Tuesday, March 29, 2011

29 March 1957 “The Little Woman At Home”

womanreading I recently have begun to consider how different my day has become in the past two and half years. What often seems normal to me now will sometimes suddenly become apparently alien to the majority of the United States: My being at home.

I am often so buy (even without children) just caring for my home, researching and writing my blog, that the days seem an almost homogenous bubble in which I exist. There was a time when driving everyday, dealing with traffic, or just dealing with more people in general in the city, was a normal part of my day. It can often seem odd, now, when I will stop in the middle of what I am doing and notice the quite.

I rarely listen to music for the majority of the day. I once always had some noise on: the TV, music, headphones and i-Pod. Now, when I do listen to music, it is an intentional act. Perhaps I might like it on if I am ironing in the kitchen or making breakfast (then I use my old-look radio that has a hidden CD player with old music/radio programs on it). I have become so ‘lazy’ about the need to constantly have new or different music that I realized that same CD has been in there since last Thanksgiving. I like the old songs sung by Ella and Louis, and ‘The Colgate Comedy Hour” which technically ended broadcast in 1955-so even in 1957 I can be an anachronism.

Sometimes, at my lunch time, I will take the time to put a record on. Again, I have had a Doris Day album on the turntable for some times and I simply play the same side. I compare this to the old modern me who found it normal to always be finding new artists bands and new songs. It makes me wonder, how the songs created by bands/ musicians now have to be assembly lined. Can there be a classis song from our time? Other than one or two pop songs that might infiltrate all levels of popular society, songs seem to be brought out and used so quickly. And of course then used in advertising, the other constant sound of the modern world.

Not having advertising in your life is a strange experience. Occasionally  I will click on a program such as HULU just to see what advertising is happening now. I am at first always taken by the noise! The sheer constant barrage of sound mingled in one commercial. The last time I did this, maybe two weeks ago, I made it through one commercial and it made my stomach turn. I can’t recall if it was for a service or the device, but there was a father watching a show on a large wall television, then he moves to his desktop computer. It turns into a cartoon and he removes the monitor (Which is apparently also like an eBook or something) and hands it to his children who were just begging for his attention. When he hands it to him (despite the fact he was oblivious to their needs prior) they suddenly go comatose and lose interest in the father and watch the show. Then the parents leave the child with a sitter.

There was also another similar commercial where shows for children went from TV, to computer to hand held devices to car seat monitors all with the idea that the child luckily is kept busy with his/her shows on the go. What about looking out the window? Or engaging one another in conversation (language skills and social skills are really learned at these early stages, with less and less actual human interaction but only faux magical online/TV interaction, how is this skewing children’s reality, I wondered?

Needless to say, I don’t do this very often. But I am always taken by the noise and sound. I even notice sometimes if I am visiting a friend who may have the TV on most of the time. There is this high pitched electric sound I was never really aware of before. You can hear it in spades in big box stores that sell electronics, I am sure (Though I have not been in a big box store in quite awhile either.)

When we lived in Boston it was normal to see the majority of passersby self-engaged with their i-Pods. I too would walk with my headphones in and it seemed normal. Yet, looking back, I can see that last bastion of community, the city, slowing removing its inhabitants to some pseudo-self world that allows you to carry yourself around to the exclusion of those around you. Less random conversations are started when a train full of people are staring into space with headphones or staring at little screens furiously typing away or talking on phones. The social engagement of people to people in person seems a fading possibility.

That is when I began to think of my own isolation here. Certainly I am trying to relive to a certain point the 1950’s homemaker’s life. There would have been those quiet at home moments, no TV or noise and just you and your thoughts. But, what there would also have been is houses and houses full of people doing what you were doing. And a relationship amongst those “little women at home”. A pop next door to borrow a cup of sugar. A shared ride with Betty because it was her day with the car, to go to bridge or marketing together. A chat over the fence or a chance encounter on the main and high streets of towns and villages and cities.

Sometimes I will walk to the end of our drive and look up and down our road. Look at all the houses and see them basically empty. Though we do live in an area of many retired people without jobs, they are often off at the shops and such. Our neighbors next door, a young couple, are almost never home. Their cars are their only indicator. I think sometimes in the summer I will see them together but most of the time they leave at different times, arrive home at different times and occasional share a ‘hello’ with me when they take their dog out briefly and return to the house and then are gone.

