Wednesday, April 8, 2009

7 & 8 April 1955 “Spring Fashion, a Rant, and a Confession”

trio clothes spring clothes 1 spring clothes 2 spring clothes 3
I thought I would butter you up with pretty fashion pages, skip history and go straight into a rant.

I was thinking today how this journey to 1955 started very immaturely, in a way. I approached it, as most people from 25-45 today probably do, with an almost immature approach. I don’t mean that in an insulting way, but I have come to see our modern group of ‘adults’ as a sort of giant collection of grown children when compared with our 1950s counterparts. Most of us, I know there are many exceptions out there, have never really had to grow up. We wander form our over protected youths to mindless high school to over specialized university. We hold onto our cartoons and toys of youth, or we replace them with new ones. We look around, trying to find meaning and purpose and only knowing, really, that consuming is the only constant. It has always been there. It fills a need. We think, “Oh, I am ‘this sort of person’” and then go out and buy the accoutrement to fulfill that need. Oh, I love comics, or video games, or I love the old toys and things of yesteryear” and we think, in owning these, in somehow having them in our possession we have some holy grail. Like talismans we clutch our items to our bosom and wait for that feeling of worth, of belonging of hope. Only, it never comes. It is just a thing. It might represent something: lost youth, hope for a better childhood than you had, a sense of belonging, feeling that you are part of ‘this or that’ crowd. Really, what is behind any of the trends we need to fill ourselves with is just worth and a sense of self. In the bombardment of consumerism in which we are faced daily, how could we ever feel uniquely ourselves? We try to ‘make’ ourselves through a series of purchases. “I have this or collect this so I am ‘this sort of person’.” But, honestly, we are all just people who are so disconnected.
It is funny to me to realize how many things are at are fingertips. It is so easy to communicate with those we know, email, text, cell, right there at our fingertips. But, now we have all this technology and we find we have nothing to say to one another, we shorten our phrases from their already banal meaning to a few letters or a colon and half a parenthesis. But, are we smiling? Are we winking? ;) Are those two key strokes really expressing what it took poets pages and pain to express? Or, is it our little ‘SOS’ to anyone out there. “help me. I want to feel better. I bought more things and I still don’t feel whole. I am communicating but no one is really hearing me.”I may be alone in this feeling, I know. But, it is still an honest feeling.
So, the point of this rant is that when I first approached this project I thought, “Oh, I really like vintage things. I had always been more ‘into’ the 19th century. Their novels and art and even their clothing, but I am really inspired by the 1950’s so I will try that” When my project began, I promised myself it would not just be about the fashion, rather or not I wore seamed stockings when I vacuumed, etc. And, yet, so enmeshed in my own 21st century consumer society, that my search for the ‘next thing’ was immediately followed by, “alright, I need to buy some vintage dishes and some vintage this and that”. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am still doing that. However, now I find I am doing it not only because I have come to enjoy the lines and style of the period, but because they are inexpensive well made things that obviously do not break down in two years like the stuff you usually get at Wal-Mart, target, home depot etc. Now, I am trying to surround myself with well made inexpensive things, to scale down my ownership and to donate all the things I don’t need or want to those who can actually use them. I admit, there still is a certain ‘magic’ quality for me in old items. I do sometimes come across an old appliance or item that I am sure went unloved and sat in an attic and then I remember, it is an inanimate object. It feels nothing. I am merely transferring my own emotional state onto it. I can hold that old magazine that may have sat upon the lap of an old homemaker while she laughed with her children, now grown and smiled at her husband, perhaps now dead and sat at bridge and gossiped with her friends and neighbors, but I do not get to own her. I do not get to just buy something and magically become transformed to her life. WE live in a time of instant gratification. We are told we can solve all of our problems by buying this or that or taking this or that pill or reading this book with all the answers. But, having something easily is not always worth the having of it. How dare I try and have a life that was fulfilling and rich with laughter and happiness, trauma and sadness, loss over war and coming together in a community by purchasing their old things! It should not be that easy! So, what do you do? There you are sat down in your piles of things that you want to co-opt into your own life and it is just so much accumulated detritus.
Well, I am coming to realize if I want to be, or any of us want to become, more like this or that person or to take on the qualities of vintage times that we admire, we have to work at it. We cannot just buy the product and ta-dah! there we are happy and transformed.  I am finding that what I love and cherish of this generation, their community spirit, their ability to make do and to smile through hardship, cannot be bought. It has to happen. You have to not just wear their fashions, you have to go out and try to make a difference. In your own home and how you respond to things. How you shop. How you connect to your community and family. But, in doing it and failing along the way or being unhappy in it, now you are building character and a real life. I don’t know if I will ever live up to what I think those 1950’s homemakers were, and they probably never lived up to their predecessors either, but in trying, in being self-aware and caring for others, for people more than whether or not you ‘fit in’ or you are part of this or that group or you buy the right things or you wear the right clothes.
