Saturday, July 31, 2010

31 July 1956 “In God We Trust”

Eisenhower Yesterday, the 30th of July, a Joint Resolution of Congress was signed by President  Eisenhower, authorizing "In God We Trust" as the U.S. national motto.
The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. The motto first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin, followed in 1866 by the 5 cent nickel (1866-1883), quarter dollar, half dollar, silver dollar and gold dollars.  And now, only since yesterday 30 July 1956, has it become the official U.S. motto.
This was considered a Cold War measure which, "In these days when imperialistic and materialistic Communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, it is proper" to "remind all of us of this self-evident truth" that "as long as this country trusts in God, it will prevail."
I only wish that by 2010 we could see that Materialism Capitalism also seems to be touching on our personal freedoms of small business and I am sad to know that while here in 1956 we are happily growing our middle class with local business, American made and production, how quickly it shall all fade away; sad indeed.
Maria Callas will perform Puccini this year in NYC.
Thinking of coming winter fashion, now that we are more than half way through summer, I was rather surprised to see how modern some of these leather looks appear. This is from a Fashion show this year in Italy for coming fall. The final shorter skirt with colored stocking and boots seems so modern for 1956. Though, here comfortable in my middle class New England life, I don’t think I would be seeing anything like that around my town or at local clubs. Possibly in NYC it might appear, but Boston would be to staid and reserved for that yet.
I do apologize for my last few days of non posting, but it can be hard, here in summer, to want to even go near the computer. I have been biking to the shore to swim, enjoying our nice cool days and evening fires on the terrace. I shouldn’t make excuses, but I do find it hard to get to my computer time. I shall endeavor to do better.
Happy Homemaking.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

28 July 1956 “TV Time: Betty White and Jimmy Boyd”

I thought it might be fun to let you watch an episode of the Betty White Show. This is the type of programming we are accustomed to here in 1956 (though this original airdate was 54 I believe). This was a sort of variety show where in Betty would play different characters. This episode is fun because she plays a rather hoity toity movie actress staying with a down home family in Nebraska. It even includes the car commercial (as commercials were then being sponsored by and actually a part of the show).
boyd Both of these clips here include Jimmy Boyd who is rather an interesting character and singer. Read his info HERE. He sang “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” when he was 11.jimmyboydalbum He picked cotton to help feed his family of 21 brothers and sisters. Originally from Mississippi his family moved to California and couldn’t afford tickets for all, so Boyd had to ‘hobo’ his way out to his family.
The second clip has a return of Jimmy Boyd doing a duet with Betty White. It just honestly seems rather wholesome, good natured and well, innocent fun. I do wish we could turn back the clock on sarcasm and meanness. I enjoy the modern ribbing as much as the next person, but whenever I see such shows I think maybe innocence and general kindness is such an important thing we have somehow lost.
Later Betty White would have Boyd as a guest star on her show entitled “Date with the Angels” Here is that episode of that to enjoy:

Monday, July 26, 2010

26 July 1956 “A Look Back at Youth Worship”

Back in 27 January 1955 my post for that day included an article from one of my vintage magazines. It was discussing the new trend towards Youth Worship. I felt, today, might be fun to revisit that article and see how we feel about it today.
Do we see that this trend has definitely come to fruition? It seems so to me. Many would see the woman on the left and think, “Wow, she looks great, so young”  Our first impulse is to associate youth with beauty. Yet, to me now, as she looks on the left, in her ‘mature clothes’ she seems more confident and someone to look up to. Perhaps our youth today are so lost and always turning to the fantasy of the internet and text because where are all the examples of showing how wonderful it is to be grown up and mature? What does being an adult even mean today?
So, here is the article. Simply click on the images and they will enlarge. Enjoy and discuss.
youtharticle 1 youtharticle 2
Here is the rest of the article with the ads on the page as well.
youtharticle 3youtharticle 4
If you would like to read my original post that contained this article it is HERE.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

