Sunday, January 1, 2012

1 January 1933 “Here I am: a New Decade but an Old Challenge”

As you may now see I have chosen to focus on the 1930’s this year. I want to first say that this in no way means I have left behind the 1950’s. In fact, after the experiment, or perhaps part of the way through, one never knows, I may happily return to My present which would be 1958. As I have said many times before the changes in my general outlook on life as well as how I choose to live could never go back completely to the 21st century. I happily use its technology and positive means but for the most part the over consumption and general attitude of the modern world can often leave me cold.

One of the main reasons for my trip to 1930’s was our own current economy and world. I have felt increasingly guilty about living happily in the glory days of the 1950s. In a sense a feeling, as many may have felt in war time or other eras that needed people to stand up, band together and get to work, I feel this is my own contribution to our modern Recession and hard times. That I might live as well and best as I can in the old Depression so that, were it to hit us again, we might be prepared. And hope among hope it does not, then we have had a good laugh at my foibles and relished our enjoyment of more homemaking skills. For surely, the 1930’s homemaker, needed even more skills without her automatic electric kitchen and instant cake mixes and two cars in every driveway.

I have to say I was still on the fence last night about my decision. Having really thought about it. Then, checking my last post, I received this comment which rather hurt me and made me peevish and moody for the rest of the night.

I am crushed the you are leaving the 1950s. Throughout the past few years when ever anyone has posted comments about you "playing dress-up" or "pretending" to live in the past your retorts gave the impression that this was more than just a game for you, that it was a lifestyle. To now find out that you are going to have a go at a different decade was a real blow to those of us who thought you were really committed to the 1950s way of life. Good luck with your next production.
The real '50s Gals.


Of course, as is often the case, the comment was anonymous. It hurt me in a way that made me think more and more about our current times and even the later 1950s. In a way it cemented my choice this year. I began to think of that modern mind set, or feeling of  entitlement. We as modern people are trained to expect and want this instantly, without fail, and to our own personal standards. The idea of personalized and Now seems to permeate all the consumer goods. And the fact that we can, without much cost (save the internet fees), have access to many blogs and information that people take time and effort without pay to do is a wonderful thing. Yet, even with this offered to us we may often expect such things to be as we like it. And not finding it so we can often become angry or even hostile. Now, I am not saying this comment is hostile and in so many ways I am lucky with my comments. Many people have told me how lucky I am to have so many good comments and such considerate and well behaved people, for the internet is a place filled with crass rudeness. But, I did feel a bit of the spoilt baby who wants her her way or no way in the comment.

So, to my point. This sort of ‘give me what I want or I don’t like it’ attitude really made me want even more to go into the past even further. And it also made reflect on the ending of the 1950s. I would, this year, be in 1958. I see the writing on the wall, the increased consumerism, the ever creeping towards the 60’s that begins to feel more like the 21st century that I wanted to address. I am not saying that 1958 was not a wonderful year and certainly so much better in many ways than 2012 may be, but it was this sort of tantrum response that made me want to have another little sojourn into unknown territory and see what I am made of. Am I to come screaming back to 1958 in a month because I miss it or think I cannot do it? One never knows, but I feel it is worth a try.

I also really, for my own purpose, want to see the news and various aspects of the 1930s and what it was like in the “Between The War” years.

I chose 1933 as my base year, though I intend to discuss things prior, obviously, but also to go into as far as 1939. I have a few inexpensive cookbooks and magazines on the way, though the sheer amount of things made and published in the 1950’s is easily three times that of the 1930’s. There was no TV and talkies had only started in 1927 and there was of course the phonograph and radio. So, the advertising to the people to get them to buy more and also the availability of money was such that there are just not as many publications nor homemaker type manuals. In 1933 one was more likely to have learned at mothers knee than in a book.

Another aspect would be my own 50s gal persona would have been a War bride and a young girl in the 1930’s. I would have learned from a mother who was herself a young homemaker in the 1930’s and to see and experience that as best or realistically as I can shall certainly be interesting to me.

I hope I have not made any of the pure 1950’s followers too upset. I will still reference the 1950’s quite often because in many ways they have been my point of reference for the past three years. I could but not help to compare things I do and find in 1933 with those I found in 1955 and of course with 2012, whatever that may yet turn out to be.

