Monday, January 31, 2011

31 January 1956 “ Desk Set and Floating Island”

desksetposter This year I am excited to re-watch (well for 1957 me it will be the ‘first viewing’) of the Tracy and Hepburn movie “The Desk Set”.
I adore this movie for many reasons. The first being the simple pairing of two of my favorite actors, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. The duo were a real life pair and I can truly see them together. The grounded ‘average man’ quality of Tracy just fits the New England Blue-blood eccentricities of Hepburn.
Secondly, this movie really touches a major issue, the computer. Though done in a very Hollywood comedy way, Amorak (the computer) is threatening to take over the lives of the research department of which Hepburn is the head. Throw in a fun love triangle and you have a wonderful movie.
The sad moment for me, when I watch this movie, is that the 21st century me always points out, “Well, it’s all fun and laughs, but honestly those jobs, that very department really won’t exist in a few decades. I can do as much research in 10 minutes on my computer as it would have taken those girls a week of reference material and phone calls”. But, what can one do, the computer certainly came and has not left us anytime soon.
This movie is definitely worth a watch and if you would like to watch it now, simply click on the “APRON TV” button on the side panel and it will take you to my YouTube channel. There click on classic movies, Desk set is there in its entirety. Enjoy.
Now, a very small inconsequential moment in this movie that I love is that in one scene Tracy and Hepburn eat a ‘Floating Island’. The first time I saw this movie I wondered, ‘what on earth is floating island’? Since then, of course, I have found countless versions of this recipe in my cookbooks and magazines.
Here is the section of the movie where they talk about the floating islands. It is at exactly 5:29 on the little counter if you want to forward ahead to the actual dessert. It has little to do with the plot, but I often find moments, such as the beginning of this clip when he is in the kitchen, fascinating. Because being a time traveler one wants to get things right, so to see a kitchen set up and used, it makes a Vintage Gal’s heart go pitter patter. I adore the copper saucepans on the wall and have my own small collection started back in 1955. They do not come cheap but are perfect for certain things. For example, a copper bowl is one of the best bowls to use to make stiff egg whites as one would need in a dessert like ‘floating island’. As to why a copper bowl is better and easier to use, I found this explanation helpful and scientific:
The bowl you use makes a difference when you are whipping egg whites. Copper bowls produce a yellowish, creamy foam that is harder to overbeat that the foam produced using glass or stainless steel bowls. When you whisk egg whites in a copper bowl, some copper ions migrate from the bowl into the egg whites. The copper ions form a yellow complex with one of the proteins in eggs, conalbumin. The conalbumin-copper complex is more stable than the conalbumin alone, so egg whites whipped in a copper bowl are less likely to denature (unfold).
A floating island is basically meringues made from egg whites floating on a custard made with those eggs yolks. There are many varieties out there. My 1950’s Better Home and Gardens has a recipe for a Strawberry Floating Island.floatingisland2As does the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. This also has the basic floating island recipe as well.floatingisland1
And just for fun, to share a vintage show you may not have heard of, “My Miss Brooks” that involves some cooking and kitchen antics. This show ran also as a radio program on CBS from 48 to 57. It was adapted for TV and in 1956 (last year) was made into a film of the same name.
Here is the first part of the episode. To watch the rest just go to the APRON TV under classic TV. Enjoy!
And here is the movie trailer for the 1956 Feature Film: 
Happy Homemaking.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