Now, I think one of the reasons I have taken to the clothing so easily is not what I originally thought, which was that they are pretty. They are. But, in not having to look at a magazine cover and try to copy it (it is odd as most of my magazines do not have models all over it talking of how great they look, how much weight they lost, or young they look etc) or worry if I need to have this or that style, I feel I have found my own real style. I feel an almost calm about my clothing to know that I can get rid of all those things that are too tight that I ‘might fit into some day’ or things that are sort of crazy that I thought I might wear one day and bought on a whim and it just hangs there with the tags still on. Now, I know I need a certain number of skirts and dresses. Work dungarees. Some nice wool trousers for winter, nice cotton, linen, and seersucker pedal pushers for summer and that is it. I can add to my wardrobe as I like, through my own hand at my sewing machine, or at thrift stores and if I find a deal on eBay. I now can look and feel good and it costs little and I will TAKE CARE of the clothes I have. I actually have a mending basket. Something that never existed for me before 1955. Before, it was just ‘easier’ to toss out socks with holes or sweaters, why not you could buy up some new ones so cheap at old navy etc. But, that is how they get you and that is why we want everything so quickly and then feel empty when we get it without work. There is pride in mending you own sock. I know it sounds hokey, but it is true. There is pride in a neat closet of things you made or take care of and hope to have forever, if you can manage it. The amount of money we spend on ‘just getting some quick things cheap’ add up. We all spend more even though things are so much less expensive today than in 1955. But, this false world of easy pleasure without the work is empty. At least it was for me. I didn’t realize how empty and pointless I really felt until I began digging for this project.
I have come to find the actual processes of 1955 work meaningful. The fact that I can find happiness in shining my coffee pot and canisters. Before, I would not have cared and watched TV instead. I used to play this video game, “the Sims”. I am not sure if any of you know what it is. When the second version came out, I was so excited. It is one of the MOST popular video games ever and even people who don’t normally play video games love it. And, do you know what it is? Simulated living. You make your house how you like it. You go to work and find a career or work at home and raise kids. You have generations etc. Another example of an easy solution to a very natural tendency in people. So, there you sit, your own actual home not being cared for or your friends and family on hold while you slip into the fantasy of this world. Sims 3 is coming out this year and I had to laugh when I heard. This news would have been received with much excitement in 2008, now I wonder, how did I ever have time to play a video game and why waste my time on a false world when I now get to play the “The Sims” in real life. Sure, it is easier to build a house and furnish it in an hour, but it is not as rewarding as doing it over time, with my own hands and mind and then getting to live in it and share it with others. When I heard about Sims 3 coming out, I really thought about it. I realized how far I have come in three months. Who knew this ride would take me to an actual life. This one attempt at trying to buy my way into a new ‘definition of myself’ has lead me to find the real me. I just feel bad to see so many people feeling empty and trying to fill their lives with things or games. Fun and entertainment is important, but all fun and the constant need to amuse or to ‘get away from it all’ is a sad example of a decline of a generation. The world should not be so bad to people that they need to escape into an unreal world or to try and define and make themselves happy through buying things that they think make them into the person they want to be. The real solution is to just work at it. Try and reach out to people and really look at what you are buying. Maybe you want to learn a real instrument instead of playing a video game version. Maybe you want a real family and not just run one on a video game. Just because you dress like Paris Hilton doesn’t mean you will have jets at your disposal and endless travel. But, why settle for a sham life of someone else’s ideal when you can build and make your own so good and so fulfilling and so uniquely your own.
I have so much more to learn and it will be a long time before I can ever fully shake my initial response to things through consumerism. It is so ingrained in all of us, we cannot help it. In yesterday’s blog a commenter pointed out that I said, “Oh I need one of these vintage nut choppers, but I used a knife and board instead” and called me on the fact that I was, at that point, wanting to buy something I didn’t need and in fact felt I did. That is what is so amazing about this project for me. I certainly do not think I am infallible or that I ‘have all the answers’. In fact, I am just learning and in my realizations am probably saying many things some of you already know. But, you see, I am so FAR from where I want to be in this realization that I welcome things like that. On my own I will catch myself in my moments of ‘I need to buy this’, but I don’t always, and that is why I like the community of this blog. I can definitely see, though, that with an actual community of people whom you would be involved with on a daily basis, you would most likely be a ‘better’ person, not because you were trying to be who you aren’t in front of others, but because you are trying to be the ‘best you’ you can and having others around almost fuels you to be ‘good’. It is so much easier to be slothful and ‘bad’ when you are more isolated. Even those of us with busy social lives, compared to 1950’s families, I think there is still a lot of alone time. Today children may have to be driven to soccer and ballet and have this and that and go with friends etc and when they are home everyone is on their own computer or individual TV. That most likely was not happening in 1950’s (especially the computer) there was more together time as you just really had to have it. Even TV time had to be together as there was only one if you were lucky enough to own one.
