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Let’s Read Good Housekeeping, December 1953!

What to say about Good Housekeeping? Been around for a zillion years, didn’t have a woman in charge until 1994, published by Hearst, still in print, will probably never die, blah blah let’s get to it.


Cover by Alexander Sharpe Ross, who was a top magazine cover artist of the time and was particularly known for his paintings of “angelic children”. This issue was packed to the gills with good stuff and it hurt so much to cut anything out, but there’s still a ton of great midcentury illustrations to be had.


Note the atomic design motif on the box. I wonder what “pink scent” towels smelled like. Baby powder?


I don’t have much snark here, I just liked the photo and the shout-out to Ozzie and Harriet. That cute little girl is really enjoying watching that kid suffer through a mouthful of Listerine.


“I may be an indentured servant, but at least my husband still wants to bone me!”


Everything about this makes my skin crawl, but I don’t know what ticks me off more – the “a good wife keeps her mouth shut” coda or “she BLANDLY arranges the gifts”, like sure, spew your misogyny across the land but don’t insult her arranging skills on top of it!

This image would also make some fantastic ironic Christmas cards.


It’s blue!
It’s BLUE!
*laughing hysterically while attacking the washing machine with a golf club*


Because putting walnuts, celery, and CABBAGE in the cranberry sauce jello wasn’t already “festive” enough, so add a big ol’ ribbon of mayonnaise to top it off!


Christmas Eve, 2018:

“Grammy, can you show me the scrapbook you made with Grandpa for the first Christmas you spent together?”
“Of course, Hermione dear…now, Grandpa and I didn’t have a lot of money that year because our parents had both cut us off from the family, you see, he came from a Catholic family and I was Presbyterian…you see this little Christmas dinner menu I made here, it says ‘salted nuts’ because that was all we had to eat, we had to share a can of mixed nuts that grandpa got from his boss as a Christmas gift. I was working 12 hour shifts in a cannery at the time to help make ends meet, since I was pregnant with your aunt Mallory, and I snuck a few cans of cranberry sauce off the line on Christmas morning to make a jello salad, here’s the label – it’s a little torn, because I was hiding the cans in my girdle. And here I saved all the darling little holiday cards from that year, this one is from my sister and says ‘Mother has been crying herself to sleep every night for weeks and you’ve ruined Christmas for everyone’, and this one from your grandpa’s cousin George that says that he is praying for our souls while we revel in sin…George, he was such a devout man, oh, and here are these sweet little letters that we wrote to each other on Christmas day…I wrote three whole pages on the perfumed stationary that he stole from Woolworth’s for me, about how much I loved him and was so honored to be his wife, and how the baby would bring so much joy and love into our lives and well…he just wrote ‘I wish that you would never put cabbage in the cranberry jello again, it gives me gas, ha ha’ and you know…we all loved grandpa, but he was always a bit emotionally stunted. Anyway, it’s so good to relive these sentimental old memories, isn’t it dear?”


Well, my my! Who doesn’t want to look a little wanton sometimes, right?


An utterly confusing set of suggestions for the teenage girl to give her not-boyfriend a Christmas present, which tells the girl that she shouldn’t get him anything because he probably didn’t get her anything, but if she is going to get him something she should hand-knit some socks for him, or get him a horn for his Model T (which I thought was very strange at first, since they went out of production at the end of the 20s, but it makes perfect sense that the family hand-me-down car for a teenage boy in 1953 would be today’s equivalent of a 1989 Honda Civic). And remember, if an “aspiring male” gives you a present, you don’t have to give him one back if you don’t like him, unless you’re really thirsty for this guy. Make sure that the gift is of interest to “whatever hobby he almost prefers to you”.


I want stationary that looks like this.


Happy pants for your gay baby.


It’s kind of strange that of all the magazines we’ve gone through over a year, actual Coca-Cola ads are quite rare. It’s no secret that Coke has had a huge influence on what we associate with Santa Claus, so happening across this ad is pretty cool. Did you ever leave a can of coke for Santa? We always left him beer.


Maybe no one’s done these before because they’re terrible! Don’t forget to make a scrapbook for your shut-in uncle out of leftover trimmings from your Insanely Unrealistic Expectations Newlywed Scrapbook.


Sometimes I wonder if they hired illustrators based entirely on how crazy-eyed the artist could draw a housewife.



In case you want to truly give your holiday decorating some retro flair this year, here’s some suggestions for covering everything in gaudy gigantic plastic balls and droopy branches and heavy leaves and bows made out of yarn.


Make sure to wear your turkey-cooking heels!

Alright, I’m bitter. That kitchen predates my parents and it’s still way nicer than mine.


I feel like I’m the only person who grumps about this every year, but I love the idea of caroling door-to-door and I wish it was still a thing. I totally respect that you probably don’t want to get shot at just for singing, but it just seems cool ok! And no, standing outside of Best Buy on Black Friday and singing with three other people in your high school choir club doesn’t count. You gotta earn that deviled ham and mint jelly sandwich, so bust out the sheet music and get caroling!


