Tuesday, October 20, 2009

20 October 1955 “Schedules Interrupted, The Value of Things and Canned Salmon-YUM! ”

I have had a rather busy week with out of town guests, my hubby had a few days off, and we had some family visits, and while all of it was fun, it does make a homemaker’s schedule get a little off track. Of course, in so doing, it just goes to show how important the schedule is, in the first place. There were still complete meals made, there was ironing, there was cleaning and desserts, not in there normal pattern of course. childcare 1950s It did help me though appreciate the mother’s out there. It also made me realize for those mother’s who are not able to be a SAHM, it must be so hard. My heart goes out to them.

The chaos that must exist with children must only be compounded by 12 hour work days, day care, and rush rush rush. I have to say, were we ever to make that final decision for a child, there would be, for me, no doubt that I would have to be a stay at home. I can’t imagine any proper boundaries, stability, or calm without one bread winner, one homemaker. That is not to say it cannot be done by others, so please don’t misunderstand and think I am condemning those who do it otherwise. But, for my and my personality and what I have come to begin to expect of myself, my home and the overall quality and tranquility of my life, I would need to be there for the child.

petticoat girls This would probably be me with my daughter more than this image.miley and mum In the previous pic daughter dresses like mum while in the second pic mum dresses like daughter.

Perhaps, it is just a childless view and you with children would like to tell me different (which by all means do!){Don’t you adore that hint of petticoat though? I love the detail in something only seen with a breeze or sitting a certain way. It tells of an importance and value to small special things.}

That does lead into my subject I had begun to think about: The Value of Things. ( I inadvertently published my rough of this idea on yesterdays post and removed it, though I am sure some of you saw some random paragraphs that made little sense!)

For me, it all started the other day when a little porcelain figurine fell from my new box of Red Rose tea.redrose tea I had not bought Red Rose tea in awhile and when I opened the box, the little figurine fell out. It was a nice surprise and it got me to thinking. Before all the mass production (though it was starting in 1950s-then Japan was as to today’s China for mass produced cheap products even the first Barbie Dolls started in 1959 were manufactured there)things, items had a different value. Objects; Possessions had an entirely different meaning.

I remember a scene from Ethan Fromme, Edith Wharton’s tale of the hard life in rural New England, made by PBS. It is actually a really good adaptaion to film. There is a scene when they drop and break a special pickle dish that the main character and his wife had recieved on their wedding. When the main character’s wife, Zinnia, finds out that it has been ‘put back together with the gluepot’, she exclaims, “Not even when the minister himself came to dinner did I take this out of it’s cabinet”. To modern ideals, this would seem silly. Simply pop down to any local shop and grab a new one for $1.00.

So, initially, when we think about this we feel what I believe consumer culture wants us to feel: “Oh, who cares, we can live better and easier, no worries or frets the way they did in the old days, break it, lose it, smear it with dirt, we can BUY MORE!”

Well, there is some truth in that. We are not as some may have been at grandmother’s house, not allowed to touch. Not forced to sit and behave or to, really, care for things. But, I am again beginning to see how this sort of thought not only leads to our continued casual attitude towards buying and spending, but to how we treat not only our things, but one another.

Now, surely is there a parallel between a broken pickle dish and hurt feelings? I don’t know? Maybe. I know with the internet peoples attitudes and anger towards one another is so easy now. You can say the most hateful, hurtful things with no consequences at all. So, how long before it seeps into actual face to face attitudes. And, in fact, at ‘big box and chain stores’ I see horrid behavior all the time. We are not dealing with the local man or woman who owns a shop that we see at school or church or community functions, just endless people in matching shirts with name tags to whom we pelt our bad attitudes and anger because we are not ‘being served as we DESERVE’.

I have touched on this before in this blog, the way we, particularly Americans I find, have this feeling that we, when we are consuming, DESERVE so much. We are becoming a nation of spoiled brats who, when not served immediately or how we think or with the BEST PRICES we stomp are feet and act in a way we would have been punished in kindergarten.

Somehow, what started as a way to look at our children and our lives as easier and not ‘so stuffy like the old generation’ has lead to our current state of mindless tantrums, endless spending and piles of ill made things, easily replaceable so therefore ill-treated!

I have seen this often in adverts pertaining to children, the dirty sofa, the filthy rug, who cares, just wipe it up with this product and this throw away paper towel. Why treat your child to respect the furniture, wipe their feet and have consequences for ill behavior, such as running in the house with muddy feet or throwing a plate of spaghetti at the wall. How do these children grow up? I know how, into generations that think they can do, spend, behave, waste, ignore and have tantrums as much as they want because THEY are the most important thing and THEY deserve to be heard. Look at our politicians and various ‘news programs’ of yelling and accusing and really gossiping people. I honestly am beginning to feel as if the world is being run by great grown babies who better get what they want or else!

