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.


  1. You need to see the American Girl Dolls website. They have modern and historial dolls. The ones from 1934 are called Kit and Ruthie. They are kind of pricy, but have their own kitchen stove, washing machine and more. They are very popular!

  2. There are definitely still a lot of housekeeping/cooking/cleaning toys. Granted, they are outnumbered pretty significantly by all of the shiny flashy cartoon toys, but they are still pretty easy to find at any well-stocked toy store. And it's always funny to me when people criticize a mother buying her daughter a toy vacuum cleaner or a play kitchen or anything of that sort. They say things like, "Why would you want to teach your daughter that that's what she's supposed to play with??" like it's some horrible or inappropriate thing. My response is always something along the lines of "Cooking and cleaning and keeping a home is what I do for the majority of the day, and my daughter watches me/helps me do those tasks. By letting her pretend to be like Mommy, I am teaching her that what I am doing is just as important as any of the other future professions out there. If I refused to buy her cooking or cleaning toys, my message to her would be that Mommy's work isn't important and she should never want to be a homemaker or a mother." My daughter also has PLENTY of non-housekeeping toys, and I will be happy and supportive of whatever future profession she chooses, but I also want to teach her that being a homemaker is just as important as any other career, and I believe that starts with having my job represented among her playthings. And on another humorous note, the little boys in my daughter's play group love her play kitchen and play vacuum cleaner just as much as she does :-)

  3. I love it too when I find old notes, recipes and receipts pooped inside old cookbooks. They add so much to the character.

    One thing I read about using an old-fashioned wringer was that they could crush the buttons on men's shirts. Therefore, women would take the buttons off before doing the wash and then have to sew them all back on at the end of the day.


  4. My children played house and role played as children. Seems like for us it was norm. We had child size brooms and my husband and I built a wooden kitchen set(someday for grandbabies). I saved jello boxes, labels from canned goods and affixed them to tp rolls with the ends folded up to have items for the kitchen.

    We cut a doll rod for mini rolling pins, so all the children could help momma make tortillas. The boys dressed up in daddy's military clothes, then his police uniform. We had the typical blocks and legos and tonka trucks too...and dolly's for my daughter. But I am very conservative and not sure what the norm is, as we never shopped in a toy store.

    Love the recipes. Kind of always believed I was born 30 or so years past when I was to be, as I feel more connected to a different era, although I appreciate our technology of today.


  5. Off subject slightly, but I just found a working 1930's range. I am trying my hardest to convince my husband that we should have it. ;)

  6. The list of games and toys I had when I was a child goes on and on! But the things I really remember enjoying were: playing "maid" with my auntie and sisters (auntie would help us dress up with pillows under sheets for bustle dresses) and we'd make and serve "scones and tea," playing house with my sister (I was always the husband going off to work) or school (I was usually the teacher), my little doctor's kit and the grocery store check out toy that my friend had. Also, every Saturday (starting at noon, after cartoons) I had fun helping Mom clean the house. My biggest job was dusting, and I loved it!
    If I recall correctly, Dreft is now advertised as a detergent for infant, toddler and children's clothing because of its mildness.

  7. I agree with Sarah's comment about the cleaning toys. There are still some available but they aren't glamorized at all like the cartoon toys. I have 2 boys ages 2 & 7. The 2 year old regularly pretends to go to work like daddy but also likes to play clean up with his play vacuum and the 7 year old just wants to play video games or watch tv which I put a stop to. He plays with lego's most often now that I took the games and tv away.


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