Saturday, March 13, 2010

13 March 1956 “News, Fashion, Spring, still springing along, and Seeds.”

Laurence Olivier's film, Richard III, adapted from Shakespeare's play, premieres in the U.S. in theatres and on NBC Television, on the same day as an afternoon matinée. It is one of the first such experiments of its kind. Olivier is later nominated for an Oscar for his performance.

Odd that once, when TV was a few networks and still in it’s infancy, such programs as ballet and Opera and, yes, even Shakespeare was shown. I can picture an older audience, to whom TV would either be interesting or annoying, enjoying this type of ‘theatre’ program.

Today we seem to have hundreds of channels, yet by their very vastness of choice, there is not that ‘camaraderie of tv’ I bet there was once. There are network shows that I am sure are ‘watercooler’ talk, but I sometimes wonder if the endless choice is almost too much of a distraction for we modern people. Speaking as someone who, until 1955, had increasingly been extending my own tv viewing (hours a day!) I didn’t really see it as a problem. And I suppose depending on what you want out of life, it does not have to be. But, for me now, the amount of things I can do and the very length and promise of each day seems extended since the glowing box went dim.

Now, I am not saying it is evil and we shouldn’t watch it or that we should have socialized TV where the government chooses one channel for all of us ( I figure I’d get a jump on any such comments!) Just merely stating my own personal facts and views. I know that since the TV is no longer a viable option in my day, I not only don’t miss it, but realize how much freer my thoughts are. I have not caught myself humming any commercials, radio jingles nor peppering my conversation with ‘Simpson’s Quote’s as I once did. I may, on occasion whilst scrubbing the floor or intently working on something, find myself humming an ‘old advert’ such as the Pepsodent ad.

and hubby and I will often say, in our best monotone, to one another, “BIZZZEE DAY OH BIZZZZZ EEE DAY…NO TIME FOR DEEEZIRT” because of this ad that just stuck with us.

Yet, it is interesting to note how I actually feel I have my thoughts back to myself now without tv. I am not wondering what's on, nor considering what I just watched or what is ‘coming up next week’. I feel like those people who get very physically fit later in life and say, “Why I have the body of when I was 20 again” yet, I feel I have the mind back of being 20 and at school and so hungry for more knowledge and craving to read and study and learn. I wonder how much the TV increases our later loss of memory. I happen to have Alzheimer's in my family, as well, so I figure, I’d better use it ‘while I got it’!

I was saying today on the forum how my idea of weight loss and my overall mind/body image has become almost Zen like since 1955. I  still wish to lose weight, but it seems more a casual, it will happen with exercise and diet, than before. The fear, anger, guilt-eating, etc has all but gone from my psyche. I wonder if it is not watching modern tv, reading modern magazines etc. Even at the grocery store, as I now frequent our local little market, there is not line with magazines piled up while you wait. So, I don’t really see that many magazines. Odd. I feel bad for the young girls today. The body image confusion must be really bad.

I thought it interesting what Karl Lagerfeld said about people thinking modern models are too thin, saying the people who were concerned were just fat housewives!

"These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly," Lagerfeld said in an interview with Focus magazine. The creative director of the fashion house Chanel added that the world of fashion was all to do "with dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women".

  jacquesFath-Paris1955 Somehow, fashion has become more about the body shape than the movement of the clothes.  The first modern image is certainly showing the woman’s body, in a very, “hey here it is under this black lace”. This is a high fashion piece so probably not meant to be interpreted on day wear, but the second from 1955 is also high fashion. It is very body conscious yet lovely. It has a sexy allure, but in a more fashionable way AND a home sewer could try and replicate it to a day wear outfit.

I think Chanel would be spinning in her grave and slap Lagerfeld across the face for his emaciated look. Channel wanted to free women from the constraints of the corset, now to only have them in fear of their own bodies! I would rather put on a good foundation garment and feel my clothes fit better than have to worry that my hip bones don’t stick out enough! And, fashion for the masses is a joke. Mass market ( I know we just talked about this, but it really does color every aspect of the modern life) clothing is slouchy and comfortable because it is EASIER to mass produce, not because there is some ‘movement’ to make women more comfortable.

The average woman in the 50’s, rather she knew it or not, had fashion sense! I remember a commenter saying how she remembered in the 1950’s going to her aunt’s farm on Sunday and the aunt would be in overall’s in curlers milking the cow and then, get dressed in a dress and have her hair done nicely for church. There was an innate sense that told her, yes I am a hard working farmer, but I can also be beautiful and look presentable. Even if the person was fat by today's standards and just wearing a simple cotton dress, with little cotton gloves and hat, compare that today. And we have so many easy ways to make beauty more a part of our life,too.