Now, on the practical side, I am not going to throw way my 1950’s clothes, jewelry etc. That would not be very 1930’s at all. In fact many things, such as my straighter longer skirts, are actually quite 1930’s. Simply wear a sweater (jumper) over that with a thin belt at the waist and one of my berets and I shall be quite 1930’s.

shoes  have bought two pair of shoes that are much more 30’s and I have to say a bit more comfortable than some of my 1950’s shoes because they have a wider heel and are lace up. They are similar to these pictured here. And part of the fun will be finding a few things here and there at old shops for little money to augment my already homemade wardrobe.

My hair, which I have let grow past my shoulders, will get bobbed. I am going to twist and wear it lower until I do that but am looking forward to a shorter style. I certainly could have had a shorter style in 1957, but was growing it as would have been happening as we approached the 1960’s for the fuller hair. The the early 1960’s bubble cut was rather short it was also the beginning of a bouffant approach. I rather like the looks of the 1933 hair in comparrison. Early 1960s and 1933 30shair Yet the size and close shape of the 1930’s hair is not that different from the 1950s. These young girls in 1955 look to have rather similar hair to the 1930s, as not all hair was tightly fingerwaved as demonstrated here by Myrna Low in the 1930s. myrnaloyhair Certainly the fingerwave was a popular look many also sported looser curls, as this photo of Marlene Dietrich shows, marelnedeitrich  but the hair, over all, was definitely short, just not as severe and boyish as it had been in the 1920s. I will share my hair results and, I am sure, mess ups with you.

The music I am rather excited about as I love many late 30’s early 40’s such as Ella and Louis. But to learn more of other artists it rather exciting and will happily fill my kitchen as I struggle with various things, I am sure. Here is Ruth Etting, a very popular singing and movie star of the late 20’s and early 30’s.

And Annette Henshaw

I also want my readers to know that for the most part I shall look for the bright and happy side and try to counter any sadness with a good dose of ‘how to’ Depression style to shake the blues away. But, just as today, there are hard times a coming and I think it would be a false way to represent the times if I did not also mention some of the bad. For without the bad, how good shall we know we have it when the sun shines?

And, on that note, with the coming hardships and rising job loss and further economic Depression, this song, for many reasons, become a great hit. Many sang and hummed this tune as it was known by all. If one follows the lyrics we can see the sad progress of the proud Great War Veteran now down on his luck. Many needed a spare dime.

I hope all are excited for me to try and discover and live the best way I can 1930’s style. And don’t worry the 1950’s are still there, we are, after all, time travelers are we not? We can, with a click of a button, travel to anytime we imagine and can easily enjoy the good of any past we wish.

Happy Homemaking , Happy New Year and wish me luck!


  1. I think your blog is fascinating and I seldom miss it. If 1933 is calling your fancy, I say go for it! It will be an interesting and very timely read. So many of today's issues are issues we share with those hardy folks of the "greatest generation" (humble folks who chuckle at being called that.) Good luck!

  2. Hello, Donna! I have been anxiously awaiting your post all morning! Several times I have stopped by and observed the little changes taking place. I am so glad you are going on this journey and I can't wait to see what things you will be learning and passing on. Best of luck!

  3. I am so excited that you are doing this! And I'm sorry for the unkind anonymous comment you received....I've had a few of those myself at times and it doesn't feel good when it happens.

    I think it's nice to change things up a bit sometimes and I am excited to learn along with you.

    Oh and the blog looks FANTASTIC!

  4. I love your blog and am sorry someone left a comment that hurt your feelings. For me, living a simple life, it is nice to see things from eras by gone, because so many folks look to my life and say why.

    The history person in me as well as the homeschool mom are inspired because a great way to learn about anything is hands on. You are a field study with compassion, information, honesty, and sweetness that makes my visit so wonderful.

    May you be taken to the 1930's with ease knowing that many of us will be learning how our grandmothers and great grandmothers lives were and how we can make do if we need the times we live in are very precarious.

    Happy New Year!


