Sunday, February 24, 2013

24 February 1957 “Hernando’s Hideaway, Steam Heat, The Pajama Game: Movie for a Sunday Morning”

apri57fashion Today we find ourselves in 1957. We see what gay colors and styles we could be wearing as ladies or little girls this year from this 1957 Australian Home Journal cover. I adore the patchwork skirt, don’t you? And who wouldn’t adore a day on the ice in the little blue skirt and woolen jumper/sweater on the little girl?

Now, to brighten our Sunday morning we can sit back and enjoy the lovely Doris Day in the film “The Pajama Game”. This film was based on the Broadway musical and this film includes all the cast of the Broadway production with the exception of Doris Day. She replaced Janis Paige.

This film has some wonderful songs two of which I thought I would share before the film.

Hernando’s hideaway is a wonderful tune. I am letting you hear Ella Fitzgerald’s version here as you will hear the film version during the film.

Next we have “Steam heat” and while you can enjoy the Bob Fosse dance version in the film, here let’s enjoy the 1954 version of the song sung by Patti Page.


pajamagameposter Now, sit back and enjoy your movie. Next post I will talk about drippings and their storage and use. I could not find Pajama game in full on youtube, but if you follow THIS LINK HERE, You can enjoy it. Have a lovely day and as always, Happy Homemaking.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

21 February 1950 “Buying Food, Working Women, Food Prices, 7 Food Groups, and Meal Extenders”

pinkfridge “The American Housewife, who has a more important occupation? Wife, Mother, Laundress, councilor,maid, chef, purchasing agent, all of these are her duty at one time or another.” Or so says this fun little film on buying food. I believe I may have shared it with you sometime back in ‘56 but its worth a look see again:

Today we are in 1950. This film, rather close to War Time, seems to contain many frugal aids. They even mention to pay attention to the important information on the product and not the ‘flowery language of advertising”. It is also interesting that there various “GRADES” of canned goods to meat. This no longer exists. I have a faint memory of Grade A or B on egg cartons when I was a child in 1970’s, but have forgot until I saw this movie mentioning Grades. This frugality toward the homemaker will already be greatly changed In ten years, in 1960, when such advice will be replaced with ‘ease of cooking’ with more products to purchase and an increase in Homemakers returning to the workforce.

Though many women were in the workforce during the war, that changed dramatically when the ‘boys came home’. Alas, it did not last long for women began to find themselves returning to work by the end of the decade. There was some increase due to societal changes as well, but we must remember there was not a moment one day, as is often portrayed by Hollywood, when women became angry, burned their bra and marched off to work. In many cases it was due to increased consumerism and the gradual influx of ‘what we need’ changing. The 1950 frugal housewife didn’t have half of the boxed, pre-made items that were becoming to seem simply a necessity by 1960. So, two cars, needing more items, increased outings for entertainment, more TV per household and so on. Here we see in this chart that just from 1955 to 1960 married women at work went from below 30% to almost 35%. And of course by 1980 50% of married women were also in the workforce.


One reason I thought it’d be interesting to look at meal stretchers and food costs today was the result of reading my own blog the other day. I read an old post from 1955 (2009) and saw how I mentioned that today food is much cheaper than it actually was in 1955 when we adjusted for inflation. And my realization that today, 2013, food prices are actually getting to be rather close to what they were in 1955. Yet, we have many more costs with higher taxes on everything including more taxes expected from lower earning families. The income tax, as an example, from a 1950’s paycheck often didn’t exist or was very low for working and lower middle incomes. And back in 2009 we had a 2% reduction in Federal Income Tax, which has just been reversed as of 1 January 2013. However, now we have higher prices since 2009.

Another thing I found interesting was during 1955 I used an inflation calculator to determine that in 1955 $1 then was equal to $7 in 2009,when I began my blog. Today, using the same calculator for 2013 for this post, I found that today’s 2013 conversion puts the 1955 $1 at $8.60. That is interesting because the minimum wage in 1955 was put up to $1 and I had followers mention that even in their own state, the min. wage was not $7. That means today, however, that the national minimum wage would be $8.60 but in fact today it is still 7.25. And my state of MA, which sets higher than federal, is below $8.60 as well at $8.25. I just found that interesting within the confines of my little experiment how much inflation and price change has come about.

Now let’s look at food costs. In the paranthesis are the price at the time for the 1950 food and then under 1950 is the adjusted to today’s money price.

FOOD                                                                   1950                      2013

Apples 1 lb. (.20 cents)                               1.90                        2.25

Coffee 1 lb  (.37 cents)                                3.54                        3.99 (for ground 12 oz-less than a pound) 14.99 lb whole bean

Chicken 1 lb.(.43 cents)                              4.11                        2.99 (in 2009 I paid sometimes only .79 cents in current money)

Ground Hamburger 1 lb. (.30 cents)             2.87                        2.99

Bacon 1 lb. (35 cents)                                3.34                       4.50

sugar 5lb bag (43 cents)                             4.11                       3.99 (I would sometimes buy this same bag in 2009 for under one dollar!)

Ritz Crackers (.32 cents)                           3.06                        3.59

Gallon of Gas ( .18 cents)                          1.72                         3.89

And the list could go on and on. I just wanted to point out that while in my 1955 (2009) food was cheaper and so in some ways evened out that we had to pay more in tax and car and housing costs (but less in income tax). Yet today, 2013, the prices are closer to a few years after WWII but with many added costs. And we must remember a 1950 housewife would have laughed in your face you mentioned it cost $100 a month for TV and another for the phone.

Now, from a 1940’s Betty Crocker book, which I most assuredly would have on my shelf in 1950. we see that how food was meant to be eat is much different than what we are lead to believe today about the 1950’s. I remember I did a post in the 1955 year about that misconception of what we today think the 1950’s family was eating. Here we have SEVEN food groups and when you look at the breakdown of how much of each we are meant to eat each day, it is much healthier than we do eat today.

