Monday, October 31, 2011

31 October 1957 “The Halloween Party”

50shalloween2  Well, it is Halloween today. Though we celebrated with our Halloween Cocktail party four days ago. I hope you enjoy today’s spooky treats and treasures.

I am sorry it took me these three days to get this post about our party up. The tail end of October has just got away from me for some reason. Maybe it is my day-dreaming of the up coming Christmas season, which I always love and greatly anticipate.

I was a bad blogger and did not get as many photos as I planned of our guests. There were many wonderful costumes. Here is hubby and myself as the “Spirits of the Jazz Age”

party1 party5 Hubby in his coattail tuxedo and I in an early 1920’s rendition of a Jazz baby. Though you can’t see it very well in these pics, the beads hanging from my headpiece are actual vintage beads from my husbands great Grandmother. I am lucky to have a few such treasures saved from old clothing from the Edwardian and into the 1920’s from various family who thought it wise to clip and save bits of old beads and trim from outmoded and worn out dresses.

 party3 Here we are at the piano. My fan is also vintage 1920’s black silk.

party4Here my good friend took our theme of ‘fancy dress’ costuming and went as an ‘owl’. I like costumes that are themes but more ‘evening wear’ with a nod to an idea. victorianfancydressbutterfly Such as this Victorian fancy dress costume of a butterfly. One still wears evening clothes but with a nod to the costume, here butterfly wings and insert panels into the dress similar to the patterns on a butterfly wing.

Though we had a fair share of other such costumes. Here a friend came as her interpretation of a Starbuck’s Latte and another friend with her as a Gypsy.party14 I unfortunately did not get photos of all our guests. I am always faced with the conundrum of very meticulously documenting my life verses simply living and enjoying it. I am rather apt to choose the latter and forget the camera all together.


party10 Here is a photo of the table. Not everything was set up at this shot, but you can see the general feel. My lovely punch bowl in the middle was a gift this year from Gussie for my birthday. My birthday is in November but she said she couldn’t wait as it was so perfect for our party. She was right.

party11 My friend brought these darling little bag rings which we placed as favors on the cups and I think they look simply darling.

party6 party7 Everyone loves a good brownie. And I as I was making candy anyway, I found these darling skeleton molds. The brownies become little graves with delicate peppermint scented white chocolate deadlies sneaking out. I thought they looked ‘haunted house’ sinister presented on my old Victorian Transferware  Severn Platter.

This recipe HERE for brownies is what I often use and find it really easy and good. I always sprinkle a bit of chocolate pieces into the mix before baking. And as I was making candy that day, I had scrapings leftover and into the mix they went.

party8I adore old fashioned cake doughnuts. And this time of year, cider and cinnamon doughnuts are a sort of tradition. It always makes me feel such a part of a New England Autumn. This is the recipe I used for these and they are very easy to make and wonderful warm from the fryer or even two days later! I always find that a cake doughnut ages better than a yeast raised.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup  melted butter
  • 1 cup milk or  1/2 milk and 1/2 cup cream
  • 4 cups flour and a touch more to handle dough
  • oil or lard for frying
  • cinnamon sugar

  • Mix all dry ingredients with a whisk to blend. Add wet ingredients (melted butter, eggs, milk/cream) and mix well

    Next add the flour and mix with wooden spoon or flour covered hands. If the dough feels too sticky, add up to another 1/2 cup or so of flour.

    Roll into ball (don’t over handle) cover and but in ice box for at least an hour. I prefer to make it the day before. And any leftover dough can be refrigerated for up to a week. Or keep some made up in the freezer for a few months at a time.

    Let stand for 20 minutes out of ice box, roll out on floured or marble surface and cut with doughnut cutter.

    Your hot oil should be about 360F. I always test with a donut hole first. Let it brown and turn a few times if you need to. When it is done inside in under 3 minutes, it is the right temperature.

    Drain and shake in a bag of cinnamon sugar mixture or confectioners sugar. Delicious!

    party9  These darling little candies were simply made by melting chocolates and using a little mold. The mold was designed to hold an Oreo sized cookie. I put a Christmas themed one HERE in the corner store. They are around $5 and are rather fun. I used white chocolate for the white and green and regular chocolate (milk) for the darker. I flavored the chocolate with peppermint, as I really love mint and chocolate. Though that would probably be better for a Christmas party, there were no complaints and the plate was soon emptied!

    party12 One of our guests makes incredible cakes. She delighted us all with this scary confection. It was home-made red velvet cake and homemade raspberry jam ‘blood’. He was rather scary but Very tasty.

     punch We had many beverages and cocktails, but in the center was our 'spooky punch’. It was made with strawberry daiquiri fixings (smashed up strawberries and sugar) and orange juice and ginger ale to make it bubble away. The scary ‘Goblin skin’ is simply scoops of lime sorbet. It was made without alcohol so those quests who don’t drink could enjoy it and those who wanted to could spike it with some white rum. You can also see a delicious bowl of peanut butter caramel corn home-made by one of my guests. I am lucky that my guests always see fit to bring such wonderfully made things to my parties, I am lucky in that.

    I am going to close with these fun Halloween ideas from the vintage cookbook Holiday Cookbook.

    halloweencookbook1 halloweencookbook2

    Enjoy and Happy Homemaking.

