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A visual remix of the American Dream as pictured in Mid Century Media
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     Miss Rheingold ad1948 Quinlan

    When it came to elections in N.Y. nothing beat the hotly debated contest for the title of Miss Rheingold. Pat Quinlan Miss Rheingold 1948

     

    Once upon a time, the selection of the annual “Miss Rheingold” was as highly anticipated in N.Y. as the race for the White House.

    For some mid-century misses the title of Miss America was the American Dream.

    But in 1948, for N.Y.C born and bred Angie O’ Riley, it paled next to the most coveted title of all- Miss Rheingold.

    During the heyday of the popular contest, a clever marketing ploy which ran from 1941 to 1964 – a time when every third beer hoisted in NY was a Rheingold – the pictures of 6 smiling beauty contestants  were displayed everywhere  from bars, delis, restaurants to  billboards and ads.

    Vintage Rheingold Beer ad . Miss Rheingold Pat Quinlan 1948

    Vintage Rheingold Beer ad . Miss Rheingold Pat Quinlan 1948

    “Yes, in a town full of pretty girls there’s only one Miss Rheingold,” the omnipresent radio ads would blare. “She’s a NY tradition that can’t be matched.”

    My Beer Is Rheingold the Dry Beer…

    vintage illustration men at bar

    Over the sound of the jukebox playing and the whirring of the oscillating fan overhead, animated conversation at the bar ran hot, heavy and long through the night.
    Vintage illustration from 1947 advertisement Mt Vernon Whiskey

    Rheingold beer ran through the O’Riley blood…literally.

    Angie’s father Tom ran O’Rileys Bar and Grill in Queens, N.Y. For over 40 years the dimly lit tavern on Jackson Avenue stood right next door to my grandfathers pawn shop Edelstein Pawnbrokers. The smell of beer wafted next door, permanently permeating the pawnshop with its rich yeasty odor, so it was not unusual for a patron flush with cash from just having hocked a Timex watch or an Emerson table top radio to drop in at O’ Rileys for a tall glass or two of Rheingolds and stay through the night.

    In the humid summer of 1948, a frosty glass of pale beer for 15 cents was the perfect way to cool down from the heat.

    vintage illustration man holding alcohol

    Over the sound of the jukebox playing and the whirring oscillating fan overhead, animated conversation at the bar ran hot, heavy and long through the night. When the barflys were finished debating the batting prowess of Stan Musial vs Ted Williams, snickering over the findings of the Kinsey Report, smirking over first sightings of  something called a bikini that made its inaugural appearance  on the beaches that summer, and  grousing about the inability to get a good ol’ American beefsteak because of the darn meat shortage, the high-spirited conversation turned to the elections.

    Elections

    Harry Truman thomas Dewey Life magazine covers

    The power and impact of the Miss Rheingold election is hard to comprehend. In 1948 2,510,706 votes were cast in NYC in the Truman/ Dewey Presidential election; over 3 million votes were cast to elect Miss Rheingold that same year.
    Truman and Dewey combined spent about $400,000 on paid advertising in the NY area, they were outspent by Rheingold which put close to $4 million behind the election of Miss Rheingold.
    Vintage 1948 Life Magazine covers (L) President Harry Truman wins election (R) Republican candidate Thomas Dewey

    By late July the presidential campaigns had begun, at least as far as President Harry Truman was concerned.

    The Republicans candidate Governor Thomas Dewey behaving more like an incumbent than a member of a party out of office for 16 years wouldn’t  even begin campaigning until mid September. No matter. It was all a big yawn. Everyone agreed it sure looked like the 48 states were going to ditch Truman and take Dewey.

    If the 1948 presidential campaign seemed to have less fireworks than usual it was because Dewey seemed to have known all along that he would win. Besides which, the presidential elections were anti-climactic compared to the one election that really mattered to the men on Jackson Ave.

    Inevitably the conversation at the bar turned to the more lively contest-  the upcoming Miss Rheingold.  In the next few weeks the finalists would be chosen and the race would begin.

    When it came to elections in N.Y. nothing beat the hotly debated contest for Miss Rheingold.

    Beer Mugs

    Beer Rheingold Which girl 52

    At the height of the campaign there were 35,000 boxes displayed at the end of aisles, atop crates of Rheingold beer and on bar tops. The contest was the creation of Philip Liebmann a member of the family that had owned the Rheingold brewery in Bushwick since 1855

    Like most bars in town, O’ Rileys was one of the thousands of taverns where ballots could be cast for the coveted title. Perched precariously on top of the Wurlitzer jukebox, were the big Miss Rheingold ballot boxes that Tom displayed every year.

    The smiling faces of the 6 hopefuls grinned optimistically at the appreciative customers in the dimly lit bar, the countenance of each contestant lit by the glow from the neon lit jukebox. Until the election closed in September, the booze hounds would have loud debates about the eyes, the hair, and the smiles of each contestant.

    But on one thing they all agreed. Toms daughter Angie was as pretty as any Miss Rheingold.

    The Miss Rheingold contest was more carefree than Miss America. With no talent segment to boost her appeal, Miss Rheingold had only to smile prettily and show her oomph in a lovely cashmere sweater set. And Angie sure had oomph!

    The consensus at O’ Rily’s was clear- this was the  year that Angie should compete.

    Once in Love With Angie

    vintage woman

    Men-unless they had rocks in their heads- liked Angie!
    Vintage image from Lustre Creme Shampoo advertisement

    Born in Sicily and raised in Bushwick not far from where Rheingold was brewed, Angie O Riley long had her heart set on one day becoming a Miss Rheingold herself.

    With her Mom’s smoldering Sicilian eyes,  raven black hair, and warm olive skin she was as exotic as a hot-house orchid. Modeling jobs at the local department store gave her a stamp of approval which she hardly needed. A wildly popular song that year was “Once in Love with Amy” from the Broadway  show “Where’s Charley” sung by Ray Bolger.

    It didn’t take long before my grandfather and the other men on Jackson Ave. put their own spin on it. Off key  choruses of “Once in Love with Angie …Always in Love With Angie!” could be heard coming out of O’Rileys Pub till the wee hours.

    Men liked Angie.

    My grandfather, clearly besotted, would wax on about Angie: “She was in a class with South Pacific, the Notre Dame team and swank convertibles. She was tall and slim with deep brown eyes and when she smiled- that’s all brother!”

    Yes, men -unless they had rocks in their heads- liked Angie!

    So in 1948, she decided to enter the contest.  Everyone in the  neighborhood  agreed,  “Tom’s daughter was a shoe-in….. just like Dewey!”

    Toast of the Town

    beer ads Miss Rheingold 1951

    The winning Miss Rheingold would receive up to $50,000 in cash plus a travel and wardrobe expense account, The winning candidate receives a contract from Rheingold according to which she is to appear in Rheingold ads and to be available for public appearances and receives $50,000 in cash and wardrobe estimated to be worth another $25,000
    Vintage Rheingold Beer ads 1951 featuring Elise Gammon Miss Rheingold 1951

    Each year in the dog days of August, thousands of women- all registered models, gathered at the swanky Waldorf Astoria Hotel in N.Y.C. for the preliminary judging of the Miss Rheingold contest.

    As every New Yorker and barfly  knew, the field was narrowed to 6 candidates whose faces would adorn ballots throughout the NY area.

    Angie could hardly sleep the night before the big audition. Not only was it a major event covered in local newspapers but the finalists were interviewed on radio by Arthur Godfrey  himself.

    Vintage Beer ad Miss Rheingold 1950

    Vintage Rheingold Beer ad. Miss Rheingold 1950 Pat Burrage

    Besides the prestige, there were plenty of prizes too. Last year’s Miss Rheingold had averaged over $100 per week during her reign as a result of gifts, personal appearances, talks, and radio and TV spots. And Hollywood was sure to come calling.

    Carefully dressed in a sky blue dress with matching sky blue pumps,  white purse and white gloves  that offset her warm olive skin, Angie had the look of fashion and of news…from the bag she carried to the angle of her hat, the rightness of her gloves and shoes.

    “Give em’ hell Angie,” the boys in the bar shouted out to her as she left to take the subway into Manhattan. After a  final dusting on her nose with Angel Face Powder, Angie smiled. Angie would oblige.

    The Waldorf Astoria

    beer ad Miss Rheingold 1951


    The young women would appear at the Waldorf Astoria ballroom before a panel of celebrity judges that over the years included Tony Randall, Joan Fontaine, Casey Stengal, Rosalind Russell and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The celebrity judges, columnists and ad men chose the 6 initial finalists and the lucky 6 would compete in a 6 week campaign. Many Miss Rheingolds contestants went on to be stars by themselves. Tippi Hedrren was a runner-up one year as was Mary Ann Mobley, while Hope Lange was a finalist.
    Vintage Rheingold Beer ads 1951 featuring Elise Gammon Miss Rheingold 1951

    Confident, she strode into the razzle dazzle of the Waldorf where a sea of 3,000 other pretty girls between the ages of 18 and 29 milled around. As the loot and the publicity grew, the battle to be Miss Rheingold had become more intense. Like a presidential convention hall, the hotel ballroom resembled a circus tent, hot, sweaty, and crowded.

    At times everyone seemed to be moving at once, contenders trying to make a deal, hunting for a Coke or an aspirin tablet. Over this frantic milling there were newsmen darting around, the newsreel lights beat down like the noonday sun and the photographers bulbs made quick flashes of lightning.

    Angie smiled for the cameras. With her incandescent smile, artfully framed by full  lips colored with Max Factor Hollywood Red she was seductive. Slithering through the hall, her skirt swinging in rhythm with her glittering St Agnes of Rome patron Saint medal bouncing seductively on her virginal Annette Funicello like bosom she was sizzling. Buoyant with the winning confidence of a Tom Dewey, she expected to be the “femme fatale”as usual,

    Blondes, Beauty and Beer

    beer rheingold crSWScan05889

    “How does it feel to be the most popular girl in a town that’s loaded with talent?” asks this ad for Rheingold Beer featuring lovely blonde Elise Gammon newly Elected Miss Rheingold 1951

    But in a sea of saucy blue-eyed blondes this swarthy Italian stunner stood out like a patch of crabgrass in a manicured suburban lawn. Girls with virtuous winks, dazzling Doris Day smiles outlined in Flame Glo heavenly pink lipstick that were a perfect match for their  perfectly pale complexion, girls who were the envy of every girl in high school, the chaste blue-eyed blonde angelic Halo-hair perfect models.

