Monday, October 11, 2010

11 October 1956 “Why Do Fools Fall in Love, A Moveable House, and The Power of Vinegar”

Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers were a new boy group here in 1956. Here is one of their first tv appearances on the Frankie Laine Show. Little Frankie Lyman is only 13 here, so young.
An interesting and surprising fact about Lyman: He appeared on a new show, “The Big Beat” which predated American Bandstand and used that format of bands and teens dancing. Frankie Lyman, who was black, was seen dancing with a white teenager. The show had to be cancelled because NBC affiliates in the Southern States took offense. Sad, really, when just a few people who care about something so silly and really quite innocent can ruin it for so many. And I am sure there were also people in the South who would not be offended, so in a way that was also unfair to those people as well. I guess it does seem that one bad apple does ruin the whole barrel.
During the 1950’s the RV or Caravan was having a boom. The mobile home is really born out of this era as well, with trailer parks becoming a new option for young families, though not with the ‘poverty cache’’ they have now. The ability to have a home with wheels, rather it was a ‘vacation home’ as in the case of the RV/Caravan or the longer term mobility of a mobile home was becoming attractive to the growing country and its increasing highways. 
What is so interesting about this story from my 50’s magazine is the James G. Mitchell’s solution to this mobility problem: A custom built home that is neither mobile manufactured home nor store-bought RV.
Mr. Mitchell, who works in the construction trade, often has to be moved about for his job. Rather than leave his family or leave the mobility of his job, their family decided to make their home portable.moveablehouse1(all images are larger when clicked upon)
Mr. Mitchell designed his home to be built on Oak skids and to have easy hook ups for utilities. He completely designed the structure and his wife the interior. Read their little article here and enjoy the pictures of the inside of their home.
moveablehouse4 moveablehouse6
moveablehouse5 How adorable is her little kitchen and there is even room for a little ‘homemaker office’ where Mrs. Mitchell sits on the phone.
moveablehouse2 They don’t even let their mobility stop them from music and the bulk of the piano.
moveablehouse3What I love here is you can see how the children, they have three, even have a playroom. Though it is small, it uses every inch of space with lovely colored wall storage and gay little block handles. How is this done? Easy, when the three share one bedroom then the second bedroom is freed up for their play and easy clean up.
I think what great lesson we can take from the Mitchell’s is not only their ingenuity or their desire of family over convenience (the importance of their being together over the ease of a solid foundation home somewhere) is the use of space. Now, they had this home built for the equivalent of around $55,000 in current money. This is quite a bit of house for that price when one considers the extra effort made to allow easy utility hookup. 
The fact that good space and utility can be mingled with style and yet toys, clothes, and even musical instruments are still available. Though they may have much less in comparison to today’s child, they have enough to stimulate and educate and also the lesson of living in well designed economy. A lesson, really, any of us young or old should and could benefit from. I just thought you would like this little story.
I know that there is a movement today for small moveable ‘little houses’. They are even smaller than this house, but really I thought this showed a house with a bit more than just a 400 sq ft cabin. That might be good for some, but this also shows what could be moveable for the family that might like more ‘normal’ home conditions. It also shows how we can, even in a normal foundation build stationary home, really make do and make lovely with less space.
Now, on to cleaning: I know we have discussed homemade cleaning solutions before. And, although many readily available cleaners are at my fingertips in the markets here in 1956, I am an ‘old war wife’ and certainly recall having only water and elbow grease to clean with during the rationing years.
To clean a drain (and make it smell fresh) pour in one cup of dry baking soda and then one hot cup of vinegar (Watch it bubble!). After about 10 minutes run hot water down the drain. Fresh and clean.
If you have glasses that have become cloudy from the dishwasher, vinegar to the rescue! Take a cloth and soak in white vinegar full strength. Now wrap it all around the glass, in and out, and let sit an hour or so. Now when you rinse and wipe clean, they should sparkle like new.
Copper pots or copper bottom pots? Clean these bright and new with a paste made of white vinegar and salt. I wear a ‘cleaning cotton glove’ or use a rag and apply the solution. (mix the two until they are a pasty consistency) To make them shine or to shine copper use 4 Tbs catsup and 2 Tbs vinegar and then rub it on, let it dry and buff off.
To clean metals and metal sinks, make a paste with 1 tbs cream of tartar and enough vinegar to make a good paste. Rub onto the metal and let dry white. Then wash it off and rub dry. As good as Comet  but kinder, in my book.
If you have colored porcelain sinks, use full strength vinegar in a spray bottle to clean them. They sparkle and shine!
Fruit flies? Set out a small dish of straight vinegar and they shall be attracted and perish.
A great cough syrup/expectorant is 1 tsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp honey. Mix and swallow. It really works in lieu of cold or cough syrups (plus no drugs!)
The only bad thing about vinegar is don’t use it on white marble ( I have a small marble counter I use for my pastry) as it is too acidic for it and will ruin/mar it.
There are many uses for the stuff? What is your favorite way to use it? Let’s share, as I love finding new ways to use less things to keep my home clean and in order. And, best of all, any solutions we make and keep, we can decorate the bottles as we like and how lovely to see a cleaning pantry or closet filled with little bottles bearing our own cute vintage images or sayings! “The Smith Family Window Cleaner” “The Jones’ Incredible Carpet Cleaner” and so on. Have fun with it, then it’s not work.
Happy Homemaking.