  5. Have fun! Looking forward to this! Thank you for taking the time and finding the gumption to go at this time travel with gusto. Happy New Year!

  6. Exciting! :) Although I love the fifties, I will follow you as always, since I love your writing. I am very curious if you do the thirties "correct" - that is no washing machine, dryer, dish washer, vacuum cleaner, etc. Or if you cheat. Let us know, and good luck. I look forward to reading about your new journey. Happy New Year. :)

  7. Wonderful! So many comments already. Well, Sanne, luckily for me in America, we did have vacuum cleaners. Right now, however, I shall use my 1950's kirby until I can find one (cheap only or I shall switch to broom and pan) and see how that looks. Someone I know said they may have an old electrolux canister from the 1930's. They are going to check and see if 1)it works and 2)what decade it truly is from.
    I am, sadly, going to let the dishwasher go. Though there are models coming available, unless I happened upon one (and didn't mind my dishes possibly breaking) it shall be by hand. That was the one up to the minute 1950s item I allowed myself. The washer, for now an old model, will be put on the back burner. I think I might do some research and find if there are any old models kicking around and try that as well. Where I live are many older people and Yankee thrift often leads to Grandmother keeping that 'old thing' down cellar and often people are happy to give it to me just to see it come back to life. As I said, frugality is key, but as accurate as I can get if at all possible. I feel the same tummy excitement I did on 1 Jan 1955 (though less the drive to go and buy up everything right away!)
    And all others, thank you so much for commenting and I am glad you are excited for me. I left the page for the Forum with the original banner and background to let others know that 1950's are still there waiting for me whenever I need them!

  8. All I can say is you are brave to do this at all, no matter what decade. And, you are an awesome researcher. We have all learned a lot. Sorry somebody hurt your feelings.

  9. Donna,
    I have been waiting for this post all day! LOL I am a HUGE fan and have been reading your blog for *years* :) This year I will be much more involved with doing even more myself to go back to the 1930s. Because of YOU I started my own garden last spring and also STARTED CANNING. I wish so much that I could sew and knit. I Tried taking a sewing class and it just didnt work out. My Grandmother could knit all day long with her eyes closed! Sadly, she never did teach us kids and last year she passed. I have a pretty big 1950s-1960s wardrobe but now I want to pick up things for the 1930s-1940s. I LOVE your shoes, can you share where you purchased them? Me and my husband just got back from London and spent a lot of time in the Churchill war musuem and all the world war 2 places of interest. I spent all day at the Churchill war *experience* looking at the coupons for rationing, looking at the outfits, learning about the blackouts ect. Even though it is not in your *time era* I have a wonderful book you might like called Nella Last's War. For 40 years she was a part of the British Mass Observation project and was given the name *Housewife 49" it is also now a movie. I marvel at how she could take ANYTHING and turn it into something!! Anyways I am very excited to spend more time here on your site and less time on Facebook. I actually do not know why I even have my Facebook account anymore except to read about family and the occasional post by you. I want to learn how to be even more frugal then I already am! We might start keeping chickens again. I had six of them since they were chicks and loved having fresh eggs. We moved three years ago and have plenty of room for hens, just need to build a coop. Thank you for taking time out of your life to post about your adventures. The rude comment that was left was uncalled for and sounds more like a jealous statement then anything else. Always has to be that *one* and its ALWAYS HIDING ISNT IT? :) I have a ton of vintage cookbooks and have dug out the few I have from the 1930s era. You are right that it will be more challenging BUT look how far you have come already!! Best of luck to you and I look forward to your new adventure!!

  10. It'll be fun to explore the '30's with you. I really enjoyed the '50's, but I already knew a lot about that time, since I was a young homemaker then. The '30's was my mother's time, and I look forward to it!

