Monday, January 30, 2012

30 January 1933 “Come with me Lucille, in my Merry Oldsmobile. The Family Car and the Electric Car.”

 womanwithcar I have been away from you all for these past three days. I haven’t any other excuse save that it is rather easy to slip into the past full tilt and enjoy a walk, books and catching up on chores to sitting prostrate before the glowing beast of a computer. But, duties call and needs must, and I thought I would share today some of the fun things I have found about automobiles.

Innocently enough, as most of my discoveries start, I came across some fun facts. I wondered, here in 1933, what is the concept of the family car? In 1950’s it was rather clear cut and the vast production machine that was set into motion by WWII simply made for cars for all. It was becoming even normal for middle class families to have two cars and for teen Johnny to have his ‘old jalopy’ (which ironically would be an old car from the 20’s or 30’s cheap and easy to maintain at the time)

Before we start, let’s have a listen to this 1909 hit put out by the Oldsmobile auto company (to become GM some day) and sung by Billy Murray. This is an original recording from that time, so enjoy the scratches and life such an old 78 record imparts!

Here is a 1931 Fleishcer cartoon promoting the Oldsmobile. This cartoon uses the song as a basis for a love story with villain and hero and of course, the love of the automobile. At this point the U.S. auto companies are going full tilt, have been through the Great War and mass producing many such vehicles. The evil villain and slightly funny heroine can still be seen to hold the action and sway of the old silent movies, easily in the memories of those who created such cartoons.

My first thought was cost. Let’s look and see where we are here in 1933.

plymouthad33 This advert caught my eye in my 1933 Better Homes and Gardens. Let me state here, as well, that my new stacks of 1930’s magazines are as refreshing to me as once were my 1950’s compared to modern magazines. And now I am finding the 1930’s similar in comparison to the 1950’s. The number of ads are easily half. There are far more articles and it is as if the articles are even written at a level of higher understanding, if that makes any sense, but I digress. That is another post all together.

So, if we take this ad here (the only car ad in the entire issue I might add) as a standard. We see the ‘deluxe’ version at $575. Now, when we adjust for inflation to present time, $575  in 1933 dollars is around $9577.80 in modern day dollars. This does not seem that high for a brand new car. But, as usual, one cannot simply look at cost differences.

I next imagined one should know what average per year earnings were for a U.S. family in 1933 comparative to today as well. My first discovery was that, obviously this is the Depression and wages must be less than the 1920’s. That was true and Between 1929 and 1932, the average American's income drops 40 percent to about $1,500 per year. 

Next, then, we must look at current average family earnings. I found that in 2010 (the latest data I could find) that American wages fell for the second year in a row (meaning they also fell in 2009) to $26, 364 a year. Another interesting point I found was that it has not been this low since 1999! So, I know some people seem oddly angry when I compare things from today to the Depression, but here we go again. Incomes falling from the previous decade. That is simply stated by fact a link to the Depression. One must understand that does not mean we are standing in bread lines and starving as they did. But one must also admit that facts in comparison are there and that in this way there are similarities.

However, here is where the differences between then and now seem rather vast:

In 1933 we have an average income of $1500 with an average car cost of $575 (though cheaper were available). That is simply one third of a families yearly income to purchase said car.

Today average income is $23,364 and according to a few articles (Business Week, NYTimes etc) the average car cost seems to be $29,602. We already see the flaw here. That means the cost of a new car is already greater than 100% of a families yearly earnings.

Now, we must also remember that such things as inspections, insurance, state and tax registrations are all but non existent in 1933 and therefore the upkeep and fuel costs are also much higher today than they would have been for a family during the Depression.

I found these interesting facts from a AAA car magazine article entitled ““Driving costs climb to $8,776 for car owners”. I found that interesting and here is the data they provide.

Breakdown of Car Ownership Costs in 2011 for the Average Car

Variable Costs:
Gas: 12.34¢ per mile
Maintenance: 4.44¢ per mile
Tires: 0.96¢ per mile

Fixed Costs:
Insurance: $968 per year
License, Taxes, etc.: $595 per year
Depreciation: $3,728 per year
Finance Charges: $823 per year

Cost per mile (total) based on 15,000 miles per year: 58.5¢

These costs, too, are before tax and are also higher if one drives an SUV. It is per car as well so must be factored in for each car a family owns.

If we first look at Gas, we see that in 1933 a gallon of gas was .10 cents or in today’s money $1.67 a gallon. We see that cost much higher today.

(as an aside I found the average earnings for a laborer in 1933 was $20 a week. We might think, oh my how little, until we actually calculate for inflation to today’s earnings that means a general laborer would earn in today’s money $$333.14. This is much higher than what laborers in many states at minimum age earn after tax. Just food for thought.)

I haven’t any data on average repair costs to a 1933 car, but I do know that there was less involved in the car. There were no computer chips, nor as many wiring systems to break down, so I think it safe to assume one’s repair in 1933 of a basic car would be no where near the $4.44 a mile found by the AAA article.

Now, for insurance costs. I found that other than my own state of Massachusetts, which required insurance as early as 1925 to car owners, it wasn’t until 1956 that NY state passed such a law and over the years the other states followed suit. Therefore, for the vast majority of car owners in 1933, insurance costs need not be factored.

Therefore, many may cry out, “How dare you compare the hard times of 1930’s to the ease of today” I am now beginning to wonder how many things are worse for us today than those hard hit in the Depression? I am not saying so to put down or belittle the hard times of the day, but we must also remember that not everyone in the Depression was hard hit as dustbowl migrant farmers and those who lost everything in the Stock Market Crash.

And for normal day to day life I now have found that the simple act of car ownership (to which a family would have one) the costs overall are much less than today.