Yesterday at dinner when I was discussing the new dining room with hubby and gussie they both sort of laughed and said, ‘Until you get sick of it and change everything around again’. Normally I would have laughed and they would have been right. But, I got serious and said, “No. That person is gone now. I am doing this house over both to make a nice place for us to live in as well as a way to just get my life more solid and tangible. After that, I am focusing on my community.” It was odd to hear it out loud. It was true, as well. It is as if this redoing of my home, this settling into this one place, is a sort of cathartic moment to rid myself of all the things I don’t like about who the modern me was/is. I still have that need to consume and shop and collect up things. But, it is becoming less important. Even my decision to construct built in furnishings into each room is almost a physical statement to myself and others that ‘this is it’, this stays here and this is where these dishes go. They look nice and I love them as an object but that is it, I can walk away and care more about other things like people and community. I am hoping, by the end of 1955, that I have done a lot to have my home ‘set’ and I have unfettered myself quite a bit from the modern concept of buy, change, collect up, unorganized and feel better by going shopping and buying more etc. The endless hamster wheel of consumerism is no place to be a real adult or to be a fulfilled human being. I want off, and I am getting off. Who knew buying things could be so harmful and simple things like caring for your home mending socks could be so fulfilling. I don’t want to listen to the modern lie of ‘gimme gimme it’ll make me happy’ any more.
Now, I know, I really do, that I should just leave my house alone and go out NOW into my community. I can harp on about consumerism all I want, but it is a hard habit to break. I honestly feel like my doing over my house (which honestly I sort of had to do as we are turning a duplex back into a single house) is a cathartic moment for me. It is a big part of this year’s project which has come to mean more about changing my personal life into one in which I can be proud. I know that I do not NEED to go out and buy new trim work and paint to make over my dining room. I know I don’t NEED to donate my old stuff and buy ‘new used things cheap’, but somehow I feel like I am in consumer rehab. I am in the rehab center to cure my disease: 21st century consumerism. It is very contagious and it sneaks up on you and it is a monkey on your back and hard to shake.
“Hello, I am 50’s Gal and I am a consumer” I seem to be saying, here at my meeting of Consumer Anonymous. It is not easy for me to shake what I really feel has been a part of my physical and emotional makeup. It is such a part of me that I have to do a sort of personal lobotomy to loosen myself from the grip. I am sure many of you are not as bad as me, perhaps and I am asking for you patience. I will slip up. I will make mistakes and I will fall back into the ‘Oh, I need to go buy that”. It is a hard habit to break, but honestly I am trying. I am doing it because I have seem moments of my life when it has been better that I wanted to do something on my own instead of having someone or something do it for me. That I have felt good, walking through HomeGoods, filling my cart with this or that for a few dollars and then stopping myself and saying, NO and walking out. I like the feeling. When I would spend an afternoon shopping now I spend it in my yard or tearing down a wall or simply shinning my coffee maker. Maybe I am still a product of ‘things’. Maybe in my need to make my home a certain way to feel I am in control of it is still a part of a society based on things, I don’t know anymore. I just know that I do want my home clean and organized and free of unnecessary clutter. I want to be able to go out and be a part of my community. And, please, be patient with me in that respect as well. I want to and need to, but I am a little afraid almost. I tell myself, “when I get the house done I will do this” and I know I should not say that but do it anyway. I do need to and I will try. I think having this project to hold myself accountable for is a major aide in helping to change my life. I think many of we modern people have very little accountability. I am finding when that is gone, many people won’t do or act or live the way that maybe they should. I used to think, modern girl that I was, ‘who cares’. I have no specific beliefs and I felt that most of the roles and rules had broken down and for the better too. You can do what you what, have fun, there really is no ‘right way’ to be. But, I am finding, even if that might be true, there should be a right way. Without structure we can feel disconnected and with no connection we feel little accountability for our actions. Perhaps much of the breakdown of society as we know it IS due to that very fact. What to do to change it, I don’t know. All I know is I have turned to the 1950’s as a sort of guide. A wiser older woman as mentor who does not judge, but by her actions, her clean home, happy smile, nice meals, pretty and clean appearance makes me want to live up to her. Who do we have to live up to now? The other day I saw some modern magazines, women’s magazines, and they all had various stars on the cover in skimpy outfits with headings about who was heavier or whose body fat got caught on the camera. WHO CARES! Honestly, who cares, but many must or they wouldn’t be putting it out there. Maybe, if anyone wants to change their life, they should find that accountability factor. For some it might be religion, for others perhaps the ideals of the past could stand as a guide for them, an older wiser person who, by their example, you want to live up to. Would this person do this or that? No. I admire and respect that person, so I am not going to do it.
That is probably why this project is so good on me. I am and have been such a consumer and a person who wanted and reveled in instant gratification, that this trip to being a responsible homemaker of another era is that much more a stark contrast for me. I am sure there are plenty of you who already ironed your sheets, shopped locally etc, but I didn’t. This somehow makes me a good guinea pig, I think. Speaking of being a Guinea pig in my own experiment, I was a subject of such an experiment:
Yesterday I was hurled into the 21st century. In the moment of it, I first felt guilty and then thought, ‘well this is fun anyway so who cares’. Here is what happened, and this is my confession.
What is a vintage girl to do? Honestly I am not a true time-traveler but in the sense that I am one, I was suddenly rocketed to the modern world in a rush. I felt that at that moment I was a true time-traveler and here is my journal entry from that moment:
“I had spent the afternoon working in the house, as was normal for a Tuesday. The ironing basket called out to me, it’s contents brimming and waiting to be pressed. The day was sunny and I was going to allow myself some garden time as a treat, in between making dinner and my other daily chores.  Then, like a flash of light, I was teleported to the modern world. There were loud noises, flashing lights, and laughter. A group of people were apparently plugged into some odd machine and staring at a wall filled with images as one would see at the picture show! The colors were vibrant and they danced upon the wall. The people seemed to gyrate and move with the rhythmic music that was more noise than song. They pressed their fingers and beat upon a strange series of circles, there were mutterings of “dang, oops I missed’ mingled with laughter as the pulse , the cacophony of noise and sound washed over me. The scantily clad cartoonish people on the virtual stage seemed to mock my crisp ponytail and neat skirt and neck scarf. Where had I landed? Was this some strange new world? Was I even on earth?”
No, I was in my friends living room and they were playing Rock Band. I am not sure all of you know what that it is, but it is a video game that allows you to ‘play’ on instruments that are plastic controllers molded to be like a guitar and set of drums and a microphone etc. I was lured in with the siren song of bad music, flashing lights, and laughter of my friends. I thought, “Oh, well. I don’t get to see this friend very often, so I’ll just join in and that way we can hang out”. Two hours later we wondered where the pretty sunny day had gone and I said maybe 20 odd words to my friend. There was a pleasure to it, but it sort of represented all I had been thinking about that day. The no accountability and instant gratification. Why learn real instruments or just hang out and talk with your friends when you can be a group of grown people ‘pretending to play in a rock band’. It should just  be a simple fun time, but I thought of what I had missed. I had let the rest of my day go. My shirts went un-ironed. My dining room missed a day of my redo schedule. The garden sat, wondering where I had gone, as the sun set on it. Did I have fun? I had the sort of fun I have had in the past, which was actually the future (21st century) but now that sort of fun is ruined for me. I don’t think it is bad, but I cannot enjoy it. There is so much I would rather do than that. At the end of the day of even a simple day of cleaning and decorating, I feel good. I have an exhaustion and happiness and can see and live in my results. After a few hours of such a video game I felt tired, dizzy and dreaded going home and working on dinner. The thing I actually enjoy doing. I can see how easy it would have been to just order pizza, let the house go and continue on. I can see the lure of the modern world and it’s ease, but now I see the result of it. That person I was in 2008, I don’t want to go back. I was a child, I had fun, but now, I actually LIKE being a grown up. I am sure this sounds silly to many of you who are much more advanced than I, but I know for me the realization of adulthood is new and I strive for it. IT will be a long a rocky road ahead, but by the sweat of my brow and the use of my brain and intellect I will build a better me and not be made by the things around me, what I put in the shopping cart and sit back and idle in.
I am not really sure where I am going with this rant other than I want to change, that I know I do, but realize what a long road ahead of have. It will be hard work and I will slip up, but I think that will make the voyage the better and me a fuller more real person at its end. Easy is there for any of us. We can be a rock star with our friends, just plug in watch the screen and push the buttons. But, we can also learn the guitar in real life and play it quietly for ourselves or with our friends around a fire or even put a video of ourselves up on youtube for others to enjoy, but we don’t have to all be famous. I just think that the marketing plays into that need and makes us feel that way. How will we ever be truly happy if we want to chase a false dream and only fulfill it in a false reality.
I hope I can be forgiven. I am back, safely in 1955, but bruised and battered emotionally. You see, I have to realize how much of the modern consumer and instant pleasure world is a part of me? When I begin to strip that away, what will be left of me? Am I person under all my objects? It is truly, sometimes, frightening, but I don’t want to turn back. I realize, as well, that I cannot honestly just live safely as if it is 1955. I am going to continue this year to adhere as much as possible to it, as it is this which is helping me to realize the truth of my modern time and to be a better person, but to be able to touch up and brush up against 2009 whilst living in 1955 is more educational than just closing my eyes, shoving my fingers in my ears and shouting “I’m in 1955! LA LA LA”. I am glad that yesterday happened. It made the things I am finding and learning sparkle a little more today. I felt a little bit more grounded in the present while surrounding myself with the past. This is becoming an interesting ride and I am glad you are all along with me.
I never want to seem like I am trying to tell anyone how to live. I am only just discovering these things new myself and am finding a new sort of happiness I have not felt before. I am not perfect and I have so much to still learn. I really do feel, though, that I cannot go back. I have gone too far in now. To use a modern comparison, I have taken the red pill (whatever color pill it was, I don’t recall) in the Matrix and now I see the reality. I don’t want to go back and lie down in the goo and be plugged into a false world. I think I would rather be isolated and feel what I now feel than to feel connected to others through things that don’t honestly give me any true happiness or fulfillment. That is not for everyone. Many people need that feeling of ‘belonging’. I just wish that feeling could come outside of some of our modern ways. I have not found such a group as of yet and who knows, maybe when I start my vintage club I will meet others as wholeheartedly committed as am I, but until then I feel I may have to bump up on those in the modern plugged in world for moments of that sort of happiness, but like a foreign friend I will be able to visit a little but then must again return to my native land. As I said, this land has a very low population right now, me and I do get visitors, but maybe someday I can increase the population. I cannot completely not be connected to my current friends, but there is a part of me, now, that makes me unable to be wholly there with modern fun. I hope I have made the right decision, but I know I cannot turn back now, I have looked behind the curtain. I know the wizard is just some guy pulling levers and I cannot close the curtain and pretend to believe in the GREAT OZ. Have I ruined myself? Am I becoming an anachronism to my life? Who can tell. Only time will tell. I do appreciate all of you coming along for the ride. 


