Saturday, November 26, 2011

26 December 1957 “Put on a Happy Face”

I would like to start today’s post by apologizing for being absent so long. We have had a fine low key Thanksgiving and beautiful weather, but I have felt out of sorts lately.

Maybe it is the approach of the year’s end which heralds my third year into my project living. I think due to my more analytical living, due to my project, I am feeling rather out of sorts concerning our actual time. The future and 2012 has some fear in it for me.

When I innocently began my project three years ago I was excited to uncover the truth of how a middle class homemaker lived. The thoughts, hopes, fears, and dreams she might have had by reading her magazines, watching her TV, and looking at her political world. As the layers peeled back by the end of 1955 I began to see a United States I wasn’t prepared for.

In some ways I have been able, as I am sure many homemakers during hard times were, to try and focus on hearth and home. I wanted to be in the know, certainly, but also to not let it color me too greatly. To ‘put on a happy face’ as they say. Keep the ‘red badge of courage’ lipsticked on my smile. But, in so many ways, the current state of our world leaks through and takes the silver lining out of the best made chin’s up cloud.

The economy is of course something is unable to avoid feeling. And for me to see the various laws and regulations changed so drastically over the past decade to lead us into our current financial state makes me angry. I see the banks and financial institutions simply fraught with greed not unlike a spoilt baby who will not be too told, ‘Too much sugar will make you sick’ but eats and eats in anyway and when it makes a mess we are left to clean it up at our peril. I long for the adults of the past.

In no uncertain terms many things that are wrong today were in some ways begun in the post war USA, but then we had adults. There was a generation of people who had seen and been in hard times. They wanted to make a better world and in so doing their offspring are now running ours.

I don’t like to seem to point a finger at a generation, but it is odd to me that the same generation that had to have rock and roll then practice their freedom of speech have become the very people who now have created the banking world that clutches all of us about the neck and stops any attempts at ones own expression of freedom of speech.

I want the grown ups back. I want the ‘Greatest Generation’ to rise up from their graves and wheel chaired loneliness in nursing homes and make everything right again. To slap their babies who will go on eating too much sugar and let us all know, “We have to have responsibility and be more cautious and put money in our piggy bank and eat our vegetables BEFORE we get dessert and to turn off the TV and go outside and play or read a book instead of play with that toy”. In so many ways its as if the grownups have really left us all to be looked after by the fat bullies on the playground. They want it ALL for themselves and don’t care what happens to us, but if we try and take a piece of their pie they slap us down.

Well, what does all this gibberish and mixed metaphor mean, you might ask? Honestly, nothing really. It has simply left me pondering too much to even handle looking at the computer and following a story from 1957 to today. I have had a good Thanksgiving and a fine visit with friends over coffee and apple pie and then really felt the need to simply percolate. Therefore, this post won’t be looking at any of those particular points, but rather just a timid, “I am sorry” that I have not posted and that I shall indeed get back to it starting today. We do need positive goals and hopes and dreams. We do need to focus on the good while still being aware of the bad. WE need to begin to become the grownups more as others have not done. As our money tightens, the prices rise, the jobs fail, the house equity dissipates, and inflation continues we need to be even more adult. We have to tell ourselves to turn off that TV and do our homework and learn and make do and mend. That is where the homemaker comes in. That has always been her strength caring the family spirit and hope in the hard times. Putting a smile on their face and others as they patch another patch in the threadbare clothes. A cheery tune cooking up a new fun breakfast made from what she can now afford stretched out with filler to make her decreasing pantry not seem so empty. Doing without more fore herself so she can sneak an extra penny in her pin money for the rainy days ahead. We are these things, we homemakers, rather we are full time homemakers or not. Even if we live alone we have to put that smile on our life by keeping our home a safe place a refuge from the increasingly dark world outside. We deserve to feel at home and to feel safe as possible and homemaking skills are important to that morale.

I hope all of you had a lovely thanksgiving, those of you in the USA, and that you were not too tempted by Black Friday to overspend or to support too much the big guys who have taken away much of what we love about small town life from the 1950s. I hope you think more about local or the ‘small guy’ when gift buying this year and put away the “Candy for the spoilt baby” as I believe they have had enough, don’t you think?

So, I shall continue to try and learn more and understand more of my world from then to now but I shall try harder to not let it color me too grey. That I shall continue to see the good with the bad and to learn more so as to be better prepared as the times get harder, if indeed they do. If they do not then I shall not be upset that I am wiser and more experienced. I shall indeed put on my happy face!

