Tag Archives: lifestyle

1950’s Housewife by Sheila Hardy

1950's housewife        Who doesn’t love the 50s? We have all watched Happy Days, Grease and other shows and movies that depict the 1950s as the perfectly idyllic time. But was it? In this book Sheila Hardy takes us on a journey through post-war Great Britain and how the 1950s housewife got along. While I find this book very interesting, I was disappointed to learn how it focused on life across the pond and not in the US. Of course to play fair, I never think of the 50’s happening anywhere else!

While I think there are a lot of similarities between England and America in this book, there are some obvious differences as well. For example, the US was not recovering from a major war at the time and the conversion to post war production meant that US households had more access to up and coming modern convenience while GB still had to make do with a lot. That being said, this book offers some interesting insight into the time period: dating rituals, weddings, housekeeping and more. It truly is a look at the full lifestyle that is admired by many. Buy it but only if you are a history buff.


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June Column Michiana House & Home Magazine: Making a joyful noise

My grandmother was a unique woman. I don’t know if she didn’t get the memo about spoiling grandkids rotten, never enjoyed entertaining children or if I simply came along too late to experience her hosting skills in their prime but no one could describe her home as “kid friendly” and it wasn’t a place I liked to spend a lot of time.


Note: This was not the organ at my grandmother’s house.

Her toy selection was limited to a deck of Uno cards; a few back issues of Highlights Magazine, a box of die cast cars, and exactly one doll. When she acquired a VCR she added a videotape of Peter Pan to the cache, but that was it. Our conversations centered on her inquires into my personal health and the status of my education and she never had normal snack foods such as Oreos or Ding Dongs on hand to placate the under 10 set. Instead she offered up oatmeal cookies with macadamia nuts and Town House Crackers topped with Philadelphia Cream Cheese (aka Old Lady Food.)

However, she did have one thing no one else in the family had and that one item was enough to make up for an otherwise lack of amenities in her abode: a Hammond Organ.

It was a glorious instrument with two rows of keys, a recording device, a host of orchestral effects that could be summoned at the flip of a lever, and additional pedal accouterments that my legs weren’t long enough to reach. (No one was sad about that, I assure you.) While the grown-ups chatted in the living room, I gave grand concerts in the den, making up songs as I went along and trying to teach myself how to play using a cardboard guide to tell me one note from another.

My show stopping number, and the only song I could actually play was “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” which I performed in oboe mode and paired with a jaunty little backbeat. It didn’t sound very patriotic. In fact it was off key and full of mistakes, but no one ever mentioned it to me. Either the adults in my life were tone deaf, happy to have me out of their hair, possessed an unusual affinity for creative expression or realized I was six and were willing to blame it on the Bossa Nova.

Unfortunately, the good times couldn’t last forever. When I was 12, Grandma decided she wanted more space rather than stuff and sold her precious organ. I was devastated. Not only did this thwart my music career for the time being, but horror of horrors, it actually meant that I would have to find something else to do whenever we visited. I tried not to take her move personally, but it did occur to me that the timing coincided with my growth spurt. My grandma was a very smart woman. Perhaps she noticed my feet were getting closer and closer to those “power pedals” and what was once a joyful noise was about to become a terrible racket.

Of course, I’ll never know for sure.




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Buy It, Borrow It or Bag It: Hand To Mouth by Linda Tirado

Handtomouth   I cannot say enough about this book. I honestly think it should be mandatory reading for everyone who has ever wondered why the “poor” act the way that they do. Like everyone on the planet I have ridden that line between being a “have” and a “have not” and I spent more than a few years as a “have some, but not nearly enough.” While I have not have to navigate the ins and outs of the welfare system, food stamps and other assistance programs, I have endured low wages, having too much month at the end of the money and knowing that there are people in this world who just don’t get it. What’s more, they tend to talk out both sides of their mouths pretending to understand when really…they don’t, they never have and never will.

What is interesting is that now that I have become a writer, there are some people in my life who must think I enjoy some kind of J.K. Rowling level of fame….yeah, not so much. If they only knew how I am a few pay checks away from being in Tirado’s circumstance, it would blow their minds and I applaud her for being so forthcoming about the information and telling it with just enough “piss and vinegar” to make it an enjoyable read. Are the poor merely terrible decision makers or are the odds stacked against them to begin with? You’ll have to be the judge when you read this, but I guarantee you will have a lot more empathy for those you may have looked down upon at one point and time.

I am sure there are some people who are convinced that the scenarios described in this book are extreme circumstances, but in reality, they are more common than you think. I used to work in a place that distributed grocery gift certificates around Christmas each year. At one point, the powers that be decided to do away with them altogether until enough employees pointed out that without those gift certificates, many couldn’t afford to have a turkey for their holiday meal. During my tenure at this location, I saw the gift certificates dwindle from $14 to $13 to $11.25 (yeah, I am not even kidding) to $10 until not only would it not buy a turkey, the whole thing struck me as an insult. The CEO was driving around in an unmistakable  purple corvette for God’s sake and he couldn’t approve enough money to help out with a turkey purchase? There was a lot of grumbling last year, not to mention an editorial in the local paper (such a talented writer LOL) and lo and behold the next year the money was jacked up to $15. My question remains, why did it take such an uproar for someone to notice that people can’t get by on $10.

I felt a kinship with Tirado as I read her book and I know you will too. I truly hope that she is allowed to use her voice to raise awareness for the plight of poor people and shake the social conscious of the idle rich so that we can begin to help people get off of public assistance, enjoy a job that pays a decent wage and be able to put a title something away for a rainy day. Seriously…read this book, you won’t regret it! BUY IT, BORROW IT I don’t care how you get it, but read it and be the change you want to see in the world.

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