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    30 October 1957 "A Quick Note"

    I find myself a bit busy today and want to apologize for no post. I shall return, but rather lost track of time.

    I hope all are well and becoming excited for the approaching holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Happy Homemaking.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    27 October 1957 “A Halloween Cocktail Party”

    Betty Crocker Boys & Girls CookbookI am hosting a Halloween cocktail party this evening. We will have cocktail punch, finger foods and nibbles. It is, of course, a fancy dress or costume party. Hubby and I are going as “The Spirit of Jazz”. I will try to get at least one photograph of us and other guests.

    I thought I would share these fun vintage Halloween treats from the Betty Crocker Boys n Girls cookbook. The Fun pumpkin Cake up top is so simple yet so fun.

    Betty Crocker Boys & Girls CookbookHere are the instructions for the Jack-O-lantern Cake. And some simply ‘Black Cat Cookies’. Betty Crocker Boys & Girls CookbookBetty Crocker Boys & Girls Cookbook

    1912Halloween I have always love the early 20th century Halloween images, such as this postcard. And have been equally as fascinated by the ‘Vegetable Man’ one oft sees depicted.vegman Such as this Halloween clockwork vegetable man, painted papier mache. He is 16 inches tall and valued at $16,520. pumpkinmen These menacing pumpkin men have zucchini and squash for appendages. vegman2 Another early Papier Mache’ Vegetable man figurine, this time with a potato body and a Bobby’s cap. His head is removable and is meant to hold candy. This veggie man stands 9 1/2 inches tall and is valued between $3,000-$5,000.

    irishturnip Here is a carved Irish turnip from the early 20th century.

    “Throughout Ireland and Britain, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or rutabaga. The turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the larger native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips.

    While turnips have always been used in Ireland, lanterns in Scotland were originally fashioned from the thick stem of a cabbage plant, and were called "kail-runt torches". It was not until 1837 that jack-o'-lantern appeared as a term for a carved vegetable lantern, and the carved pumpkin lantern association with Halloween is recorded in 1866.

    In the United States, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween. In 1900, an article on Thanksgiving entertaining recommended a lit jack-o'-lantern as part of the festivities. The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born in 1807, wrote "The Pumpkin" (1850):

    “Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling,

    When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!

    When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
    Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!”

    The carved vegetable man has many variations to its story. He is often referred to as ‘Jack’. An Irish tale tells that Jack (usually a smart farmer or land worker) tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree, and once he was up there Jack quickly placed crosses around the trunk or carved a cross into the bark, so that the Devil couldn't get down.

    “Another version of the story says that Jack was getting chased by some villagers from whom he had stolen, when he met the Devil, who claimed it was time for him to die. However, the thief stalled his death by tempting the Devil with a chance to bedevil the church-going villagers chasing him. Jack told the Devil to turn into a coin with which he would pay for the stolen goods (the Devil could take on any shape he wanted); later, when the coin/Devil disappeared, the Christian villagers would fight over who had stolen it. The Devil agreed to this plan. He turned himself into a silver coin and jumped into Jack's wallet, only to find himself next to a cross Jack had also picked up in the village. Jack had closed the wallet tight, and the cross stripped the Devil of his powers; and so he was trapped.”

    “The term jack-o'-lantern originally meant a night watchman, or man with a lantern, with the earliest known use in the 1660s in East Anglia; and later, meaning an ignis fatuus or will-o'-the-wisp. In Newfoundland and Labrador, both names "Jacky Lantern" and "Jack the Lantern" refer to the will-o'-the-wisp concept rather than the pumpkin carving aspect.”

    Any way you slice it ( pun intended), late season vegetables played a major role in the lives of early people. Often with the idea of chasing away bad or celebrating good harvest. 

    I hope you have fun carving your pumpkins or setting up your own Vegetable Man. Halloween is a fun time to dress up, celebrate friends and eat far too many treats.

    Happy Homemaking.


    Monday, October 24, 2011

    24 October 1957 “12 Personal Diets for Better Health from 1954”

    I thought today I would share with you these interesting diet plans from one of my vintage magazines. This outlines the proper amount of calories and what type of food for those calories as well as sex and age in considering the diets provided.

    Here are the four crucial things this article claims will result from these diet outlines.

    1. They lower the total number of calories that should be consumed by healthy normally active Americans.
    2. They give physicians a new basis for regulating your food intake.
    3. If you are overweight they will shed your excess poundage surely and sagely.
    4. If you are underweight, they will help you gain the missing pounds you need.

    “Once you have made up your  mind that good nutrition is worth while, there is only one dieting secret to learn: Food is the fuel your body burns. If you take in more fuel than your body needs, you will store it it the form of fat. If you take in less,  you burn stored-up fat.”

    I love that last paragraph. So simple and straightforward. None of this modern ‘Diet Secrets” and “Hollywood Secret Diet Plans”. Simply stated, eating more than you burn results in fat storage. Burning excess comes from exercise and eating less than you need drops the pounds. Though, even with this knowledge, it can be hard. I still struggle with my weight and would love to shed some pounds.

    Here are the plans which are outlined by Sex and age. To add, the substitutions to this are the following.