    Beer Miss Rheingold 1948

    Vintage Rheingold Beer ad . Pat Quinlan Miss Rheingold 1948

    Judged on wholesomeness and personality, Miss Rheingold was the epitome of the girl next door. The background of the beauties were always 100% All American…. that is as long as you were White, Protestant and Anglo Saxon. In 1948, Sicilian born Angie O’ Riley didn’t stand a chance.

    Like Dewey, her defeat should not have been unexpected.

    Keep America Beautiful

    Vintage ad Miss Beer Rheingold

    The great American melting pot that was New York had not spoiled over into the antiseptically clean and white Miss Rheingold ads that regularly featured fair blue-eyed blondes.
    Vintage Rheingold Beer ads 1951 featuring Elise Gammon Miss Rheingold 1951

    In the great cultural cauldron of mid-century America there was only one ingredient to being an American beauty- fair and preferably blue-eyed blonde Despite our great democracy the pop culture landscape of mid-century America was populated by one type of American beauty. The great American melting pot that was New York  had not spilled over into the antiseptically clean and white Miss Rheingold ads.

    In a consumer culture filled with a garish abundance of choices, the choices were pretty black and white

    1940s illustration woman at easel

    For over 20 years the Miss Rheingold  ads were nearly identical-young, blonde and blue-eyed.
    By 1965 The NY Times asked: “How does a white, blonde haired, blue-eyed Miss Rheingold sell Rheingold beer to Negroes? Or Puerto Ricans? Or to Italians, Greeks, Chinese or to the Irish for that matter?” Times would be changing.
    Vintage beer Ad Schlitz 1943

    Back home on Jackson Avenue while Dick Haymes crooned “Little White Lies” on the Wurlitzer, the vanquished would-be beauty queen drowned her sorrows in a glass of beer. Just for the night and just this once, there would be no Rheingold served – Tom bitterly poured Angie  a glass of Schlitz the beer that made Milwaukee famous.

    Post script

    After the audition, Angie commiserated with another pretty girl who sadly didn’t make it to the finals either. Despite the fact that this lovely 19-year-old girl from Philadelphia whose name was   Grace Kelley and was every bit as pretty as the sea of blue-eyed blondes,  she was unceremoniously sent home from that year’s contest for being “too thin.”

    I never knew what happened to Angie O’ Riley but I hear Grace Kelly filled out quite nicely and luckily found work.

     

    © Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



    Vintage Beer Ad Miss Rheingold 1948sallyedelstein Miss Rheingold ad1948 QuinlanVintage Rheingold Beer ad . Miss Rheingold Pat Quinlan 1948Vintage Barvintage illustration man holding alcoholThe Truman/ Dewey Presidential race 1948Beer Rheingold Which girl 52Once in Love With AngieVintage Rheingold Beer ads 1951 featuring Elise Gammon Miss Rheingold 1951Vintage Beer ad Miss Rheingold 1950Vintage Rheingold Beer ads 1951 featuring Elise Gammon Miss Rheingold 1951beer rheingold crSWScan05889Beer Miss Rheingold 1948 Vintage Rheingold Beer ads 1951 featuring Elise Gammon Miss Rheingold 1951Nop BitternessVintage Beer Ad Miss Rheingold 1948sallyedelstein Miss Rheingold ad1948 QuinlanVintage Rheingold Beer ad . Miss Rheingold Pat Quinlan 1948Vintage Barvintage illustration man holding alcoholThe Truman/ Dewey Presidential race 1948Beer Rheingold Which girl 52Once in Love With AngieVintage Rheingold Beer ads 1951 featuring Elise Gammon Miss Rheingold 1951Vintage Beer ad Miss Rheingold 1950Vintage Rheingold Beer ads 1951 featuring Elise Gammon Miss Rheingold 1951beer rheingold crSWScan05889Beer Miss Rheingold 1948 Vintage Rheingold Beer ads 1951 featuring Elise Gammon Miss Rheingold 1951Nop Bitterness

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    JFK Bathing Suit

    JFK in the swim. Photo by Bill Beebe/Los Angeles Times Archives?UCLA

    A Favorite From the Vault

    The sizzling summer of 1960 was dominated by the equally hot Presidential race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

    Earlier in the summer Kennedy had boldly beckoned us to hitch our wagon to his train and be pioneers in a New Frontier. After the seemingly stillness of the Eisenhower years, Americans were anxious to get moving again.

    The  Presidential race – a spectacle of pure showmanship filled with hoopla and chutzpah, showboating and glad handling – paled in comparison to my grandmother’s beach club, itself crawling with glitter and glamor.

    Beach Club Ballyhoo

    summer woman at beach

    Vintage ad Avon 1962

    In the years before I went to day camp, my days were spent at The El Flamingo Beach Club on Long Island NY.

    The entire day was a step up and in to the good life, living proof that the American Dream was alive and well in mid-century America.

    It was a world where your every need seemed to be anticipated and taken care of.

    Immediately upon arrival at the club, handsome valets with exotic name like Silvio and Lorenzo sporting  hi-rise pompadours lovingly lavished with Vitalis, would briskly park your car.

    Not far behind, eager-to-please cabana boys with Big Man on Campus crew cuts and smiles, would rush to set up your chairs and umbrellas, later to appear at your beck and call to fetch you another ice tea or diet cottage cheese plate.

    Vintage illustration couple on beach being served drinks 1950s

    It was a rarefied world where the open skies at the beach always seemed Kodacolor perfect, not a mushroom cloud or the nose of a submarine on the horizon.

    Like the other Beach Clubs that dotted the narrow spit of Long island, the club was always overrun with sun worshiping, jewelry glittering, deeply tanned women, their middle-aged matronly bodies newly trim from a week at the milk farm pummeled and pounded by a host of masseurs,  squeezed into this seasons-must-have figure flattering swimsuit.

    They teetered and tottered about on perilously high raffia straw wedgies slides, sun-loving fun-loving play shoes studded with colorful sea shells or a gay spray of red plastic posies to brighten their footsteps, a cold Pepsi in one well manicured hand and a glowing Kool in the other.

    summer beachclub jfk for president button

    High Hopes

    The scents and sounds of that summer would sizzle together creating the perfect summer cocktail.

    Offsetting  the slightly musty earthy dampness of the cabanas, was the tropical smell of Sea and Ski blending seamlessly with the bracing briny sea air already choked  with the roasted woodsy leathery smell of cigar smoke, pungent chlorine, and the greasy snack bar burgers and fries, making  my eyes tear and my mouth water .

    While mindlessly singing along to a Rheingold commercial playing on a Zenith portable radio “my beer is Rheingold the dry beer” a new upbeat commercial came over the radio as high-apple-pie-in-the-sky-high-hopeful as any beer ad jingle.

    It even caught my Mothers ear when she recognized that unmistakable voice of  Swoonatra, Ol’ Blue Eyes himself belting out a swingin’ campaign jingle for JFK.

    With unadulterated optimism dripping from every note, a swaggering  Frank Sinatra plugged his pal with special lyrics sung to the hit song “High Hopes:”

    Everyone wants to back….Jack

    Jack is on the right track

    Cause he’s got high hopes/he’s got high hopes

    Nineteen Sixty’s the year for his high hopes.

    Come on and vote for Kennedy

    Keep America strong!

    vintage illustration 1950s couple on beach and old JFK campaign button

    Come Alive You’re in the Pepsi Generation

    The grinning cabana boys had an extra glow of enthusiasm about them that summer-their beaming faces echoing JFK’s own confidently smiling countenance blazoned on the flashy campaign buttons they proudly sported on their white polo shirts.

    K–E–Double N–D–Y with his jet propelled, as-fine-tuned-as-a sporty-Corvette campaign machine, had just snared the democratic presidential nomination despite his being dismissed as more poseur than performer, and despite the “Catholic Issue.”

    For these college boys, stylish JFK had the fresh air of progress.

    His energy as effervescent as a bottle of Pepsi, his  sleek, fresh, follow me flare had  the mark of tomorrow stamped all over him.

    Excerpt from Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear Family Copyright (©) 20016 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved
    © Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



    Summer of 1960 Beach ClubsallyedelsteinJFK Bathing Suitsummer woman at beachvintage ad Canada Dry Beverages 1950ssummer beachclub jfk for president button(l) Vintage Ad Pepsi 1954 (R) vintage campaign button Youth for Kennedy 1960Summer of 1960 Beach ClubsallyedelsteinJFK Bathing Suitsummer woman at beachvintage ad Canada Dry Beverages 1950ssummer beachclub jfk for president button(l) Vintage Ad Pepsi 1954 (R) vintage campaign button Youth for Kennedy 1960

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  • 12/19/16--05:00: Defrosting the Cold War
  • collage cold war vintage appropriated images

    “Defrosting the Cold War” collage by Sally Edelstein

    Is the Cold War coming out of the deep freeze?

    Having caught a Cold War chill I never could quite shake, the current frosty relations between President Obama and Russia’s Vladimir Putin send a shiver down my spine, as childhood memories of the Cold War are quickly defrosted.

    The deepening mistrust and accusations of lying between the US and Russia feels like deja vu all over again.

    During the Cold War, Uncle Sam was certain that the Soviets were not only concealing the truth but waging a campaign of hatred against us and our peaceful motives and quickly embarked on his own campaign to dispel the evil lies and promote the American Way of life.

    The American media was more than happy to oblige and lend a hand in propagating the facts.