  1. I use vinegar in my dishwasher in place of JetDry. Works great. I make homemade dishwasher detergent and sprinkle a little vinegar on it before turning on the machine. I also use it for hard water stains on the shower door. A half of a small bottle of apple cider vinegar in your bath will help with itchy skin in the winter time and your bath will smell nicely of apples.

  2. Homemade dishwashing detergent:

    2 c. Arm and Hammer Washing soda
    1 c. Borax
    1 c. Baking soda
    4 pkts. unsweeted Koolaid, lemonade flavor (to give the dishes the nice lemon scent) (I do not bother with this Koolaid, btw)
    ...Vinegar (white)

    Mix first 4 ingredients well. Put in container of choice. Keep the rinse aid compartment filled w/ vinegar. Use 1 Tbsp. of powdered mixture per load. Add a little vinegar to the powdery substance (the vinegar will bubble b/c of the bak. soda, but don't be alarmed.) Mix it a bit, and run the dishwasher as normal. (I add the liquid to the powder in the soap compartment of the dishwasher).

  3. Mary R.=Thank you so for this recipe. I like the idea of the Kool-aid, its rather funny. One could always put a little lemon zest in there, too. I love lemons, so good to eat, drink and also good for cleaning!

  4. I use a vinegar / water mix for a multipurpose cleaner.

    I really like pictures from smaller homes in the 50's. I live in a small home built in the late 50's. It is so much smaller than the homes most of our peers have and I do catch the "envies" every now and then. But seeing pics of lovely comfortable small homes helps me see it in a new way. :)

  5. The important thing about a home back then was that it was YOURS. You were not living in a rented apartment; you were not living with grandma and grandpa. It was small, but it was yours, and you and your husband were together.

  6. Oh, I wanted to say that this homemade dishwasher detergent is dirt cheap (I make my own laundry detergent, too, which is also cheap and works better than the commercial kind), and it works better than the store-bought stuff. Also, it scrubbed the inside of my dishwasher so clean that it looks like new! I couldn't believe my eyes the first time I tried it.

  7. Ooh! Dig that song! I had no idea Frankie was so young then, and that he had written the song himself!

  8. Thank you for the idea about using vinegar to get rid of etching from the dishwasher! I will give it a shot. We got a bum box of detergent last summer and it etched everything completely in one wash!

  9. Thanks for all the great vinegar ideas. I must say I would be careful with the Koolaid one. I would not use reds or purples(grape etc. )That is and old practical joke around here putting Koolaid in the shower nozzle and it turns your skin colors. I love all the kitchen tips .

  10. I wouldn't myself, either, use koolaid for anything, dishes OR drinking, but I think lemon or orange zest would be fun and refreshing to add. In the Victorian time before detergents, oranges or citrus were often used to make a paste for dishes. I think I recall in the reality show Manor House (Edwardian country House in UK I think) that the kitchen made showed the camera a ceramic vat filled with oranges and some other things (probably baking soda) that made the only cleaning agent they had.

  11. Vinegar is fantastic and the main cleaner I use. I use it to clean and in the laundry as a fabric softener. I look forward to the next time I need cough medicine not having to go out and buy the expensive stuff. I had no clue it could be used this way!

  12. For some reason this year has been really bad for fruit flies. I'm going to try the vinegar in a bowl tip and the Baking soda and vinegar down the drain.
    Julie in WA

  13. Our Sunday paper ran the recipe for making your own Apple Cider Vinegar. So thrifty and simple: just cut up washed apples, and put them in a container (core, skin, stem...all the apple!) then cover them with purified or distilled water. Cover the container opening with cheesecloth. Keep adding apples and water until a white foamy layer appears. At that point, move the container to some place with a temperature between 60-80 degrees, and let it sit for a few weeks. Check to see how strong the fluid has become, once it is to your liking, filter the liquid, toss the scraps on your compost heap, and pour the vinegar into a sterile jar.
    How easy is that? The bigger the apple pieces, the long the fermentation will take, but the vinegar will also be much stronger. Don't worry if the vinegar is a bit cloudy; that is proof that it is home made and has the "mother yeast" in it!


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