Thursday, February 4, 2010

4 February 1956 "A movie about Young Americans"

I though for this morning it would be fun to watch this old video made by Redbook Magazine. It is interesting for the look and feel of the late 1950s.


  1. My first reaction as I was watching was, "how fun! 50's life just like I imagined." But then I realized Redbook made this probably as a way to entice advertisers. Not a terrible thing but I can really see how our consumer culture started in the 1950's. It's seems we haven't stopped yet. When the narrator described the suburban "Young Adults" as buying more (as opposed to the daily shopping done in city) it struck me. The weekly shopping trip and concept of "stocking up" probably came about due to the "new way" suburbanites shop. And then of course there are all the sales and promotions to convince them to buy more than they need.

    The children's activities in the mall were interesting too. Good idea as the mall was to become the "downtown" but now I can see why some parents today have no qualms about letting the children run around the mall unattended. It seems it was always that way except, according to the videos, there were specific things for children to do- not just walk around aimlessly buying stuff.

    The thing that made me laugh was calling the parents "young adults". Today a young adult is a high schooler or college age person, not a responsible parent and home owner!

    What does everyone else think?? Donna, you have to have something to say!


  2. Well, actually, I felt the same. At first, I loved the the look of the thing but was taken aback at the way they were being 'sold to'. This is 1957 and Madison Avenue, as an instituition, has been at its tricks for some time now. And when I saw the 'cross promotion' of the redbook 'young living' or living now, whatever it was called, that all the other stores were buying into. It was a marketing research tool. I jsut sort of felt bad when they showed the WWII footage and then the suburbs. Like, somehow they, and now we, have sold out that generation. Took advantage, in some way, of their hard fought life and their giving up of their own youth for the war adn then to 'remake' the usa. Then their kids, as they say at the end used to cars and such, well they had no chance. They just grew up with the whole advertising/materialism/shopping culuture and then their 'rebellion' only led to where we are now, even deeper engrained. I didn't like to say anything right off, and wanted to see what others saw. There are fun imgaes, though of the clothes and homes and all the hope and promise. IF only somehow they could have just all stayed liked that, happy and smiling with their young kids running about, lawns to mow and fertilize, barbeques, everything new and bright and full of hope. But, alas...
    this is 50s gal, of course.

  3. Texas Accent In SydneyFebruary 4, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Smiled to see the fridge that opened with a foot pedal ... our family had one that with that feature when I was small ... very convenient when approaching the fridge with multiple (Pyrex and Corningware) bowls of leftovers to put away ... I wonder why manufacturers have dropped that simple mechanical feature.

  4. I know, when I saw that I was jealous. I have a vintage 50's fridge, but it is waiting patiently in my shed until a kitchen remodel happens and it can be repainted. IT have the heavy steel handle that you pull down, but now I wish I had known about that feature.

  5. It certainly was a walk down Nostalgia Lane! Unfortunately, at least to me, the video was a propaganda piece for Redbook. If you removed the narration and substituted another, everyone's perspective would be different. My perspective is from living and growing up in the North East, within working distance to NYC.

    There was a housing shortage during and right after the war. There was also a shortage on appliances, and cars. When post WWII housing developments sprang up, vets were able to get a mortgage easily. It was very much a working class neighborhood. Most couples grew up in the city, usually Newark. In general, they were glad to have a back yard and safe streets for their children to play in. We were thrilled when the strip mall opened up near where we lived. I still remember the day. It was a big event. Shopping was close by and convenient. The mall, as we know it, nearby was built, first with an open court, then enclosed. Today I understand it is twice as large and two stories. We purchased many more items from "discount department stores" that did not carry the quality items that Wal-Mart does today. They were always packed when we shopped there.

    Most items were made in the US. Friends of the family worked in automobile manufacturing plants, factories of all sorts such as RCA, and other blue collar jobs.

