Tuesday, February 7, 2012

7 February 1933 “New Hats and Old Laundry Techniques”

aboutphoto I have new hats. The first, pictured here, I really adore. It was bought at the local goodwill but I know it is a modern hat from a chain store by the tag.

Obviously I tinted this photo and placed it in an old edging so as to look vintage. I liked the result so much it is now my bio shot on the main page of the blog.

I think it looks very vintage ,this hat. In fact I wore it the other day when a friend and I went to our local antique shop. There is a lady there who always comes up to me and says, “I know I tell you this every time, but I love your style”.  She wondered how I get all my vintage things, other than what I get there at her shop. (usually hats and bags from her shop) I told her the hat was actually not vintage at all.  But by keeping in mind the style you are looking for, there are always modern versions of old looks. After all, many styles simply keep repeating themselves and with the immense amount of things mass produced today, you are going to find something close to the period you are aiming for.

This hat, which is rather hard to see in this photo, I purchased that day from her shop. It is black lambs wool. I had to have it as I have a coat of the very same fabric with a fur collar, which I am sporting in this photo.

mehat1 I realize dark hair, hat and coat may make for a bad visual of the hat, but I thought the style of the snapshot rather vintage.

hatsbag Here it is with the other hat and the lovely bag I also purchased at our antique shop. The lovely handbag is real leather and has an adorable tassel motif in gold plated metal. This lamb shearling hat is, indeed, vintage and here is the old tag proudly stating it was Union Made in the USA.hattag Something that means quite a bit here in the 1930’s. Unions are and were once an important part of the fabric of our country. An attempt to counter the corporate with the corporation of the working man. Today USA made is very hard to come by and sadly.

Now you might very well say, 50’s gal what a naughty time traveler you are, buying yourself things in the height of the Depression. But, I can tell you, to counter such spendthrift ways (though it was but little out of my pin money) I attempted laundry the old fashioned way. Well, let me correct that Gussie and I attempted laundry the old-fashioned way. I called upon my old ‘maid’ to return from my 1950’s project to aid me here in 1933.

I haven’t  mentioned Gussie in sometime, as she was only a part of my 1955 experiment the first month. She happily stepped in as ‘maid’ for that first month of my 1955 year to see how it would be for a middle class homemaker to have such help. The other day she returned, for a few hours, in that position. We tackled the laundry together.

I do not as of yet have an old washing machine so we did a laundry day with my normal machine on cold. Then we hand rung the items. Now having a ringer, even a hand crank old wooden ringer, would have made more sense, but I had not. In 1933 I would most likely have a machine with a motorized ringer, but then again, I might not.

 vintage bicycle laundry ringerBut, I would have certainly at least had the hand crank model that most homes had even in 1900.  As I do not own such a device, hand ringing was what we did. Boy oh boy was it labor intensive!

We were laughing at one point so hard we nearly dropped our precious cargo on the cold damp grown. It was late when we finished and the last to be wrung out was a large feather duvet. We each grabbed one end and folded it in half. Then we both twisted it opposite directions. It was amazing the amount of water that came out! We did it several times (our hands freezing as it was below freezing outside at this point). Even after all that ringing it was so much more damp than had it been in the washer. That machine really spins out the water! What a magic moment it must have been when that homemaker of yore first got her electric ringer.  And then when she got the self contained machines of the 1940’s how magical it must have seemed!

We had to hang that heavy piece over our fence in the moonlight, and come morning hubby commented that our nightly chore was frozen solid outside. But, once the sun came up and it warmed up, it eventually dried, of course.

I know, really, this was not a very good experiment. As I said, having a wringer and washing it by hand in the sink would have been more accurate, and I shall attempt that as well. I think I can get an old wooden hand crank fairly inexpensive come summer at a yard sale. But, I have had no luck as of yet getting my hands affordably on an old electric or gas powered washer with automatic wringer.

What it did show me, though, as I often learn in my little attempts at old homemaking, was patience. Diligence, stick-to-itiveness, and patience were and certainly are the corner stones of any good homemaker. Then, however, we were seeing many new gadgets arriving, many could not afford them. Laundry in tubs scrubbed on metal washboards and hand wrung may well have been a norm for many a homemaker. Still, whenever I am forced to stop in the midst of such a trial and consider the past and my own abilities, I often feel empowered by it. Rather than just giving up and thinking ‘thank God for modern life’, I actually often think, “Hmm, if i wanted to do this all the time, I would simply have less things to wash, as it would make it easier.” And it was just such revelations that really began in 1955 that made me look forward to simplifying my life.

Today is ironing day. In 1933, from what I can find, there were no steam irons. In 1927 the Silex company introduced the first iron with temperature control. Prior to that it was simply determined by your touching the iron and deciding if it was hot enough or not. The steam iron would not be around for awhile and after WWII a pump model steam iron was developed but proved too costly.

33iron Here is an ad from one of my 1933 Better Homes magazines for this latest iron. It only weighs 3 lbs, he claims, comparative to a usual 6 lb iron. We certainly see why the homemaker in the Depression would not have needed the gym. But, as this is fairly new, I wonder if I would either still have a 6lb electric iron from the 1920’s or even, were you poor enough, the old type that simply was heated on the stove or was fueled by kerosene or charcoal placed in a brazier on the iron.

This 1920’a gas iron would simply be hooked up to your gas. Prior to electricity, many homes were plumbed for gas for lights. Appliances were then made to simply plug into this fuel supply much as you would later with electricity.

There were also coal irons were the hot coals were placed inside for the heat source. Oddly enough, in places like India even today such coal irons are still used, as shown in this modern day photo of an Indian man using just such an iron.4164645211_a8811857c6

That goes to show that though we may believe we have all advanced to a state that is only moving forward and that the past is, well, simply in the past, that is not always the case. If times become harder and choice begin to be made one might find themselves hoping to own the workable appliances of the past. Especially when they run mainly on our own sweat and not on things for which we must pay. Now, I certainly am not saying I shall go out and get a coal powered iron tomorrow. And certainly my 1933 counterpart simply had a heavy electric version with no steam, it is important to recall how we did things once. And to consider, for ourselves, when such antiquated things might not be reconsidered. This is an extreme, but hand washing dishes, using clothes lines or a push non electric vacuum are all simply ways to bring back the old and put more money in the bank (or our mattress as the current banking scams might lead us to consider).

So, today, I shall simply use my 1950’s antique iron with the steam off, no water in and a medium setting. We shall see how crease free hubby shirts come out.

Happy Homemaking.


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