For example we see in the meat and poultry section we are expected to only eat ONE serving a day from this group. And it suggests only 3-4 eggs a week. Today, we surely eat meat more than one serving a day. And with modern desserts or even trips to breakfast restaurants, that weekly serving of eggs would be in one meal!

I had to laugh when I read the milk group. It recommends only 1 pint a day for adults that are not nursing mothers. One pint is 2 cups or 16 oz. This is funny to me, because as some of you know I am now working part time three days a week at a local cafe and a medium latte has 16 oz of milk in it. And that is simply someone’s casual ‘coffee break’ amount of milk. And this chart mentions that the 16 oz you are meant needs also to be counted if in soups or desserts.

We can also see that leafy greens and yellow vegetables are in a separate group from cabbages and tomatoes and fruit. So really two servings of fruit and one of veg a day. And the largest serving recommendation is the grain group. We are beginning to see that grains in forms of cereals and whole wheat breads and quinoa are more healthy for us. Yet, in the late 40’s grain for breakfast and small amount of meat would be the norm. This is interesting and fun to look at. And might even be a good way to start out ones shopping list. IF we consider how much of each of these a day we can break our weekly shop to a 7 day menu and therefore control the cost more effectively.


From this self same war time book we see some meal extending recipes. With meat being dear and very expensive, a homemaker had to make that meat stretch. Again, another misconception that the 1950’s dinner was dripping in steaks and red meat morning til night. This was not actually true until factory farming began to really take off in the 1980’s.

Oatmeal/porridge is a great extender to foods. Eaten on its own it can fill you up and of course fulfills one of  your three servings a day. Here are some simple ways to use it to extend your food. I really want to try this vegetable soup version. And you can see that though once laughed at, saving meat bones and boiling for stock may soon become a modern woman’s habit. When meat continues to rise in price (I could buy good cuts of beef in 2009 for my 55 experiment at $1 a pound. I now found it hard to fit into my budget as it is often 4.99 for the lesser cuts and better cuts up towards $9 a pound).


I am a lover of meat pies and such. I can make a mean steak and kidney and many leftovers often get the benefit of my pastry making for leftover suppers. Here we see a ham loaf that I think could be made with any leftover meat. Many modern gals may soon want to invest in a meat grinder. I use mine often. I have one built into my old 1951 Mixmaster and also a hand crank version which is permanently affixed to my counter, I use it so often. You haven't have a burger in the summer until you have used the cuttings from left over better steaks and made it into ground beef even mixing in leftover poultry as well.

And of course meat lasts longer if it isn’t ground until needed. As once ground it increases the surface area and thus spoils faster. Ground beef is the quickest to go bad. Here is the recipe which would work with any meats I feel. And sliced cold with some salad greens and homemade dessert would make a wonderful lunch box treat for hubby or for the working homemaker.


Oatmeal/porridge can be used in many ways to extend meat and this scrapple sounds rather good. The meat patties topped with bacon could look rather gourmand plated with a few steamed veg and a drizzle of a homemade white sauce across the plate. It would look very modern and be the envy of any dinner party. In fact, dinner parties may come to be the way for families to help one another with rising costs, less work, and devalued money.oatmealscrapple

With Ritz crackers today in 1950 being 3.06 a box (and more today) homemade crackers could be a boon. I often make homemade Cheese crackers and here is a recap of those:

cheesecrackers1 Look how flaky and wonderful. Here is the simple recipe. You can always fudge here or there. More oil if you need, less, more cheese. You want the dough to be easily made into a ball without sticking to your fingers. You can even sprinkle the top before baking with Romano or Mozzerella, garlic salt, what have you, go nuts.

50’s Gal EasyCheezy Crackers

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons soft butter

1 cup grated cheese (your choice of cheese, a medium to hard cheese preferred)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, but recommended)

4 tablespoons olive/vegetable oil

Mix the ingredients until dough like and then for easy rolling, place between two layers of waxed paper.cheesecrackers2

cheesecrackers3 With a knife cut Cheese Cracker size squares (about an inch square) and then poke holes with a fork. This allows for flaking and puffing of crackers and even cooking.

Cook in a 350 F oven for about 25 minutes. Watch them and then decide how dark you like them. This first batch, which is lighter, were so good and had a more gourmet taste, like a cheese straw. But, I found if I cooked them a bit longer until they turned a darker orange, they tasted SO close to the Cheezit brand crackers (without the chemical engineering to not stop eating of course).

cheesecrackers4 You can see the do not have to be all uniform and look lovely in a jar on the counter. They last about five days in a sealed jar. These are easy and well worth the little time to make them. You could make a double batch the day before a picnic or beach outing and surprise your family or friends. They will ask for me, believe me.

I have not as yet tried these made with oatmeal/porridge, but shall do.


And of course a final bit of wisdom for the wartime and 1950’s homemaker, save your drippings!


I began this in 1955 and continue to do so today. I started using an old coffee can but now have a darling vintage ceramic version with a lid that sits on my stove top. And sometimes, like at holidays, if there is an overabundance of the drippings, I simply leave it out to congeal and then the fat on the top (which turns white) goes in one glass jar and the more jelly like clear goes in another. These are both good for various things. The white you can substitute in baking or cooking recipes for lard/butter and the clear is wonderful for soup stock and brown gravies. Waste not want not may have been laughed at a few years ago, but if prices continue to rise and the dollar buys less, such laughter may die down to questions such as “Now, how do you stretch your food budget?” And though one would be want to laugh at the grasshopper when he has fiddled away the summer while you worked hard to prepare for the winter, a good homemaker and a good neighbor of course takes such a person in hand and begins the education we must all go through. And again that value of the homemaker, the most important job in the world so says our little film in 1950, again gains prestige and value.