Happy Homemaking and Put on a Happy Face, I know I shall try:

I am going to try and post here what new item I put on the forum. Today I have added a fun tutorial on making a vintage Christmas bulb wreath I found online. It is in the Forum under Homemaking, Crafts, Christmas Crafts, enjoy!


  1. Glad you posted this. It's discouraging to live with the huge mess today, and realizing we all have a part doesn't help; where to begin?
    Time for conservative fiscal procedures and intelligent foreign policy, time to initiate stripped down government and an end to corpporate welfare. Happy New Year.

  2. Good comment Tokeberry.

    You are right, 50's Gal, these are *truly* frightening times. It makes me all the more thankful that I have my faith in the Lord. Without Him I'd be terrified every day.

  3. I have lived a life not of the 50's but of simplicity since 2007, and confess that it is extremely hard to look to the greed of not only the big corporations but also of Americans as a whole. I do not mean this with disrespect because I too, lived far different a few years ago than I do now. Couponing is one example. I mean how many sticks of deodorant does one need?

    Holidays are to the degree of shock now at how much each home spends EACH year to decorate-not including the gifts purchased.

    And now is the only time frame many understand. In my life bread is not now, but after mixing, rising, punching down, making loaves, then letting rise again then baking. I have a built in patience monitor every time I wish to be impatient. Laundry for me is slow paced and we do not toss one use items into the laundry aside from underwear and socks. I use only a clothesline for drying and this takes planning on overcast days etc.

    I am saddened for not only our country but much of the western world as we are coming in to something I fear that is very worrisome. When one has become so disconnected with basic skills one is in serious trouble. I feel many Americans are in serious trouble...

    Forgive me for taking your post to jump on a soapbox.


  4. humble wife-You have no need to apologize, for we love our soap boxes here! And what you say is quite true.

    I too, as many know from reading me, lived a much different lifestyle prior to '1955' and found at the end of that year I could not go back to the old or really the 'new' ways.

    I think what worries me most is how the power and freedoms of the individual seem to be eroding without much disagreement from the majority. Even those who may not agree with what the wallstreet protesters say, that they should have the freedom to say it should still be there. It is in the constitution. Even were a group to gather and say we should all wear purple hats, I might not agree with that, but I agree that they have the right to assemble and not be treated as criminals or 'terrorists'. When shall that term be applied to us all for any reason? Will it be subversive to make your own bread and sew your own clothes? The lobbyists of the large clothing and Food producers already think so in many ways. I just don't want us to get to a place where we are suddenly priced out of food and for our own 'good' need to be 'placed' in helpful camps to keep us 'safe'. I know that may be the extreme of the situation, but I am concerned for our basic free rights.

    I hope with our dollar at stores and our own decision in local votes we can begin to take back our towns.

    I recently saw some videos of people going into abandoned Walmart and Target stores in towns which already have become ghost towns. It is sometimes because a larger walmart is built so even in a town they already have taken over they still create more wasted space. It was also surprising that many of these abandoned buildings will still have electricity on, lights and ac/heat on and so on. Who is paying for that? And really the small town is also paying for it.

    I also think how our local farm would like to sell their own chickens as meat. But they have to sell them at such high per pound price. WHY? Not because it cost more to raise them, on the contrary if they were allowed to raise and kill them themselves they could compete with the local chain stores, but they are required by the FDA to have them shipped and processed at an 'approved' plant. We have taken away the power of the individual to make their own food and also to share it with neighbors without the fear of going to jail. Can you imagine having to go to prison on a 'selling raw milk rap'?

    So, I do worry and I want to find the perfect mix of keeping my chin up, continuing to learn, find ways to stay informed, and some means to get more control over our own little backyards and towns. If we work together maybe we can link virtual hands across the country and the West and begin to make a difference.

  5. 50sGal,

    I could not agree with you more. When ones house value begins to drop and they loose their job and they can not afford their mortgage payments, they need to act grown-up, to sell their house, to more to a different state or town if there are not any jobs near by, get get a job, any job, even if it is not in their desired "career field" to take care of themselves and their family and not wait for a government bailout, a government handout, or a government loan restructuring. The government term "entitlement" has clouded people minds to the fact that it is welfare, and that other than the air we breath we are not "entitled" to anything, we need to be grown ups, stop depending on the government and take care of out own.