25 July 1956 “Cooking and Life : The New and Old Way.”

56woman'sday This image from June 1956 Woman’s Day shows the Old and New way of cooking (Click to enlarge and Read).
I found it interesting on many levels. First off, we have the comparison of the Old way with an older woman who ‘has the time’ to prepare all her food from scratch. While the ‘new’ way by the younger woman mentions that she most likely is a working woman. So, even here in 1956 it is not completely uncommon to hear of or know working women. I think the idea that all women are at home is probably not true, but it is true that many woman do see being at home with a husband as an actual goal. To modern women this seems an affront or somehow shocking. Yet, I think there are many busy working wives who would gladly become a stay at home, so not sure why we have such a taboo about that.
Secondly, what I found interesting is that myself, since my trip back to the 50’s, have begun to move away from the ‘new’ way shown here to the old way. Surely in 1956 I am older than the young 20 something woman in the article, but I am not as old as the grandmother image. So, I wonder if I would truly, having come through what  I would have come through in history, would probably have a mixture of these two.
It has only been since my voyage back that I have learned to bake bread and cakes from scratch. That I take it in a matter of course to whip up homemade pancakes or waffles for breakfast without Bisquick. Even my veg is more often than not cut up from fresh (especially now that it is summer, come fall and winter I will have more  of my own canned to access).
In the beginning of my project I was all Wonder Bread and Jell-o. I mean, I felt the need to try and use and make the old pre-packaged things available. What I now think is rather spot on, is that in so doing I probably did recreate what I would have done. I would have been intrigued by the new. I would have tried it and found that it was okay, but not comparable to homemade, which I would have been used to and grown up with. So, I gradually moved back to the ‘old way’. Of course in reality I was just learning the way to make more things from scratch, but you know what I mean, the 50’s me was simply, “returning to the old way”.
wonderad It’s very easy to cook the NEW way here in 1956. There are so many things pre-made for my convenience.hashad miraclewhipad
nescafead I don’t even have to wait to brew coffee the old fashioned way if I don’t want (though the flavor is different as is the price). Even our sweet drinks are easy and plentiful, no squeezing lemons or crushing fruit to make summer drinks. Of course the result, they are easier to have and will increasingly be in our children's hands as time goes by and so increases their waistlines and diabetes. Yet, simply being responsible with such easy products could be useful and not harmful, but with ease comes disinterest and laziness. Who knows what kids are drinking, I can’t be bothered, I have to work and get home and nuke dinner.
So, what I really see happening here in 1956 is rather similar to 2010. There is a new crop of young wives and teens who are going to grow up with this instant world. Here they will become used to such ease and will slowly leave off the domestic arts. Today in 2010, the young do not know a world without the internet and digital devices. The old way for them, talking to someone in person rather than texting, or writing a paper after reading a book or going to the library rather than cutting and pasting info from websites and sites such as SPARKNOTES so they don’t even have to read the entire book. Again, I find the parallel between then and now. The threshold to the modern world truly lives here in 1950’s. The choices we make, however, leads us to where we are now, but if we go back and try new choices, reset the clock as it were, can we change our own modern reality and the way we make choices? It seems, at least by my reckoning, that we can.
I think the happy medium I have now between these Old and New way of cooking described in this article is a good balance. I honestly enjoy taking the time to steam my own asparagus and make hollandaise from scratch as described in the old way, but if I were in a rush and many things planned, I could easily use frozen veg, but instead would have made my own homemade ahead of time and kept it in the ice box. And I think that is the glaring difference. I have learned, as my 50’s counterpart would have inherently known, to plan for that rainy day.
There is no prep work any more. We don’t think ahead about our savings and retirement, let alone our dinners. Even our government these past ten years has been so shortsighted and has planned for nothing to the point that we are now borrowing to pay for the care of our elderly in Medicare and Medicaid. So, when even our own government and parents are completely oblivious to the adage “a penny saved is a penny earned”. So, if we are all happy to live in debt and to simply exist from moment to moment with no thought of tomorrow, no wonder it is so easy to slide into this ‘new way’ of cooking. It is in comparison not as extreme here in 1956, but I can tell you as an older homemaker, I would most likely look at my younger married nieces or friends and think, “Hmmm, this must be from a box” or “In my day, we’d have shucked our own peas and used butter not margarine”.
There will always be the contrast of the old vs. the new, but what I have come to realize is that rather than it be a war of who wins, it if it is a great learning experience of what works best for me and for our future (and not just my future, the world  for others as well) then that is the right path. We like to think there is no ‘right path’ and that we can, we modern people, do whatever we like. I think we are coming to find in our environment, politically, financially, environmentally, and in the family unit, that is not true. That same lesson keeps coming back to me again and again:REPSONSIBILITY. Every time I uncover more aspects of 1950’s it is always there, staring up at me with its knowing eyes. Be responsible for yourself and your actions and the world around you will be better.
That’s a lot of realization from plucking your own chicken, I know, but that is how it comes to me here in 1956. And, now I am even considering the older old way, the way of my own fictional grandparents here in 1950’s, raising my own chicken to kill and pluck. It all leads down a path of what is doable and makes sense for you and also helps out the bigger picture. Whenever I stop and think about the modern world and our current financial situation of debt both amongst our people and the insanity of our government, I can feel helpless. I can almost feel that modern, “Oh well, can’t fix it, just use up what you want, get a joy ride and go out in a ball of fire” attitude that seemed to prevail from the late 1960’s to now. Yet, I realize, my own actions can make a difference in my sphere and if it is infectious enough to bleed out to others, than one never knows. At the end of the day, when I am stuffing my chicken and making my potatoes from scratch, I feel connected to my home and my food. I feel the positive result in my bankbook, as it really is cheaper to cook from the basics, and I feel a sense of accomplishment and a hope. That is another main element I have learned here in the 1950’s, HOPE. There is a joy to a new day to learn more and want to keep growing both in my skills and in my education. The Old modern me would often face a day with ‘well, what do i do today’ even when I was a busy working woman, my free time was often just spent wasting away in front of the tv or buying things I didn’t need and couldn’t use because I was too busy working anyway.
So, take what you will from this article on the New and Old way of cooking, but do consider Responsibility and Hope, no matter what decade you live in,  as a good recipe for a happy life.
Happy Homemaking.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