  11. Oh I can't wait to see how all this pans out. Should be interesting!

  12. Hi Donna,
    First, Happy New Year 1933! I have been watching all day to catch your decision. So happy you are going to the 30s. I have been fascinated by the Depression for years, actually all past decades, just always loved history I guess. I hope you enjoy your journey as much as I will. Put that unhappy post out of your mind, she doesn't matter in the long run. The rest of us and there are lots, are very happy with whatever you do. Dale

  13. Donna, I am so pleased you have gone back to the 30s. I am really looking forward to following your journey.

  14. P.S. Dale here again. I love the new look of the website, the color, the deco the and the artwork. Nice job!

  15. FANTASTIC DONNA! Don't let "mean" comments bother you-we love you:)

  16. I, for one,am really excited about this!
    I have quite a collection of late 20s/30s songs downloaded. Some are quite risque for the time.
    Check out Bo Carter's Banana in Your Fruit Basket, if you want a giggle and gasp! =D
    Bessie Smith is fun too.
    Though I don't follow any particular era or live completely vintage, I like to call on history and housewife manuals of the times for great ideas to do more with less.
    Good Luck! I am waited with baited breath!

  17. I too feel the same as your do in regards to your perspective of the 30's and how it relates to our economy and also being prepared. I am excited to follow along with you!

  18. I am so excited to follow you this year! I LOVE the shoes of the 30's :o) Also, the fashions in "Cinderella Man" and "O Brother Where Art Thou" are fabulous!! I have some Depression era cookbooks and the meals look much more nourishing than the modern diet. Dee

  19. I came back to read the other comments and enjoyed what others had to share. :o) You know, I was thinking.....if you hadn't already 'gotten your feet wet' so-to-speak with the 1950's I think trying the 1930's might have been too daunting. Perhaps the 1950's have prepared you for the 1930's. :o)

    Oh and I have to say *again* I LOVE the new look of the blog....I think I like it even better than the 1950's design you had before, although that was lovely too.

    Happy New Year!

  20. that comment was ridiculous, please don't let it bother you. The 1950's way of life EVOLVED in part from the 1930's, so going "back" in time is just going to strengthen your understanding and appreciation of the 1950's. And I would love to hear your thoughts on things from the 1930's (and 40's, if you wander up that way in time. I'm fascinated with the war-time mentality) and how those events/ways of thinking/doing influenced the 1950's. That poster hiding behind anonymity just hadn't thought that out very well, did they? Please don't let it bother you and good luck with your new project!

  21. I have been reading your blog off and on for awhile and have always enjoyed it. You have researched your facts and led an honest 50's life plus shared it with all of us. I am excited to continue following your adventures into the 30's! I agree with you 100% about the 21st century.
    I'm sorry you had an upsetting comment but it is YOUR blog to do with as YOU see fit...the commentor sounds childish to me. I always felt that blogs let me reinvent myself to how I'd like things to be...I see no harm in that at all!

  22. I think what you are doing is fabulous. Have you had a look at "Cooking with Clara", the YouTube videos made by a lady in her 90s (also called "Real Depression Cooking", I think). I also agree that Nella Last's War is a great and inspiring read.

    One thing that would interest me is if you went beyond the US in your study of history to a more international perspective. For example, the threat of Nazism across Europe, mass migration of Jews and others in this period; the impending war that struck in 1939 in Europe and the Commonwealth (not 2 years later as in the US).

    All the best and Happy New Year!


  23. I've been blogging almost seven years (!). It never ceases to amaze me how rude people can be. We blog and share out lives with anyone who wants to read and people have the gall to complain when we don't do something just the way they want done. Don't waste another second letting it bother you. It isn't worth the energy.

    I'm looking forward to your time in the 30's. I've long been fascinated by the era myself. A couple of suggestions you can take or leave. Grace Livingston Hill was a very popular fiction writer during that time. (She writes from a Christian perspective, FYI.) Her books from the 20's and 30's are rich with information about daily life. Let me know if you would like any specific recommendations or if you are especially interested in a particular topic and I can let you know if any books would correspond.

    If you aren't familiar with the historical books put out by Reiman Publishers you might enjoy those as well. They are full of short little stories of people reflecting back on those times. Two I have really enjoyed are from the Great Depression. One is "We Had Everything But Money" and the other is "When the Banks Closed, We Opened Our Hearts." They weren't written during the 30's but the stories are great examples of what people went through then.

    Great redesign! Have fun with your new endeavor!

  24. Yea! I've been a reader of vintage magazines from 1920's to 1959 for years now. I simply enjoy them far far more than 'modern' magazines!

