December 25, 2005

Christmas, 1958.

Obviously, Mommy was taking the picture. Dell was resisting the onslaught of the popping flashbulb. I was trying to prove that I belonged on "The Mickey Mouse Club" more than Karen. There's George in his cowboy pajamas. Is Daddy asleep or has he had more than just that one beer? He's got his Lucky Strikes. Note the creche, the Christmas tree, and the inexplicable 1950s pattern on the curtain. The dolls are not Barbies. Barbie comes out in 1959. We are Barbie-innocent here in 1958 with our Ginny dolls and Jill dolls.

Christmas 1958

And here's a second photo from the same year. The classic dangling string approach to displaying Christmas cards was used. Pole lamps seemed perfect. Surely, in the future everyone will always want three lights on a pole that can be wedged between floor and ceiling. Nice kitty-cat appliqué on the shirt.

Christmas 1958-2

Here's the last one in this set. That's my grandmother, Elsa Tausig Althouse, known as Mom. Look at how dressed up people got to visit their grandkids. Shiny stockings, black pumps, good dress, curled hair. A special Christmas pin (which probably had a string to pull to make Santa's nose light up). She expected my mother to dress us up too. You can see I'm in a skirt. I don't suppose Mom appreciated the dirty Keds though. We're engaged in that time-honored Christmas tradition: explaining the presents.

Christmas 1958-3


Rick Lee said...

Oh man, check out that upholstery material. Is that stuff that had the texture of a hairbush?

David said...

Fabulous picture! The sofa seems oriented towards a TV. I wonder what was playing at that time? Could have been the Ann Sullivan show, a news show (Walter Cronkite), Ed Sullivan? Trivia question; LSMFT! My grandparents eschewed Luckys for Raleighs because they had coupons for redemption on the back of the pack.

They died of emphysema, may they RIP!

Linoleum and formica forever!

Thanks for sharing!

Tonya said...

That pole in the photo makes me think that maybe your family was celebrating Festivus way back in '58.

Merry Christmas!

Mark Kaplan said...

Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.

The photos are priceless; what wonderful details. I would say that's a "TV tray table" next to the stuffed chair. Recapturing the feeling is awesome.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

Super cool. I would love to have my childhood in black and white, with all those wonderful 50s props of the optimistic American life. Instead, my childhood is in the faded brown and olive green hues of the 70s, where everything has the look of resignation.

Thanks for sharing these great pictures!

Ann Althouse said...

Tonya: LOL!

Mark: Yes, those TV tray tables! That was back at a time when the idea of eating while watching TV was new and they made special tables calling attention to the exciting new activity (and special meals: TV dinners).

Palladian: You could scan them and remove the color (or just leave in the colors your like).

D.E. Cloutier said...

Mark Kaplan: "Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco."

To little boys with bows and arrows, LSMFT meant "Ladies' seats make fine targets."

theMickey's said...

Yes Ann, thanks for sharing. I too am from the B&W era.
Merry Merry

k said...

ruth anne beat me to my comment. Is there something about a camera lens that causes you to tip your chin down and look through your lashes at the photog?

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Althouse/Cohen clan.

EddieP said...

A beer, a Lucky Strike and a kid on his lap. The old man sure knew how to survive the holidays.

P_J said...

that time-honored Christmas tradition: explaining the presents.

LOL! That brought back plenty of memories. One of the best was my Dad's mother, a fairly quiet and polite lady. My dad had been on one of his trips abroad and brought back his mother some thing or other that didn't look at all like the kind of thing she kept. When she opened the gift, one of the family asked her, "What is it?" And my dear grandmother replied,
"It's ... something I don't have."

It's now our line for any unusual gift.

TopCat said...

Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing -

In the past you've mentioned you're from South Jersey, I played football with Bruce Willis in Salem County, would you share your undisclosed location?

I to think it's important to remember how people used to take pride in their personal appearance so much more than we do today - I agree with the conservatives that it's one of the most deleterious legacies of the '60's -- if you look at pictures of Union Square back in the days of the Rosenberg protests you will see that people got dressed up in suit and tie to attend riots.

Appreciate your blog, happy new year.

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

That second photo actually reminds me of what my mother always did. She would take the cards and hang them like in your picture.