29 January 1957 “Chicks, Chicken livers, and Mayonnaise…Oh My!”

chick1 The other day my first chicks began to hatch. If you may recall, I had ordered a dozen French Maran Eggs to hatch. I want to have a small flock of these hens as their eggs are much sought after by chefs and can command a higher price at our local Farmer’s markets and stores.
One of my hens had gone broody, so I gave her 4 of the eggs and put 8 in the incubator. I am no regretting that decision. As she has hatched out all four while only one in the incubator made it to a full chick.
To keep my hen broody while the eggs arrived by the post, I let her sit on eggs from my own hens. They were, most likely fertilized, as I have a wonderful Rooster (named Roostie).
Therefore the first picture you see is one of our eggs from my hens and rooster hatching. It hatched earlier, as the hen hat sat on them for three days before my Maran eggs arrived. So, I took those eggs and put them in the incubator. This allowed me to hold back the chicks until the eggs under my hen hatched.
A hen will often sit on her nest for three days while the eggs hatch. All eggs will not hatch at the same time, presumably as they would not all have been laid at the same time. So Mother Nature has put it into the Hen’s mind to ‘stay put’ for about three days. So, on the day her eggs were to hatch, I simply slipped the two chicks I had in the house under her. She clucked, felt them move and then accepted they had hatched under her.
Before they went to their new mother, they had two days with my little dog in the house. He LOVES anything tinyand living. He is the most gentle dog I have ever had. I have seen him sit completely still and walk very slow and cautiously around chicks ,so as not to disturb or hurt them.
Here he is with the first little guy. I am hoping she is a SHE as then she will join the ranks of my egg laying hens and not have to end up in the roasting pan.montychick1 montychick2
I have to say, since my voyage back to the 1950’s, my animal husbandry skills  have greatly improved. Though the 1950’s middle class homemaker was often the first to take on the modern plastic world of grocery at the big Super market and to leave the ‘farm’ back in the 1940’s, I don’t think I would have.
As I have said, being an older wife, and certainly a war bride, the thrift and make do of the war years would be such a part of me that I don’t think I would want to let it all go, as I rather enjoy it.
One advantage to having fresh eggs, literally still warm from the hen, is the ability to make my own mayonnaise. Now, really, if you buy your eggs fresh enough, this is still a safe procedure, I would just try to get them as fresh as possible.
The more I have learned to make my own not only do I see how cheaper it can be, but the taste and quality is amazing. I also think Mayonnaise today gets a rather bad rap. It is often portrayed as the ‘poor mans’ condiment, slathered on white Wonder bread and adorned with Spam. But, we must remember that egg mayonnaise is an old condiment/dressing. Well before the 1950’s saw it packaged and in the lunchbox of every working man and child, it was often a staple both in the farmers diet as well as on the tables of the well to do. Many think it is of Spanish origin and brought to France. Other’s also believe that wherever oil and eggs existed their mixture was inevitable.
The mass marketed mayo in the USA started in NYC at Richard Hellmann's delicatessen. It was bottled and sold in 1912 as “Hellmann’s Blue Ribbon Mayonnaise”.
1916mayonaisserecipeHere is an interesting Mayonnaise recipe from 1916.
Yet, despite it being on grocery store shelves here in the 1950’s, many recipes existed as a normal part of cookbooks. mayonnaiserecipesHere is the page from Betty Crocker’s Picture cookbook. And it is of interest to note that mayo is being used in sweet as well as savory, as the ‘dainty pink dressing’ recipe shows us. Simply adding the juice of maraschino/glace’ cherries and whipping cream makes it suitable dressing for fruit.
 dionemayonaiserecipe  These are some of the recipes from my early 1950’s Cordon Bleu cook book by Dione Lucas, who was said to have influenced Julia child in her French Cookery.
The ingredients in any mayonnaise are easy enough: egg and oil with seasonings, usually mustard and an acid either or both lemon juice/vinegar. I have used combinations of all these and used various oils, as well.
The trick to mayonnaise is to emulsify. Emulsification is basically forcing two things that don’t want to blend, oil and water, to create a sort of bond. Certainly a mayonnaise can be made by hand with a whisk, but for me, I find it easy to use my blender. Many modern people would most likely use a food processor, but our version of ‘food processors’ here in 1957 are not the electrical versions of the modern kitchen. The blender, however, does a wonderful jobs at many things from dressings to soups.
mayonaise1This is my 1955 Osterizer. It is a beast. A heavy glass caraffe. Sturdy stainless steel base, this thing has lasted for years before I purchased it. To get a comparable version today would be hundreds of dollars, yet the vintage are easy enough to come by. As an aside, this little darling is wonderful to use at the bar and has seen many Grasshoppers blended in it!
For me the emulsification is easiest with the blender. Simply crack two eggs and put in one TBS lemon juice. I use fresh squeezed or sometimes in lieu of or in addition to I will also use vinegar. Turn it on low for about 3o seconds, just to blend.
Next take one cup of oil (Your choice, olive, sunflower, grape seed experiment with what you like) and this is the trick. While the blender is on low, very SLOWLY pour the liquid into the blender. I set the timer for 3 minutes and begin pouring the thinnest possible stream. If you do that and finish at about 3 minutes, you will have the PERFECT consistency. Then you can add the mustard, seasonings, garlic, what have you, and give a good mix.
mayonise2Then I simply decant it in a canning jar and it is good for up to a week in the icebox. I usually make this once a week, so you can see we use it fairly often. It is great on salads, as the base for dressings, I even brush it with other seasonings on chicken when I bake them. This is NOT Miracle whip. AND it has no preservatives, dies or what have you. mayonaise3Look how wonderful that sheen and swirl is, you really need to try it. You will never buy mayonnaise again. Or, if you think you hate mayonnaise, make this and mix a bit with cold fish or last nights chicken and toss in salad greens, mmmmm wonderful!
Now, for me making my own dressings and condiments is both frugal and good for you. I think this frugality and ‘coin-purse wisdom’ can carry over to everything we eat.
For example, the chicken. We eat a lot of chicken in this country. It is, currently, very cheap mainly due to its horrid mass productions. But, I won’t get into that right now. My point will simply be that here in 1957 what we pay for a chicken, even at the Super Market, would be very similar to what a modern person would pay for a ‘free range’ bird, around 8-10 dollars. So, we do not simply have them in everything and waste as we do in the 21st century. That roast chicken for Sunday’s big meal is not simply tossed away. The bones are made into stock for soup. The leftover meat gets mixed with mayonnaise for father and children’s lunch.
But, there is another element of that bird that many modern people are often not aware of: The Offal. The guts of the bird, the heart, liver and gizzard and even the neck. These are simply seen as garbage and tossed either by the family, or else the big stores as they sell pre cut meat and all the ‘guts’ are garbage. This to me seems so wasteful. And, when we realize how we can use so much of the bird, then the choice to try and support a better bird, (better treated as well as not pumped full of hormones and antibiotics) will be more realistic. An 8 dollar chicken suddenly doesn’t seem so expensive when it becomes a dinner, a soup and lunches.
Now, ever so often I am able, when I don’t have a full chicken with the giblets/offal, to buy chicken hearts or livers. The other day, at my local grocery store, they had little containers of chicken livers VERY cheap. I snatched it up.
I adore chicken livers. They are much milder than a cow or pig liver. They have a wonderful mellow taste as well as being full of iron and vitamins. They are very high in protein and for a very low fat calorie count give you a lot of vitamins. In the below serving of 1 oz, you get the following: Vitamin A 96%,Vitamin C 1%, and Iron 8 %