Now for a fun end to this day in 1950, a look at ladies fashion and a kitchen design from 1950’s. Have a lovely day and as always, Happy Homemaking.

mrstruman Mrs. Truman and friends 1950. The longer skirts of the New Look.

50shoes 1950 shoes, still rather 1940’s of course. I adore the blue heels and those red wedges would be a dream to shop in.

1950vacuum And a new bagless vacuum for 1950, certainly to be on many homemakers Christmas lists by the end of this year!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

19 February 1951 “Just for fun, Some 1950’s fantastical shoe styles, Oddball hat designs, and Lucy and Ricky’s Grey and Pink living room”

Having of late decided to jaunt back to my lovely 1950’s and put down some roots again, I thought it might be fun to share the frivolity of that move. These fun little movie clips about the outlandish designs occurring at the time for footwear, eyeglasses and hats are simply sugar and fluff. But a big pile of pink candy floss/cotton candy is always fun, in moderation of course.

After landing my virtual time machine back in the 1950’s recently, I have happily enjoyed toying with images and colors and layout as can be witnessed by the sites new look. It’s interesting to me that I have come to view the 1950’s as my ‘home’ of late. When I began my project back in 1955 (2009) I actually felt almost nothing about the 1950’s. I have always loved history and in depth research. And my love of fashion, interiors, clothes and art usually landed me in the 19th century when it came to wishing upon times I would like to visit. Therefore it is interesting to me that the 1950’s, a decade to which I only had mild interest, came to mean so much to me. But maybe, in some way, that is part of the appeal and eventual home-like feeling it has provided me. I went in trying to have no pre-conceived notions but trying to look out to see of our general ‘perception’ of the time was at all accurate. And yet, much like a family or community that we may not necessarily choose  but to which, by circumstance or random acts, we find ourselves part of, we begin to fell akin to it. Despite its quirky behavior or odd habits we find we love our odd little town, or dysfunctional. family or bizarre little circle of friends. The 1950’s have become that to me.

I hope to make more in depth forays into the 1950’s then but worry not I will still continue my 1913 reasearch, as I mentioned in my last post. It will simply be more sporadic or possibly upon a set day once a week. But, for now lets travel to the fun and bright shine of 1950’s fashion oddities.

These films, though a bit tongue in cheek, are wonderful views into makeup and hair styles though. They have a feeling of clever wit I really enjoy. And I must say, I wish the British News Announcer accent was more the norm, but alas I fear, much like some of the lovely traditions of the past, that too is fading.

Here are lovely shoes:

Silly Hats:

Eyeglass fashion:

Quirky, but sometimes rather lovely glasses. I adore the cat eye upswept versions The Robin’s egg blue pair they decide are not good for the auburn haired beauty, I rather liked for myself. And the swirl on the arms of the glasses are divine. Here is fashion about style and not simply about trying to be ‘sexy’. I rather like fashion for the wearer, i.e. a woman loves the feel and swirl of a full skirt or elaborate outfit because it makes HER feel good, not because it is somehow meant to always illicit sexual desire or attraction from the opposite sex. Today, however, it seems the latter is more important.

And for a fun finish to today’s post of decadent eye candy, here is the lovely color scheme of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo’s tv Apartment. Here we see the lovely pink and grey fabric of the sofa and the grey brick walls.



Here is a shot I took from the movie that follows. During a shooting of the I Love Lucy show, someone was also filming with a color home movie camera of the time. It is amazing to see the home footage in color and then the actual black and white of the produced TV version. I never knew their apartment (This was during the time when they didn’t have the more modern furniture in the apartment) was that lovely 1950’s salmon pink and grey. I love this color combination and was excited to see it. You can see the above sofa from the official TV photograph most likely for a magazine and the same sofa on the set in the movie that follows.

It inspired me to make a board on my retrocolorstory pinterest site with pink and grey color schemes. You can visit that board HERE if you are interested.

Enjoy the clips of the color and black and white footage of the 1951 shooting of I Love Lucy.

Have a lovely day and as always, Happy Homemaking.

Friday, February 15, 2013

15 February 1940 “Our Town”

1940turbans You may have noticed the date up top. And strictly speaking this post is not about 1940 specifically. But as I included the film “Our Town” in it which is from 1940, I thought an image of modern hats of the time might be a fun ice breaker.

Before we get to what my post really is about, let’s quickly look at February in 1940.

On 7 February, RKO released Walt Disney’s full length animated feature, Pinocchio. It was the first since Snow White.

On 10 February the cartoon cat and mouse, Tom And Jerry get their start in the short “Puss gets the boot”, though not until 1941 will they get their own official start as Tom and Jerry.

hattie At the end of February 1940, Hattie McDaniel will be the first African American woman to win an Academy Award for her portrayal as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” in 1939.

And though War rages on in Europe, The US will not join WWII until 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. But many Americans are asked to help if they can and try to send care packages to the British especially after the beginning of the Blitz in September of 1940.

ourtownposter Now, why have I brought us here to 1940? In a way it is sort of a time-travel meeting ground. A sort of halfway point from 1913 and 1955. And the film, “Our Town” that I am sharing with you was made in 1940. It was based on the the Thornton Wilder play also entitled “Our Town”. It stars Martha Scott and William Holden.

What I like about this film is it has a very ‘time-travel’ sort of feel. The narrator addresses the audience and even encourages the characters to ‘answer questions’ from the audience. It has the feel of a guided tour in a time travel scenario for me, double so as the ‘present day[ is 1940 and their trip to the past of Our Town is 1900. This version of the film, though for some reason sub-titled, maybe for the deaf, is still endearing and pulls one in.