    As I see it, during my childhood, people spent money because most what they purchased improved the quality of their lives and the lives of their families. Over time, consumer propaganda pushed the envelope and most didn't notice until it was too late.

    By the mid to late 60's this lifestyle had all but disappeared.

    We owned a very fifties refrigerator. It had a very tiny freezer, we had aluminum levered ice cube trays, it had an inner glass door and a big latch. They got rid of the latches, because when they were discarded and near where children played, young children were hiding in them and couldn't get out. At least that is how I understood the reason for the development of the magnetic door.


  6. Exactly. This is why this time I just PRESENTED the film. I too, saw it as a propaganda film for redbook, yet tied into it was the hope and sweetness of that generation, now sold out and lost. Their offspring and offspring offspring now so caught into the consumer world that they often DEFEND the very companies (walmart for example) that are slowly leading the the downfall of this country. Every year more and more actual production is removed from our country. How long, really, before we are merely a country who is buying only and then, that starts to put us in to the field of the thirdworld. I feel now the only way that manufacturing will be moved BACK to the usa is when we are so desperate and so IN recession that any job is needed despite the wage laws and then, tadah, now we are working in the factories for pennies. People think it couldn't happen but when you see the pattern we are currenlty on, it CANNOT sustain itself forever, so at some point it will end. THEY don't want us to know that, of course, because then we wont continue to spend.
    I honestly fear for our country and its people, that is why I get so passionate. Also, why I so feel akin to the 1950s, as if we could get back to that cusp of the beginning of our modern world as we know it, with the hope and enthusiasm, but now with the knowledge of what happened to return it to what was good and to make a world where production and such and hope can all be IN the usa. Oh, well, we shall see, I suppose.

  7. The rosy portrayal of the Redbook videos was not for every person living in the fifties, those in rural areas took twice as long to have modern conveniences like my father's family .......

    My mom lived in a modern suburban neighbourhood, but many modern conveniences were not available because of lack of purchasing power, my mom's dad had a decent job but they could only afford the house they lived in because his MIL helped with the down payment.

    My mom remembers a simpler time where kids could roam the neighbourhood, where it was normal for young kids to rollar skate up and down the empty street all day because most families' had one car. My grandfather never bought a new car until his old one fell apart.

    Market day was once a week because of the use of one vehicle, so Saturday was the day my grandfather, grandmother and my mom/sister would load up in the car and head downtown to buy fresh food.

    My dad's farmer parents basically lived off what they grew, bartered for alot else and struggled to make ends meet, my grandfather had to work many a side job to feed his three kids.

    It's interesting, my mom's mom was a housewife who used to work in a war factory prior to marriage, but never worked a day after she was married. My dad's mom was a farmer's wife who worked equally with her husband in the fields, tended the animals, and the house- yet still found the time to bake from scratch every single day.

    Interesting how two different perspectives of the fifties, economic wealth and zip code pretty much would indicate the level of purchasing power in the fifties :)

    Although my father was poor growing up, he learned a strong work ethic, and even had his own little pony as a young boy :)

    Mom in Canada

  8. I liked your blog a lot better last year when you were just a gal attempting to live a retro life. What a shame, that you now view the 1950s through the jaded eyes of 2010, instead of seeing them for what they were, a time of optimism and hope after the war years. Your socialist views seem to have clouded your vision of the 1950s and have caused you to view things in a bitter way. To say that our generation "sold out" is a great personal insult to us housewives of the 1950s. it is all well and good for you to play your game of make believe, but please do not insult those of us who lived though the 1950s with pride. Do not judge, because you have not waled a mile in our girdles, not matter how much time you spend playing dress up.

  9. Okay that was uncalled for, 50's Gal is a great person who is attempting to encourage and embrace that which is all good and moral from a decade that is long past.

    I think I speak for many here when I say she has improved my life immensely, I do not judge anyone who has lived in the 1950's, nor should other's judge someone based on their opinions expressed on their own blog. We do not have to always agree with the blogger, nor insult another as well.

