1950s

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The last little things from the American Home magazines that amuse me are the little ads in the back that advertise everything from soup to nuts (so to speak). There were a lot of these in the December issue, understandably, since that issue would have gone out in November — prime Christmas shopping season. And yes, most of the gifts are very tasteful and sometimes kitschy. Some, however, are just . . . plain . . . scary.
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One of the most gratifying reading from the 1955 American Home magazines comes from the futuristic ideas that always seemed to exist in magazines of that time.  So much had happened in the previous fifty years to bring peace and happiness and an easier life overall to the American housewife.  It seemed that the majority of the drudgery could be eliminated by machine: washing machines, dishwashers, push-button stoves . . . one could only dream about what other inventions would come along in future years.  It’s no surprise, then, that in 1955 people were dreaming about “The Kitchen of Tomorrow.”
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We happen to have a narrow little air-return vent under our kitchen cabinets that I had never given much thought to until a few days ago, when I thought I lost yet another kitchen gadget down its depths. At one point in time, we had a wooden grate that fit over it; however, after remodeling the kitchen with yet another layer of flooring, the grate somehow disappeared, leaving a little gap under our cabinets. Because this hole is right where we do most of the food prep, etc. in the kitchen, it’s very easy to accidentally kick things into the hole.

Exasperated after kicking yet another item into that vent (I lost a food thermometer two months ago), I needed to get into the vent and get out the stuff I had lost. I was also mildly curious to see what else was down there. After all — if I had lost two items in just a few months, imagine how many other things had made their way down there in the last 56 years!
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The American Home magazine collection from 1955 has been a hoot so far. First there was the bad soup collection, then the green ruin they actually presented as a good idea, and now I have a smattering of miscellany that I’ve found in the bound collection. Not everything presented in the magazine is a bad idea. There are some pictures of kitchens that make me yearn with desire — a sort of “wow-I-love-that-kitchen-and-would-do-just-about-anything-to-have-one-like-it-today” sort of desire.
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I promised I’d post some pictures from the 1955 American Home magazines that I received a few weeks ago. What fun it has been leafing through them! If you missed my recent post on bad soup ideas from Campbell’s, you must go back and see it. There are some things that are better left in history, and that’s one of them.

There are some other things that history buried, and we should be forever thankful. Certain decorating ideas, for example. Sometimes I stare at rooms bedecked in vivid colors and myriad patterns and wonder what it would have been like to actually live in a room like that. Did the occupants suffer from dizziness or chronic gastric complaints? Did those ailments suddenly stop after moving? Once you see these pictures, I believe you’ll feel the same.
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A friend and I visited a local consignment shop the other day. Despite it being local (ok, ok, it’s a few miles out of town, but I still consider it local), it was the first time I had been the first time I had been in there. To tell the truth, when I stepped into the store, I felt a little let down, because I had hoped for fewer clothes and more piles o’ stuff where I’d have a good chance of scoring something retro.

Imagine my surprise when I started lifting up dishes in a stack and found this gem:
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I acquired a bound collection of American Home magazines from 1955. What a treasure trove of home decorating ideas! I’ll be posting some of those pictures in days to come. For now, however, I want to talk about food.

Ever notice that some of the food ideas presented in old magazines just seem plain disgusting? The pictures sometimes look like the aftermath of a messy operation, and the pairings sometimes make your stomach turn. No one will ever convince me that filling pear halves with mayonnaise is a good idea. No one!

I noticed a Campbell’s ad in one of the American Home editions, and a couple of their “creative” soup ideas caught my eye.  Please forgive my rather poor quality “pictures of pictures.”  The bound collection of magazines is so bulky that it’d take a special kind of amazon woman to scan the dang thing.  I like to think that I just don’t fit the bill.
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Sometimes I’m lucky enough to find cool retro products just by using the right search terms. Other times, though, I stumble across retro products that seem horribly misplaced. In general, I try to avoid the kitschy retro products that try a little too hard. You know the ones I’m talking about — the rusted signs that say “Mom’s Diner” or a clock styled like a jukebox. On the contrary, I love products that truly look as if they could have come from the 1950s. Some manufacturers are getting a clue that there is an honest demand for this stuff. Let’s encourage them, shall we? Take a look at what I’ve found via Amazon just by searching for the term “retro.” Read the rest of this entry »

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I often peruse through my old Sears catalog and wonder: if this were indeed 1957 and I were really ordering things for my house (and my life, since Sears offered everything from boots to boats “back in the day”), what would catch my eye? What items would I be writing down on the order form and sending away to Los Angeles?

The clothing just about does it for me. I could order nearly every single dress I see in the catalog and be in heaven when they arrived. Was there ever a fashion that made women more feminine than the Midcentury dresses? Flouncy and floral, they could make just about anyone look about as girly as Marilyn or Grace (Kelly, that is).

Here are a few gems that caught my eye this afternoon: Read the rest of this entry »

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