Yet, you might ask, why Our Town, why a movie and a stop in 1940? What has that to do with 1913 or 1950? Well, here is what happened: Having been content to try to remain in 1913 this year, I found myself almost hungry for the color and also availability of the 1950’s research. Its interpretation on the screen in blog form certainly lends itself more entertaining and a better general attraction to a wider variety of people.

There is also, as I began to dig deeper, a feel of the 1930’s in my 1913 research. That is to say, it had begun to feel to raw and close to home to today’s problems. Just as I was unable to remain in 1933 very long without feeling rather depressed and wretched, mainly due to the parallels to our own time. And when I would discover things that were happening in the Depression seemed to be happening again but with possibly more dire circumstances, I had to look away as it were.

Now I find that 1913 seems to be the beginning of so much of what was failing in the Depression. And though it seemed to later be stifled for that one supreme decade of the 1950’s (as had the 1920’s after WWI) It unfortunately began to all unravel again. There is so much legislation and things like the beginning of new taxations that really began in 1913.  And even our current view of Mexican immigration was born from our War in Mexico in 1910 which will manifest itself more in 1913 with a general view and opinion of the time. 

So, there I was not living technically in 1913 but still very much ‘in it’ daily.Then I sort of had an epiphany the other day, after being without power due to our storm and then the return to it gave me pause to think.

Picture it, if you will, myself slumped at my desk, various old texts open about me, quite a few tabs open on the computer and my coffee cooling in my lovely old 1950’s cup. The weight of it all was too much for me, so I thought I needed a break. I wanted to quickly come out of the past and so turned to music. I began rummaging through some old things I have. As many of you know I have records that go as far back as the 1900’s in 78 form and plenty from the 1950’s. But, I just needed to quickly purge my palette, as it were; to get my head back in the game.

I found some old music from my college days and in the mix was this song I had completely forgot about. I put it on and was simply transfixed. It both took me out of myself and also grounded me in the present. It gave me the melancholy for the past, both my own and my imagined from the 1950’s and in its bittersweet sadness made me realize how important it is to be happy and reflect upon what is good.

I wish I could change the world about me. Sometimes I feel like we could, we rag tag band of Apron Revolutionaries, make a difference in the future. In our knowledge and thirst for learning and doing, we can enact change on a small scale. And whether our aprons are for cooking, cleaning, making art, working in labor, or a metaphorical apron of scholarly intent, we wear them with pride and practicality.

I see there is so much of the world that is out of our hands, we little people. The world of politics, banking, money and war is played out among some secret place to which we cannot get yet our children and family are often the victims of these actions. We, in most cases, simply must keep our heads down, do our best and just like it or lump it. We are all given just enough entertainment to distract us from looking to hard at our world and in many ways what we see and read about our world is simply theatre for our benefit or distraction. We must, however, in that “Keep Calm and Carry On” sort of way, forge forward.

As I was sitting there, holding my cold cup of coffee and crying to this song, I began to think of the fun and happy moments of my three years in the 1950’s. The joy that carried me into it and the fun that kept me going through the challenges and the sometimes scary realizations. And in a way that became a representation of how to really try and live through the rough patches of life. To know what was bad, see what may be coming, prepare as best we can, but along the way have as much fun and joy as possible. Though much of our life seems to be out of our control, down to what we are allowed to own, do with our own land, or even our own hard earned money, they cannot take away our ability to have joy.

So, with another change here at the Apron Revolution, I have decided to forgo 1913 in this epic format and return to a sort of 1950’s stasis. In many respects our modern world began to be formulated in 1913. And if we view the past 100 years as a sort of graph, the 1950’s seemed to have been that exact moment where it all worked on some level. The powers that be got what they wanted, laws and money and banking and corporations were getting their fill and a middle class was able to form. We built affordable homes, had cars that were affordable with cheap gas, and could send our children to college affordably. And if we could not, they could realistically work a minimum wage job and pay for it themselves, no student loans or credit cards.

In my own research I saw how quickly that 10 year peak, on that graph of the past 100 years, soon began to point downward. And if I am an arm chair time traveler and my purpose of happiness and also some entertainment for you, my readers, is important, than those brief glorious days of the 1950’s seem the best place to reside. A place for us all to meet. Our Town.

Though I may not live my actual life 100% 1950’s everyday, it will continue to be heavily influenced by it. And with all I have done thus far it gives me a solid foundation to build upon. And it offers some security, rather real or imagined, when the foundation of our present world feels a bit shaky. A sort of escapism but with an innocence of shared fun with all of you, mixed with real and oft times usable knowledge of how to do things thrown in.

As the end of my third year in the 1950’s was coming to its close I kept wondering, what now? My failed attempts at the Depression was too close to home to be of any real use to myself. Yet the joy the computer and my project brought to me still seemed important enough to continue down that path. And as we can use the computer as a sort of pseudo reality and a cyber community, I want us to have that place be a safe place. Again, Our Town.

A world where advertising, though still out to trick us into things we didn’t really need, still had a breath of innocence to it. It was less about branding and labeling us all into sub-categories unto which to sell.TV shows didn’t exist to show us how much all our varied groups were out to get each other. The auto industry, though still out to strip us of much cheap public transport in the form of trains, still co-existed with them. And many small towns in the US still had a local train station they could affordably go to so as to visit the city or bigger town on outings or days out. Malls had yet to infringe upon our downtowns and little mom and pop stores still provided us with what we needed and when a dress was too dear for our pocket books, we saved for one store bought and made the rest ourselves. When the minimum wage was higher than it is today and we also had less tax to pay so it didn’t hurt small business because we all were able to keep more of what we made. That local grocery store job Johnny took after school provided money for his college and hand delivered groceries to our homemakers.