And, down the rabbit hole I continued. And came upon the electric car.


woodselectriccar100 Years ago, in 1912, we did indeed have electric cars. This post card depicting the Woods Electric shows to lovely ladies of fashion with just such a car. This car company also had its own Prius version as well when,  “in 1915 they produced the Dual Power (U.S. Patent # 1244045) with both electric and internal combustion engines and this continued until 1918.”

I found this quote rather interesting:

The New York Times stated that the electric car has long been recognized as "ideal" because it was cleaner, quieter and much more economical than gasoline-powered cars.


Yes, that’s right, that was said in 1911.

electriccarcharging Here is an old photo an a Detroit Electric Car being charged. You can see the line running to it.

The electric car was also considered a better car for women than the gasoline car, as it was cleaner and easier to run. There was no need for the hand crank of the gasoline cars and the gears that needed constant changing in the gasoline cars do not exist in an electric car. Many liked the quiet, smoother ride, and lack of smell the electric car afforded.

There was even a recharge service where in  as early as 1896 an exchangeable battery service was provided by Hartford Electric Light Company. The automobile or truck (for transport and shipping) was purchased without a batter and the electricity was purchased the company with an exchangeable battery.  So rather than a gas/petrol station, one would go and exchange batteries and pay, as you do your electric bill, once a month. You paid a variable rate per mile. Imagine the amount of waste saved if one simply was able to continually change out the batteries as others were brought back to be recharged!

It almost makes me angry when I think of how much nicer the world might smell and look (With so much less trash, gas, throw away etc) from just the simply act of keeping electric transportation in the first place.

Even in NYC in 1897 a fleet of electric taxis were built by the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company of Philadelphia and put into use. Imagine, if even can, what a city such as NYC would smell like if it were simply devoid of internal combustion cars.

By the 1930’s the electric car had all but been done away with. A car in the 1910’s may have cost 1500 dollars at the time, but by the 30’s car prices for gas cars had gone down to $400’s. This, however, seems to have been more to do with the increase in Gas production and power of Rockefeller than any real advantage the gas car had over the electric. And, as I said, the electric car was actually easier to operate and repair. One wonders what really went on.

My innocent forays into the past often leave a bad taste in my mouth when I discover odd little facts such as these. I hope, though, that what I often take away from such discoveries as that we, the little people, the middle and working class homemakers, may not have much power in policy or major decisions. But, what we do have is our mind, our wits and the ability to implement change and rationale in our own families and daily lives. Many may think the idea of one car for a family unthinkable, but then we could think what do we use the car for? Are there endless practices and play dates that could simply be avoided therefore saving money and creating more family time? Are there wasted trips for ‘shop therapy’ or to just ‘take a drive’ that could be deleted from our life and replaced with lower costs creating less stress. And finding new joy in one’s home sipping tea with a good book by the fire rather than fighting traffic or swiping the card for one more ‘great deal that was almost cheaper to just buy it then”?

I think the more I have learned of the past, despite how one wishes to take it, there is lesson there. And when we are often fed either that the past was horrid and wretched only or that it was all starlight and sunshine through rose-colored glass we are also being cheated of the lesson of the past. We can see that with each decade we peel back, like the layers of an onion, there is always one aspect the remains: simplicity. Each decade has improvements surely, but as we go back one we also see a simpler way of doing things. And in some cases that simpler way need not be tossed out. It might be harder but only at first when one realizes the savings in cost of repair, and money lost.

I hope when I do such posts as these with numbers there in our face showing us the hard to fight high costs of today, that we can see we DO have choices and we CAN make change in our own life.

I hope all have a lovely day and as always Happy Homemaking.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

26 January 1933 “Hairstyles, Shoes, & Conveyor Belt Lives.”

myhaircut2  I really didn’t get a very good picture of how I have been wearing my hair curled, but the one I did manage to get, I messed about with to give it an antiquated look. It is hardly flattering but I wanted to show the general shape and style of my hair now curled. I have still not done the finger waves, but shall. I want to get some proper metal clips, which seems to be a better bet than bobby pins.

Overall, I love my shorter hair. As my curl was fading the other day, I realized it was basically the shorter 1950’s cut I had wanted as well. 50sbob And I really saw a similarity between the short close cut and style of the mid 50’s and mid 30’s, fashion does repeat itself.

victoryrolls  The 1940’s sported much longer hair and this was due not only to the usual change we women look to in our styles, but also the war years left little time or money to mess about with hair. Longer hair was easier to roll into “victory rolls” or tie up out of the way with scarves and kerchiefs. A few twists and bobby pins gave a busy war working gal a lift and style on the go.

This wonderful color film shows fashions from this year, 1933, and you can see there is still quite a bit of the 1920’s still here in the clothing. The waist has returned, but the cloche hat is still prevalent and occasionally a dropped waist shows up. We must remember, as well, that clothes styles finally hitting the average women by the end of the 1920’s would of course continue a bit. I always find the beginning of a decade fascinating in fashion as it always has the flavor of the previous decade but then you see hints of the trends that will become the ‘look’ of the later decade.

I know I have shared this video before, but I think it very fitting here. What we imagined the future to be from the 20’s to the 40’s outlook of the future 21st century. I have to say some things had an eerie image of reality. Though the gentleman's tool belt looks old and cumbersome, the fact that he has a phone and other items with him is very telling. And the view of the city in 2000 has a very real feel of the dense traffic and large scale freeways that we certainly have today.

One joy of vintage dressing or living in a particular decade is that one can grow a wardrobe and feel it can last forever. Therefore, with my travel back to the 1930’s I didn’t want to just toss out my 50’s wardrobe (especially as I may end up there again at the years end!) But, I found that some of my straighter skirts are very fitting for the 1930’s particularly the longer versions. Skirts became their shortest in 1925 and then gradually went longer again. By the early to mid 1930’s skirts were more mid calf, much like the length of the New Look in the late 40s' early 50’s that caused such a stir. Again, fashion repeats itself quite often.

