vintage ~~ reruns

Reruns.  We all love them, don’t we?  Well, I am hoping that some of you do because that is what is going to happen on this blog.  After some consideration, I have decided to rerun a series that I wrote on my previous blog.  It was a series based on a 1948 Home Economics book that I found during one of my vintage shopping excursions.  I adore this book.  Although dated in some content, it is spot on for much of today’s living as well as it’s intended 1948 audience.  I hope you will enjoy this series.

(the following was originally written February 7, 2011)

OK, here’s the deal.  I am thinking of doing another series.  My head has swum with ideas and thoughts for sometime that I feel need to be formulated and expressed for no other reason than to clear my head.  I love, love, LOVE reading blogs.  My favorites are about minimizing, frugality and incorporating tangible style into my life.   Check out my blogroll and you will get what I mean.  I am constantly inspired through my reading of these blogs to try to continue to better my life.  Not through obtaining more “stuff” or subscribing to “quick fixes”.  But by focusing on the simple and  meaningful things that are already a part of my life.  And by sharing what I have with others.  This is how I choose to be “rich”.

One constant theme I take away from all my reading is that there is a virtual community (at least in my blogosphere) yearning for a return of style and grace.  I sense this even through minimalist blogs, not just French/Euro inspired/simple  lifestyle blogs, as these people post about getting rid of, limiting their consumption of and learning to say “NON!” to the acquiring of more things, they are in effect saying “give me simple elegance…quality over quantity”.

Cupcake Caramel has recently talked about dignity…or the lack of it in the world… and she shares about how she spends her French Fridays (usually non-extravagantly) and what joy she has in doing so.  How To Be Chic exudes her sense of style without being ostentatious–realizing oodles of money is not required to live a life of substance and quality.    The Rich Life (on a budget)blog’s name really says it all about her approach to enjoying the simple pleasures life has to offer.  The Savvy Life website is brimming with inspirational reading that lends itself to simple implementation in my life.  All of these, and more, take me into a lovely, dignified, graceful world that just gives me the “warm fuzzies”.  Then, I walk outside.

I do not  live in a dignified, graceful or stylish world.  Some of this may lend itself to location and the economic hardships many are facing today…I realize that my corner of the world is not necessarily the thumbnail sketch of an entire country (or other countries).  But these should not be excuses for rude manners, slovenly dress and unkept homes.  I don’t care if you are a millionaire or living on a meager income, style and grace can still be obtained and endorsed by the masses.  What I observe really bothers me because I don’t understand why or how people can choose to live that way.  I say this not with an air of “I think I am better” than someone else–it’s with a confused air of WHAT HAS HAPPENED?

When I look in history books, old magazines, even see vintage family photos, I see generations of people who seemed to really take pride in their appearance and their homes.  They dressed with dignity and respect…even if they had to shop the Five and Dime or thrift stores.   They kept their homes tidy…even if they were living in a trailer or renting.  They realized that these things do matter–if for nothing else but their own self-esteem and welfare.


(both sets of grandparents came from humble origins.  money didn’t influence style–they just had it)

So I am always thinking about what has caused the changes I see?  I know it can’t be singled out by one thing, or two or a dozen.  It has been gradual and there have been many contributing factors ( and I have theories, two of which were originally a part of this post but have been edited so as not to incite arguments).  So how/why was life different prior to 1970? (I choose that year for a few reasons–it was the year I was born and there were some very significant life changing “movements” taking place then which I feel have had great impact on what I see today–and are the theories I choose not to delve into).   Even though there were many problems in the world and with society even back then, why did they still dress so nice?  Look so good?  Behave a little better?  Seemingly cared about themselves, their homes and others more so than people seem to today?

 And here is my “fluff” answer.  They were “taught” how to do these things.  They were “taught” how to live with style and grace–the missing links of today.  Young people were either instructed at home or in school on how to:  dress, keep a  budget, manage a home, cook a meal, balance a checkbook, develop manners.  If it was not being done at home, it was being done through a “Home Economics” class in school.

Do schools even offer this anymore?   If it is offered, there are so many college-bound prerequisites required any more that many choose to forgo such a class.  I had it my Senior year of High School.  Most of us took it for an easy “A” or as a time filler.  It was our “blow off” class.  Sad but true.  However, it is the one class I remember being so much fun because not only did we learn how to cook a few things and sew an apron, we also learned the different cuts of meat, the workings of a sewing machine, the proper way to set the table and how to plan a FDA approved “Food Pyramid” dinner.  We also made enough candy and sweets to keep the local dentists in a booming business that year.

But even my Home Ec class was nothing in comparison to what was offered to young people in 1948.  I know this because I have a text-book published that year which was used to teach home economics to eager, malleable young minds.  What is contained in this rather daunting volume (750 pages) will surprise you.  And if this is what the young women, and possibly men, were learning to prepare their way in the world, well it is no wonder there was an air of class and style and dignity surrounding the generations prior to my own.


(the encyclopedia of knowledge)

Thus, my new series idea.  By using “Your Home and You” by Carlotta Greer as my textbook, I am going to lead you in a course of home economics circa 1948.  I will also quote from contemporary sources to see how “the rules” have changed.  Together (I hope through your comments) we can compare what was taught then to what we know now (or to what we have been taught in our respective generations).  And decide if any of these differences contribute to the lack of  dignity, grace, style and just plain old common sense, we see today.  I want it to be fun and interactive…and not taken too seriously.


(my artistic impression of old meets new)

Stay tuned for Lesson 1!