    Do wonder if you'll be looking for a little 1930's gas stove to cook upon? I see them all of the time here in the South, some in better shape than others. Personally I think they are absolutely adorable, so dainty and feminine, lol.

    I'm looking forward to this even more than your 1950's living. Go Donna!!

  25. I am really interested in your new era! Like the new look of the website, too. Gosh, I'm not sure I could survive life in the '30s, but I suppose if I were really living in the '30s, odds are good that I would live in the same town as my parents and/or siblings, and I would probably live near other homemakers, as well. So I would have more people to turn to for help in things like canning, sewing, etc, than I have in modern times. Looking forward to your posts this year!

  26. I was anxious to see your post today to see what date would be on your post. I'm looking forward to following your new adventure. You are in the year my father was born, so it will be interesting for me to learn more about the world he was born into.

    Happy New Year, Donna, and all the best in 1933!!

  27. What a grand idea to move further back and approach it as "your mother" would have lived raising "you!" It is not a project or really even a way of life; what you are doing is researching and living history. For how can we know what the future may bring if we close our minds and eyes to the past? That is a point my history teachers brought up every year. I for one would not be nearly as enlightened to even our modern times if I did not follow your research through the past!

  28. Hi Donna

    Looking forward to the coming days and months with interest. I've been fascinated by the fifties for some time, but have recently been learning more about the forties, so we shall see where I end up.

    I'm sadly not able to live a true vintage inspired lifestyle as my husband is disabled so its all mod-cons around here until they break. I'm instead looking to buy vintage where I can, whenever something is worn out of just plain unwearable now. Am also looking into altering some of my clothing, as that can be a money saver too.

    The new blog design is FABULOUS. Love it. Oh my but you've been a busy gal today.

  29. I'm looking forward very much to following your blog. I've really enjoyed what I've read so far, and appreciate all the research you've put in. I was born in 1951, my mother in 1914, her mother in 1880: I have a great interest in history and in the Domestic Arts. I'm lucky to have a small collection of older recipe books and 'cope books' and also to have been brought up when I was. Happy New Year to you.
    [Valerie, New Zealand]

  30. Although I ADORE the 1950's I am still quite excited to share in your adventure. I also would love maybe next year a 1940's theme. ;)
    Don't forget the many radio programs from the 30's available on Internet Archive. And some great music too.
    And yes, there should be a lot of classic novels and cookbooks etc available for free online.. Or from the library. :)

    Happy 1933!!

  31. Excellent blog change!! I *love* the design, specifically the font on (I'm obsessed with Art Deco style). My folks were both born in the 20's, so growing up I heard a lot about the 30's (when they grew up). My mom's family had a rough time of it; they not only lost possession of their home but nearly all of their belongings as well. They moved to a very small "apartment", upper floor of a house, and my mom's "bedroom" was the space at the top of the landing where they could fit a bed for her. She was about 12 at the time.

    That rude catty comment someone made that hurt your feelings - ugh! It's interesting that the poster felt that somehow you owed them something, that it was about them and not you, and that by making a change in decades you were somehow going back on a promise/commitment that they assumed you made to...who? Don't worry about it (I know that's easier said than done)!! Your blog has always been absolutely fascinating, and will continue to be! While every one enjoyed reading about your 50's life, it will be JUST as fascinating to read about your life in 1933 and on! There's A LOT to learn from all time periods; you're one smart gal for recognizing that and seeing what other decades have to offer!!

  32. i always said that i should just have been dropped into a fred astaire movie and left there as my utopia! though i know much about the '30's was hard and sad, it is still my favorite era to read about and study. i will look forward to any new tidbits you have. best wishes for a great journey!

  33. I have been reading along, all these years and will continue. Excited about a new idea. Another one of my favorite decades.Don't forget women like Garbo . Check out her hairstyle.She sometimes had shoulder length hair. what about heat. Coal? My house build in 1921 had a wood stove but, they remodeled our house and completely took out the chimney.This was in the kitchen and would have been used to heat and cook on.the pipe whole covered up is only thing left. we have had a few ice storms with several counties without power our longest was 14 days and we live smack in the city. 180 thousand people. A chimney would have been nice.

