Monday, November 15, 2010

15 November 1956 “Pin Money Weekend and War Time Mentality”

 workingwoman This weekend I felt a bit of a ‘Working Woman’. My friend and I made up some batches of jams, cookies and candies and participated in a local craft sale.
stefatsale Here is my partner in crime with our booty for sale. We even took the time to print up labels and made aprons to wear with our ‘logo’. We wanted to make it seem more professional. I think it did help as we almost sold out of everything. goodiegalslogoHere is the little logo we had ironed on our bib aprons. We used a similar one for our tags to label our jam and candies.goodiegalslabel I found, this past week, a new joy in candy making. It was my first time trying it and loved it. The science of it was rather fun. Here are two pans of my brittle waiting to set.brittlebrittlecloseupA fun closeup ‘landscape’ of the stuff.brittlepackagedAnd a little bag all prepared for the sale. I made quite a few fun varieties and the recipe I made from trying a few different versions and tweaking it until I liked the taste. My little sample dishes sold the product for everyone who popped in a taste immediately bought one.
What I discovered, this weekend, quite by chance was the temptation and lure of working outside the home. Quite without any forethought, I had actually thrust myself into a little mini-experiment. I took a contented 50’s homemaker (me) and suddenly placed her in a business setting where I received money for my work.
My hubby and I consider the money he earns to be ‘our money’ as I work just as hard (harder according to him) at home, so therefore I am earning that money as well. I also consider my work here, on my blog and site, as ‘unpaid’ work in that I enjoy it and I do it for others as well as myself. It is my ‘ladies' club work’ similar to committee and voluntary work a middle class homemaker would have fit into her schedule. Of course, this would have been unpaid work, as it is for me.
So, having been so long removed from that ‘work world’ where where does a specific task and then is given money, it was odd, really. Here, at the end of it, I find myself thinking of our 1940’s sisters. And, in fact, my own marriage would have happened during the war and so I most likely would have found myself in the working world while hubby was off defending the country. To many women, this was a much appreciated freedom. Yet to some, like me I think, it would be an unexpected one.
I love my homemaking. I find I have been my most fulfilled in this career and I have had many before this, so I do feel I have some form of comparison. Yet, having been ‘at home’ for the past two years, it suddenly felt quite real, as if I was an old time homemaker suddenly in a working environment. The comradery of the other women, for it was mostly women at this craft fair, the gossip and coffee in between sales. The chatting to complete strangers about your day and your wares and then receiving money from them and letting it stack up in your little envelope. It was, rather, thrilling really.
Now, here is what I found in my mini-experiment of two days: At first I rather thought, ‘hmmm, I could surely do this a bit more. The extra money would be lovely for sure.” Yet, by the end of yesterday I had found myself already planning out spending this as of yet un-earned money. Then hubby and I sat down and also figured out how much he had spent.
You see, though normally I am prepared with things ahead of time, the rush of candy making mixed with logo design, apron making and decals, preparing for the sale, it ate into my homemaking time. In two days of hubby having to get his own lunch at work and one breakfast out he spent half of his weekly cash allowance. I also ‘splurged’ and bought myself lunch as well, because I was too busy to bother once I got home and had to prepare for the next day.
You could see, how easily our modern lives get into that cycle. We must both work, so there is no specific chore set for anyone, so much of homemaking is left on the wayside. Both are tired and yet delusional that thinking two incomes are better than one, so both spend more on eating food bought and car fare and ‘treats’. I saw how easily, were I to take a job outside the home, I would need to really sit down and re-adjust my schedule so I could both do my homemaking and my outside work.
This lead to my next realization: Why did I instantly think it was my job to do both? I think many working women today find themselves more the homemaker than their hubby yet they make work just as much or even more than their hobby's outside the home? Why is this? Surely, after so many centuries of being the homemaker, when women were suddenly thrust into the work place during WWI and then WWII again, when the peace time came and some women continued to work, it just sort of happened. What is interesting to me is many women today write to me and tell me they are working women and they still do more than 90 % of the home and child care. In a way, what a raw deal for we ladies. Surely, we should be able to work in any thing we choose, I don’t want to give up women’s freedom, but have we taken on a new shackle of servitude by simply thinking, “Oh well, I guess I do the house things and work” without wondering why?
I still wonder, too, if many women who currently work could actually become a one income family (obviously one needs a partner for this of course). I recall one follower telling me she and her hubby lived a year with her working but not using any of her income for anything but savings to see if they could manage with just his salary. A very sound plan and a good way to ease one into a single salary lifestyle.
