Sunday, March 11, 2007

Beware the Ides of the March Issue of Women's Household
Who Says Easter Eggs Don't Grow on Trees

I'm committed to devote at least one post a month to an issue of Women's Household magazine. This month we look back at March 1966, and it does not disappoint. (Please click on scans for bigger, readable photos.)

Our issue begins with a profile of one of the regular readers who brags that she has over 650 salt and peppers and shows off a bedspread that she crocheted that must have taken her two years to complete! It makes me wonder if these crafts still exist or if they were just thrown away by uninterested grandchildren; not that I would completely blame them, what does a family do with 650 salt and pepper shakers?

Next, Mrs. Opal Roller (my new favorite drag name) hawks something called Powder Dolls and is willing to trade them for S&H Green Stamps. Those of a certain age will fondly remember S&H Green Stamps. Those who don't remember I pity that you've never had the satisfaction of pasting your last needed stamp in a book so that you could get that frying pan you've been waiting for. Also note that Mrs. Rollers daughter is probably a teenager but looks about 45.

Mrs. Daniel Bill of New Jersey is my choice for the Women's Household reader that I'd most like to drink Manhattan's. Not only does she do my favorite craft, making toilet paper cozies, but she plays the guitar and has a hot adopted Korean son.

No object is free from modification in Women's Household. In fact, if you subscribed to Pack-O-Fun craft magazine you got a book that warned you not to throw away your plastic bottles, because bleach bottles dressed as pigs make perfect wedding or birthday gifts. The weirdest item in this recycled craft art answers the age old question, "What do you do with old keys...?" Obviously you make little dresses for them. Mrs. Harriet Hansen suggests that you should make your key into whimsical characters when you have a 'window' in your craft making time and that "people will stop and chuckle at them" I think when you are making clothes for your old keys the only people who will stop and chuckle will be the nurses in an institution as they come to give you your pill.

And now a word from our sponsor:

What's Your Problem?

In previous posts on Woman's Household I've mentioned the "What's Your Problem?" section. Every month a reader's problem was featured, the following issue the busy bodies answers would be printed. This is a particularly interesting question. My husband is stupid and I hate him. Answer: Shut up and get off your high horse. There is a whole other page of answers, click here if you feel inclined to read the rest of the article.

And in a similar vein, one of my favorite features Pet Peeves.

(Large portions of WH are devoted to people complaining.)

I adore Jell-O. However, there is nothing I've heard more revolting then Lime Jello made with vegetable soup, and then to have the nerve to name it after a blessed saint. And if ever I decide to have another band again I think Tuna Queen would be a perfect name. If anyone cooks out there, please make these recipes and report back on them. Maybe we need a Women's Household cook-off.

A few random photos...

Mrs. M. Goates looks like she mistakenly left her two sacks of potatoes at the market and picked up these two kids instead.

The caption should be "here we are cowering in terror behind my rubber plant".

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

My first post on Women's Household was called a Subscription for Despair. there was much debate on the post about that title. However, presented for the first time in its entirety is the feature "Missing Folks Corner" sometimes called "Missing Persons". It still strikes me as a odd to have Jello recipes, key clothes on one page then on the next "...have you seen my crippled brother" ads. When I'm deciding what to put on this blog from this magazine, I've been leaving out most of the really gut wrenching stories, blind grandchildren, house bound lonely spinsters, and widowed knitters. Ah, the humanity.
And finally, a ray of hope. A letter from a young hopeful housewife, with plenty of craft making time windows to put a cozy on everything in her house. Duke University contacted me to ask if I would donate my Women's Household collection to their women's studies program library. I'm still in the process of scanning a lot of them so that's a way off; I think that they should contact Jane Winters of Williamsburg, Indiana, whose hobby was collecting craft magazines. I have a feeling if she's still alive, they are all neatly packed away in her sewing room right now. Enjoy!


David said...

John, I love the Women's Household posts. While yes, they're funny, I can't help but feel the the sense of longing some of these women had that wanted to connect with other people. It's rather haunting.

Aaron said...

What's also haunting is the overriding tone of the readers' responses to "What's Your Problem" to "stand by her man" and "put his happiness first." This must have been pretty common in 1966, but it's no less repugnant to see it today.

I think the last one on the page ("Get off your high horse") was the best (pretty much what I would have told her), but the misogynistic miasma of self-loathing is rather off-putting, coming from other broads. :-) It's enough to say "be thankful for what you have" without saying, in effect, "your job is to be inferior." (Then again, it was 1966.)

You can just see them primping their hair, smoothing down their shirt-waist dresses, thinking, "if he were MY man," while dreaming of the Tuna Queen casseroles they'd bake him. But I wonder if they'd be prepared to "put his needs first" and get those dresses dirty by kneeling and giving him oral sex at 5:00 in the afternoon because he wanted it.

These really ARE valuable time capsules for women's studies! And we always appreciate seeing this stuff. It's a reminder for me of how isolating life once was, whenever I get nostalgic...

Johnny C said...

I'm glad to see Mrs. T.A.K's problem still inspires discussion. The second page of comments (which I've posted as a download) are really filled with more passion than is usually found in WH Magazine, especially the woman whose advice is for this woman to ask for her husband's forgiveness for being a snob.

I'll be sure to include the What's Your Problem in further WH posts.

dirk.mancuso said...

I see that poor crazy woman with the 650 salt and pepper shakers, then I look at my Disney collection and I wonder how soon before I need to don the argyle sweater vests, Brylcreem my hair, and adopt a horde of feral cats so I can be just like her.

Damn. "The crazy old man down the street" status really just sneaks up on you, doesn't it?