Chicken Liver:
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 oz
Calories % Daily Values
33 *
Calories from Fat 12
Total Fat 1.37g 2%
Saturated Fat 0.443g 2%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.232g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.354g
Cholesterol 98mg 33%
Sodium 20mg 1%
Potassium 65mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 4.8g

My lunch the other day was chicken livers on toast, when of my favorite savories.liversontoastTo me, this looks lovely. But, even if you don’t like the look of it, they taste wonderful. Look at that wonderful texture.liversontoast2
I simply heated onions and garlic in oil and then lightly pan fried these with salt and pepper. Then tossed in salad greens and serve on toast. It is wonderful tasting. You can also add cream to a mixture such as this while it is in the pan, getting all the wonderful butter and onion drippings and it goes great on a large salad or as a Savory or appetizer before a larger meal.
You really should consider the ‘throwaway’ bits of the chicken and see how much good nutrition and good money value there is. My 1.50 container of livers gave me three lunches!
Happy Homemaking.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

26 January 1957 “Sex Sells”

microsheenad57Well, here in 1957 Madison Avenue is well on its way to the axiom: “Sex Sells”. This ad for shoe polish, of all things, has many suggestions including the obvious pictorial one.
beechnutadIt is also interesting to note that a similar ‘sex advertising’ is also aimed at ladies. Though, this is often in a different guise, that of husband/boyfriend choosing. The idea of the woman wanting to settle down and the man wanting to wander seems to be pretty now set in stone. Certainly not a new idea, by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly more so now.
chubbyads  Another element we ladies are concerned with also is beginning to appear in advertising, our weight. Though the lady and girl of 1950 had much less emphasis on this as we do in the 21st century, we are also really beginning to see this phenomena arising, that of the ‘chubby kid’. Post war American has not only an abundance of food, but endless packaged and increasingly sugared products. As I always find, much of our modern world really has its seeds germinated in the 1950’s.
1940marieclaireThis 1940 Marie Claire cover illustrates the point of selling fashion and chic to women. There is concern here for what the woman is thinking of herself, her fashion sense. Her desire to emulate a well dressed woman. You will also notice the absence of ‘tag lines’. marieclaire Today’s version has a desperation to it. The longing to look ‘sexy’. The promise to ‘really lose those last 5 pounds!”. The endless words and messages we, as modern people, are used to. The clutter and constant noise, our lives and homes are cluttered as are our minds, something will stick, thinks the advertising and then we have them.
mothersonI love this image of the mother and son in the kitchen. I am not sure what the modern version of “Mother”  Marie Claire is suppose to be telling us. I am not sure I am ready to really dissect that one just yet.People Christina Aguilera
  vogue50I do know which of these Vogue covers I feel is the stronger woman and the one I would most like to emulate. Poise, structure and concern more for my personal strength. Even the model seems to be more into her own thoughts while the modern version, the model is begging the viewer, “Please, look at me, I am sexy and skinny! I am happy…right?”modervogue
And maybe I have just been here in the 1950’s too long, but I have to say, I prefer this idea of the homemaker and housework 1950homemagazine To this:desperatehousewives