It is odd to me that the increased freedoms multiple cars, jobs for all, and endless entertainment has only seemed to produce more isolation in a way. Even when people are together they will stop in a conversation to answer a phone call or continue to ‘listen’ while typing away a text at the same time. Perhaps, it is just me and my own personal location that results in a sense of isolation. Perhaps many of you in other parts are constantly engaged in public situations and conversations, but being a vintage housewife in 2011 is rather like being on a deserted island sometimes. Not that I mind all that much. When I consider what is out there: the Noise, the traffic, the endless downturned heads and little screens, eyes not seeing, ears not hearing, and the constant movement. In many ways I am happy and consider myself lucky to be at home. Though I know many who have said it would “drive them crazy, all the quiet” and it makes me wonder, why? Why do we not want to stop and listen to ourselves. To have the solitary conversation or mull over ideas and thoughts alone. Even our alone time is taken up with music, emails, texts, and constant communication. Yet, in person, our communication is almost non existent. The 21st century seems a time of disparaging contrasts, doesn’t it. And, for me, I am not sure now how I can ever truly live IN it any longer. I am not really welcomed back in time, for all the housewives have gone on, and the modern world might as well be an alien culture to me.

Is it possible to get culture shock from your own culture?

How do any of  you, who are simply constantly modern, find the world different from even say 10 years ago? I’d love to hear.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

27 March 1957 “A Movie For A Sunday Starring Marilyn Monroe”

princeshowgirl This 1957 American film stars Marilyn Monroe and co-starring Laurence Olivier who also served as director and producer. Though the film will not be released until June of this year, I thought it would be a fun film to watch on this lazy Sunday here in the 1950’s.

Here is the trailer:

Though the movie is meant to take place in 1911, it is for all intents and purposes merely a 1950’s film parading as such. It is very Marilyn and very Hollywood. Her 1911 costumes are merely lovely 50’s evening dress, but what a fun film

I have the entire film on my Channel HERE. Simply scroll down under Classic Films and you will see the parts numbered (though number 3 is not numbered but they do appear in the side bar of the channel in order). So, have fun and enjoy this film on this quiet Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

26 March 1957 “Space Savers”

Following up on our guest blog organizing topic, I thought I’d share some more smart vintage storage solutions.

closetarticle1This article has some very good closet solutions. By simply building out a wasted corner in the bedroom storage is made. It would be a simple matter of some 2 x 4’s and molding and paint. This also adds, I think, more interest to the room. As the variation in the line of the wall gives architectural interest to a room, rather that the usual builders square many modern homes present to us.

The fact that they lined the inside with fabric that matches their chair is an easy and fun touch. Think what a great way to use that small amount of vintage fabric or single roll of vintage wall paper. You could also build out a corner like this, make the bottom a closed cupboard and the top open book/display shelves. Then you could like it with that vintage paper or fabric. Really, this is a doable DIY project for the homemaker, no need to put on a  “Honey Do” list here.

 closetarticle2 closetarticle3 The first section of this idea shows a hall closet. I love the idea of the inexpensive window shade to pull down to disguise perhaps not the prettiest storage on top shelf. Another use for vintage paper affixed to the shade! The closed box on the floor is for boots and things and the mirror in the door with little closed shelf would be great for even the tiniest apartment. It basically gives you the front hall even if you haven’t one. And we should have a place for keys and last minute touch ups at the door.

The second image shows another ingenious idea. How clever is this: A built shelf only 6 1/2 inches deep on piano hinges. So when you aren’t accessing it, it simply folds against the closet wall. This is great for anyone with a simply little square closet in a bedroom. It swivels out for great access and then just folds away. Shoes take up a considerable amount of space and the little spots for all your handbags and such. I think one could even make a little jewelry storage area as well. If someone is in a tiny one bedroom or even a studio apartment, what a great solution this would make. It almost could make one closet into three (With one on either side of the closet).