    Betty Gilmarten '23

  6. The problem many have with the wall street protesters is that while they are exercising their right of free speech, they are encroaching on the rights of others for are trying to get to work on wall st are trying to be tourists in NYC and are trying to enjoy the park. They are drastically increasing the salaries of the police force and as a result are taking police power away from others need areas, and increasing the tax payers burden to pay for extra police force. Also, the protesters themselves admit that they do not have a clear vision of whet they are protesting, They say they want jobs - is caming ut in mid-town a way for them to scure employment? They say they want to shut down wall st and big banks - have they all taken their money and any investments they have away from such big corporations? Many of them are college students - have they refused to accept any tuition money from their parents that their parents may have earned via investments? Have they turned down government loans and financial aid packages funded by investments? These protesters will hopefully one day grow up the way 1960 protesting baby boomers did and realize that their protest in nothing more than a nuisence. If they really want things to change they need to intiate change in a positive way. They way they are acting now is going to cost the Democrats the next election and make Obama's ratings fall even lover then they have since the protest began.

    Caro Bouvier

  7. I get so disheartened thinking about stuff like this too. It's just so overwhelming sometimes, but I always try to remind myself that even the small things can make a difference, like shopping at the local small businesses. And I feel that things are starting to swing back around, even if slowly. As a mother of a toddler, I have read so many articles over the past two years about how more and more new/young mothers are drawing inspiration from their grandmothers and great-grandmothers instead of their mothers. I am 27 years old and I see so many friends mourn the fact that they were never taught how to cook, keep house, budget...pretty much anything useful besides shop or pay someone to do something for them. And I get really happy when I see Facebook COVERED in posts for Thanksgiving from friends celebrating their first culinary milestones, even if it's just a squash casserole or a pumpkin pie. I see hope in that, and I see hope in the growing green/organic/local movement. And I also place hope in raising my children with a lot more good sense, a lot less materialism, and a healthy dose of our vintage mindset. I honestly don't feel that I'm alone in wanting to make this new generation better than ours and the Baby Boomers, and I get a lot of comfort from that. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving :-)

  8. I get sad when I read simplistic condemnations like telling the unemployed to “sell their houses and get another job - any job” when there are millions of Americans who can’t sell their houses because there is no one to buy them and they are so underwater on their mortgage that even if they do sell they will owe many tens of thousands of more dollars on a mortgage for a house they no longer own or live in.

    And there are millions of Americans who would gladly take “any job” if only someone were actually hiring. WalMart and McDonald’s only need so many workers and in many, many communities there simply aren’t any other jobs to be had. I have one friend who has put in over 2000 applications and resumes and gone on hundreds of interviews but no one will hire him because he is too old and experienced.

    It’s easy to parrot extremist radio and television talking heads and work to divert the blame away from the greedy corporations and their paid-for politicians and journalists who deserve the lion’s share of blame for what we are experiencing and instead condemn the people who are protesting and trying to create a new and better world.

    I agree with 50’s Gal: the best thing for all of us to do right now is to start acting like grown-ups, tighten our belts and get involved. Falling into the trap of parroting millionaire political pundits and journalists who have a great interest in maintaining the current corrupt system is not going to change anything but rather will work to ensure that the protestors are vilified and everything stays the same.

    Good luck to all!

  9. I think an important first step in being grown-ups is (re)learning how to think for oneself. I stopped watching television and listening to the radio several years ago. I get my news from a variety of printed sources across political viewpoints.

    I am amazed at how brainwashed Americans are by the media/"entertainment." If in doubt, consider how important "black Friday" has become.

    (I think Americans would be amazed at how many entitlements are geared toward corporations and subsidies...the ratio for entitlements for the poor is quite small in comparison...just food for thought...*smile*)

  10. Grey is an elegant colour! :) The bulb wreath is adorable and I think I will make a red one with bulbs from Ikea. I would never ruin vintage bulbs for such a project. I hope Christmas will cheer you up. I look forward to following your vintage Christmas. Christmas is the only reason for me to survive Winter. And you’re right, we have to put on a happy face and prepare for harder times. We have to be adults and learn our children to be so too. I have an 18 year old son and really tries to teach him to be an adult, not just a spoilded kid who thinks he parents does everything for him.

    PS: I do certainly hope Christmas is not over yet, I hope you have just written December instead of November in your subject.

