Thursday, February 14, 2008

The times they are a changin'--for which I am eternally grateful...!

Since it’s Valentine’s Day I suppose I should wish all of you lucky people out there with spouses and sweethearts (or both!) happy Valentine’s Day. It’s probably the right thing to do. But when you think about it, since you already have someone to wish you a happy Valentine’s Day, someone who will, no doubt, shower you with flowers, or candy, or other tokens of their affection, I’m thinking why the heck do you need me to wish you one, as well? By rights, I should be wishing those people (uh, yeah, like me) who don’t have a significant other in their lives right now Happy Valentine’s Day. We’re the ones who need the good wishes. We’re the ones who need to be remembered. Right? As far as I’m concerned, the only people who have permission to whine today are those who have a significant other in their lives and still don’t receive a Happy Valentine’s Day greeting. That’s rough.

Now that the obligatory Valentine’s Day wishes are out of the way, I want to share something that had me shaking my head and had my daughter going, “This has got to be a joke!” when I showed it to her. The object of my scorn and her shock? 'The Good Wife’s Guide', published in Housekeeping Monthly back on May 13, 1955. Yep. That’s right. Nineteen double nickels. It was part of a class discussion in a class I’m taking. And boy, is there fodder for discussion. Due to the length of the ‘good’ wife’s guide (who knew there was so much to remember?) I’ll post the ‘tips’ that are most noteworthy. Editorial comments are in red (for Valentine’s Day!)

Tip One: Have a delicious meal ready for your husband on his return. This is a way of letting him know you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed. (Hello. Aren’t like most people hungry at dinner time?)

Tip Two: Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair, and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. (Oh, yeah? And she’s been with a pack of snotty-nosed, whiney kids all day. Let’s see if he looks fresh after a day with the crumb-crunching midgets!)

Tip Three: Be a little gay (I’m not touching this one) and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties (duty??) is to provide it. (Tell me the last time cooking, cleaning, laundry, and child care qualified as ‘interesting’.)
Tip Four: Clear away the clutter. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, papers, etc., and run a dustcloth over the furniture. (In my house this would be more along the lines of blazing a trail.)

Tip Five: Over the cooler months, you should prepare and light a fire for your husband to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction. (Shoot me! Shoot me now!)

Tip Six: Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces, comb their hair, and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. (Talk about children should be seen and not heard. Oh, right. Only when ‘daddy’s home’. Until then, they’re free to wail like banshees. Jeesch.)
Tip Seven: Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him. (What is your will, my lord and master? -- See tip twelve.)
Tip Eight: Listen to him. Let him talk first--remember his topics of conversation are more important than yours. (What? Poopy diapers, vomit, and toilet bowl brushes don’t make for scintillating conversation?)
Tip Nine: Never complain if he comes home late, or goes out to dinner or other places of entertainment without you. Don’t complain if he’s late getting home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day. (If my dh stayed out all night, what he had gone through that day would be minor compared to what he experienced when he got home!)

Tip Ten: Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low soothing, and pleasant voice. (No way. Not even with odor-eaters!)
And finally:

Tip Eleven: Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him. A GOOD WIFE ALWAYS KNOWS HER PLACE. (I know. I know. The kitchen and the bedroom!!!! )
And there you have it. Housekeeping Monthly’s Good Wife’s Guide circa May, 13, 1955. My daughter thought I made this up. I replied nobody could make this kind of stuff up. Not even the dangerous divas at Killer Fiction.

Happy Valentine’s Day again! And feel free to share all those romantic gifts and loving gestures you received with us at Killer Fiction. And I promise I won’t hate you.

Too much.

~Bullet Hole Bacus who is SO glad she wasn’t a woman of the fifties~


Wendy said...

Who the hell came up with that crap?! If he (and you know it's a he!) was still alive, he'd probably get lynched.

Anyway, happy valentine's day! I don't have a significant other and I need good wishes! and chocolate, please. :)

bookmobiler said...

Happy Valentines day!

And many Merry Chocolates too!

The assumption that a man wrote the article may be true, but if it is he probably used a female nom de plume.

Then again 53 years ago many women at least gave lip service to the ideas expressed. (No smirking now! I didn't mean lip service that way, really!)

MsHellion said...

Can you imagine being whisked back in time (knowing what you know now) and finding yourself as a 50s wife? *snortal*

Kathy Bacus said...

Well, then may I be among the first to wish you a happy Valentine's Day, Wendy, and send you an uber yummy cyber-chocolate heart! (We single-and-searching gals have to stick together.)

And I had the same thoughts as you as to the gender of the guide's author. Even June Cleaver didn't think that way. Ward maybe, but not June...

