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Single Women

Discussion in 'The Home Front Woman' started by Miss Holloway, Dec 13, 2017.

  1. Miss Holloway

    Miss Holloway New in Town

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Under the North Star
    Hello all! I'm new!
    I'm a single woman living alone with my dog and lately I've started to wonder what my life would have been like in the late 30's and early 40's. I've tried to do some research but haven't come up with much. I suppose lifestyle would have varied in different places and social classes but if you have some information (any place, any social class) I'd be interested.

    I guess single women often had roommates but some must have lived alone. At least if they had the money. Little details interest me. I work from home so would I have bothered to do my hair everyday? Or make up? Would I have cooked just for myself?

    I have a fairly modest salary so would I have decorated my home? Or decorated for the holidays? Would I have had a Christmas tree? Would I have cooked special foods for holidays in general?

    And going out. If no friends are available would I have gone to the cinema alone? Or out to eat? Would I have gone out at all at night? I wonder what things would have been "socially acceptable" and what wouldn't.

    Any insights?
     
    Trenchfriend likes this.
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    There was a well-developed single-women's culture in the late 1930s, epitomized in Marjorie Hillis's best-selling 1937 book "Live Alone and Like It." Hillis promoted the single way of life as a worthwhile and fulfilling thing for women who chose it, and encouraged singles to, basically, do exactly as they pleased without worrying too much about what "society" might think.

    [​IMG]

    The term "Extra Woman" on the cover was sardonic -- for years single women were referred to socially as "extra," because they didn't come as part of a convenient couple for social occasions. Hillis rejected this view, and made it clear that a woman's social worth was for herself, not for her as one-half of a unit.

    "Business girls," in a city setting, usually lived in small apartments, sometimes of the kitchenette type, and occasionally in a residential hotel. Women-only hotels existed in most cities especially designed for single working women, and were reasonably affordable to the woman on a small budget. If there were roommates, the apartment might be bigger, and it wasn't unusual for groups of single women to club in together for an even larger place.

    You would have decorated your place any way you pleased. If you had room for a Christmas tree and wanted to have one, nobody could have told you not to -- that was one of the benefits of living alone and liking it.

    As for cooking, that would depend on whether your apartment had facilities for it -- it wasn't uncommon for single women to take their meals at drugstore counters or lunchrooms if they didn't have the space to cook or the desire to do so. Marjorie Hillis wrote a "Live Alone and Like It" cookbook in 1938 called "Corned Beef and Caviar," based around recipes-for-one that didn't have to be eaten out of a can. She also wrote "Orchids On Your Budget," spelling out ways in which the single working woman could enjoy the occasional luxury without breaking the bank. She was a big advocate of women siezing their own cultural initiative -- encouraging them to go to plays, movies, concerts, and other events by themselves any time they felt like it. And she also reminded them that their sex lives were nobody's business but their own.

    "Live Alone" and "Orchids" are still in print, and are well worth reading. "Corned Beef" will turn up if you search used bookstores often enough. All of Hillis's books are very entertaining windows into a particular slice of urban female culture in the late thirties.

    And welcome to the Lounge!
     
  3. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,504
    Location:
    New Forest
    There was a group of ladies that would have been just as you described, back in the decades after WW1. At least here in the UK there would have been. These were the women whose betrothed, or newly wed husbands, never returned from the trenches of WW1. They stayed loyal, as they saw it, to the memory of their men. That society labelled them with the name spinster, was just so cruel.
    How to find out about them I know not, the internet and I don't get on too well. But you might be luckier. It's certainly a fascinating subject that I'm sure others will contribute to.
     
    Miss Holloway likes this.
  4. Miss Holloway

    Miss Holloway New in Town

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Under the North Star
    Thank you both very much!
    I didn't even think about WW1 and what that meant in this aspect. I don't feel ashamed of being single but I wonder if women at the time did. Marriage was thought of as a goal in life even more than it is now.

    And Lizzie, this was just what I was looking for. I'll have to see if I can get my hands on some of those books!

    Edit: Found Live Alone and Like it on archive.org in case anyone else is interested: https://archive.org/details/livealonelikeitg00roul
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2017
  5. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,504
    Location:
    New Forest
    There's another twist to the story of the ladies of the early twentieth century. Such was the decimation of the male population that only one in ten found a suitable husband, the rest remained single all their lives. I have found a book and a newspaper report that you might find interesting.
    Singled Out. Is the title of the book. Here's the newspaper report.
     
    MissNathalieVintage likes this.
  6. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,704
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Fascinating thread. I had no idea there was such a culture for single women in the 1930s. That book looks awesome. As a newly single gal myself, I'm definitely going to check it out.
     
  7. MissNathalieVintage

    MissNathalieVintage A-List Customer

    Messages:
    479
    Location:
    Chicago
    I've always thought about this myself. And thank you @LizzieMaine for the book titles I ordered two of these, so excited! And @Miss Holloway for the link!

    Thanks to my forcing myself to get out there in the world. I am ten times more happy.