    Sorry 50's Gal, your doing a great job here, and I'm off my soapbox now.....

    Mom in Canada

  10. If anything I am SAD that the 1950s generation is gone. That the 'sold out' generation were those coming afterwards. I also think there is nothing socialist about wanting to revive our economy the way it once was with local production, shops and freindly neighbors. I think I am probably more UNJADED about the 1950's because I long for us to return to their sense of ideals and idealism. THEY were able to take the new prodcution and chaging times and make them wonderful, I am not sure how you EVER EVER got from my posts that I have anything but RESPECT for them. I can't see how you think I view the 1950's as jaded since I am trying to emulate them as much as possible.
    So please, born in 1932, tell me how I seem to view or disrespect the 1950s? I am also of my OWN time and want in infuse in this time what I admire about the 1950s.
    I have to say, I always try to be a lady and kind, but this comment has really made me angry. HOW oh please tell me HOW I don't respect the time that I am trying to emulate. When I show videos like this one it is more about a company trying to DISPRESECT those living in the 1950's by taking away what they did have and they DID DO THAT! That is why now we do live in a material world because they took advantage of that time.
    My mother was born in 1929! And, though she now has Alzheimers, I have nothing BUT respect for their generation. You will see, too, that this year is also about learning new skills, today's post will be about learning to crochet and becoming more apart of my community AND buying from local shops which is VERY 1950s
    I am sorry, all, but this comment has made me rather upset. I have promised myself to not feel offended, but I have. To think that I would ever disrespect or treat ill the very generation MY PARENTS were a part of, is not only ridculous but obviously founded on the part of viewing my blog (which you have chosen to do on your own) with some preconcieved ideas of what a 'socialist' idea it is to want to get back to the OLD U.S.A of local business and production while also celebrating the music, culture, books, art and homemaking skills of that generation. I am truly offeneded, indeed!

  11. And, I might add, how dare you say 'playing dress up' I am living in the modern world attempting to understand a past I ADMIRE and to infuse my life with those things I find important and lost arts. I am sorry I am so offended, but I feel I have been polite before and here I have my right to be so offended.

  12. I am sorry I am still going on, but PLEASE tell me what is SOCIALIST about wanting to return our country to a time when we had production and business IN this country? What is socialist about wanting to have people try to help THEMSELVES thorugh their own skills and to SEE what is happening around them. What is Socialist about wanting to return to a time when neighbors cared about one another and thought before they acted. I am sorry I am so upset, but honestly, of all the comments, this one has really upset me. But, you know what, I am STILL not going to monitor my comments, because I think it only fair we all have our say.

  13. I am sorry and need to apoligize to all of you. I was very rude in my 'getting upset'. It is only that to actually feel someone so callously toss aside all that I have worked for to understand, research, emulate, and try to get my head around for the past year and two months, just really felt like a slap in the face. And the only reason I get so upset is becasue I DO love this country and when I think of that generation, of all those boys that died in WWII to have fought for a country that is now IN DEBT to CHINA and continually looking to help overseas chaing/coroporation over the small guy, the local business adn the little family just makes me so angry. And when I hear that 'hateful label' (and in our country it IS meant to be hateful) socialist which is so glibly tossed about today by those who are being guiled by the likes of walmart etc, I get so angry it is hard to containg myself.
    So, I am sorry. I spoke out of turn and I should have counted to 10 before I said anything. As my mother did always say (who was born in 1929)if you haven't anything nice to say, then say nothing. I did not heed that advice. I aploigize to you born in 1932 and to anyone I have offended. Please only know that I only speak form my head and heart and I speak as I find. I never feel I 'add' to the facts I present. Everything I have said of chains and things are very factual bits of information. And I can only have my opinion as I am , me, afterall. I am sorry.