    1. small serving meat is 2-3 ounces
    2. Medium serving meat is  4 ounces
    3. Large serving Meat is 6 ounces
    4. Fish, fowl, cheese or eggs may be substituted  for meat.
    5. Spaghetti, grist, potato, rice, starchy beans (Lima, Kidney and Navy beans), Noodles and Macaroni may be substituted for Bread and Are interchangeable with one another.

    12diet1 12diet3

    12diet2 12diet4

    Enjoy these and let me know what you think of them. Obviously never start a diet plan without consulting a doctor, but such guides as these are really a boon to the Homemaker, as they help in planning meals and shopping for the ingredients and list making.

    Happy Homemaking.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    21 October 1957 “Dressing Vintage & an Easy Skirt”

    I recently received to fun comments that I thought I would address in this post. Fellow Apronites asked:

    “50s Gal,
    I adore your blog, it's such a kick! I am wondering if you & your husband still dress in 50s costume, on a daily basis, as you did as you did when you began this blog? Do you still roll play the 1950s at home? Or do you now just post about the way that you wish things were?
    It must be such fun to have so much time to devote toward your project. What fun!

    Mrs. Walter Sinclair”


    “I was wondering the same thing. I imagine that it is challenging to be dressed in character all day; you must thrive on the attention. Wish I had the nerve to do it. Maybe on Halloween.


    Well, first off Yes, we do both dress 1950’s. Though to us, it is no longer costume. It is simply our way of dressing. Hubby doesn’t wear vintage pieces only (though some of his trousers were 1950’s pieces I found so those are ‘authentic). But, he wears trousers, button down oxford shirts over under shirts. He wears his pants at his natural waist (not the low rise of today) with a belt. He has many vintage styled socks, such as argyle, and his shoes are a variety of brogues, wingtips, loafers, and bucks. He has one pair of dungarees which he will sometimes where on a work in the yard day.

    My wardrobe is made up of some vintage pieces and many handmade pieces made by myself. As I am tall and fuller figured, to buy a vintage dress is often not an option. My wardrobe is still mainly skirts and dresses. And my shoes are vintage inspired as well. I often wear vintage hats.

    We recently biked with a new friend and she commented on how ‘dressed up’ we seemed and that I was riding my bike in a skirt. I didn’t notice until she pointed it out, but it is simply are ‘casual’ clothes. That is not to say we are in a tux and evening gown, but I have a good high calf length serviceable wool gored skirt and a cardigan on. Hubby was wearing khaki  trousers, button down oxford, loafers and a pork pie hat. We have no ‘insignia imprinted’ T-shirts or sweatshirts. This is simply ‘our normal’.

    To answer the second comment, I do not actually like attention. Luckily, for me, my little town is used to me. I ride my vintage bike in my skirt and the people I encounter at the tea shop, cafe, grocery store, antique store and other various town shops are used to me. I often will get, ‘You look lovely today, as usual’. Which makes me feel good, but I hardly look for attention.

    In fact, I recently was in contact with someone from a production company who produces reality shows. They were wanting to put together a show about people who live vintage, a reality show following people about. This is the farthest thing from what I would want. I would love to promote the lifestyle but to be on TV in any capacity is never anything I aspire to. It is too bad, as it could really be an almost fun move, but it is simply not what I want.

    Now, I often get many letters from ladies saying they wished they had the nerve to wear vintage clothes. Or that they would like to, but think they would not be comfortable. I counter by saying, as far as never goes, start small.

    Wear a vintage or vintage inspired skirt with a modern top and shoes. Another day wear a modern outfit but with a vintage hat and say scarf tied to your handbag. Another day, a vintage/vintage inspired top with modern trousers and vintage/or inspired shoes. After awhile, in this fashion, those around you will begin to see and probably comment, “oh she has such style”. This now gives you leave to dress as you like. Go full on vintage one day and they might be heard to say, “Oh, she can pull that off, she has such style anyway, I would be to afraid to try it.” And you can smile knowing how easily it was to slowly become that woman of style.

    To me, dressing vintage is no longer about complete period accuracy. I have always loved various time periods, Victorian, Edwardian, 1930/40s, and will often mix such styles now. I figure, were I a frugal gal of the 1950’s I would most likely still have serviceable pieces from the 1940’s anyway. And to have style is really just to have the basic drive to say, “Well, there is no specific look anymore, so why not just wear what I want”. We don’t want too many “I wish I had done that” at the end of the day, and our clothing is such a simple way to become more empowered.

    As someone who enjoys fashion and dressing now, it feels good and I honestly feel better when I am dressed. It is easy now, as anything I grab is vintage inspired, as I have bought no new clothes in three years unless they fit into the look I like. You can really build up a nice wardrobe with very little and with some very BASIC sewing skills.

    Today, then, I am going to share my latest creation. An elastic waist skirt. I feel this is very non-vintage specific. It can look anything from Victorian inspired right down to modern depending on how you wear it. And I wanted something easy to make that was as comfortable as modern clothes (i.e. track suits)

    Here it is:

    newskirt This skirt is very wearable. By wearing a comfortable cardigan that buttons tight to my waist, the elastic waist is not even visible, but what comfort. Though I am still wearing my girdle, it is my comfortable stretch girdle, no lacing or boning. This would work wither with a vintage foundation or not, depending on how you feel that day.