24 July 1956 “Charles and Ray Eames”

eames1 Charles and Ray Eames were a husband and wife duo whose work in Art, Film, Furniture, Interiors and the list goes on, made a major stamp on mid-century life. This was their 1944 Christmas card, in the background is a plywood sculpture of theirs.
Much of what we think of when we think mid-century modern is often their work or touched by them in some way. I find it telling, as well, that a married couple should have made such an impact, when you consider our over general impression of 1950’s is the married couple.
By my time, here in 1956, their work had become literally a household name. Here is a two part special on their work which airs this year (56) on NBC.
They did much work for Herman Miller, an office furniture manufacturer in Michigan (which still resides and produces furniture there.) This chair for Herman Miller is the quintessential Herman Miller/Eames look with which most of us are familiar.This is Charles and Ray Eames, Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1956, Molded rosewood plywood, black leather upholstery, aluminum 33 x 33 x 33” (chair) 16 x 26 x 21” (ottoman) Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of La Vern and Betty DePree Van Kley. Photographer: Nick Merrick. Source: Museum of Arts & Design via Bloomberg News
The organic nature of their work and its fluidity mingled with sharp almost space age angles really defined the style of the 1950’s from drapes, to dresses.rayeameswithprint In the second part of the above NBC special Charles talks about his work with Herman Miller and I found it refreshing that he mentions they were not trying to make a mass market product. That the work, even for that company, was more about design and quality for the consumer, such a stark contrast from the make it quick, pump it out by the millions mentality of our modern IKEA world.
Even their own home built in 1949 with its Mondrian-esque color block facade couldn’t be more 1950’s (even though it was not yet the 50’s). HERE is an interesting page about this house and the project of their house, #8 in their ‘case study’ of building 24 houses.
I was never that intrigued by mid-century design or even art prior to my journey to 1955, but I keep finding myself becoming more enamored with it. And feeling that even in my 1710 cape style American Colonial Pre-Revolutionary house, that their clean lines and functionality can find a comfortable home with the minimal line and quality of actual colonial furniture. I find myself increasingly captivated by their work.
For more information of the amazing and interesting Eames’, HERE is a great site about their work and its affect on our culture and country.

