Some of you may not believe this, but there was a time when girls could not wear pants to school. I was on the cusp of the 50s and 60s lifestyles, so during my grade school years, I had to wear a dress to grade school, but in the cold winters of central Illinois, I could opt for a pair of leotards under those dresses. Generally, my school girl years were spent in jumpers that my wonderful grandmother sewed for me and knee socks. Fortunately, when I hit Junior High, miniskirts, Twiggy and flower power were all the influence in our teen years. Gone were the knee socks and pixie cut and hello to knobby knees, miniskirts and training bras. Those photos are a scream today.
The point is, there was a time when June Cleaver, Harriet Nelson, Margaret Anderson and Donna Reed were the portrait for dress, attitude and devotion to family.
This image is from the History Chicks who cover the 50s housewife in television and is a great read. Take a moment to read their blog post on the subject. thehistorychicks.com/?p=1608
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being devoted to your family or desiring to provide your husband with respect. I adore my husband. So, I was struck with bouts of laughter, followed by tears when I happened to come upon a wonderful little Husband and Wife Demerit system.
This is the brainchild of a Dr. George Crane from the 1930s. It was his job to interview 600 men and women and compile a list of their most frequent complaints. This set of lists is of course, very dated, but it is more telling of the attitude that husband and wives had about each other. Some of these things may be pertinent today, but for the most part, the whole demerit system is an exercise in repression and punishment on both sides.
For your viewing pleasure, I am attaching a copy of the original lists.
Here are some of the Husband’s demerits:
Reads newspaper at the table.
Fails to come to table promptly when meal is ready.
Brings guests home for meals without warning wife.
Doesn’t phone when late for dinner.
Compares wife unfavorably with his mother or other wives.
Publicly praises bachelor days and regrets having married.
Criticizes wife in public
Belches without apology, or blows nose at table.
Leaves dresser drawers open.Leaves shoes in living room.
On the Merit side, he:
Gives wife ample allowance or turns pay check over to her
Courteous to wife’s friends.
Frequently compliments wife looks, cooking, housekeeping,etc.
Remembers birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
Helps wife with dishes, caring for children, scrubbing.
Polite and mannerly even when alone with his wife.
Consults wife’s opinion re business and social affairs.
Has date with wife at least once per week.
Reads Newspaper, books or magazines aloud to wife.
A good conversationalist.
Steady worker and good provider.
Leaves car for wife on days she may need it.
To make this fair, here are some examples of a wife’s demerits:
Slow in coming to bed –delays till husband is almost asleep.
Doesn’t like children.
Fails to sew on buttons or darn socks regularly.
Wears soiled or ragged dresses and aprons around the house.
Wears red nail polish.
Often late for appointments.
Seams in hose often crooked.
Goes to bed with curlers on her hair or much face cream.
Puts her cold feet on husband at night to warm them.
Is a back seat driver.
Flirts with other men at parties or in restaurants.
Is suspicious and jealous.
A woman can earn merits by doing these things:
A good hostess – even to unexpected guests.
Has meals on time.
Can carry on an interesting conversation.
Can play a musical instrument, as piano, violin, etc.
Dresses for breakfast.
Neat housekeeper – tidy and clean.
Personally puts children to bed.
Never goes to bed angry, always makes up first.
Asks husband’s opinions regarding important decisions and purchases.
Good sense of humor –jolly and gay.
Religious –sends children to church or Sunday school and goes herself.
Lets husband sleep late on Sunday and holidays.
There are 100 questions that can be seen by using this link to the entire booklet, which is well worth reading for a good look at how we as a society have changed over the years. http://www.scribd.com/doc/3086410/Tests-for-Husbands-and-Wives-
There are many of the things on these lists that we could use a more of, but I probably will not dress for breakfast EVAH.
Julie and Blu