  34. So looking forward to your foray into the 1930's! As a child I spent much time w/my grandparents and great-grandparents (maternal), and much of their home - furnishings, old clothes tucked into back of closets, sheet music, recipes,etc. - was right out of the 1930's and 1940's. Thank you!

  35. p.s. buy a Bissel , they are not expensive and everyone had one. my mother would have only been six, but if she remembers anything special I will pass it along.

  36. Hey there, 30's gal! I can't wait to see where this journey leads you- and me by reading your thoughtful posts. Happy New Year!

    Sarah H

  37. I pleased beyond measure that you're going ahead with the 1930s! I honestly think it and the 40s are my favorite decades. I don't know if I much else to offer in the way of comments. Everyone else has offered you a lot of support, suggestions, tips, stories - it's wonderful!

    The "dirty '30s" definitely affected my great-grandmother. She was a Midwestern farmwife. Until her stroke forced her into a chair, she used her riding lawn mower to cut her lawn, wearing heels and a lovely sun hat. In fact, she always wore heels, even standing for 6 hours straight at her 90th birthday part! She sewed amazing and very rich looking clothes for herself. And she made do with whatever she had, even if she had the money to replace it or buy new.

    She also was thrifty to a fault, drying out toilet paper that got damp in a flood or rendering chicken fat to use in cookies. We found pounds of saved (hoarded?) raisins that were so old and dry they could have been used for gravel. My family and I just laughed, realizing that starvation prompted her habits.

    One of her most memorable money savers is re-using the waxed milk cartons as freezer storage containers. She thoroughly rinsed and dried them, filled them with food, then stapled them shut and froze. They worked really well. I'm not sure if it's sanitary or if the milk cartons available today will work. But that's what she did.

    At 28 years and living on a limited budget, I'm beginning to better understand the things the Depression can teach us. Which is why I sincerely look forward to your 1930s experience.

    In way of a book recommendation, it's not from the Depression. But there's a charming book I read last year called "Cherries in Winter:My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard Times" by Suzan Colon. The author returned to some Depression methods to make it through her own economic hardship. The recipes are delicious and inexpensive.


  38. Up to 60 my grandparents only had a big free standing sink and Hoosier. Their only refrigerator had a tiny tiny freezer compartment. It could only hold two small trays for ice. They seemed to be able to make all their meals for themselves or company easily using it. Other relatives still had ice ice boxes they used daily up to that time. Contentment was the word of the day. No one compared and all seemed perfectly content with the blessings they felt they had. I never heard any of them 'wishing' for a better life. Better examples I could not have had in life. Sarah

  39. I'm so behind in my reading, I know you had considered doing the 30's but I didn't think you were seriously going to do it until I popped over today and saw all the changes - I AM THRILLED!!! :) While I love the 50's, the 30's is my favorite decade of the "golden era", Depression notwithstanding. I can't wait to get caught up on what I've missed since the beginning of the year, and continue following for more.

    I'll have to dig for the link, but somewhere online there is a radio broadcast that shows one entire day in 1939 - one entire broadcast day starting at like 7:00 am and going through the day in real time, commercials and all, until the evening. It's an awesome listen, a great peek into what would have actually been heard on the radio on any given day, even down to the "The time is now 3:03 pm", lol. I'll look for it and then send it to you.

  40. I'm very excited to follow your blog as you journey into the 30's because I believe depression era times maybe ahead, and I look forward to learning history through your posts.

    I can remember my mom talking about how her dad lived during the depression and how those years affected him later in life. He had more tendancies to hold on to every last thing because who was to know if it would be needed.... from small strings, single screws, to just a tin can one would normally toss. Many from my understanding would have been considered "horders", but can you really blame them if they struggled for just the smallest of things?

    I love the 50's era, but let's face it.... it was the era that began credits/layaways, indulgance of wants now.... and in many ways I think in an effort to cure America's heartache of WWII, folks just said why not! Moral values held the nation up for a short time, but once it started to unravel, we've just been in a downward spiral.

    I think many lessons could be learned from the 30 's and 40's.... I anxiously await the journey!


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