Friday, July 23, 2010

23 July 1956 “The American Dream Home”

50shouse1 I think what a 21st century visitor would notice at first about middle class life here in 1956 is the size of the homes. They are diminutive by today’s standards and are not all full of brand new plastic Eames chairs as we might see in the magazines of the time. There would be much ‘recycling’ of items handed down, borrowed etc. The  middle class homemaker would look at you oddly if you said ‘recycling’, for you see being Green here simply  means being smart and frugal. Thrift, it seems, is even taught in high schools and at home. A ‘consumer economy’ has not yet set itself into the psyche of the American public.
There was an increase need for homes after the war. Returning soldiers were already husbands or soon to be and they were getting ready to feather the nest. Many had GI bill aspirations to college and all facets of the middle class (even the lower rungs) were beginning to have a taste of a life they may not have considered before the war: college, their own home, a sense of economic growth. All of these things were held like shiny apples before the donkey cart to the new American middle class families at this time. Yet, these families came to them with the inante thrift and frugality of Depression Children and War Time Ration still fresh in their minds. They also felt their country was now set upon the eve of a Brave New World and all in it would now be done for the good of all.
What is interesting to me is that many things today such as food and clothing are dirt cheap comparative to 1956 yet housing is the opposite. The above kit ranch house of 1200 sq. feet cost $6030 at the time. That is comparative to around $35,000 today. (the image came from a nice Flickr site HERE, they have other houses and prices listed) I can’t even imagine a piece of land that cheap today. 50shouse2
In my research for this post I read a modern article about recent home sizes. I thought this an interesting quote from a real estate agent on L.I. in New York from a modern newspaper, "You know, we are very tenuous," says local architect Ann Surchin. "No one knows when the next 9/11 will happen. And these houses represent safety — and the bigger the house, the bigger the fortress."
I had to laugh at that. 9/11? I mean come on. I am certainly not belittling what happened, but here in 1956 people not only remember a world war that has maimed and killed friends and family, people are still living daily with a very real fear that at any moment the Atomic bomb could come crashing down on them. And yet they have no problem having one bathroom for a family of five or having older children (even teens) share a bedroom. Rather than seclude themselves in fortresses they cannot afford, they open up their new little modern homes with ‘window walls’ and patios to Barbeque with neighbors. Even wealthier individuals who summer here on Cape Cod do not all have mansions. But, their quaint little cottages are going to be decimated with Mc-mansions in 60 years.
So why such a great divide between houses then and now? I think the real answer, again, is the media. What do we watch? What do we see on tv/computer: Perceived wealth; shows like Cribs and many design shows portray homes very large and beyond many peoples means. We don’t even realize anymore that half of the shows being presented are just really highly advanced 30-60 minute ads. Because we find ourselves wanting to emulate the show and buy and have the things the characters have, this really is effective advertising. We are unable to distinguish the reality from the fantasy. We are SO plugged into the digital/media/ad/entertainment world, that our brains have trouble distinguishing the difference. When you consider we mostly give our mind these false images,  it follows we then succumb to wanting what they have. There is a realness to it: I see all that wealth and stuff, they have it, it seems real, I have this card, so now I want it and have it.  The advertising of today is so genius and smart and sophisticated, even what you look up online is collected and fed back to us in adverts that sell to our own demographic. The level of marketing is more advanced than the intelligence we had access to when in WWII. Advertising here, in 1956, is still a young art/ad man drawing out images and coloring them in to be placed in magazines. There is an innocence that still exists not only in the ads themselves, but in the very nature of the people. In some ways we are so removed from them by how we think, it is as if we are a different species, breed to buy.
I shudder now, when I think of the design shows I used to watch when they would just gut and tear out any kitchen and replace it with the latest style. The idea of using what we have or making do and making it pretty seems completely gone. Which is odd to me when I think the average homemaker or wife today has SO much at her fingertips as far as design inspiration and lessons on how to do it all, but it seems it has just become another form of entertainment to watch OTHERS do it and then hire someone to rip out and replace.
A homemaker in 1956 would not even have access to the money we see today and yet would use what she had to make her home lovely. A woman who was a homemaker in her 20's in the 50's told me she wanted to redo her bedroom and wanted valances. She couldn't afford wood, so she saved up heavy cardboard from boxes, bought fabric and glued and made valances and matching pillows and bed skirts. You couldn't tell the difference, she told me and I believe her. Especially when I think of what house wares today ARE made of and where they are thrown together.
I don't always want to end up seeming to be playing the 'its better back here' game, but some how it always happens. I think really it is more, “Oh, they did that, then why can’t we do that AND still move forward”.Even if you think of me, "Well, your not really there, so of course it seems better” There still seems to be lessons here in frugality, creativity, and action. That means even if you are not a  time traveling homemaker like me, you can be a thoroughly modern Millie and start taking advantage of what our 50's sisters did with the power and ease of today! Why spend what we perceive of as less at a big box store for particle board, when you can use scrap wood you might have, a jigsaw, some paint, and fabric and make a custom item fit for you, for less!
Here is another quote from that same modern article on house size. The man has built a large house and says, "I always wanted a house big enough that my kids could be in their room screaming, and my wife could be in a room screaming, and I could be somewhere else and not hear any of them," he says. "And I think I have accomplished this with this house, because this house is so big that everyone has their own space."
I think it is odd that this man should not mind that his children or his wife ARE screaming, as long as he does not have to hear it. I think that says so much about modern family and community dynamics. We don't care what happens to people as long as we don't see it. Who cares that our cheap products are made by children in china, as long as I don't have to make it or see it. It all makes sense. Yet a father in 1956 would not allow a child TO scream in his room for it would firstly upset the family and secondly he would, hopefully, want to know why they are screaming. Because if it is for fun then you have to learn that you cannot just scream when you want just because you are in a big place. How does any of this prepare us for the real world. Does that mean if you go to a large library or the airport, which is also large, you can scream at the top of your lungs? This bigger house size merely adds to the unrealistic atitude we have and give to children who then have to go out into the real world. It also shows our own increasing inability to accept a new reality here in our country. Bigger and more is not better and it is not only leading us down a bad path, but really not the unique original American ideal.
The lead me to consider that increased house size actually affects our overall attitudes. No wonder people are so rude to one another and staff at restaurants and stores. When you have your own bedroom and bath and rarely see your siblings and family members (even to eat) there is no need for compromise. There is no working it out with your siblings to get to the bathroom, so you get what you want, when you want it. Now add that to the instantaneousness of our world. Tv, computers, phone , texting, microwave food, drive-thrus, its all there cheap and ready in a second and if it is a moment late, look out we will shout at you! We want it and we want it NOW and we want it BIG! (Would you like to Super size that? It’s only 20 cents extra for a Venti)
I also find it interesting that the 50’s woman will have to spend much more time IN her home than the modern woman, yet has so much less space. But, to a person whose job it is to maintain the home, decorate it, feed a family and have time for her extra curricular such as reading, sewing, knitting, art and so on, a small house is a boon! It is odd that as the decrease in home food prep goes down the kitchen size and cost goes up. If you were to see this on a graph it would be two lines diverging drastically. And the increase in money spent on rooms where little happens save microwave use and heating up prepared food, we could really have 5 x 5 kitchens with a  microwave a few burners and a small stove. But, of course, a bank of freezers and ice boxes would be needed.
I have felt this need to enlarge and live big in my own home often. Before 1955, I always was planning a large home. My ideas and dreams often had endless rooms. But, as I have become a homemaker, the appreciation of smaller space has actually begun to really shine through. At the end of last year (1955) we moved out of our house that was twice the size of our current old antique cottage so we could rent it out. We now literally have 1/2 the size as when I started my project and probably have closer to what an average homemaker would have had at the time. Initially it required me to really downsize and many of those things are still boxed in our out building/barn waiting for a yard sale. Many of the things I had originally intended on keeping but lately I have really begun to see that I have been living without them for the past 7 months and have not noticed, except that there is less to dust and organize. Smaller really is a part of a proper vintage life. Even if we consider the size of 1950’s car, it was large, but not like the monstrous 6000 lb vehicles we have today with tv panels in each seat and ipod docking stations. Our cars are more advanced than the home of 1956, but are we happier, more organized or smarter? I don’t know, I think not.
 50skitchen2 This house size also got me thinking about kitchen size. Many of the kitchens in my 50’s magazines, though they are ‘redone’ modern versions are still very small in square footage compared to today. When we first moved back to this house, I kept redesigning my kitchen over and over. I started with additions and breaking down a wall into another room (all on paper of course) and pouring over my vintage magazines for ideas and Craigslist for vintage appliances. I had slowly lessened my plan to no additions and just removing a wall that separates my little sitting room from the kitchen to enlarge the space inside. Since our Holiday at Home and my increases desire to sew more and do more art with my non homemaking time, I am really rethinking the entire idea. I do still need a better vintage stove and I have an old 50’s icebox (refrigerator) in storage waiting to be redone, but do I really need more space? The kitchen we now have was added on in the 1900’s and redone in the 1950’s but I stupidly removed the old vinyl (this was years ago) and the original handles to the cabinets. There is very little space in there, yet I have really had no trouble preparing meals, baking a cake and getting hubby’s lunch together all at one time. As it is mainly just me in there, there is no issue of a crowd.
Our Staycation really has had me look at our home in such a new light. The small house became the quaint sea cottage through the perception of our Holiday at Home and now, though I again view it as our main home, have begun to appreciate it’s size. Luckily I added a barn type building a few years ago that I can turn into my sewing/craft/art/50’s club location, so really there is no need to add to this house.
So, if any of you are on the track to redoing any of your home, I ask you to sit down and think about how you really use it. Think about what you do in the kitchen and what would help it out. When you are on a holiday or in a holiday cottage or camping or something such as that, do you enjoy the simplicity of that? If so, then your home can reflect that ease and comfort. You don’t need dirt floors, but you could possibly pare down the amount of dishes you have (make them be a collection you love so each time you drink or give a guest a drink, it is from something you have chosen. It has meaning and artful purpose). I think we just have so much STUFF today, that we don’t really even see it clogging up our lives. It fills every nook and cranny and we give over our lives our contentment and happiness to all this stuff.
I know for me it has been a gradual process over the past year and a half to really come to terms with the STUFF and see it for what it is. And if we are to have stuff around us, let it me things we feel connected to and have personally chosen. The positive aspect for we vintage women, is many 1950’s items are still fairly inexpensive (as the fad grows, this will become less so of course) so sell off 10 items you don’t care about at a yard sale and take that money and buy one dear thing you cherish and put the change in your pin money. It can be very liberating.
Now, from a simply esthetics standpoint, many of the modern huge houses are just ugly. They have no proportion or beauty. They almost feel like an aniseptic office building.mcmansionmcmansion2The first house here has no trim or ornamentation, nothing to break up the endless expanse of brick and office building windows. I would not want to pay the ac/heating bill for this.
Yet, consider these little 1950’s homes. Consider their charm and position in the landscape. When one has less to build more can be done to it to make it special and livable.50scapecod 50shousehodgson (this image from check it out to see more on prefab 50’s homes.)
Here are some house plans from my magazines. (click to enlarge) and you can see how small the rooms actually are.homeplans2homeplans1
Even consider something as simple as the outdoor room. Here we see a darling 1950’s version.50soutdoorlivingroomThere is small space, but it is used wisely and you can see it is also practical. There is a place to eat, barbeque, prepare food, but also lawn and garden tools are neatly stored and easily reached. Inexpensive items such as peg board is used with style.
Though this is a lovely modern outdoor room, it almost has a cold feeling to it.  modernoutdoorlivingroom2modernoutdoorlivingroomI wonder how often that huge grill gets used and that great expanse of space for dinning, where is the intimacy? I am not saying large is bad, when done right and one can have an architect and many friends, but for the intimate needs of a small family on a fixed income, this would be shown as their ideal today. There would be no ‘cute and clever’ solution for them. But, then again, why bother, we can just charge it all, right? And then go off and work more hours to pay it off while not using it and the kids are inside on the computer or texting anyway.
So, house size may seem a simple thing, but once we really start to break down all the factors of cost and emotional connections we have in small as opposed to larger spaces, I feel it is just another layer of the modern dilemma. This is one more point where we have been lead astray from the 1950’s to today that does not, in my opinion, make for an easier or better life. So, next time you are planning a room or house or even apartment, really consider our 50’s sisters and what they had to work with. They were clever ladies from which we can learn a lot.
If you would like to read the article where I took the two modern quotes HERE it is.
Have a great day and Happy Homemaking.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