    As I forgot to photograph the easy step by step process, I thought I would just draw/Photoshop a basic diagram to make this skirt. It couldn’t be easier as the ruffle is put on BEFORE it becomes a tube, so easy pinning and sewing. And as the ruffle is doubled and sewn into a tube first, you are left with a nice finished hem BEFORE you sew it together.


    1. 3 yards of fabric (I used cotton)
    2. a length of elastic longer than your waist
    3. sewing machine or needle and thread
    4. an iron

    I took two yards (72 inches) for my width. I am a ‘fuller figured’ gal, so if one were a smaller size 60 inches might suffice. If you use more and you are thinner you will just have a fuller skirt, which is also quite nice. At this point the width of the fabric is just whatever it came as 45/60 in seems to be the standard here.


    Now depending how large you want the ruffle to be will determine the next step. I chose to cut my fabric just above my knee. Knowing, of course, that the final length would be greater than my knee with ruffle added.

    elasticskirt2 Now keep this excess and what I did was to take this excess and with my remainder fabric (One yard from the original 3 yard piece) I used it as a template for the Ruffle.

    Taking the left over yard, layout the strip cut off the bottom of the skirt piece. Cut as many of the same sized strips as you can get from the left over yard.


    Stitch this into one long piece. Then fold that piece over and sew. I forgot to sew with right sides together, but it didn’t matter as when you pin it to skirt the rough edge is hidden in the skirt. IF you do sew it right sides together (pattern facing itself) simply turn right side out when done and then press flat.elasticskirt4

    Next, take this long strip of pressed fabric and pin a basic pleat along the bottom of the skirt piece. Remember to keep the outside or right side of the fabric facing it. To be sure, after you pin, hold up and make sure you are pinning on the right side. The pins should be on the inside of skirt. You could also do a gather stitch along the long piece and attach as a gathered ruffle, but I wanted a pleated version this time.

    After pinning stitch to skirt. This is all done while fabric is flat so it couldn’t be easier to work with.


    Now take your elastic and wrap around your natural waist and pull it about 2 inches tighter (you don’t want it too loose). Remember this is going to hold the skirt up so make it tighter than you think you want it as it gives once it is on. Cut and that is the waist of your skirt.

    Now fold the top of your flat skirt piece over about 3” (wide enough to easily allow the elastic to pass through) and stitch close. Then take a safety pin and attach to your elastic and slide through that sewn waist line tube. Pin BOTH ends securely so it does not slip out.


    Next, pin skirt together (forming the tube shape of a skirt) starting with ruffled bottom, so skirt meets nicely at bottom.  Now sew this up ending at the waistline, being sure to really backstitch elastic ends for security. Now you are done and no hemming needed. elasticskirt7

    This skirt could easily be made in under an hour. And you could also gather the bottom ruffle piece rather than pleats for a different look. Very easy indeed.

    I am going to try a few varieties of elastic waist skirts such as gored and full and so on. I think it is an easy way to sew, get a vintage look and still have the comfort a modern gal (who is used to looser clothes) could still feel comfortable. I am determined to help all you gals who write to me saying you wish you could dress vintage but are afraid or worried it wont be comfortable. We can take more control of our lives and we can also infuse our daily lives, even when we are home alone seeing no one all day, with style. Remember we do it first for ourselves and let the worry of what others slide off our back. You will be surprised how quickly the fear of jibes turns to the joy of compliments.

    Happy Homemaking.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    19 October 1957 “The Adaptability of the Homemaker or Making Lemons into Lemonade”

    Ever since I began this project almost three years ago, I am still amazed at how one adapts. Just when you think, “How on earth is that going to work?” or “Well, that seems really inconvenient” you suddenly realize how you didn’t need as much or what you felt was ‘normal’ before.

    I often think of the Homemakers in the 1930’s Depression era or of the women and men of Wartime who suddenly saw their larders empty and their tummy grumbling. You simply had to deal with it and as you got on, by the end, when plenty returned you looked at it as almost a bit much at first. But, again, we are adaptable, so as easily as we go from plenty to naught and learn to scrimp and get by, when the market is flooded and cheap and ready is at our disposal we become fat and over extended in our bank accounts.

    For me, this latest adventure in ‘Seeing what you are made of and make do with what you have’ was in the case of my ice box. Let me first clarify, that I mean my refrigerator. I had a comment that seemed to wonder if I was indeed using an ice box which uses ice rather than electricity. I  began in 1955 to refer to my refrigerator as an ice  box. This was because I thought that was a term that hung around even in the 1950’s. My own mother, a true 1950’s homemaker, always called it the ice box as she recalled in her girlhood in the 1930’s that they did still indeed have an ice box. And the ice man would deliver to the door. They also had a modern refrigerator at the time in tandem with this but both were called the ice box and when the old model vanished with the ice man, the name stuck. That is my aside about my terminology on that.

    No, back to business. About two weeks ago my new tenants found that they could not use the ice box (refrigerator) at the house. Rather than spend more money for another appliance for the tenants while we settled for the leftovers from previous tenant purchases, I decided to give them our old fridge. It was bought for this house when we rented this house out one summer, as our old one had finally given way. It was the cheapest available model and so was happy to see it go. I had planned to make room for my 1950’s model, which has still been waiting for its new home. However, what I decided to do instead was to free up more space in my already tiny kitchen.