The best thing about this is that the bunny-tail is a “convenient pull tab” so that you can grab your toddler as she’s running away from you.


How fabulous is this illustration? Props to Sofia.


I like the one that looks like two angels carrying a bomb.


This is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.

I’m so making one.


The Wallbricker family of Omaha, Nebraska set a standard for coolness in December 1953 that has never come close to being matched since.


Future arsonists, every one of them.


More great illustration.


You’re probably thinking that’s a hell of a lot of fabric for something that is functionally just a bathrobe, and you’re right! Remember that less than a decade before this you couldn’t even buy bedsheets because of the war, so people were trying to put that behind them. This puts the “gown” in dressing gown. Would anyone with an ounce more of weight than these models look huge and frumpy in these? Yes. Do I still want one to wear while roaming the halls of a haunted mansion with a candelabra in my hand, investigating a strange noise? With every fiber of my being.


“Christmas” by Harriet Gray Blackwell (what a name) can be sung perfectly to the “Auld Lang Syne”, so have fun getting that out of your head. Most of the poems here are from established poets, but a few, like Robin Reeves and Jean Wathen, don’t bring up much of a paper trail. Which is a shame, since Robin Reeves is quite fun with her poem about wanting frilly lingerie for Christmas. Fanny Heaslip Lea is most famous for a poem called “The Dead Faith”, which is decidedly most un-seasonal and would make a great warmup for a goth poetry open mic night.


Oh look, it’s our old friend Fels Naptha, which last time it showed up we agreed was something between lighter fluid and napalm. I see that by 1953 they’ve started to water it down by just adding normal soap to it.


I wonder if the Monsanto “M” logo was a reference for the Monsters Inc. logo.






Yardley: The Scent of Ingrained Racism

(The poem sounds way less racist in context of the full work)


I have so much to say here, but can we just focus on the snowman? Why is it looking at her like that? Hey toots, is your radiator leaking? What, is the old chassis all het up in there? The whole town knows you’re on the rag! 


To this day, the family hasn’t spoken of the time that uncle Brian brought his “new girl” to the Christmas party.


Serve alongside the cranberry-cabbage salad for a gastrointestinal fiesta!


Who cares about actual orthopedic support when the real danger is ultimately WRINKLES! You won’t hook an executive husband with a frown, you old hag!

The middle piece is from one of the several works of original fiction in this issue, all of them about twelve pages long and equally dreadful. This one is from someone’s attempt at “Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” fan fiction.

As as I have pledged to include all cute dogs and kitties should they show up in a magazine, let’s all take a second to appreciate that good doggo in the Milk-Bone ad.


Oh, Herb! I always wanted an unnervingly yonic looking bathroom scale! And it even lights up, so when my diet pills are making me scratch up the walls at 3 am I can go weigh myself in the dark! What a wonderful Christmas present!


When you’ve been cooking a turkey in high heels and a dress all day, make everything a little more gay *wink* with a few (or six) alcoholic sugar cookies!

God help me, I might actually make that “holiday turketti” with Thanksgiving leftovers. When presented with enough 1950s jello salad monstrosities, a mushroom soup casserole sounds downright pleasant.


I know you’re all dying to find out what’s in Alma’s pineapple-lime salad molds. SURPRISE! It’s mayonnaise!

The edges on Helen’s cherry brandy gummy worm Advent surprise salad came out so clean, thought Marlene with a pang of envy, watching it wobble sinuously on her plate. But she remained unsettled by the holiday shrimp platter. Shrimp was food for young marrieds. Who did Helen think she was?




An eggnog and toast party is the most 2018 hipster thing. I love recipes that consist of “buy thing at the store; put thing in bowl”.


Wow, it’s almost as if you’re buying a gift for both of you!


These are classy as hell, 10/10 would totally wear with patent leather hard soled shoes for lounging.




…Geisha? Really?


In case you want to make some creepy-ass sock dolls for Christmas this year, here’s everything you need. These would probably make bank on Etsy.


Gene and Betty were married for nearly 60 years. Is it all thanks to Van Heusen’s Century shirts?


The little bow makes this kind of fabulous, right? Maybe it’s that to wear these you need to know the difference between a French heel, a Cuban heel, and I guess a normal everyday heel.


“I like my women like I like my cars — cheap, dependable, and supported by Goodyear.”


So is it just me, or is this guy kind of hot? It takes a lot of hotness to be able to look past the creeper stache, the Mitt Romney hair, and the, uh, billfold wallet bow tie.

I would love to know what colors encompass “fruit-tones”.


“Oh darling, I just love it when you rub your hand across my face like I’m a disobedient little dog. Woof, woof! I’m a very bad girl!”
“Uh, beg your pardon ma’am, I was just clearing the banquet table —”
“Leave the drinks here, I’m just getting started.”


And that’s it for this week! Thanks for reading, and I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving/Thursday. Next week we’ll be taking it way back with McCall’s, December 1915!