I’ll Salt Your Popcorn

January 29, 1951 LIFE

In Douglass Crockwell’s “Winter Evening At Home,” we see that Dad has just finished popping popcorn over the coals of the fire, and Mary has offered a pan of it to be salted by her beau. Everyone is enjoying a chilled glass of ale. What a fun after-dinner treat while they watch Arthur Godfrey. But what’s got Dad so forlorn? Is it because Mary is growing up so fast, and this is her last winter at home before she moves to Michigan to attend university? Is it because his right arm is sore from holding the pan off the ground, and he doesn’t have the energy to pour it into the bowl? He ought to be proud, since he clearly didn’t burn even one kernel. Quite a feat, Dad! Maybe he’s rethinking that low profile carpet and wishing they’d gone with a plush.

Or is it because Doris isn’t here to witness any of it, and she so loved popcorn? Why, that was her chair, only 14 inches off the ground because she was so petite. She even sewed the seat cover. But what a firecracker, that Doris! Remember how Dad was so reluctant to wear the vest she gave him for Father’s Day because he said yellow was too “showy”? Now he regrets his words. Goldenrod isn’t showy; it’s just right. It’s the color of popcorn and beer and wintertime cheer. And Mary’s hair color! So let’s all raise a glass to yellow!

Waterbowl Wednesday

Set down your coffee to read this one, folks. It doesn’t marry well with toilet bowl. I stumbled upon this image early this morning, perusing pics for a Facebook birthday post. I wondered why I had kept this Polaroid for nigh on 40 years. You can see the Polaroid edges, no? In it, the family cat of my tweens, Ran Tan, has decided to rehydrate from an exhaustive day of lounging and nibbling.

Did I keep it because I will always have a special place in my heart for her? No. She was a cat. She was not a dog. The special place is clearly filled with our dog.

But it speaks to a time where one did not have a camera in one’s pocket. If one had stumbled upon the cat mid-drink, one would never have time enough to go find the Polaroid and lug it to the water closet before said cat had vanished. I don’t recall the circumstances of how perchance the shot exists, or even who took it, though it’s been in my possession all these decades. It must have been happenstance.

It also speaks to growing up in a house with one potty for all to share. Patience was a virtue. My son grew up in a home where each bottom has its own toilet. Ah, luxury!

I imagine we sprinkled the bowl with Comet soon afterward. Note the stylish tiles, which, if original to the home, would be nearly 100 years old now. And how often do you see a black toilet seat? It complimented Ran Tan’s fur just fine.

Perhaps the point is the cliché seize the day, seize pleasure where you find it. Perhaps the point is to stay hydrated. Or perhaps the point is to save at least one picture of your family cat, even if it’s just the tail.

Vanna’s Younger Sister Hawks Sponge

There’s Valerie White, holding it up for all the free world to see.

And Vanna looks HORRified.


Can you blame her? Sponges are nasty, no matter what kind.


A scrub brush with fibers works fine.

 Or this.


Creature Comforts of 1928

As I write to you on this sweltering, oppressive August day, I find two words most lovely: frigid air. Indeed, frigid air has been welcome since Frigidaire was founded 103 years ago.

God bless frigid air, the choice of the majority. Such a democratic institution, nestled in its own kitchen nook.

But they didn’t have the monopoly on fridges. Behold the GE model, where all four food groups fit just swell–even wine, which was illegal to sell.

No drain-pipe? Sign me up! Drain pipes are the worst! But you know what’s the best? Running water. You should try it. It’s a “boon to health and pleasure.” You better believe it, sister. Simply turn the handle and PRESTO, legit water appears!

And now that you’ve got water at your whim, how about covering up that hideous radiator?

Me, I’m from Texas, so I’ve never seen a radiator in the wild. Seems like a hazard to me. I’d prefer real wood furniture instead of metal. You know–the kind that could use a nice coating of O-Cedar Polish.

Goodness, she looks happy to be polishing! And that smart bob prevents hair from falling into her eyes. I bet she can see her own reflection.

But what’s this? By the time she gets to the banister, she appears more reticent, withdrawn. Her wrist aches from rubbing.

After all that polishing, Pearl might need a coffee break. But it’s 3pm! It would keep her up all night. Nope, not with Kaffee Hag, which sounds like Cliff Clavin is pronouncing it. Kaffee Hag lets all you hags sleep.

I think I’d rather be a “Pepper, too” than a Kaffee Hag, truth be told. But what a bargain, it is!

