Wednesday, August 18, 2010

18 August 1956 “Those Who Have Gone Before Us: We Salute You.”

A recent comment from a long time follower really touched my heart:
Hey 50's Gal,
Sorry I haven't commented the past few days, we buried my Grandmother yesterday, a great lady at the age of 90, she will truly be a hard act to follow.
In the 50's she raised her family on a farm, helped my Grandpa out in the fields, took care of the barns, yet still managed to make homemade food and pies. Lunches were like suppers with meat, starch, veggie and dessert.
I don't know how she managed it, but she did and in my eyes she truly eclipsed the modern Superwoman by leaps and bounds.
I will also miss her for the rest of my life.......
Mom in Canada

It got me thinking how many statues of military figures or plaques to various men in history can be found everywhere. How documentaries and films are made about the lost hero of the past. Yet, where is the homemaker? Where is her memorial? How many of those so honored themselves had a loving mother making a home and family life for them.
The more I have come to be ingrained in the 1950’s role of Homemaker, the greater my admiration for those ladies grows. The silent proud casts of millions that for centuries, in various forms, made the world in which we live. So much had been discussed and hearlded when Women’s liberation became a topic and for some reason, that strongest female heroine of all time: The homemaker, was not lauded but instead tossed in the dust bin. How can we, as ladies, expect men to appreciate such a role when we, ourselves, call it foolish or old fashioned. Is it old fashioned to want a home of love and a place to grow and raise future members of communities? Is it not a certain strength to make the world nice for those around you, because you enjoy it (though it is work) and feel it is part of your role?
As those final ladies of the 50’s generation pass away and we are left with the Boomers as our new ‘old’, I feel an almost fear or panic. Nothing against the Boomer generation, but we must all admit that the war generation, those ladies who made and raised the boomers, were a breed of their own. And consider the stock from which they came: Laundry boiled in huge dangerous pots, everything made and grown by hand, child birth taking many without proper medicine.
The homemaker was and is an important part of our human history. Rather modern ‘libbers’ want to forget about the smiling mothers in aprons in kitchens or want only to herald the random ruling Queen’s or other wealthy Suffrages, lest we forget the common woman who, without her, the world would have ceased surely. And, now without her, with her role all but gone or a shambles, what have we now with the world?
So, I ask of you, any of you, if you would like to: Email me family photos and stories and I shall share them here as I can. Tell us now about that grandmother or great aunt or even mother, who selflessly made the world a beautiful safe and comfortable place where the meals were hot and nutritous, there was always the smell of something wonderful in the air, a dampened hankie was always available to make the wayward dirty face better and the prim hat, coat, and gloves were a badge of honor as proud and important as any military uniform that ever was.
Today, ladies and gentleman, I salute the Homemaker, the mother, the woman of the past who diligently and with great skill and courage, made our world better and stronger. I stand in salute to you great and fallen in my best Sunday hat and coat, my gloved hand at salute to those who knew that what might seem silly to us now, was not only important but was what gave we humans, Humanity. I salute you the unsung hero.
Here are an assortment of photos of such women. If these are from any of your blogs, I do apologize for using them, but I felt they deserved to be here.
50sfamil1 50sfamily2 50sfamily3 50sfamily4 50sfamily5 50sfamily6 


  1. My mother was born in 1938 and married in 1954. (Yes, she was young). She was a 1950's housewife in every way. I'm a bit of a puzzle, as I was raised by her and so many of the habits of the time (cooking from scratch, mending, etc.) were ingrained in me. Most of my friends had parents that were born later and their upbringings were vastly different.
    At the age of 38, many of my peers are all about careers and "keeping up with the Joneses", while my heart is at home. I honestly never aspired to have any other career than the one I have a wife and mother. I wouldn't have it any other way. My mother is no longer with me, but she lives on in the lessons and skills she taught me and that I'm teaching my own daughters.

  2. First of all, I would like to say how truly sorry I am to Mom in Canada in the loss of your grandmother.

    My Grandma passed almost 6 years ago, and I miss her desperately. She was raised during the depression by family as her own mother died shortly after her birth. She had four children, ran my grandad's business, helped take care of me and my brother when my own mother was deathly ill in the hospital. Just the fact that she is no longer there pains me. I would give so much for one more phone call, or to stop by and share a sandwich and 'gab' as she called it. She wasn't a great cook, nor a great homemaker, but she was a true mom.