This comparative list could go on and on. And in many ways I wonder if the “powers that be” that seem to want to own and control everything could have just been happy with their more than fair share at the time, could we have kept that feeling going forward and helped other countries to have that? Could we not have advanced in things like fairness in equality while still allowing the current tax/banking/trade laws to remain as they were? We may never know, but we can see that good or bad for the most part our idea and ideals of the 1950’s, rather all based in fact or fiction, are still a happy place for many of us. And so I wish to return my blog and my writings to a general 1950’s theme.

The layout of the blog will remain similar but the style will change as I play around with it over the next few days. I still wish to share free eBooks that are pertinent in the library as many ‘modern’ 1950’s gals and guys would still have had access to these books and probably used them accordingly. In a sense I want to continue to be a sort of time traveler but to hop about more. My main landing pad or my ‘home base’ if you will shall be the 1950’s, but one day may be 1951 and the next 1959 and at least once a month I’ll take a longer journey to 1900 or even later. But, as I have learned, the safe place the ‘Our Town” of the 1950’s is important enough to me to remain our home base. I realize I may have lost many readers when I changed my format many times before, but at least with my return to generally the 1950’s, new comers will find my old things still relevant to what I do on a daily or weekly basis.

For me I cannot simply do things part of the way. I have always been an extremist I suppose, throwing myself into things; it simply is my way. The passion for the past and writing and blogging and now even art (having returned part time to school in that venue) all seems mingled together and yet all parts of one whole passion of mine. And I don’t want that passion to only be dry research or unhappiness. In every day some rain must fall but the sun will still come again.

Now, I will share with you the song that brought me back to myself and made me nostalgic for Our 1950’s; our own little “Our Town”. It is Iris Dement’s Our Town from her first album. I have included the lyrics as well.  “Enjoy the song and the film and as always happy homemaking!

And you know the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
Up the street beside that red neon light,
That's where I met my baby on one hot summer night.
He was the tender and I ordered a beer,
It's been forty years and I'm still sitting here.
But you know the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
It's here I had my babies and I had my first kiss.
I've walked down Main Street in the cold morning mist.
Over there is where I bought my first car.
It turned over once but then it never went far.
And I can see the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
I buried my Mama and I buried my Pa.
They sleep up the street beside that pretty brick wall.
I bring them flowers about every day,
but I just gotta cry when I think what they'd say.
If they could see how the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye,
But hold on to your lover,
'Cause your heart's bound to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town.
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town,
Now I sit on the porch and watch the lightning-bugs fly.
But I can't see too good, I got tears in my eyes.
I'm leaving tomorrow but I don't wanna go.
I love you, my town, you'll always live in my soul.
But I can see the sun's settin' fast,
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts.
Well, go on, I gotta kiss you goodbye,
But I'll hold to my lover,
'Cause my heart's 'bout to die.
Go on now and say goodbye to my town, to my town.
I can see the sun has gone down on my town, on my town,


Sunday, February 10, 2013

10 February 1913 “The Snow Storm Hit and Put Us Back in 1913!”

I had a post I had been working on for a few days ready to go on Friday when we lost power. As some of you may know here on the East Coast, we were hit by a rather major snowstorm.

It was almost a forced example of my 1913 life thrust upon me. We were suddenly forced to use oil lamps, heat with our fireplace and cook on the old stove in the cottage out back. Thank goodness it is a propane stove as we were able to use it to heat food and water. Our fireplace burned non-stop and my husbands recently gained expertise at getting the coal fire to burn all night paid of quite well.

It’s odd how much we take electricity and our modern life for granted. I can’t tell you how many times we continued to hit the light switch and then realized, “no power”. And with just two and a half days without it how quickly we become accustomed.

We found ourselves doing more with the sun and then all hunkering down in the living room huddled about the glow of the fire playing games, reading by gas light, and roasting toast on the open flame. It was a fun little camp out. But, as the time went along I realized how, now matter what life throws at you, we adjust. It made me consider the war-time families and how after years of less of everything, the sudden return to plenty must have almost been anti-climatic. Certainly one is happy to have more and ease, that’s just human nature, but there is definitely more togetherness and community as we lessen what we have. I mean, here we just have power back and all of us have slowly drifted back to our respective rooms doing our own thing. While we thought nothing of working together when we needed to, when the ease of machine returns, without any discussion we return to solitude.

Although, I must admit as I type away at my computer, my hubby is still in the living room by the fire, using one of his many vintage typewriters. We do try and live as much vintage as we can because of the joy and simplicity it gives us. And so, with that, I am going to post a simple one today with a few videos. The snow is calling and I promised Gussie I would go sledding today, a day of New England “coastin’” is hard to pass up, especially when the light is so sharp and blue on the new fallen snow and the icicles beckon us with their finger like points.

I hope all fair well and I know many of my New England readers will not be reading this as even my own downtown is still without power. We may yet lose ours again, as it has flashed off and on today, so if I am gone a bit it may be due to both the power and the actual return to 1913 living of gas fired cooking, fireplace heating and entertainment found on wooden sleds in the snow.

Here is a fun little look at ‘last year’ 1912.

And here is a popular rag time song played on a period machine using Edison Wax cylinders. Rag time was the new fast paced popular music of the time. It created dance crazes and fashion statements.

Enjoy your day all and maybe shut off your power for a few hours in solidarity of your East Coast neighbors. Get that fire going, gather together and have a good ole fashioned sing along or a game of cards. Have a conversation with your voices and not your Tweets and see how different it can feel. Have a lovely day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

5 February 1913 “16th Amendment, federal income tax, ratified, the Thin Edge of the Wedge”

  On the 3rd of February 1913, the sixteenth amendment was ratified, thus creating federal income tax.


