bob Hope. Do any of you  UK readers know of ITV? Here is a video of the first broadcasts.

On September 24 President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack. Here he is in October after his attack.  Interesting bit on fashion as well, enjoy. I adore the black day dress with the opening in back with the lacy white patterning.

Speaking of which, this week I am bound and determined to get to some sewing. I need clothes for fall. I am going to make some Plaid wool and Wool Felt Pencil skirts. pencil skirt 1 pencil skirt 2 Isn’t this suit dreamy?suit And if ever a gown could make me feel as if I was in heaven, it might be this lovely one from 1955 Paris, Oh, the yards and yards of velvet!gown

Well, enough of that. If I want to return to posting more often I can’t talk of everything in one day.

Happy Homemaking and Viva la’ Apron Revolution!

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