Now, back to our wartime sisters. Here they are, the little dears, content little homemakers, very little contact with the outside world save the grocers and shop keepers and other stay at home ladies. Suddenly they are thrust into an environment that really is much out of their control. I don’t care what anyone says about the cage or oppression of a Homemaker, we have almost total control over our days. WE decide when and how things get done. We might be the worker, but we are also the boss. So, to suddenly have an actual boss, and most likely a strange older man, telling us when and where to be and how to do something must have felt strange and odd. Also, the rush out of the house in the morning and the return in the evening exhausted.
I felt last night, after only two days out, how lovely it would have been to come home to my own homemaker, a warm meal, a smile and nice conversation. A clean home and no worries of the dishes. I certainly appreciated what I do EVEN more after just this weekend of working out and coming home to have to only ‘catch back up’.
Those women, then, with their new freedom of work and comradery amongst other ladies and men who were not their husbands or relatives, what an odd change it must have all been. To many, it was as freedom they were happy to keep. Some, I am sure, were unhappy to give it up after the war, but the men did deserve their jobs back, as they had literally risked their lives while away. But, I think there must have been some ladies who enjoyed their time out in the working world, but found their being at home again even more wonderful. The joy of again having control over one’s own day, the quiet and simple comforts of the home. And, really, the less chaotic home life as time spent with family was fun and not ‘rushing about to catch up all the time’. Certainly, one cannot argue that vanishing of a stay at home mother has really made home life completely different from once it once was. Many people may complain that their children won’t or couldn’t enjoy more time at home or more ‘family time’ but really, why should they? They have never really had it as they were growing up. Day care, school at earlier ages, play groups, sports and outside ‘classes’. All of these things make them busy little people who do need their own palm pilot to keep their schedules in order. To suddenly expect such busy little child ‘executives’ to be happy at home of a Sunday evening playing snakes and ladders after a crazy week of day care, video games at friends, trips and classes and I don’t know what, is probably not realistic.
Now, I am not saying this is good or bad. It is simply different. The very nature of the nuclear family has changed greatly since the 1950’s. Yet, even that was a new thing at the time. Before the War, many families still lived in the ‘old way’ in which extended family, such as grandparents, married couples and their children and unmarried aunt’s, uncles, or cousins would often make up a household had suddenly stopped. The new increase in money and building allowed the nuclear family we associate with the mid century to be born. Yet, it seemed short lived. Now, we have the same make up of parents and children, but much more time is spent outside the home. We moved further and further from the supportive concept of relatives to just  a parent group and now even that parent group is outdated and children are often more raised by others and machines. What is the next step, I wonder?
I think what is sad about the loss of the old pre 1950’s system was how much more economical and good it was all round. Surely relatives got on one another’s nerves all living together, but Grandma and Grandpa felt needed and helped raised the grandchildren (no day care costs and no wonder as to how the children are being raised) This also was nice for the elderly as opposed to simply living in old people facilities we have today. We just, for whatever reason, have become more and more separated from one another since the post WWII days. It is rather sad, really.
So, I found myself tempted by the outside ‘working world’. I began tallying up my ‘earnings’ before I received them and soon was planning away my days further away from my hubby and my home. It happens so quickly and so easily. Yet, back at home, catching back up from this weekend, putting my home to rights and sitting here in my little sitting room, makes me realize for me at least, Home is where my heart AND my work is. While I may still do a craft fair here and there to sell some candy and take orders, it will be pin-money only work. I will squirrel it away for a rainy day and be happy for it. But, I don’t think I could go back to the old rhythms of my life. The flow and structure of homemaking these past two years have become far too interesting and rewarding to me to find myself on the rocks lulled by the Siren song of the workplace. I gladly put on my apron and return to the kitchen, for to me it is a choice and one I cherish and am thankful for having the choice to make.
I do recommend, though, to any of you who could try it or would like to have a go at it with some ‘talking into’ with your hubby, it is worth a go. You may, at least, find yourself even happier to work outside the home again, not wanting to be a drudge at home. Or, you might find yourself blossoming and finding all theses skills and abilities you’d never thought you had appearing like buds in a Spring garden.
Well, back to my own home and have a lovely day. Happy Homemaking.


