Friday, July 2, 2010

2 July 1956 “The Insular Move Indoors”

Though by comparison, here in 1956 we are much more community orientated than in 2010. We know our neighbors far more on average than in 2010, but the move away from the collective and into the single family unit is beginning here.
porchad (click to enlarge and read) This is simply an ad for Armstrong tiles, but its focus is the need of the new nuclear family needing more interior space, sewing, tv, hobbies etc.  The porch that was sat upon and ‘hey’ to neighbors is going. When screens were invented, people said it would be the ‘good-bye’ to neighborliness, as now you could sit inside, the same was said with air-conditioning. My 1950’s magazines from the summer months are FILLED with air conditioning ads. The disposable income is becoming available for such things as this ad from Woolworth for model cars.woolworthad Even here you see the cars are ‘vintage’ for 1950’s. Are we already relegating the past to ‘quaintness’ to admire and to enjoy through simply purchasing images and likeness to it? I love the 1950’s here is an apron with cherries and a picture of Elvis, now I am off to Walmart to buy my American flag made in China to celebrate our Independence from a Foreign country. I can see the beginning of the tear in our fabric forming here.
What is an interesting hypothesis is : Did the 1950’s Father spend more ‘quality’ time with his offspring than the 1930’s father, who worked longer hours (when he had work-due to the Depression) and while the child had more freedom to be out and about all hours of the day? As the family moved away from the external members (aunts, grandparents, cousins) and into the nuclear unit in a detached home on a small plot of land, they turned to one another more. Yet, in that, burgeoning hobbies, the DIY craze and TV began to then separate those individuals within the group. Now in 2010 we often have families that don’t even eat at the same time or in the same room, share very little conversation (let alone building models) and more time independently using computers and other entertainment devices. It is as if we have slowly moved and separated from one another. It seems that while the most plugged in the 21st century we are, in many ways, the most isolated. Odd, indeed.
Once, families lived in closer groups, grandparents were there for childcare and knowledge, cousins and unmarried aunts stayed on to help out and be a part of a family. Part of the conveniences for teh 1950’s housewife made it possible for her to stay home with the children and not need granny and auntie to help on wash day ( just pop it in the new machine and go). Cooking and cleaning is becoming easier by comparison to decades earlier. And the increased need for housing for all the new families after the war made the shared space with no need for cars in the cities become replaced by the growing suburbia. With that move, the family broke apart and the new crop of children are more coddled and a little less free.
I recall an episode of Leave it to Beaver when Ward remarks how much less freedom the children have then when he was a child. And how many more supervised and structured activities such as league baseball and sports and clubs. In another episode they go to a remote cabin that Ward recalled enjoying at a boy and marvels at his offspring's desire to be back in ‘civilization’ as they are bored with sticks and trees. So, even here in 1956, we see the young generation learning to be entertained more than entertaining themselves. Children’s tv shows are increasing and re-runs and monster movies are all the rage. Organized sports teams and other clubs are becoming almost mandatory and the free wheeling days of playing with an old rusty coffee can in an inner city alley or dangerous old farm equipment and guns unsupervised in the country are becoming things of the past already.
I would hate to be the purveyor of bad news here in 1956 about what is to become. Though, the children would think it keen, I am sure, but wait until they become the grandparents of 2010.
My husband and I were discussing how we know each generation always says, ‘These kids these days’ but we felt rather disparaged by the youngsters today, and heck our own generation as well. I know things are over all better, but have we lost a bit of the interactive humanity of old? Does there always have to be a this way or that and not a great meld of all the good?
Are we really reaching that bloated state that came to Rome before its fall or am I just a cantankerous old curmudgeon? What do you think?


  1. Great post! I love visiting your blog...Kori xoxo

  2. As you well know, I, too think "the end is nigh" for our civilization. However, it was only the fall of Rome; other countries and their peoples flourished long after they disappeared. It is sad, but everything, good or bad must come to an end someday. By going back and learning how to survive without modern conveniences, though, we may be the saviors after the change.

  3. I grew up as a child in the 70's in suburbia but I and my family knew just about every single neighbor on our block. Almost every mother was at home during the day and there were kids in almost every house that I could play with at just about any time. I felt bad for my own kids in the late 80's and early 90's when they didn't have that, although they did have a couple of friends on our street. Now as a grandparent, my grand daughter lives in the quietest neighborhood! There is almost no sign of humankind during the day because everyone is at work and the kids are at daycare. Oh, and by the way, I didn't have air conditioning until I was a teenager although we did have screens on our windows LOL. Another great post!

  4. When I was little, we had a few friends on the street we lived on. But not many. There really weren't that many kids on the street! Then we moved out to 40 acres in the middle of nowhere. That was awesome. My siblings and I have very fully developed imaginations from hours spent playing in the woods.

    Then we moved to a different town and while we do live "in town" on a street with other houses, there's only one other family on the street that has kids. We know them pretty well and we played together a lot. But we had to be really careful when played or even rode our bikes around the horseshoe because there was a nosy Nellie neighbor who would've had no qualms about reporting my parents to child services. One of the hazards of homeschooling, unfortunately.


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