For the last shoe storage solution,  you wouldn’t even need a trip to IKEA. Any hardware store sells dowels. Simply angling wooden strips on your closet walls and drilling holes for the dowels and viola’ shoe storage where you want it!

kitchenhideawaytable I think this little hideaway table in my 1940’s homemaker’s manual is very clever. Though here presented as the perfect spot for the homemaker’s afternoon lunch, how great would this be for a ‘hideaway office’. Many of we modern people have laptops. If you have a small place or even just a corner somewhere and no room for  your own little office, what a great trade off. You could have a section of the kitchen or mudroom that could fold out like this for bill paying, online recreation and even part of a cabinet could be used to store your files of bills paid and other documents. Even a second drawer or shelf for small craft supplies for that impromptu moment of creativity that is easily cleaned up before hubby or children come home. I like this idea a lot!

kitchenstorage These kitchen storage ideas are very clever and I particularly like the center one. Simply taking out a space between wall studs (Usually 16 inches of space) one could make such a shelf. You could live it open storage or hand a gay vintage curtain over it. No room for a root cellar/basement storage for those home canned goods? Well, there you go! When we think about what we really need to make a day of food and clothes and entertainment and office time, we can see very little space can provide a lot. And, the more we make things streamlined and organized the LESS time it takes to clean it up and keep up with it. And for mother’s what a great lesson to a child, the lesson of organization and tight living. Especially as they will one day be at college and living in small spaces themselves most likely. Who needs IKEA?

I hope you enjoy these little ideas and share any of your own with us. Happy Homemaking.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

23 March 1957 “Guest Blog Sanne: Wardrobe & Closet Organizing”

I love having guest blogs. Sanne, our fellow Apronite and  past Apronite of the Month, has a wonderful post today about organizing one's wardrobe/closet. Great advice and wonderful organization.

Any others wishing to write a guest blog simply contact me by hitting the contact button the right and email me your idea or completed post. I know others have done so in the past and I have not got back, but I sometimes get quite a few emails, so if you have done so already and I haven't posted it or responded, please send it again. I do like to grow and share our community.

Now, grab that cuppa and sit back and enjoy, take it away Sanne:

Wardrobe Tips

Inspired by a comment to Donna (23 February) I thought I could write some tips about clothes and wardrobes.You will never hear me say that I have nothing to wear. I have tons to wear! My biggest problem is to choose. I admit it – I have lots of clothes, but it is not cheap made clothes, or lots of mistakes, or that I cannot sort out. I have a style – fifties – and I stick to it. When you have a style, you’ll love your clothes forever. I love all my clothes and I use all of it.

Another good thing is to stick to a colour scheme. Most people have a favourite colour or two, if these colours become you, stick to them. I love red and pink, but have a few things in green and purple. Add some basic colours, like black, grey, beige, and white. This way you can match everything, and feel your wardrobe is much bigger than it is. Everybody at my job thinks my wardrobe is the size of Carrie Bradshaw’s HUGE walk-in-closet, but it’s not. It’s a humble normal closet I share with both DH and son.


And yes, I really want to get rid of all the mirror fronts! DH has promised to make me new white doors when renovating the office.

A golden rule is that you should have more tops than skirts. The “Three Black Skirts are All You Need” is not a joke. You can do well with a few different classic skirts in a great basic colour (like black, but grey is also good) and a lot of different blouses … or cardigans, my absolute favorite. I have cardigans in ALL colours. Truly. I love them. They are SO versatile. During Winter I use them as blouses buttoned up, as twinsets with a matching top, or just over another blouse to keep warm. During Summer I use them instead of a Summer jacket. And they always look nice over a dress.

Building a wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive. I love visiting charity shops, you often have to go through a lot of bad things, but then you’ll sometimes find a treasure for almost nothing. Do also visit flea markets and street sales. Remember when thrifting that e.g. changing the buttons on a blouse of shortening a skirt can make a huge different. When I see a rack of discounted clothes, I always go through it. Often a goodie is hidden among the other unusable stuff. H&M (in Denmark at least) is good for basic things, and I think their quality is pretty good. I have VERY old things in my wardrobe, but I still get compliments when wearing it. Changing-clothes-parties are also a good and fun idea.

Order is always a good thing – also in your closet. I sort everything in colours, then I sort e.g. blouses in stacks with short sleeves and long sleeves. If I decide on a skirt then it takes me seconds to find a matching blouse. I also sort my clothes in seasons - during Summer the Winter stacks are behind the Summer stacks and reverse. This way I don’t have to go through e.g. Winter blouses during Summer, the clothes I have to choose from are the right season.

wardrobe2 wardrobe3

Here you see stacks of white, red, purple/plum, and rose/pink and in the second photo there are green, black/ grey and at the button there are training shirts and jeans and a few very warm jackets and my only two pairs of jeans (at the bottom, since they are never used, ha).