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Ah, come on, bookmobiler, you know you meant that lip service comment as 'pun intended'. Snort.

Thanks for the Valentine's Day wishes & chocolates! I'm preparing for a writing marathon to finish ANCHORS AWEIGH by the end of the weekend and chocolate is mandatory!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Gotta be a book there, mshellion. Hmm. Let's see. What would be a good title? 'Rude Awakening' maybe...

Happy Valentine's Day!

~Bullet Hole~

bookmobiler said...

Hmmm... "a writing marathon to finish ANCHORS AWEIGH by the end of the weekend and chocolate is mandatory!

Please accept this virtual truck load od Godiva Dark Chocolate as an incentive to get the book done!

I need my blond joke fix!

BTW, have you ever wondered if the objects of all those blond jokes are actually brunettes with dye jobs?

About that previous post. My lips are sealed as to whether it was "Pun intended." :)

terrio said...

I'm another valentine-less and still searching person. I did get chocolate from my boss so I'm happy to share.

I've seen that list before. If I were alive in the 50s, I would have a) been single and b) been militant after reading that crap.

I have to dissent and say it was most likely a woman who wrote that. A man would have added much more than remove his shoes. And he never would have mentioned children as he was probably not aware they were in the house.

Wendy Roberts said...

I gotta say the answer to all those lists was exactly 'to be a little gay' *snort*

For VD I gave my kids chocolate which they can't eat 'cause they gave it up for Lent ha ha.

Kathy Bacus said...

Godiva Dark Chocolate--the healthy choice, right, bookmobiler?

And AA's blond joke? It's a doozy.

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Happy Valentine's Day, terrio! What a nice boss you have there. And, the more I think about it, the more I think you may well be right on the author's gender.

I suppose it's safe to assume I'd have turned out to be an old maid back then.

I think I need more Godiva chocolate.

~Bullet Hole~

Keri Ford said...

Happy Valentines everybody!

dear me, I'll happily refuse to travel back in time! Don't get me wrong, I like wearing dresses and doing my hair and makeup on occassion, but not so much just to welcome the hubby home from work. There better be something in it for me, other than having the pleasure of removing his shoes and listening to him lag on about his day while he eats. And HELLO! He was there in making the kid, he can be there to listen to him.

boy-hidey, I'd like to bring some of those men in today's time. Culture shock you think?

Kathy Bacus said...

Ohmigawd, Wendy R, I almost spat green tea all over the monitor! Too funny!

And regarding the VD candy, thank goodness chocolate has a long shelf life!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Culture shock is right, Keri! Both my daughters were convinced it had to be a joke. Of course, they've lived with a mother who was a 'mama bear' and carried a gun, drove a patrol car, and took people to jail in another life.

I wonder what things will look like fifty years dwon the road?

~Bullet Hole~

Beth said...

I never would have made it in the 50's. I actually had an 'I don't iron' clause in my wedding vows.
These were particularly ridiculous to me:

Tip Seven: Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
*Ok this one I could never do. I'm just not that good an actress.

Tip Three: Be a little gay.
*Again, not a good enough actress to pull off either one of these meanings.

Tip Nine: Never complain if he comes home late, or goes out to dinner or other places of entertainment without you.
Tip Eleven: Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity.
*Ok so how come he gets to come home and have the audacity to ask the one question that will have me coming at him like a spider monkey-"So what have you been doing all day?" and I can't even ask him who or what he was doing? Snort, I DON'T THINK SO!

Thank God for the Women's Liberation Movement. There may be alot of backlash now- working moms vs stay at home moms but come on ladies at least we have a choice.
Happy Commercially-created-to-shame-and-intimidate-us-all-so-we'll-buy-stuff Day to all those who have and have not. Now where's the chocolate?

Kathy Bacus said...

beth said:
I never would have made it in the 50's. I actually had an 'I don't iron' clause in my wedding vows.

LOL! Too funny! And I think what strikes me the most is how narrow women's lives were back then. Not that taking care of a family isn't a worthy and noble undertaking but I just can't imagine not having...more. Being more. Doing more.

And Happy Hallmark's Holiday excuse for people to buy cards to you, too, Beth!

~Bullet Hole~

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I sent the kids out to play and opened a bottle of wine (before he actually arrived home). Does that count??

Kathy Bacus said...

You earn an atta girl in the good wive's guide, jenyfer! To get a gold star you probably need to rub his feet or maybe greet him at the door in a sexy nightie.

Do real women even do that?

Happy Valentine's Day! Enjoy the wine!!

~Bullet Hole~

Angie Fox said...

