Monday, February 27, 2017

The 1950s Housewives

Today, as I was stripping and remaking the bed and folding laundry, I was reminded of the days of my childhood. Those were the days when you did not know a single mother who was employed for wages.  There were many things back then that could be counted on, as surely as attending church on Sunday.  The list might differ in each household but it would take a disaster of atomic proportions to cause the schedule to change.

Each Sunday, it was a given that almost every oven on the block contained a pot roast scheduled to be ready by the time the family arrived home from church. All that is, but ours. Having a mother from Alabama meant our Sunday dinners were always good old Southern fried chicken.

If a clothesline was empty when we walked home from school, on a Monday, it was a sure sign that the wife/mother of that home was either in the hospital or just home with her newborn. It also was a reminder to my siblings and me that the first thing we had to do after changing out of our school uniforms was to collect the sheets off the line and make up our beds.     

 Borrowed from the blog
Blooming Homestead 
Tuesday meant we were having Spaghetti for supper.  Wednesday was always Meatloaf and every Friday was salmon croquettes.  It was not unusual for kids to compare dinner menus with friends and try to get invited over for supper when they hated the dish being served at home. I remember a neighbor girl who hated the sauerkraut and sausage night at her house. It was one of my favorites but my mother rarely made it, so one night we traded places without telling either set of parents our plans. Needless to say, it never happened again.  If it was that easy and the other parents didn’t mind, I, as a mom, would have been fine with it.

Even the men seemed to mow their lawns on the same day so all the yards had the same growth pattern.    

I’m afraid those 1950’s rules never applied at my house. I have never been that regimented. Partly because I was always employed in retail with crazy schedules, and partly because it is my nature to attempt to accomplish everything in one mad whirlwind of activity.  For years, I would spend one of my days off preparing a week’s worth of meals that could be either frozen or held over for serving.  Leftovers are always better, right? 

Until my mother-in-law became too infirm to cook, I never had to worry about Sunday Dinners. She expected each of her children and their families to be around her dinner table and seldom did any two plates have the same food on them.  Her entire married life she had run a restaurant each Sunday. She was on the phone every Sunday morning asking for our order for dinner.  That would never have flown in my mother’s kitchen.  Mom made what she wanted and we either ate it or went hungry.  And, if you decided to pass on the meal Mom had best not catch you in the kitchen hunting for a snack later.  It only took a few weeks for me to learn that my mother-in-law would call each child in birth order for their meal request.  Since my husband was the youngest not living at home, we were always last.  I soon started asking her what each of the others wanted that day and would choose from those items for my family.  That way she was not cooking so many different items.  Once my husband’s younger brother married his wife started doing the same and within a few years, most of the plates started to look alike. 

I will admit that I do have a few household chores programed into my computer calendar.  Otherwise, the plants would all die of thirst, the smoke detectors would go years without the batteries being changed and I would never remember when to reset the clocks.  So, I suppose you could say that a few of those 1950’s habits stuck with the help of a little electronic magic.            


  1. We always had fried chicken too! At grandma's house. Or meatloaf if we ate at home. My sister and I had to take care of the clothes on the line. I usually hung them (she was too short) and she pulled them off. We just left the pins on the line. I would love to have a clothes line now for my sheets and blankets. I have shores plugged into my calendar too. I am no longer very regimented since I have retired. It can always be done tomorrow!!

  2. With little exception, my dad was always working nights ... and I honestly don't recall our suppers. I'm pretty sure my mother didn't fry me a hamburger every night, but I'd ask all the same ... and she'd always say, "You're going to turn into a hamburger." Some things never change. Every Sunday I cook up 3#-4" of 80/20 chuck and take containers of 'loose meat' every day for lunch.

    Your mother-in-law sounds too good to be true! I'm not much of a cook, but were anyone to ask me to prepare something different I'd probably burst into giggles ... or tears.

    1. Mevely317 you have just given me my next post. Stay tuned for my hamburger saga. One of my sisters lives in Omaha and they have a fast food chain that severs loose meet sandwiches. They couldn't wait to take us there the first time we visited.

  3. Great post! I enjoy reading about how "normal" home life was back then. I had friends who could relate to everything in your post. Unfortunately, it was an entirely different reality in my house.