  1. I think there are a lot of women who are of the same mindset as you. Most Home School moms work at the same goals as you, in fact, most stay at home moms think as you think. I got a BS degree in Home Economics in 1976, and was scorned for it by many women who felt I had wasted my time. I was aiming to prepare myself to help others with making their homes run smoothly; it was only after I graduated that I married, so by no means was it just to serve my own home. Thirty years later the skills I studied are now "trendy"-cooking and home decorating to name two. Yet the Marriage and Family aspect is still misunderstood in our modern times, where magazines suggest new sexual tricks to keep a marriage alive, instead of how to build a true relationship based on mutual caring and care for one's home.
    You mentioned religion in passing. I would encourage you to explore what part religion played in the life of a 1955 home maker. It was too big of a feature to not give a look at as part of your 1955 year.

  2. This is what I love about you. You have such a great insight into what we have lost and gained since the 1950's. I find your blog such an inspriation. I'm thankful that you share so much with us.

    I think I really am a vintage girl at heart. I really think we do need to actually "live" our lives, taking responsibility for the life we create for ourselves. It is so much easier to watch the t.v. or play the computer games and escape the realities of our lives but I don't think it brings us greater happiness. We have to live in the moment taking pleasure in the journey.
    By the way I thought you might be interested - I recently read a newspaper article which said that in marriage and friendships we must have good manners toward one another in order for the relationships to work smoothly. It made me think of your blog. I think people are so consumed in thoughts of themselves that they fail to think of others. The article pointed out how our manners have changed over the past 40 years.

    I believe if your writing makes even a few people think about their lives and to live better you have done a great thing for your Community. By writing this blog you are providing something of value for others and making a great contribution to our world. Your blog touches lives around the world. I do hope you will continue with this and perhaps one day you will also publish this in a book.

    Thanks again for being you and inspiring the rest of us vintage girls out here.


  3. I really appriciate your emotional sensitvity and honesty, here.

    I have come to many of the same realiztions, recently, and am stuggling to overcome similar material and anti-social temptations.

    I just got married last June. I am truly trying to lay the foundation for the relationship, life, and home that will make me the happiest and be the most sustaining. I see so much unhappiness, neglect, contempt, and attempts to find distraction/escapism in the world around me.

    Apologies for the vague yet heavy comment, I just truly relate to and enjoy your posts.

    Regarding friends, I am fortunate to have a weekly "craft night" with female pals. We pot luck a meal and work on projects or small chores together. We have been doing it for several years now, and we even take a "retreat" cabin weekend trip together once a year.

    I volunteer with a local food cooperative, which gives me community involvement (as well as a discount on many great and often local foods). I am still sad, though, about the fact that there are only 2 neighbors on our street that we know by name, and we still never really socialize with them. One of my goals for this summer is to change this.


  4. A profound post... one I'll be thinking about for awhile. You always make me think, 50s gal! You have found yourself in an interesting anachronism, haven't you? Having learned what you've learned about yourself during this year - you probably couldn't go back if you wanted to.

    In terms of your home renovation, I would encourage you to take it slowly. If you want to make decorating choices that will stand the test of time, take your time in choosing them. Unless your home's super uncomfortable, you don't have to have it all done by December 31.

  5. 50s gal, thank you for your honesty--you always make me think.

    I thought of this from Jeremiah, "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."

    I see you as one who is looking and asking for the "good way."

  6. Good rant. I feel the same way about the being a grown up part. A couple months ago, before I started my experiment of living as a homemaker, one of my friends said that I act too old and I Mommy my Hubby. So I dyed my hair and cut it, and tried to be someone else...only to find that it didnt fit. So I dyed my hair back to brown, letting it grow back out again, and I never mommied my hubby, I just took care of him, I always have..we take care of eachother. She turned 21 two months ago, and last week signed herself up for AA meetings. And I thought to myself, Is this what you want me to be? Is this what being a kid is??? I thought to myself, Im not too old, youre too young! Youre 21, act like an adult, its time to grow up! SO GROW UP! I used to play the sims as well, and now I look back on it and ask myself what I was thinking, it seems so mindless and pointless now. I dont understand why it was fun. I feel like a grown up now, I was very timid and HATED doing things by myself. Yesterday, I went to the store by myself and bought a gallon of milk BY MYSELF! It seems childish Im sure but it was a big step for me. I dont know you, I dont know anything about you, but Im proud to read your blog. I understand what your going through. You look at everyone else acting like giant children with dirty diapers and no one to change them so they throw their hate at the rest of the world because they cant take care of themselves, that is what I look at consumerism being, A false diaper changer, so you throw your money at it asking to feel better...and you never do. the ironic thing is that once you stop throwing your money, that is when you feel complete...that is when you feel better.

  7. Wow what a great inspiration. I remember one day walking around my home and feeling like " I want to live in black and white". This is because when I was yong we lived like those 50 tv shows we saw in black and white. We did not need 300 channels or skinny pills and face lifts. I remember when they talked about paying for tv and we thought that was the stupidest thing we ever heard of! Who would be that dumb? I tried to hold on to as much as i could but life over took me. I am slowly rolling my way backwards. Keep reminding me I am on the right path.

  8. Hi 50's gal, what you did was not wrong so do not beat yourself up over it. Are you going to be a 50's gal when the year is over??? Have you talked to your hubby about this???? I really enjoy reading your blog and hope that you do continue but if you do stop I am sure we will understand. Remember to surround yourself with good friends and talk to family, they are a wealth of support and love.

  9. Wow, thanks for all the great comments, it does really make me feel okay about the whole experience. I am not sure if after this year I won't be able to be a 50s gal. I think I might be in for the long haul on this one. As I said, though, I do have to live in the modern world, but I think that by learning and understanding the past, I am going to try and make a better future and present for myself. I don't think I can or want to go back to that other person. Thank you so much for all your great comments and I love the dialogue we always have on here. You're all wonderful.