    I have made plans over and over again about how to add onto my kitchen. Then I always decide I want to save money and that I don’t need all that space and scale it back. This time I looked around my kitchen and considered what it would feel like without a fridge jutting up into the vertical space. So, I purchased a small dorm size fridge which is 4.5 cubic feet. It has only a small space to hold two ice cube trays and no freezer other than that. I condensed and reconsidered what I had on hand to make it work so the old fridge could go to the tenants.

    After I was all done I realized how large the kitchen felt having it open like that. The new fridge is shorter than counter height. So my plan is to build it into a cabinet with more counter space on top. It will look old but when you open the doors below my fridge shall be inside. And the vertical space now open since the fridge is gone can be more cabinetry for storage and display.

    Currently the small amount of freezer items I have were put in Gussies little freezer in her cottage. I have found I can buy just a freezer that is about half the size of the dorm fridge and that will also live under the counter with my little mini fridge.

    Adaptability. We no longer need a large bucket of ice at the ready in the freezer, instead I fill glasses and immediately refill the  two tiny trays and back into their little slot. Bottles and jars which often seem to litter all the door space were condensed and reconsidered. I even saved a few containers that held product to serve as future stores for small amounts of leftovers that can fit in our tiny space.

    This, of course, is also going to save on electric bills. And every place one can have an economy there, it is a good thing. The amount of electricity required to keep a larger fridge cool is easily doubled comparative to this size. And the large freezer compartment too. Even large freezers that many have I have come to see that we are paying the cost to give room and board to food that could easily wait for us at the store at their electric cost to keep cool, until we need it. I am looking more to canning as well rather than putting away fruit in the freezer. Then my fruits and veg I buy and grow will be handled as they may have been in 1907 rather than 1957 and I am alright with that. Rather excited by it really.

    Now, I feel like I have had an addition put on with the extra space and it has left me to dream about simply moving things about to accommodate the new space to make my kitchen work better. I promise to share photos of the progress.

    While we are on the subject of refrigerator, I will share the cleaning tips provided in my “America’s Housekeeping Book”


    Daily : Wipe up any spilled food at once.

    • Wipe top of refrigerator with a cloth wrung out in soapy water. Rinse with a cloth wrung out in clear water. Dry.
    • Remove any fingerprints around the handle of the door with mild soap and water. Rinse and dray as above.

    Weekly : (This cleaning is usually done after defrosting. Unless your refrigerator is equipped with an automatic defrosting device, it should be defrosted whenever the accumulation of frost is 1/4 inch thick.)

    • Empty the pan under t5he freezing unit, wash in warm suds, rinse thoroughly and dry.
    • Remove freezing trays, empty and was in hot soapsuds. Rinse with scalding water and dry. Remove racks or shelves and wash in the same way. Wash interior and exterior the same way as for an ice refrigerator (Below).
    • Follow the manufacturer's directions for oiling the motor at regular intervals. (With most new models no oiling is necessary.)

                                     Ice Refrigerators or Ice Box

    Daily : Same as for automatic refrigerators.

    Weekly : Remove racks or shelves and wash them in hot soapsuds. Rinse with scalding water and dry thoroughly.

    • Wash interior with a cloth wrung out of cool water in which borax or baking soda has been dissolved. (1 tablespoon of borax or soda to 1 pint water.)
    • Pour a strong solution of washing soda and water down the drain pipe and use a long brush to remove any accumulation of dirt or slime. {this is also good for kitchen drains}
    • Remove drain pipe for cleaning if necessary.
    • Wash exterior with mild soapsuds. Rinse with a cloth wrung out of clean water, dry thoroughly.

    When I began my project, the possibilities of such vast change seemed so exciting. And they really, for the most part, still are. Yet, I cannot believe how much our present modern world has changed in the past three years. It has made me sit up and take notice more often, peering from my safe haven of 1957.  The other day we were discussing how we suddenly feel as if we are now currently living in a time that will be in history books as we feel a vast change coming to the world really. My biggest fears, of course, are: will there be rumblings of more war in all our futures? I hope not, but I wonder what it felt like in those years in Europe before the world wars began. Things went on along as usual with odd little changes or rumblings heard in the paper.

    I do know that in looking to the past I found myself and my self sufficiency. There is so much I still need to learn, but the same lady who began this project with her head full of pretty dresses and crinolines, big 1950’s American cars and buying wonderful retro things, has become one of equal excitement but how to live better. How to save money so that I can afford the time to contemplate life and not be in the hectic rat race world. The ways to persevere as the times grow harder and to be ready, if the time ever comes (and let us hope it does not) that we ever find ourselves in a Depression or Wartime shortage situation. We can see the loss of jobs and the increased unhappiness of the masses against the few who hold all the power. It is, then, I think that it is the homemakers job and duty to begin to think and practice acting as if the hard times are harder so as to better prepare. And if they don’t come you will be surprised how easily you adapt and how much you like that lemonade you made from those sour lemons.

    Why not take a day this week and consider some aspect of your current Homemaking cycle and think about how it could be done smaller or less or in an older way that was more economical. The dryer being used once less a month and clothes line dried (even indoors in the winter while the kitchen is being used for cooking). Consider some of your freezer foods and wonder if the same sort of ‘putting away for a rainy day’ could be done with canning which only costs at the point of making it and storing is free in a cupboard or cellar. Or think of some wonderful new one and please share it with us here or in the Forum.