    Cold War anti communist propaganda

    (L) Freedom Foundation Ad 1961 “Freedom Foundation was founded in 1949 to help maintain the American way and pass it on intact to each generation. You can strike an effective blow against Communism by joining Freedom Foundations For Americanism program”
    (R) How Communists Implement the Party Line illustration from “What is Communism” edited by Richard Ketchum 1955

    “The poor people behind the iron curtain,” Americans were warned in public service ads, “have seen such political wickedness and cold-blooded betrayal, such Godless depravity in government that they find it harder to believe in our own good intentions.”

    “To destroy human liberty and to control the world the communists use every conceivable weapon subversion, bribery corruption, even…  military attack!

    “Of all these, the ad said sternly, “none is more insidious than propaganda!”

    Crusade For Freedom

    communism radio free europe ad schoolbook illustration

    (L) Vintage Radio Free Europe Ad 1950’s (R) vintage children’s school book illustration from ” Working Together” by Alta McIntire & Wilhelmina Hill 1954

    Counter attacking these malicious falsehood and spreading the American Way of Life were the Cold War crusaders of truth from  “The Crusade for Freedom” the privately funded donation drive that raised “truth dollars” to support Radio Free Europe.

    The radio station broadcast news and current affairs to the enslaved people behind the Iron Curtain, broadcasting  over 29 transmitters to reach Poles, Czechoslovakia, Hungarians, Romanians and Bulgarians.

    Supported by the voluntary cooperative action of millions of Americans who were, the RFE declared, “engaged in this fight of good versus evil.”

    “Truth Dollars,” they explained in one of their many ads,”send words of truth and hope to 70 million freedom loving people behind the Iron curtain.”

    “This powerful privately operated organization continually challenge the barrage of Communist misstatements and false truth,” they continued proudly. “RFE is constantly on the offensive against the Red campaign to annihilate right, reason and national pride.”

    By both promoting the American way of Life and exposing the calculated lies that Communists were spreading every hour, every day through Soviet controlled broadcast and newspaper Radio Free Europe became a vital strategy in winning the Cold War.

    Cold War Crusaders of Truth

    commmunism RFE vintage illustration family picnic

    (L) Vintage American Legion Magazine Aug. 1948 featuring helpful article “The Way You can Fight Communism” (R) Vintage Radio Free Europe Poster Crusade For Freedom 1950’s

    For my very first July Fourth in 1956, I would get to hear the cold war truth from them directly.

    All across Long island, residents were a buzz over the fact that our towns July 4th parade was being co-sponsored  by those Cold war crusaders of truth from “The Crusade For Freedom.”  The highlight of the day was the much-anticipated rally that would follow.

    A heavy fog had blanketed out town that Independence Day but did not put a damper on the festivities.

    As my family and I waited for the speeches to begin, we squeezed in between other newly transplanted families. Indistinguishable from one another but for the different fun to wear easy to care California inspired geometric patterns on their Robert hall no iron Dacron clothes, the wives were a chatty gaggle of amber waves of trouble-free Toni home permanents that had not unfurled in the humidity.

    Their you-don’t- know-how -lucky- you-are-to-live-in-the country-children, romped in the fog that hovered over them. A colorful bunch of boisterous backyard buckaroos with  cap firing pistols and sputtering sparklers, their purple lick-em- ade stained tongues and lips stood in contrast to their little bodies dotted with pink splotches of dried calamine lotion, that would be the only hint of pink in this all American crowd.

    Freedom Needs You

    The fog like a veil of secrecy swirled around the large glistening “Freedom Bell” proudly on display near the Legion Halls flag pole. On loan from The Crusade for Freedom, the bell was authentic in every detail and was cast at a foundry very near the original Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

    american patriotism Public Service Ad 1951 Now Freedom needs You!

    A public Service Ad by The Advertising Council 1951 “How would you like to roll out of bed some dark morning and have a big palooka tell you where you’re going to work that week, what your wife’s going to wear, and what your kids have to do?” That’s life under Communism which is lurking right around the corner, if we don’t take care of our freedoms, the ad warns the reader.

    On the draped podium the featured speaker for the Crusade rose to speak.

    A trim, plain-spoken man with protruding, tobacco stained teeth, a regular yankee doodle dandy in a Panama hat and Hawaiian shirt, he methodically fired up a king sized Old Gold cigarette before he spoke, licked his dry, sun parched lips, and briskly smoothed down his army regulation brush cut hair.

    “We must make the greatest possible contribution to the defense of our way of life, the American way of life. Freedom …can live only where there is access to the truth,” he began clearly and confidently.

    “Communists,” he stated gravely, “teach that America is a vicious enemy of humanity.”

    “This slander against our noble purposes, is one example of the campaign of hatred that is being waged against America and freedom around the globe,” he went on his anger clearly rising.”

    “We face not only ruthless men but lies and misconceptions intended to rob us of our faith within and of our friends throughout the world. “

    “Millions of people will hear no other version but a hissing, hating tirade against America!” he said clearly outraged. “We think it is incredible that such poison be swallowed!”

    The crowd burst into spontaneous applause.

    Vintage Radio Free Europe Ad

    Vintage Ad to Support Radio Free Europe and their Truth Dollars Campaign 1951

    “How do Truth Dollars fight Communism you ask? ” Anticipating the question on everyone’s mind, he answered.

    Breaking into a lopsided grin he continued, “By exposing Red lies…revealing news suppressed by Moscow and by unmasking Communist collaborators. The broadcasts are by exiles in the native tongues of the people to whom they are beamed.”

    Squinting against the bright afternoon sun that broke through the fog, the speaker mopped the sweat from his brow, took a long pull on an ice-cold Coke and searched for familiar faces.

    “Radio Free Europe has pierced the iron curtain with truth, answers the lies of the Kremlin and brings messages of hope, but it needs your help. ……. This is your chance to play a personal part to resist Communist aggression…..”

    communism "Childrens Crusade Against Communism" trading Cards

    “Children’s Crusade Against Communism” trading Cards, published by the Bowman Gum Company who also published baseball cards 1951

    “Powerful Communist radio stations,” he said pointing his jaw at us contemptuously, “incessantly tell the world that we Americans are physically soft and mentally corrupt that we are disunited and confused that we are selfish and cowardly that we have nothing to offer the world but imperialism and exploitation.”

    Mopping the copious sweat from his brow, he continued: “Weaving a fantastic pattern of lies and twisted facts they confound the listener into believing that we are war mongers and that the secret police and slave camps of Communism offer brighter hope for the future than do self-government and free enterprise…”

    communism america propaganda

    (l) Vintage Tide ad 1949 (R) Classic Cold War Comic Book 1947 “Is This Tomorrow? America under Communism” a 48 page cautionary tale of how EZ it would be for Communists to take over the US. It was published “”To make you more alert to the menace of Communism.”

    As he spoke, volunteer crusaders were circulating around the crowd collecting donations.

    A pretty, trim woman with curly strawberry blonde hair and fashionable Mamie Eisenhower bangs, her heart-shaped face aglow with dewy fresh dimples, approached us: “Give truth dollars and get in the fight,” she said with pure sugar-coated goodness.

    Her creamy, Jergen’s- soft- hands gripped the “Truth Dollars” collection can tightly as her arm extended in Dads direction. “Every dollar buys 100 words of truth. That’s how hard ‘Truth Dollars’ work. Your dollar will help 70 million people resist the Kremlin!”

    The collection cans were calculated to resemble the ubiquitous March of Dimes canisters, but instead of a heart breaking picture of little girls with steel braces on their legs, pictured was a map showing radio towers with zig zagging radio signals broadcasting across Europe into The Soviet Union.

    And the containers wide opening was calculated to accommodate more than a thin dime. Apparently spreading the truth cost a lot more than curing polio.

    “The poor people trapped behind the iron curtain know nothing except that which their government says they should know” the woman somberly explained to us.

    Speaking directly to my brother and me the lady leaned in close.

    Her snowy white  Clorox clean clothes were as sweet and honest- to –goodness- fresh smelling as her minty fresh no-tell- tale mouth breath as she continued: “The communists are weaving fantastic stories and twisted facts about America, unlike in our country where our government tells us the truth.”

    American Soviet Propaganda Uncle sam

    L) Vintage Book The Soviet Image of the United States A Study in Distortion by Frederick C. Barghoorn Co. 1950 Harcourt, Brace & Company
    The book claims that “Soviet propaganda against the United States is one of the main instruments of the Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy Moscow, building the worlds greatest war machine, is seeking to turn world opinion against the US by accusing America of crimes against humanity of which itself is guilty.”

    Sidling up to us was another faithful crusader, a clean-cut, level eyed, forthright and fact- filled  champion of truth who nodded in agreement,  “Truth as clear and undistorted as the perfect picture you were promised on your new RCA television set”.

    True picture, no blur no distortion that was the American way

    The wind picked up and the fog slowly lifted as a cold front moved in. Dad placed a hand over his heart as he looked up towards the bunting draped American Legion Post.

    With a gleam in his eye, he gently placed my own little hand over my heart.

    I would promise to preserve and protect The American Way of Life taking an oath of loyalty to adhere to the directives from a contingent of Generals- General Mills, General Electric and five-star billion dollar grossing General Motors.

    My own military industrial complex.

    The Truth, The whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth..

    Keep Your Fingers Crossed" Collage by Sally Edelstein

    “Keep Your Fingers Crossed” Collage by Sally Edelstein

    After finishing his hot dog, dad fished in his pocket for his wallet.  Putting the crumpled bills in my little hand I deposited the money in the donation cans.

    We would fight the big lie with the big truth

    Of course the truth of  Radio Free Europe being a CIA funded front was something we kept behind our own Made-in the USA curtains for over 20 years.

    © Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



    Sally Edelstein collage cold warsallyedelsteinCold war propagandaThe USA a Good Place to LiveCold War Crusade Against CommunismPublic Service Ad 1951 Now Freedom needs You!How to Fight Communism Support Radio Free EuropeSally Edelstein collage cold warsallyedelsteinCold war propagandaThe USA a Good Place to LiveCold War Crusade Against CommunismPublic Service Ad 1951 Now Freedom needs You!How to Fight Communism Support Radio Free Europe"Children's Crusade Against Communism" trading CardsSave America from CommunismFlag Waving"Keep Your Fingers Crossed" Collage by Sally Edelstein

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    babys pregnancy stork illustration

    Who’s Afraid of the Stork? asks this 1951 vintage ad for Lederle a Division of American Cyanamid Company. “The stork is now as tame as a household pet,” it boasts, explaining how safe childbirth has become thanks to new drugs.