I season swap at the beginning of a season, and when I swap my clothes I also think of what I have been wearing and what I have not been wearing. A tip is to stand in front of your closet wearing only underwear, so if you think “Why haven’t I been wearing this skirt?” – try it on and look in the mirror. Often you’ll find out why you haven’t been wearing it – it doesn’t feel right, or it doesn’t become your figure. Give it to charity. If you have e.g. a skirt with absolutely no matching tops, you could either give it to charity or go hunt for matching tops. But first ask yourself if you truly love the skirt in question.

Your closet should only contain clean clothes! No exceptions! If you have worn a blouse and there is just a hint of sweat or perfume - don’t put it back into the closet. All your clothes will soon start to smell. But you don’t have to wash everything every day - air it outside on a hanger. Or hang clothes you can use again behind a door. Your closet should also only contain wearable clothes, if it doesn’t fit you, give it to charity or hang it in another closet (or bags) in e.g. the basement, don’t mix it with your wearable clothes. Wearable also means ironed and repaired. Being tired and busy in the morning, you don’t want to iron or sew in buttons or repair seams. You could also decide what to wear in the evenings. I do this, because I’m not a morning person. This way there is no more morning panic.


This is all my hanging clothes (sons shirts and ties at the left), and it is both Summer and Winter clothes. My shoes at the bottom stand on a rack, on the floor and a few in boxes at the right. These are my daily shoes, season and party shoes are in a closet in the basement.

Shoes! I LOVE them, and I have LOTS of shoes! Also many vintage (LINK: http://www.samati.dk/fotos/sko_uk.htm). Shoes are a question of temper, you can have many matching every colour shade in your wardrobe, or you can have a few in good basic colours. Your choice. If you only have a few, do buy good quality. Your feet and your economy will love you for it.

Jewellery and accessories. I’ve written about jewellery before (LINK: http://my50syear.blogspot.com/2011/01/19-january-1957-guest-blog-sanne.html). And please don’t say “What has this to do with my wardrobe?”.

It has a lot to do with your wardrobe. You can have few classic items in your wardrobe and spice them up or down with jewelry and accessories. A few matching clip earrings, bracelets, pins and necklaces will make a HUGE different on your appearance. Purses/bags – do keep them seasonal, at least. One for Summer and one for Winter use. And do also have a few lovely purses or clutches for formal wear. You will look much more elegant.

If you have other wardrobe tips, please do share them! :)





Monday, March 21, 2011

21 March 1957 “Think Pink: Madison Avenue to Beatniks”

AHfunnyface  The 1957 Film Funny Face staring Audrey Hepburn is such a good example of this pivotal year.

This movie shows how we are on that pivotal point, here in 1957, between the glamour and bright plastic world that began after WWII and edging our way into the black sleek smoke filled rooms of Beatniks.

The contrast between the sultry questioning loner of the Beatnik is even contrasted with the brash ‘devil may care’ big band sound in this modern dance Audrey portrays. The slinky bass notes and modern Martha Graham jerking movements contrast the big brass explosion of the very Hollywood synchronized dancing.

Even the characters portray the changing attitude of my times here in the 1950’s. The ever growing big Madison Avenue NYC world of Fashion and Magazines in Technicolor contrasted with the quiet scholastic modern Audrey who has a mind of her own and sees through it all. ahwedding The eventual marriage of the two main stars is, in a sense, a marriage of these two worlds. Many feminists might point out that despite the hints of ‘freedom’ of the female character, she is still only happy when she is frothed in creamy white and married to the ‘man’ at the end. Yet, we must remember, that most people do want an outcome of being in a long term relationship. The very notion that denying a natural outcome is both juvenile and really besides the point. To me, this movie, this year 1957, really is the edge of the crevasse which will stretch before us of the coming 1960’s.

Now some photos from the lovely fashions of the movie.ahhat AHballoondress AHfishingsuit ahpink

AHfunnyface2 Even Audrey Hepburn’s beatnik-esque attire of all black slim clothes and flats ( a look now synonymous with Hebpurn herself) is the portrayal of the two worlds of big showy Madison Avenue  extravaganza star mingled with the trouser wearing black coffee drinking Beatniks increasingly becoming frustrated with their countries move towards more SHOW than Substance. Now, don’t get me wrong I love the old Hollywood films and their over the top dance numbers and color to me make them Art. Performance and Design combined. I would rather see a streaming loop of these on a museum wall than what passes for ‘performance art’ now a days. But, still, the point those Beatniks were coming to see, the sale of their country to the big company over the ‘little guy’ is starting to feel more real to me. Of course, had they not become so dependent on the growing drug culture and segway into what the Hippy movement became, I wonder if they could have taken a more scholarly ‘high road’ attempt at standing up for what America was before the war. We shall never know, now of course.

