A Day in the Life

Discussion in 'The Home Front Woman' started by St. Louis, May 17, 2014.

  1. DecoDame

    DecoDame One of the Regulars

    Lizzie, I can't say that the aesthetics aren't important in my attraction to the Golden Age. I'm calling myself "DecoDame" after all. As an artist, I have a deep appreciation of the look and art and design of the era. Otherwise, I might have latched on to a late 50s/mid 60s interest that better reflected my parent's experience as young adults, their influence in my younger life and the feel and culture of the mid 60s that I actually remember, if I was just going for that familiar living memory.

    But in 20s/30s/40s, I still get the saner pace, a less materialistic, less selfish, less infantilized culture, and some standards of behavior I like better - and beautiful things to look at. And not just that, but those beautiful things were made better, made to last longer (or last at all) and are often a joy to use. So, to me, it's the best of both worlds. I want both. I'm greedy that way.

    This might indeed make it technically a "time I never knew", but it's not an unfamiliar way of life. And it still feels more real to me than much of our current way of life. And I'm sure we can all agree that appreciation of some aspects, even many, is not the same as "idealization". No time or place is ever perfect. Ever. But some do fit better. It's rather great, really, that we seek that fit out, rather than just swallow what's currently spoon fed us.

    St Louis, looks like you have a membership in the "Stranger in a Strange Land" club. ;) There's free coffee. Your mom's comment cracks me up. "Sex with the Housewives" is a more honest title anyway!

    I'm okay with adult content, myself, if adults wanna see it, fine, but what gets me is there isn't anything resembling "age appropriate" anymore. We ditched cable 10 years ago, but I see it at friends' houses. Basic cable has stuff on it that just pours unfiltered into households 24/7 that makes my eyes cross. A five year old shouldn't be seeing that stuff, period. And it's not even the sexual content that's most appalling to me (or the ridiculous reality freak shows), but the cadavers rotting in fields, heads exploding, zombies chowing down etc etc. I dunno... I use to laugh at Tipper Gore as a teen, now I'm seeing her point. But with access to the internet, that battle is really over and lost. I'm wondering how kids will grow up now without being a little more hardened or callous after that kind of daily exposure. Hopefully, I'm underestimating them.

    Sheeplady, sounds like you're just less susceptible to the cacophony and have very firm boundaries. It's great that you can pick and choose what you allow in and it doesn't affect you. I find that any (thankfully rarely) needed trip into strip mall hell weirds me out for hours afterwards. It's just so depressing to me. I do live in a small town bubble too, surrounded by farm land, where social climbing and conspicuous consumption isn't much of a thing and perhaps they're just enabling my tendencies. lol I'm slowly turning into an "all or nothing" gal (towards modern society) and I'm not even resisting much anymore.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    It's similar, but a little different for me -- for me, the aesthetics aren't so much a matter of conscious aesthetic appreciation as they are a matter of default. I grew up in an environment dominated by a prewar/wartime aesthetic -- there were very few furnishings or daily-use items in my grandparents' home which postdated 1945, because that's when they moved into the house. They kept and used everything that was in it when they moved in, and added only a few other items -- a television set, for example -- as the years went by. But they never redecorated, they never bought new furniture, they never painted or put up new wallpaper or took up the floors or tried to keep up with the trends because we weren't people who did those kinds of things. Trends and styles and fads and crazes existed entirely outside our experience. My grandmother wore her hair the same way in 1980 as she did in 1940, dressed the same way in 1980 as she did in 1940, and for all intents and purposes lived the same way in 1980 as she did in 1940, and that way of life was essentially passed on to me to the point where it became an integral part of my thinking from childhood forward.