Living in the Depression, one wants to make sure to conserve their pin money, but I did splurge on a pair of vintage styled shoes. I have already two pair of lace up heeled oxfords I showed before, but I wanted to add one Mary-Jane style heeled shoe that could be dressed up or down. What I have found is that the heel width is quite comfortable and would also be appropriate for early 1950’s dressing. What do you think of these.shoes1 shoes2 I think they look quite lovely with the darker opaque stockings of the 20’s early 30’s. And my 50’s wool skirt becomes rather 30’s I think. The color was also very 1930’s to me and though ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ doesn’t have the same meaning it will come to have in the 1950’s when Elvis sings about them, a gal can still feel happy with a bright shoe and cutaway class in her step.

Some may think it silly to so immerse onself into a decade. But, I have always loved history, all aspects of it. And so there is a certain joy, perhaps only experienced by the true historyophile, to reading a vintage magazine or novel while one is adorned in the clothe and hairstyles of the day, with the proper underpinnings. Perhaps it is merely self-indulgence, but I do feel more akin to things and as if I am somehow giving my proper respect to the past, when I try to, quite literally, walk in their shoes.

But, I think a healthy dose of curiosity and a questioning mind are all is really needed for one to become a happy and contented arm-chair time traveler. Either way, I do like to mix my serious findings of politics and laws of the day with fun meals, interesting desserts and hairstyles and shoes to enjoy them all the more.

One cannot be only happy or sad. The complexity of life simply makes it more interesting and also makes one a more complete person. I believe the main aspect of the modern age which often irks me is the hyper-specific groups one feels the need to belong to: Oh, I am a nerd, A techno-geek, a preppy, a fashionista, Green, hippy, conservative. 

Even in the university system with so much focus on single educational goals that we become, much like Ford had thought of with his automobile production, an assembly line of people. In production, sure it makes for a faster and more equally created mass produced product if every person simply learns that one special part and does it over and over again.  However,  the individual never sees above their part in that line. They cannot make or understand the whole item produced and therefore their focus becomes narrow.  I think that a very good view of modern man. We have allowed our education and culture to become one great conveyer belt mass produced life. We need to peek our heads about our little specialties and see what else is going on. The more we learn and try to understand the more we see we don’t and that leads us to understanding and better education. Mass production might be fine for our products, but shouldn’t be the pattern for our lives.

Well, I shall step down from my soap box now, gingerly mind, with my lovely blue suede shoes and head off to my day. There are so many recipes and news articles to get to. I hope all have a lovely day and Happy Homemaking.

Monday, January 23, 2012

23 January 1933 “1930’s, Here I Come…again. Yummy Spiced Coffee Cake, Breakfast Cereal, Twentieth Amendment to U.S. Constitution and our President Roosevelt talks about Foreclosures.”

30swomankitchen Well, as usual, all your lovely thoughts put things into perspective. And I find myself again thankful for our little community. Though we are not actual neighbors, as virtual neighbors you are all gems. You sat me down and made me feel good, as if we were gabbing over a cuppa and some coffee cake in the kitchen or over the fence. I thank you.

I see by the poll that a large majority are happy for me to continue onwards in the 1930’s. And to those few of you who have voted for my return to 1950’s know that I shall, in time, return there. In many ways it is a sort of normal living for me. And, at the year’s end, may happily move to simply a state of 1950’s stasis. I do think, however, that the 1950’s fans will find some fun and excitement in the 1930’s as well. Remember, this is living history to those 50’s homemakers, either in their own childhood or simply lessons learned from Mother. It would have played a major role in their development. And so, in true deeper investigative form that I so love, find it really adds to my understanding of the 1950’s. And, how much more will I appreciate my 1950’s things after my sojourn through the 30’s and into the beginning of the War in Europe?

Therefore, I shall get back to it, as it were, and focus more on what I am doing and learning and worrying less about comments. But, do know it was for you and because I do care about who reads my little scribblings. You have all come to mean so much to me, even those who merely read and don’t comment, in your well wishing or even casual interest, it spurs a gal onward to try harder and to be truer to herself and her project. I also think I may include more polls in the future as they are sort of fun. Most likely dealing with things pertaining to the 1930’s of course.

Now, how about a lovely 1930’s recipe.

spicedcoffeecakerecipeThis morning I made hubby and I a lovely coffee cake from my 1930’s Better Home’s and Gardens Cookbook. I checked again in my 1950’s version and could not find a coffee cake recipe in there. I have a few I used in the 1950’s, my favorite being the Fanny Farmer version. But, wanting to compare the 30’s recipe with the same book in the 50’s could not find the recipe at all, odd. If I have simply overlooked it, do let me know readers and tell us page number and such if you have a copy of the 1950’s version of the cook book. spicedcoffeecake1 Here it is fresh from the oven, I wish I could impart the smell to you! It was heavenly. And our having had snow recently made the warm spicy aroma even more enticing as one wants to simply curl up with a slice and a warm cup of tea or coffee in front of the fire.

I served it with hot coffee for our breakfast. Hubby loved it. I was worried it would be too spicy, as I find many modern palates do not appreciate the more deeper spices I find in older recipes. I often peruse Victorian recipes and see such things as candied fruits and heavily spiced foods were more normal, mainly due to their lack of refrigeration as well as taste.

I am finding, thus far, that the recipes I have encountered do have a bit more chemistry or work in them than some of the 1950’s versions. I am glad to have done the 1950’s earlier. I also noted that this cookbook has, as does the 1950’s variety, much use of shortening over butter. I have since found out that this was mainly part of the push to get homemakers to switch to it, but in fact many would be using butter or lard in lieu of shortening as I did. I chose butter as the recipe begins with your mixing the flours and spices with the fat as you would a pastry. I always use ice cold butter for pastry so did so here.

