The Vacuum cleaner today is pretty much an everyday household item. The electric gadget called a vacuum cleaner did not get invented until the late 1800’s. Then it was only a luxury item for the well to do. Most homes had wood floors and some still had dirt floors so a broom and mop were in the cleaning closet.
Rugs were again for the rich and the rest had homemade rugs. Old material did not get thrown out, instead granny would make something of the old rags. Hook/latch rag rugs were the wonders of grannies tedious work during the evening. Much like the quilt, these rugs became a folklore craft.
To clean these rugs, they would be hung out on the line and beaten, knocking the dirt out. When the vacuum cleaner came out, there were only a few who could afford the contraption, so outside did the rug hang.
Carpet had been developed but only a few could afford this new thing. The Great Depression forced many new things to sit on the back burner. Then with the war, manufacturing was in the war effort. At the end of the war, things changed. No longer was their rationing and factories could now produce consumer goods. With new homes being built and suburbia a new phenomena, consumerism began to grow. Wall to wall carpeting was one of the features the new home builders used to sell their homes in the ‘burbs.
The vacuum cleaner came to the forefront, for the carpet could not be pulled up and hung on the clothes line, and sweeping it with a broom was not very effective. To the rescue came the new contraption and with it new factory jobs were created. Up until the carpet and vacuum, the broom was the queen of house cleaning. Scattered around the land were small broom corn factories and soon they began to decline and consumerism changed buying habits.
The drummer boys had a new gadget to sell and they could be seen trekking down the sidewalk toting their vacuum with them, going door to door pedaling their ware of the day.
Something like a little gadget for cleaning had an impact on homelife and how people lived. It was one of the things that helped bring luxury to the work a day families.
The blog will be shifting focus for a short time. I found some old Life magazines from the early fifties. This era, for me, is when the focus of the USA shifted from an agrarian country to a powerhouse industrialized nation. The country had survived the “The Great Depression,” and transitioned to a powerful war machine.
The war and the depression were powerful impacts on the psyche of the American people.
With the end of the war, The United States no longer was a second on the stage of world politics, they had become a world leader. This was reflected in the confidence of the people in the States. With the rationing of the war over, consumerism was the forefront of life in America.
There were jobs in the factories for the returning soldiers, who had their combat pay in hand. The American dream was approaching, a chicken in every pot and a car in the driveway. With the jobs in the factories, the Lower Class was shrinking and the Middle class was expanding. The dream of owning their own home was at hand for most citizens.
Housing developments and suburbs were a new phase in the America fabric. Products were needed to fill these new dream homes and there new automobiles to park in the driveways.
Life magazine along with their counterparts, Look and the Saturday Evening Post, chronicled this emerging new American middle class. Back in the 50’s, the news was not real slanted and the agenda of a few was not apparent. The advertising set the tone for the changes and reflects life of the transitional decade. Technology of the day, was the television and the Atomic Bomb, both impacted how people lived during the 50’s.
I will be taking ads from the magazines, along with stories and writing my impression of life back then. I’m old enough to of been a wee lad back then and I remember a few things from way back then.