27 thoughts on “vintage ~~ reruns

  1. Your idea and photos of our sweet parents brought tears to my eyes. How I miss them!! I’m very excited about your future lessons. Love you mom


  2. I love this! It’s so true – just one example: when I look at my mom’s generation, growing up in and after WW II they had no money, but were taught so much and seemed to have the answers to so many things. Until today my mom is always impeccably dressed – everything matches and when my friends tell me that I dress “everything perfectly color co-ordinated” then I know exactly where I got it from and it makes me kinda proud 🙂
    Can’t wait for your lessons, dear Heather! 🙂
    Have a very HAPPY weekend! 🙂


  3. Heather, I’m ready for lesson 1 .. how interesting this is going to be. My aunt Thea would love what will be coming here. Like what Dia, said .. she was born in early 20th .. and her taste and style was timeless. Good luck. Nice comment from your daughter. How lovely.


    • I can’t wait to hear you weigh in on the different lessons. I think it will be fun to run it again and get new thoughts and comments on the material. : )


  4. This is wonderful and insightful Heather. I recall reading Alexandra Stoddard’s books on home keeping and living with style and grace. They were wonderful. I’m so looking forward to your new series. Really excited!!


    • I ADORE Alexandra Stoddard. I have often thought about featuring her in a post. Her books are so lovely and her recommendation and advice are spot on. She has a unique way of elevating living.


  5. So glad you’re reviving this series! My friend and I were just chatting the other day that it would be nice to learn how to sew for ourselves again (or at least know how to do the basic stuff). I haven’t sewn since Grade 6 (aside from buttons on coats).

    I think one of the reasons why people kept up their homes so nice was since housewives stayed at home for the most part, there were always people coming in and out of the house – people would come over for coffee and visit, the entertaining, the dinner parties, hosting out of town relatives for days, weeks on end, etc. Most people just showed up (unannounced) at your house. My parents’ and in-laws’ generation were like that. I remember visiting relatives when I was a little kid, and I doubt Mom & Dad ever phoned ahead to let them know we were coming, it was just a given that most people spent time at home and WERE at home and we would just show up and there would be coffee ready, we usually stayed for supper, other people would drop by, etc. I wonder now how they did it all! My mother-in-law said that when she would entertain or have dinner parties (back in the 1960s and 1970s) and my father-in-law would bring out-of-town clients over or the boss and his wife, sometimes she would get 10 minutes notice that they were coming for supper – that’s it! And she had 7 kids too! I would freak. These days, we need to know when people are coming over days in advance and if they plan to stay for dinner, etc! I had to train my parents to make plans with at LEAST 24 hours notice (they live 2 hours away) and they show up early for everything! lol


    • I have the same type of memories from growing up…hanging out at people’s houses or having people hang out at ours. Today it seems like we are just all so tired and overwhelmed by who knows what. With all of our modern conveniences, you would think it would be the opposite. I miss the old days. : )


  6. Bring on the Home Ec lessons, please! I probably know a lot I don’t choose to follow, but it’s still fun to hear about. I love housekeeping books from the 1800s – they make me realise how very easy I have it now! I’m sure you are right that there are no simple answers to why things have changed. I don’t think people are taught at home in the same way. There isn’t the community cohesion that put subtle (and not) pressure on people to conform. Along with the change in women’s roles, a lot of other ‘rules’ were also thrown out. Most clothing comes with Lycra, and most of it is made in a different culture that may not have insight into what we think is quality or good fit. The media has presented a wide variety of ‘stars’ and roads to fame, some of which are not in keeping with old-fashioned ideas. I’m very glad that a lot has changed since 1956, when I was born, but I understand what you mean about the world not being as ‘tidy’ (in looks or behaviour) as it once was.


    • I love all the old house-keeping book too. I think I have one (or was it from the library) that was written in the mid-1800s and the advice in it still made sense for today!


  7. Heather, this is so weird that you posted this! I told my girls last week that this summer is going to be about me teaching them all the things that I had to teach myself over the years to become more self-sufficient. I want them to know about food preservation (canning, drying, etc.), basic sewing skills, and other things that I feel are valuable but we are missing because of the push towards technology and keeping up in that area. Home economics is gone and how sad! I remember it was so fun, I loved it. Another thing that is very sad is CURSIVE writing is becoming extinct. Soon it will no longer be taught in schools. That is a tragedy! A teacher can know who a paper is from by looking at a handwriting. You can feel people in their writing. It is an art form and such an expression of the human being. Children are being taught BLOCK PRINT now, no more cursive. Anyone can learn this. Cursive teaches a connection and it has to be worked on. It takes patience to learn how to make the letters properly. BLOCK PRINT has no expression whatsoever. Our individuality is being stripped away slowly. The art forms that cause the brain to really THINK are no longer being taught. I am watching the US crumble slowly and the dumbing down is becoming obvious for all to see. I look forward to reading more Heather. xo


  8. Well, hang on, sister. You have to know you are not alone in your feelings about how the strides of modern technology are suffocating some of the most basic life skills and art forms. I think you should find this book or a similar one on Amazon if you are serious about teaching your daughters some of these things over the summer. You will be AMAZED at the information in this book. I will never get rid of mine. You should post your “lessons” this summer…let us all learn with your girls. : )


  9. One constant theme I take away from all my reading is that there is a virtual community (at least in my blogosphere) yearning for a return of style and grace. I AGREE! Do it please!


  10. Pingback: vintage ~~ your home and you (1948 meets today) #1 | vintage french chic

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