Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, New Project

Welcome to 2013 - only 63 years ahead of the time where I actually belong.

If you're too lazy to do that math yourself (which means you are probably fully assimilated into this 2013 other-people-will-do-it-for-me culture), the year to which I am referring is 1950.  If I believed in reincarnation, I would say that I think I lived in the fifties in a past life.  I probably raised a family with three kids while my husband worked his butt off in a factory or something, and then they grew up and I died of a heart attack in 1976 shortly after I learned my oldest son had been killed in Vietnam (which would explain my current sensitivity to death and war issues).

Okay, so maybe I didn't do any of that, but I will say that I feel strangely drawn to the decade of June Cleaver.  Did people like her actually exist, or is she a figment of our nostalgic imaginations?  I like to think my foremothers bear some resemblance to the fifties ideal, but I suppose I will never know for sure.

Over Christmas Break this year, my mother-in-law showed me some books that she got from a thrift store.  They were Home Economics textbooks from the 1940's and 50's.  Essentially, this is what junior high and high school girls were reading in order to learn how to be good wives and mothers.  I obviously can't post all about the books here, but I just took a picture of one of the pages to give you an idea about what these girls were being taught:

Please notice the caption on that picture.  Ha ha!  Obviously I don't agree with everything in these books, but they did make me wonder: what would it be like if I could, temporarily, live according to the rules set out for the women I so admire?  These books were very practical, telling the women of the day how to make a bed properly, how to wrap a gift, how to be a good hostess, etc.  It basically sets out the rules of how to be a fifties housewife, an ideal I have always striven to achieve.

I can hear the angry feminists screaming at me as they read this: "What are you doing?!  After how far women have come!  After all the freedoms we have struggled to achieve!  You are taking ten steps backward and submitting yourself to the misogynistic morals that we have striven for years to shake off!  You are a disgrace to our gender!"

Pipe down, Bra Burners.  I'm truly glad that women have freedoms today, and that we can do almost any job a man can do.  That's great.  Yay girl power.  But listen - do you want to know something fun about freedom?  It means that I have the freedom to choose to do whatever I want to do, including studying up on how to be a fifties housewife and then blogging about it.  Who knows?  Maybe after a few months of following these rules I'll decide that being a fifties woman is completely ridiculous and I'll become an empowered feminist like you.

I doubt it.

So anyway - here is a description of my project.  I ordered a selection of Home Economics textbooks that were used in classrooms (levels junior high through college) between the years of 1930 and 1960.  I am going to spend 2013 following as many of the rules in those books as I can.  Since jumping in to following all of the rules at once would be a little nuts (not to mention I haven't even read all of the books yet), I am going to try to follow at least one per day and make it something that I would not normally do.  Example: today I am making homemade bread using flour, yeast, etc. because "homemade from scratch is always better than buying from the store."  Stay tuned for an update on how that goes.

Each day I will try something new, and I will blog about my experiences as a fifties housewife as often as possible.  I already sort of fail at being a housewife because I have to work full time, but hey - you're not paying to read this blog and I have to do something to make money in order to buy my flour and yeast.  It's actually okay, though, because my full-time job is being a teacher.  One of my books (written in 1946) says that if women must have a career, they can choose among the following acceptable careers for women: secretary, nurse, teacher, social worker, or librarian. Sweet!  I already passed the first test by choosing an acceptable career.  I told you I would make an awesome fifties wife.

So here it is - my blog chronicling my journey to becoming like the domestic women I've always admired.  It's going to be June Cleaver and Aunt Bea with a little bit of Lucille Ball thrown in.  After all, I'm sure that after a few of these antics my husband is going say in his best Desi Arnez accent, "Christine?  You've got some 'splaining to do..."

Check back for updates periodically.  As for now, I have to go punch my bread dough before it rises out of the bowl (that's really what the directions say!).  Oh yeah, this is going to be fun.


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  2. I am soooo freaking excited about this! Just remember me when you turn this into a bestselling memoir! :)