    Like today, a mid-century gal’s maternity cares were best placed in the hands of knowledgeable men. When it came to birthin’ babies,  a testosterone driven doctor and his pharmaceutical pals knew best.

    In the cold war world of convenience, the idea of painful natural childbirth was a thing of the past.

    When it came time for my own March 28th birth, my mid-century Mother  like millions of other pregnant gals, would never have dreamed of giving birth without the help of pain-eliminating, memory erasing -miracle drugs.

    art collage retro illustration baby being born

    The American Way of Birth- (L) collage by Sally Edelstein (R) illustration of a baby’s birth from the pamphlet “The Story About You” 1966 American Medical Association

    Every lady-in-waiting circa 1955 knew that they would have an easier time than other mothers before them. Having a baby in that push-button- age of jet propulsion was a snap! No Fuss No Muss! “This is going to be fun” – the baby experts cheered. “As of now, the whole business of having babies was taking on an exhilarating new atmosphere.”

    A simple, take-it easy atmosphere; a modern atmosphere.

    But Birthin’ Babies was serious business and my mother Betty made sure she was prepared for “Operation-Baby.”

    If ever there was a time for optimism it was now.

    The days of painful deliveries were as old as yesterday’s horse and buggy. Modern childbirth was a miracle of conveniences. This was the modern atomic age and the idea of an agonizing delivery was blown to smithereens.

    Though there was some talk about “natural childbirth” promoted by French physician Dr Ferdinand Lamaze, for most gals that was a foreign concept. “The patient,” reasonable American doctors were quick to point out, “who was interested in ”participating in her own childbirth experience was probably infantile neurotic and downright delusional.”

    A “progressive” neighbor had lent Mom a copy of the book, “Childbirth Without Fear” that explained the benefits of a natural, drug free childbirth. Not for my Mom. “I want my doctor putting me to sleep before I feel my first pain. That’s what I call “without fear” – to know nothing!”

    Vintage Soviet Woman pregant woman illustration

    In post war America, natural childbirth was almost un-American. (L) Vintage Magazine Ladies Home Journal 1948 women and children of Soviet Union (R) Illustration from “The Story About You” 1966 pamphlet by American Medical Association to help in assisting parents of children in grades 4,5,& 6 in explaining sex education

    A Cold War Pregnancy

    Betty considered natural childbirth downright dangerous, primitive and frankly un-American.

    Maybe for some poor unfortunate Soviet woman shackled by communism, who had spent her pregnancy lifting great chunks of rubble and iron, laying bricks, hoisting timbers, swinging picks and sledge hammers who probably had to give birth in a potato field and then head back to her job in the factory, it was okay, but why would anyone go back to those pre-chloroform days?

    The combination of drugs – one to deaden pain, the other an eraser of memory, promised to end the drudgery of childbirth. It was half the effort half the time.

    “Designed for ease of living, it was a leisure giving convenience.”

    But whose ease, whose convenience? Golf- enthusiast obstetricians welcomed it because it gave them more control over the screaming, laboring woman, and more control of teeing off on time. Mama has no knowledge of what occurs between the time she is given the injection and several hours later when its effect wears off. “And once you try it, Doctors smiled, “we think you’ll say “How did I ever manage without it?”

    health Drugs Upjohn old ad mother child illustration

    Vintage ad Upjohn for pain-free birth

     Post War Pharmaceuticals

    Since Mom had no memory of my older brothers’ birth, the obstetrician gave her a booklet that described the miracle of birth: It was like magic, she thought-pull a baby out of your hat-presto!

    In successful cases, the patient soon falls into a deep quiet sleep. When the patient wakes up the obstetrician is rewarded by hearing her ask: “Doctor, when am I going to have my baby?” The quickest way I know to prove that the child is already born is to guide the patients hand to her own abdomen. Puzzled she seeks for the familiar mountainous lump; when she finds it gone, the silliest happiest grin steals across her face.

     After all the Doctor reassures her, she is very likely to spend a half a century with her child, and missing the first few hours of their association is a very brief fragment of the whole. For her, the temporary separation from reality at such a time through the boon of safe analgesia and anesthesia, is a welcome goal. Certainly if you tell your teenage daughter 15 years hence that you had her with medicated childbirth, she could not care less!’

    Moments to Remember

    Babies Birth How You Were Born book

    (R) Vintage Book “The Wonderful Story of How You Were Born” 1952 Doubleday by Sidonie Gruenberg illustrations by Hildegarde Woodward(L) Photo of minutes old Baby Life Magazine 1953

     My All American Mom had an all American delivery. Thoroughly up to date, she was thoroughly sedated, and fastidiously prepped for “the operation.”

    Lying flat on her back on the surgical table, they strapped her feet in stirrups to make sure that she wasn’t going anywhere in case she changed her mind, while her wrists were securely tied to the sides of the table to prevent her from touching the sterile drapes when they were applied.

    Naturally she was continually drugged. It was all within the bounds of the Geneva Convention, she was assured.

    My very last meal while still in the womb, the one meant to carry me through my big break out to freedom was a healthy dose of -“I don’t know what I’d do without it – Demerol” and “I don’t remember nuthin’ bout birthin’ no babies – Scopolamine,” the preferred aperitif for the boomer baby.

    And where is Dad in all this?

    My father, like all the other fathers-to-be is nowhere near any of this.

    Togetherness was terminated at the delivery door.

    But unlike most of the other nervous, expectant fathers who were sent to the waiting room to pace and hand out cigars, my father retreated back home and went back to sleep. But that was okay because my mother was sleeping soundly herself.

    Unlike today when a baby’s birth is Instagramed ’round the world, no one but me would remember my birth.

    © Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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    Babies Birth How You Were BornsallyedelsteinWho's Afraid of the Stork Vintage Ad 1951The American Way of BirthA Cold war Pregnancy in the Soviet UnionVintage ad Upjohn Pharmaceuticals 1946Babies Birth How You Were BornsallyedelsteinWho's Afraid of the Stork Vintage Ad 1951The American Way of BirthA Cold war Pregnancy in the Soviet UnionVintage ad Upjohn Pharmaceuticals 1946

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  • 04/10/17--05:00: A Passover Tradition
  • Passover Lipton Soup Mix

    From the Holiday Archive:

    Like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix produced no tears.

    That dehydrated marvel of mid-century cookery was a staple in my Mothers repertoire. Mom joined the legion of happy homemakers who were overjoyed at the development of dehydrated soup cooking.

    Besides being the backbone of the classic California Onion Dip, that pride and joy of every self respectable suburban hostess, my mother prepared her Passover Brisket using that Onion Soup Mix from a recipe supplied by Lipton’s published in Ladies Home Journal and endorsed by the Nassau Community Temple Sisterhood Cookbook.

    Why spend hours peeling, chopping, slicing and dicing and sauteing reducing the onions down to a turn, when Liptons had come to m’lady’s rescue. Add water and voila…. onion stock!

    So it was with modern pride that my Mother prepared her holiday brisket in that E-Z fashion.

    I on the other hand, being just as contemporary, sniff at the notion of using a packet of dried onions, insisting on peeling, chopping, slicing and dicing the real McCoy sauteing them down til they are reduced to a golden hue.

    But the copious onions required for the meal, along with the copious tears it produces, now co-mingle with great tears of sadness at the loss of my Mother.

    photo of Betty Edelstein my Mother

    As I prepare the Seder for which she will never again attend, it is lit by the glow of a yartzeit candle, a shining light of tribute and memory to her passing on this day.

    So it is a day of tears, that even Lipton’s Onion Soup could not help.

    © Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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    Passover Lipton Soup MixsallyedelsteinVintage Lipton Onion Soup Mix and Hagggadah for the American Family 1963photo of Betty Edelstein my MotherPassover Lipton Soup MixsallyedelsteinVintage Lipton Onion Soup Mix and Hagggadah for the American Family 1963photo of Betty Edelstein my Mother

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    Vintage photo WWII Soldier and contemporary family photo of my father

    The Greatest Generation loses one more….

    Memorial day this year takes on a different significance than other years for me.

    This year as the number of WWII veterans continue to dwindle, another former G.I. of the Greatest Generation has recently died.

    My dad.

    Through the years I have shared with you countless stories of my mid-century suburban family many of them featuring my father. Though often tongue in cheek,  they were always from the heart.

    Now I am heartbroken.

    For many Memorial Day posts I fondly recalled my suburban childhood backyard barbecues when my dad would break out the Weber charcoal grill for the first Bar-B-Q of the season. A king size cigarette dangling from his lips, barbecue apron round his regulation Bermuda shorts, Dad’s grease-stained apron with its “Big Daddy” type splashed in lurid colors,  distinguished this ex GI as a commander-in-chief of the barbecue brigade.

    Strategically wielding the Big Boy barbecue tongs my dad was ready for any barbecue maneuver.

    This year the bag of Kingdford Briquettes remain unopened, the dented, metal, grill untouched.

    As I did with my mother, I helped  my 96-year-old father on his final journey. For the past 6 weeks work ceased, emails remained unanswered, and my garden lay fallow, as I tended to something more important and fundamental.

    I understood the symmetry that my parents gave me life and entrusted me with helping in transition towards ending their own, but emotionally the weight bore down on me.

    Barely two weeks ago, that journey ended.

    Befitting a once-upon-a-time-soldier, Dad received a military burial.

    After  the countless stories I have shared with you, it seems only fitting that I share this final tribute that I wrote to my father, Marvin Edelstein.

    My Tribute to My Father – May 15, 2017

    marathon runner 1970s

    An early Marathon runner, my father ran in the NYC Marathon several times. 1979

    My father was a long distance runner and so it is fitting that his life ran as long as it did.

