Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Life as a 1950s housewife: Could you cope?

Life in the 1950s was very different to life today.  Some pensioners feel that life back then was better than it is today, and long for a return to what they see as simpler times.  However, if you didn't grow up in the 50s, you'd probably find life in that era rather alien compared to the fast paced, always connected world of today.  Do you think you could cope in the 1950s?

Different Etiquette
The rules of etiquette were far stricter in the 1950s than they are today.  If you've ever read Miss Manners and thought that some of the things she suggests were arcane, then you'd have found the labyrinth of dos and don'ts of the 50s incredibly confusing.
In the 1950s, people dressed up smart in silk shirts, long skirts, and smart suits, for even a normal day at the office, and many of the things that people wear to nip to the supermarket today wouldn't have been deemed suitable even for lounging around the house.   In the 1950s, you were expected to be smart, polite, and personable at all times.

Different Technology
Compared to previous decades, people did have some home conveniences in the 1950s, but food was still cooked in an oven (not a microwave), dishes were done by hand, and the modern washer-dryer didn't exist.  Most people washed everything from their pyjamas to their silk underwear by hand, and air dried and carefully pressed silk shirts ready for work.   Home chores took up a large portion of each day.

Different Transport
Cars did exist, and so did public transport, but neither was as ubiquitous as it is today.  If you wanted to go somewhere, a lot of the time you would walk.  So, you'd stroll to the local greengrocer, butcher, and baker (one stop supermarkets weren't that common), and then lug the shopping back home.  Even small tasks were far more labour intensive than they are today, so it's no wonder that obesity wasn't as much of a problem back then as it is now.

Different Communication
Instead of emailing or Facebook messaging distant friends, people wrote letters.  The telephone was used only for emergencies, and most socialising happened face to face.  While many people think that a return to face-to-face socialising would be a good thing, just think about what else you'd lose if you went back in time.  For starters, the loss of the internet would mean that working from home would be almost impossible, and you'd lose instant access to information.  If you ever wanted to know something, you'd have to look it up in a book.

There's nothing wrong with books as such - except that you probably don't own books about every single topic you look up on the Internet.  So, that means a trip to the library for every piece of information you want to check.  If someone has already borrowed the book you're interested in - well, you're out of luck until the book gets returned.

In conclusion - there's a lot to like about the simple life of the 50s, but don't forget about the home comforts you'd be losing out on!

This lovely look back on the 50s was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of Patra, retailers of glove liners and silk underwear straight out of a 1950's wardrobe. Thanks Amy!


See more of my blog posts about vintage life

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