Friday, December 9, 2011

9 December 1957 “Some Home Movies, 1930’s 1950’s & 1960’s”

I always love finding other’s home movies on YouTube. To think, those bashful or show offs, the unsuspecting and those who loved the spotlight, that they might be fodder one day for strangers dreams and imaginings. I ma sure at the time that father or uncle or even Mother had the camera pointing at them they thought at most the resulting film would be for the enjoyment of their own family. Or that at the very least be simply an annoyance Grandfather drug out once a year forcing the youngsters to marvel at their previous gatherings. Yet, such films are an important part of our history. This history of the common man set down on celluloid, made possible by the modern machine age to now be digital fodder for our imaginings and study.

There is much in these wordless images. We can garner the fashions worn, see how one celebrated, even glimpse how homes were really decorated compared to what the glossy magazines of the day show us how they should have been. Even, sometimes, they can give us a glimpse or a repreive from the modern shopping, traffic headache of a modern holiday. Consider times when stores were open until 5, closed on Sundays and no endless lines of people trampling to get the latest electronic toy while having forgot, already, about what it was they wanted so bad the previous Christmas.

Along these lines, you will notice in the first film from 1939, two of the coveted and most likely expensive gifts shown on the table. The typewriter and the pressure cooker. The camera returns to them often, both alone and being used (well the typewriter at least). What is something to think about is that these items may very well be around today and still working. My husband collects antique typewriters and uses them almost every day. And my own pressure cooker is actually from the late 1930’s as is my waffle iron. They are both going strong. What can we say about gifts we received over the years. I know old computers will simply be land fill fodder today.

The later films are 1950’s and you can see more gifts are apparent and with the use of color and the more casual form of dress of the younger set. While Grandfather and Grandmother are dressed up fine, the younger generation parents are tie less and one even wears dungaree bib overalls. Times they are a changing as the young ins here will soon see when the 1960’s and 70’s hit.

I hope you enjoy, as do I , perusing these old clips of lives past but lived in happiness with less. I hope all are having a lovely Christmas season and as always, Happy Homemaking.



  1. It is interesting to compare and contrast the changes in fashion and technology through the the 20th century in these old films, but to me it more intriguing to ponder those people's life stories and relations in their antics, expressions, and interactions and how so little has changed concerning that.

    Each of those individuals had a life (for those who had passed) and had lived through a flicker of our nation's history. Everyone is a time capsule, a vessel of experiences in our own little snapshot in time.

    What stories could they tell? Whom did they love? What gifts did they bring to the world? I'm sure they all had hopes and dreams and trials. These are elements of the human experience.

    The grandparents in the films had lived through much simpler times in the 19th century and may view the '50's as quite "advanced", and the children pictured are no longer children, they are now the ones looking at today's youth with bewilderment. It doesn't matter whether the films were shot in the 1930's, 1950's, or the 1960's, the theme of each films is a powerful leveler of generations: Christmas.

    Each year, Christmas summons forth traditions of the past that are carried into the present with an eye toward the approaching new year. The sharing, the laughter, the love is intergenerational and timeless in all the films. No matter the type of gifts, the styles of clothing, or the size of the tree, all those historical references and generational differences melt away.

    In each of the short home films you see people sharing, laughing, and loving each other. I believe that is just a small portion of the "magic" of Christmas we all feel and carry with us and want to express and preserve for our loved ones as we march ahead in time. And when we see films like this from the past, of our own families, we recall and rekindle that sharing, laughter, and love they had brought to our lives.