LOL This reminds me a bit of my inlaws. They're very sweet people, mind you, but my mother in law was a 1950's housewife.

We'd be eating dinner at their house and, while my father in law was with us, he'd say, "Rosemary, I need more milk." She'd get up, walk all the way around the table to the refrigerator which was DIRECTLY BEHIND HIM and serve him his beverage.

Kathy Bacus said...

I hear you, Angie. That's pretty much the way that it was back then. Nowadays if that happened in a contemporary household, the wife might be more inclined to serve her hubby his beverage over his head.

I think, too, since it often requires two incomes to keep a household going these days, many of those former expectations had to be revisited and revised as they just weren't realistic any longer.

And once women got a taste of self-determination, power, and independence beyond the home forty, there was no shutting that door.

Happy Valentine's Day, Angie!

~Bullet Hole~

Christie Craig said...

Oh Kathy,


This is so priceless.

Thank you so much for the laugh. Can you believe that our mothers and grandmothers really lived by these rules.

On a more serious note: I wrote an essay,(this one wasn't funny) that was published in Chicken Soup about my grandmother and how she didn't discover who she was until she was 80 years old and lost her husband of almost 60 years. It wasn't that my grandfather was a bad man, or that she didn't love him, she loved him deeply. But he was a man of the times and a good wife became the person her husband wanted her to be. When she lost him, she didn't know who she was.

I think some of this still exists. But much less of it.

Crime Scene Christie

Gemma Halliday said...

Oh. My. God. :O

Thanks, Kathy, I needed a reminder today why being single rocks.
Those poor fifties women.


Kathy Bacus said...

I think you've hit on a key thing here, Christie. And a sobering one. When I consider how many women were never given the opportunity to pursue their gifts and talents and dreams, it only reinforces my desire not to squander the time or gifts I've been given.

Happy Valentine's Day! Hope yours is super!

~Bullet Hole~

Estella said...

I was 13 years old in 1955 and I know my Mother obviously had never read the article these things came from.

Kathy Bacus said...

Yeah, I think I need to hang the Good Wife's Guide in a prominent place, Gemma. Then whenever I get a little blue over being single, all I have to do is read it and that should snap me out of it.

Hope your VD is memorable...!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Your mum probably would have used the magazine for fireplace kindling if she had read the article, estella. Yay!

Hope you can enjoy some chocolate for Valentine's Day!

~Bullet Hole~

Lucy said...

On tip seven you say see tip twelve...did you mean tip eleven?

Anyway, I work with someone whose husband's mentality is exactly depicted in those "tips". A few weeks back she was very sick (she was off work for two full weeks) and in the middle of it I had called her and I overheard some conversation and then realized (because of something she said to me) that despite the fact that she was so sick, he still expected her to fix breakfast for him! Normally I keep my opinions about people's marriages to myself but that really hit me wrong and I went off on her husband (to her, not him) about that. We talked about it later (after she was back in the office) and while she agrees with me, she said it's easier for her to just cater to him. She would get up and walk around him to get the milk that was directly behind him too. AND SHE WORKS FULL-TIME HERSELF!

I couldn't be a 50s housewife. Although if the jury was full of women of today, I don't think I would be convicted of the murder I'd have to commit, should I somehow find myself in that situation.

Thanks for the laugh. :-)

catslady said...

I've read that article before (excuse me while I gag).

My husband has the flu so not even my usual lottery tickets lol.

You want to hate someone - I was on another blog and this unnamed person (hope she's not here lol)got diamond earrings, a zune, and a laptop - now there's someone to hate.

Wendy said...

Kathy, thank you! have a cyber-hug!

And you're right, we single girls have to stick together. :)

Kathy Bacus said...

Oh, Lucy, I wouldn't have been able to keep from speaking up, too. Your co-worker's husband need a good, swift kick.

And yeah, I was referring to Tip Eleven. Can you believe there were several more than I included? Lord a'mighty!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

So sorry to hear your dh has the flu bug, catslady. Hope he's better soon!

And the gal who got all those nice gifts? All I can say is I wonder what her haul's like on her birthday and Christmas. Unreal. (Of course, this is coming from someone who has received such lovely gifts as hubcaps, shop vacs, and socks as gifts in the past, so perhaps I'm a tad envious.)

~Bullet Hole~

Tori Lennox said...

I saw this list a few years ago and it still cracks me up! I don't remember my mom ever following any of that crap even in the '60s!

Kathy Bacus said...

I'd seen something similar some time ago, too, Tori. What killed me were my daughters' reactions. I suspect they still think I made it all up. :)

~Bullet Hole~