But, I wonder, here in my little middle class housewife role, happy in my home and garden, would the works of the Beatniks cross my path? Would I, in tandem to them, begin to wonder myself ‘what was happening to this country we fought for’ while I watch myself set aside canning, growing my own, and being more a part of the world in lieu of the ease of the supermarket, the man made machine that helps me but eats up electricity and gas? I don’t know. I wonder about this more and more as my time here passes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

18 March 1957 “Child’s Closet and Room For Sewing”

Just a quick post today showing two ideas for storage from one of my vintage homemaking manuals.

childscloset Here we see a great layout for a child’s closet. This would be wonderful for an adult as well, or even for the laundry room.

sewingroom Here we see all one really needs for sewing neatly packed into a closet. When put away the sewing machine and bench look simply like furniture. There is even room for the dressmakers dummy. I also like the drawers in graduated sizes for patterns, notions and fabric.

How many of us need more organization in our life? I know I do. I have done much more than I have before 1955, but it is always an ongoing project. Any good organizing tips?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

17 March 1957 “Happy St. Patrick’s Day”

southboston50s[2] Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the 1950’s. Here is an image of young Irish American boys in South Boston (a mainly Irish area at the time) enjoying the day.

HERE is last years (1956) St. Patrick’s Day post, I thought I would simply revisit today. It was such a lovely day out (60 F) that I spent my ‘computer time’ out in the yard.

Enjoy any Green Beer, Green clothes or pinches you might receive today!

Monday, March 14, 2011

14 March 1957 “Our Towns and Public Transportation”

It seems that every time I innocently find an interesting topic, such as the beginning of the strip mall, I find myself going down an unexpected path. With the continued information I kept finding on the dismantling of tram and public trains I realized they were electric trains. I then found out that even California, where cars are so important, once had an electric tram public transportation system.

tramspileThis photo from last year for me (1956) shows  an increasing pile of Pacific Electric Railway streetcars stacked at a junkyard on Terminal Island.

horsetram In the 19th century train lines were set and cities and towns had public trams powered by horses, as seen here in New Hampshire. As electricity became more prevalent, these systems were made over to electric trams and trains.

“At one time, nearly every city in the U.S. with population over 10,000 had at least one streetcar company and nearly all of which were privately owned and were later dismantled. Bradford Snell estimates that in 1920 90% of all trips were by rail using 1,200 separate electric street and interurban railways with 44,000 miles of track, 300,000 employees, 15 billion annual passengers, and $1 billion in income.”

What is interesting here is that at this time the street cars and even the electricity supplied to them were small business owned by locals in a community. One was getting the lines and the power from local businessmen they would see in their community. This allowed easy and inexpensive transportation for the poor and working middle classes as well as jobs and money directly to THAT town or community.

apsloane In 1922 the then head of General Motors (GM), Alfred P. Sloane, established a unit in the GM corporation to ‘replace America’s electric trams and trains with buses, trucks, and cars made by them’.

In 1926 John D. Hertz (yes eventually Hertz rent a car) formed the “The Omnibus Corporation”. This company owned the Chicago Motor Coach Company and the Fifth Avenue Coach Company in New York. “Hertz was made a board member of GM the next year when GM acquired a controlling share of the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company, a very successful bus and coach manufacturer which Hertz had founded in 1923.”

Now I started to see all these movements of a few people intentionally setting themselves up to take away the local business of electric tram systems.

In 1941, Pacific City Lines attempted a hostile takeover of the Key System which operated electric trains and streetcars in Oakland, California. This was not public knowledge until 1955!

1946 E. Jay Quimby put out a message to let people know what was happening to their affordable locally controlled public transport by the owners of the National City Lines (GM, Firestone and Phillips Petroleum). It read:

 TO: The Mayors; The City Manager; The City Transit Engineer; The members of The Committee on Mass-Transportation and The Tax-Payers and The Riding Citizens of Your Community." It began, "This is an urgent warning to each and every one of you that there is a careful, deliberately planned campaign to swindle you out of your most important and valuable public utilities–your Electric Railway System"

I had no idea that prior to all our highways we just take for granted (which were installed in the 1950’s) that an entire country of public transportation was available even in smaller towns. And that that same transportation was small business owned and maintained by that community as well as being allowed to have local small business control the electric power as well!