I can see this idea really starting now in my 1950’s magazines. I found this advert for aluminum that at first seems innocent enough.aluminum ad 2 aluminum ad 1 Certainly, the ad with the crayon drawings aren’t saying don’t scold your children for this, but it is beginning to show that maybe ‘who cares’ the lil’ scamps, it’s easy with modern technology to wipe it clean. The same for the little boy, of course boys will be boys and you shouldn’t hang from the window, but with the strong new technology, it won’t hurt it. Here, I see a promise of a freer childhood and less stressful life without as much worry, but really this is sort of idea that has lead, I honestly believe, to our current state of no consequences, we can buy new, wipe it under the carpet, no worries.

I think this generation, the war generation, really bought into this idea and liked that their children could live in a world more free and less restrictive. They had fought and lost so much in WWII and the world had changed. The old ways seemed bad to have lead to what it did, so permissiveness and lax attitudes were beginning towards children. The very way of raising kids were brought into question with modern psychology and Dr. Spock.dr spock book Yet, in their zealousness and love for their kids and for all things new and better than the bad old past, they started something that I think has not turned out as they had hoped. Of course, human nature stepped in and mixed it up a bit and the intentions of  safer more loved children has turned into our generations of people unaware of consequences or real responsibility for their actions.

So it seems odd to me that our modern world, which has  so many things and are over-filled on items and products and stuff, value it so little. Our free time with time saving devices seems to not be realized. We have so much so easily and yet treat what we have so poorly, that certainly we must not care that much for it.

Back to the little porcelain snow man from the red rose tea box. He had a certain quality to him. A special feeling that was imbibed from knowing I would have to wait until the next tea box came out and/or I ran out of tea. I toyed with plans in my head to build a little knick knack shelf for them in my kitchen. There it became a little goal for me to work towards: not just a thing piled with countless others in unopened drawers.

In a way, the acquisition of things in this old way, through patience and work, makes not only the item have importance, but the process. Then, my modern self popped in and I checked ebay and of course there were many sets and varieties of the figurines to be had at very little cost. But, were I to do that, to just order a bunch of them, they would mean very little. They would indeed just sit in the back of a drawer and collect dust.

Now, when I see things held dear and passed down over generations, they had a sort of spirit or joy to them. Rather it was a well known oil painting a well off relative bought on the grand tour or an impoverished old aunt who, though she had very little, saved a few cents from her pin money to collect up those spare buttons and collect some little china figurines. Some how, having everything cheap and available makes everything, well, cheap and available. It’s intrinsic value that we perceive as a human is skewered. Rather than our need for things going away and we just being happy with little, our innate “want to have” goes overboard and we are left with acres of things:plastic toys to recapture our youths, endless items piled and piled, closets full of cheap clothes worn once or not at all. In this way, the item almost has more value than the person. When the item was hard wrought few and meaningful, it reflected in our opinions of ourselves.

There seems to be, then, more of a backlash than I originally thought concerning our ideal of “buy more its cheaper” and the over production of  cheaper goods. I know it hurts local business and of course the environment through the endless garbage, but it also hurts us: People.

We don’t care about one another as much because we also don’t care for our the things.

I just really feel as I approach the end of the year, all the various ‘realizations’ I have come to in 1955 are starting to come back together and form the intricate pattern that is really the root cause of our country’s problems. The economy, the environment, our weight problem, our community relations or lack there of each other, the seemingly two-sided fight of democrats and republicans: It is all part of this same idea, this same concept. We must not have too much too easily and without consequence. We must treat one another and our things with care and maintain them and care for them and not feel they are disposable. We must think and act accordingly and know there ARE consequences for our actions.

So, more things cheaply is not only bad, it is the very poison in our society. We want to have an evil that is tangible: A person or a group of people to point the finger at when really, it is all of us. We are the problem AND the solution and unfortunately I think only if we each consciously make the decision to not buy buy buy and to make the things we do have more well built and then take care of them, we will continue down this path, but even though we are told we can go on forever like this, lower prices more products better life, I feel we are heading to a horrible conclusion.

So, when we hear such slogans as “Save Money. Live Better” we can understand that it is a lie. Spending wisely, supporting locally, and always asking why and caring for what we have, that makes a better life, not a simple trip to the local shop.

Well, that is enough of my soap box banter-onto the kitchen and VICTORY WEEK:

I purchased two cans of canned salmon as part of my weekly groceries. I know, when the week is done, buying local fresh fish might be more, but will help my community and I can simply buy less. This week, however, is about trying to use less so here are some fun recipes for canned Salmon. They are from my 1950’s magazines, so they are not war-time recipes, so you can use them as you choose. I am going to make the soufflĂ©, but am going to only use one can of salmon and some other filler to stretch my food out this week. I hope there is enough left for hubby, as it is using up two of my precious weekly egg rations.

They can be clicked on and will be large enough to read and print out for your own recipe boxes. Let me know if you try any of them and how they work out.salmon recipes 1salmon recipes 2

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