This new amendment allows the Congress to levy an income tax without a devised or described plan among the states or basing it on Census results. That is to say, it matters little on circumstances of the states population or earning potential based on various industry etc. Therefore across the board all Americans were now, as of yesterday 1913, possibly accountable for income tax.

While today we are all, despite our earnings, required to pay income tax, that was not the case initially. As of yesterday in 1913 the new law would put that the incomes of couples exceeding $4,000, as well as those of single persons earning $3,000 or more, were subject to a one percent federal tax.Further, the measure provided a progressive tax structure, meaning that high income earners were required to pay at higher rates. What is interesting is that today with inflation that would mean only any couple earning over $93,023.26 would be taxed and they would only be taxed 1%. That is much different from today.

In fact, during all the discussion of the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ very was little said about the actual tax hike that they did allow to go through. As of right now anyone in the USA earning 0$ UP TO $120000 now have an increased 2.3%. This is simply a return to the amount from pre 2010. They then imposed that lowered 2% then to aid in the Recession and now it has been reinstated. Of course money now is worth less due to inflation and food and fuel costs have increased since then. That hardly seems fair. But, we are beginning to see some of the formulation of our modern world happening here in 1913.

The idea of income tax had happened previously in US history. During the Civil War we had to raise revenue to fund it so Congress introduced the income tax through the Revenue Act of 1861.

“It levied a flat tax of 3% on annual income above $800, which was equivalent to $20,693 in today's money. This act was replaced the following year with the Revenue Act of 1862, which levied a graduated tax of 3–5% on income above $600 (worth $13,968 today) and specified a termination of income taxation in 1866.”

Taxes were discussed and voted on continually after this point. And it wasn’t until After the Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Company of 1895:

“was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the unapportioned (meaning not planned out or easily detailed plan of) income taxes on interest, dividends and rents imposed by the Income Tax Act of 1894 were, in effect, direct taxes, and were unconstitutional because they violated the provision that direct taxes be apportioned. The decision was superseded in 1913 by the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Therefore after this law it was now ‘legal’ to begin to tax income despite its definition being unconstitutional.

Here we see a cartoon of the 1870’s showing the general opinion of income tax.


By the 1930’s Roosevelt had signed the Social Security Act of 1935 into law. Prior to this less than 3% of the people in America paid income tax. So at this point in 1913 the 16th amendment doesn’t tax the wages of working class people. The tax then added another 1% of wages in tax for social security 1937. Today it is not uncommon to see wage taxation and garnishment take 65% or more of a worker's labor from him particularly with the new tax hike on the lower income workers as of 1 January 2013.


This cartoon from that same year shows Roosevelt’s plan. Doesn’t this seem like a familiar idea? Kicking the can down the road and increasing tax burden for the next generation. Certainly, my generation pays far more in tax than that of my parents as did they of theirs. I have to say I truly feel for the current generations.

As I am working part-time at a local cafe I work with some young people in their early 20’s and they speak of their future in a very dim way. They all live at home with parents, have no plan for college and often have an expensive i-Phone with a huge monthly bill but no car. These people live pay check to pay check and now they have just been given another 2% increase in their Federal Income tax, in addition to my state of MA is now considering lowering the sales tax but increasing the State income tax another 2%. That to me seems to be the opposite of helping an economy and providing less liquidity to put back into it (or into savings for that matter which currently rests at 9%)

And now we can see that by 1944 you must pay income tax if your income is over $500 which in today’s money would be $6,493.51. The working class and lower middle class are getting hit now as well.


Here are the new tax rates for 2013 which will add an additional 2.5% take out of our income at the Federal Level.


There were many in office who were against income tax. In 1910,

New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes, shortly before becoming a Supreme Court Justice, spoke out against the income tax amendment. While he supported the idea of a federal income tax, Hughes believed the words "from whatever source derived" in the proposed amendment implied that the federal government would have the power to tax state and municipal bonds. He believed this would excessively centralize governmental power and "would make it impossible for the state to keep any property"

In many ways this has become true. With our current economy when various State government or private corp/bus/institutions fail, they are bailed out and then owned by the federal government. This is rather unlucky as the main purpose of separate state powers is to not allow a central government to become too powerful, but I fear we are well beyond that.

I see that this year will have many little pot holes and realizations. Innocently choosing 100 years from this year to look at history seems to simply point out that the layers of our modern system run deeper than I imagined.

I am personally affected by the new income tax laws, as are anyone who works a simple job for little pay. I am also increasingly worried on my weekly trips to the market or the gas pump. The average pay for basic workers has not kept up with inflation for many years and it seems to continue to lag. I remember when I first discovered in 1955 that the then minimum wage was raised to $1 and with inflation in the year I was doing 1955 (2009) made that out to be $7 an hour. I was shocked to receive letters from followers than saying that their own states then, in 2009, did not even have a minimum wage of $7.

So, out of curiosity, I checked my inflation calculator today, in 2013 only five years from my original project and see now that $1 in 1955 would be $8.55 today! I know that is not the minimum wage in many states and I know the minimum wage in my own state has NOT gone up since 2008 and therefore people are earning less than a teenage grocery bagger in 1955 to start some jobs.

I do promise to try and follow such posts with happier posts about the home and recipes but I think it would be a mistake indeed if any homemaker were blind to the changes in our world. To have a blind eye on things that affect our world certainly is being lax in one’s home. The management of the home is an important job and requires not only skills in cooking, sewing, cleaning, childcare, but also the knowledge and know how of money management. And to therefore realize what money we are allowed to keep and to what extent we will continually be put upon to help support a somewhat failing system is of tantamount importance. We must, as homemakers, expect and demand the sort of frugality and honesty in our government money systems as we expect in our home.