    Happy Homemaking.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    16 October 1957 “Halloween Magazine Ads & A Sunny Sunday”

    It is a lovely sunny Sunday here in New England and we are going to be biking into town with friends today. We will have our meander along the canal and the boardwalk. sandwichboardwalk1 sandwichboardwalk2 We will putter about town, stopping at the Mill Pond, feeding swans or watching fish.sandwichmillpond sandwichmillpond2 It is a good day for it and we will end, no doubt, with some spiked apple cider by the outdoor fire pit on the terrace.  A good day all round, I hope.

    So, to continue yesterday’s Halloween theme, I thought I would share some fun Halloween Candy adverts from Life magazines through the 1950s.

    halloweencandy1 I remember double bubble even in the 1970’s and 80’s and also getting Pal gum in my Halloween sack.halloweencandy2

    Of course everyone loves candy bars: halloweencandy3

    halloweencigarad Even Father got in on the act, as shown in this Dutch Masters Cigar ad.

    halloweenadhawaiianpunch And why not a cold glass of Hawaiian Punch before you head out for tricks n treats.

    halloweencandyprices And here is what Halloween candy would cost in 1951.

    I hope all have a lovely day and Happy Homemaking.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    14 October 1957 “Halloween Songs”

     50shalloween This probably won’t be my only Halloween post, as I think it such a fun and kitschy holiday. It is definitely one of the times, as well as Christmas, that I wish I had a little one to dress up and entertain.

    Though there are many Christmas songs, there are actually a few vintage Halloween songs as well. I love this number from the 1950 movie My Blue Heaven starring  Betty Grable, Dan Dailey, Jane Wyatt, David Wayne and Mitzi Gaynor and directed by Henry Koster. Though it is not a Halloween movie, there is a wonderful Halloween number and song. It it is at minute 2:15 in the following clip.


    If you would like to watch this move entirely you can watch it HERE at the Apron TV. (If it doesn’t load, go to Classic Movies, click load more and it is the last move listed in 13 parts. Enjoy it!)

    Here is a great number from 1965 from the King Sisters. I love how the opening is a play on Alfred Hitchcock.

    Here is something rather fun. Someone owns a vintage 1949 children’s filmstrip on Halloween that would have been shown in school. It is read by the owner so might be enjoyable for a child to watch.

    Here is a fun song, Punky Pumpkin, sung here by Fran Allison with some fun images of vintage Halloween decorations and ephemera.

    Here is a little ditty called “ Trick ‘r Treat”

    Here is “Midnight Stroll” by the Re-vels

    And I will close here with this wonderful 1922 Betty Boop cartoon about Halloween.

    How many of you decorate for Halloween? Do you make homemade costumes or buy traditional costumes such a ghost, witch, hobo, for your children or do they dress up like modern cartoon or TV characters?

    Happy Homemaking.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    12 October 1957 “The Perception of Safety and the Rose Colored Glass: Then and Now”

    I thought today I would answer and discuss a comment left on my last post, which read:

    The world really is not "scarier" than it used to be. It is just that It is just that people hear more stories now due to radio, TV and computer coverage. You could scare yourself witless if you expose yourself to too much media coverage. There were just as many perverts, rapists, murderers, etc in the 1950s as there are now, the coverage was just more limited. There were more alcoholics, unemployed and homeless families because there was no welfare. Don't think that the 1950s were all rosy and fun just because the "Leave it to Beaver" and "Donna Reed" show show them as such. The prisons were still full and people were on death row.

    First off, I just want to say, as I have said MANY times before, I never want to be seen as simply saying “It was great then and bad now”. If anything my project over these past years have been to see how it Truly was and to sometimes compare and contrast it to today. I know there were many bad things back then, but what I find odd is how quickly people spout out statistics which have no grounding. It is as if we simply believe the view of the 1950’s we have been fed by the media. One might simply say, “Why in the 1950’s we all wore poodle skirts, went to sock hops, liked IKE, and loved segregation”. Which would be a far cry from the reality.

    Whenever I write a post simply celebrating something like ‘Leave it to Beaver’ it is to celebrate that moment. That show. Even then, there were many households that did not resemble Beaver’s, surely. But in many cases those whose didn’t actually found some joy in for 24 minutes a week  living at Beaver's via the television. And in some ways, it was entertaining but also set a bar for parents to be considerate to one another, respect each other’s chosen roles and to also consider their children and to teach them that actions have consequences. Something I honestly DO believe is little taught today. I know, myself, having never had such basic common sense skills taught at school when I attended. Later, however, I was homeschooled and learned those things by the actions of my parents.

    One thing I often believed before I started my project was what the Anon commenter said, “it is safer today but you simply hear more stories today because of the media”. I believed this too and even now believe that the ‘media’ simply creates drama to maintain a 24 hour news cycle. But it is NOT true that we had More or the same amount of crime in the 1950’s as we have today. For one we have even more Laws now so by that mere fact many more would simply be breaking them.

    But, lets look at some actual numbers:

    The homicide rate per 100,00o as per FBI reports were as follows:

    • 1957   4.0
    • 1967   6.2
    • 1977  8.8
    • 1987  8.3
    • 1997  6.8
    • 2007 5.9

    So, we can see that the crime of homicide has gone up quite a bit and now back down again. However, it is still quite true that in 1957 there were LESS homicides, or that type of crime.