If you would like to follow this recipe here are some things you can do. If you do not have cake flour, as I never do, simply make it by replaces 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in each cup used in a recipe. And if you do not have buttermilk, I usually do when I make my own butter, you simply add one tsp white vinegar to your one cup measuring cup, then fill to full with milk (at least 2% milkfat or higher) and let stand 15 minutes. I did that today and it worked fine.

spicedcoffeecake2 This cake is so dense and rich. It rises a treat and has such warm and hearty fragrances. When I was making it I thought, “my this is quite a bit of butter for that little 8 x 8 pan” but it is so dense and rich that one small piece and hubby and I were more than full. It has an almost softer note of a gingerbread but a bit lighter overall. I highly recommend it and it really gives one a taste of what was considered a treat in 1930’s.

wheatiesadI thought for fun, I would share this wheaties ad from one of my 1933 magazines. It is interesting as it involves the use of a sports here, Babe Ruth, as a means to lure one into buying the product. One is also able to collect a prize by mailing in a box top. I thought the drawing also fun to see the 1930’s women and the look of the children as well. Certainly eggs and bacon and oatmeal are more likely to be found on that breakfast table, but the move towards prepared cereals are growing.

Now, for some news:

Today, 23 January 1933, the 2oth Amendment to our U.S. Constitution is ratified, changing Inauguration Day from March 4 to January 20, starting in 1937.

This process was meant to put an end to lame duck congress or government. That is to say, with the length of time to March, an outgoing President and his administration may not have the ability or support to act quickly enough to various circumstances. It also dealt with the situation were there no president elect. If the president were to be killed or die and there were no vice president in line of succession, that line was now laid out. This same instance of who is next in line was dealt with again in the Succession Act of 1947.

Many felt that during Lincolns election, this stalemate of waiting until March affected greatly his dealing with the Civil War and was used as the argument for the 20th Amendment.

Here we see the new President Roosevelt discussing the current plans to recover from the Depression. His talk about halting foreclosures of farms and homes until solutions are found would be greatly appreciated today, as well, I am certain. I know many seem to think it odd for me to compare today with the Depression, but in so doing I am not belittling the struggles of those who suffered through it, but only drawing parallels so that we might, today, not repeat such history.

We are not currently as bad off as those in the 1930’s, but we must remember MANY now are being saved by policies invented during that time. Unemployment, Healthcare, Social Security and the like are readily available today, but were only being created then. Were we not to have them I am certain we would feel it much harder. I know, as someone who gets no government money, has to pay very high prices for healthcare and property and income taxes, that with the rise in grocery bills and the relative inflation in our current dollar, we personally have had a pay loss. Just the increase in fuel and food costs over the past three years (the last time hubby received a raise) has made it seem as if he has lost at least a $2 an hour pay cut. 

Our current unemployment rate of 8% would also be closer to 20% if we used the same system as they did in the Depression rather than our new system. Also our current inflationary figures do NOT count food or fuel costs, which seems rather odd when those are the greatest factors affecting the poor and middle classes.

We do need to respect those who have gone, but let us not, for one instance, think that we might not ever find ourselves in dire straights again. As I always say, “Forewarned is Forearmed”.

Happy Homemaking.

Now, to our President:



Saturday, January 21, 2012

21 January 1933 “30’s Gal or 50’s Gal: A Time Traveler Confused and Open to Suggestions”

30swoman 50swoman

I am sorry that this post is going to be, sad to say, another response to a readers comment. Surely I am bad in not merely posting more 1930’s findings today, but I often consider thoughtfully what readers comment or write to me. I try, as best I can, to be both true to what I see my project being and also to consider my readers as well.

Here was the comment:

50s Gal,
I have followed and enjoyed your blog for the past couple of years and now I am wondering "what happened?" From the tone of our 1950s blog it seemed that you had embraced the 1950s lifestyle and mindset ans were living an authentic 1950s life. Was it all a game? Why have you suddenly changed decades in the way you live? I guess you want to stay current in the trendy way of switching lifestyles and tastes, but you really had me fooled into believing that you were truly a 1950s gal. I guess in our modern world we can just flip the channel and restructure our min and life to project whatever image we want. I was duped into thinking your blog was real.

No man (or woman) is an island until them self. Were I still to be in the 1950’s or had I truly been in the 1950’s I should have come from somewhere and that would have been the past. I would not have magically dropped down into a decade to stagnate and remain. I am also finding many things I did in the 1950’s to have been founded in the 1930’s and many housework things seem similar but simpler. And there is the rub or should I say the LURE. What made 1955 so wonderful for me at the end that I couldn’t leave? It was Simplifying one’s life.

Perhaps, being a modern person, I have merely ‘switched the channel’ who can say. It is possible to live outside of one’s time to an extent but again, I am not an island. I truly and honestly feel a responsibility to my readers and such notions do take me to heart. I should not like to seem disingenuous to anyone or to seem to be acting contrary to my words. I don’t like the “do as I say not as I do” form of dictatorship.

But, I also keep going back to what is expected of me. I must remember this is simply a blog documenting my own project for my own sake. I receive  no pay nor dictum from a higher source and do not, honestly, answer to anyone for my choices nor decisions. I have, of course, come to truly feel you the readers make it all worth the while and I love sharing with you. However, much work goes into that sharing and were it to become a place where I must constantly explain or try to appeal to you why I do this or that, it would begin to feel rather stressful. I know this is simply one commenter, but for all I know there may be many who feel this way.

One of the reasons I ran my poll was to see how you, my readers, felt and a vast majority were quite thrilled about my idea. And that idea, I thought, had validity within my 1955 project in that the same impetus that drove me to understand the 1950’s was there to help me consider the time before that. I am willing, however, to restructure my blog as may be helpful and beneficial for all. I could attempt to split my week between the 50’s and the 30’s but might be dizzy at the attempt.

