I often find such tips and guides, as this. We see the homemaker happily wielding the hammer. No ‘honey-do’ list needed.
Even when she is having hubby’s help she is often in the thick of it with him. Even in advertising, this was often shown. And Do-it-yourself meant both partners.
What I have noticed is that the early 1950’s magazines seem to show this more often. As we move closer to 1959, we see more interest in the finished product without as much of the labor being shown. Many more images of the woman enjoying a space decked out, but without the view of her working hard by herself or with hubby to get the desired look. Why this is, I don’t know.
Even, as I said, Hollywood seemed to follow this pattern. Leave it to Beaver was from the early 1960’s and though still very 1950’s in feel we often see Mrs. Cleaver working in lovely outfits and doing some chores, sometimes gardening. But, if we see I love Lucy, she is often ‘doing it herself’ even though it often ended badly. Yet, that was the humor of it and I am sure many homemakers could associate with the mistakes because they, too, were trying to ‘do it themselves’ not merely relying on their hubby’s.
I think the homemaker’s role was very serious to her. It WAS a job and that job entailed the home in many ways. While hubby might mow the lawn, take out the garbage, and occasionally barbeque, really it was her province and she ran it even down to installing and repair. Some may disagree with me, but I would be willing to bet the average woman in 1950’s new more well-rounded aspects of living from cooking, to hair design, to even plumbing and basic home maintenance than many women today. It was part of your job and part of being a woman.
Even when the ladies tried to use their ‘feminine whiles’ to trick the man into helping out, it often meant they were stuck in the thick of it as well. This of course brings to mind this episode of I Love Lucy, where Lucy and Ethel try to trick the boys into building a Barbeque only to end up as helpers. I also like this episode as I liked the season they lived in CT.
The main glaring difference in Women’s magazines of the 1950’s to today, is that missing element of the woman actually doing the work. Of course, I have not done an exhaustive cross reference of all modern magazines, but I know all the home/decorating/homemaking type magazines I used to read pre 1955 were more about the end result. Often big expansive things that were either impossible to copy or simply ‘chabby chic’ with no real direction as to how to achieve success with it. That is understanding color and how it works together and in a room. Even the cooking is often ‘make this meal in 10 minutes from a mix’ but never understanding the basics to cooking in the first place. Making dough, making a sauce, how to bake and roast.
Well, there you are, a little bit of the industrious women of yesteryear. Let us, in this as well, emulate her as best we can. Because you know what? We CAN do it!