    There is also a general belief today that our country’s moral values (And these do not have to be religo-centric) have declined. Here is an interesting fact:

    A new cultural values survey of 2,000 American adults, given by the Culture and Media Institute, finds that 74 percent of all Americans believe that our nation is in a moral decline. Interestingly enough, 64 percent of those surveyed felt that the news and entertainment media are a major influence in that decline.

    And here is an interesting article someone wrote concerning that HERE.

    Now the question of people in prisons. My commenter said “ The prisons were still full and people were on death row.” This, of course, is true. There were full prisons and there was (and still is) death row. However the number of prisons and prisoners has escalated SO much since the 1950’s that currently we as a country hold 25% of the world's prison population, but only 5% of the world's people.

    “From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.”

    Today, like many other aspects of our life, the prison system has become incorporated. They are, in fact, a money making business. And what is needed to increase these business? Criminals.

    An interesting thing to point out is our difference with China. Now China, for many years, has been Communist. Today they are more a Capitalist/Communist hybrid, but one could say they definitely hold a power over their people. We have one half million MORE prisoners than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. That is not adjusted for population but with literal numbers we have a greater number of people in prisons today than China does though her population is five times greater! Now, this is really a case for some other sad states of our country that I don’t want to get into, but the point being that there are MANY MORE in prison today and many more prisons today.

    In the 1950s, there were about 23,000 people in federal prison and 186,000 in state prison. Americans were therefore concerned about the number of people in prison and the seemingly exponential growth of crime during this decade. This number has increased over the last 60 years; as of 2011, there are 208,118 people in federal prison and approximately 1.4 million people in state prison.

    Even when we look at the difference in population from then and now we can see there are many more people in prison today.

    US population 1957:  171,984,130

    US population today:   307,745,538

    The next aspect I want to discuss is this statement; “There were more alcoholics, unemployed and homeless families because there was no welfare.”

    Let’s start with Alcoholism:

    Alcoholism as viewed as a ‘disease’ began in 1935 in a small way. It was not accepted as such until 1956 when,

    “the World Health Organization formally declared its support and provided a definition of ‘alcoholism’ which noted that alcoholics were excessive drinkers, dependent on alcohol to the extent that they suffered noticeable mental disturbance or interference with bodily or mental health, interpersonal relations, and economic functioning. They were people who required treatment.”

    I think it is plainly obvious that today’s endless media and advertising certainly increases one’s chance of ‘getting into’ alcohol at an early age.

    There are endless ads on TV promoting drinking and children watch TV. Many parents today and teens wear and collect liquor emblem products. Children see and are influenced by such things. It is a fact that the number of alcohol ads and the complete non-existence of ‘merch’  such as printed t-shirts, promotional toys and the like did not exist in the 1950’s.

    Much of the ‘illegal’ drinking today does happen while under age.

    Approximately 12.5 million underage teens drink each year. In 2005, according to self-reports by United States students in grades 9-12:

    • 74% had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more days during their life
    • 26% had their first drink of alcohol, other than a few sips, before age 13
    • 43% had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more occasion in the past 30 days
    • 26% had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row (i.e. binge drinking) in the past 30 days.
    • 4% had at least one drink of alcohol on school property on one or more of the past 30 days

    In 2005, underage teen drinking consumed 15 percent of all alcohol sold in the United States, totaling $19.8 billion in sales.

    Although teens and young adults between 16 and 24 years old comprise only 20 percent of the total licensed population; they cause 42 percent of all fatal alcohol related crashes.

    We are often given the image, thanks to shows like Mad Men, that in the 50’s and early 60’s people were drinking all day long never ceasing cocktail hour. This, again, is simply Hollywood's way of saying, “Oh, it was cool back then, but boy are we smarter today”. But, the reality is that though more youthful drinking may have started in the 1950’s with the increase of time and leisure the previous generations didn’t have, there was still less access to crave it through advertising. Here is an interesting 1958 Educational Video teaching the young kids the danger of Alcohol.


    Let’s look at unemployment next. The unemployment rate in the 1950’s was under 3%. We are currently close to 9% according to the U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    And I thought many new that the ‘welfare state’ came out of the Great Depression of the 1930’s with the start of Social Security for the elderly. The amount and ready availability of Social Security and such aid simply did not exist in 1950’s as it does today.

    In his first State of the Union address after Kennedy’s assassination, President Johnson declared war on poverty, and launched his "Great Society" program. Between 1964 and 1975, total real outlays for means-tested assistance (medical, housing, food and cash) rose nearly 400 percent. Between 1960 and 1973, real spending on federal, state and local AFDC soared over 400 percent.

    Medicare, Medicaid and other health care programs represented windfall profits for hospitals, doctors and health care providers, and their lobbyists made sure that these welfare programs were well-funded. Since 1975, this has been the only type of welfare that has enjoyed dramatic growth. Between 1975 and 1992, Medicare and Medicaid outlays more than tripled in real dollars

    There was also a social taboo against welfare in the 1950’s. It is true one would feel ashamed to be on assistance. Many who were forced through hard times to take it worked hard to get off of it. This of course was easier as I stated earlier, unemployment was well below 3% (less than half of today’s) so it could be done.

