Friday, 16 February 2007

Summer of 1954

The house is older than we thought by about ten years (although 1965 was just a random guess.) There was a time capsule cache of newspapers under the bit of lino under a cupboard we pulled out this morning, all dated Dec 1953 to Jan 1954.

You couldn't have put together a better collection of cliched 1950s stuff if you'd tried. WTFs and OMGs....







Woah! 3-D Pictures! In case you can't make it out, it's 'exotic ballet dancers' performing at aMelbourne restaurant.







Didn't actually need my daily dose of Cute Overload today, thanks to this





And look. "New opera star is negress."



And look. The fifties, where John Howard would like us to go back to.

45 comments:

Another Outspoken Female said...

I also got a great cache from ripping up a few layers of lino in a shared house in carlton. These were early 1960's, ads for "Chateau Gay", the Profumo affair and scribbles on the corner of a newpaper from "Dinny" saying he'd popped out to the pub...I've always wondered about that one.

librarygirl said...

I want some ankle length U'pants.

Zarquon said...

At least they weren't afraid to put women with disfiguring skin diseases on the cover of Post

Dorian said...

I met a Dinny in Carlton - a house in Cardigan St with a shamrock painted on the front?

Ampersand Duck said...

Holy Gold Mine, Batman!

R H said...

I read about a little girl who posted a letter to Father Christmas through a gap in a boarded-up fireplace. The letter was found fifty years later (in the eighties) by new owners renovating the house. After hunting around they managed to find her, quite a marvellous story.
I once discovered a 1910 halfpenny inside wall panelling while renovating an old house in Yarraville and think it was maybe 'posted' in a similar way.
librarygirl those things were called Longjohns, and were quite a laugh. Dirty old buggers wore them around the house and the tightness in the crotch gave womenfolk a giggle the way ballet pants do for High School girls today.
This is enormously interesting, I'm a bit surprised at the Post, and at MacCarthy being called a hothead back then, but if professors were afraid of him maybe newspapers were too.

Anonymous said...

Everything looked different back then except for the cats and squirrels. That photo could have been from yesterday.

Cozalcoatl said...

That so cool, love finding stuff like that.

One of the many old places we lived had curling wallpaper in the Loo with newspaper underneath. Over the years more and more wallpaper got torn off to read the paper.

Dorian said...

Once we found 70s gay porn under the carpet in our old St Kilda flat.

R H said...

I notice there's a 'Clearance of White Coats' too.

Well I always knew there were too many, they've been carting my pals off to nut-houses for years.

Meredith said...

I couldn't help noticing the healthy size of the Post covergirl's thighs! In the skinny "circumference of your thigh should equal the circumference of your neck" new millennium she'd have to be starved for 6 months and carted off for liposuction.

lucy tartan said...

That's Marilyn Monroe on the Australasian Post (in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'). And yes, props to 20th Century Fox for not discriminating against ladies with suppurating boils!

Arty said...

but it doesn't look like her - they were just as heavy on the retouching. there is a series of captioned stills inside which tells the whole story of the new film, gentlemen prefer blondes.

Just Like A Woman said...

You're right Arty, a very atypical pose for Marilyn. Not the trademark head-thrown-back-eyes-half-shut-open-mouth-smile that's instantly recognisable and copied by wannabes ever since the late 50's.
I once bought a pair of lovely Edwardian vases at an antique auction and when I got them home, stuffed in the bottom of one was a bundle of rent receipts (3 pounds, 5 shillings a week), Kooyong Dairy dockets, and a darling receipt from "Myerson" 269 Lonsdale St, Melb for a "Dinner Coat" for 6 pounds. On the top of the receipt is a cartoon of a man (in full black tie) riding a billy goat and the caption "Are YOU A Mason? - If not, don't let the price of a Dinner Suit be your main barrier!"

Priceless!

Emily

Just Like A Woman said...

Oops, price of dinner coat was 3 pounds, not 6!

Miss Bates said...

If your house was built in 1953, then the chances are that it was built by a couple, young, not rich, who first built a garage, or a room and a kitchen, then lived in that while the rest of the house was built: that's how suburbs grew then, and became the places from which the baby boomers rose and took over the world. I remember a boyfriend taking me to look at blocks of land in what were then the outer suburbs, (was it Greensborough?) a few years after 1953, and seeing the unmade roads, the muddy footpaths, the half built houses with clothes lines full of nappies, and thinking, no thank you, how far to Fitzroy? Which was, of course, the kind of place those brave builders were escaping from; old, still unrenovated houses with parents they didn't understand,still trying to recover from the depression and the war. So forgive them their foolishness and the primitive printing of Australasian Post, even then a downmarket "men's magazine." And John Howard?
Well people voted for Bob Menzies, who seems to me to have been just as bad as Howard - but the Labor Party was still socialist, and its members adressed each other as comrade, although sister was acceptable among women.

