Monday, November 15, 2010

Time Warp 1954

Imagine this...

Your shopping list regularly includes things like liquid starch, margarine (because it's 'healthier' than butter) and something new called Jell-o Instant Pudding, advertised as a "busy-day dessert" in this slightly strange commercial. You probably wear a girdle, make at least some, if not all, of your own clothes and have a short, yet feminine, hair style. And, if you're a housewife, you very likely read McCall's Magazine.
(photo in the public domain, courtesy of shmoop)

Fast forward to 2010...

My mother-in-law found a November 1954 McCall's Magazine at a garage sale. She's leaving it on her coffee table for now and I can't help but flip through the pages in fascination each time I'm there. Things have changed so much since then and yet, in many ways, things are still the same. I was in awe at the number of girdle ads and very thankful that women are no longer expected to wear those restrictive-looking garments. Yet, I know many women now wear Spanx. Are we really so different from our 1950's counterparts?

The magazine was filled with some interesting recipes and housekeeping tips that are just as helpful today as they were 56 years ago. There was a whole section devoted to properly carving the Thanksgiving turkey. Who couldn't use that advice today? As a matter of fact, I know this is something that appears in contemporary magazines, morning TV talk shows and all over the web, like in this YouTube video from

I am thankful that I don't have to regularly starch my clothes, iron pleats and worry about the quality of fabric that I buy to make my clothing, yet I can't help but envy the 1950s woman a bit. She looked so darn glamorous all the time, even when she was cleaning toilets!

Though the pictures portray an era that seemed far more innocent than ours, I can't help but think that these people of yesteryear were hardly innocent. The men had fought in WWII while the women sent their husbands, brothers and sons off to war and kept things humming on the home front just a decade earlier. Not only that, but the fathers and mothers in the 1950s were the ones that grew up during the Great Depression. They were far from naive. They'd seen a lot of the harder parts of life. Maybe that's why they embraced home and hearth as fully as they did once all the dust had settled.

Looking at this vintage magazine is a sweet reminder of how far we've come, but how much we've also lost in our super-technological age. Still, the basic things that makes us all human haven't changed. Families today are interested in doing what's best for their children, cooking what they believe are wholesome foods and living a good life, just like the families of the 1950s.


  1. The first thing I thought of while reading this was Valium...
    But I do wish I was that 1950's housewife, they certainly had it all together, and I just stumble my way through the days

  2. Ha ha! There was no mention of "mother's little helper" in the magazine - lol. They did seem to have it all together. I think in a lot of ways their lives were simpler than ours.