Monday, January 24, 2011

24 January 1957 “Jack Lalanne and Peyton Place”

On the Forum I was informed that Jack Lalanne has passed at the age of 96. He was a health guru before such a thing existed.
Here is how I would see him here in 1957. This is from an excerpt of a show from this year with Groucho Marx. He is 44, though refuses to say his name. He felt you were as old as your body type. He looks quite good for 44. I also like that the young lady, who is 20, looks much older by 21st century standards, but love that a woman wanting to look ‘grown up’ was more important than rather other’s thought she was perpetually a teenager.
Jack was also known for a food revolution. Living in California, he had access to more fruit and veg year round, but the Supermarkets all over our country by the late 1950’s were teeming with out of season foods. After the highways were literally created crossing the country in the mid 50’s, trucks began bringing produce quicker and cheaper to all corners of the USA.
Therefore, even a New Englander like me could take advantage of his recipe, here from his show, for Avocado Dip. Why don’t you try it:
petyonplace The film adaption of Grace Metalious’ book, Peyton Place, is released this month. I read the book last year and am re-reading it now. By 21st century standards, this book is as racy as an episode of Sesame Street. But, at the time, Metalious’ portrayal of the small close-minded will knit New England community was so spot on as to cause affront and anger throughout the country.
I personally really love this book. I think the movie is wonderfully done and Lana Turner shines. I do notice, however, that here in the 1950’s, as we have such a strong sense of our own style in clothes and hair, that when we make a movie set in late 1930’s and into WWII, we have no qualm with the hair and fashion being more 1957 than 1942. That said, I love the way this movie is filmed. Though it is seen as a dark exposure of the small town, I actually find myself happily drawn into it.
The town in the book was actually based on three towns in NH where Metalious lived: Gilmanton, Gilford, Laconia and Manchester. It caused much excitement and the author was subject to many rumors about her. Some were purported to be true, her having an affair with a married man, and some completely unsubstantiated, her shopping at the local market in a fur coat and nothing else.
For me, as a New Englander, I would certainly have found much interest in this book. My own little town here, also a water front New England town, would have had many similar characters. Though one would never have talked about it openly, possibly only whispered gossips over fence rails and hushed tones in kitchens over cooling cups of coffee.
This was the type of book that housewives kept wrapped in brown paper and hid under the mattress, yet it sold  60,000 copies within the first ten days of its release and remained on the New York Times best seller list for 59 weeks. Shocked we all may have been, but intrigued we were.
I think this speaks a lot about American’s of the time and before. We are, particularly we New Englanders and our cousins in the Mid West, Puritans at heart. Our ancestors came here to get away from the ‘sinfulness’ of England. We banned Christmas, and singing and dancing, we were not a jovial lot. This sort of judgmental stern quality that hides a desire just boiling underneath, seems to be a recurring American theme. Even if one were to really see modern 21st century movies and TV we see more violence and sex, but always in a way that is about subliminal punishment. As if we need to go to the extreme and blow one another’s heads off, show the gore, and make ‘love-making’ about sin and intrigue. One has only to view movies of the time and now of other countries and see the glaring difference in the 21st century. Yet, in the day, America was still making a good movie, I feel.
I once thought, pre 1955, how ‘quaint’ old movies were. I watched them, surely, not as many as I have now I live here, but found them to be endearing. Yet, they always drew me in. They took me to a place I WANTED to believe in and if it didn’t exist, I wanted to make it. Our American films today seem not to have that. There are some good independent films which portray a more real quality of the average person, but sometimes that reality has a sadness that has settled on itself. It has said, “Well, things are bad, this way, and there is little to do about it, lets be ‘cool’ listen to cool music and just deal with it”.
I find in interesting that we will spend so many millions on CG and explosions and care little for the writing or the plot. Yet, to make an over the top Technicolor explosion of a movie with singing and dancing never occurs to the ‘corporate movie machine’ and I bet THEY WOULD be successful.
But, I digress. I am moving off point. The book, which came out last year, sold like hotcakes. The movie, just released this month here in 1957 will also be a major hit. It seemed, in our shock and anger towards the themes of the book ,we couldn’t help see a bit of our town in there and our need to spy, be the voyeur was too powerful. We were the Puritans, saying how bad it was in public and pointing fingers while at home the offending book was snug in brown paper hidden in the back of the airing cupboard where little Johnny couldn’t find it.
In many ways in the 21st century I am rather disparaged by the loss of community in our small towns that would lead to the intrigue and disgust by this movie. There seems to not be enough real ties to rally to any point, good or bad. Oh, we get together enough for Garden clubs, or 4th of July parades, but the shared communal spirit of the town seems lost. I wonder if this is the case in other countries? Is it due to the media we have available. We spend more time being the voyeur on the internet and then trolling secretly on blogs and other sites saying whatever we think without care of hurt feelings, decorum or language. It is easier, after all, being a judgmental Puritan, when one is not forced to show who they are. The stern ‘round hats’ of today can hide easily behind the computer screen.
Do you think your 1950’s counterpart in 1956 would have read the book? Would you have done it openly, discussing it with friend, or would you have secreted it away from children and possibly your spouse or neighbors? If none of you have as yet read it, do read it. It is quite good. The movie is worth watching as well.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

23 January 1957 “Increasing Garbage and Increasing Awareness for a 1950’s Gal”

The other day while perusing through my February 1957 copy of Better Homes and Gardens, I noticed this little snippet on wastebaskets.wastebasketarticle

At first I was drawn in by their darling design and wanted to see what they had to say. When I read the lines: “Trend today is to larger wastebaskets-to take care of the increasing use of paper napkins, plates, towels, place mats, tissue, wrappings.” It got me thinking, as usual.

Here I am happily in 1957. Many new products are available to me and certainly I cannot but help consider my 5o’s homemaker’s life only 10 years prior. Even after the war years, the amount of what I used daily for cleaning and cooking would be seriously half of what I would have today, here in 1957.

I consider my dishwasher, that little gem happily chugging away in the corner of my kitchen. The roll of paper towels at the ready for any spill or cleaning. There is my bright shiny electric stove, heat ready and willing with a turn of a button, no lighting pilots. My icebox, big and roomy and perhaps I’d have a full size freezer as well, stocked to the brim with food. More food than I could have imagined during the lean war years or the prior Depression years.

I’d happily pour myself another cuppa from my electric percolator (no stove top needed here) and enjoy my lovely coffee, hard to come by during the war. I’d pat my up to the minute washing machine and dryer and consider the cold Fall mornings, my hair in pin curls and my goulashes frozen cold pinning clothes to the line. How far I have come, I’d most certainly think.

I’d have the time, now more so than ever before, to relax with my cup of coffee and my magazine. Peruse the items I’d like to add to my lovely rich beautiful life. My husband, as well, would work less hours than his future self in the 21st century, but much less than a chap back in my childhood of the 20’s. I’d have the freedom to enjoy my leisure time in a home paid off in a few years and perhaps a second car in the garage awaiting my every whim. Life, it seems, would be good.

Yet, here I’d sit, an older homemaker, closer to 40 (VERY CLOSE) than 20. I’d remember those war years. Maybe the early days of my marriage, before the war or when hubby was on furlough, sipping our coffee substitute over a single burner alcohol stove, our little apartment done over with the best I could do with make shift spare fabric and a lot of ingenuity. We’d have so much less and more stress from the war, but we also needed less. Perhaps we would talk and dream of those days when ‘this bloody war was over’ and think of a little place, a picket fence and simply happiness.