    This lifelong marathon man chose to make his final journey in the same manner. The past two weeks had been a marathon for all of us, my brother Andy and I included, as we accompanied him on this last treacherous course, one filled with twists and turns, that we maneuvered with him, breathlessly   running up our own Heartbreak Hill more than a couple of times. But each step of the way when we thought we had no more stamina, my father persevered as he did in life valiantly, pushing through, often against all odds and with amazing tenacity.

    And it was he who chose when to cross the finish line.

    Like many of us, my father was a complex man, often filled with apparent contradictions.

    A man who was decades ahead of his time in matters of gender equality, he turned our 1960’s Maxwell House Haggadah into a gender neutral reading for our Seders. He was a man who just this past January beamed with enormous pride at my participation in the Women’s March in Washington. Yet this was the same man who good-naturedly could still refer to women as dames and broads with not a PC care in the world and wasn’t shy about exclaiming that his granddaughter Jessie was “some good looking tomato.”

    My father was a secular Jew who was somewhat suspect of the dogma of religion yet rose to be the president of our synagogue Nassau Community Temple where he regularly participated in Torah study classes, and whose favorite shower song was “Ein K’ Eloheinu,” his boisterous off-key voice bellowing out this Friday night closing hymn at the top of his lungs reverberating throughout the house.

    This lifelong Republican, a county committeeman, who not only founded a local Republican club becoming their  president, working tirelessly for them, yet he  was in fact the first phone call I got the morning after this recent presidential election,  bemoaning Trump’s victory, his first words to me were: “I’m sitting Shiva.”

    The son of a Damon Runyon-esque character if ever there was one, who dropped out of school in the 6th grade and whose reading was limited to the Daily Mirror, my father went on to law school and would often mentioned reading Proust in the sweltering jungles of New Guinea during the war…that is when he wasn’t chasing island girls!

    A Twentieth Century Man

    vintage photo baby and boys 1930s

    (L) A baby of the roaring twenties, (R) my father Marvin and his brother Sandy grew up in Astoria Queens, 1930’s

    The year he was born 1921, the hit song was “Aint We Got Fun” and in retrospect that would be an apt description of my eternally upbeat, optimistic, fun-loving father.

    His life spanned nearly a century.

    Remarkable, considering that when my father was born in 1921 the population over 65 was only 4%. That he lived to 96 is amazing. That 95 ½ of those years were physically active, mentally engaged is downright astounding.

    He loved history which he passed on to me because, well, he lived through so darn much of it.

    This was a man who saw Charles Lindbergh welcomed home as a hero at the greatest ticker tape parade NYC had ever seen after Lucky Lindy’s historic flight to Paris. This little 6-year-old boy would himself grow to crisscross the Atlantic dozens of times with the casual ease allowed by jet planes in the many travels he enjoyed with my mother.

    Born at the inception of radio and before talkies in the movies, he lived to see the computer age though despite our nudging, he sadly never took a ride on the internet highway though he  marveled indeed  at having face time with his granddaughter.

    vintage photo of college men 1940s

    My father (R) at the University of Virginia 1941

    FDR gave the commencement speech when my father graduated the University of Virginia and though not a New Dealer himself, my father was  very proud of the fact that the President of the United States,  that most magnificent orator, spoke so eloquently at his graduation.  Oh, how times have changed.

    Greatest Generation

    WWII Soldier

    Corporal Marvin Edelstein 1943

    Like most men of his generation he served in WWII, stationed  in New Guinea where as part of the Army Air Corps trained as a weatherman.

    I recently came across a letter he wrote while in the service exactly 74 years ago in April 1943 that was published in his home town synagogue paper The Astoria Center of Israel Bulletin:

    “Here is a letter from one of our boys,” it begins, “which we are happy to bring to your attention:

    For the past few weeks,” my father’s letter  begins,”I have been receiving the Bulletin. Needless to say, it came at first as a great surprise – however, an extremely pleasant surprise. Now I find myself looking forward eagerly to the next issue. You have no conception how much this means to us who are so far from home. It is only now that I have begun to appreciate the phrase concerning ‘the ties that bind.’

    While I was writing this, they delivered a package to me from the Ladies Guild. I can scarcely say much more than “Thank You, ladies.’ It is not merely the material contents of the box that is impressive- rather the hopes and prayers that one feels fills the package.

    Being in the Army has given me a chance to fully consider and appreciate the life we all once knew and to which we will, we pray, shortly return. Your work of trying to fill in that gap certainly means a lot to us wherever we may be. We want things to be as we left them until we come back and you are helping to serve notice that they will be.

    Let me thank you again and hasten to assure you that by Purim 1944 our contemporary Haman will have met the same fate as his predecessor.”

    My father of course did return and began living out those post war possibilities that were promised to the returning vets.

    Post War Promises

    vintage photo family 1950s

    My family 1957

    I would grow up living my parents post war dreams.

    And nothing personified that dream more than his suburban home which he lived in for 62 years. That suburban dream that sprung up in a field of potatoes was their Promised Land that beckoned millions of post war pioneers including my parents.

    vintage 1950s photo brother and sister

    Siblings, Sally (L) and her brother Andy at their new house 1955.

    Last week Andy and I had the sad task of going to his house on Western Park Drive to pick out a suit for his burial.

    As I stood forlornly in his bedroom closet, one I had been in countless times, I felt the enormous trajectory of his adult life, of life lived in this house. Standing in that place that late afternoon, entrusted with this somber duty,  I felt myself  transported back to 1955 when  a 30 something ex GI and his wife pregnant with me, a 2-year-old little boy  in tow,  first looked at this brand new house that would be their home for the rest of their lives.

     

    (L) Deposit for their new house a whopping $10 down!

    Like thousands of other young married apartment dwellers, they began house hunting as their family expanded. Every weekend they’d trudge out to LI. Just as all the houses from the development seemed to look the same so the other house hunting couple all seemed to mirror their experience.

    Now as I stood inside that large walk in closet he had viewed decades earlier, I imagined the thrill  this young man who had shared a small Astoria apartment bedroom with his younger brother Sandy must have experienced with the prospect of a large master bedroom and the luxury of a genuine walk in closet.

    vintage family photo

    Settling into their new suburban house, my father, baby sally and brother Andy 1955

    Walking from room to room, I could imagine my mother  mentally installing furniture and decorating its rooms. This  new house on Western Park Drive that would the beginning of the fulfillment of those post war dreams allowing them to envision the life they would lead with their family they were just beginning.

    Now this same closet that spanned 62 years that held my Dads worsted wool suits and polyester leisure suits, EZ care wash and wear and velour running suits, was looked through for the last time as  his grown children were tasked with picking out one last, final suit.

    It’s So Nice To Have A Man Around the House

    Bettter Homes & Gardens Handymans Book

    The classic Handymans Book 1957

    My father took to suburban living with a zeal.

    It was a time of the do-it-yourselfer craze and he dug right in. My father willed himself to be handy around the house. This former apartment dwelling fellow taught himself to a home owner.

    The pinnacle of that was the suburban finished basement that mid-century homage to family fun and good modern living. So in the mid-1960’s my devoted dad took on the challenge.

    Every night after dinner and on weekends he’d descend to the unfinished basement busying himself in this project building a frame where he would attach the faux knotty pine paneling, the waft of the toxic glue he used to install the tiles rising to the rest of the house. It was a testament to his stick to-it-tiveness and tenacity to accomplish something he had never done before. This willingness to try new things out of his comfort zone extended to many areas in his life.

    This same house that Andy and I were raised in took on another chapter with the addition of my niece and nephew Jessie and Sam filling it with laughter and light. Thus began our nearly 2 decades long Sunday ritual of visiting our parents just as we had done with our own grandparents for decades. The light that Jessie and Sam brought into my father’s life was reflected in the sheer glow he emanated at the sight of them.

    It was hard to miss. And now, sadly, I will….

    Last Chapter

    family photo

    Marvin Edelstein 2012

    And then there was this last chapter that began for my father in his late 80’s.

    This man, who had never lived alone, had to carve out a life for himself when my dear mother passed away. Always the anchor of the family, without my mother he felt adrift, but his tenacity and positive outlook continued to pay off. He immediately signed up for college courses and joined a gym.

    I was always amused that my father,  a man of his times who’s previous culinary skills involved scrambling eggs and salami and perhaps tossing a manly Caesar salad, whose only forays into food shopping might have been to drive through a Dairy Barn for a quart of milk, now found himself fascinated with supermarkets and delighting in his weekly strolls through farmers markets. Until 4 months ago my father still cooked for himself.

    The Age of Mad Man

    vintage illustration Fun With Dick and Jane 1951

    vintage illustration Fun With Dick and Jane 1951

    My father could be imperfect. Like all of us he had his flaws.

    A deeply sentimental man he was the product of a time and a generation that taught men to withhold their feelings and keep a stiff upper lip, to keep your own counsel. A master toastmaster with others he could in fact be short on words at home. But his devoted love of family, commitment and loyalty were values instilled in us without words being necessary gleaned  by example, and it was burnished deeply in my own soul.

    In the last few months and weeks of his life as he became physically frail, he felt deeply betrayed by his body, but never once would he worry he would be left alone. As his once sharp and quick-witted mind began to deteriorate till that mind had all but disappeared what was left was his pure essence… of sweetness and gentleness. And it allowed he and I to connect in a way that in other times had sometimes eluded us.

    Wherever his mind went I followed happily, without reserve or judgement.

    A once clever, intelligent man’s mind was ravaged but what was left was his inner goodness, his true self distilled to its purest form of unadulterated sweetness and love. His adoring, loving gazes and endearing smiles are forever etched in my heart, knowing I was connecting with the best of him.

