Me, Mom, and Brother Stanley, 1955

Bullet Bra to Hippie Bell Bottoms!

Originally Posted September 20, 2009

1948: I’m the one in the dress, looking at the boy. Guess I started early!

I’m writing this on a Sunday morning around 6:30 in the morning and thinking, WTF am I doing up so early! If there is a God,only he/she/it knows.

I had a dream last night that I was in Pleasantville, dressed in pouffy skirt, high heels, bullet bra and cooking pancakes for breakfast before I mopped the floors, did laundry and ironing, all of course in high heels. BAM! that woke me up, panting, clutching my chest. Thank GOODNESS that was a dream. Or was it? Do I live in some parallel universe where a doppleganger is still hanging out in the 1950s? 

Mom—Not Your Average 50s Woman

I remember the 50s—fondly. But, of course, I was a child then and it was my mother who was the “happy homemaker.” She wasn’t, however, the stereotypical 50s mom. She looked the part with petticoats and shirtwaist dresses, high heels, garter belt and pointy boobs, but she was anything but Mrs. “Father Knows Best.” 

My mom taught me to read Tarot cards when I was eight. We used to play with the Ouija board when I was six, And, I was a poker whiz by the age of ten. We didn’t go to Church. Well, I did when I could, but that story is in a different blog. She also had jobs (cue scary music)!! Waitresses mostly, sometimes cocktail waitress. She had one job in a transvestite bar in downtown Los Angeles. She said that was her favorite because of the interesting people she met and that the guys didn’t try to hit on her. She also worked for a while as a taxi dancer. But mostly she was an ordinary waitress in what was called then “dinner houses” as opposed to family restaurants. Mom was never fond of children, especially those in restaurants. She preferred cats and ghosts.

What was stereotypical, though, was that  this 50s mom did all the housework, cooking, shopping, childcare, and more with a smile and a song. Dad went to work and brought home the bacon, and of course beer and whisky too. 

The 1950s Nightmare

I guess that dream/nightmare I had the night before really pulled out some old memories and I realized how times have really changed—drastically! They say (who the hell are they anyway?) that if you put a frog in cool water and slowly turn up the temperature, it won’t feel any pain as it cooks to death. Maybe that’s not the best analogy, but you get it. Things for women have changed, but I don’t notice it all the time and go on bitching and griping about having to load dishwasher when I can’t bribe anyone else to do it.

I remember:

— when it was an unwritten LAW that purses and shoes had to match.

— wnen “nice girls” wore garter belts and girdles. If you’re under 50, look them up in a dictionary or ask your mother or grandmother.

— using nearly a whole can of hairspray a day.

— pointy bullet bras. So sharp and stiff, they could be used as a weapon. Madonna understands.

— my mother saying, “Wait ‘til your father gets home!”

How to be the perfect 50s Housewife ad for a refrigerator

Dinner was always on the table for dad. Sometimes I cooked it because mom was working. Dad’s taste buds were as pickled as his brain so he liked his food simple with a lot of hot chili’s.  Fried steak and potatoes were his standard fare. I remember once, when I was a teenager in 1962 (that’s still the 50’s in society), I accidentally fried his steak in Karo syrup instead of oil. I noticed it too late so I just piled on the chili’s and plated it, then ran out of the house mumbling something about meeting a friend. He never mentioned it. Probably didn’t even notice.

Home Economics Class on how to be a perfect wife

In the 50’s middle and high school kids had a class called Home Economics—sort of boot camp training for housewife hopefuls. An excerpt from one of the textbooks will have modern woman hyper-ventilating:

A perfect wife pleases her husband:

-When hubby comes home from a hard day at work,  Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lay down in the bedroom.

-Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. 

-Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. 

-Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. 

-Allow him to relax and unwind.

-Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can relax.” 

Sounds great! I want a 50’s wife. Alas, things have changed. Mostly for the better, but maybe not everything. Now a lot of women who burned their bras in the 60s and demanded equal rights in the workplace forgot to also demand equal rights at home. I have woman clients who are professionals— doctors, executives, brokers, even a hockey player who still do all of the housework, childcare, cooking, and shopping. That’s just not right, even in my doppleganger’s universe. 

Weird and Wonderful World of Mine

I am so glad to have been raised in a schizophrenic home where part of my life was typical and part was in the universe of weird. Also, being born in 1948, my life bridged the Pleasantville era with the “Woodstock” awakening, the Vietnam War protests, the sexual revolution, and flower power, who’s motto was get high and drop out. 

Now, too many of the hippies who were so sure that the world was going to end and that Peace and Love were the only ways to save it ended up as corporate executives, in Congress, or became mortgage bankers, and such. So much for the mighty peace-and-love revolution. 


What’s your story? One foot in the 50’s? All 21st Century? Married with children? Love your life? Hate your life but don’t know how to break out and become the potato artist you know is locked inside? Ex-hippie like me who still wears peasant blouses and bell bottom pants? Oh wait, those are back in style aren’t they? Still toke up when the kids aren’t watching? What’s on your music playlist? Any oldy but moldy tracks from Joplin, Hendrix? Or Chubby Checker, Pat Boone, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra? 

Are the 50’s and 60’s still alive somewhere, even if you are only 23 years old? Remember, however, that the 60s really happened in the 70s and if you remember them all, you weren’t there. 

Life’s a gas if you don’t go ape. Groovy. Got to boogie now. OMG! I’m glad it’s the 21st Century. Or am I?

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