My future plans with the Depression and the 1930’s was to really dig in deep to that time and I even considered an opportunity to move towards the late decade as the year ended and approach our UK sisters and their struggles in 1939 at the onset of WWII.

Therefore, today I shall post another poll up to the left for you to vote. I shall not, I promise, waste this year constantly addressing comments but in many ways such discourse helps me to look at and dissect my next move within the project and my life. Also, I feel the Forum, which I have even left decorated in 1950’s style, is very much mid-century still.

I can’t help, though, feel odd that my wish to study another decade somehow makes me unreal or fake? I also know one cannot please all the people. And, if such a person is truly unhappy, why would they not just click away, what purpose  for their hurtful remark?  Was it to merely be mean? I don’t know.

I feel people’s meanness or lashing out often is a camouflage for some deeper hurt. Therefore, rather than dismissing their action as ‘mean’ it makes me think: Did my previous blog provide to them some shelter or happy harbor from a sad life? Did they enjoy my little oasis so as better to live in their own unhappy world? And if so, have I , like perhaps the modern world has done to them, merely turned my back on them? I should hate to think myself a brute in that way. Perhaps, in my decision, I am merely being a modern gad about flitting from one thing to the next? I certainly am always willing to look at my own faults when others point them out. We are, unfortunately, always the last to see them. And I could very well be making a mistake or being callous, I don’t know. It is food for thought.

I should like, in my life and these writings, to feel I am providing, not only for myself, but for my readers something. Rather it is an oasis, or even a platform to disagree but to better discuss their own life and choices. But, I should not like to seem to be disingenuous or hurtful or, as the commenter pointed out, not being ‘real’.

I cannot help but look at and dissect such comments and I hope those who have enjoyed my foray thus far into the 1930’s don’t fell I am not being fair to them by merely addressing such a comment. But, I truly would like to know how many of you feel. I honestly was rather excited about my year in the 1930’s figuring, most likely, to return to the 1950’s at year’s end. But, if I have somehow failed you all in my further time travel, I am elastic and can restructure my ways. We are only a few weeks in.

Or, as considered, be a sort of Time-Traveling commuter, taking my train mid-week on a journey betwixt the 1950’s and 1930’s: addressing 1958 and the Depression. I shall let you help me to decide. Therefore the poll is in the upper right and I will appreciate your comments and polling. Thank you all for being a part of my lovely project so far.

Happy Homemaking.

Friday, January 20, 2012

20 January 1933 “Haircuts and Words”

30shairphoto1 I thought it’d be fun to post a quick rebuttal today concerning an anon comment about hair and girth. First off, I think a woman my age would most certainly, by 1933, have had bobbed hair. I will be wearing it more curled, as I learn, but being in my late 20’s and 30’s in the 20’s would have certainly seen my have already bobbed my hair. In fact, being young during WWI, may have even lead to it happening a bit earlier.

Here we see various shots of middle aged women in the 1930’s proudly sporting short hair and they are far from ‘Socialites’.

30shairphoto2 30shairphoto3

I love these shots of Granny’s proudly sporting their bobs, free of finger waves and curls I might add, despite it being the 1930’s.

30shairphoto4 30shairphoto5  I also had to laugh at the comment about my non-waifish or ‘matronly’ comment. Some of you certainly thought I should see it as a put down or an insult. On the contrary, Matronly, by definition means:



of, pertaining to, or having the characteristics of a matron; maturely dignified; stately.

And of course the definition of Matron:



a married woman, especially one who is mature and staid or dignified and has an established social position.

Hardly a put down in my book. And I certainly suffer under no delusions that I am a thin waifish socialite. In fact it rather made me think of how the use of words and the attitudes towards those who are older (today really anyone over 21 as far as I can discern) or anyone of normal or heavy weight (above 100 lbs if we are to use the Super Model index). Such things seem not offensive but rather a compliment. I should like very much to be seen as matronly, particularly when compared to the actual definition. Or if one were to consider it more a definition of one’s own mother, I also like the comparison as my own mother was a kind and dignified and gentle-woman and I very much aspire to her ways, though often falling rather short of them.

It made me recall an incident awhile ago when I and some ladies were smelling scents and I was asked about one scent. I replied, ‘Hmmm, smells like grandmothers’. To which the immediate response was ‘Oh, God, No” as if I had meant it in a bad way. “No,” said I, “It smells wonderful, like more spice or stronger musk scents of the 20’s. Like my Grandmother’s Chanel no. 5. I like the smell of Grandmothers” I proudly stated.

It also brought to mind a commercial my hubby had told me about he saw online for audible books. In their selling point to show how good audible books are they first have the ‘critics’ exclaim why they would at first be put off by such things. A woman looks at the camera with disgust and says, “My GRANDMOTHER listens to books on tape” as if her Grandmother were the devil incarnate and to imitate her in any way would be the very epitome of bad choice.

I think there has always been a divide somewhat between the young and old, for sure, but the continual ‘youth worship’ (which I even covered an article about in my 1955 year) has been raging onward post WWI. I often see today mothers who are older than I happily bleached blond hair, ponytail gum, low rise track pants with writing where it ought not to be, cell phone in hand and wearing Uggs in an exact replica of their 16 year old daughter. Once, young girls couldn’t wait to be like mummy and dress as an adult. Today it seems rather the other way around. It is just another way the modern world sets unrealistic expectations upon us so that we try, feel bad at the failure (Which is inevitable as we most certainly get older rather than younger) and then need reasons to feel better. I know, they may think, some ‘shop-therapy, Depression drugs, or how about a face lift’?