  14. Born on 1932, I think you may have misunderstood 50's gal's reference to selling out. Many times in her blog she's talked about how the 1950's housewife embracing the new technologies as a positive thing. It's the children born to this generation who grew up to rebel against their suburban upbringing who she is talking about. She has written often of the reasons the 50's adults, who had cone thru the Drepression and then the War deserved a break and an easier life in the suburbs.

    My father, born in 1934, is so much more resourceful just naturally. It's just how he was raised. My generation (I was born in the mid 1960's) are just learning now that mass consumerism isn't the answer.

    I hope you understand my point and take no offense.


  15. OH, and I do see now that you said you thought I said that the 1950's housewives sold out. Which, if I implied that, I certainly did not mean it. I meant really that their children, the babyboomers, got sold out. That I feel their generation, though I am not blaming them, had a nice life because of the 1950's housewife and therefore were not as 'aware' of the harsh realities of the world in the way that the 1950s housewife was, after living through the Depression and the War. I do apoligize, but I am always defending and holding up that generation and to have someone think I was speaking ill of them did rather upset me. I also am still not sure what was meant by my 'Socialist' views. Oh, well. I am sorry.

  16. I think some people hear the word socialist nowadays and use it as a handy all-around way of defining someone else's opinion.

    Socialism: A political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles.

    When you plead to corporations to act responsibly ON THEIR OWN ACCORD, you do not imply socialism. When you DO NOT encourage government (or collective citizenship's) rules, you do not imply socialism.

    Like I said, "socialism" is a handy term used willy nilly these days.

    I also have a great respect for 1932's generation. I would have expected more tact from someone of that era. I would not think them an Internet troll spewing venom.

    And, you are not just dressing the part. You are truly trying to emulate the housewife of that generation and all us boomers (or later) are getting the benefit of your efforts. We are DESPERATE for the teachings of past generations.

    No, we did not walk miles in girdles in the 1950s. How can our birth year be our fault?

    I would say, the same way we haven't walked miles in girdles, 1932 hasn't been affected by a couple generations of domestic knowledge loss and the uncertainty that brings "modern" homemakers, especially during these times.

    Ms. 1932 has the gift of living in a more self-reliant time.

    We LEARN from you, 50s gal. And wouldn't we LOVE to embrace Ms. 1932 and invite her valuable teachings? Too bad she thinks so little of our generation's attempts to do the best for our families and our COMMUNITIES.

    Playing "dress up?" Dress up has never been so SERIOUS for many of us.

    I wish our multi-generational sisterhood was stronger. We need encouragement, not a swift smack.

    I don't know what else to say. Such an undeserved comment.

  17. Thank you anon-I regretted my immediate response, but left it up, none the less, to show my own weakness at 'lashing out'. Of course, upon recolleciton, one sees the futility in harsh words and all the more reason to compassion and understanding. That is why I hope born 1932 takes the olive branch I offer and does NOT leave our community. I don't want us all to feel we cannot say what we feel, and I do want us all to learn from one another. Certainly, someone who actually lived it has so much she could share with us. I brought it up in today's post and hope that we can learn from it, anyway. Thank you for your kind words. I honestly cried, silly I know.

  18. Honestly, I wonder how closely Born in 1932 follows your blog. If he/she did follow along closely, I don't know how they could have come to the conclusion they did about what you've said. Any reference that you've ever made to people being sold out, being blind, etc. has always been followed up with the understanding that it happened unknowingly to them because they didn't see what was happening at the time, and hindsight is 20/20. You've pointed out the same things with our own generation, and you have never made me, at least, feel like you were calling me stupid, or anything of the sort. I have always taken what you said as being things that you have learned, share with us, and then encourage all of us, including yourself, not to allow ourselves to be duped any longer, not because we were "stupid" before, but because we were unaware until now. There nothing offense in that type of insight and sharing.

    You're really doing everyone a service, 50sgal. If someone chooses to take personal offense at the things you say, when you are obviously not intending it to be taken that way, and becomes defensive, instead of looking at the problem as a whole and adding insight that will add to the discussion and finding of solutions, well, what more can be said about that?


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