    I still have no close friends and not a hint of a man in my life but I am glad that I get to go out and do the things that I enjoy.
    Men do complement me and some men ask me out but these are the kind of men who are not marriage material and I myself am not a man chaser, never was and never will be. So who knows what the future will bring and either way I'm still a happy single woman.
     
    St. Louis likes this.
  8. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,504
    Location:
    New Forest
    Compliments to you both, ladies. Good to see that you are making the effort to get out and about again. A toxic relationship is not something that I have ever experienced, how lucky was I to meet the lady who would walk down the aisle with me fifty years ago?
    My wife and I are blessed with a truly amazing circle of friends and it all came about from our love of dance. Dancing is such a pleasurable pastime, we enjoy dance in most of it's popular forms, Latin & Ballroom, Offbeat like Samba and Lambada, Various jive disciplines like Lindy, Jitterbug and Balboa and so many more. Dance is the one recreation where intimacy and formality go hand in hand. There's the tactile facet of holding each other in a close embrace yet, as Patrick Swayze said, in Dirty Dancing, you have to respect each other's personal space. We have a few singletons in our circle of friends, both men and women, none are looking for a partner, but they all join in the dancing, no one is excluded, nor is there any sense of threat to anyone's relationship. We love it.
     
    AmateisGal likes this.
  9. MissNathalieVintage

    MissNathalieVintage A-List Customer

    Messages:
    479
    Location:
    Chicago
    WOW! this was a very interesting piece of WW1 history that I never knew about.
    I did like what the press tried to do to help these women and the advice given to try to help these women try and locate other men.
    Its so sad that some women decided to turn to lesbianism in order to fill the lack of men in their part of the country. And the fact that the men who were available decided to emotional hurt some of these women who thought the men they were dating were going to marry the women they were with.
     
  10. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,704
    Location:
    Nebraska
    You are VERY VERY blessed!!!

    Toxic relationships do so much harm...I was in one for 18 years and only been out of it a year. But I am SO MUCH happier and healthier.
     
    MissNathalieVintage likes this.
  11. MissNathalieVintage

    MissNathalieVintage A-List Customer

    Messages:
    479
    Location:
    Chicago
    I just finished reading Live Alone And Like it and I adore this book! I am reading it a second time. I've been a live aloner since I was 27 years old and the book has some great tips on how and why we single women need hobbies and why one should not be afraid to go out or travel solo. Which I've started doing since 2008, years ago I was of the mind set that I needed to wait around and have some one accompany me when ever I wanted to go out or travel. By my doing this I was a very grumpy depressed woman, wishing like crazy to be able to go out and have a life, no one was willing to join me. So, when one of my favorite bands reunited I for the first time in my life got a prepaid credit card and went on my first ever plane ride and stayed at a hotel by myself and had a fantastic time, solo at the concert in a city where I've never been to before. And now I travel 5 or more times a year, and cheaply too.

    The one tip from the book I wish I could acquire is a part time maid goodness knows I desperately need on since my studio apartment has an accouterment issue thanks to the mistress of the house.

    When I come home from a day at the office I just want to sit and relax and not have to fret about any thing. And on my days off when I am running arons or choosing to socialize my studio has been known to suffer. But my social life has been fantastic and I'm no maiden Aunt or spinster at the ripe old age of 43. My friends are in awe at the events and places I go out solo to. And thanks to the website www.meetup.com I've been able to hang out with other like minded people and thanks to www.goldstar.com I've been able to attend plays, concerts, and events that I would've never known of very cheaply and even for free since I use goldstar a ton.

    What I also like about Marjorie Hillis' book is her ideas on why one should care about ones bed clothes and why it is important not to eat at the table when solo in ones' home but to use a tray or small table in the living room. I found this very helpful since I'm one to take my meals in my rocking chair and try to balance my dishes in my lap with my small foldable table on the side of me to hold my drinks and my propped up smartphone to watch videos on.

    And how to have cheap but tasty simple quick vegan home cooked meals and I also live a mostly analog life too.

    The one thing Marjorie Hillis briefly touched on is being scared of the dark and the bumps and noises at night. I use to be this way too. That is until I learned about a really great E-book titled Alone And Afraid https://www.amazon.com/Alone-Afraid...d=1518740656&sr=1-1&keywords=alone+and+afraid this book helped me make my studio a little bit more safer and helped me become a lot less afraid of the dark. Its highly recommend reading to everyone who lives alone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
    LizzieMaine likes this.
  12. EvaS

    EvaS New in Town

    Messages:
    12
    Thank you, now I know what to read!
     
  13. Miss Holloway

    Miss Holloway New in Town

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Under the North Star
    In continuing the research on singledom I've moved on to food and cooking. Aside from Corned Beef and Caviar I've come across a few other books on the topic. One is The Working Girl Must Eat from 1938. At least I think it's meant for a single woman but I'm not sure since unfortunately I haven't been able to find it digitized on line. Another one is a short a little book called Cooking for One by by Marjorie Baron Russell from 1946. This one is on archive.org here: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.175842.

    Could anyone point me to other titles on the same topic? Or maybe even cooking for two?
     
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  14. MissMittens

    MissMittens One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,585
    Location:
    Philadelphia USA
    LizzieMaine and Miss Holloway like this.

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