I have been quite thin in the past and even sometimes called glamorous, but do I aspire to look young now? I hope to look my best, but today I am where and who I am. I may lose weight in the future but even if so, I am currently who I am today and therefore still want to look the best I can as I am. And, with that look, I am proud of my often grandmotherly ways. Hat, gloves, lipstick and hose might make me look older than I am or perhaps just my age, but for me I believe sometimes those ladies dressed as 16 year old girls might be more in ‘costume’ than I in my vintage outfit.

So, lets bring back the positivity to age and terms like matronly and Grandmother. And when you smell something that has an old fashioned scent or a look of the past that you like proudly proclaim, “Oh, how lovely and matronly that is.” Or “My goodness, what a fine Grandmotherly air it has”. Any way you slice it being happy with yourself and caring more about what is in your head than what is on your head will always make one happier.

Happy Homemaking.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

19 January 1933 “New Hair Cut and Possible Styles.”

I spent yesterday getting my hair cut finally. Getting it bobbed after letting it grow so long was rather a similar feeling I am certain to that first bob a woman received in the 1920’s.

I cut my hair for the 1950’s project with bangs/fringe and a longer bob or ‘page boy’. After that first year I let it continue to grow out and wore various “up do’s”. By the end of the past three years it was well down my back. longhair(This picture was taken before I was off to the salon so do excuse the look of my hair. I was just about to simply brush it and French knot it until the hairdresser could address it.

louisebrooksMy actual cut right now has a more 1920’s look, but that is only because it is a bob without curls or finger waves. Thus, making the transition from the 20’s onward.myhaircut1 Here it is last night. I put a barrette in and thought it looked rather vintage. My next attempt will be with pin curls. Then I shall attempt finger waves.

Here are some of the images I brought with me to the salon as a guide for how I would like to style it.

haircut1 haircut2 haircut5 As you can see, these are a bit longer, a more grown out bob, which was the basis of the 1930’s style. Which is quite logical as one moves towards a new trend the bangs/fringe grows out the bob increases in length and one plays about with different curls and waves. The early part of the 1930’s, where I am, would have still be very peopled with 20’s style bobs, which had a tighter wave or was left straight. There was more closefitting pomaded highly sleek looks like the second photo. But, as the decade progresses towards the 1940’s, the hair becomes looser and has more movement. Thus, my more severe bob will be a great way to move out of the late 20’s and into the mid 30’s. My hair grows rather fast so the shape will evolve rather quickly.

Getting back to that feeling of the ‘first bob’, I rather felt that. Having had my longer hair over the past few years and before that it had been long for quite a few years, to suddenly have that weight removed felt rather liberating. It was long enough and not color treated so that I could donate it to locks of love, a charity that makes human hair wigs for those going through chemotherapy. That made me feel even better about having it bobbed.

Because of that, the hairdresser put in a tight elastic and then just cut off that ponytail, so that it could be bagged and sent to the charity. Thus, the liberation of that long hair was simply a cut snip. My head actually felt five pounds lighter! And this morning I reached for my braid/plait to undo and brush out and was happy to find my neck and short hand in its stead. I think this will make some of the harder aspects of this year a bit easier as shorter hair equals less work in maintenance and even use of shampoo (though it will mostly be bar soap for me, I believe.) I am still trying to discern what shampoo was available

shampooad This ad is from 1937 but am still looking for earlier 30’s shampoo advertising. And many, simply out of habit or economy, may simply used bar soap such as ivory soap, which was available in the 1930’s.ivorysoapad This ivory soap ad from the mid 30’s exclaims it has been making its soap for over 50 years, so that may have been readily available. I have spoken with many older ladies who said that they often used bar soap on their hair, which was usually washed once a week. And as an aside, how adorable is that gentleman’s bathroom? So masculine with the lovely black time and the shower curtain depicting golf and tennis rackets. Truly a wonderful look for a man’s private bath, if one were lucky enough to have such a thing.

handsacrossthetableposter I will close with this clip from the 1935 movie screwball comedy, “Hands across the Table” staring Carole Lombard and Fred McMurray. It is about a manicurist looking for a wealthy husband. This clip shows a woman at a salon getting her hair washed with shampoo.

This is a darling film, though two years away from 1933. Here is part one of it:


And iff you would like to watch the rest of this movie in its entirety i have it HERE on APRONTV.

I also apologize for not posting yesterday, but stayed off the computer all day in my own little black out protest for the current PIPA laws, which luckily seemed to have had a turn about. The internet is really the one aspect of small, grassroots and community we have left in this world. In many ways, despite it being cutting edge technology, it is probably the most really ‘old fashioned’ thing we have in this modern world. By that I mean, it allows a local singer, or an artist, or movie maker or yes, even a blogger (the new local journalist) a chance to share their ideas and views. Despite it being a mash of good and bad it is, for now, all of ours and has a sort of democracy missing in many countries actual political policy. So, hear hear to the reversal of Pipa/Sopa and I hope we can, all of us, hold onto our little bit of self expressive freedom. Even I, with many of the materials I share and scan, could have been taken down. And what good is it to let all that information molder away unshared with others? No good, as far as I can see.

Happy Homemaking.

Monday, January 16, 2012

16 January 1933 “Cleaning and Old Household Hints”

littleboywheelbarrow First, I wanted to start today with this darling little picture I found in a 32 magazine. I thought it went well with our talk last post about children-sized adult toys. The little washing machines and irons were adorable and practical. And, I might add, that one need not only hope a role of homemaking for their little child to want to instill these skills in them. Even the bachelor engineer has a need to keep his clothes clean, his floors swept, food on the table, and a balanced bank account. Such play, I think, should be encouraged in both sexes because they, the homemakers skills, are a basic skill for all mankind to get a handle on.

This photo shows little Donald with his own wheelbarrow. And while he is having fun and getting to get dirty, he is also learning about the importance of composting and keeping the soil for growing food. Another element to our living is food and surely now it is easily got at local stores. But, as I have been saying, one never knows with our current economy.