Again, I am not TELLING anyone what to do. By all means, keep wearing your Gap hoodies and Old Navy low rise jeans. It matters little to me, as long as you don’t mind my wearing a dress, all the underpinnings, hat gloves etc. I know there is a definite feeling among ‘average’ women that somehow fashion is gone. Yet, we are still very drawn to it. Again, it has been a part of women’s history. We might be told not to think about it or that it is being ‘silly’ to worry about or care what we are wearing, but why? Because burning our bras and wearing t-shirts with smiley faces somehow made us more liberated? I think the modern woman can be free and equal and still have the ability to care about beauty, and fashion. And, though it might sound silly, fashion is an important part of our daily lives. We have to wear clothes and if you like pretty things or a certain decade, then why not dress that way? What do you have to lose?

This has spurred me on to work more on the Grooming Page today. I will try to get some new content up on the site today about that with the new layout. Even from the standpoint of personal strength, think of it this way. You have the ability to sew your own clothes with patterns and make the decisions on fit and fabric, the strength to wear what you LIKE and not what is in the store, you are adding skill to your daily repertoire. As far as I can see, it is all win win! Even if you don’t want to sew and you want to have this look, find someone who does and pay them! They will be so happy to have the custom!

Spring is coming! Here are some crocus in my little front garden.


crocus1 crocus3 When you view nature close up like this, you can really be inspired with a color palate. Wouldn’t a dress in shades of purple with say an orange belt and grass green trim and accessories be lovely? Even a room could be done in mellowed versions of these colors.crocus4 You can click on any of these to seem them larger. The detail on the stamens and the play of light and dark are inspring me to do some painting. Maybe the New England version of Georgia O’Keefe, non?

These little crocus pushing though the flattened winter grasses make me think of the little hats so in vogue during this decade (1950s)qe2hat Here the Queen in the 50’s is very much sporting a jaunty little spring flower atop her regal head.

cukeseed1Here is one of my little cucumber seedlings, still holding onto its seedpod. All my seedlings I planted last week have all sprung up nicely. And since they have done so well, I have ordered the following seeds.tomatoseeds1 (You can order it HERE in the store.)greenzebraseeds (and you can order these HERE in the store.) The first white tomato is suppose to have an almost melon like flavor. They are both antique Heritage seeds and great to grow and then collect the seeds for next year (economical and important to increase the amount of old Heritage seeds kept alive on earth!)

Melons usually do not do very well here on the cape as we do not have VERY hot conditions as they do in the midwest. But smaller melon will do alright. I am going to try this wonderful Heritage seed from 1800 that looks like a squash. It will be like ‘eating history’ to know the plant is the same as since Jane Austen’s time!melonseeds (you can order it HERE, if you like.)

radishseeds I am going to have a try at these french breakfast radish seeds that look so lovely. This variety is over 100 years old! (available HERE) Aren’t these beets just the living end? They look like candy when sliced and I bet they would be really beautiful pickled. We shall see, as I plan on pickling some. beetseeds (available HERE)

Well, have a lovely weekend all. Perhaps I shall see you in the Forum, if not, then in the comments. Happy Homemaking!


  1. I think women need to be happy in their own bodies, I often say "Heck in 30-40 years we'll all look the same anyways."

    Aging albeit gracefully all catches up to us sometime, unless your Cher who can barely move her lips when she talks, or cannot even crack a smile.

    I am of average weight for my height, and at one time I was way too thin (lost alot of weight due to a bad relationship in my late teens- I was probably borderline anorexic now that I think of it)........

    To this day I cannot look at myself fully in the mirror, but I do consider each stretch mark a badge of honour, my body carried two babies, I've earned every stretch mark in that regard :)

    Eventually gravity will set in more (than it has done so now), and I will have more character lines on my face, but there is beauty in that too.

    I love those Dove commercials by real women for real women, we are not all Barbie dolls and how boring would life be if we all looked like the ladies' on Stepford Wives.

    I would rather look within a person to find their true selves, rather than based on the consumeristic packaging on the outside.

    Everyday I look presentable, my hair is short so I wash and blow dry it, very low maintenance, I hardly wear makeup now (so my complexion is alot clearer now than in my twenties).....and I have to say for all that I am a much happier person :)

    Mom in Canada

  2. Hi Donna, I just posted pictures of the Autumn crocus that are popping up in my garden and here you have pictures of the spring version - synchronicity.

  3. Isn't it funny that when I was growing up watching those "old" movies I never looked at any woman and thought , gee is she a fat one!
    I never thought of it at all. People were people, different sizes and shapes. I will admit I had never seen anyone grossly obese.
    People did not exercise all the time and we did not snack all day or even every day. We ate at the table not on the couch. Popcorn was even special. I was not raised poor it just was how our diet was every day. Food portions were pleasing not obese in themselves.
    I was thinking the other day what happened to milk at the table for children? How many today would kick the chair and scream for soda?
    MOTHERS! take back your children from the comercial market that cares nothing for the real health of your family. It begins here girls lets do it! You will only pay in health bills later if you don't. The brains of our children are dieing fast. Mikl them while you can! ( pun intended )

  4. Hi Donna,

    Those commercials are so cute. I wouldn't mind them, if they were like that still.