AND it would have been just about time for Elvis, and Bill Haley was already out there,and Johnny Ray, and we had James Dean at the movies. Not that bad.

Drewzel said...

Fabulous stuff!
Miss Bates, both my husband and I are children of the generation of parents who "camped out" in the suburbs while they built their dream homes.
Hurrah for the 50's!

Melusade said...

When I left my much loved Tissot watch on a noggin in the wall of the Hepburn Springs house, it was not a time capsule. Even though it was some 30 years ago, I still want it back. I think it was in the bathroom.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Dorian, your Dinny, who was almost certainly also AOS's Dinny (the destination clinches it), was Dinny O'Hearn, whom I knew and worked with at Melbourne U for a long time; he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts in the 1980s, a small, pugnacious, heavy-drinking professional Irishman who hung out with Melbourne's playwrights and poets and was a friend of Don Watson and Hilary McPhee's. He was famous, and infamous.

Meredith said...

Oh Yeah, I remember Dinny now, too! He came to lecture us first-years once, I think on Yeats. His voice was so incredibly low and raspy that it made me feel a little bit sick (like vibrating inside).

Miss Bates, thank you. "...old, still unrenovated houses with parents they didn't understand,still trying to recover from the depression and the war." So evocative, so sad.

Ron said...

Wasn't there a Dinny O'Hearn who once had a book show on ABC TV? Same person?

Francis Xavier Holden said...

Pav - Professional Irishman is a bit of a low blow. He contributed a lot more than that.


Lucy T - whenever I have replaced or fixed a wall or anything in a house I always put in a time capsule of newspapers and other stuff.

R H said...

Post was a downmarket men's magazine? Well maybe if you were a bit posh? The Herald Sun is downmarket too, no worse than the old Post. The Women's Weekly was always a downmarket Women's magazine with a cake on the cover. That's why males read the Post, being uninterested in hairdo information, soap opera love stories, and Agony Aunt advice.
I loved the old Post, and so did Charlie Perkins, I heard him say so.

David said...

My grandfather bought Australasian Post every week ostensibly for the crossword, which if I remember rightly was called Mr. Wisdom's Whopper - unpack that title if you dare. I imagine that my grandfather was not averse to the stories about (and pictures of) young ladies as well, though. My main memory from the Post was a story about a man who had all his teeth removed and replaced with shark's teeth.

Can I just defend the 50s? People were feeling their way in a brave new world (at a time when you could call it something like that without needing to incorporate any ironic raised eyebrow). 'New opera star is negress' and 'White race may gradually absorb...' is to me a culture trying to grapple with a big shift in international and/or race relations... a good example of this (and a good adjunct to Henry Reynolds' Why weren't we told) is the interesting campaign the Argus ran in 1951 on Aboriginal disadvantage; community groups all through the suburbs were similarly exposed to films and lectures about the fate of disadvantaged Aboriginal groups in the outback. That's just one example.

Australians were fed all kinds of information in the print media which supported wildly different points of view. To typify the 50s as a smug and conservative time OR as a nervous, panicky anti-Communist time, is too easy, as I think your valuable cache of random literature reveals. Remember that many of the people who typify the 50s a particular way grew up in the 50s. The worst people to ask what it was like!

lucy tartan said...

You can defend the 1950s all you want. I'm a bit baffled that people seem to think I'm having a go at them. I wouldn't be moving to this suburb if I was inclined to just write that way of life off.

There were many more pages than I've reproduced here, and I'm afraid the discourse on race is fairly virulent, all things considered.

David said...

I wasn't accusing you of having a go. But most people do.

David said...

I mean, most people do have a go. At the 50s.

R H said...

Blokes only ever bought dirty old scandal sheet Truth Newspaper for the Racing Form. That's what they said. And it was a pretty good joke, because Truth probably did have the best Racing Form. Its journalists were joke-telling S.P.-betting roughnuts who pulled no punches -just like a lot of their readers. Meantime the whole thing was an embarrassment to mainstream journalism; a glorious disgrace.

Australasian Post was respectable, you could read it out it at Sunday School. I admire it for its unashamed Aussie content, its earthiness, its celebration of the bush, and of the plain old working class man who read it, always having to count his pennies.

R H said...

And what were the Sixties?- a ten-year parade of young bourgeois dopes all wanting to be famous for five minutes; an indulgence, a show, put on by weekend sloppy-dressers who'd never gone hungry in their lives, and stretching all the way from Berkeley to Melbourne. Same costume.
It was a turning point, a disaster -for the common poor, who could once rely on these spivarses to champion their cause, but who have since then have abandoned them altogether, becoming a cause unto themselves.

Miss Bates said...

Dear me,I seem to have started something I didn't mean to. I just thought you might like to know how ordinary people got what they called 'their own homes' in those days.

For the record, I was quite young in 1954, and like all memories, mine are patchy. Yes, they were times of casual, unthinking racism, the conservatives ruled, and Truth had a good racing supplement, although my father told me that 'a lady never, ever, gets her name in Truth.' And January 1960 looked just about the same as December 1959 - Bob Menzies was still Prime Minister, Germaine Greer was still at university, aborigines were still being treated as lesser beings, and women still got less money than men did for the same work.