22 July 1956 “Give Me a ‘T’, Give me an ‘I’ Give me a…well you get the picture.”

The one thing I always hear again and again about the 1950’s is the oppression of women. That their roles were overtly characterized and their options slim. Though, it might be true that much of what a young girl in 1956 saw was geared toward homemaking over other careers, there was no true obstacle in their path to becoming a doctor or politician.
Yet, today we think we have reached some zenith of equality. That our ‘freedom to be sexy’ is some how more liberating than the corset. I wonder, sometimes, if our modern view of the female is not in many ways more damaging.
Today’s post is short and sweet.
cheerleaders56 Here are cheerleaders from 1956, you will notice both men and women. The girls skirts are long and they are as covered as the men, so in my assumption, they are there to cheer the team and garner ‘team spirit’ and crowd support.
cheerleaders Here are modern cheerleaders, what do you think it is they are meant to garner? And what message does this send to modern girls? I think we need to stop the idea that the past was only bad and full of bad ideas, the good is perfect. I am amazed since my 1950’s journey how we actually are silently ‘training’ our future women.
And as a similiar comparison how about teen stars in which to aspire to as role models. 1956 Debbie Reynolds Reynolds,_Debbie_4 debbiereynolds56 Natalie Woodnataliewood1 nataliewood2 and Today starstoday1 paris