And learning to grow correctly is a skill we should all wish to acquire. Pesticides, chemicals and ill planned growing is certainly a bad road. Even the dustbowls of the Depression were largely due to the sudden cessation of old fashioned growing techniques. The hedgerow as windbreak and environment for animals that create waste to fertilize the grown and help carry seed was wiped out. The changing of garden sections to lie fallow and to plant up with winter wheat an the like was abandoned with the new modern means of plowing it all over and knocking down great expanses of land to plant larger same crops. This, when drought arrived and the wind was allowed free reign across the  plain, simply took up all the topsoil layers of rich nutrients plant need to grow. And, because of that, many people were homeless and starved.

We need to realize it is a serious business, understanding planting and the earth. If we think to always rely on the store or the large Monsanto breed genetically altered plants we may find ourselves in sore need of some good old fashioned planting and soil maintenance know how. But, I digress. I think it a quaint and wonderful little task for Donald to understand digging in the dirt isn’t just a fun pastime (though surely it is) but is a means to an end to feed oneself. Even if one were lavishly rich and had servants at hand, one should still possess the knowledge of how to care for oneself. The one certainty of the future is its Uncertainty. 

Now, to the home cleaning. I have reduced my already small cleaning arsenal from 1950’s. Though, there were many cleaners available, I felt my older homemaker self having lived through the WWII years would have held fast to my vinegar and water, Borax, baking soda and other simple solutions. I did get a push sponge mop that wrings out as I saw them readily advertised in the late 1950s. I often would return to the old reliable cotton mop, though ,as I could toss it in a bucket of bleach and then wash it with my whites.

Now, here in 1933, I am getting confusing and contrasting notions of what one did use to clean the floors of the house. I see vacuums available similar to my 1950s vacuum, so that has remained in my arsenal.bissel I have even added a lovely old wooden push Bissel  Sweeper carpet floor cleaner. This is not a picture of my exact one but it is very close. Lovely old varnished wood and it really does a treat of attacking the carpets and floors. I now find myself going for that before I drag out the vacuum. That is reserved for vacuuming day, while my bissel is for everyday. I rather sound like a commercial.

Look at these adds for the Bissel and you can see how much they were prized.bisselad bisselad2

Just for fun: HERE is a great site of a UK collector of early vacuums fun to look at his items.

scrubrushhandle Now, this ad here from 1930 shows the push scrub brush as an innovative notion. I don’t know if that is true or not. I would love to see how that wax spreader worked, wouldn’t you? So, I am assuming the norm was the old hands and knees approach to cleaning the kitchen floor, so here is what has replaced my mop and by sponge spic n span 1950’s push mop.bucketnbrushThough, I saw something similar to thisscrubbrushhandledat our local hardware store. Certainly meant for outdoor cleaning, I believe this might very well be the wonder advertised in my 1930 magazine. It is around $5 today and I think on my next shopping trip it might find its way into my basket.

As I keep doing the math for my own age today in 1933 to when I would have been a young housekeeper, I marvel at how differently I would have done things in the the mid 19teens! With that in mind, I was lucky enough to find this book free online. I am including the link so you can peruse it at your own leisure, but be assured, I shall most likely refer to it again in the future. As it is from 1913 I most likely would have had a copy in my library as my early Homemaker life started out. 

householdhintbook Household Helps, Hints and receipts

soap1913 Here are some tips in using soap. Right now, for my floor scrubbing, I am using fels-naptha in water as it seems an old-fashioned soap to make into floor cleaner. I slice a piece off, pour boiling water into the bucket and to it add a bit of Borax cleaning powder and mix it all up. This is essentially what I use to make my laundry soap and see no reason to not use it as a general scrubbing soap on floors and counters. I do wipe and rinse well with warm water afterwards.

soapmakingcare How to economically use the different soaps available are outlined here . I wonder if this would have been a norm for me in the 19teens. I do, however, strongly believe that I would have had, at the very least, a day girl or one young live in servant, probably a young girl. She may have been a great help on soap making days. I have to say, that I shall indeed try to make these soaps and will share my results with you. I found caustic soda for sale around $6 and put it HERE in the corner store if anyone else would like to try along when I make some soap. I will let you know, as I will need to keep more of my fats from cooking. I do so now, but want to have a separate jar for such fat for soaps as opposed to cooking. I also added a modern Bissell (which is metal) to the shop as well. They run around $20. HERE is the link to the Home Care Products in the corner store. I make very little (sometimes a penny or two sometimes nothing) but I have kept the store open as a resource for any of my followers if they would like to have a go at the ‘old time’ products still available.

Enjoying perusing the online book from 1913. I had planned on sharing the last recipe for Meat Pot Pie but I will be making that tonight for dinner, so shall share the results and photos of that next post. Happy Homemaking.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

14 January 1933 “Our Little Princesses: Cleaning as Play, Some Vintage Newspaper Recipes and Hopes for an Old Washing Machine”

bonamiad I thought this ad for Bon Ami was not only darling but rather telling. Today I see so many ‘Princess’ items for little girls. Certainly, playing make believe and dress up is fun, but I am not sure if one needs to buy endless synthetic kits to allow our child’s imaginations to go there. However, playing house was once not only a norm but also a way for a little girl, or boy, to have a go at being an adult. And surely, there are but a handful of us in this world we can grow up to be a princess or a king. But, we must all know how to cook and clean and care for ourselves, even when we are simply University students.

Now, I am not saying to not let children have fun and play whatever their imagination can dream up, but I feel like a lit of the fantasy and Princess world is really being fed to children with books, videos, cartoons and so on. It isn’t as if there is suddenly en masse a movement among children to want to go down that lane. But, I also think the counter of playing at real life can be fun. I remember playing house when I was little and I loved it. I loved the chance to have a go at being an ‘adult’.