By the end of the 1940’s and into the 1950’s these few corporations that had been allowed to literally strip the towns and cities of their own business finally were brought up on monopoly charges.

In 1949, Firestone Tire, Standard oil of California, Phillips Petroleum, General Motors and Mack Trucks were convicted of conspiring to monopolize the sale of buses and related products to local transit companies controlled by National City Lines and other companies; they were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the ownership of these companies. The verdicts were upheld on appeal in 1951. The corporations involved were fined only $5000. In addition, the jury convicted H.C. Grossman, who was then treasurer of General Motors. Grossman had played a key role in the motorization campaigns and had served as a director of PCL when that company undertook the dismantlement of the $100 million Pacific Electric system. The court fined Grossman the magnanimous sum of $1 [Yes only one dollar!].

According to Bradford Snell, GM's own testimony had shown that by the mid-1950s, GM and its agents had canvassed more than 1,000 electric railways and had motorized 90 percent, more than 900 systems. The struggling Pacific Electric Railway was purchased by Metropolitan Coach Lines in 1953. Jesse Haugh, who ran Metropolitan Coach Lines, had also bought San Diego Electric Railway though a separate company in 1948 and was a former executive of Pacific City Lines. The remaining streetcars converted to buses in the next two years.

The remains of the Pacific Electric Railway and of the Los Angeles Railway were taken into public ownership in 1958 and continued to replace streetcars with buses.

I have to say, this again was an innocent enough discovery at first. And really, one of the reasons I did not post yesterday, was because I spend the day really discussing this with hubby. I just couldn’t believe that we , now here in 2011 facing increasing gas prices and oil debates that are tearing the country apart as well as controlling the jobs and purse strings of entire states, took away our easy electric transportation.

Even our own area, Cape Cod, had a rail system (though it was not electric) that ran from Boston to every town on the Cape. In the late 1970’s these tracks were all pulled up and replaced with the “Cape Cod Rail Trail” literally a place to ride our bikes. It is used very little compared to the ability of the small towns that dot our little island having easy and cheap access to the other towns for shopping and to jobs off cape without the expense of the car or gas!

Again I find my innocent little sojourn into time travel; a trip that was to be of petticoats and funny jello salads, uncovering more and more lies told to we, the real people OF this country, by the few who had the most money.

When I consider the jobs and growing industry that could have been made by the electric power being a ‘small local business’ as well as affordable public transport (no worries of high gas prices or car insurance or repair or traffic jams!) It infuriates me.

I have also got to the point where if one wishes to debate this side or that, I simply don’t see it. There are no real sides as this point. We simply have been duped and both sides of the political aisle are the same. Some argue over the import of the oil business in their state and if that business left the state they would be without jobs. Well, why did we allow one industry to SO control one entire state that its decisions or whims of government could put an entire group of people in or out of the poor house? We have no LOCAL buisinss, industry or transportation. How have we got here in only 60 years!

Now, when I see and read things daily from my time (1957) I just see how ever closer we are approaching the modern 21st century world and how easily we let it all slip away. Really, sometimes, I begin to wonder what we can do. I wonder if the scales HAVE tipped to far and the hope of ‘voting with our dollars’ or ‘voting in the right person’ is simply a false hope set about to keep us ignorant to the reality of our country.

Look at the economic collapse and the eventual bail out of large private Banks with Public money, while the low end workers of those same companies lost all their 401K and savings for retirement? And, this is not a Democrat or Republican thing, it is merely that we have, over the past 60 years, simply let a few larger business grow to monopolies that joined together and literally altered and controlled all the states in our Union.

It is rather upsetting, to say the least. One may call me crazy or an conspiracy theorist, except I am simply state actual facts that are easily accessed in history books, legal documents and online.

I don’t want this to be a negative. I was rather excited to hear about our various local towns and villages. And I was happy to see some of you had lovely towns and good things to say. I think maybe we can focus on what is right in those towns and think about how we could copy that in our own. But, have we gone too far? Do you think there are answers or do you even think there are problems?

Let’s discuss this and maybe I will be cheered up with your words of encouragement or even your calling me a silly ninny. I wish the facts weren’t true and that we were more in control of our own country from the small towns up, but I feel more and more a puppet of my own country.

