“women are here to stay” or, we ain’t neva left

I spend a lot of time hanging out in my university library between classes. Usually I’m busy looking over materials for class, or checking in with my internet world, but sometimes I let my eyes wander over the shelves wherever I’ve settled, just to see what catches my eye. Recently, a tall book caught my eye, its title visible over the tops of all the other books: Women are Here to Stay. “Of course we are!” I said to myself, “Where else could we go? Who could manage without us?” I pulled the book off the shelf and read the subtitle: “The Durable Sex in its Infinite Variety Through Half a Century of American Life.”

Intrigued by this strange title, I opened the book, and realized it was a book of pictures. Often, hilarious pictures.

This lovely lady wore this cat hat as a costume at the Vanderbilt Ball.
clearly badasses.

But it turns out, published in the 1940s, this book had a feminist mission. One which is sadly still necessary today. Check out the introduction and see if you can relate:

The American woman today must be an expert housekeeper…She must be a wise, conscientious, and loving mother, always there when her children need her, but standing aside when her presence might threaten the full development of their individuality. She must be a delightful, helpful, thrifty wife, ready to administer comfort or to share in gay adventure. She must be a useful member of the community, informed on broad political trends as well as possible danger spots in the local school boards. She is also a citizen of the world and should be able to name the current President of France, have constructive ideas on what to do with the atom bomb, and say what’s wrong with our foreign policy.

That isn’t all. She is expected to read, look at, listen to the important new books, pictures, music, for women are the traditional guardians of culture. If she’s young, she should be cultivating some interest against the time when the children don’t need her. If she’s old, she should be happily occupied in some moderately useful, unspectacular fashion, keeping herself decently to herself, and not interfering with her juniors and betters.

And at all times, and at all ages, she should be, if not actually beautiful, as good-looking as perfect grooming, a disciplined figure, and good clothes can make her. (This part is very easy. The advertisements tell you how.)

It would not be surprising if women gave up entirely, crushed by the barrage of abuse and advice, and paralyzed by the impossible goals set for them. They don’t though. They keep on living–longer than men, as a matter of fact. It is indeed a durable sex.

Now, in nearly all books about women, the authors assume that women think and act first of all as women, not as individuals, and this assumption leads into the habit of thinking that they’re all pretty much alike. It is my intention to demonstrate that there are a great many different kinds of women (just as there are a great many different kinds of men) and that it is impossible to generalize about them– tempting though this may be, and very good fun as a pastime. (1)

On the one hand, this is laughable– of COURSE women are all special snowflakes, individuals, whose allegiance is first to ourselves and then to our sex. But is this not still our struggle? To be our individual selves, despite the monolithic mold that seems determined to bend us into some sort of ideal woman?

This gorgeous lady would be at home on a red carpet today.

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You can find anything on Etsy, even Memaw’s Treasures

So, yesterday I shared with you some of the beautiful things my Memaw gave me as she downsizes and moves in with my parents.  Last night I hopped on Etsy, wondering in particular if they had more of a certain set of dishes that my mom received and I covet in particular, because there aren’t very many of them in her set, and it might be nice to fluff it up a bit.  Sure enough, I found a set of the “Dixie Dogwood” dishes for sale on Etsy:

So then I started poking around some more, to see if I could find any of the things I received for sale.  Remember the commemorative plate for FDR’s Warm Springs, GA “Little White House”?  I found one of those:

And what about the beautiful set of plates my grandfather sent home to his mother from Europe while he was serving in WWII? It turns out you can find those on Etsy as well:

There’s a set of the same milk glass bakers that I received:

Even the little lime green citrus juicer has a twin on Etsy:

And if you liked my super retro footed teacups, you can find a close match on Etsy too!

While it’s sort of crazy to realize that a bunch of things that are, to me, priceless treasures actually sell for $10 or less on the internet, what I am reminded of is that the value of a thing is not its objective value.  The things my Memaw gave me are treasures to me because they belonged to her, and because they have stories behind them.  I’d never sell them on Etsy! However, I think I might need to set up a shop for all the things we decided to “yard sale,” like some of the mismatched Depression glass that didn’t have mates, or the random pieces of Fire King peach lusterware, because I’m pretty sure Etsy prices are better than we’ll get at a yard sale!

Memaw’s treasures

This weekend I helped my parents move into a new house and my Memaw to move in with them.  My Memaw has always been a collector, and the family historian, so she has a houseful of beautiful things and probably enough to fill another.  Because she is moving in with my parents, many members of my family are basically getting our “inheritance” early, which I think is great, because I get to tell her how beautiful I think things are, learn the stories behind them, and thank her.  I know I have a few vintage-loving readers/friends, so I thought I’d share what Memaw gave me here.

Memaw had at least 8 complete sets of dishes. We asked her how she wound up with so many dishes and what she did with them all, and all she would say is that she used to throw a lot of bridge parties, and my Pops never fussed at her for buying things.  There’s a set of china that Memaw gave to my mom and dad that will one day be mine, but in the meantime I got this fun set of regular, everyday dishes:

You can see how well they match the color scheme in my dining room curtains!

I think the funky tea pot is my favorite part of the whole set:

Speaking of tea pots, I also inherited a tea pot that originally belonged to my grandfather’s mother! I love the unusual shape:

Being a big ol’ liberal, I was psyched to see this commemorative plate from FDR’s Warm Springs, GA, retreat.  I just listened to an episode of This American Life on the way back from Florida which mentioned Warm Springs and tried to figure out if FDR liked to drink the local moonshine when spending time there (I bet he did).

I think this will be hung on the wall in my kitchen.

I also received a lovely set of blue and white plates that my Pops sent home from Europe to his mother while he was serving in WWII.  Memaw kept telling me “these are a real prize!” and I certainly agree.  These will also be hung on the wall in my kitchen:

I have a thing for milk glass, so I took this set of plates, even though there weren’t very many of them.  They were just too pretty to pass up!

I love how translucent they are.
I also love the gold-rimmed scalloped edges.

Proof that my liberalism has roots, a set of vintage Democratic donkey glasses (shot glasses?):

I also thought these tiny red glasses were pretty cute:

Believe it or not, before this, I didn’t have a butter dish:

More blue and white.  The set of dishes I got when I got married is blue and white, so this lovely serving platter will go nicely with the stuff I already own:

These super retro tea cups were actually a belated anniversary gift from Memaw. They sort of remind me of Liberty of London textiles.

I also got these little milk glass bakers:

An oil and vinegar bottle:

And a cute little green citrus juicer:

And, most miraculously? I found space for everything in my kitchen!