As I have no children myself, I don’t know. Perhaps there are just as many kits and toys and games out there for children to learn basic things like cleaning and caring for ones self. I know there  used to be little irons and sewing machines even washing machines.

 Muller 10  Here is a toy sewing machine from the 1930’s, which of course actually works. toywashingmachine A toy washing machine and ringer.

toycleaningkit And a little toy cleaning kit like mothers. Now this is a REALISTIC Princess a young lady could hope to be. Hardly a bad type, I think, considering learning to do and care for oneself and others is a very good skill and can be fun to boot.

Many of you have children, so do set me straight. Is there as much ‘playing house’ as there once was? Are there toys and things on the market that encourage children to play house. I don’t even know if I see play money and coin any longer, like I remember having when we would play store and bank, practicing making change and saving. Now, I wonder, do they just have toy credit cards? I know they have toy cell phones, but today I see very young children with the real thing, so no toy even needed there.

newspaperrecipes1 newspaperrecipes2 I wanted to share some lovely finds from my 30s Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. In the back, tucked away in the little section for cut recipes, are some wonderful old 1930’s receipts and cutouts from newspapers of the day.

Here are some of the delightful finds from the two above. They are from a September 1931 Cinncinati Ohio newspaper. This meat pie sounds a God send to me and I am going to try it tonight and share the results on next post:

meatpotpierecipe  What a great way to use leftover meats and even veg and stuffing would be good tossed in. I say this recipe is really a great aid for any leftovers. And even the timid homemaker or cook can manage a simply wet batter poured over her leftovers and baked! And imagine the ways to spice it up. A dusting of cheese on top. Maybe some garlic and fresh herbs in the batter? Endless and this would also be a great breakfast bake with ham and eggs and syrup or cinnamon in the batter.

rawrhubarb I love this storage for raw rhubarb. I used to store it in my freezer, but since downsizing fridge and having almost no freezer space (very 1933 too I might add) I am always trying to find ways to store things that don’t require electricity and appliances. This sounds a very good way to do so. I wonder what other fruits or veg could be stored this way? If anyone knows, please share.

tomatomincemeat This recipe not only gets me excited for Spring but is also helpful in getting a jump on canning. Late Spring Early Summer, when those tomatoes and apples are still to unripe to eat! Get some now or take those that fell off the tree early and or any tomatoes that might be getting attacked by the bugs, save the green ones and make this lovely mincemeat for future pies and tarts. I also think this type of conserve would be lovely brushed on a pork roast for the last 30 minutes of its cooking. Or simply serve in a darling dish at dinner and would be lovely with pork chops. And a great spread for toast at tea time.

I am excited to see that many recipes and tips will be coming this year that can help us all to plan more, prepare more, and spend less and use less. A great pattern to get into in our changing times.

vacuumad This vacuum advert from my 1930 Better Homes magazine shows the ‘new’ vacuum. Again, this model looks almost identical to my 1950s Kirby so I feel very little need to hunt down a 1930s version. I am sure it was quite similar and here this version is only $14.50. In today’s money that would only be $187.51. For some reason I thought they would be more dear to the purse strings, but in comparison, that is cheaper than an ill made plastic vacuum today from a big box store.

maytagwasherad This ad for a new Maytag washer is also from 1930. I am still using my modern washing machines, but am on a lookout for something along these lines. I am putting my feelers out to see if there is an old operational one around that is free or very cheap. I really want to know how it felt to use this machine. And, as part of the experiment, do a weeks’ laundry by hand and a hand ringer. Then use this and see how magical it may have felt. Somtimes I find that the older ways, though may seeming to take longer, often put you in a different frame of mind, such as: It is harder to do the laundry. Therefore I need to own LESS things to launder and to take better care of what I do have. This is not always a bad mindset to get into. I am sure it will not be wonderful by any means, but I do want to move towards this.

This got me thinking about soap again. And the types of detergent even available to a homemaker in the 1930s. I found this, which I will share here as a quote:

“In the 1920s, Americans used soap flakes to clean their laundry. The flakes performed poorly in hard water, leaving a ring in the washing machine, dulling colors, and turning whites gray. Procter & Gamble began an ambitious mission to change the way Americans washed their clothes. Researchers discovered two-part molecules which they called synthetic surfactants. Each part of the "miracle molecules" executed a specific function--one pulled grease and dirt from the clothes, while the other suspended dirt until it could be rinsed away. In 1933, this discovery was introduced in a detergent called "Dreft," but it could only handle lightly soiled jobs. The next goal was to create a detergent that could clean heavily soiled clothes. That detergent was Tide®.

Created in 1943, Tide detergent was the combination of synthetic surfactants and "builders." The builders helped the synthetic surfactants penetrate the clothes more deeply to attack greasy, difficult stains. Tide was introduced to test markets in October 1946 as the world’s first heavy-duty detergent. Consumer response was immediate and intense. Tide detergent outsold every other brand within weeks. It became so popular that store owners were forced to limit the quantity purchased per customer.

Tide detergent was improved 22 times during its first 21 years on the market, and Procter & Gable still strives for perfection. Each year, researchers duplicate the mineral content of water from all parts of the United States and wash 50,000 loads of laundry to test Tide detergent’s consistency and performance.”

So, it is this year that Dreft became available. I think you will recall the Dreft ad I shared that would have been seen at the picture show. Therefore, graying whites and soap film would be a part of my life today, despite Dreft being invented this year. I believe they had bluing even back in the early 1900’s to help counter this graying in whites.  I would like to, of course, get some versions of the old soap flakes to use on an old machine. I hope I can find such a machine because I really think it would be fun and I am sure hilarious, what the results would be.

Well, off to more housework and trying to get a handle on how to continue to lay out my 1933 life this year. I hope all have a lovely day and Happy Homemaking.

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