1940s life recreated

August 14, 2017

A 1940s version of a California Icon: the precursor to a woody. But without wood.

All of these photos were taken a week ago at a 1945 festival in my city, San Jose, Calif.

Timing is coincidental, if you believe in coincidences. I’m not going to make the obvious political connection to this era. But I could. And am thinking it.

This might be a typical town scene of 1940s life, except that there sure are a lot of cars there. Probably not so many in the 1940s and not so pristine, either.

If you look carefully at this 1940s stove you’ll see a rusty device on the left stove top burner. It’s a toaster. 

To its right is an iron that is actually made of iron and super-heavy. No need for women of that era to lift weights–they lifted heavy stuff just doing their daily chores.

Notice the dog in his little bed on the floor.

Yes, that is a real icebox.

Fiesta– or Fiestaware– was introduced in 1936. It sure made a pretty table. I have some vintage tablecloths similar to the one pictured. I just don’t have a table to fit.

This goes back a while, to the early part of the 20th century. I mean early. You can tell because there’s no dial. You’d pick up the ear piece and talk to the operator through the round speaker in the center of the box. She’d place the call. A far cry from our mobile phones today.

To the right is a pull-down ironing board in a cupboard. A version of this is made today — its convenience is making it popular even now.

An early version of this rotary dial phone came out around 1919. This particular style was introduced around 1937 but in 1941 a shortage of war materials meant that the phones had to be made of hard plastic.

And I remember these, as my father had them in his pediatric office. For quite a long time. Also, we had one in our apartment when I was young.

This is a World War II combat phonograph record player. Can you even imagine?

Other than the arm for the needle, it was quite like a little record player we had when I was a preteen. It came in a case just like that, only a different color.

This bathing suit was well before the 1940s, but I thought it was fun.

 What comes up for you when you see these photos? Comments welcomed below.

If you haven’t visited my business, A Healing Spirit, to see the lovely, supportive products and services I provide for those fighting a big disease or coping with grief, I hope you’ll do so.












34 comments on “1940s life recreated
  1. Toni McCloe says:

    Love the pictures and the commentary. I too had a record player like that. It was the very first thing I bought for myself when I was young.

  2. That is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! I love the thought of feeling like I’ve been transported back in time.

  3. Diane says:

    This was my Mom and Dad’s era. When they were courting and getting married. It is my FAVOURITE era! All the new inventions and conveniences! Everything was just so . . . exciting!

  4. Jennifer says:

    I have some of the letters that my Father received while he was serving in the Pacific during WWII. I remember one letter in particular from my Aunt was talking about how they were waiting for approval to buy an ice box and in the meantime they were keeping everything cold on the porch. Luckily, it was winter…..but what exactly did they do during the summer without an icebox?

  5. Ellen Dolgen says:

    How fun! Love the bathing suit! These photos make me think of my Grandmother.

  6. Susan cooper says:

    My favorite is the stove – I remember that my grandmother had one just like that. It brought back some great memories.

  7. I’ve always loved Fiesta Ware! It’s so colorful! What a fun idea for a festival!

  8. Gingermommy says:

    What a neat idea for a festival. Love the car at the top there. The stove also looks really really cool, it brought back some really amazing memories.

  9. OMG. So many memories. My mom loved Fiestaware but couldn’t afford it. Our dishes came from the gas station. You would get a free one with every fill up! The phone is the exact phone we had as kids. And my mother-in-law had that phone that she was still RENTING from the phone company when we moved her out of her house! Wow, this was a peachy keen post, Carol. Loved it!

  10. Eloise says:

    loving this! I would like my kids to see some of this so they can see what it was like and how good they have it now with all the gadgets and stuff (or maybe back then it was better? a more peaceful way of life where technology didn’t take over quality time… hmmm ‘ups and downs to all things!) But anyway, I would like to have my kids experience this!

  11. Joely Smith says:

    I adore all things from the 40’s!! The cars, the fashion, the decor! Beautiful! Now, I am not saying I could go back and live in the 40’s lol but I love incorporating some of the 40’s items in my life. Great event so glad you got to be a part of it!

  12. Oh My Goodness, I am in love with that kitchen stove. This sounds like an amazing visit and a trip back in time.

  13. I can’t believe how much of that is familiar to me. My mom and dad were born in the 30’s and they collected antiques before my father died. We had an icebox like that and I still have a couple of those old irons sitting on our fireplace. Mom has a beautiful collection of Fiestaware that resides above our kitchen cabinets. They’re so colorful and pretty.

  14. Dogvills says:

    I love all these photos. My grandma had a similar phonograph. I wish I had asked for it when she passed.

  15. ricci says:

    What a cool post!! I would have loved to “visit” the 1940’s!! I love all the cars and the houses in your photos. This is so cool!!

  16. How amazing! I have always been enamored with anything vintage, so something like this is totally up my alley. 🙂

  17. Czjai says:

    Cool! I like how the rooms were recreated, complete with gadgets from the 40’s! It’s like Back to the Future in real life, haha!

  18. Scott says:

    That is the coolest festival ever! It reminds my of my grandfather’s house – everything looks the same!

  19. How neat is this?! I hope there were a lot of young people checking this out. This is the kind of stuff they need to see to help them be even more appreciative of their parents and grandparents!

  20. Julie Syl says:

    Really amazing creation from 1940. I miss all this historic and awesome creation. Reminds me of my childhood.

  21. Wow! Everything is so gorgeous! Thanks for capturing your visit and sharing it. I would love to see this in person.

  22. I love the look of the 1940s kitchen! I love looking at vintage things.

  23. My grandmother still has a lot of this stuff in her house. I grew up with a real cast iron – iron. I would love to go to this festival. I love walking through history.

  24. I love, love, love to see things like this. I am a huge fan of stepping back in history, and living history museums. Everything here looks like something I would love to see with my own two eyes. Thanks for the great pics and commentary.

  25. It’s so cute. I know everything is so advanced and chrome now but I love the vintage kitchen. I remember when I watched the movie Fences I loved their older house.

  26. Rosey says:

    Was that a real dog? LOL My mom had an iron like that, just on display. Her toaster (also for display only) was’t like that one, but it was really, old.

  27. This must have been so fun to check out! Visiting another era for a little while must have been neat.

  28. Ronnie says:

    Oh my gosh I want to go, too! Was it only available during the festival or is it a museum? We are travelling to California in 2 months and I am looking for interesting out-of-the-box activities.

  29. Lynndee says:

    It never fails to fascinate me to see stuff from that era. My SIL still has the phone that looks exactly like that – it was our in-laws’ phone.

  30. elizabeth o says:

    What a fascinating look back on time and how it ties in to the present. The ironing board is very popular again and I have one in my laundry room. That old phone is pretty amazing too…

  31. Nostalgia! Many of these things remind me of my maternal grandparents. They had a stove very similar to the one pictured, and I seem to recall the “toaster” as well. I actually like the pull-down ironing board! I wouldn’t mind having something like that NOW! 🙂

  32. My step-mom has a stove just like this and I think it’s amazing. I love vintage appliances and decor, it’s like a time machine for the imagination.

  33. Rebecca Swenor says:

    The 1940’s is when my parents were growing up or at least they were both born during the 1940’s. I love looking at how others lived back than. My aunt has a stove like the one one shown til she died in 1980’s. Thanks for sharing this awesome event

  34. Gabriel Bregg says:

    Always amazing to see how far we’ve come – though I have used a phone exactly like that in my lifetime!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.