    K.L. Is an a** (pardon my language). Coco really would not be happy. She designed for women not little girls. Coming from California originally, I know so many friends that suffer from anorexia. It's an awful disease.

    I looked anorexic up until I was 18, but I ate like a pig. Then when I became more 'womanly' my mother would tell me that I was heavy. She was a product of the Twiggy generation and thought that your hip bones should stick out. I blame society and the fashion industry for making the 16 year old the standard for real women.

    Funny enough, since I started following your advice about taking care of the home and eating everything homemade, I lost 12 lbs. in two weeks. I haven't exercised at all either!

    I can not sew to save my life, but I do plan on looking for sundresses this year instead of just shorts. I want to feel feminine, more so than I have for a long time.

    Oh and that melon looks interesting! I can't wait to hear what you think of it.


    PS I emailed you back about the post ;)

  5. Donna,
    I am reading through the Miss Read series. I am reading a 1957 copy of "Village Diary". I was reading the dust jacket and thought of you. It said "One of the pleasantest surprises of the autumn of '56 was a modest English book called 'Village School'.....In her new book, 'Village Diary', Miss Read describes the people of the village of Fairacre."
    This series would be true to your year, but the only problem would be that if you wanted to read all of her more than 10 books and stay true to your year you would have to wait another 12 years to read the last ones published!
    I find the books a nice relaxing read and hope you may enjoy them too.
    Amy F.

  6. Donna:

    You will get a laugh out of this. My young friend (24) posted a link on her facebook to the new Lady GaGa video. Being nosy, I had to watch it (though as you all know , I LOATHE modern music).

    EEEE GADS!!!! I couldn't even watch more that the first 2 minutes of it, and the things was nearly 10 minutes long. The first things I thought were "nasty, shameful, disgusting". Now I would include repugnant, offensive, and horrid.

    I said so to my friend and told her she needed to go shopping and purchase some Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra. THAT is talent and quality entertainment.

    Still, I have a point besides the 'humor' of this. What appalled me more that the actual video (and it was atrociously appalling) was the fact that this nasty piece of work is being viewed by millions of young people who think that that is the way they should look and behave. Being vulgar is some sort of badge of honor now.

    And along with the "too skinny" talk. There is a dance scene in the video with GaGa and her "friends" all in thongs and bikini tops. Every one is horrifically thin. My hubby peeked at that time and said "EEWW, how nasty can you get." Thankfully, for me, he finds curvy women attractive and cannot stand stick thin women.

    I was just wondering, could someone tell me when it became "cool" to be what my mother would call a broad??? I wanted to be like Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn when I grew up, now they want to be like this "Lady GaGa" (Lady - ha, more like Gag)...

    Sorry for my mini rant here...but I know you ladies understand and feel the same....

    By the way...I really don't recommend looking for and watching the is foul.....

  7. Thankfully my 12 year old daughter thinks Lady gaga is scarey! I'm so proud. :)

    Nice post, Donna. The garden is going to be delicious!

    sarah h

  8. I was just ranting about Lady Gaga last night. Usually I can find some redeeming quality in people but not her. If she magically disappeared off the face of the earth tomorrow I think the world would be a better place. Her outfits are slutty (she wore red leather or PVC, not sure which, when she met Queen Elizabeth for goodness sake!) and her stage get-ups are downright tacky. She's just fame hungry and will do anything to get it.

    When I was little there were only 3 channels on the TV. No, I'm not that old, just British. A fourth was introduced when I was school age and that was fine. I could find something I wanted to watch every evening, usually a good documentary or sometimes a movie and I watched a couple of TV series like X Files but not much. Now we have about 80 channels on so-called basic cable and there are times I can't find a single thing to watch. I don't tend to sit around watching TV but I like watching it while I iron or if I'm sitting doing a little easy sewing in the evening. Now it's all reality TV and whichever movies they can show cheaply.