But all decades are patchy -- people talk about a sixties I don't remember, possibly becaue I was too busy having babies and looking after them. And the so called permissive seventies passed me by too, although I understand some people had fun. To me the seventies was university (thank you for the free universities Gough Whitlam, and curses on the people who took them away.)

We live now, as we always have, in a time when some things are good and improving, some are bad and maybe deteriorating. And I think all times are times of profound change. There is not the slightest point in decade bashing. Although I must say all that laminex was a worry in the fifties. And there was some shocking wall paper in the seventies. Oh, and body shirts - on men. And those eighties shoulder pads were ghastly....

R H said...

We live now in terror.

A dread unimaginable in the 90s 80s 70s 60s 50s.

Meanwhile it's a belly-button parade, an extreme expression of the scatter-brained notion that fashion can save the world.

Meredith said...

Yes RH, and we STILL treat aborigines as lesser beings.

lucy tartan said...

RH - six comments on one post? I should be flattered I guess, but to be honest it's a bit exhausting for me just at the moment.

R H said...

Is that so.

Well I'm sorry you lack stamina. I'd take over your lectures for you, and fly to Mildura too, but I'm editing a manuscript right now for Robert Manne.

It's called: Das Crapital -Selected Haircut Monologues at La Trobe University.

-Robert.
(Yale)

lynn white said...

Hate to rain on the historical parade, but the presence of 1953-1954 newspapers is not definitive proof of dating. You see, they could have been someone's old cache, like the ones under your old house, and have been applied to the floor for insulation well after their publication date.

Land titles search coupled with a trawl through council rate books is the only way to do it.

Despite this, such a treasure trove is still a wonderful thing.

elsewhere said...

This sure beats the program from the Whyalla aeronautical club, 1962 I found stuffed down the back of my 'new' second-hand dresser.

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

ooh lynn, you beat me to that point...

except that one of the photos posted (below, in the flooring post) does seem to date the house as more 50's than 60's, in my head at least. not that I'm an expert! but it has more generous and detailed timber mouldings than I would think a mid-60's house would have.

also: I have a crumbling cache of 20's newspaper pages from under my kitchen lino. there was still a delicious (very brittle) slice of geometrically-patterned lino under the cupboards. under that were large pages of ads with lovely drawings of bridal gowns... but they are so fragile (the pages too. heh)!

Another Outspoken Female said...

Dorian/Pavlov (sorry so long to get back to this) - I was wondering if it was Mr O'hearn. I guess I could always compare handwriting. It wasn't Cardigan St though and not a shamrock in sight.

genevieve said...

What a great conversation this is. Y'all are most entertaining. Wish my house was older than 1969, all I have are some kids' measurements inside a cupboard.
RH, are you really at Yale? clearly you did not find the Cold War that much of a worry. Me, I still get nervous if China and India get shirty with one another.

R H said...

Golly, I'm so glad you asked. The cold war was a politician's war; a war of words, no mug feared being blown up by an A-Bomb hidden in a backpack. If we went, we'd all go, together. And so everyone thought about it. Meanwhile the Beehive Hairdo mimicked an A-Bomb explosion. That's fashion. Today you can get blown up by little bombs, anywhere at all, surrounded by women in the streets -and half-naked, to mimic death: the old in-and-out.

Yes, I am at Yale. And despise people who lie about themselves. That's the first thing we're taught. And the last.

-Robert.
(Oxford)

Pavlov's Cat said...

Me, I despise people who lie about other people.

AOF -- Dinny was very gregarious and could easily have been visiting. He was also the type who loaned newspapers.

I bet it was him. It feels like him.

Anthony said...

PC, you refer to Dinny as 'Dean of Arts'. He was only ever 'sub-dean', in my time working first under Dean Geoffrey Blainey thence Dean Marion Adams. Which meant, for undergrads and plenty of others in the Faculty, Dinny really ran the show. I think he retired when the University outlawed smoking within uni buildings. After his retirement I would see him heroically swimming lap after lap at Fitzroy Pool, then he'd lie on the law and smoke fag after fag. When he finally went, there was free Jameson's at the wake and the good burghers of Lygon St had the temerity to install a memorial water fountain. Well, I mean to say, really: a water fountain?

redcap said...

Wow, that's great! There wasn't any newspaper under our lino and I felt gypped. There was, however, a huge collection of partially-used bars of soap stuck to the shelf in the linen press.

momo said...

Oooh, launching into the fiery bowels of musings on the 50s good, bad, or indifferent (love reading old newspapers - great selection you've found, Lucy!)

In 1953, my grandmother almost married an Ansett (man, not plane), and it was a broken engagement she never got over. I grew up with the constant musings of "Think how rich we'd be". Not now, I guess.

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