    There are many things to consider when we say one time is ‘better’ than another. Even the concept of ‘better’ must be considered. Better for whom, really. But, when I mostly deal with the middle class American experience as the main tenet of my project, that is the framework from which I view my own study. I am also simply a Blogger. I am not an educator nor do I ever claim to be the fount of all truth.

    I have found, however, over the past three years in my OWN experience in my own class, that the 1950’s in many ways, was a safer, friendlier, better employed, more local business, downtown growth time. Certainly, if you were an African American living in Georgia in 1950’s you were not happy. But, let us not forget it was the 1950’s that lead to the free movements in the south for the African Americans. This year, 1957, the first blacks were allowed to go to white schools. It caused a great uproar in the south, but it was done in the decade of the 1950s.

    So, again, I never want anyone who reads this to think that I think that 1950s=good today=bad. That has never been my intent. I do believe, however, that since the 1950s (and certainly due to many of the laws and actions of the 1950s) we currently live in a state of less freedom than we might have had. We have to spend more of the same dollar due to rampant inflation, our inability to be a one income family is apparent in that. There is more ‘in your face’ rudeness and atitude largely, I believe, to the portrayal of such norms in media as a means to seperate and segreate us into easily advertised to numbers. We are actually viewed as segments such as Males between 16-35 as a type to be advertised and sold to. That is a state, regardless of the date and year on the calendar, that I think we would all do well to evaluate and consider.

    I, however, will continue to go on sharing and expressing findings and likes from the 1950’s. It was such a unique time in our history as well as the history of the world. It represents to me, much as industrialization did to modern life changes, that moment in time when our neo-modernity was born. The time of the media was very much incubated in the 1950’s post war boom.

    I hope all of you continue to enjoy my silly little posts and continue to also question me, as did this anonymous reader, as I often find it a good way to lead to discussion and research of facts. IT would be a rather bland community if we all agreed with one another, wouldn’t it? And discussion is the base of good community. Rather we are chatting with a cuppa over the garden gate, or a text fest on our mobile phones, conversation will continue to exist with the human animal. And in my own way, here on this site, I have come to truly enjoy it with all of you.

    Happy Homemaking.

    Now, let’s close with Frankie Lymon telling us he (and other mid century teens) are NOT juvenile delinquents.



    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    9 October 1957 “Leave it to Beaver Premiers”

    leaveittobeaver Leave it to Beaver was premiered this month on the 4th here in 1957. The show was created by the writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher, who were both veterans of radio and early television. Leave it to Beaver was one of the first shows where in the plot was driven from the children’s point of view.

    Leave it to Beaver has always had a special place in the hearts of those who either look fondly back at a time they recall or for those of us who, though never having been there, are inexplicably drawn to it. Certainly, one could argue this show was as accurate to everyday middle class life as any TV show, which is not very close. But, what is quite interesting is that this show is and was both entertaining and also very educational in learning of common sense and good human interaction. The children would often face situations where they would be drawn to try the easy way or the more exciting way, but if it lead to bad decisions or ill treatment of others, they eventually learned their mistakes with consequences from their parents.

    It was also interesting that June and Ward, the parents, would often discuss and sometimes not agree on the ways to teach or punish or encourage their children, much like parents often and still do. In a way this show would be a great teaching guide for the masses of youth who are today mostly raised by TV/Computer and over crowded day care: That there are consequences for one’s actions, we should always think of others and of results BEFORE we act, and others feelings are as important as our own. Somewhere along the line, the need to satiate children into believing that they are the most important and special thing in the world over all others. The idea that we have value is a good lesson, but that others also are of equal import and should be considered as well as ourselves seems to be a main element missing in the modern children/TV programming.

    beaverhouse1 Here is the house the Cleavers lived on in the first two seasons. It was meant to be on Mapleton Dr. I always thought it was rather an odd flat roofed affair. The little dog house dormers do make it more interesting and I like the front port has two facing bench seats.

    beaverhouse2 This is the house they ‘moved’ to for the last four seasons. This image is from the 80’s but shows it pretty much as it looked then. I have to say, I rather appreciate the way it looks today.beaverhouse3  They beefed up the trim work, added a garage with dormers and a side porch and added side lights (the long windows next the door) and a transom (the window over the door) which gives it a much more colonial look. Especially the larger multi-paned window to the left of the door which would have been Ward’s office has a much more Colonial look. Although, I do believe the garage was there during the filming of Beaver.

    Here is the first episode of Leave it to Beaver, aired on  4 October 1957. You can watch the entire episode on APRON TV under Classic TV. It is in 3 parts. 

    Concerning lessons learned from this show, I think this episode from the final season when Eddie Haskell gets a credit card is so telling of what is to come to our economy and way of thinking. We ALL could learn a lesson from this episode. It can be watched HERE on TV land. I couldn’t find it on YouTube, but the entire episode is available just follow the link.

    And just for fun, I found this great link HERE where in someone has taken the time to post pictures from each episode. It is an interesting way to view it, rather like looking through an old photo album of old friends or a remembered and treasured childhood, it is work a look.

    Today I am off celebrating a friends birthday. We will be biking with a picnic, going into town later for bowling and dinner. It should be fun and the New England weather is giving us a lovely Indian Summer day of sunny weather in the low 80’s. I hope all have a wonderful day and Happy Homemaking.

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