    As he got the best of me.

    vintage school work

    When I was in second grade we were asked to write a piece about our fathers. The title of my paper  was “My Daddy Fixes Everything.” Not unlike today, spelling was not my forte so I naturally spelled it Fises with an S instead of an X and that phrase clearly tickled him as he would recite that line My Daddy Fises Everything,  for decades, always with a smile

    In a child’s mind my daddy could fix anything. Wielding a tube of Duco cement he could miraculously repair a broken doll, a busted toy truck, a cracked, beloved serving dish.

    But alas he is not here now, but I fear even if he were, he could not fis my broken heart.

     

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     © Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



    My Father WWII Sargent Marvin Edelstein 1943 and 2012sallyedelsteinRemembering my Father WWII Sargent Marvin Edelstein(L) marathon runner 1970svintage photo baby and boys 1930svintage photo of college men 1940sWWII Soldier vintage photo family 1950svintage 1950s photo brother and sistervintage family photoBettter Homes & Gardens Handymans Bookfamily photovintage illustration Fun With Dick and Jane 1951vintage school workMy Father WWII Sargent Marvin Edelstein 1943 and 2012sallyedelsteinRemembering my Father WWII Sargent Marvin Edelstein(L) marathon runner 1970svintage photo baby and boys 1930svintage photo of college men 1940sWWII Soldier vintage photo family 1950svintage 1950s photo brother and sistervintage family photoBettter Homes & Gardens Handymans Bookfamily photovintage illustration Fun With Dick and Jane 1951vintage school work

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  • 06/22/17--05:00: Gay Bachelor and the Bride
  • vintage illustration wedding guests and wedding cake 1940s

     

    In honor of LGBT Pride Month, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite stories from the Vault:

    Next to the waiter passing the champagne, my confirmed bachelor Great Uncle Harry was the most sought after man at a mid-century wedding.

    Vivacious and gay with wavy hair the color of honey, lush black eyelashes shading come hither eyes, those of the female persuasion were drawn to him like bees to honey.

    With his manly physique achieved through vigorous exercise taken at N.Y.C.’s Westside YMCA, he cut a fine figure of a man.

    From the 1920s through the late 1960s, it seemed as if Harry was more prized than the tossed bridal bouquet, as bachelor girls elbowed their way through the guests to feed Harry a piece of the wedding cake,

    The single gals wistfully eyed the tiny plaster figurines of the bride and groom atop the cake with envy and hope imagining the day when their own likeness would adorn the top of their own butter cream cake.

    After all a wedding cake was as American as apple pie; marriage the first step in achieving the American dream.

    Oh, Johnny, Oh!

    The thing of it was, Harry’s come hither eyes were not directed at the bevy of beauties beating each other off for his attention….his baby blues batted more often than not at the best man, not the comely bridesmaids.

    vintage illustration unintentionally gay men 1950s

    After a brief, disastrous attempt at marriage in the early 1930s to an older widow who kept him in style and all the Beatrice Lilly Theater tickets he could ever want, he hung up his top hat and vowed never to walk down that aisle again.

    Ironically weddings and brides were to occupy a great deal of his time and energy.

    He eventually lost track of how many carnations he would wear as an usher, or how many times he stood as best man, as one by one his pals wed, leaving him solo at the altar.

    Friends thought him picky at best, an odd man out in a world geared to the married set.

    It was chalked up to his artistic temperament.

    vintage illustration 1940s brides

    Vintage Camay Soap Ads (L) 1947 (R) 1949

    Always a Bridesmaid, Never A Bride

    An accomplished artist, he worked at a large Madison Avenue Ad agency as an illustrator, specializing in painting fresh-faced brides, the kind that graced countless soap and shampoo ads in the 1940s and 1950s.

    Financially comfortable, he nonetheless shared his small Central Park West apartment with a roommate for over 40 years, a gentleman he referred to as his “dear friend” to whom he was unusually devoted.

    The family rarely saw the roommate, even at family weddings, kept in the shadows of our lives.

    We didn’t know enough to ask; Harry knew enough not to tell.

    Confused, our family thought the whole arrangement rather queer.

    Last Dance

    The last time I saw my Uncle Harry was when I danced with him at my own wedding over 20 years ago.

    By then his bedroom eyes had gone more droopy, his well-honed physique, shrunken. He barely remembered the over half a century of weddings he had charmed his way through, nor  the hundreds of dances with girls whose hopes he  had dashed.

    By now there was a sadness to him, his gay spirit spent, at peace in the dark shadows.

    Harry was born too early to witness a wedding cake topped by two grooms or a time when his come hither eyes would be able to gaze more openly to the possibilities that were denied him.

    Postscript:

    When this post first ran four years ago in June 2013 the Supreme Court had just made its landmark ruling in the United States v Windsor in which the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act, in which marriage and spouse apply only to opposite sex unions, unconstitutional.

    It would still be 2 more years until the Supreme Court declared same sex marriage legal in all states.

    In this last week in June, the chance to be a June Bride may be closing but the window to become a bride or groom just got a whole lot wider. Bringing a breeze of fresh air into the traditional notion of marriage the US Supreme Court finally removed some of the barriers to Gay and Lesbians full participation in the American Dream.

    Copyright (©) 20017 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

     



    Mens fashion Hart Shaffner Marx 550 SWScan06330 - CopysallyedelsteinVintage mens fashion Ad Hart Shaffner & Marx 1948Vintage Johnny Walker Whiskey Ad 1951Vintage camay Soap ads 1947, 1949Mens fashion Hart Shaffner Marx 550 SWScan06330 - CopysallyedelsteinVintage mens fashion Ad Hart Shaffner & Marx 1948Vintage Johnny Walker Whiskey Ad 1951Vintage camay Soap ads 1947, 1949

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    Ethel and Julius Rosenberg on

    It was a post war Passover plot worthy of the Russians; a cold war caper to rival anything Julius and Ethel Rosenberg cooked up.

    A top-secret stolen – during the Jewish holiday of  Passover nonetheless – riveted my suburban neighborhood in the spring of 1958

    Known as  Operation: Matzoh Ball  it was filled with more than matzo meal – it was loaded with espionage, scandal and treachery. The stuff of legends, this Passover plot was hotly debated over kaffeee klatches for years.  Some claimed foul ball others dismissed it as pure paranoid fantasy.

    The dispute continues to this day.

    The Red Menace

    Long before we worried about the infiltration of Russian bots, cold war Americans panicked about Russian spies

    By the late 1950’s the cold war had congealed as quickly as a cold bowl of chicken soup.

    Americans were still simmering in a brew of paranoia, fear  and suspicion when it  came to the Ruskies.   Communists were sneaky plotters – Russian  spies  could be lurking undetected right in your own backyard. Still haunted by the specter of the Rosenbergs, tried and executed for their treasonous act only a few years earlier,  remnants of the red scare still dictated the mindset of the public.

    It was against this backdrop that this mid-century  matzoh ball mystery occurred.

    Passover Plot

    In late March of 1958 with Passover only weeks away, my mother was felled by a surprise attack of a migraine.

    Since she was a teen, poor Mom suffered from migraine headaches which along with the excruciating pain made her sensitive to both light and noise. Sometimes her headaches burst upon her with a terrifying suddenness, others, like that day a bright flash of light would give her a  20 minute warning signal. No matter how much Anacin she stockpiled in her arsenal of pain relief, it was woefully inadequate in the face of this massive headache.

    Manhattan Project

    Bedridden and burdened with the preparation of a big family Seder looming ahead, Mom called in for reinforcements. Always on 24 hour standby, my grandmother Nana Sadie marched in from Manhattan. Loaded down with shopping bags full of holiday goodies she was prepared to do battle on the kitchen front.

    A massive cooking effort began.

    It wasn’t long before Nana’s rich chicken soup with its golden color  and soothing aroma  filled the house, gently wafting out the open windows for all the neighbors to savor.

    But even more famous than her chicken soup, was Nana’s matzo balls which were legendary in their melt-in-your-mouth lightness and fluffiness.

    Matzo balls were for my grandmother the measure of a good cook’s ability.

    Her balls were always Boombeh (huge) and never Shtickels (little pieces).

    Top Secret

    Collage Oakridge Tenn WWII sign of secrecy and 1950s kitchen

    The matzo ball recipe, handed down from her mother, my Great- Grandma Posner, was closely guarded, so top-secret, no one but Mom had access to the highly classified information.

    Now access to the kitchen required security clearance, and was determined by need-to-know.

    No one doubted that something dramatic had been cooking in the kitchen.

    Kitchen Confidential

    Matzo Balls

    Her recipe was highly coveted – the manner in which she got her batter to reach those heavenly heights was strictly confidential. All the women of B’nai Brith begged her, and the Hadassah ladies tried to hondlen with her. Neighbors nagged and friends became frosty, when she refused.

    Mom too, was used to the sidelong glances from the gals of Sisterhood who scrutinized, and analyzed trying to break the code for the sacred recipe. Which brand of matzo meal- Horowitz Bros.& Margareten, or Manishewitz? Maybe Streits was the secret.

    Did she use Cotts Club Soda, or stiffly beaten egg whites; oil or schmaltz or, God-Forbid-butter?  No matter how hard others tried to cajole, coerce, and extract the information, their lips were sealed.

    Second Rate

    golf ball and matzo ball

    It rankled our neighbor, Natalie Moscowitz  especially with Passover approaching. Her matzo balls were puny, the size of golf balls and almost as hard; they had to be skewered with a fork, while digging in with a spoon to avoid shooting them out of your bowl across the table.

    More than anything else, the coveted recipe had become a symbol throughout the neighborhood of  Mom’s prowess in the kitchen; those  soft, voluptuous orbs bobbing in a sea of broth, those bewitching balls, a demonstration of her religious fitness and  holiday efficiency.

    As a powerful symbol of Mom’s technological might, the matzo ball recipe was ipso facto something Mrs. Moscowitz had to have.

    The Outsider

    As Mom regained her strength and her migraine dissipating, exchanges between my brother Andy and myself heated up. Small skirmishes continued to erupt throughout the day.

    Exasperated and still sensitive to noise, Mom decided an outside, rapid response force needed to be called in to deal with us.