  10. **Applause!** I really enjoyed reading this post and your honesty and insight are refreshing. I feel the same way about feeling I should be more grown up. I need to work on this and finally figure it all out instead of being all over the place. I am finally getting closer but I'm not there yet. You are right to recognize there are mainstream things going on today that we should really consider not participating in. The video games are a prime example. You can get lost in it and ignore your real life. I know I get wrapped up in television, the internet, cell phones, blogging (new to me), and finding out what everyone else is doing. At some point we have to start living OUR lives, the ones we've carefully chosen and have our own ideals and values. I look forward to being a real grown up.

  11. You said 'How will we ever be truly happy if we want to chase a false dream and only fulfill it in a false reality' and I think this is very insightful and wise. We are as a generation, quite hooked on make-believe, and while a certain amount of fantasy is a good thing, in the end it is not a substitute for really doing something. It seems that we want to live vicariously through reality tv and computer games in a way that has become a little extreme.

    Also, the desire of people to consume is becoming quite disturbing. I suppose that the 50s was really the beginning of mass consumerism and advertising, but adults of that period had lived through the war, and I suppose had gone without so many things that they embraced the idea of being able to have everything you could ever want and then some. But we have been exposed to advertising since birth, and it is difficult to break away from the idea that possessions equal happiness. Every advertisment basically tells us that buying more will make us feel better, and it is quite hard to go against this. I think with the current economic climate, however, we will see and are already seeing, a return to more frugal habits. Anyway, thank you for your musings, they definitely make one think!

  12. An excellent post! You've reminded me of this quote: 'How much we need to live life says a lot about us, but how much we THINK we need says a lot more.'
    I am finding your journey so fascinating, not just because it is a trip back in 'stuff' or back to a particular year, but it is a trip back in attitudes... I'm hoping to find, at some point, the point where everything started to go wrong (as in, to how the world is now).... but I think your ahead of me on that one!

  13. What a wonderful post. Good luck on your journey of self discovery.

  14. Oh, our 50's Gal, of course you are forgiven. Must you even ask? Without your afternoon of Rock Band you wouldn't have gained the insight for this wonderful blog post. And isn't learning about one's self sometimes two steps forward, one step back? I find it interesting that it left you so out of sorts. I suppose it's better to keep about the schedule and keep the purpose of your day. I personally find that some days I am very productive and others I get sidetracked and barely get the minimum done, which takes me all day.

    As for your thoughts on our immature society- very true. But What I find interesting is that the "teen"culture came about during the 1950's. Suddenly after the serious war years and Great Depression parents could let their kids BE kids. The advertising of the time helped push this idea too.

    I think having one's own children helps us "grow up" in some ways but not in others. A few of my friends from college never had kids and aren't married. While they're kind, responsible people with good jobs and all they are different in that they are only responsible for themselves. They eat what they want, when they want, go out whenever, buy what they choose if they can afford it- all without thinking of anyone else's needs. You could say that these women are actually more mature because they are 100% self sufficient but it seem that way when we're together. They live in their own universe in which they are the sun and everything revolves around them.

    Now I know when my college friends and I get together they think us mothers revolve around our kids but in our society this is "mature". But by doing so we are allowed a certain degree of immaturity too. It's acceptable to dress sloppily because mothers are too busy (and self-less) to worry about such things. We eat "kid" food because it's easier than making two meals or enforcing rules. Our homes can be cluttered because of the kids and their needs. Being a good parent is important but losing the adult in one's self and in one's marriage is more so, IMO.

    I think a lot of the immaturity in our culture stems from the idealized view of parenthood where we give up everything for our kids. So we're all eating chicken nuggets in our pajamas watching Disney at the dinner table. Blah! Seriously, what's with the Disney store catalog's adult size clothes with cartoon characters on them???

    Donna- What's funny about the nut chopper post is I, who responded about it after another follower did, did the same thing by suggesting you get a vintage cutting board instead! The whole point is what you had WORKED. I hope you got a laugh about that too. If we can't laugh at ourselves then how do we learn anything, right?

    Thanks for another thought provoking blog entry.


  15. I am glad I am forgiven and I DID notice that you said I could BUY a vintage chopping block, but I thought better not to say anything about it! It is surprising how easily we just think, "oh, I'll just buy it". Using cash, however, really makes you think and you cannot spend more than you have. I don't know if I can ever totally get to that point, but it will be my goal. It is hard right now with my dining room redo, but I am coming along. We certainly have to laugh at ourselve, or at least I do. If I didn't have a sense of humor about myself, I think I would have gone mad years ago, not that I am not already mad!
    I have been busy today so I will have a new post up tomorrow. I have done alot of thinking in the past two days since my foray into the 21st century. I was thinking of how at the end of 1955 I will try to somehow make 1956 and 2010 blend in some way. It will be interesting to see the result and I have a few months, yet, to iron out the kinks. Thank you everyone for all the comments AND for forgiving me for my trip to 2009, maybe you all can now have a day trip to 1955 to make me feel better.

  16. 50s Gal, I love your blog! It\s such an encouragement to homemakers. Have you never thought it would be interesting to have a new experiment for the next year by moving more in the past? Like 1948 or something?Or may be 1930s? I live in Holland and we have a community of people who like the time before the two world wars, there was a TV program about one of them, and this lady has a completely 1930s home, and dresses in the style, too.