And, now, I’d think, here we are. I am happy for my dishwasher and that freezer full of food. Heck, there are so many products available, canned exotic fruits from our new state Hawaii (1951) and so much, just so much. Will it always be this way? I might wonder. Had I any children I would consider their futures, imagine their college years and their eventual move towards all I have now, the ease of the modern home, less working hours, a home paid for, good jobs a plenty.

Of course, the modern me, that little pain of the 21st century who always pokes her head into my eden and points out I am just a visitor here, in 1957, and that I cannot remain a permanent fixture forever always bursts my bubble. I need no crystal ball or soothsayer. I know what the world is in the 21st century. I have lived there. It has, in fact, made me increasingly want to close my eyes and turn my back to it and stay here in the 1950’s.

But, even here in my plastic luxury and convienant leisure, I cannot help but think of what we are doing. I see this ad and consider  “the increasing use of paper napkins, plates, towels, place mats, tissue, wrappings” and wonder…when should we stop? When is enough enough. Let’s put on the brakes and work on maintaining what we have for our children and grand children. Do we need more? Do I need a phone in every room in every color? Do I need a phone at all, remember as a child in the 30’s all those years of learning penmanship and letter writing? My trusty dishwasher, do I need it? Sure, electricity is so cheap today, here in 1957, but as I become more dependent upon it for my increasing ‘homemaker’s helpers’ will they ever up the price to make more money? Then, when my daughters can’t imagine a world without those appliances will they just deal with increasing costs?

hubbert I would have heard, last year in 1956, about the scientist M. King Hubbert who clearly described how we in the US, now one of the major oil producers, would run out of oil between 1965 and 1970. Sure, he was then considered a laughing stock. And why not, look at all that wonderful petroleum pumping out of the ground in Texas! Why worry. But, I might consider, what if we our US oil supply does go away? What then? What about all those towns and jobs and business in our country where our young G.I.’s are happy to have jobs? What then? What about the towns and all the people and what about our increasing roads and highways built to continue travel and production in our country. I already see our train travel and means of supplies changing over to trucks, cars, and planes. What if….?

I don’t honestly know if we could have some how put the brakes on and made our ‘land of plenty’ last if we only slowed it down and tried to continue the jobs/production and use of our own oil if it would have made a difference. Many think the American way is to grow and grow and grow, but do we grow for the better or for the pockets of a few?

I know that wives today have to work as well as their husbands. They both work longer hours than one in the 1950’s. Their homes are not affordable enough to pay off quicker. And we have SO MANY MORE modern appliances to make our lives ‘easier’ and yet are our lives easier? And if so, are they more enjoyable? Are we getting our ‘bang for our buck’? I honestly don’t know.

When I started my project I had no idea the roads it would take me down. I have found so many things I am proud of and like to re learn from the past. But, along that same journey I have found out things, hidden evil that I wish I could forget and didn’t learn. Things which seem to show a very pointed path to where we are currently and I am not sure, sometimes, if even hiding in the 1950’s is far enough away.

I hope this post is not too bleak. There are so many things I love about my life and the 1950’s but I also know there is so much about the modern world that I feel could be better but I am not sure they can be undone. For, I find many of them, many of these things I don’t like, really began here in my favorite decade. It only we could say, ‘enough, we have it right. Let’s just work on equality for more people and continue to advance medical system, but don’t inundate us with more and more drugs. And please don’t turn farming into a corporate business.” But we have no real time machine and no magic wand.

I have to make my happiness the best way I can. I find the joy in the simple and the skills of the home and land. To bake and cook, to grow and raise my own, to try and make more myself. Yet, for the country as a whole, I find it almost impossible to want to support others in those endeavors as they are not legally allowed to do so. Our local farm was almost shut down, because of more legislature last year that made them have to add more ‘health and saftey’ items that are really in place to shut them down and make it easier for the big corporate farms. I just don’t know.

Perhaps you can add more to my little ran here to make me feel better about our modern times. I am happier for the freedoms enjoyed by women and minorities, but in that same vein it seems the freedoms of the general public seem to be less than before, despite your race, sex, or creed. Have we gone to far? Have we given up too easily to the convienance of the modern world without asking ‘WHY’ or wondering if we need it.

Perhaps, my little moment of wonder would fade as I see the time on the clock. Hubby will be home soon enough and I have to put more clothes in my dryer and then thaw something from my freezer for dinner. Perhaps just a few minutes of the daily Soap Opera…just a few minutes. Would and could this become my life if I were truly in 1957? Would I slowly accept all the ease and watch it wash over me, caring little what happens to the future generations? I don’t know? It is so hard to say. I do know that was at first the joy of petticoats and pin curls sometimes veers into the realm of social responsibility and wonder at my world at large. I wish I could say that I know the 21st century will be an improvement upon what I have here in 1957, buy I am not sure if more legal drugs (Or prescription drugs we call them advertised to us), new diseases possibly caused by our foods and their genetic alterations, and 3-D TV and Cell phones that play movies and books that appear, as if by magic out of thin air on our devices, is better. I don’t know. What if, and I don’t know the answer to this, neither the 1957 nor the 21st century me, what if all the things we come to rely on become too expensive too run because we may have less oil at higher prices? I honestly don’t know.

I do know that a simple trip back to the 1950’s has made me more aware of my modern world than ever watching modern tv and news ever did. And I have to say, it the road ahead for you, my 1957 self, better? I don’t know…



Friday, January 21, 2011

21 January 1957 “ President Eisenhower Sworn in Again and The Frisbee is Born”

Last night, here in 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower was sworn in, for his second term as President of the United States. I think listening to this speech and possibly having a discussion about it might be worth a post in its own right later on.

fred morrison This month the Frisbee was released by the Wham-O toy company (who also released the hula-hoop as well). The gentleman pictured with the space helmet is the actual inventor of the toy. Fred Morrison was a pilot and carpenter.