    When someone says "phone" to me, I don't think of a handheld device. I think of a heavy metal object with wires that sits on a desk or a table. It's not a conscious thing, it's a reflex. When someone says "living room," I visualize a room with heavy overstuffed mohair-covered furniture, rococo floor lamps, dark wood tables and bookcases, a dingy oriental rug on the floor and a console radio in the corner, because when I learned the phrase "living room" as a toddler that was what I saw. When someone says "kitchen", you get the idea -- I don't see stainless steel appliances or granite countertops and stark white walls, and those things, when I do see them, don't look like a kitchen to me.

    I can certainly appreciate the aesthetics of the Era when I make a conscious effort to look at, say, an electric mixer as a piece of industrial design instead of something I use to mix batter, but more often the image of that mixer is simply what comes first to mind when someone says "electric mixer," because it's the only electric mixer I've ever used or known. It's reflexive, not conscious.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  3. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    St. Louis, MO
    That's interesting. A couple of years ago someone started a thread elsewhere on the Lounge asking people why they were drawn to the Golden Era. I think almost all of them gave similar responses -- they had been raised by their grandparents or else in some way that evoked or respected their grandparents' era. That was true of me too; I was raised (part of the time) by my grandparents, who lived in a rural house that had electricity and running water only in the kitchen. The rest of the house had simple farm furniture, one enormous old clock with a wonderful tick and chime, and dishes that must have gone back to the mid-19th century. I actually grew up using an outhouse thinking nothing of it. If someone needed to use a telephone they would have to go to the neighbors.

    I was thinking about all this recently when I made my favorite "nerve tonic," Ovaltine, which is what I often drink at night to settle my monkey-brain down for the night. I found an old Ovaltine tin recently, which I had hoped to convert to regular use to store my O (I'm not sure I can do that without some jury rigging.) Anyway, to my surprise, I discovered that back in the 30s or 40s Ovaltine was meant to be mixed 3-4 teaspoons to 8 oz. milk. Modern O is meant to be mixed 4 tablespoons to 8 oz milk. I did a little bit of research on homemade O recipes and found that the modern recipe must be about the same. I don't think it's changed or weakened since the 1930s. Obviously the modern O manufacturer is trying to sell a lot more product. Another example of overdoing, overbuying, overeating.

    The point of this story relates to what I was saying in my earlier post. I think there really is a moral or ethical component to all this that goes beyond esthetics or nostalgia. I.e., for my taste, Ovaltine is actually better at the "lower dosage." (That's how I always made it before finding the original tin.) My parents would never have countenanced wasting food either by throwing it away uneaten or by overeating. They would have considered it a real sacrilege. Speaking of sacrilege, they always insisted on quiet behavior on Sundays and on clean hands at dinner. They weren't ostentatious about any of this, it was just the way life was supposed to be lived. To this day I can't throw away food unless it's beyond salvage. If an apple goes bad, it becomes apple sauce. Stale bread can become bread pudding.

    I'm not saying any of this to boast, because I didn't make these rules -- I just lived by them long enough that they've become part of my "DNA," so to speak.

    Does any of this make sense? I'm not trying to create a bigger moral imperative for what is essentially a hobby -- at least, that is what my friends think. For me, it's not so much a rejection of modern mores and technology, but more of a respect for a specific way of life that has worth and dignity.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  4. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I think that makes perfect sense. I suspect a lot of us here were raised that way to some extent. I don't think of it as a rule-based, Pharisaic morality, where you're measured by how carefully you adhere to specific Standards of Behavior, but the sort of communitarian morality that was part of everyday life in the Era -- the idea that we're all part of a family, a neighborhood, a town, a society, and that we all owe something to each of those entities. You didn't waste food in the Era because you appreciated that taking more than you could use and throwing it away wasted someone else's fair share.