  17. HI 50's Gal-
    My husband said to me the day you posted this "Don't you wish we could all behave like it was in the 50's?" This was just after we had gone to the store and spent money that in the past we did not have (like in the early days of our marriage).
    I think while you are right about consumerism, you also have to remember that Post-WWII that folks were also coming out of having to scrimp and save, as well as the depression immediately before that. The 50's were a time of the rise of consumerism. Husbands were back from war to be husbands again, earning money so wives could stay home, by 1955 entrenched in their careers. Wives wanted their lives to be easier than it was during the war times. The rise of goods that made life easier was good for the country, men made them, women urged their husbands to buy them to make their lives easier. So, we Americans are a consumerist culture by nature and upbringing, but we should learn (as you are doing) from those who had to do without immediately before.
    I think it would be difficult for you to completely unplug from 2009 unless all of your friends and family did also. I think you are learning (and sharing) great things about your adventures in 1955.
    One more thing... Have you ever watched the PBS series 1940's house, 1890's house, or "frontier house" (i think it was called that). Those might give you a great insight how isolating it was to remove yourself from the modern world. The 1940'sone might be particularly interesting to you.
    Keep up your fabulous blog!

  18. Cheryl- I have seen 1940s house (not this year, though) and recently commented in one of my posts how I started to associate with the feelings the grandmother in that program had once she tried to come back to the modern world. She couldn't go back the the way she was, spending needless, paying prepared foods, not shopping locally. She began saving more money, shopping at local stores, only using cash and getting to know her local shop owners and volunteering. It seemed she changed for the better, though your grandkidst thought she was no longer the 'cool grandma' but then, one should live as an example as a grown up and not to please a 10 year old. It was a good series.

  19. Your comment about "living up to that person" is really interesting. What captures my imagination about that is that in the 40s and 50s...Well, there was a sort of ourtward-projected tidiness and happiness, and it almost seems like it was a herd instinct for everyone to live up to that, and it was a joy, because it wasn't about showing off, the way it seems to be today. My best friend looks down upon me for sewing clothing & home things and for hitting up the thrift shops and ebay. Today it seems like the fashion is more geared toward one-upping everyone else, in a way, instead of looking very nice, presentable, and attractive.

    As far as your dining room redo...This must be a cathartic thing. It reminds me of the scene in CS Lewis' "Voyage of the Dawn Treader", where Aslan tears the dragon's body off of Eustace. Afterward, Eustace finds that a great deal of his former selfishness and general meanness is gone; it's still there to a degree, but it's easier to fend off. Your home makeover seems to be similar...Like you are ridding it of the vestiges of the consumeristic lifestyle and simultaneously paying homage to a lifestyle and the people you admire. PLease don't be too hard on yourself for it.

    One area it is difficult for me not to spend is BOOKS. Many say, "Oh, the library!", and that's great for candy books (which I've no time to waste reading), but I read a lot of philosophy and history, and also write notes in my books as I read them, as well as refer back to them for my work. They're scribbled in, sticky-noted, and even cross-referenced to other books in my library! That said, my hope is that it's all right to be happy with myself because I wait for the price to come down on used copies at our local bookshop or Amazon. It's difficult because some books are so time-dependent, but I do try!

    The points others have made about post-war consumerism being a result of the way things were previously is quite good. It must have felt quite freeing to consume in such a madcap fashion. Many do not realize that the Great Depression was "great" only in the United States; it lasted around ten years, and then there was the deprivation resulting from the war and FDR's misguided ideas (slaughtering sheep and letting them rot; letting vegetables rot in the fields, all to "help" the economy by driving up prices amongst a population already stretched thin). Altogether it was nearly 20 years of "making do" and not having enough, much less too much...People must have felt like they were in some sort of recess!'re forgiven. :) Besides, it clearly led you to some deep thought and insights.

  20. 50sgal (I like calling you this),

    I thought it was interesting when someone in an earlier comment had mentioned how you were being affected by the 1950s advertising. I wondered if you would catch what she was saying, but I didn’t comment because there’s a part of me that feels like it’s good for you to learn many of these things yourself as you are going through your project…your discoveries. How much do you want us to point out to you? Really, I don’t want to interfere with what you are learning, but it is sometimes hard not to comment on something. I normally try to comment about something you’ve already discovered for yourself; adding to the thought, but do you want us to point out our own observation of things that you haven’t realized yet, etc.?

    Another poster commented about not being on the same page as her husband on this issue. The same is true for me. We agree in general ways, but he doesn’t totally agree about buying local, etc., so there is a compromise. When I go shopping alone, I like to buy local, and when we go shopping together, we normally end up in the bigger stores. We have discussed this issue over the years and he is more open to my ideas now than he was before. We have been out of town for a while, and while driving, it provided us the opportunity to discuss this issue again because of the current book I’m reading (the title that I gave recently). He wanted to know what I was reading so we ended up talking about it. He didn’t outright agree, but he did say that he’ll have to look into more to decide what he thinks. I think he came to realize that what I was saying had legitimacy to it, and he couldn’t outright disagree with me. Part of his willingness to look at things differently has been my ability to explain things better as I have come to learn more and understand things better over the years myself. Anyhow, how I live my life and the things I own are not a direct reflection of my ideas because I live with someone who thinks differently. If I was living by myself, my house would look totally different, and how I live my life would be different as well. My relationship with my husband is more important than the things that surround me, so I don’t worry about it.