  9. So many wonderful comments, ladies.
    Rue-isn't it funny how when you make your own food and don't have 'store bought' to snack on, it is actually healthier?
    regarding Lady Gaga, I feel bad, in a sense, because she is the perfect example of a product of her TIMES. She actually has a wonderful soulful 'old school' voice. Someone showed me a video of her singing one of her songs, but acapella in a very jazzy standard sounding voice. I just wish she could take her talent and her NEED to shock and realize what she is doind was already done. We already had Madonna 'break' all the sexual stereo types. What would be really 'against the grain' would be to overglam herself in 1930's fashions, over produce her videos like old movies, go everywhere with her 'entourage' very 'old Hollywood' and actually SING with her beautiful voice. The gimmicks, the overt sexuality, even her bizarre fashion could take more of the oddity of Poiret designs, those were bizarre' and amazing. But, really, I feel we are so many generations INTO the 'shock and awe' of society that people honestly don't know any better. Somehow art had to become so aware of ITSELF that it can't stop looking in the mirror at itself long enough to actually have depth.
    And regarding Lagerfeld again, I noticed he didn't make his comments until he suddenly lost all this weight. The power such people have and yet they feel NO responsibility with it. The responsibility of the artist seems to be gone. When one has a gift and voice and the ear of the public, one should use their brain to realize they have the power and should fee the responsibility to make statements that ultimately help society. Once, breaking the boundaries and norms of society may have meant helping the masses, today it is done simply for itself. Art for arts sake. Shock for shock sake and sadly enough, it all seems to be done in the name of the ultimate goal-wealth. And wealth and power without responsibility is a very frightening thing.
    Maybe I will try to find that video of GaGa singing true and jazzy and show, in the talent of today there is that glimmer of hope that one wants to have a pure joyous moment of talent and art. I wonder, shall it ever change? Shall the empty shallow popular world of money/shock/using people ever stop? Has production and the world of industrialization of people and the mass consumerism of the mind gone too far? I do feel so bad for the future. I want so bad to just unplug, crawl away and hide in the past, and yet...Yet, I feel a duty. That as long as there are those of us who do see a chance for a difference. A means to an ends to at least make some change in the minds of some young people, I think I shall not hide away forever. What say you? Have we a chance to make a difference?

  10. I really don't like lady gaga at all. once i saw her on the mtv music awards or the ama's or something I was just kind of 'grossed out' by her. My thoughts went straight to what Donna has pointed out 'we already had Madonna!'
    things cycle, and not always in a good way.
    I actually thought I had already commented on this post...I just wanted to say it was a nice post. For the first time, I am ready for spring and love the crocus pics!
    I'm planning my compost bin, rain barrel, and new garden fence this year, so I'm chompin' at the bit!

  11. Donna, thanks for pointing out that Lady gaga has a good singing voice. I never knew and never considered it assuming she was all about marketing herself without regard to her talent. I still don't like her but have to give her a wee bit of credit for actually having a good voice. So many "stars" are sold as such but really have no talent, except making themselves accessible to the paparazzi.

    The picture of the modern "model" looks like a spoof of some sci fi movie while the 50's pic is beautiful. I just don't get it. The first is ridiculously extreme. Like a costume, not clothing.


  12. I'm so glad I found your sweet, lovely blog.

    I completely agree on all points. I barely watch TV ever- love the occasional old movie (I love Picnic - is that 50's or is it 60's? I dont know but that is one great film).

    Anyway thank goodness someone smart and talented like yourself is writing about fashion and body image- how refreshing!

    I try to never judge a person by their weight (or their appearance for that matter).

    Who cares about "high fashion" anyhow except certain folks who are too insecure to know that it is we who lend the magic to what we wear- not the designer.

    Ps. I happily have no idea who Lady Gaga is and dont care to.

  13. Michele-welcome. I am glad you found us. You should check out our forum on the site. maybe we shall see you there. Intelligent women (and men) discussing vintage today and the relevance of old skills in the modern world.
    Sarah-I also heard that she will ONLY sing live at her performances and will NOT lipsycnhe which is rare. She also cares nothing for the fame she displays, taking all her earnings and putting it all back into her shows as she views them as 'art pieces' making fun of wanting big houses and cars and the 'pimp' lifestyle of materilasim. It is sad, then, that she feels the need to use the platform of the very thing she mocks as a vehicle for her art. It does get her notices, but most of her fans 'don't get it' and instead are lurid after the sex, drugs etc while I have heard that she, herself, is celibate. I wonder if she is an Apronite unfortunately placed in a modern world that expects such actions in Entertainment. Too bad. What she could have been if it were 1930's-50's. It is sad that actual talent and some intelligence needs to use the very system it mocks to get noticed. It is too bad. I also hate to judge right off the bat on simply what I see, that is why I always end up 'researching' and looking. I know many people might see me 'at home' in a petticoated outfit and think me 'simpleminded' or 'oppressed' even think me foolish. Yet, I don't feel so myslef and have chosen to live my live serverly vintage for the reason of my happiness and to point out its obvious merits. Perhaps, in many ways, her actions are similiar to ours but in a way we feel sad because we see how much more INTENSE her artistic expression could be if she focused on her actual skill as artist and talent as singer and made a statement opposing fame, sex, callous apporach to people as love toys rather than someone to love.

  14. Hello my dear, I've really been enjoying your blog! I gave you an award - please check my blog Tuppence Ha'Penny.

    xx Charlotte


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