Now retro, then, all the rage

June 9, 2015


1950's Kitchen

1950’s Kitchen

Growing up, did your kitchen look like this?

Mine didn’t. but I love it, all of it: the color scheme, the appliances and the retro 1950s vibe.

I once did a kitchen floor in those tiles, but set them on the diagonal. The cabinets resembled these, but were white. I would have loved to have added color, vintage appliances and furniture to make a real retro-style kitchen.

Seeing this photo started me thinking about some of the things that are now gone, but were a common sight in my growing up years.

p348252bI was thinking the other day about my mother and her housecoats. Do you remember these robe-like garments women wore around the house? They were called housecoats, and I’m not sure why they were preferred to bathrobes, but among some women, they were. I never saw my mom in a robe but she had quite a collection of these housecoats. If you can shed some light on the subject, I’d love to hear.

marilyn in vintage pin curlsWhich led me to this photo of pin curls. My mother always “set” her hair in pincurls and then set mine, too.  Do you remember when we “set” our hair?  I ended up with those sausage-like ringlets, but she had a typical 1950s ‘do.  Oh, you want to know how to use pincurls?

buildingPinCurls002I tried this a few years ago and it didn’t turn out so well. I might try it again, though.  Oh, and note the upper right corner, where the hairdresser is acknowledged. “Ernest Your Hairdresser of Detroit.”  Ernest sure can set hair!

Lauren Bacall’s hairdo is the result of pin curls. Supposedly.  This would be a real retro style, today.

laurenbacall40shairstyleHere’s an oldie but goodie:


It’s a rat tail comb and the teeth were made for teasing hair. Big in the 1960s.  I love a good rat tail comb and found some vintage ones in a box the other day.

Speaking of hair do you remember this?  I think this was just a bit before my time, but it made me smile.

eghwergewgewgwegweg11Maybe you don’t remember it. But you may remember something like this:

8323691689_c33e707012_zI remember the distinctive smell of the plastic cap heating up and my scalp getting super-hot.

Here’s one you have to remember:

1z3q978Even as little girls, we wore white gloves, usually to church.  It’s been decades and decades since I’ve seen anyone wear them.

Remember these?

il_fullxfull.318433421Or this one:

address_book_by_browneyedstorm-d57sq87Does anyone use these any longer?

Ok, here’s one for you:

yellow-pages-bookRemember these big, fat Yellow Pages? They were the Google search of our youth.  Well, ours came the other day:

20150529_160613 (1)It’s lost some weight. I can’t imagine anyone using the book today.

Coffee PotHow about percolators? Remember them? This one sat on my mother’s stove for my entire childhood and after. Now, it sits in my office and I get to think of my mother whenever I catch sight of the coffee pot. Does anyone use stovetop percolators any more?

Well, that’s it for my little trek down Memory Lane. How about you? Got anything to add?

41 comments on “Now retro, then, all the rage
  1. Linda Hoye says:

    Great post! Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I have memories of all of these things. Funny, but I was just thinking about those white gloves a couple of weeks ago as I was going through a trunk filled with ephemera from my mom and dad’s lives and came across a few pairs of gloves. I pulled a pair on and was transported back in time much like I was as I read this.

    I do love that retro kitchen too!

  2. Ryder Ziebarth says:

    I had the “icebox” and the kitchen table, except in a sunny yellow. The sunbeam hairdryer in pink, and Mom wore pin culrs, then graduated to pink foam rollers, which she still uses. We had a black dial wall phone phone where we spoke to Agnus, out local operator who called me “honey,” and used to say things like” Want me to dial your grandmother for you?” We had a big white boxy portable back and white TV with antennas that sometimes need tin foil–the TV got 4 channels-5, 7, 4, 2 and 13. So many fun things that jog my memory right now…. fun post, Carol. ( I still use my address book, btw-and *gasp* a rolodex)

  3. Anita Irlen says:

    What a great collection of crazy old stuff! I recognize it all and my family owned a lot of it. The metal address book, the portable hair dryer, so funny now. I think the “housecoat” and the “mumu” were a puritanical way for women to be comfortable at home without revealing “too much.” Our mothers and grandmothers did not run around in yoga pants and crop tops. The housecoat was a safe, ladylike garment. Great, fun post.


  4. pia says:

    Oh Carol I have no time for this today. My kitchen, growing up, was I found out later mid century modern–the original fridge looked like cabinets on the wall. My mother had a desk under it. It was fun to make my friends from out of Jericho guess where the fridge was.

    People from Jericho love the one or two pictures I have on FB of it because it looks like their parents kitchens. Of course when the fridge’s died the whole kitchen had to be remodeled as there were no parts for the cabinet kitchens but…

    So of course I love love love the kitchen you show. The only thing more perfect would be making the fridge that blue and changing the cabinets into a vibrant turquoise or vice versa.

  5. I think of housecoats now and then as I prefer dresses over jeans and other pants and believe the older women who loved housecoats felt the same but casual dresses weren’t an option then. Maybe?

    Percolators? Best coffee ever!

  6. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    I love all the old fashioned stuff that is making a come back. I think it’s so cute.

  7. Michelle R says:

    This post is too coincidental. I’m working on designing my living room and decided I want a few atomic-era mid-century pieces to blend with my other pieces. I was looking at a kidney shaped coffee table, hairpin end tables and some geometric art this morning. I love all that stuff! The atom-like light fixtures and all the wood accents were fantastic. Some of it was before my time, but I remember my grandmother getting her hair set. And my mom had one of those portable hair dryers. As a poor college student, I was given a pink ice box that had lazy-Susan shelves. It was fabulous…except for the whole defrosting thing. I still have and use a rat tail comb – it’s a must for a girl/lady that likes complicated hair styles once in awhile.