Now that you’ve got the inside of your domestic arena addressed, what about the outside? Your coffee may be unleaded, but your roof tiles shouldn’t be.

Leadclad was clad with lead. Only the finest toxins available with exotic Spanish appeal. Ole! Now all that’s left to do is trim that grass. And that’s not Pearl’s domain; that’s Walter’s. So while Pearl massages her aching wrists, Walter needs only a twist of his.

Well, now you’re set, folks! You’re up to date and ready for company!

New Secret To Youth: Positive Agitation

Hoover 1928

If it keeps your rugs young, maybe it keeps your skin young as well. Perhaps each time I exfoliate, I’m positively agitating my stubborn wrinkles.

I’m pretty sure this is also the secret of a long and happy marriage.


Have you ever experienced any of these synonyms for agitation with your partner?

stirring, whisking, beating, churning, shaking, turbulence

tossing, blendingwhippingfoldingrolling, jolting

Perhaps you should implement some new verbs into your marriage tonight!

But Does It Gyrate?

You KNOW it gyrates. It’s Gyrafoam.

Today, we take up where yesterday we left off. Smack dab in the middle of 1925, when women had no social media and were slaves to their chores.

But they had options! Another washing machine was this one from Laun-Dry-Ette.

Ain’t nobody got time for bluing, especially when there are floors to clean with Fuller Brushes.

And when you’re done brushing, you can sit on your can like Iris. Here she is, hitting up her best friend on the line, but she does it in style. The ad may be for Sellers Kitchen Cabinets, but all I see is a fab-u-lous crescent moon hat and a bold lip.

Oreos were introduced in 1912, but evidently some folks chose to put health biscuits in their pie holes instead. I’m sure they were a HIT at a kid’s birthday party.

Tommy seems to be trying to drown out the voices in his head, or the loud protests against health biscuits. Please, God, not health biscuits!

Somebody get Iris on the phone. It’s an emergency!




I Know What You Did In My Bathroom, Pearl

Good Housekeeping, March 1925

In the same magazine, you’ll find lovely Dix-Make dresses. No one makes dresses like Dix-Make.

If you’re not in the market for a flat-chested flapper dress, perchance you might like golden circlets of tropical goodness.

And try it on pizza, too!

Sick of cold water? Want hot water every place you can think of? Ask for Descriptive Folder #10.

And how about this? For the cost of my current water bill plus my cable bill, I could have bought an entire house in 1925.

But, Kerbey, you say–I’m not a baller; I’m too poor to pay attention. What could I afford? And to you, I say, how ’bout some clothesline?

It’s a cord to hang your sheets. It’s great until it rains, and then you have to hang it out to dry all over again. I remember because I had to do it in the 80s when all our neighbors had dryers, and my chore was to hang clothes on the line like I was a freaking pioneer. Thankfully, it only rains twice a year in Texas, so it’s not an issue now.

Come back on Hump Day for more fun ads from 1925!

Grocer Nan Won’t Step Foot In Polly’s Trippy Kitchen

Congoleum 1932
Congoleum 1932

These fake Latuda smiles are not exactly winning endorsements for the enticingly-named Congoleum product. They look more like they’re remembering an old flame, the one that got away. Who can say? But we CAN safely assume this is a tee-totaling home. A couple whiskeys and this tile does not a good pair make. Every day is a hallucination in Polly’s kitchen! Actually, Prohibition was in effect, so the liquor was probably in the cellar. Americans were sober and their pockets were empty.

Two years later, old floors still posed problems. Fortunately, Muriel found a way to fix it.

Congoleum 1934
Congoleum 1934

Before islands existed, folks tossed a table in the kitchen and called it eat-in dining. I like how the couples are having separate conversations three feet apart. You think Edward and Henry even NOTICED that Muriel changed the tile? Fat chance. Drinking is legal now, and it is SO ON. Edward and Henry have hooch on the brain and hooch only. Meanwhile, Muriel is sitting on the table, assessing her new flooring. I think she’s having second thoughts, now that she sees how it clashes with Nora’s orange striped dress. In fact, I think Muriel is playing the quicksand game and avoiding contact entirely. And why is she dressed for a funeral?

At least her little green squares were preferable to this muddy brown zigzag hot mess. I imagine it disguised dirt well but I’m getting a migraine just looking at it. And such a shame with an otherwise upbeat kitchen!

Armstrong 1936
Armstrong 1936

Did your grandparents have tile like this? Did you make up games to walk on it?

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