Web Page No 2212
18th November 2015
Top Picture: 1950’s kitchen cabinet
Second Picture: 1951 Hoover advertisement
Third Picture: Knitting pattern of the 1950’s
How our Mothers Lived
This following article is a bit of an eye opener, not that all of the events listed below happened in my family but some certainly did.
The author writes:-
I was just four when the 1950’s started, living at home with my Mum and Dad, but what a different world it was, especially for Mum. A married woman’s life was very different then.
In the 1950’s a married woman was not allowed to have a mortgage in her own name nor could she sign a hire purchase agreement in her own name and virtually, if any, woman had her own separate bank account. For the most part Joint Accounts did not exist. Even for women who did have full-time jobs there would be the second shift to be tackled on arriving home. Very few men in those days would ever consider shopping, cooking, washing up, making beds, laying the table or clearing away plates. It was quite common for a husband to never clear the table, wash a single dish, do the washing and ironing or even get out the vacuum cleaner. In the average household it would not have been expected and often such work would have been considered unmanly. Similarly, you would never catch a man changing or washing nappies, or even pushing a pram. This was possibly the era of the captive wife, housewives kept by a man. What was worse was that the woman of the house was not her own person she was always referred to as the doctor’s wife, the butcher’s wife, the farmer’s wife, the vicars or the baker’s wife.
These were the days when in the evenings the radio reigned supreme, or maybe the family might play games such as Monopoly or cards.
Very few women were qualified for a profession and those who were nurses for example, had to leave when they got married (this is what happened to my mother. Peter). It was taken for granted that girls would grow up to be housewives. They might have been allowed to train as secretaries or receptionist but as late as the late Fifties only a tiny minority of girls went on to higher education.
Although women had proved themselves by doing men’s jobs during World War II, when peace was declared, they were moved back into the home.
Lone women were not allowed into many restaurants or hotels, and those who ventured into pubs by themselves were considered ‘fast’ and not quite respectable. This was a time when in some areas men-only pubs were not uncommon. The myth that the 1950’s woman would spend her evening with a Martini, were a misnomer as on the whole hardly any women drank alcohol, they were all too busy knitting and darning torn clothing.
Housework was hard, washing machines had not been invented so it had to be done by hand. And yes, women baked cakes — not in a Nigella way, but because it was an essential way to fill up the family relatively cheaply. Most housewives had a baking day at least once a week. Meat and fish were still scarce and there were no ready meals. Very few families had a fridge or freezer, so sour milk, smelly fish, rancid butter and bad eggs were a daily fact of life.
As for clothes, most girls just dressed like their mothers and like her friends the average girl looked forward to the day when I would be old enough to wear nylons and a smart suit or ‘costume’, just like Mum’s. Special designs for teenagers did not come in until the mid-Sixties, with designers such as Mary Quant. This was a period of time when young ladies pulled themselves into old-lady underwear. Elastic roll-ons, or girdles, were worn even by the thinnest girls. Tights had not been invented and ever-laddering nylons were held up by metal suspenders that dug into your thighs and left marks.
Early marriages were the norm, usually to the girl’s first and only boyfriend. Even so, unplanned pregnancies were not uncommon and often girls left school rather quickly at 16, only to be seen pushing a pram down the high street not long afterwards. Abortion was illegal and unmarried mothers were regarded as a disgrace. Here the double standard applied because no such shame was attached to unmarried fathers, of course, he was regarded as ‘a bit of a lad.’
Polite society would also shun a divorced woman, though a divorced man was considered again to be ‘a bit of a lad.’.
Now for something completely different
When you look back there are so many unexpected and maybe surprising things around in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Take rural bus services for example.
One odd thing that comes readily to mind is the Southdown bus garage in Hambledon. I suppose it was built as the terminus of the service. If I remember correctly it only had room for one bus and was most certainly one of the most remote outposts of the Southdown Motor Company. Its lasted into the 1960’s but by the 1970’s it had been was knocked down to make way for houses. The same fate befell the small Southdown garage nestled next to Fareham railway station and the one at Wickham.
Keep in touch
Pat Short Writes: I found your article about the airlines very interesting as I worked for BEAand British Airways from 1965 through to 1987 so saw the change from propeller aircraft through to Concorde. I was on duty at West London Air Terminal on the day that Michael Caine was filming and was very lucky to have taken him for tea and cakes with some of my colleagues.............I don't think we got over the thrill for days! Wonderful times as so many of the places I was able to go are no longer possible for us to visit.
News and Views:
On this day 18th November 1960-1965
On 18/11/1960 the number one single was It's Now Or Never - Elvis Presley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Take Your Pick (AR) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/11/1961 the number one single was Little Sister/His Latest Flame - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Another Black & White Minstrell Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/11/1962 the number one single was Lovesick Blues - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Out of the Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was First broadcast of That Was the Week That Was.
On 18/11/1963 the number one single was You'll Never Walk Alone - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was JFK shot dead in Dallas and we all remember where we were on that day the 22nd November 1963!!!.
On 18/11/1964 the number one single was Baby Love - Supremes and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/11/1965 the number one single was Get Off Of My Cloud - Rolling Stones and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Take Your Pick (AR) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Mohammed Ali beats Floyd Patterson In Las Vegas.