  2. I apologize for a couple of typos I overlooked in my previous comment.

  3. Very well said, Keith. And I certainly forgive any typos or errors, I am a wretch when it comes to proof-reading my own writings.
    I quite agree with you and in fact, the first thing that did hit me was the emotional standpoint of family and human bonds. I thought the very same of the grandparents then and how odd the world must seem to them.
    I always had a fascination with the turn of the last century and wondered what it must have been to come from a world of corsets, carriages, and unmarried ladies 'at home' to cars, short shorts, tv, movies, and 'car dates'. The changes were immense. However, as we course forward in this 21st century of ours I sometimes begin to feel that way a bit myself. Though, it is true that no major change in transportation has really happened in my lifetime, the advancement in everyday technology is rapidly speeding up, not to any real advantage to our daily living, I feel. For example the e-readers are just another way to snatch more hope and chance from the local mom and pop book store. When one needs to access e-books for their 'device' they will not do it at the corner book store. But, then again, it is more hopeful for self publishing writers, so yin and yang I suppose.
    What is amazing is many of us do feel the wonder and magic of Christmas and that is, as you have pointed out, because it brings forward traditions we ALL share. That element of celebrating the past and having a lasting tradition does seem to be missing from the fast paced modern world. We seem to be, as a modern people, in need of constant change and flux. To settle down or become comfortable in ones routine seems the antithesis of the modern apotheosis. We must always be changing and aquiring. Even our business model of constant growth seems to laugh in the face of constancy, and 'happy where I am' mentality. I suppose for an advance of a race it might be beneficial, but for the quality of life for those individuals in that body of humans, it can be a bit muddling and frustrating. I often feel the old curmudgeon who thinks "What it this cantacerous new device I have to learn now?"
    But I quite agree, the moment of happiness shared family joy and tradition ring out strong and true in these films. And I find myself happily watching the silent memories of others past and even being a bit covetous of their happy moments. I also long for those who have gone, which might be normal as we age I suppose.
    On the most basic level I just enjoy watching the families smile and beam at their time together and their joy of family. It is too bad that we have moved away further from stronger and larger family groups. In the 1930's it would have been quite normal to have grandparents living with you and unmarried aunts in the house. By the 1950's is this was already becoming no longer the norm. The mass production of smaller homes for every family to own made such collections of family obsolete. And for that generation of stay at home mothers it didn't matter as they provided child care. But, now we see that as both parents enter the work force, having unmarried auntie or Granny at home would be a boon. We may be returning to that, however, as homes go into foreclosure, jobs are reduced and prices rise.Maybe one good thing to come out of our failing economy will be the return to family and neighborly bonds. Nothing like hard times to bring the masses together.

  4. In your replying post, you framed the crux of the modern consumer cycle. We all want to feel happy, to be loved, to be respected, and connected. These very human emotional needs are marketed to the masses by correlating the devices, gadgets, and gizmos to those feelings we desire so greatly. Beyond basic needs and requirements, we want something because we believe we will feel better in the acquisition of it. And I don't think feeling better is a bad thing. It is a matter of seeking something through substitution.

    This especially happens at the height of the Christmas season. In my opinion, it is a false correlation. They cannot buy happiness. True love is not for sale. There will be no retail markdowns on respect. I haven't seen a manufacturer's coupon for compassion.

    But we go after this carrot year after year. People go looking for virtual substitutes for substance at an exhaustive pace. The very few gifts I do give are labors of love and from the talent of my hands (and become memorable), something quite common a couple of generations ago.

    I am not framing technology (and the advance thereof) as bad. I think technology can be a wonderful thing or not so wonderful: it is neutral. I believe consideration on how it is used should be noted. For example, one's own hands can heal, or they can hurt. A computer can make an insightful blog such as this a reality, but a computer can send spam, viruses, and worms. It is the emotion, intention, and thought that one applies to the tool that gives it a value judgement.

    At Christmas, with all the fleeting wrapping paper on the floor, all the gobs of food prepared, and extreme decorations glowing, it comes down to giving time (our most valuable commodity) to love people through sharing and caring that causes us to feel connected. That is the gift we want to find under the tree. I received this lesson as a boyhood gift from my mother, and this Christmas I am giving this back to her as she tries to overcome breast cancer for a third time.


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