The story goes he and his then girlfriend were having Thanksgiving at her mother’s home in California in 1937. They began tossing a popcorn maker lid around to entertain themselves. The lid bent, so they snatched a cake pan from the kitchen.

They then sold these at beaches and parks until Mr. Morrison went off to WWII as a bomber-pilot. After the war, he and his wife settled in Southern California and due to the various craze for UFO sightings and all things ‘space age’ he made a plastic version and the toy was officially born. This was called the ‘flyin-saucer’ and he and his business partner sold them around at fairs and such events.

By the mid 1950’s he had designed and made his section edition of the flyin-saucer dubbed: the Pluto Platter, stamped with the names of all the solar system’s planets around its rim. He would go to fairs dressed as you see him above and demonstrate and sell the item.

The famous Toy company WHAM-O got wind of it and In 1957 Mr. Morrison signed over the Pluto Platter rights to Wham-O in exchange for lifetime royalties.

The name “Frisbee” came a little later when some of the Toy company executives were on a trip out to the East coast they noticed college students playing the same game with pie tins from the famous Frisbie Pie Co. in Bridgeport, Conn. These  pie tins had long been popular for tossing on New England college campuses. With a change of spelling to avoid trademark trouble, Wham-O’s Frisbee was born.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

19 January 1957 "Guest Blog Sanne: Vintage Jewelry"

Today we are going to enjoy a guest blog from our good friend and fellow Apronite Sanne. She lives in Denmark with her lovely husband and teenage son. She was one of our Apronites of the Month. I hope you enjoy her post about her wonderful collection of Costume and Vintage Jewelry.

Costume Jewelery

I love costume jewellery, especially from the fifties. And it is an elegant an inexpensive way to
spice up your vintage look – or any look. I will not claim that I am an expert, but I have collected for almost ten years, and have learned and read some things, which I will tell you in this guest blog.

Getting Started
You can find a few inexpensive things on flea markets or the internet to add a little glamour and
nostalgia to your look, or you can start a collection. Believe me - one thing often leads to the other!
There are several things to start with:

Pins /
Pins are very vintage and can be used in many ways. In general, if you go for the look and not for
the brand, there are so many darling pins out there to be picked up. A pin can be teeny tiny or very
big, it can have a few or a lot of rhinestones and/or pearls, it can be plated with enamel, gold or silver, it can be figural or sculptural. The choice is yours. If you see a fabulous pin at a flea market– buy it. I still regret some pins I didn’t buy. Watch out for missing or discoloured rhinestones, unless you have some spare at home you can replace them with. If all the stones are discoloured the pin can still be very charming.

Charm Bracelets:
Are very … charming! And very fifties. In the fifties all women collected charms for their bracelet, and for their daughters. I love them, I always wear one, and have a huge collection. They also come in a very large variety, and again if you don’t go for brand you can find them at a reasonableprice. I’ve found lovely charm bracelet at five dollars on eBay! I love the miniatures and the lovely jingle when you wear them. You can collect your own bracelet with charms that means something to you - that symbolized events or places you’ve visited, etc. Or you can buy ready-made theme bracelets. I love the theme bracelets and have many themes to choose from, e.g. travel bracelets, seasonal and holiday bracelets, gardening bracelets, theatre bracelets, religious bracelets, car bracelets, Disney bracelet, etc. etc. Even a kitchen themed bracelet. You can even find “mechanical” charms, which is a charm that has some kind of function or can open and reveal a “secret”.

These are very much fun, but are priced a little higher. I have collected a silvertone
Monet charm bracelet from the fifties only with charms that mean something to me. Ahem, I have to mention that Monet charms became quite addictive, so I have three more bracelets loaded with charms that were just … charming.

Ahhh, my favourite. I don’t go anywhere without earrings. Earrings are also a great starter, since you can find some really nice and inexpensive ones to start your collection. You can find studs for pierced ears, clips and screw backs.

Personally, I don’t like the screw backs, they hurt my ear and they hang, but perhaps it is just my ears that are not suitable for wearing them. The trick should be that you can adjust them. I have earrings in all sizes, from tiny to really huge. If they become quite large and heavy, do wear them with clips, since your piercings will drop, and it will not look nice. A tip for a very fifties look is to collect confetti Lucite earrings. Lucite was used for jewelery during WWII since metal was sparse and used for war purposes. They are inexpensive (often around 5 dollars a pair), very fifties and looks nice for everyday wear. You can find them in every color and with embedded glitter, seashells or other small things – even bugs! Always try them on, look in a mirror if they suit your face and your style. In general, use button earrings for day wear and dangling and glittering for evening wear. Collect some pairs in neutral tones or if your wardrobe is
colour coordinated, buy the colours that match most of your outfits.

For some strange reason I’m not very much into neclaces, although you can also find them in
every style and look. Pearls are very fifties, and here is a great tip – pop beads! If you don’t know them they are plastic beads with a hole in one end and a tip at the other. You can make every length, you can make matching bracelets and you can even make them in alternating colors. They are inexpensive at e.g. eBay and are very versatile. I always use them for travelling, since I have pearls for whatever look I might want. Be aware if the beads are coated, since they are vintage the coating might peel off.

