Saturday, September 23, 2017

Vintage 1950s Ladies Fashion

1950s ladies house dress

          A 1950s woman had to always, look elegant and clean. New inventions in house cleaning and cooking appliances made her day easier. Looking exhausted, like a hot mess was not acceptable, or so she was told over and over again by TV, radio ads, and newspapers.
          Comfort was key. The full skirt of gathered fabric (5 yards at least)  with a thin petticoat underneath made them easy to move in, change bed sheets, make dinner and tend to children. The button down bodice, known as a shirtwaist, was the prime style of house dress. Easy to put on and take off by oneself it had been around for years but the 1950s woman made it her signature day dress.

          House dress colors and patterns followed the trends of the year.  Trim was minimal. Self fabric details such as small pleats were preferred over large add on trims. The exception to this was wide lace appliqué, small rickrack trim on collars and pockets, and big buttons in white or black.  A coordinated belt was optional.
          The dresses usually had two patch pockets on the front of the dress or slit pockets built into the sides. These held all kinds of useful things such as clothes pins or a handkerchief.  The collar on the shirtwaist dress was usually pointed or a round peterpan collar. Some had no collars, just a round boat-neck or sweetheart opening.

          For running errands or visiting friends outside the home a woman did not need to change dresses. Simply adding jewelry, gloves, a belt, a cardigan sweater or bolero jacket was enough to transition her dress out of the house. The women of the 1950s were not to look like a domestic servant even if she acted like one. Fashion was fashionable even when no one would see you in it.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Vintage 1950s Cars

The Edsel
              It was an automobile brand that was planned, developed, and manufactured by the Ford Motor Company from 1958–1960. Ford had expected to make significant inroads into the market share of both General Motors and Chrysler and close the gap between itself and GM in the domestic American automotive market. Ford invested heavily in a year-long teaser campaign leading consumers to believe that the Edsel was the car of the future – an expectation it failed to meet. After it was unveiled to the public, it was considered to be unattractive, overpriced, and overhyped. The Edsel never gained popularity with contemporary American car buyers and sold poorly.

          Ford announced the end of the Edsel program on November 19, 1959. Production continued into 1960.

          There were several reasons for the failure:
The aim was right, but the target moved It was considered a marketing disaster.
The wrong car at the wrong time. One of the external forces working against the Edsel was the onset of an economic recession in late 1957.

Reliability Even though the Edsel shared its basic technology with other Ford products, a number of issues caused reliability problems, mostly with the 1958 models. 

Design controversies The Edsel's most memorable design feature was its trademark "horsecollar" or "toilet seat" grille, which was quite distinct from other cars of the period.

          Despite the Edsel's lack of sales success, several of the cars were nevertheless raced in NASCAR's Grand National series in the late 1950s.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Vintage 1950s BBQ

          After WWII, many returning GI's married and settled in the suburbs. A house with a backyard was one of the status symbols of American middle-class. How best to show off one's backyard? Men proudly did the grilling. Wives did the planning and prep-work based on suggestions offered by contemporary magazines and cookbooks. James Beard's Complete Book of Barbecue & Rotisserie Cooking (1954) was one of the "bibles" for American home barbecues.

               The Good Housekeeping Cook Book recommended meats include: big steaks, little steaks, king steak, salt-grilled sirloin steak, barbecued spareribs, heavenly hamburgers, hot franks, grilled ham, barbecued bologna roll, and beef alfresco, kabobs, charcoal-grilled chicken, charcoal-grilled duckling, fish fries and barbecues, and shellfish alfresco. Fresh grilled vegetable recipes feature corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms. Grilled French & Italian breads, grill-baked breads, rolls and muffins, garlic-buttered slices and a variety of hot grilled sandwiches were also recommended. Dessert could be prepared on the grill. Popular items were caramel roast apples, walnut roast, fried marshmallows, baked bananas, and "Marshmallow Treats," (similar to S'Mores).