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

20 July 1956 “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”

Though this lovely Patti Page song will not be released until next year (1957) I thought I would share it with you.
Even though our ‘Staycation’ on the Cape is officially over, I suppose I know feel the need to do my ‘report’ on ‘my summer vacation’. I think it was a great rest and probably the best holiday we have had in some time. The travel was easy and cheap, the accommodations lovely, and the cost quite frugal.
When hubby and I decided to take our Staycation or Holiday at Home, we figured we would mostly rest and relax and that we did do. Yet, the first two days of our break together had us working on projects in the yard. A trip to the dump ( we are still clearing and organizing from our move here last summer and the condensing of two houses and a city apartment can leave quite a bit of work). But, it was joyful work. We felt as if we were coming here and ‘opening the cottage for the summer’. Therefore the work had fun to it.
It seems work away from home always feels different. Dishes in the cabin in the woods feels different than the sameness of those at home. But, we were still here at home, but our perception had changed. That seems to be an important factor, one’s perception. This is a real skill I have been developing ever since beginning this project. Though it was never officially on the list of ‘to-doing’, it had to happen. I am in 1955, a change of perception. It is normal to wear a girdle and hose and sew my own clothes, perception. We are off to a summer holiday, yet in the same place; Perception. It is a tool, an aide, much like imgaination that possibly doesnt’ get as much use as it once did. True, though, that one has to use a change of perception to live in our virtual digital world: we are not truly chatting in a room, yet we are communicating with others, so that is a sort of perception, I suppose.
It got me thinking how something as simple as a change of perception can really be a boon to our modern life. If we are frustrated with our jobs or traffic or noise, we can try to shift the perception of the moment. Stuck at work again, well, plan out a week of ‘after work fun’ and when you get home:half day holidays at your favorite place. Maybe pick a theme, shop for the food appropriate to it, Margaritas and Mexican Food, Cajun and Cocktails and French Accordion music. Get your friends or family involved and say good bye to the daily stress and enjoy your little mini staycation; Perception.
Part of my own relaxing that took place this week was my lessening of my chores. My homemaker duties are indeed my job, so to take a break from them just took a little basic planning. I decided an amount for dining out, bought extra easy to prepare treats, such as s’mores and ice cream cones, and ta-dah: Fun and relaxation! Letting the floors get a little dustier, not baking or doing too many chores, one is more forgiving of ones environment in their ‘beach cottage’. Sand on the floor here, its character and charm. Flip flops and wet bathing suits are simply atmosphere to the moment.
This made me realize, though I thoroughly enjoyed my break from these things (and I did have a quite little fear that I would undo a year and a half of work to get where I am with housework) I found today, as I kissed hubby off to work with his lunch, that I saw it was also time for me to get back to work. In a way, it made me feel, ever more so, that this is truly a job. And one that I enjoy enough that though my break from it was relaxing and heavenly, my return to it was not dreaded.
In fact, today sweeping, vacuuming, scrubbing, putting away, organizing, even cleaning the ice box, it all was part of the perception twist. We had returned from a lovely 11 day stint in our little beach house back to our home and I needed to get it to rights. I have some fun sewing projects lined up that I dreamed of and chatted about with friends. I truly feel re-charged to get back to my ‘work a day’ life. Though I even imagined while on our ‘staycation’ that I would come to see sweeping or dishes as a dreaded chore, but I found the lesson I have learned thus far to still be true. Make your list, treat it as a job, plan a ‘break’ from it and get to it. Nothing gets done without or just knuckling down and doing it.
That is probably the best lesson learned from my project and new life: No excuses and MORE work! The more you do daily as a part of your life the more you can accomplish and pile on and then you will be surprised with what you are doing in months. All the things you want to do, sew, paint that picture, learn to knit, skydive, learn a language, all of it will find a place, it will slip into the slots of your day as soon as you fill them with work and fun and ambition and leave entertainment and tv as a reward, but a small part of those days.
Our days our finite, that is a constant truth no matter what you believe, so don’t waste them.  As a good 50’s mother might say, “Don’t waste that food, there are starving people in the world” well, count your time off our your free time important and realize many people in the world do not have as much as we sometimes do, so don’t waste it. Clean the plate of your day with chores and projects and you will grow big and strong in confidence, skill, and a real sense of purpose and joy in your life. We need to lose the modern idea of the carrot before the horse always struggling and hoping ‘one day’ when that day is here right now, so get to filling it and enjoying it! And fun and accomplishment does not have to be expensive.
I think the frugality of the holiday really surprised me. We spent for the week (even with two breakfasts out and two dinners and a lunch) probably what we would have spent just on gas or 1/2 a plane ticket. There were no bags to check, no suitcases to pack, unpack and pack again, and it really made for a relaxing time. So, if any of you find your pennies a little short, don’t give up on the holiday or try to ‘reach beyond your means’ for a week, only to pay for it later in debt, try a stay at home vacation and see how much you really enjoy yourself and feel relaxed when you return to work. And, try a switch of perception in your day to find joy in it where you might sometimes find frustration or pain. Why shout alone in your car at the ‘idiot’ who cut you off, your only adding anger and shouting to your own life, they don’t care. Instead, imagine yourself in a foreign country and you don’t understand the ways of the road, smile and think of how you might carry that perception switch home with you. Now your home is a hotel, a hostel in a foreign country so cook up some new exotic food, put on some world music and watch the birds sing.
Maybe it is just the ‘50’s in me, but now I often find that I try to find the moral or resolution to the story of my day. I think checking off my accomplishments and simply moving any ‘failures’ to be the ‘lessons and to-doing of tomorrow’ such an emotionally healthy way to live. And, besides, if it gets to be too much one day, I’ll just use my Perception shift to take an hour trip to a tropical island.
Well, that is enough for me today. I will return tomorrow and shall try to continue my daily posting. Thank you for giving me the week off.
I think I will close with this fun home movie from 1950’s of Dennis here on the Cape. As we have no home movies of our trip this year, this can suffice for the fun. I am considering getting an old super 8 and starting to document our lives with it. It is not as easy as digital video but I fell compelled, so if any of you know anything of it or where to get a good camera and projector let me know.
Happy Homemaking.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