Cocktail rings are also found in every price range and every style. I think rings should be the last
to add to your collection if you want to save. I like rings that matches my outfit, but they most often look like what they are – costume. Not always as elegant as you want.

Seasonal and Holiday Jewellery:
A vintage tradition is to have seasonal and holiday jewellery, so why not collect a few items
for each season and holiday? I can assure you that you will get noticed and receive a lot of
compliments. And you don’t need much for each season/holiday to start with - begin with e.g. a pin and a bracelet. Later you can find more pins, earrings, and perhaps even a necklace. But do only use them at the right season, or else it will look silly. I pack my holiday jewellery away with all the other holiday decoration stuff, and when I unpack it next time it makes me so happy to see it all again.

SCS is a serious illness you might start suffering from when you start collecting. SCS is “Set
Completion Syndrome”. When you have a nice pin you want the matching earrings, and then
the matching bracelet, or even necklace. A set always looks nice. A “parure” is a complete set,
which is a necklace, bracelet and earrings, perhaps even a pin. A “demi-parure” is a half set, e.g.
a bracelet and earrings. You will never know if there are more items for your set, but you might be lucky to find something that matches perfectly. Sets are always admired.

Always put on your jools last and take them off first - which means putting them on after you have sprayed with perfume or hairspray, and take them off before you start bathing or cleansing your face. Never wash or soak costume jewelery pieces, use a soft cloth or a (new) baby toothbrush to clean the items. A baby toothbrush is a great tool to remove old dust, not everything vintage looks nice. ;) Never use chemicals. If a piece is very dirty, make some mild soap water, dip the toothbrush into it, dab it on a cloth so it is only damp, turn the piece upside down and clean it from the downside. Let it dry completely upside down. Moisture kills rhinestones and makes pearls peal.
You might put your jewels in those practical small plastic bags, but don’t zip them, since this mightalso kill the rhinestones. They darken and loose their sparkle.

Inexpensive Brands:
Now I’ve said I don’t look for brands, but two brands are worth mentioning:
Sarah Coventry and Coro. Both have a lovely style (in my opinion) and are still reasonably prices.

Shopping Links: – watch out, and ask the seller questions if you are in doubt. Most often the seller
does not know what he/she is selling. Hence you can find some really great bargains.

SmokingRaven (LINK: – low price, but
nice vintage jools. Earrings start at 1 dollar. Very friendly service. PS: Her Sarah Coventry jools are
too expensive.

Ruby Lane (LINK: and Tias (LINK: – both are
lovely places to buy, and normally the seller knows what he/she is selling, but again, ask questions
before buying.

Eclectica (LINK: – my personal favourite, she’s an expert and you always

get super friendly service. Do visit her Theme Pages.

See my jewellery collection here: LINK:

And in fact I have some vintage pieces for sale at our Danish version of eBay (LINK: http://, if you are interested in something, do send
me a mail and I’ll translate the text and give you a great price.

And feel free to ask questions, although I have to stress that I’m not an expert.

Sparkling Sanne

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

18 January 1957 “A Bit out of Sorts”

crankywoman Hubby, Gussie, and I played hookie yesterday and spent the day sledding, drinking cocoa in front of the fire, and playing scrabble. It was fun, but tiring and now I an rather late with the wash day (was suppose to be yesterday) and a bit tired. While yesterday I was the free spirit whooping it up down the icy slopes of our ‘coastin hill’, today I am the curmudgeonly ole’ New Englander, cranky and busy.

So, I shall return tomorrow. We have a lovely guest post coming from our fellow Apronite Sanne, which I may post tomorrow. I have a few others of you interested in guest posting. If any others would like to consider it, email me or just comment on this post about it. I rather like ‘sharing the load’ as it were and also hearing from all of you.

I know most of you have your own blogs and sites, but it is nice to touch base here and of course we would link back to your own site. Share the love, isn’t that how it is done in cyberspace? One never knows, when one is a crabby old 50’s housefrau, as I am today.

Good and Happy Homemaking to all today!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

16 January 1957 “Q & A Sunday: The Laundry”

I thought we could talk about laundry on this Q & A Sunday. We have come a long way from the days of our great grandmothers.
1900swasingbasin This copper set in a stone or brick fire heated stove was once part of the Monday Wash day. Water was put in the copper and a fire set under it until the water was boiling hot. The clothes were put in and you used your own power to get the clothes clean. oldlaundryHere is a similar set up with a washing sink and a place for ‘spot cleaning’.
As oil and gasoline was once a new fangled item and not everyone had cars, the stuff was often used in odd ways. This information is from my book “Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s cook book” which was published in 1908. You can purchase a copy HERE if you are interested.
gasarticle1gasarticle2 This section in the Laundry tells you how to clean with Gasoline. It advises such cleaning to be performed out of doors. A good idea, when one considers the flammability of the stuff.wringer1 By the 1920’s and 30’s this would have been a normal scene. The wringer be a wonderful aid, but good old elbow grease is still a main feature. washingmachinewringer2 This lady may have the advantage of a powered washer, though it has to be hand filled and wrung out by hand.
There were also gas powered machines, which though noisy, must have increased productivity immensely.

