Showing posts with label Magazines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magazines. Show all posts

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Good Housekeeping Housekeeping Book

It's been stickily hot all day today, so, after a morning spent painting trim (I'm about halfway through with the dining room!), I retreated to the couch with a sweating glass of iced tea and a fascinating book I found in my collection.  I have no recollection of where it came from, but it's a very fascinating read!

Published in 1947, this book really should be used as a historical primary source.  It's such a glimpse into the world of post-war American homemakers.  With more clothes and re-modeled/new houses and that fancy new washing machine comes a lot more housekeeping.  And so the editors of Good Housekeeping decided to put together a definitive book full of advice on keeping a house spic-and-span.

There's a chapter on moving day made easier, removal of household pests (we're entering the era of liberally poisoning every living creature in sight...there actually is a section on obtaining the right kind of DDT), how to care for books properly, doing laundry, must-have cleaning utensils for the new housewife, and how to thoroughly clean every room in a house (let me just say that the editors of Good Housekeeping would have a heart attack if they walked into my house).

The house cleaning chapter particularly fascinated me and, after much musing, I've decided to follow their housekeeping calendar for a week and see if it's actually feasible today or whether I will end up rolling my eyes over the amount of time those women spent making sure that their houses were immaculate.  I suspect that I will find the latter true (really, who cleans their kitchens three times a day?), but maybe I will surprise myself.

As I write this, I realize this isn't so much a book review as a reflection on an era.  I find this book so fascinating because, with the vantage point that I have, I can see how these new standards are going to lead insane standards of domestic perfection and, ultimately, boredom for women everywhere.  Because this kind of housecleaning is not true homemaking, but just keeping a house clean.  The kind of homemaking that people like the editors of Good Housekeeping were rejecting-doing good, creative, challenging work in the home-got shuffled aside in favor of shiny houses and ridiculous levels of perfection.

When I look at this book, I get chills thinking of the women that, in just a short ten years will finally start speaking up about the intense loneliness and meaninglessness that was a part of their lives as they followed the strict rules of the likes of Good Housekeeping.  I want to go back to these editors and shriek, "No!  No!  Stop right this instant.  These standards and rules are going to take you nowhere good."

No history textbook can paint a picture quite as well as a book written at that period of history can.  And that is how, on a hot Monday afternoon, I found myself taking a history lesson.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Vintage Magazines

I have a deep and abiding love of vintage women's magazines.  They're such a fascinating look into another time period, and they're fun to read to boot.  I've been reading vintage magazines for years and I thought that I should pass on the vintage magazine reading love.  They can be sort of difficult to find, but they're well worth the hunt.  These days, thanks to more accessible vintage stores and the online world, they can be found for prices that are not outrageous.  So here are my reasons for loving vintage magazines.


1.  That lovely smell.  There is nothing like musty paper.  It's so intoxicating!  It's interesting, because the smell is completely different from the scent of old books, but both are among my favorite smells in the world.

2.  The often-hilarious ads.  My favorite is one of a worried 50s mother trying to get her little boy to take his daily laxative.  It's only when one of her friends explains that little Timmy needs a children's laxative, not a big old adult one.  It's no wonder he hates the taste!  There are all kinds of ads from toilet paper to laundry detergent to hand cream.  Ads are another way to get a clear picture of what people were thinking about at another time.

3.  The illustrations and photographs in the stories.  There is something so cheerful and charming about the drawings and photographs that accompany the stories.

4.   The fashion pages.  You all know how much I love vintage fashion.  Most vintage women's magazines have a fashion section, much like today's women's magazines.  However, instead of "5 belts for under $75"(you know that just means that each belt costs $74.99), it's "This fall's coat patterns" or "Make a new apron in an afternoon."

5.  The (sometimes garishly colored) food.  The food almost never looks appetizing, but I still have fun looking at the pictures and laughing at the nasty-looking jelled recipes (chicken with tomatoes jelled in lime jello, anyone?)

6.  The stories.  The stories often have a soap-opera-ey bent to them, but occasionally you'll find something well written by a now-famous author.  The stories are usually divided throughout the magazine, so you'll turn from page 56 to page 75, where the next segment of the story is.  These magazines are worth hunting out just for the fun stories.  It's too bad that women's magazines have lost this charming feature.  Where else could you get 7 different short fictional stories for 25 cents then?

The only complaint I have about vintage magazines is their unwieldy nature.  They tend to be a lot bigger than magazines today (almost newspaper height) and it takes some upper body strength to keep the magazine upright while reading an article.  I've found that the best way to read them is to spread the magazine on the floor and flop down on the floor on your stomach and read, with your chin propped up on your elbows.

So if you should happen to stumble upon a vintage magazine (or, lucky you, magazines), snap it up.  You're in for a treat.