    In the owning of things, I think the key is not being swayed by advertising. The things I own are not from a particular time period, they are a mix of things from different eras. The things I own, and personally like, are things that are just that….things I like. I don’t care if it “goes together”. I don’t decorate my house to fit a certain time period or “look”. My house is just simply filled with the things I like and have a use for. Like I said before, I love the good things of the 1950s. I try to incorporate the good into my life, and leave out the bad (unnecessary consumerism, etc.). I imagine the same for you, 50sgal. You are a 50s gal in all ways that are good, but, by 2010 you will be a smart 50s woman who does not live her life according to advertising and the lure to buy buy buy. You will live a contented life surrounded by the things you like, and things you like to do, and have learned to live a simple, happy life… not being on the mindless hamster wheel of life… no matter what décor surrounds you, or what clothes style you are wearing. If you truly love the 50s décor and see yourself surrounded by those things after this year is up, then go for it. But, if you feel like the 50s advertising has affected what it is you truly want surrounding you by the year’s end, then pause to consider what it is you really like, and not allow this project to determine that for you. I personally love the simple styles of the 40s/50s, and would love to see how your remodeling goes if you do decide to continue in this fashion.

  21. PL-by all means, do tell. I think a big part of my discovery is in my fine commenters, like you, who can see what I cannot. That is true for any part of any life with any connections one has. We cannot see everything and to have others point it out helps us to learn. I will not be mad, as I like to sort of be shaken by what concepts I may think are true and to look further to understand it. So, any of you, definitely point out those idea. ON this point, one thing I love about our discussions here, is when any of us agree we do it very courteously and will allow ourselves to consider anothers opinion and reavaluate our opinion based on that. Common courtesy and respect CAN be a part of debate. I think that element is really missing in the modern world. I think I might go into this more in today's post, though I have been busy WITH my remodeling. I have felt bad as I have not posted any particularly fancy foods or desserts as of late as I have been so busy tearing down walls, and weilding a hammer, that I still find time to make food and desserts, but the are not always picture worthy. But, with my new skills, I can tear out a wall, put up trim, paint a cabinet and still get dinner on and throw a peach pie in the oven before hubby gets home AND clean up and get back into my 'comfortable clothes' (usually something with a petticoat).

  22. Thanks once again for a fabulous entry. You are so kind to us to spend so much effort sharing your journey. You can do all those things in your above comment?! If you can, so can we. How inspiring!

    Your ideas, discoveries, musings and insights are so appreciated.

    Don't be too eager to involve yourself more in community (I think you contribute and help a large community all over the world already!) but just learn, grow, practise and deeply ingrain your new way of living a productive grown-up life. No rush for more outside involvement.

    Thanks again. From, Linda

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  24. “But, now we have all this technology and we find we have nothing to say to one another,” – I cannot agree with you on this one! I can never keep my comments for you short! ;)

    I think you should arrange a street sale this Spring, and sort out all your things and clothes you don’t want and don’t use. Perhaps you could spread the word in your neighbourhood this way. Give the neighbours in the street a written “invitation” and set a date for the sale, you could write it on one of hubby’s vintage typewriters. Then if your neighbours think it is a good idea too, you should put posters up in the local shops and hang them visible for others to see, to get buyers at the sale. I’ve tried it and it is a great idea and a fun way to see all your neighbours in the street.

    I dress vintage-style too, and buy most of my clothes at second hand shops and charity shops, therefore I spend very less on my wardrobe. And I truly love to hunt for a great bargain and nice different styled clothes, different styled from normal modern wear that is. And I have it for YEARS! I love my clothes and don’t want to change my wardrobe twice a year like my SIL does. Most people think I am well-dressed and that I have TONS of clothes, but I’m just good at matching and staying to the same colour scheme and style. I have to admit, though, that I ADORE shoes and own TONS of them, also quite a collection of vintage shoes, especially clear Lucite shoes from the late forties and fifties. Before son, I sewed almost all my clothes myself, but I haven’t got time neither energy to do that any longer. But I truly loved doing it – creating is very satisfactory. Perhaps, I’ll start doing that again when son has moved. ;)

    I cannot wait for your 1956-year next year, when you start changing your community! Really! Then you’re done with your home and need new projects, and with all those careful and clever thoughts and rants I’m sure you can do a lot. You’ve already got all of us readers in your boat. And may I congratulate you on having so many readers, impressing! I do hope your blog will continue for many years ahead, since I am so excited to see what this develops to.

  25. I'm getting to these posts late in the game but enjoying reading all the reply too! I have to get back to my own projects soon. My daughters still like Sim's once in a great while at 19 and 21, where when they were younger they spent lots of time playing. I think it has to do with being too young to have your own place and do what you want with it and it will transfer over to real life when they get there, as you have.

    I mentioned in the last post about finding you while researching for and reading my dad's journals from this time period. This all gives me a feeling of home. My mom sewed constantly it was her passion for all of us in our large family. I think you might have bought a mangle if you lived back then to help with your ironing. My mom did and demonstrated them as a part-time job to help out. Also the comment about religion is so true. Religion was a big part of life then. My mother was very involved with her church, her neighbors, being a Blue Bird leader (like the Girl Scouts) teaching them to sew, etc. All the moms in the neighborhood stayed home. There were no fences. The back yards connected and was everyone's backyard. The kids could just go out the back door and play until the dinner bell. The mom's actually rang a big bell and you went running home! Oh the good old days!

  26. Wow, these posts are wonderful! Such wisdom in your words. So happy to have found this blog!


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