This Maytag, most likely from the late 1930’s into the 1940’s, shows the move towards electricity. This machine must have seemed a wonder after Granny’s old Gas Powered machine, which worked on the same principal, but was louder and not quite as effective. None the less, it was better than hand churning in great boiling pots or fire heated wash basins. I love how you can adjust the amount of pressure on the wringer wheels for either a heavier piece or a more delicate like mother’s negligee or fathers embroidered pocket handkerchiefs.
Yet, even here in 1957, they are still making and selling the washer/separate ringer models, such as this one.
    I wonder if an older homemaker would just be used to this system from their childhood on, so the idea of getting a new machine that felt familiar was prevalent enough to have these type of washers continue to be produced here into the late 1950’s.
An interesting point, from water use, is that a  typical modern washing machine uses 40 gallons for wash and 40 for rinse. So, when the wringer was used, you saved 40 gallons by simply not needing it to rinse out the clothes.
Ritad Here in 1957 they have thought of every contingency to entice sales of new washers. This ad for RIT dye shows how it works even better in a special dye reservoir in this model of washing machine. fridgidairewasherad The decadent 1950’s in me makes me lust after a set like this. The color (which I am willing to bet probably also came in my favorite blue) is wonderful and the sleek yet appealing design makes me covetous. I love the little foot step on the bottom of the dryer to open the door. Why does this not exist on my dryer!
Yet, the part of me that has been growing over these past year’s in the 1950’s has been away from consumerism and materialism. And, in a way, I think there is a precedent here in the 1950s. Especially for a woman of my age. I would have been a War bride. I would have worried after hubby and others while away at war. I most likely would have had a war job and been a part of growing more, canning, doing without. This was a time when we had to rest on our laurels, “make do and mend” , Victory Garden, and just come together to make it all work out. This was pretty much tossed out the window in the increasing consumerism of the 1950s.
I honestly think there would be moments when I, such a War bride, would be in my clean packed Super market, driven in my own new second car, buying prepared foods and all the little plastic novelties that I would stop, remember and think, “Is this why we did it all?” “Is this the freedom we fought for, to buy cheap things made in Japan (that’s where they were made then and Taiwan) and buy and want?” “What of the freedom we made for ourselves when we used less, made more of our own, and had to work together to make do?” There had to be those moments then.
As I begin my adventure into the latter part of that Golden Age of the 1950’s, I am finding myself wondering more and more about my own current time. The more I learn to cook and can and sew and garden and make do with what we have, the more I look about at our mass consumption and almost feel sick. It almost feels like a blight or a mass hysteria of sorts. Perhaps it is just par for the course with my own growing disconnect from the modern world BECAUSE of my project. I mean I am disconnected from the world more, yet I continually find myself happier and better equipped to live the MORE I disconnect and the more I depend on myself.
Therefore, in some way, I do feel genuine in my late 50’s homemaker status that such feelings would surface. I wouldn’t wonder if it all would last, it was all to new to even consider then, but I would wonder if we were making a mistake. If all the effort to fight a war for freedom only to give up our personal freedom of creativity and ingenuity to simple want, greed, and avarice. This would continue to be apparent were I to have an older life child, as I would here in 1957. I would see that child growing up in the early 60’s with so many toys and so much plastic, soda, cereals, candy want want need. This would be compared to my own 1920’s and Depression childhood. The contrasts would be great.
I understand now why those older housewives of the time would wring out their paper towels and let them dry in the sink. They couldn’t do it, they couldn’t use it once and toss it away. They HAD to use it until it was unusable. IT was unthinkable of them to waste. I am beginning to be that person more and more.
I find it so interesting to me that someone of my generation who chose to travel to the time when all the consumerism and desire really began somehow now finds herself wanting, nay desiring more and more to do more myself with less. It is an odd combination, perhaps the two negatives have cancelled one another out and made the positive. And in many ways, I feel it IS a positive, how I have become. Who knows, if there ever is a lessening of oil and we HAVE to return to an older way of life, I will already be half way there. I live most of my days without setting foot in a car. I make most things from scratch and sew my own clothes. I suppose I could just as easily learn to use an old treadle sewing machine with no electricity since I learned to use the electric 1950’s model I now use.
Maybe one day I will find myself using this type of washing machine.offgridwasher Though, I would probably have purchased an unloved old machine with a ringer like this anyway, but the same principal.oldwashingmachine oldwashingmachine
No matter where our future takes us, we certainly can see how quickly washing changed in a matter of generations for the homemaker of the 20th century.
Happy Laundry Day and Happy Homemaking.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

15 January 1957 “New Vintage Patterns”

I have been exceptionally busy these past two days. Yesterday, however, I found some wonderful new Repro Vintage Butterick patterns. This first I am so excited about. I have been trying to find a top and pencil skirt pattern like this for some time.butterick5557new HERE they are in the Corner Store if you are interested. And HERE as well.
When looking up the number of the pattern to get the image to share with you, the original Butterick 5557 showed up.
Butterick5557oldIsn’t this one darling. I would love to own this pattern because look how easy the sleeveless number looks to make. Here it is done in the Butterick Pattern Book for Spring 1951.oldbutterick51 butterick5556new I also purchased this one. I have been trying to find a dress like this with the Dolman sleeve cut into the bodice (as opposed to the sleeve being cut separate and set in and sewn to the bodice). I am not sure which of these two I will use for this month’s dress.
I also got this darling coat pattern.butterick4928 I have never attempted a coat, but this said it was  a very easy. When I checked it out, these are also a dolman sleeve and this swing coat is simply Two pieces cut with darts on the front shoulders and pockets applied to the outside! I am not sure if I will make a coat now for winter, but a Spring coat in some heavy duck would be lovely, don’t you think?
Happy Sewing and Happy Homemaking.
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