Monday, January 2, 2012

2 January 1933 “God is in the Details: The Wish List”

Here I am second day in 1933 and my head is swimming with wishful thoughts of ‘new’ vintage kitchen wear and appliances while my pocket book and 30’s thrift is reminding me much of that may have to remain a dream.

When I began 1955 I was very much a 21st century girl. I was no stranger to spending and to throw away money without thought was as easy as watching TV, just click a button and there you guy you bought something.

As 1955 progressed and I began to see much of the popularized notions of homes crammed with the latest thing was more advertising than reality. I began to look at my own life. And, for those who have followed along, here  that introspection on consumption has brought me 1933; trying to become even thriftier and to better understand our needs versus wants.

However, I am not an island unto myself and even simple research into old china patterns and appliances leaves a gal full of dreams. I can see myself swirling through my kitchen with my lovely 1930’s range daintily set upon her cabriole legs, a new art deco Electric coffee pot in my hand and the lovely full pinafore almost dress like apron picked out in floral and trimmed in lovely yellow and green, (the des rigueur colors of the 1930s). There are lovely pink glass candy dishes loaded with dainty sugared deadlies and my “modern” Electric refrigerator churns away happily in the corner, I laugh to myself recalling the ice-man deliveries of my childhood.

I am sure many a homemaker in the 1930’s dreamed such dreams but the harsh reality of the times certainly left those dreams as they were, puffs of candy floss air. For example I already have a 1950’s vintage electric percolator that works fine. It is not, true, accurate 1930’s, but it works exactly the same. I never got around to (see increasing thrift) redoing my kitchen into a more 1950’s accuracy with all matching appliances. Many of my items are 1950’s but I kept my 1970’s Jenn Air stove out of cost and necessity. Never finding that perfect 1950’s stove worth the money and trouble to buy. That makes one tempted to go at it now, with the 1930’s in mind.

But, now I am faced stirring up old desires of Want and keeping them tempered with need. I really do Want to make my 1933 year as accurate as possible. And, despite what time period I may do next, they would still be valid in the 1940s and 1950s. That, however, is the sort of argument one would use to convince themselves that their Wants are actual Needs when I know that is not so.

But, I do WANT to slowly add to my 1930’s recreated home, but economically. That is to say what I can get very cheap or free. As some have asked about appliances, I would love an old stove from the 1930’s and actually like the look of them more than some of the 1950’s variety. My Mother in law has a lovely kitchen with a vintage 1930’s cabriolet leg stove and oven that you have to light the pilot light. It is a beauty but I don’t even want to type what the reconditioned model cost her. She can afford it, I cannot.

Again, this move to a new decade shall challenge my Needs vs Wants, which is always a good thing when one is working on a budget. We sometimes need to challenge those notions before we find ourselve quietly slipping back into spending more than we have for some goal that most likely will not bring the happiness we so desire. It is a hard thing for we modern people to separate fulfillment and happiness with buying, collecting and owning. We are so bombarded with it in the 21st century that it is almost religion. I must often call upon my new 30’s gal for guidance as she forms and grows to understand the uncertain future her in the early years of the Depression.

And there shall be many ways, I am hoping, to make over my kitchen with craft, inventiveness and gumption. We shall see and I shall, of course share it with you. Many a homemaker collected her drinking glasses by carefully washing and preserving her fancy store bought jelly jars she may have received as a gift or took the notion to buy one trip to both provide food and dishes for her family. But, I digress.

Therefore for the fun of it I thought I’d make a running Wish list of 1930’s items to share with you. As their compilation will also be part of my study of the times, it will be stretched out over many posts I am sure. It is a good way to see what was being manufactured at the time and available, though not many could afford them as they could in the 1950’s. But, in this decade, we do see the beginning of the consumer credit movement with ‘buy on credit’ for everything from appliances to toys.