Who wants to cheer me up?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 March 1957 “The American Strip Mall and Tell Us About Your Area”

57stripmall This is a wonderful shot of these two ladies ready to shop at their local strip mall in New York really describes the changing landscape here in 1950’s America. The main streets, though still rather busy, are now merely an accompaniment to the strip mall.

stripmall With the automobile’s growth, the increase of roads and the growth of the suburb, America post WWII radically changed. The quick hop down town on a bike or the bus to the local market was being replaced with “Cars for everyone”. A growing middle class, increased wages and the chance for anyone to really own a car now.teenwithjalopy Consider the 1950’s teenager who has the ‘old’ cars of the 20’s as his first car. His parent’s generation didn’t have this in the same number and certainly not his grandparents.

50sdowntown Though the downtown was still the place to be and many shops existed there, the spreading out of families into ever increasing suburbs naturally lead to the strip mall. It was the solution to the increasing congestion of traffic in downtowns. By placing large parking spaces in front, more shoppers could easily park and shop.

1936trolleylines Even much used tram lines were paved over to make more room for cars. Therefore, those who did not have them virtually lost their forms of public transportation, except the buses. They were recently discovered by digging utility workers. uncoveredtrolleylines

Now, I am not certain if this is only a particular American situation. I know we simply had the money and the land post WWII that our allies did not. And we also have no real sense of history as far as preserving historical buildings that Europe enjoys.

schuylermansionFor example, this mansion in Schenectady NY, the Schuyler-Standford Mansion built in the 1760’s, is being torn down to make room for a new strip mall.schylermansion2

I am very curious for any of my international followers to chime in here: What country do you live in and do you have strip malls, did they evolve and how did they affect your downtowns and public transportation.

Now for my American readers: How lively are the strip malls in your area of the USA and are they easy to get to only by car or are there bus services as well. How is your downtown area, if you still have one?

I really am curious to know and I think it will be fun to find out, don’t you?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

8 March 1957 “Being Green 1950’s Style: or Common Sense”

solar article 2solar article 1I wanted to share this article again. It is from one of my 1940’s magazines discussing the importance of using the sun to aid in heating. It was written during the war years when we were more conscious of money and spending and saving.

I thought I’d just share a few things that were fairly normal in the past that would be considered green today. Really, just common sense and with the thought of thrift and the future. This idea of ‘saving’ or thinking ahead or even planning for the future often seems an alien idea in modern society.

earlyamericanglass[3]Many people of old saved their glass jars. When one purchased something, it was often washed out and used again. If you were poor or furgal enough, there were many jam jars used as water glasses. In the 1950’s they even packaged things in a specifically reusable package.

Though many things were kept and repurposed rather than thrown out. And almost nothing came in plastic, so a good reusable sturdy glass jar with a good lid was valued.

cinnamonshaker1Here is a vintage spice jar I use to hold my cinnamon sugar. I was surprised to see one can buy throwaway plastic containers of pre-mixed cinnamon sugar. Now, that’s pretty lazy to not be able to scoop your cinnamon and sugar together and give a little shake.  glassjars Here are some modern uses of glass jars. jarsshelf  This lovely craft rooms takes advantage of old rulers as decoration and it is still a usable measure, if one holds things such as fabric up to it.

You can also unify jars by painting the lids a single color, making varying sizes and shapes ‘go together’. Also it is easy enough to make up vintage labels for these using vintage clip art or old cards and magazines. Such as this clever crafter did here using old vintage button cards as labels.buttonjars


 50sfamilyatdinnerSomething as simple as using cloth/linen napkins saves so much waste and saves on the pocket book as well. I use a napkin more than once and they all get laundered on Monday with my other things. I save money and make less garbage AND feel like my dinner is special. Here you can see mother has her cloth napkin on her lap.

clothnapkins Vintage napkins are so beautiful and really come in so many forms are are SO inexpensive, why not try it out.tealfolkteatowel  Even vintage tea towels/kitchen towels are far prettier and can still be used to wipe hands in the kitchen in lieu of napkins. I use old tattered bath towels cut down and hemmed as my ‘hard duty’ wipe up kitchen towels. It is even better if they are white because they bleach easily enough or come clean if put in boiling water with some soda and left to soak overnight.

womanatsink Did you know that boiling water converts baking soda to sodium carbonate? Why do you care? Well, it’s a great old-fashioned way to clean out the drain: Put One cup of baking soda down the drain and then pour Three cups of boiling water after. This is a great drain cleaner. draincleanerad Though many pre-made products were available in the 1950’s many a frugal homemaker knew these ‘old’ tricks from Mother or Grandmother, or gleaned their skills at the now vanished Home Economics classes.

womanwashinghair Washing your hair in the sink was a very standard procedure in the 1950’s. In fact, the old joke was to get out of a date one would say, “Oh, I can’t go out tonight, I am staying in and washing my hair”.  A 10 minute shower uses between 25-50 gallons of water (depending on shower head which ranges from 2.5-5 gallons per minute). Consider how a once a week bath was replaced by daily showering and hair washing.