Saturday, September 2, 2017

1950s Homes

Split Level Style Homes

         The Split Level style, with half-story wings and sunken garages, began in the 1950s was a popular home design. This style rose to popularity as a multi-story modification of the dominant Ranch house. Although it retained the horizontal lines, low-pitch roof, and overhanging eaves of the Ranch, an added two-story unit was planned at mid-height with a one-story wing to make three floor levels of interior space.

         Three types of interior spaces were planned: quiet living areas, noisy living and service areas, and sleeping areas. The new split form made it possible to locate each area on separate levels. The lower level usually housed the garage and, noisy family room with its television, the mid-level wing housed the quieter, living and dining areas, and den, and the upper level was the quiet area for the bedrooms.

         Split levels remained quiet popular until the late 1970s.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Vintage 1950s Toys


         The Tinkertoy Construction Set was created in 1914 by Charles H. Pajeau, who formed the Toy Tinker Company in Evanston, Illinois. He was a stonemason and designed the toy after seeing children play with sticks and empty spools of thread. Pajeu partnered with Robert Pettit and Gordon Tinker to market the toy. The goal was to allow and inspire children to use their imaginations. A colorful “how-to” instruction guide accompanied each set. In the 1950s, color was added and the wooden sticks appeared in red, green, blue, and yellow.

For a generation, Tinkertoy was the "Lego of it's day."

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Vintage 1950s Music

     Rock Around the Clock

          The number 2 hit on Billboard in 1955 was Rock Around the Clock, a rock and roll song in the 12-bar blues format written by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers in 1952. The best-known and most successful rendition was recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1954 for American Decca. It was a number one single on both the US and UK charts and also re-entered the UK Singles Chart in the 1960s and 1970s.

          It was not the first rock and roll record, nor was it the first successful record of the genre (Bill Haley had American chart success with Crazy Man, Crazy  in 1953, and in 1954, Shake, Rattle and Roll sung by Big Joe Turner reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart. Haley's recording became an anthem for the 1950s youth and is widely considered to be the song that brought rock and roll into mainstream culture around the world. The song is ranked No. 158 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
          Although first recorded by Italian-American band Sonny Dae and His Knights on March 20, 1954, the more famous version by Bill Haley & His Comets is not a cover version. Myers claimed the song had been written specifically for Haley but, for unknown reasons, Haley was unable to record it until April 12, 1954.
          The original full title of the song was We're Gonna Rock Around the Clock Tonight!. This was later shortened to (We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock, though this form is generally only used on releases of the 1954 Bill Haley Decca Records recording; most other recordings of this song by Haley and others (including Sonny Dae) shorten this title further to
Rock Around the Clock.
          Rock Around the Clock is often cited as the biggest-selling vinyl rock and roll single of all time. The exact number of copies sold has never been audited; however, a figure of at least 25 million was cited by the Guinness Book of World Records in its category Phonograph records: Biggest Sellers.
          The song was used in the opening of the Happy Days (1974 to 1984) tv show.
Take a walk down memory lane! Here is a link to the song:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Vintage 1950s Hawaiian Shirts

Men’s 1950s Hawaiian Shirts
          Hawaiian shirts were another form of button down shirt was not worn tucked it. It’s collar also did not button all the way up but was left open so the large point collar could lay flat. It came by many names- Camp shirt, pool shirt, Cabana shirt and Hawaiian shirt. They were the ultimate in casual, pool or beach-side wear. Since pool parties or “Tiki” parties were extremely popular house party themes it was the ideal shirt to wear in the summer. They came in solid colors as well as vivid prints depicting Americana life, tropical inspired motifs, sporting scenes and cars.

          Authentic “Hawaiian”shirts are made in Hawaii, often with coconut or wood buttons. They were expensive to buy in the ’50s but there were plenty of knock offs that gave men the same tropical look. 

          Hawaiian shirts are the most widely worn style of 1950s men’s shirt today.   

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Vintage 1950s Unsolved Mystries

            Jean Elizabeth Spangler a dancer, model and bit-part actress in Hollywood films and in early television, disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1949.

          On October 7, 1949, Spangler left her home in Los Angeles around 5:00 p.m. She left her daughter with her sister-in-law Sophie. She said that she was meeting her former husband to discuss a late child support payment and after that, she was going to work on a night shoot for a film. The last person to see her was a clerk in a store near her home who said that she appeared to be waiting for someone. She was never seen again. Sophie, went to the police and filed a missing person report the next day.