  11. Priscilla, I agree. Anyone who thinks the Occupy protesters (everywhere, not just the Wall Street ones) are just a "bunch of mindless, lazy hippies looking for a free handout" (my parents' words, not mine) have no concept of reality. Many of the protesters already have jobs, and they go to work during the day and then join the protests for the evening. The issue is beyond coming up with a list of specific demands towards a specific entity, it is a concept for raising awareness at how corrupt and greedy those in charge have become, and of how hard it is to find employment that pays a living wage.

    My husband recently graduated with his master's degree and currently cannot find a job that pays more than the one he has now, where he makes $7.50 an hour stocking groceries and who will have to start paying back $40,000 in student loans in a few months for a degree that is now worthless in this current climate. My parents, who are so quick to deride the protesters, cannot make the connection between them, and their own son-in-law and daughter who are struggling to keep our heads above water. I've given up trying to make them understand reality because their minds are still so entrenched in how it "used to be" where all a man had to do was work hard and it would pay off in the end. It's not like that anymore.

    50's Gal, to learn more about the current war against food rights, check out the website The Complete Patient for an eye opening education. Frightening.

  12. Makes you wonder how the greatest generation could have spoiled their kids so? If the boomer generation was spoiled, it begs the question: Who spoiled them?

  13. Interesting Post. Thanks!

  14. Mary, I had been thinking the same thing. If the Baby Boomers children can blame their parents for all the things they don't know and can't do then surely the parents of the Baby Boomers are somewhat to blame for whatever it is that the Baby Boomers are doing wrong. The early Baby Boomers were one of the first non adult groups targetted by advertisers, the people targetting them and encouraging the push to total consumerism were not other Baby Boomers but members of the older generation. And the Baby Boomers parents were happily spending in the brave new post war world.

  15. I must also add that there is another generation, largely forgotten who didn't fight in WWII but were children in the depression and teenagers during the war. Many of these of course were then beginning their families in the 50s and early 60s, people who had known only deprivation and lean times and who I am sure were more than happy to leave all that behind and get on with spending, relaxing, enjoying and giving their children all the things they didn't have in their own childhood. Some how that post war joy and spending went on to become, in the eyes of big corporations and to a large extent governments also, society's only reason to be.
    There is a need to say enough is enough and many people are saying it in many different ways from occupying public spaces to home baking. Many ordinary people have cut back on spending, personal savings in Australia are at an all time high, people are growing vegetables and taking more responsibility for the quality of their lives. Governments and big business need to catch up with what is a people led movement.

  16. Have you read much about The Fourth Turning or The Strauss-Howe Generational Theory? I think you would find it especially interesting given your 50's experiment.

    Basically they discuss the idea that there are generational archetypes and turnings in history. The same four patterns are played out time and time again.

    The archetypes are: Prophet, Nomad, Hero, and Artist.

    The turnings are: High, Awakening, Unraveling and Crisis. As you might guess, we are currently in the Crisis turning.

    Once I read about these ideas, what is going on in our country made a lot more sense to me.

    Here are a couple of links:

  17. Yes, Jenny, many who came through the great depression lived in fear that they wouldn't have enough (and who wouldn't feel that way?). My father was one of those, and didn't want his children to scrounge they way he had to. It was impossible for him not to spoil us -- buy the best food, every toy on tv, turn the heat up to 80 degrees in the winter time, stuff like that. And, we were a working-class family (I was not a hippie or war-protestor like a lot of the upper middle class kids). On the down side, and this was the gripe of many of us baby boomers, they worked so hard they didn't have time for us. My father did not come to my high school graduation because he had to work overtime. He was not required to work this. Fear of not having enough money eclipsed my special time. So, going through what they went through warped them somewhat. My generation was the first where the mothers started going out to work. My mother and mother in law worked.

    Also, like you said, Jenny, many who corrupted my generation were not fellow baby boomers, they were of the builder generation: the Mary Quants with her mini-skirt, the lawyers who pushed through no-fault divorce, the permissive Dr. Spock who was even before the builder generation's time but listened to by them, the drug-oriented Timothy Leary. All were of my mother's generation or before. We got those people along with the Ozzie and Harriets and Donna Reeds.

    Not saying the builder generation were bad people (although some of the were, like any generation) but they were not all perfect, any more than any generation is all bad or all perfect. We're all human and have our flaws and have to do the best we can with what we're handed out.


 Search The Apron Revolution