Sunday, August 10, 2008

the Way Back Machine


The time: 1950's
The place: Someone's living room

This is one of the many vintage photos that I have collected. I have no idea who these women are or anything about the location.

I love these old photos and you can literally use them as creative writing exercises, fabricating stories to go along with the image.

It's a very sad fact that many of these photos end up in flea markets and estate sales. I've always wondered about that. Do surviving family member simply not care or do they not know the identity of the people in the photos? Both sides of our families seem to really cherish their photos but will that be true of our children?

The identities of these women are lost in time but I can appreciate the gathering it depicts. My mom would clean the house and set a little card table with a "luncheon cloth" in preparation to having a few neighbor ladies over for coffee and cake. They all dressed up a bit and shared each other's company, hoping that the kids stayed in their beds!

I have the glass luncheon sets in my collection of serving pieces. The glass coffee cup sit into a slot on the glass tray. My mother had a beautiful hammered aluminum tray that she displayed on a bookcase and used as a serving piece. She also had a cool glass coffee carafe that was warmed by a candle. She wore an apron in the kitchen but when I came time to actually serve a special meal she changed into a hostess apron that was usually made from some type of sheer and fancy fabric.....for show only!

Do you remember how your mom entertained?


Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Love the living could've been any one of a number from my family.

My great-grandmother "partied" this way...all very civilized. My own parents had dance parties where the living room carpet was rolled up and stashed away. Believe me, it was impossible for the kids to stay abed. ;>

I think it's neat that you are collecting these old photographs. I just hope that you don't drive the kids nuts wondering who the relatives are and why you didn't mark them.

Chris said...

My mom was more likely to be serving beer with chips 'n dips! She did have some beautiful hostess aprons though. Every Christmas, my paternal grandma made her a beautiful, frilly apron. One year, it was white organza with appliqued pointsettias. I loved that apron! Wonder what became of them all?

Thanks for the memories! Chris

Molly said...

My grandparents raised my brother and me. By the time we were there the big entertaining was a thing of the past, but there were a few times I was pressed into service to pour Russian Tea and pass tea cakes and other goodies. The good crystal, china or whatever was pulled out and everything made ready...About the pictures: we are a family with pictures and no names. Write those names on the back!

chocolatechic said...

I love old photos too.

My mother entertains with themes.

Every occasion has a theme. Mexican, cowboy, princess, etc. and she has all sorts of decorations for each theme.

I don't do that.

Lori said...

My mother entertained with the little glass snack sets too. Most of her entertaining though short of holiday meals was for Stanley or Tupperware parties. They would go all out and get out a punch bowl with ice rings and everything else. My how things have changed. Now it's more of a chips and salsa thing.
Isn't it sad that pictures like these do end up in flea markets? We have boxes of old pictures but haven't parted with even the ones who we don't know who they are. I just can't bear too in case it might be someone.

Louise said...

My mother entertained by taking people on drives through the country or to fleal markets, and if it fell during a mealtime, taking them out to eat. She was NOT domestic.

I love this post and photo. It IS sad that things like this wind up in flea markets. I will not get pictures from my mother's OR father's side of the family because there are too many others before me. I hope they treat them nicely and don't through them in some sale.

It looks like they're having a grand time in this photo. And I LOVE what you mom did with the aprons!

Significant Snail said...

My mother belonged to a club that was known as "The Jolly Janes". My grandmother and her farming neighbors/friends started it. They gathered once a month, and yes, they got out their nice linens and the sets of dishes that you describe. I remember one time my mother made Baked Alaska, which was quite an elegant thing. No children allowed. When a daughter turned 18 she was invited to join.

Jill said...

I wish I could say that my mother entertained... but I'd be lying! She was a great stay-at-home mom, but cooking was not her forte! I love to entertain... thankfully I got that gene from my father's side of the family.

Trish said...

We've been going through old photographs of late and yep, many are people we do not know but heaven forbid they end up in some yard sale. NIce that you have rescued those unknown women. My mom entertained alright....always in a rush about the kitchen until the last moment then off would come the apron and housedress and she would serve up as cool as a cucumber where moments before us girls were witness to utter chaos!

Karen said...

Old photo are so neat !! And like you, I often wonder about the story behind them ... or let my imagination run wild ...

Both my Grandma and my Mother had these sort of morning of afternoon tea gatherings. Both of them had their 'kitchen' and their 'company' aprons.

Back, when I was living in NZ, friends and neighbours would often pop in and out would come the plate of homemade cakes and biscuits (cookies) and the teapot and coffee pot and we would all gather around the dining table or in the lounge and chat. not quiteas formal as the gathering in the photo and no aprons involved, but still cozy and fun :-)

My daughter, in NZ, reports that she also does that.

Really not been much of an opportunaityto do that here ... sad, really.

BTW ... have you been on eBay and seen the snack sets for sale? I've bought a few sets. Also found some in local op shops, flea market, yard sales and estate sales.

KatKit13 said...

I'm saddened about the photos. When I worked for one of those "scrapbooking" companies (I'm sure you can figure that one out), someone pointed out that in 3 generations will have no idea who YOU are. That's why we were so big on writing down the history, the people in the photos. It's a good habit to get into.

I've inherited all the old photos - my grandmother in an Edwardian dress with the big white bows in her hair. Dressed as a May Queen (just awesome!).

Then I smiled about your description of the serving pieces. I have a luncheon set. I collect the hammered aluminum trays. (have no idea what to do with them but I love em. LOL)

I remember my mom being involved in a women's club that got together once a month.

Suzanne said...

Vee - I know. I spy so many things in that room that are familiar to me. I love the wallpaper, we had something similar. My aunt and uncle had those dance parties in their basement. They are both gone now, but I remember all the fun they created. I plan to put these orphan photos into a separate box so that, like you said, I don't drive my kids nuts.

Chris- Now, your mom sounds like fiun. Did she play cards? Nobody plays cards anymore. I wonder also what happened to all my mom's "hostess" aprons. I'm going to dig out a picture for next week's Way Back Machine.

Molly - I love that occasions when we can pull out all the good stuff. I even love washing it. I'm going to make sure that all my pictures have dates and explanations. I've got to play catch up!!

Chocolatechic - I like themes, I do them occasionally, but I just like having people over without any rhyme or reason. Your mom's parties sound like fun.

Lori - I love the snack sets. I've got more than I could ever possibly use. I need to make more freinds!!

Louise - I'd go for you mom's type of entertaining too! That's OK in my book. I'm sorry that you're so far down on the list. That's sad.

S-Snail - I think most 1950's neighborhoods had something similar to the Jolly Janes and it continues today. My neighborhood has a group of over-50's. We don't have to get home to meet the school bus or relieve babysitters so we can plan different kinds of outings. It's fun.

Jill - Not everyone is a good cook. I had to learn. I was a dreadful cook but I loved to eat so I learned.

Trish- You captured the scene perfectly. Utter chaos till the guests arrived and then my mom came out looking like she'd never busted a sweat.

Karen - I'm sorry you don't have the get together opportunities where you're currently living. You must be longing to get back to live near your children and "visit" with neighbors. I've been lucky to find tons of snack sets at the local Goodwill store.

Kat-Kit - There you are!! I'm trying to get my kids to care about family members in these photos. Perhaps when they have their own children they'll get extended-family-oriented. Not so much now.

Thanks everyone for visiting with me today. I appreciate the time you spend here.

- Suzanne

Ann said...

My mother would have her one night of relaxation with her dear friend and neighbor sitting in the living room sharing a bottle of Blue Nun.

And I remember seeing Lancer's as well sometimes.

Wow, now I'm remembering the fondue pot!...