My fear and concerns are, of course, that we have gone too far down the path. There may be no tuning back or change as we either have gone to far or are simply too easily controlled by media and technology that is sadly controlled by a few who also control production. food production, military, and in turn the government and banks. What is a homemaker to do?

I am certainly open for suggestions and more tips on stretching that dollar will of course be helpful but what if that dollar, itself, becomes so inflated that it has more value in burning it for cheap fuel? This has happened in the past and I surely hope won’t be in our future.

I hope all have a lovely day and I do hope all of you can keep a bright smile and happy countenance but also a wise ear and open mind to the changing world. It is a homemaker’s duty, as well, to not take what we see and hear on the news and papers at face value. Many a homemaker is also a mother and she can often ‘spot a rat’ when she sees Johnny looking innocent eyed up at her with the remains of a broken cookie jar/ biscuit tin at his feet. We must use such powers of deduction when viewing our world. It seems what we are told today and what is the reality often differ greatly.

Happy Homemaking to all.

Friday, February 1, 2013

1 February 1913 “A Simple Breakfast of Bacon, Eggs, & Toast: 1913 & 1955 Not So Simple”

I was thinking the other morning as I prepared our breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast how vastly different was this activity for my 1913 self to my 1955 self? And I began to consider in what ways they would differ. In both circumstances I would be at home, that would be without question, I am assuming. Though I feel my 1913 counterpart would have had the benefit of at least a ‘maid of all work’. But, a middle class homemaker in 1913 would most likely still be the main chef in her own kitchen simply having the maid serve as her assistant.

Let’s start with toast. That simple joy of warmed and crispy bread There they sit brown and lovely waiting for their lashings of butter and jam. I love them cut into little strips, (soldiers) to be dipped into my 3 minute egg.

My current toaster is, in fact, a 1950’s model. So my 1955 self would quite easily pop her pre-sliced bread into the slots and press down the lever without a second thought. In fact in many movies of the times such as 1930’s/40s Dagwood movies and Leave it to Beaver in the late 1950’s we see the toaster on the breakfast table. Homemakers often followed this example.toasterattable Even mother at home alone with baby enjoyed her table top luxury of toast at the ready.motherchildtoaster

While toast for my 1913 self might be a different animal all together.

Most likely I used wither a stove top toaster or a fork before the fire. edisontoasterHere is an example of a 1909 Edison toaster with Edison screw fitting. Such fittings would screw into a central hanging light fixture which was a sort of early outlet. As electricity made it into some kitchens the outlet overhead was often the source of ‘plugging in’ any appliance. Usually an adaptor would be screwed in to hold a light bulb and either a place to plug or screw in such appliances as this toaster.

Of course a homemaker in 1913 would most likely use either the old manner of a toast fork holding the bread over the range grate opening and turning to brown or else a stove top toaster such as this.stovetoptoaster I actually have one of these for a gas range which Bessie uses in her little cottage today rather than a modern electric toaster.

One needs bacon and therefore we would need to have that stored somewhere. In 1955 the rashers would come wrapped in plastic or brown paper from the local butcher and live in the refrigerator. My 1913 homemaker would most likely have a slab of salted and cured bacon in her pantry from which she might cut her daily rashers or she would simply get them cut, as needed, from the local butcher and keep them in her icebox. Though not for as long as a 1950’s homemaker may consider with her option of freezer.

So, onto refrigeration:

 1913fridgeAlthough this type of refrigerator here was used in 1913 it would have only been used on a commercial scale. Therefore the ice box would have been my means of keeping foods in 1913. The electric refrigeration available in 1913 would have been considered not only too expensive but too dangerous for home use and it wasn’t really until the use  in the 1920’s of Freon (the DuPont patented name for chlorofluorocarbon, which today has been phased out as it depletes the ozone layer.) that refrigerators in home use was prevalent in this country

icebox This would have been more likely my kitchen companion. A wooden exterior but metal lined and insulated ice box. The ice would sit at the top, as cool temperatures will fall below the rising heat. icemanAnd this gentleman would have been my weekly visitor, the iceman. Though rural homes may have kept an ice house, an outbuilding often partially in the ground or a shady north facing area to house larger quantities of ice packed in sawdust or straw and usually harvested locally from ponds and lakes.

iceboxad If one had the money and space the approaches to improving the use of icebox (even being called refrigeration) were available. Here we see the homemaker or servant not even having to deal with the ice man and his dirt as he supplies the cooking blocks through an outdoor opening.

For myself in my current location, which would be even more rural in 1913, I feel I may have had a combination of both ice man and some outdoor storage of ice collected from the mill pond in my little village.

50sfridgeadThis would be the ideal for my 1955 counterpart and much more a reality for the American middle class homemaker. Interestingly enough, as I have mentioned many times in my 1950’s posts, I would most likely still refer to my modern miracle the refrigerator as the ‘ice box’. In fact, I took up the habit in my ‘55 year and find it hard to stop to this day. I recall my own mother (I had older parents) often referred to it as the ice box.

Being a homemaker in 1955 I would certainly have remembered the change over from the ice box to the refrigerator in my 1920’s childhood. And perhaps would have still seen one as a secondary device in my childhood kitchen or perhaps relegated to the basement.

This of course brings to mind consumption. My 1913 life would not have the ability to have the vast quantity of food bought at once and stored for months. With no freezer and only basic cooling from the ice box, food was addressed in a more daily fashion. With the aid of canning and preserving for long storage, such things as eggs, milk, and butter would have been treated and viewed quite differently by my 1913 me than my 1955. In fact my 1913 me would happily keep my eggs out on the counter and not bother with the ice box space for them while my 1955 me may have an egg portions specifically built into my new refrigerator.eggdoor

That is why the real me, in some ways, actually has more in common in these few things with the 1913 me. I keep chickens and have a fresh supply of eggs for the picking in my back yard. This would have been true even for a more suburban woman in 1913 but very rare for the 1955 woman unless she was a farmer. And I too keep my eggs out on the counter in a wire basket or wooden egg holder rather than take up my own small refrigeration space. I gave up my large refrigerator last year in lieu of a small under counter dorm size fridge. This allows me to keep my shopping costs down and to force me to be more creative in meal planning and weekly marketing.