          Though Spangler had told her sister-in-law that she was going to work on a movie set after she met with her ex-husband, this lead went nowhere. She had worked as an extra for several different Hollywood studios, but none of those studios had any work in progress or were even open on the evening of October 7.

          Police questioned Spangler's ex-husband, Dexter Benner.  He said that he had not seen her for several weeks. His new wife Lynn Lasky Benner told police that he was with her at the time of the disappearance.

          Two days later Spangler's purse was found in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, with both of the straps on one side torn loose as if it had been ripped from her arm. Police officers and over one hundred volunteers searched the park, but no other clues were found. The police ruled out robbery. There was an unfinished note in the purse addressed to a "Kirk," which read:
"Can't wait any longer, Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away,"
          The note ended with a comma as if it had not been finished. Neither "Kirk" nor "Dr. Scott" could be located, and neither Spangler's family nor her friends knew anyone by those names. When Spangler's mother, Florence told police that someone named "Kirk" had picked up Jean at her house twice but stayed in his car and did not come in. Police questioned every doctor with the last name Scott in Los Angeles, but none of them had a patient with the last name Spangler or Benner. Spangler had been involved with an abusive man she called "Scotty," but her lawyer said she had not seen him since 1945.

          Spangler had recently completed filming a bit part in the film Young Man with a Horn starring Kirk Douglas. Douglas was vacationing in Palm Springs when he heard about the disappearance; he called the police. When interviewed by the head of the investigating team, Douglas stated that he had heard of her name, and knew that Spangler had been an extra in his new film, but that he did not know her personally.

          Spangler's girlfriends told police that she was three months pregnant  when she disappeared and that she had talked about having an illegal abortion. Witnesses, who frequented the same nightclubs and bars that Spangler did, told police they had heard of a former medical student known as "Doc," who performed abortions for money, but police could not locate him, nor prove that he existed.
          Spangler had been seen with Davy Ogul, an associate of infamous mobster Mickey Cohen. Ogul disappeared two days after Spangler did. This led police to investigate the possibility that Spangler and Ogul, who was under indictment for conspiracy, had fled to avoid prosecution. In 1950. A customs agent in El Paso, Texas reported seeing Ogul and a woman who looked like Spangler in a hotel in El Paso. The hotel clerk identified Spangler from a photograph, but neither Davy Ogul nor Jean Spangler's name appeared on the hotel register.
          The Los Angeles Police Department continued the search without successful. Despite a nationwide search and a $1,000. reward, no further clues have surfaced. She is still listed as a missing person, and the LAPD has not closed the case.
          In 2001 an episode of Mysteries and Scandals featured the case

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Vintage 1950s TV

The Mickey Mouse Club was a variety television show for children that aired from 1955 to 1959 and broadcast by ABC on weeknights. It was created by Walt Disney and produced by Walt Disney Productions.

                    The show was hosted by Jimmie Dodd, a songwriter and the Head Mouseketeer, who provided leadership both on and off screen. In addition to his other contributions, he often provided short segments encouraging young viewers to make the right moral choices. These little homilies became known as "Doddisms". Roy Williams, a staff artist at Disney, also appeared in the show as the Big Mouseketeer. Roy suggested that the Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears be worn by the cast members which he, along with Chuck Keehne, Hal Adelquist, and Bill Walsh helped create.

               This was Walt Disney's second venture into producing a television series, the first being the Walt Disney anthology television series. Disney used both shows to help finance and promote the building of the Disneyland theme park. Being busy with these projects and others, Disney turned The Mickey Mouse Club over to Bill Walsh to create and develop.

          The show had regular features:  a newsreel, a cartoon, and a serial, as well as music, talent and comedy segments. One unique feature of the show was the Mouseketeer Roll Call, in which many of that day's line-up of regular performers introduced themselves by name to the television audience. Mickey Mouse himself appeared somewhere in every show.