    My other grandma lived in VERY poor conditions and raised 9 children. She planted gardens and raised them, sewed, raised chickens and was a true country housewife in all ways. I wish she could have lived longer that I would have loved to have learned some cooking skills from her for she was VERY good. But she sadly passed away in 1983 from an auto accident.

    I think part of the reason the homemaker isn't apreciated or lauded is because it is taken for granted. A married woman/mother is 'supposed' to do all those things, regardless of anything else. That is sad, but true. My hubby has become very aware of what I do when ever I have gotten ill. He has learned that it is not easy maintainng the home, cooking and planning meals, tending to the kids, keeping the youngest out of trouble.

    Who knows, perhaps someday people will understand.

    RIP Ethel Looney and Wilda Pierce
    Two wonderful women who I love more than words can express.

  3. I don't think it's quite fair to say all modern feminists don't appreciate the housewife.

    I consider myself an ardent feminism and a career woman (by necessity as much as anything; I'm not married) but I deeply admire the many women I know who are housewives or stay at home moms. Feminism is about women having the choice to do what works best for them and their family.

    Indeed, among my friends, all of whom are feminists, I've seen a great increase in appreciation for the domestic arts, and many women chose to stay at home. Like any other great shift, there is a pendulum swing. For a long time, women had little to no choice but to marry and stay home. When the pendulum swung the other way, for many it went too far, to the point of trying to denigrate the work women who stay at home do and insist that a career outside the home was the only option. I think, though, we are moving towards an equilibrium where both men and women are free to chose the path that suits them the best.

  4. Excellent Blog and all the comments too!! Oh my gosh, one of my SIL and I were *just* talking about this, about how women from the past were so much stronger than we feel they're given credit for (I was even compelled to post something on the forum, earlier today, about this).

    I honestly fear that an entire generation of strong, capable, amazing women will be historically, inaccurately, reduced to a homogenous group of oppressed simpletons.

  5. ivy-I wasn't belittling women with other choices nor modern women, only that it seems we women will sometimes, in our haste to be seen equal, want to 'sweep under the rug' our past domesticity, as if it were all oppression or male-inflicted. In fact I am happy and hopeful that an equilibrium of choice is ever present but do want us to still appreciate the work and cause of those who, when there was no equilibrium, worked hard and made their role one in which to be proud and to honer today. I don't think the domesticity of our past and our movement forward into more free choices are mutually exclusive. I think when we can only see one path, that is a downfall. So, my point was not that womens lib=bad, domesticity=good, but rather we, as women, have come from a basically domestic background, our history is written in it rather we were wealthy individuals in charge of a team of servants and a housekeeper, or a simple farmer's wife, we had a history that was made of Home. In fact HOME in many ways is so entangled with our history that to now try and rip it from that foundation would not only be foolish but shameful. My comments were only meant to celebrate those who have gone before, not to demean those who are here now.

  6. I also am sad that today HOME is used more to describe a financial investment than the foundation of a family and a future history.

  7. I am sorry for "Mom in Canada"s loss. Losing the generations behind us frightens me a bit, too. I can't tell you how many people I know that don't ask questions of those that have come before them, but are still here. They don't think to, or they're not interested. Well, I plan to get all of the details I can from my Great-grandmother in our correspondences. I've always been the kid at the table with the unknown elders table of the family reunion; asking questions and taking names! Thanks for re-igniting that fire!!!

  8. Thank you 50's Gal, your posting about my beloved grandma made me cry...............

    I am most fortunate to have two great aunts still alive, one I actively phoned until she was in a nursing home, and is presently not doing well at the age of 100, through my great aunt I was able to find out about my grandpa's side of the family in England, stories I passed on especially my gentle giant of a great grandfather who died in 1918 due to the Spanish Flu, my grandpa lost his father at the tender age of 6, his father (my great grandpa was only 32). I have pictures of most of ancestors........

    I would encourage each and everyone of you to talk, listen and pass on the family stories, even though you may not be interested now, your child as an adult maybe.

    I actively talk about those who went before me, show the pictures of third great grandparents on down to my children.

    We must remember those who went before us, to forget them would be to forget their struggles, their triumphs, their successes.

    We owe so much to our family who has conquered the land years ago, I owe my great grandfather for seeking a better life for his family by leaving England and coming to Ontario.