Post WWII in America the modern notion of consumerism was born. That was slowly and sometimes painfully revealed to me as I continued to live and learn futher in the 1950’s. As the years passed from 55-58 the sheer number of pre-packaged foods, soft drinks, products for health, beauty, cleaning, clothing, bedding, furniture, appliances, cars, homes, carpeting, the list could go on and on continued to appear. To my pre World War self the very concept of such things would not only be hard to grasp but seem wasteful beyond belief. Items bought to be disposed of would have not only seemed odd but sinful to my 1913 counterpart.

As I continued to imagine the differing process of my simple eggs, bacon and toast breakfast I also began to consider how I would be cooking those eggs. Most likely my cooking would be done on a stove similar to this. It would be either wood fired or more than likely coal fired.1900swoodstove

I would empty my ash pit by hand. Were it a wood fire it would go onto the garden, as compost, but most likely the coal would simply be thrown out as it contained toxic waste even a 1913 wife would know was no good for the garden. My warm water for the house would be in the water tank. It would be either spouted for simply pouring into pans or plumbed into my one bathroom to have the ‘luxury’ of hot water on tap for basin washes and a once a week bath.

Though some stoves, as this ad here depicts, would have been also plumbed in for easier ash removal.glenwood4

You can see how it is designed to go through the floor boards into a cellar or basement into an ash receptacle.glenwood3glenwood1  glenwood2 glenwood5 

If there was electricity in my town I might be lucky enough to have a stove similar to this electric model from 1900. 1900westinghouseelectricrange This look will become more the norm as we move into the later teens for gas and propane style stoves. And the move to gas over coal/wood was certainly happening at this time. And I may have even been lucky enough to have such a gem as this stove here.


This manual is free and available in the Library under Vintage Magazines & Manuals Here.

The choice for my 1955 counterpart would be far greater and with so many styles and colors to choose from including pinks and blues and in broken up configurations for stovetop/hob and ovens 50skitchenappliances

Of course in my 1950’s kitchen I may simply make my eggs and bacon on my easy to use plug in electric skillet. electricskillet In fact I could prepare the eggs and bacon and toast all easily at the table while I visited with hubby and my electric percolator would also happily be chugging away. Certainly there is far more conveniences in my 1950’s kitchen and morning prep work.

This also made me consider fuel costs. I found this online book which outlines fuel costs from 1913.


Here we see cost of coal powered stove in 1913 would have been around $7.73. Adjusted for inflation that would be around $180.00 dollars in 2013 money. The cost of the average utility bill monthly in 1955 would be around $10 or in today’s money, $85.47.


The average gas prices, which one could also have some gas heat and cooking, would be around .95 cents a month in 1913 or about $22.00 in today’s money.


I could find no data for 1913 for electricity costs as it was relatively new and often provided locally at varying rates. It had not been made a unified monopoly under single company ownership as it would do in the future.

In some ways costs for fuel would be less in 1950s Post War prosperity but many more uses for the power and newer more open homes and less clothing meant a greater use of that fuel. A 1913 family would not have known the heated home in the same way as their 1955 counterpart and when it was cold they simply put on more layers over their already ample ones.

What is unfortunate for us today as that many have a larger style home more familiar to the 1913 middle class but with the open floor plan of the 1955 home and with an increases desire for luxury and heat of the 1950’s as well as vastly increased prices in fuel and certainly far less clothing. An odd mix, when one considers it.

This would be a ktichen set up I may have in 1913


While we know the 1950’s counterpart had every choice from ultra modern such as the Monsanto corp version at 1950’s Disneyland


   To an attempt at the 1900s look but with modern conveniences:earlyamerican earlyamerican2

Even then, in the 1950’s, we were looking back amongst our conveniences to a simpler time.

And despite all the cutting edge, easy to clean kitchens of the 1950’s the comforting home allure of wood-fired cooking, big rag rugs and hand pump sinks were still in the consciousness of the country and could be called upon to sell an idea and a product. The processed machine made chicken soup of Campbell’s was made all the more appealing in this 1950’s ad by drawing on the memory of Grandma’s warm kitchen filled with love and antiquated appliances.


Today, rather we are more drawn to the nostalgia of the chrome and vinyl of the 1950’s kitchen or the wooden hearth of the 1913 version, we may want to stop and ask ourselves, “what is really behind the draw?” Is it simply a need to acquire and re-decorate or are we inside longing for a time which we feel was simpler and more honest. And rather or not that time truly was what is in our imaginings of it, is it not still a valid goal to try and simplify our lives with less money worry and the safety of more knowledge.

Understanding where we come from and how we got to where we are is important. Seeing the flaws of the present and the flaws of the past can aid us in finding ways to change those. A simple band-aid over a heart-attack seems an ill planned solution to a serious diagnosis. So, simply acquiring the past in objects to sit on shelves may not be the real solution to a problem we may feel our present currently suffers from. I think we owe it to ourselves to see that real solutions can come at our own hands, be they simply growing more of our own food, keeping chickens, or simply turning off that TV or saving that $5 rather than buying one more inferior product we don’t need. The pull of the past can be strong and the desire to surrond ourselves with their objects may help and be a boon to the real solution of simply asking ourselves how can we do the more sensible and logical things that once happened in the past? It doesn’t have to stay buried there, we live in a time of so many choices why not start making the right ones.

I hope all have a lovely day.

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