18 July 1956 "BBQ and a swim"

I just wanted to pop in and say I will be back come Tuesday and shall try to post daily. We are off to my MIL today for a BBQ and a swim (She lives on the water) and general fun. I hope all are having a good week.
Happy Homemaking

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

14 July 1956 “Staycation, All I Ever Wanted…”

Well, it’s a rainy day here in 1956 and I thought I would post a quick ‘look in’ to say hello. We are enjoying our Staycation or Holiday at Home, or whatever you should like to term it. It does help, I suppose, to already live at a Summer Resort Destination, but it is rather fun to play “Tourist in your own Backyard”.
I am sure no matter where you live such a break can be fun. And, homemakers, fear not if you think you shall be stuck cooking and cleaning as usual, simply do what I did. I imagined we were simply coming here for the week and treated my marketing that way. I figure, ‘We are going to the little cottage this week’ in my head and bought things easy to prepare and fun ‘pre-made’ things we might not normally have.28drumstick Drumstick ice cream cones were invented in 1928. So, these would have been available. Though we have many wonderful ice-cream shops around us (one of my favorites is practically walking distance) where they make good homemade ice cream, sometimes a quick little frozen cone is fun on a hot sticky day.Other such confections are easily available for the 50’s homemaker orbitbar icecreamad icecreampapers
Here is something one might see on tv or at the movies
Thrill to the ‘ice cream taste’. I wonder why body-less heads were used so often in 50’s advertising? Maybe it had an ‘everyman’ quality to it.
And, yes, even Pizza is availabe here in the 1950’s. Notice how small the size is and it is available at the ‘refreshment center’. We do have a vintage drive in here on cape. It is about 45 minutes away in Wellfleet and that might be on the list of ‘to-doing’ this week of Home Holiday. And, as they say here, “mom, why fuss and fight about dinner, eat here at the movies” I am a little worried about the ‘scientifically grown’ popcorn, however.
Another vacation activity we might enjoy, that we never do in our normal life, is tv. We have no actual tv hookup, but we do have access to old shows. I found this site interesting HERE. It explains a phenomena started in the 1950’s where in the summer, to replace the normal regularly scheduled shows, they would air un-sold pilots! I guess this summer, of 56, was a big year for that. How odd, that you would just see one or two episodes of a show that would never be seen again. Maybe it is beginning to show that the tv consumer doesn’t care and just wants ‘something to watch’.
minigolf50s Besides traditional golf here on cape cod, of course we also have mini golf, another summertime favorite of the past still readily available. (This image came from Gorillasdon’tblog.) There is an old mini golf course up the road on 6A that we are going to visit this week. Hubby recalls playing there as a child. It shall be fun.
So far we have made good use of our holiday. We spent our first day puttering around the yard, hubby getting out the chain  saw and getting to that cut down tree we had been meaning to attend to. He enjoyed it and was happily cutting even sized sections and making piles of various logs and kindling while I shingled the front of my chicken house. To us, this had that, “We are here to open the cottage for the summer, lets do some preliminary work” feel to it. We rather enjoyed it and rewarded ourselves with fresh brewed iced tea and a swim.
We have biked to the ocean already and laid about like tourists. I love our little beach here along the canal. At high tide it is rather like a great saltwater swimming pool, as the sandy bottom gets very deep quickly and the water is clear and cool. We spent a good hour diving for rocks and sharing various sizes and shapes. In the end we decided none of us wanted to tote them home on our bikes. Yet, on our return, hubby drew from his pocket with a ‘ta-dah’ a favorite stone, the size of a softball, he had secreted away in his pocket. It took the place of honor on our dining room mantle next another odd rock he picked up last fall while strolling through the woods near by.
There have been evening fires with friends, wine and cocktails on the terrace, s’mores and sausage over the fire. Over all, thus far, we are enjoying ourselves, but I did not want any of you to think I had forgot you.
Still to come is some sailing, a trip to P-town, some 6A antiquing and of course more swimming. We have a fish and seafood monger biking distance from us to get food to cook at home as well as our great ‘fried seafood restaurant’. We figure if we bike there, some of the calories and fat will slide away on the bike ride home. So, overall, we are enjoying ourselves and at the end of it, no packing up, plane or train rides or hours of traffic.
Another fun trip we made recently, though it might sound odd, was to our local dump. We have a wonderful ‘swap shop’ there where people drop off anything working and in good repair for free. Hubby likes to dig about the electronics and find computer parts. I believe he is intent on using old parts and building his own for as long as he can hold on doing that. We are not very good consummers on this holiday, except for local food, produce and possibly some local made items.
So, I strolled into our little swap shop and saw it was fairly picked over and then, in the corner, behind an old treadmill, there it was. I saw its distinctive dome shape and caught my breath, “Could it be?” I wondered? I had dreamed of these and even tried buying one (rather expensive on eBay when I could find them). There she was in all her glory, The Lady Schick Capri Consolette.hairdryer1 You must understand how this odd space age shape trimmed in my favorite pale blue makes a 50’s gal’s heart go pitter pat. This little gem is a life saver for a gal who sets her hair.hairdryer2 It folds out and locks like this. Then you sit comfortably, with a magazine and cup of tea waiting for your pin curls or what have you, set. It is the epitome of luxury in an easy to carry and store case.It has all these settings (which all work)hairdryer3 and it really feels like when you are at the hair dressers. I have to show the interior label, I adore the font and color (and the color is much more brilliant in person)This is the top of the hairdryer hairdryertop and this the inside label hairdryer4  This little darling will not even be hidden away, but will have a place of honor on the top of the built-in next my dressing table, where my extra jewelry boxes sit.
So, I am off to enjoy more of our holiday and I hope all of you are enjoying the summer in your hemisphere or the winter in the other.
Happy Homemaking.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