    If I have food that spoils I don't throw it in the garbage. I throw it out in the backyard for the raccoons and the skunks. At least then it's going to another creature who can make use of it instead of just being another thrown-away demonstration of human arrogance.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  5. Stray Cat

    Stray Cat My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I see nothing wrong with a little "bubble" to wrap yourself in.
    As a matter of fact, that seem to be the best way to cope with this world. Coping is best word I can find, since "living" certanly is not a something I manage to do in this modern era. :D

    "Food must never be waisted." - first and biggest rule of my familly.
    Not a single scrap of food should find it's way into the bin. There is always a creature that will benefit from it: pigs, chicks, cats..
  6. scarletgrenadine

    scarletgrenadine New in Town

    I've found this thread fascinating to read. I wish I could add something, but I didn't know my great-grandmothers well enough to comment on what their daily schedules would have been like. Only two were still alive when I was born. They were both Southern women and middle-class. Both had many children, ten for my Tennessee grandmother, and five for my Louisiana great-grandmother.

    My Tennessee great-grandmother lived in a large house, and, apparently spent most of the day in the kitchen preparing meals. They raised geese and fancy-breed chickens on the property. Her husband had been blinded in the Great War, but he was a singer and a small-time inventor, in addition to his activities breeding poultry. Sometimes he wrote articles for magazines as well. My great-grandmother gave piano lessons and was apparently adept with mathematics. They had a music room with a pipe organ, a darkroom, and a workshop in the basement to work on inventions. Though they had a large house and a maid, their lifestyle was modest by modern standards. They walked everywhere for their shopping, traveled little, and mostly stayed in their small enclave.

    My Lousiana great-grandmother also had a large house with a maid to help with the daily tasks. She was an entrepreneur in a small way. She built two houses side by side, living in one and turning the other into a boarding house. During the Depression, she raised Persian cats for extra income, as well as selling her decorative painting work. She was interested in breeding begonias, and she grew many types of flowers in her garden. Her husband worked at the same job for fifty years or so, but it sounds like she always did her best to supplement the family income. She was able to send my grandmother to a four-year university. My impression is that she was thrifty and creative, and did her best to give her children a good life.

    The great-grandmothers I never met were from New Orleans and rural Alabama. My New Orleans great-grandmother was only a second or third generation American, and still spoke some French. She was poor, and the family lived very modestly. Her husband was also a Great War veteran. She only went to school until the third grade or so. The family lived in what was considered a black neighborhood, though they were white. She apparently grew pineapples in her front yard from cuttings she would make from grocery store fruit. Again, I know little about her, but it was a traditional lower-middle-class New Orleans existence. Red beans and rice on Mondays and so on.

    My Alabama great-grandmother was born on a grand plantation, attended university for four years, and toured Europe as a young lady. I know little else, but I don't think she married wealth, as I believe her circumstances were modest by the 1930s. However, she prized education, and her four children (two boys and two girls) all had advanced degrees and doctorates.

    I wish I knew more. I know very little about what they were like personally or what their routines would have been like in the thirties specifically. It's amazing that some of you can speak to the minute details of daily schedules.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  7. Kim Covell-Campbell

    Kim Covell-Campbell New in Town

    Oawatomie, Kansas
    I love these posts! I am so glad I found this site.

    My paternal grandparents were farmers. I spent time with them every summer. I usually wasn't up when my grandfather headed of to the fields. We had breakfast, dinner, and supper as well. My grandfather always had pie for desert both at dinner and supper, sometimes 2 pieces. My grandmother had an amazing garden out back. She put up all kinds of things. They had well water which always seemed colder than water in the city. If I ever become rich, I'd buy the farm back.

    My grandfather was born in 1898 so he saw a lot of changes in the world. I wish I wasn't so young then, so I could ask the right things. I miss them both terribly to this day.

    We are moving to Kansas soon, to a small town (smallish 4,000). Crossing our fingers that everything goes as planned and we'll be living in a 1920's bungalow on almost a 1/2 acre. There is even a clothesline in the yard!

    I grew up in a moderately sized city in Indiana, but out house must have sat on an old farm because we had 3 apples trees, pear tree, peach tree, crab-apple, and cherry. We also had a small grapevine and my nana would make homemade grape juice. I goggled the address a couple of years ago. BIG MISTAKE! Every fruit tree gone, so sad. :eeek:

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