  8. Sandy says:

    Oh I remember many of these! My mom always wore a housecoat around the house. 😉 Can you believe they STILL deliver phone books…haha! I guess they are still being used. I just google stuff..LOL!

  9. I remember all of these- from afar, it was a bit too early for me. My childhood was enveloped in the 60s mod-mix. I do remember when micro-waves were first introduced, color television became affordable (with more then 3 channels), panty hose was made available, electric curlers, etc. I also remember when Madison Avenue was plying not only Shampoo and Conditioner but Cream Rinse. You only ‘conditioned’ once or twice a month. I think the Cream Rinse became what we use as conditioner today. You can’t even find cream rinse any more.

  10. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I love this trip down memory lane, Carol. I not only set my hair — I set it in huge orange juice cans all over my head AND THEN SLEPT ON IT. I can’t believe I did that. Every single night.

  11. Krystal says:

    This is great! I remember my grandma in so many of these.

  12. Haralee says:

    I love this Carol! My parents had the stainless steel bread box with matching canister set for flour and sugar all used exactly for what they were designed!
    The house coats or house dresses had pockets and they usually snapped or zipped so they wouldn’t muss the hair because during that time women had their hair done once a week!

  13. Jennifer says:

    Our kitchen didn’t look that nice, but I remember a friend whose did. What a trip down memory lane. Those dresses were in every Mom I saw! Remember pressure cookers? My Mom slept on giant rollers and made me do the same a few years later. It’s a wonder we got any sleep at all.
    Thanks for the fun trip!

  14. Tina says:

    I’m not that a retro person apart from the winged eyeliner thing. That hair dryer looks weird

  15. Shonda says:

    Actually yes! Lol. With the icebox aka “refrigerator” and the washer “machine” you cranked to squeeze out the water, one article at a time. Thanks for taking me on a trip down memory lane.

  16. Janie Emaus says:

    I remember ALL of these things, but I never wore white gloves! Then again, I didn’t go to church, either.

  17. Britney says:

    I remember a lot of these things from my grandmothers!

  18. Beth Havey says:

    Oh, yes. And I still use an address book. But the phone book has really gone away. Even a
    few years ago I used the yellow pages when living in Iowa, but I haven’t in Southern CAL.

    Ah, life–if we are not careful we will wake up some morning and not recognize the world around us.

  19. Paula Schuck says:

    My grandma always had those hard candies in the strawberry wrapper. No matter what, in the house, the car, her purse, they were there.

  20. Ruth Curran says:

    I remember the flour bin with the pull down handle with the metal scoop just big enough to fit a cup. And sugar cubes! Remember those? My grandmother always had them on the table.

    When I was very little and had not figured out how to exercise my will, my mom wrapped my hair in those pink foam curlers with the plastic piece that pulled over the top and snapped shut.

    Thanks for the much needed trip down memory lane!

  21. Carolann says:

    Wow what a trip down memory lane! I love coffee out of those percolators. And that dryer lol yep used it and hated it. It was much fun taking this trip! Brought back some lovely memories!

  22. Pam Sievers says:

    Those big old phone books did double day as a booster seat when we visited my grandparents. I was just wondering the other day what families do instead. Good read – thanks. BTW I love my seersucker housecoat/ duster for the summer. True confessions.

  23. Pam Sievers says:

    Oops – double duty.

  24. Alana says:

    My gosh! If my Mom was home, she was in a housecoat! I remember those rollers, the frig with the round top and the teeny tiny freezer that could barely hold a couple of (metal, of course) ice cube trays and a Swanson TV dinner (remember those?). Peculator coffee, coke in 7 oz green glass bottles? That dryer? yup! Hose with lines down the middle – already out of style but my Mom would wear nothing but. Girdles. Um, belts that held the pad for “that” time of the month? How about flatware with Bakelite handles?

  25. Karen W says:

    I was born in the 70’s and was a girl of the 80’s, but I have always wished I was alive during the 50’s , just so I could have had a part in some of this.
    That said, I remember my mother’s standing hair dryer and sitting under it after my hairwash. These days our hair just dries when it is good and ready to dry. My mom used curlers to set her hair, and she still has her address book. I remember sitting on the phone book to better reach the table. We live in a rural area now and our phone book is a tad smaller than the city’s phone books I remember. I have special memories of watching my parents’ percolator.

  26. You brought back some great memories, Carol. I remember all of these. Only our kitchen wasn’t quite so spruced up. The ‘lino’ was always lifting at the edges. And what about ice-boxes delivered by horse and cart? Maybe you don’t go back that far.

  27. Jhoveleen says:

    I don’t know if it’s weird, but I am still using that stovetop percolators up to now when I drink my coffee.

  28. Jennifer says:

    Such a wild flashback! Thanks for sharing the inspiration with us on #stylefocus Carol!

  29. Suzanne says:

    I loved this post. So many memories! My Mom still wears a version of that housecoat. My father had a joke for years and years how he wanted to do nothing more than burn my Mom’s housecoat. LOL


  30. Patricia Schultz says:

    what I am looking for cam out in the 1960 –I need a rat tail comb-where can I find one

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