Then she got to leaving them up year round till the next batch came in (receiving a certain amount of negative blowback from my dad in the process). Back then everyone sent cards and it would be over 100.

I do the same thing now, and everytime someone sends me an "e-card" I get very annoyed.

And that look on your face in that funny. Wonder what you were thinking.

sean said...

Don't lots of people still make their children dress up for (a) visits to grandparents and (b) Christmas? Maybe only in upper middle class New York City? There are blocks of stores on Madison Avenue that sell children's clothes usable for no other purpose. Maybe not in the rest of the country?

Steve Burri said...

Mickey Mouse Club?
Mmmm.... Annette!
That dang Cubbie was soooo lucky!

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Heretik said...

Grandmas were different back then.

Commander Carrots said...

Just a quick question - - what is the classic "dangling string" technique for hanging up cards? I've never heard of it before. Do you glue the string along the inside fold of each card?

somross said...

I will guess that your grandmother might be wearing not a special pin, but a Christmas corsage. We family of four girls, our mother, and grandmother always had them pinned on our good wool winter coats during Christmas season. I last saw one about 1985 and miss them. They often featured sparkly miniature Christmas balls or imitated a wreath with a little green brush wrapped in a circle. (They were not made of fresh flowers, obviously.) Great pictures!

Ann Althouse said...

Somross: I thought of calling it a corsage, but it didn't seem like the right word.

Hobo Divine said...

"We're engaged in that time-honored Christmas tradition: explaining the presents."

Too funny!
Love the photos!
Thank you for sharing
The cat on the sweater reminded me of Boo-Boo kitty from Lavern & Shirley.

(P.S. I want that pole lamp!)

Unknown said...

Oh, so cute. Brings back memories of pin curls and Toni perms! And the magic of coming downstairs and seeing the glittering packages.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

alan markus said...

Gee, those pole lamps had a certain "wow factor" back in our day - it certainly didn't take much to impress us. I remember when we finally threw ours away - my brothers & I twisted it into the shape of a pretzel first.

Danno said...

Great pictures. I too have some recall of the black & white era.

Merry Christmas

edutcher said...

Merry Christmas to the fine folk at Meadhouse and all the Althousians, especially the hillbillies.

I never had to explain presents at that age.

Cowboy stuff pretty much spoke for itself.

Must be a girl thing.

Ann Althouse said...

Look at how dressed up people got to visit their grandkids. Shiny stockings, black pumps, good dress, curled hair. A special Christmas pin (which probably had a string to pull to make Santa's nose light up). She expected my mother to dress us up too.

We hadn't gotten to the point where the Lefties thought it should be a civil right to go around looking like a slob.

In them thar days, people took pride in their appearance.

PS Even at 7, the Althouse eyes were already hypnotic.

WV "destinam" Where a lot of guys ended up about 10 years later.

Jimmy said...

Very well done Ann...I've needed a reason to dig up some old photos and I think you gave me some reason to. Cheers!

alan markus said...

Lucky Strikes? I take it that Dad wasn't a doctor?

More Doctors Smoke Camels than any other cigarette

David said...

Dad with cigarettes and a little alcohol. That's the way I remember Christmas in the 50's too. I love that grandma was there. My mother's parents always took the train from Connecticut to Pittsburgh to visit us. It was a very nice thing for them to do, as they were homebodies.

There is a tinge of sadness in Christmas as I get older. I usually live in the present and the future, but Christmas seems to draw me to the lost past. That is not a bad thing.

Merry sad-happy Christmas to all.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Those mid-century modern light poles are worth a pretty penny now-a-days. Stylish design always has value.

new york said...

In the Santa picture you seem skeptical. I love the finely tailored wool coats. My mother saved mine and I have it hanging in my closet right now. It's gorgeous but I have no idea what I would ever do with it
We never knew what to get my dad for Christmas so we used to wrap up a CARTON of camels. He was thrilled that at least for a week he would not have to go and buy any. When we were older and learned of the health risks we begged him to quit smoking. As a middle child, do you find yourself to be a natural mediator?
Thank you for sharing

Steve Koch said...

Wonderful pictures!

Tom Tucker said...

My wife noticed that the pillow with "mom" matches the drapes. Nice!