It actually is better for you hair not to be washed daily. If your hair is more oil, 2-3 times a week is better. I have ‘normal’ hair, in that I wash my hair usually Friday night and set it for the week. When I shower during the week (some days I simply do a ‘sink wash’) I wear a shower cap. This would have been the more usual water consumption in the 1950’s household.

There are so many easy things we can do to live a more vintage life and in so doing have the happy by-product of ‘being green’ or, as they called it, Common sense and purse sense. After all a penny saved IS a penny earned.

Check your pantry/cupboards now and see if you have product that is ready to be emptied and see if the jar/container could be used for another purpose than the garbage.

Happy Homemaking.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

5 March 1957 “50 Years of Women’s Silhouette”

I thought it would be fun to see the change in women’s fashion silhouette over the past 50 years (1907-57). I have done this before in JULY 1955 HERE.

As a light and fun weekend pictorial I thought we could take that journey again:

First up 1907: The “S” curve shape and the corset has reached its pinnacle of contortion before disappearing somewhat during the first world War years. Corsets were worn in the teens, but they were more of a chemise and in fact much less constrictive than the 1950’s girdle. The waist line also received a combination of natural waist in the back scooping to a lower waist in front, all very held in a lower hip hugging corset. 

1907 1907suit 1907ladies

1917: Here we can see that the corset is almost not needed. This was probably one of the most relaxed silhouettes for women. You can see that an almost ‘large middle’ was encouraged. A heavier girl could easily hid her flaws during this period.

1917 This is the more high fashion look at it1917fashion2 While these 1917 shirtwaists and skirts would require a corset (though not as strict as 10 years earlier) The waist was raised from the 1907 lowered front and raised back look of the “S” curve.

1927: many people think 1920’s = short skirt. But it wasn’t until 1925 that the skirt actually reached above the knee. It then immediately began its descent down again. So, here by 1927 we see it just below the knee.

1927golfoutfit 1927fashion

1937: And now 10 years later the hemline has migrated back down mid-calf, almost to the NEW LOOK length. Of course Dior has another 10 years and a war to get through before the look is found. Now the waist is gone and the dropped waist is des rigueur. The straighter boyish silhouette was murder for the fuller figure woman (who would have been the epitome of fashion in 1907) and she often wore a corset type garment that flattened her breasts and padded her middle to match her hips to give a straighter line.

1937 Model, leaning on a square pedestal with white drapery hanging from poles behind her, wearing a dark wool, long jacketed suit with large, figurine buttons, by Schiaparelli, and a black Merry Widow felt hat, inspired by the costumes of Mae West's new film Here you can see the shoulder pad beginning to be introduced and it became very military in look during the war years. You do notice in the 1930’s that the waist has traveled up a bit almost to the 1917 position.

1947: Now the war has ended (and during the war years the skirt climbed back up to knee length due to shortages more than fashion). So the New Look celebrated the new abundance with a sloped shoulder and tighter natural waist and full skirt.

1947diro Though many women did not like the longer skirt length and on average a 1947 woman would still be dressed very ‘1940s’ Joan Crawford look.mccalls1947 But the new look of longer skirt was definitely being embraced as well as can be seen in this 47 Butterick pattern book.

1957: Now as we are approaching the end of the 1950’s we still have the full skirt, dolman sleeve look of the mid 50’s as can be seen in these Speigal dresses.57 

ChristianDior1957 And Dior’s look had moved up the hemline and created the look of the 3/4 sleeve. An almost abridged version of his 1947 New Look 10 years earlier.

 LaurenBacall1957 But, here Lauren Bacall in 1957 is demonstrating the new dropped waist and straighter look that the early 1960’s will run parallel to the full skirted look.

When you consider the change in the past 50 years there have been changes but not to the level and distortion the first 5 decades of the 20th century showed.

What is your favorite period out of these presented? What is your favorite fashion period of any time?

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