Saturday, August 7, 2010

7 August 1956 “Yes, we have them too: Fitted Sheets, Chubbies, and Budgets”

Sometimes I think it is nice to allow you all to see that here in the 1950’s we have some of the same issues still present in the 21st century. So, in many ways people change, but also we seem to stay the same.
fittedsheets4One of the things we have around here that is a luxury to have, is fitted sheets. Ours may have the added advantage (for ironing) of our ‘modern Atomic age’ and that being polyester. Honestly, though, I much prefer a high thread count cotton or Egyptian cotton, but polyester and nylon is all the rage in the 1950’s. I recall the first time I wore one of my vintage nightgowns and peignoir.peignoir (image thanks to somelikeitvintage)It felt odd and a bit ‘icky’ to my modern sensibilities. Yet, now, I rather enjoy its silky feel and I haven’t to feel guilty about it’s being a petroleum product, as it is old and recycled, it being actually from the 1950’s, and it is a dream to wash and dry!fittedsheets1 You can also see that pastels are high on the list of desired colors here in the 1950’s. Soft shades of pink and green pretty butter cup yellows. The bedroom and boudoir are the realms of the wife as the Den is the manly leather filled, pipe smoke, old leather bound book venue of the Husband. And a man of the 1950’s (as my hubby truly is) hasn’t any qualms about sleeping in pink sheets or a flowered dust ruffle. The men of the 1950’s hadn’t need to ‘prove’ their manhood. And honestly, men in 21st century with their hair-do’s and their hip clothes worn so carefully to give the illusion of nonchalance, seem all the more womanly to me than brylcreem, close shaves and button down shirts ever would. But I digress. The shades of bedrooms are definitely fit for a woman to express her femininity.
Another thing we 1950’s folk have is, believe it or not, child seats.childseat (this image thanks to robynsravings) Now, you will notice it is not really similar to a 21st century car seat. But, for the child, it appears to be a fun way to look straight out the front window. I wonder what the fatality rate for infants in car’s? We must remember there were less cars and though many think our cars large here in 1956, just take a look out your own window at all the SUV’s and then think of the Chevy Bel Air, not as big as you thought, is it?
carad Certainly car seats were not des rigueur, as they are now, and in many cases were never used at all. A child and a baby may simply ride along with mother, no worries. Some cars even offered fold down front seats that became beds so family could sleep during a long drive or overnight at rest stops. I think today in 1956 we have a general feeling that people, over all, have a more cumulative form of common sense than is expected or assumed in the 21st century.
And, finally, yes in 1956 we also have heavier children.Lane Bryant I think it very interesting that Lane Bryant is still a clothing store for the heavier set. Now, I am not sure if this drawing is just being kind to ‘Chubbies’ and not showing how fat a child can be, or if fat in 1956 means nothing compared to 2010.fatchildren I do know that there is much evidence that today’s newer generations are expected to have shorter life spans than their parents due to disease such as heart disease and diabetes. Perhaps because the parents, over all, eat better here in 1956 (not much junk food or fast food to tempt us) that the children eat less as a result. And there is much more playtime outside, though the 1956 tv is the beginning of the ‘stay inside’ phase of childhood.
And finally, the subject that probably always remains true no matter the time: money, budgets and couples. This article from a 1954 Better Homes and Gardens touches on some interesting points and still has relevant ideas for today.
budgetarticleYou can click on it to read and I will post the remainder of the article tomorrow. That way you can read this today and digest it and tomorrow you can get out your pen and paper and prepare for that ‘family meeting’ to adjust your budget. Or you can just read it, laugh at the quaintness of the 1950’s and go forward. Many of you may already be good at budgeting, but I know it took my own journey to 1955 to finally really get a handle on my own spending and savings plan.
Until tomorrow, then, Happy Homemaking.


  1. My grandma was a 36 year old mother and wife in 1956 and well into her 80's she wore polyester nightgowns and pajamas. We grand kids always loved the feel of her "silky" sleepwear. I have one of her polyester robes that I took out of her closet and brought home with me when she passed away. Yes, I wear it!

  2. How wonderful than my 'fictional' me would be similar age to your grandmother. I had to laugh, because I realized how normal to me it seemed that last monday I took the garbage out to the curb (hubby usually does it before work) in my gown and robe, blue silky nylon, lace and puff sleeves, normal to me. Then I stopped and looked down the street and realized how odd I must look. Then thought, 'hmm were it really 1956, there would probably be various versions of me doing this up and down the street".

  3. I think the early car seats were to keep the kiddos from crawling around and getting hurt but also to keep the little one out of mom's way. The modern car seat is more in case of an accident. While it's true that deaths can be prevented by car seat use I have to be skeptical after another commenter regarding bike helmets pointed out the fear created industries we have now. And of course with mandated car seat families need bigger cars so SUVs and minivans are modern a real necessity. As is more fuel consumption, wear and tear on the roads, pollution, etc. You get the idea. Don't get me wrong, my children use car seats. But I have to question the motives.

    The feeling of polyester night gowns is an interesting observation. Mine are cotton but I have one of my grandmothers that is polyester. I'd wear it but feel it is more sheer than my cotton ones. And even with those I wear a cotton camisole. The thought of going out in my sleeping clothes to take out the trash is unfathomable. Not because of any denial of my affinity for vintage but because our houses are so close together I'd feel inappropriate. I also would feel odd tossing some shorts and a t shirt but not naked, like I would in a nightgown.

    The sheets are so fun! Interesting observation about modern men and their 50's counterparts in the way of masculinity. Our bedroom is more feminine that my hubby would choose if he were unmarried but pink sheets would be too much. I also think about another post you pointed out that pink wasn't a little girl color in the 40's and 50's. Now that a pink bedroom is almost expected today it's hard to have it in a master bedroom, IMO.

    Thanks for a nice post!

    Sarah H

  4. This was really interesting, I love your comparisons. I don’t think the child seats were made for security, in fact they were less secure than if the child played at the floor, since the child would literally “fly out” through the front window of the car.

    “Chubby-size clothes” – hmm, is that normal American sizes today. Just kiddin’. Of course not everybody was slim back then, but in general there are many more fat people today. And also children, since they hardly ever move – except the pc mouse or the remote control. Back then kids were playing outside most of the day, burning a lot of calories and they weren’t allowed to eat all that candy, chips and drink gallons of soda.

    What a great article, I love the “12 financial commandments”, they are still valid today.


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