    Mrs. Moscowitz  had helpfully suggested the services of her teenage niece Julie who lived not far away on Verona Avenue. Julie Rosensweig could be deployed on a short notice and since she had previously baby sat for us she wouldn’t need clearance.

    Or so we thought.

    Fowl Play

    cold war spy headline and matzo ball

    In retrospect, how were we to know that something dangerous would be entering our house undetected ? Like the sneaky Communists, treacherous decoys could infiltrate as friends and neighbors setting off a chain reaction that would reverberate for years.

    It didn’t take long before Nana had proof positive that the Moscowitzes were up to no good. Someone had stolen her secret matzo ball recipe.

    Within a few days there was a sudden proliferation of fluffy, light-as-air matzo balls up and down the block. Before you knew it, every neighbor would be serving Nana’s chicken soup and matzo balls for Passover.

    Loose Talk Is a Chain Reaction For Espionage

    Since the formula was top-secret and Nana prohibited dissemination of information about the matzo balls construction, it must have been espionage that allowed Natalie Moscowitz to penetrate our kitchen and test it. Stealing the recipe confirmed for Mom the Moscowitz’s general duplicity and untrustworthiness.

    Each new disclosure, fully substantiated or not, was greeted with a kind of knowing sneer  by Mom.

    On the defensive, Natalie said that to imply that she stole the recipe, would suggest that Nana Sadie was the only source of kneidel knowledge  and therefore anyone who learned to do it must have discovered the Posner’s secret formula.

    But yes, Mrs. Moscowitz did in fact learn by espionage at Moms house, information about the physics of matzo balls.

    A good ball has a solid central mass; the correct leavening was essential  to produce the trapped gases and ultimate release of carbon dioxide, providing the propulsion required to expel the  large amounts of energy locked up in the ball’s nucleus. The timing, and cooling period had to be carefully monitored, the density and ratio of fat to liquid to matzoh meal had to be precisely calculated.

    Chain Reaction

    Women workers Oak Ridge Tenn 1943 and housewife in the 1950s kitchen

    It was Julie with her infiltration tactics, who provided specific data on the design of the Matzo Ball.

    Julie’s mother, Ethel Rosensweig, a Home-Ec teacher  was a top-secret formula  breaker, who upon questioning, seemed to have substantial knowledge of the recipe.

    Julie provided  Mrs. Moscowitz a good deal of information on the correct placement of ingredients most likely to start a chain reaction in order for the spheres to implode on impact resulting in  matzo balls that were Boombeh’s.

     

    collage Formula Nuclear Chain reaction and matzo ball soup

    She provided a considerable packet of information including several sketches of molds that could be used to make the proper size, critical to the balls implosive core. The correct diameter was crucial; a few centimeters off in either direction, and the mission would have to be aborted.

    Natalie Moscowitz found the material of inestimable significance and was willing to share it with the neighbors.

    Natalie and the other neighbors disagreed for a time over whether they had allowed for sufficient compression in shaping the balls in order to produce adequate implosion. The problems were solved  and a few days before Passover they were ready to test.

    Blast Off

    Nuclear blast and matzo ball

    As the balls were dropped into the scalding broth, shock waves were sent though the kitchen.

    The correct trajectory of these spheres into the boiling liquid was crucial. Would the balls sink to the bottom of the chicken soup or float delicately over the surface? Did they produce floaters or sinkers?

    Almost immediately, the balls themselves swelled so much they filled up the entire pot! BOOMBEH!!

    Debate

    Was it only through underhanded means that Mrs. Moscowitz gained the information they needed to make the delectable dumplings? Was Julie Rosensweig merely a willing patsy?

    Of course both Mom and Nana had underestimated the ability of Natalie Moscowitz to gear up so quickly for the production of  perfect matzo balls for Passover. They also underestimated her talent, resources, and resourcefulness.

    There was substantial evidence that Mrs. Moscowitz had keen kneidel knowledge and a research program of her own, way before Nana’s visit.

    But she lacked the real know how – using crude margarine where Nana insisted on fine schmaltz.

    Nana refused to believe it happened, dismissing the intelligence that indicated it had.

    She tasted it to authenticate it. Despite the fact the matzo balls were the regulation two inches in diameter, light as clouds, delicately disintegrating into a fluffy mass, they had missed the critical element.

    Nana Sadie smiled dismissively.

    food as love chicken soup and matzo ball

    Years later I would learn the secret, handed down for generations, until finally it was my time to be entrusted with it. It wasn’t about the seltzer, the stiffly beaten egg whites or even the schmaltz.

    The one ingredient you must put in everything you cook, according to Great Grandma Rebecca, is love. If you do, everything you cook will be delicious.

    Only then, she claimed, would it be a “meichel for the beichel!” ( a gift for the stomach).

    A Happy Passover to all my friends who celebrate it!

     

    Copyright (©) 20018 Sally Edelstein Envisioning the American Dream All Rights Reserved -Excerpt From Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear Family

     


    Matzo Ball Recipe Top SecretsallyedelsteinEthel and Julius Rosenberg (1951) tried and convicted and executed for transmitting nuclear weapon secrets to the Soviet UnionThe Red MenaceSecrecy in our kitchen was as strictly enforced as at the Manhattan Project (L) A billboard at Oak Ridge Facility in Tenn. which housed workers and labs that developed the Manhattan Project the WWII secret program that built the Atomic Bomb.Matzo Balls golf ball and matzo ballcold war spy headline and matzo ball(L) Women reactor workers at Oak Ridge Tenn talked little and worked hard working multiple shifts to keep the plant going 24 hrs a day in the development of the Atomic Bomb.collage Formula Nuclear Chain reaction and matzo ball soupNuclear blast and matzo ballfood as love chicken soup and matzo ballMatzo Ball Recipe Top SecretsallyedelsteinEthel and Julius Rosenberg (1951) tried and convicted and executed for transmitting nuclear weapon secrets to the Soviet UnionThe Red MenaceSecrecy in our kitchen was as strictly enforced as at the Manhattan Project (L) A billboard at Oak Ridge Facility in Tenn. which housed workers and labs that developed the Manhattan Project the WWII secret program that built the Atomic Bomb.Matzo Balls golf ball and matzo ballcold war spy headline and matzo ball(L) Women reactor workers at Oak Ridge Tenn talked little and worked hard working multiple shifts to keep the plant going 24 hrs a day in the development of the Atomic Bomb.collage Formula Nuclear Chain reaction and matzo ball soupNuclear blast and matzo ballfood as love chicken soup and matzo ball

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    Vintage fashion and vintage No Moth solid metal canister

    For some, the sweet perfume of lilacs drifting through open screened windows evoke spring. For me springtime can be conjured up with the toxic smell of mothballs.

    These past many months as I have been sadly consumed with closing down my childhood home of 63 years, sorting and sifting through the detritus of mine and my  parents lives, the lingering smell of mothballs past has become my own personal Proustian madeleine.

    I Love the Smell of Naphthalene in the Morning…

    Vintage Moth crystal metal canisters

    By the time of the first tulips sprouting from the soil, white crystalline mothballs would appear like magic dotting the interior landscape of my home as my mother launched her garment battle plan for the Great Spring Migration of shifting seasonal clothes to their appropriate closets.

    Gathering great heaps of clothing from countless dresser drawers, cabinets and closets Mom would begin the annual seasonal schlepping of apparel from one location in the house to another.

    Vintage Fashion 1950s

    Winter woolens were susceptible to the ravages of moths. Vintage Fashion pages from 1958 catalogue

    This was all done as part of the mid-century-housewife – approved preparedness program against the onslaught of vicious perpetrators out to destroy the family wardrobe.

    Winter woolens would survive…if you prepared. By late spring insatiable moths were on the prowl greedily licking their lips in anticipation of feasting on your cashmeres, woolens, and tweeds.

    Separate But Equal

    Unlike in my own current clothes closet that is a “closet for all seasons,” mid-century clothing hewed to strict rules and exacting locations in my parents’ house.

    The recent Brown vs. Board of education ruling regarding separate but equal was disregarded when it came to apparel. God forbid a summertime Liberty of London cotton floral skirt would co mingle with a Pringle cashmere sweater set in the very same closet at the very same time.

    Not in my mother’s house.

    With military precision, summer’s white shoes and handbags were taken out of storage and the march of the winter woolens would begin their descent into the bowels of the damp basement for captivity in our cellar clothes closet.

    Cold War Cold Storage

    Basement Fallout Shelter Life Magazine Sept. 15, 1961

    Basement Fallout Shelter Life Magazine Sept. 15, 1961

    As the cold war was heating up at the dawn of the 1960’s I pleaded with my parents the practicality of building a fallout shelter in our basement. To my eternal disappointment, a large clothes closet was built in its stead, the safety of a scratchy Woolrich woolen sweater from ravenous moths clearly more valuable than my own from a nuclear holocaust.

    Mom Bugs Out

    1930's Housewives speaking

    While others stayed up at night worrying about a Russian attack my mother was a bundle of nerves when it came to bugs.

    Spring was opening of the offensive against insects who as scientists were telling us “are the real foes and future nemesis of man.” Insects were the bane of Moms existence…pesky flies that contaminated food and brought filth into the house, legions of ants tracking who knows what onto her Clorox clean counters.

    But it was the destruction and cruelty of moths and their larvae that could decimate an entire family’s winter wardrobe in the dark of night that sent shivers down her spine.  Hungry moths thrived and grew bloated on your Fair Isle sweater or fur collared princess coat. Blankets and draperies didn’t fare any better

    Like any smart housewife, Mom knew she had only herself to blame for the holes in Dad’s worsted wool suit and took protection of the family household seriously.

    Containment Policy

    vintage illustration housewife holding plastic garment bags

    First line of defense in her campaign was the containment of the garments.

    Containment policy was not just a cold war policy but the rule of thumb for clothing too. Once in lock down the clothes were hermetically sealed in large plastic hanging quilted garment bags of celadon green and pink.

    But containment alone was not sufficient deterrent for these sneaky plotters. You needed the annihilating  power of mothballs.