Today, let’s Wish list some of the Kitchen:

First and foremost I shall miss my dishwasher. I did not always use it but back in 1955 I chose to start using it again as I decided it was a gift from my hubby. Certainly in 1955 many more dishwashers were showing up in average homes all across America. Though they are available here in 1933, I most likely would not have offered one. Even had a wealthier relative thought fit to give me such a purchase, I most likely would have opted for an update in range or refrigeration and may not have even thought of a dishwasher, as hand washing would have been as normal as breathing.

 30skitchen1 Believe it or not, this is an image of the latest in a 1930’s kitchen. Look how 1950’s it actually looks with the metal cabinetry. The stove, more boxy, would be the latest design and that stainless steel cover next to the sink is the cover to the dishwasher.

dishwasherad Here we see the Happy Homemaker happily lifting the lid to such a dishwasher. If anyone had one they would give to me, on my local excursions, I might take them up on it as I would love to see how it works. But for now it shall be dishes by hand. I know many of you prefer dishes by hand, but some of the various chores I do, the dishwasher just seemed the appliance I loved as my little luxury. But, honestly, I hardly Need it.

Here is a 1937 commercial (seen in theatres of course, no TV) for Dreft soap showing a woman in her kitchen. No dishwasher here, of course.

rangead As I mentioned, I never gave in to buying that 1950’s range and so now have considered a 1930’s. This, too, would need to be quite cheap or something easily repaired. Here we see, at the top, the “Imperial” the grand design. This more closed in boxy shape, as we all now, will go to become the standard, even today. I prefer the Hostess (upper left) and the Lenox (lower left) as I love the look of the raised leg. As I mentioned my mother in law has such a range in her kitchen and under it sits lovely old things like an old handcrank ice cream maker. It leaves room for storage as well as display and a dream to mop under! Dream on, I suppose.

fridgead I also found it interesting that both models existed for refrigerators as well. We are all familiar with the upper left or ‘Monitor Top’ on legs as an image from the 1930’s kitchen. But, we see here too that the ‘Flat Top’ is also available. And will, of course, become the standard shape we are still familiar with today. I suppose the need to hold more eventually pushed out the style of teh cabriolet  legs, but if I were given the choice today I would choose the upper left, the Monitor top. Again, to mop underneath would be a dream. And I have recently learned how little icebox space I need, when we gave our fridge to our tenants to save money and I bought a dorm sized fridge. I have learned to live with almost no freezer space (more 1930’s for sure) and less cold space in general. Also taking advantage of my cold New England ell kitchen built to take advantage of the cold of the winter to keep food better.

These ‘Monitor Top’ refrigerators were the first ‘affordable’ refrigeration for the common man. They retailed around $300 dollars and would be sold on credit for about $10 a month. Adjusting for inflation $300 1933 dollars would be $4997.11 today.

In an article I found that these old monitor tops were built to last and here is a quote that says it all:

Hermetically sealed and permanently lubricated, the GE Monitor Top refrigerator remains the most recognized and most dependable refrigerator ever built. Hundreds, if not thousands, of these units remain in service today, offering their owners “quiet”, “dependable” and “service free” refrigeration.

In many cases they really did build to last and they are even suppose to be more energy efficient due to their tight seal.

30skitchen2 Here we see a dream kitchen ad from the mid 1930’s. The Deco linoleum is lovely and the cream yellow and pistacio green are the “ 1950’s Pink and Turqoise” of the 1930’s. Such a soothing palette. And though I love such a kitchen as this, I actually would rather have one more like this. 30skitchen3 A more free standing space to me makes cleaning easier and I love the old Hoosier cabinets that became popular in the pre-fitted kitchen years of the 1910’s. These would still have been used in kitchens into the 1930s.

Really, the wish list of Kitchen could go on and on, so I may save more for another day. I just want to start getting my feet wet by getting the lay of the land and seeing what a 1930’s average life looked like. Though there was no real average as the vast divides between what someone had in the 1930’s was far greater than the great equilizer of the suburbs of the 1950’s. I will talk more about that tomorrow and discuss “dish night” a fun promotion for the Depression Era homemaker.

Happy Homemaking to all, now I have to get back to my housework and sorting through the flotsam and jetsam of how to best create this 1933 life.

Happy Homemaking.

 Search The Apron Revolution