          The opening theme, "The Mickey Mouse March," was written by Jimmie Dodd. It was also reprised at the end of each episode, with the slower it's-time-to-say-goodbye verse. Dodd also wrote many other songs used in individual segments over the course of the series.
1956 cast photo. Front row; L–R: Annette Funicello, Karen Pendleton, Cubby O'Brien, Sherry Alberoni, Dennis Day. Row two: Charley Laney, Sharon Baird, Darlene Gillespie, Jay-Jay Solari. Row three: Tommy Cole, Cheryl Holdridge, Larry Larsen, Eileen Diamond. Row four: Lonnie Burr, Margene Storey, Doreen Tracey. Back row: Jimmie Dodd, Bobby Burgess.

          Although the show remained popular, in September, 1959 ABC decided to canceled it after its fourth season. It was revived in 1977 by Walt Disney Productions.

For a waltz down memory lane,  listen to the theme:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Vintage 1950 Ladies Fashion

1950s Winter Sweaters

          1950s sweaters followed the New Look shape of the hour glass with protruding bust, tiny wasp waist and full hips. The look was snug tight to balance out the full circle skirt bottoms or match the confining pencil skirt. In reality they were no more snug than most sweaters on the 1940s but the lingerie made them look more fitted.

          To keep women modest and refined was still the moral game of the 1950s. A new invention, the sweater set, allowed a woman to wear a tight short sleeve sweater top but was covered up with a matching (usually, not always) cardigan. The cardigan was usually worn with the top button buttoned only- otherwise it would defeat the peek-a-book seduction. Button size was also small and dainty. Sleeves were slender with a long narrow cuff that could be folded over.

               The look was also rich with finer knit yarns of lambs wool, angora, nylon Dracon and acrylic synthetic Orlon. Milk beads were an expensive embellishment sewn into the sweater around the collar and lapels or all over if you were rich enough to afford one. Designs were floral and maybe snowflakes in winter or other novelty themes.
          In the early years it was a fad for teens to wear their cardigans backwards but by the end of the decade it just meant they were too poor to own a real pullover. Nearly all girls owned and wore a cardigan or pullover sweater twin set with their school clothes. It was so polished and pretty to do so!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Vintage 1950s Homes


          The decade of the 1950’s in the United States was a time of monumental change in homes. Soldiers coming back from WWII were ready to settle down, buy houses, and start families. Money generated from the war gave people the income to not only buy houses, but to buy the latest technologically advanced home appliances and cars. Optimism soared in the huge demand for housing. The first prefabricated homes and quickly built homes were popular.

          The space race between the United States and Russia inspired architects, artists, and car manufacturers. The cold, dreary war had ended and people were ready for color. Home interiors were painted with bright, cheery colors such as green, pink, orange, turquoise, and yellow. Bathrooms and kitchens were commonly painted pink, even pink appliances were sold.

          People craved color, style, and technology in their homes including the bathrooms.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Vintage 1950s Cars

          The DeSoto Fireflite is an automobile produced by DeSoto in the United States from 1955 to 1960.
          The Fireflite was introduced in 1955 as De Soto's flagship model. It was wider and longer than previous DeSoto models and it came equipped with a V8 engine producing 200 hp when equipped with the 4 barrel carburetor and PowerFlite automatic transmission. The transmission was operated by a Flite-Control lever located on the dashboard.

          The 1956 model car was best known for its long, tapering tail fins, often accentuated by a two-tone exterior finish. The interior had bench seats that could accommodate six passengers. The Fireflite had a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 11 seconds and a top speed of 110 mph.
          The Fireflite’s bold design increased sales for DeSoto. In 1955, DeSotos sold well with over 114,765 examples produced, making 1955 the best year for the company since 1946. By 1956, DeSoto placed eleventh in U.S. production with an annual production of 110,418 cars. The success was short-lived, however when Chrysler Corporation discontinued the DeSoto brand in November 1960.

          In 1956 a gold and white Fireflite convertible was the Official Pace Car for the 1956 Indianapolis 500. The Fireflite convertibles are rare, only 186 were produced. The most popular color was red and cream.

          It was assembled in Los Angeles (Maywood) Assembly