    Because of him I am here today with my two boys, my wonderful husband, the sad part was my great grandpa died just a few days before they were to move into their new farm (he was a farmer's helper prior to that), my great grandmother was making the curtains, he went to work that morning to help out the farmer, was coughing on the way home with my great aunt, laid down in bed and never got up again.

    I am into genealogy, and the greatest gift I can pass onto my children is a deep respect for those who sacrificed so much of their lives, so that future generations can reap the rewards of this sacrifice.

    I can never replace my rock, my Grandma, but in keeping her memory alive for my children, my grandchildren, even possibly great grandchildren, she will live on.

    Mom in Canada

  9. Oh gosh, one week off line and so much to catch up!
    You’re to prolific Donna ...

    Mom in Canada, I'm deeply saddend to learn of your loss, but I'm sure your granmother will always be alive in your heart and memorys.

    I’m not so sure home keepers are dispraised, I even think the more the materialist society evolves, the more people open their eyes and see the need and luck to have someone at home (men or women, I don’t care).
    I really feel more and more like we just are the precursors of a generation who will have to go “back to basics”. I say that they will HAVE to go back to basics, because I feel like they won’t be able anymore to consume without limits. So there will be no choice for the future generations, it will be a matter of subsistence.
    I’d like to discuss this subject with you all gals, to make myself a clear opinion about this, maybe we should open a thread on the forum.
    What do you think about it?


  10. eef-a forum thread has begun, let's continue our discussion! It is true that possibly in the future there may be less choice to be more'homemakerly' (frugal, etc) so it is important for those of us today who may seem odd to choose it when it is not quite so glamorous should keep the 'home fires burning'. I do honestly feel as if we are the forerunners of a very real revolution. It makes me all the more want to learn and study and make sure we can lay very good ground work for future ladies (and gentleman) like us.

  11. There is a statue in OK to the pioneer woman. It shows a woman in pioneer dress carrying a bundle slung over her right forearm and holding the hand of her son as she is walking forward. It is really lovely. You can view it at Click on "the statue" in the blue sidebar to the left. I think one could safely assume that she was a homemaker in the truest sense of the word.

  12. Ivy, I wish all feminists were like you. It WAS supposed to be about choices for women, but now too often, ones who choose to be full-time homemakers are put down or ridiculed. Thank you for your comment.

    My grandmother stepped in and raised us when my mother abandoned us. She was born in 1901 in Ireland. Her name was Helen. I miss her. My heart goes out to all of you here who have lost precious grandmothers. I don't think I realized what a sacrifice my grandmother made for us. She did everything that a mother would. She never made anything from scratch, though.

    I think this is a good movement: going back. I am encouraged by all the retro housewife blogs.

  13. Ivy, far too many feminists don't hold views like you and your friends. All the ones I've encountered have told me I'm stupid for "wasting my talents" wanting to stay at home. That I'll regret not going to college. Sometimes I wonder if those ladies are just trying to cover up jealousy of my strength because they weren't strong enough to do what they really wanted to do.

    If things in America continue on their present course, a lot more people are going to discover just how much they don't know about what's really important in life. Sooner or later, probably sooner, our economy will collapse too and we'll have another Great Depression-type thing. Those of us who are proud to be homemakers in the Apron Revolution sense of the word will be better off than most because we've already begun to develop the skills we'll need to not only survive, but thrive.

  14. Mom in Canada: first off, my condolences for your dear grandmother. I never got to know either of my grandmothers and have always felt that missing piece very keenly.

    My dad and his sister are the only ones left out of 13 kids and they are both in their 80's now...when they are gone a big chunk of our family history and knowledge will be gone. I've been interviewing them both and recording it on camera - I call them my video diaries - so that I can preserve some of their vast stores of our family history told in their own words, along with other family stories and memories.

  15. There's been some great postings on the forum thread for this topic; I'd love to post but for some reason am unable to log in. I clicked the link for being send info on a new password (in case that's the issue?), but haven't received an email. Is it just me or has anyone else also had trouble logging in? Sorry to post this here - on the blog comment site - but thought maybe someone might have a suggestion. Thanks!

  16. Gee I am not sure. One of our followers usually handles the forum, but she has been rather busy lately. What I have had others do, is simply go back to the forum and sign in again with a new email and password. you can make a free email at google email (gmail) and use it just for that. That seemed to help last time. Hope this helps.


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