10 July 1956 “Holidays at Home”

50scoupleonbeach My posting may be a bit spotty this week. Hubby has the next 10 days off and we are having a “Holiday at Home”. We felt the stress and cost of travel etc could be left aside if we stayed here at home. We love our little house, we can ride our bikes to the beach and people stream onto the Cape all summer, so why not be Tourists in our own Town? We can visit other towns, eat at fun local restaurants and still spend much less than if we were to go away some where. I hate airports nowadays and most traveling often leaves me  more exhausted.
50scouplepicnicingSo, so far on her first day of vacation we have enjoyed the yard, drank iced tea and had a good walk. So, don’t worry if I am not posting much this week.
Here, from WWII Britain is the suggestion of Holidays at Home. Though then it was suggested to save the transport for the war effort, couldn’t we today say it is to save on fuel and the planet and our wallets.
(When you click on the below image it will open the movie and you need to press play then, enjoy it!)


I often feel bad for the WWII generation and thought you might like to read this Daily mail article about that generation today. It is to be found  HERE.
So, I shall check in but most likely not every day this holiday week. Have fun all and remember, Happy Homemaking.

Friday, July 9, 2010

9 July 1956 “Eleanor Roosevelt’s My Day”

Eleanor Roosevelt's "My Day" was a syndicated newspaper column published from 1935 to 1962. During those years, Eleanor wrote the column consistently six days a week, the only interruption being when her husband died, and even then she missed only four days.
So, today, I will let her speak. You can read what I might have read today in her column.
EleanorRoosevelt56 HYDE PARK—The recent airplane tragedy over the Grand Canyon dramatically points up the fact that human failure and coincidence rarely can be accounted for.
We probably should have realized long ago that, with increased air travel, we should make a more careful study of the coordination of aircraft controls if it is true, as I read in the newspapers, that in this air accident one plane was flying in its allotted lane and the other plane's pilot was told he could fly 1,000 feet above the storm, bringing it into the same lane.
If this was what happened, then there should be some way of communicating changes of orders which are given to the pilots. But there still is the coincidence factor, which must have amounted to a matter of seconds in bringing these two planes together at the same spot at the same time.
How such things can be prevented, I don't know. But we must try to develop the best possible safeguards in aircraft control, and this problem is going to become increasingly difficult to solve as air traffic grows.
Someone pointed out the other day that the loss of lives in this tragic accident would not equal the number of lives lost over the Fourth of July holiday (128 persons perished in the double air crash and Fourth of July traffic accidents killed 138 in the nation), yet we continue to use automobiles just as we continue to fly airplanes.
There probably is something that also could be done to make motoring less dangerous, if everyone observed all the traffic rules and automobiles were not geared to ever-increasing speed, which seems to be the objective of every automobile maker.
So many more persons are involved in operation of cars every day that the education of all drivers is becoming increasingly more important. I am glad that some schools are beginning to teach young people, even before they are eligible to drive a car, that good judgment is necessary and probably only comes with age.
Perhaps with good training we may lessen the recklessness of young people, who have been responsible for a great many accidents. They are often so much quicker in their reactions that they become overconfident and, at some point, this overconfidence betrays them.
However, there are more fatal accidents involving drivers over 50 years old than those where the drivers are under 20. That is probably because the older people react more slowly in an emergency and, while they generally drive more carefully, they are not as apt to be as alert to what others will do. Therefore, when they are involved in an accident, it is likely to be a serious one.
All we older people can do so as not to endanger ourselves or others is to try to keep our minds constantly on the road when we are driving and not be distracted by anything that makes us less alert to the things that are happening along our line of travel.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

8 July 1956 “Children’s Rooms”

I had visitors all day, so I apologize for the late posting, but I do want to stay up to my one post a day schedule.
So, to keep it short and sweet, I thought I would scan and share these two images from a Home improvement magazine from 1954. The article (if you click on them you can read them) is about expanding into the attic. What I find so interesting is the bravery and single minded focus of such interior design. There is no wishy washy attitude here. There is a theme, a color palette and they go all out. boysroom1 girlsroom1
As I have mentioned before, the more I am exposed to vintage images and magazines, the more my own esthetic has changed. I know view these vinyl or linoleum floors in a new light. They allow endless design possibilities and must be a treat to vacuum and mop.
I might actually steal the idea from the little boys room for the aquarium build in. I love vintage aquariums (though they are hard to come by and are quite expensive) and look how clever this one is built in. Especially for goldfish, as you can enjoy them head on in a traditional aquarium manner, or from the top, such as you would a koi pond. Though, such a setup would not be good if you have cats.
I hope this little article provides a fun diversion for a small and late post today. Happy Homemaking to all.
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