  1. Oh Donna, this is one of your best post ever!! I loved how many revelations you had in just one weekend. And to be able to put the whole nuclear family in some sort of new understanding for me was very eye-opening.
    Also I really liked how you made your aprons with the logo and the packaging up of your candies. Very nicely done. But, yes welcome back to your nest. I feel the same way when I've been gone from home for awhile. It just feels so good to get back to my own turf.
    Julie in WA

  2. Yes, this was the best post ever. My you have been busy. Yes, it is easy to be tempted to leave the home and go out and earn money (and I have fallen prey to that temptation several times -- only to realize that it didn't really pay off), mostly because housewives today, espeicially if you are like me and your children are grown, or like you without children, you are made to feel like you are not doing anything by staying home. But, like you say, you quickly get into the cycle of lunches and dinners out because you are tired, or unnecessary things bought as a reward for yourself, the extra money quickly spent. And yes, you end up being somebody's "office wife" having to listen to some other man.

    The demise of the nuclear family has not been good -- but then, what can I say? We don't live near our families. I think that is when you end up relying more and more on the government for child and elderly care.

    Who knows? With our economic woes, maybe this problem will right itself?

  3. Agreed! One of your best posts yet.

    I've often thought about learning how to make candy. Unfortunately the humidity down here makes most candy-making very difficult! Chocolate candy and fudge-type things can be made without too much trouble, but everything else usually turns into a disaster. I love homemade peanut brittle, but the weather has to be just right or the whole thing is ruined. "Just right" doesn't even happen every year.

    So I make cookies instead!

  4. 50s gal,
    I enjoyed your post, it looks like you had a good time selling candy. I have a question for you. I just recently used lard in my baking for the first time. I bought a name brand container from the grocery store. It has a residual pork taste...not good in pie crust. The texture of the pie crust was lovely, but the flavor was odd. Have you had this problem with lard before? What kind of lard do you use? Thank you for any info you can give.
    Amy F.

  5. I work and I have often thought how much I would like a "wife" who would cook clean do my laundry and bring me a martini and my slippers when I get home from work

    maybe I just need a maid

  6. ...Wonderful post 50sgal and what a revealing impromptu 'experiment'. I love every aspect of being a keeper of the home! Let's embrace, focus and live it mindfully, enjoying it fully thereby being a good and helpful example to others. Great job. Thanks.

  7. Great post 50`s gal, the outside career world holds no interest for this Canuck, give me boys, my hubby and that is my life.

    As simple as it seems, I enjoy the simplicity of it as opposed to the rat race of the outside world.

    Nothing is better than sipping a hot beverage and hearing the laughter of your children while they play about.

    Growing up in the seventies and eighties I firmly believe we were sold a bill of goods, you can have it all, just not at the same time and in moderation.

    I work very part time but even at my work all I can think about is home.

    I always said I should have been born 50=60 years ago :) I think what is missing today is the knowledge of what is expected out of you in marriage or life, today there are no set expectations and that`s why the young people are floundering.

    Mom in Canada

  8. visitor of your website i will share it with my friends.Thanks.
    corum watches for sale

  9. I work outside the home full-time. I'm also a wife and a mother of three (7yo, 5yo and 3yo). Financially we could make it on one income. But my husband prefers I work, so I submit to his wishes on the matter. Even though I am working outside of the home, I find great joy in being a "home keeper". I'm still very involved in the management of our home. I plan and cook meals from scratch, clean, garden, run a small at-home business, etc. My husband does help. But we each have our own talents and gifts. And my talents happen to be more geared towards homecaring. Therefore I do more of it than my husband! My mother also lives with us and helps care for our 3yo, who is still at home during the day. She also helps me with laundry and does the ironing (her talent!).

    It's a busy life, but it's a blessed one!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  10. Such a great post today :)

    Your mention of extended family all living close together reminded me of how envious I was of my neighbours across the street when I was a little girl. They had a very unusual living arrangement that was so perfect and so practical, I don't know why more people don't choose to live that way now. There were two houses on a very large allotment - one at the front and one at the back, separated by a common garden (which was beautifully kept). My friends parents lived at the rear of the allotment and her widowed grandmother at the front. Both parents worked so the girls would just go straight to grandma's house after school along with their cousin (who was also a good friend of mine) - her mother worked too. The kids were very well looked after by their grandmother, who adored them (she was quite strict though!). She supervised homework, music practice, fed them a snack and only then were they allowed to play. Such a perfect alternative to being what my mother used to refer to as "latch key kids". When the kids were older and their grandmother needed help, the favour was repaid. Her children were close at hand to assist with meals and make sure she was ok each day and her grandkids would come and help her with the garden. She was able to stay in her own house that way, right up until she died at the age of 90.

    Even though I don't work and don't need help with daycare after school, I really think there is something to be said for that kind of arrangement and the resulting strong family bond. I had no relationship with my own grandmother and my grandparents on my fathers side (who I adored) both died when I was quite young. Both my and my husbands family live 700kms away, so my daughter does not get to see them very often either. It makes me quite sad really, but there isn't anything we can do about it as my husband can only find work in capital cities due to the nature of his job and "home" is a little regional city with no prospects for him.

    BTW - just wanted to say that I found your blog a few weeks ago while researching 50's dresses and was so intrigued that I went right back through the archives to the beginning and read every post. Such a fascinating social experiment! I was so happy when you decided to stay in the 50's for a while longer :)

  11. What a great post. And you look so cute in your apron :) While raising our girls I always worked part-time, and now that they are gone from home, I have recently added another job to the mix and I really have missed being at home! My husband and I don't get home until 7 p.m. each night and unless I have made something in the crockpot or planned leftovers, we end up either eating out on the way home or something very easy, like hot dogs :( It's just a constant flurry of activity outside of the home and housework doesn't get done very well. As co-owner of a our own business, it has been hard to be under the supervision of a "stranger" and abide by rules that don't always make sense. My husband and I have been talking and I will be going back to working part time so that we can have more of a home life and enjoy our home more. It's just what works for us. I love your website and read it every day!!

  12. Thank you Darcy Lee. That is actually my friend in the photo, I forgot to get a picture of me, but I was also wearing the same apron.
    Congrats on making a move towards home.


 Search The Apron Revolution