    Type fo rMoth Proofing ad 1950

    Luckily science had come to m’ lady’s rescue with a powerful offensive – a lethal insect and pest repellent guaranteed to save a family’s precious wardrobe.

    No longer did the lady of the house have to rely on old fashioned cedar chests in the war against bugs. No more checking for seams and folds for larvae and eggs. The deadly combination of Naphthalene and para dichlorobenzene which vaporize at room temperature packed a one two punch with the toxic fumes killing clothes moths, their eggs and larvae.

    Smelling like camphor, these powerful chemicals designed to kill moths were conveniently sold in solid form such as moth balls, flakes, cakes and crystals.

    Naphthalene is highly flammable and  para dichlorobenzene is now a known carcinogen. “You could trust it,” the ads promised, “to protect your blankets, draperies, and clothes.”

    You just couldn’t trust it with your health.

    Vintage Fashion ads women 1950s and Moth Vaporizer

    Blissfully unaware, for decades Mom littered the basement closet floor with moth balls and little orange “No Moth” tin canisters  hung merrily from the ceiling like Xmas stockings.  Those pesky insects didn’t stand a chance.

    All The Proof You Need

    Vintage Ad Larvex 1950

    As a young bride Mom swore by Larvex which was a moth proofing product sprayed directly on the clothes themselves and was a favorite with modern housewives. Moths, the ads claimed would rather starve to death than ingest the toxin.

    Completely odorless and stainless the chemical spraying lasted a year. The results were equally as long lasting on humans.

    Vintage Ad for DDT Insect Spary and Larvex Moth Proofing

    Guaranteed as safe as DDT, the active ingredient in Larvex was Diethyl Diphenyl Dichloroethane.  DDD is closely related chemically and is similar in properties to DDT which was eventually found to be a human carcinogen.

    The product left a long lasting residual toxicity that starved the moths and continued to kill for a full year. For people, the effects could be felt decades later with respiratory problems and cancer.

    Take No Chances- Di Chloricide

    Vintage Ad 1950 Di-chloricide Moth Crystals

    A favorite crystal form of the insecticide from Mom’s youth and still very popular when she ran a home of her own was Di chloricide. Made by pharmaceutical giant Merck, it not only killed moths but prevented mold and mildew. For a damp basement like ours it was a blessing.

    Di Chloricide was a boon to housewives like my grandmother in the late 1930’s when it first appeared. Nana Sadie could be free from worry over moth damage when she put away her winter clothes. In the top of each garment bag my grandmother placed a small cheesecloth bag filled with Di chloricide crystals (the cheesecloth bag came with every can) and she could rest assure her garments would be safe until she needed them.

    M’lady apparently didn’t need to know the harmful ingredients.

    Vintage ad Di-chloricide 1935

    It’s the modern way to protect your clothes- and it doesn’t leave a “moth ball odor.” The carcinogens acted odorlessly . Vintage ad Di-chloricide 1935

    My grandmother was impressed as the product came with a ringing endorsement not only from the head housekeeper at the Waldorf Astoria but with the seal of approval from smart Fifth Avenue furriers.

    Yes Di chloricide is death to moths, but it’s very easy and pleasant to use,” the copy reads in this 1935 ad. Di chloricide crystals give off a penetrating vapor that kills flying moth and moth worms. Just sprinkle among the garments in your trunk the vapor works through all the folds, seams, and linings.”

    The vapors also worked thru the lining of your throat and esophagus.

    The active ingredient Dichlorobenzene is a carcinogen that affects the respiratory system and breathing and repeated exposure can damage nervous system, cause trembling, and damage lungs, liver, and kidneys.

    “Ask your druggist for Di chloricide today,” the ad implored the reader.

    You’ll be seeing him years later for all the health problems you might develop.

     

    Post Script – Moth Proof Memories

    Vintage fashionsd and mothproofing

    As the years went on the basement clothes closet was not sufficient to contain all my parents’ clothes, which is perplexing given that neither of my parents were clothes horses.

    My parents had clothes literally hanging from the basement rafters, garment bags hanging on steel beams and any horizontal support,  bulging with clothes from seasons and years past precariously dangling from old copper pipes on the precipice of bursting.

    Growing up when there were two growing children living in the house, clothes seemed to be well contained in their owners appropriate closets, but once my brother and I moved out, it was a clothes lollapalooza as my parents attire encroached on our now empty closets and ran amuck in the basement.

    In full transparency, some of these garment bags hanging from rafters contained my clothes from the 1970’ through the 1980’s when I lived in smaller apartments and thus never enough close space.

    I deposited my clothes in suburbia and never looked back. Until now.

    can of Di Chloricide moth proof and confusion

    Now it is a tangle of hot pants and Huck-a-Poo shirts, wrap dresses from Dianne Von Furstenberg and lace punk dresses from Betsy Johnson. They would reside there out of sight and out of mind for the far off day when I would eventually retrieve them.

    That day has come as I am emptying out the house. The residual smell of mothballs still permeate the basement. Like the memories it brings up,  the toxic vapors stay with me long after I have left. So does the wheezing cough I have after every visit.

    Along with the tears.

    Copyright (©) 20018 Sally Edelstein Envisioning the American Dream All Rights Reserved


    Memories Come Out Of MothballssallyedelsteinVintage fashion and vintage No Moth solid metal canister Vintage Moth crystal metal canisters Vintage Fashion 1950sBasement Fallout Shelter Life Magazine Sept. 15, 1961Vintage ad 1937 Di chloricide by MerckVintage Ad for Clothes Storage Bag1950Detail from Vintage Moth Proofing Di Cloricide Ad 1950Vintage Fashion ads women 1950s and Moth VaporizerVintage Ad Larvex 1950Vintage Ad for DDT Insect Spary and Larvex Moth ProofingVintage Ad 1950 Di-chloricide Moth Crystals Vintage ad Di-chloricide 1935Vintage fashionsd and mothproofingcan of Di Chloricide moth proof and confusionMemories Come Out Of MothballssallyedelsteinVintage fashion and vintage No Moth solid metal canister Vintage Moth crystal metal canisters Vintage Fashion 1950sBasement Fallout Shelter Life Magazine Sept. 15, 1961Vintage ad 1937 Di chloricide by MerckVintage Ad for Clothes Storage Bag1950Detail from Vintage Moth Proofing Di Cloricide Ad 1950Vintage Fashion ads women 1950s and Moth VaporizerVintage Ad Larvex 1950Vintage Ad for DDT Insect Spary and Larvex Moth ProofingVintage Ad 1950 Di-chloricide Moth Crystals Vintage ad Di-chloricide 1935Vintage fashionsd and mothproofingcan of Di Chloricide moth proof and confusion

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  • 05/18/18--05:00: A Mid Century Send Off
  • housewife welcome to mid century home

    My mid-century home is fading fast.

    Right now strangers and bottom feeders are traipsing thru my parent’s suburban house picking over the remains of a family’s long life hoping to score a deal at a tag sale.

    It is  the final indignity as we close down my childhood house. It is surreal and sad for me and the symbolism of it all is crushing. An intensely private person, it feels invasive, as though my mother  herself was laying on an autopsy table splayed open for all to view. The multiple dumpsters lie in wait on the driveway, patiently waiting their turn to be greedily filled with once cherished items not sold. The prospect of donating large furniture is dim.

    No one, it seems wants them. I know this

    There are countless items large and small, but the hardest for me has been the fate of the dining room table the heart and soul of my home. It remains standing at the tag sale, not fetching an adequate price at the auction we held and may well end up being thrown in a dumpster along with other beautifully crafted mid-century furniture. These pieces though technically are considered “mid century,” they are  the dowdier, older sisters of the current, sexier,  trendier “mid century modern” furnishings.

    They are the ones no one is taking to the dance. Or taking home.

    Not unlike their furniture, my parents weren’t trendy they were traditionalists who at the outset purchased  solid, well made furniture from the best manufacturers in Manhattan showrooms courtesy of Tootsie, Mom’s decorator. To their generation the Henkle Harris walnut polished wood dining  table  was a solid good name.

    Money in the bank.

    Brown Wood

    To today’s Millennial’s, that furniture is “Brown Wood” a feature making it near radioactive in the marketplace.

    Brown is not the new black when it comes to furniture. “Brown Wood” in fact is furniture non gratis, it is the new catchall term for all dark  furniture indistinguishable from one another whether mahogany, walnut or cherry rendering it decidedly unsellable.

    Along with bone china, sterling silver, and crystal,  all once signifiers of good taste, this generation has no taste for it.

    Homage to a Table.

    Personla photso of a dining room table

    All my sentiments are distilled in this dining room table that was the center of my family life for 60 years. Nearly every person of note in my life has sat at that table at some point, and ever marker in my life had a meal served in its honor.

    It’s  where I blew out my childhood birthday candles from a home-made cake made by my mother from a Duncan Hines mix and where she lit Shabbos candles every Friday night. It was the site of countless Passover’s, Thanksgivings  and fancy dinner parties my parents held where I would create elaborate hand drawn menus just for the occasion.

    Eating at the dining room table signified an occasion but it was also the table that we as a family boisterously played Bingo and traded real estate on Monopoly on, and it was the table my mother sat at late into the night fretting over bills, enveloped in a plume of smoke.

    For 55 years Mom protected the table with heavy, custom-made  table pads and damask and linen  table cloths so that now the bare wood surface belies its age with nary a scratch nor blemish.

    Seeing the gleaming wooden top for the first time  in ages was a  revelation at the care my mother bestowed on this piece of furniture but made it all the more painful thinking it might well be casually tossed in a metal dumpster, scratched and marred and mistreated. So undignified.

    So I  find myself stuck in my dining room and it’s fate.

    For someone who counts on continuity this hits to the core. I am crushed.

    Copyright (©) 20018 Sally Edelstein Envisioning the American Dream All Rights Reserved

     

     


    Moving from Mid Centurysallyedelsteinhousewife welcome to mid century homePersonla photso of a dining room tableMoving from Mid Centurysallyedelsteinhousewife welcome to mid century homePersonla photso of a dining room table