Fifties Retro Kitchens: Why I Love My Formica Dining Table
Back In the Fifties
By Jackie D. Kimball
1956. It was the days of unlatched screen doors, doo-wop music,and Elvis crooning on the radio. The Salk vaccine was top news,Around the World in 80 days was the hit movie, and almost everyone I knew ate on a chrome covered tubular steele and formica dinette.
A Day in the Life of a Fifties Child
Elementary school curriculum was "reading and writing and 'rithmetic" with a bit of electives thrown in.Children were respectful to teachers and authority.
In 1956 I was a precocious seven year old . I walked to school which was over a mile away every day. Three neighborhood children sometimes walked with me, if they were ready to go when I walked by. I hated to wait! I loved school, and was always eager to get there.The early birds got to help the teacher.
We read simple DOLCH words in our story books. The books were unbelievably simple with only a few new words introduced in each story.We read them aloud in groups, to our reading partners, and at home. The next day we read the same story for fluency and speed practice. We became good readers.
We read Alice and Jerry and Dick and Jane books. In the stories, the children played outside and helped mother who was usually in her kitchen. Father worked and was interested in his family when he came home. It was not a false portrayal of life for most of us .Students could identify with Dick and Jane playing outside and doing chores happily.
Home In the Fifties
Walking home from school with friends was almost as much fun as school. We locked arms and walked happily along discussing the day .As we neared home we would wonder aloud what we were having for supper. Sandwiches were a treat we rarely had, because our mothers frowned on them as a unsubstantial meal. We children would make plans to meet on the hill after we changed clothes and watched Howdy Doodee Time.
My family was one of the few families on our street to have a television, so there were many days when neighbor children would be at our house as soon as they changed clothes.. After watching the show they left, and Mama would give me a small snack. Daddy was a supervisor at a bakery, and was allowed to bring home one loaf of bread daily.I usually wanted jelly on a slice of bread. I ate quickly so I could join my playmates sliding down the hill on large pieces of cardboard. I could play until Mama called me to wash up for supper.
After saying grace, we sat at our new dinette and ate whatever Mama cooked. It never occurred to us to complain about the menu as I see some children do today.Mealtimes were pleasant, and we were taught proper table manners. In my day ,you did not leave the table when you were finished eating, but continued in conversation until the family was finished. How sad that many families today have to make a date to have an occasional meal together.
Those Innocent Days
This was the way we lived.........and I miss those days. Those innocent days when a hottie meant a fast car. Those days when mothers were home to greet their children after school with hugs and smiles.Those days when daddies came home on time and were greeted by the wife and children as if his homecoming was an event, because it was. Those days when daddies did not rush through supper to grab the remote , or stay on the computer in another room until long past his children's bedtime.Those days when parents and children spent time at the table more often than not in the kitchen.
The Hub of the Home
The kitchen was where everyone gathered and where everyone ate. Some of my friends lived in homes with formal dining rooms, but they rarely ate in them. The eat in kitchens were the hub of the home. Mothers spent much of their time there with the radio on. Songs of the day like from artists such as Pat Boone,Doris Day, and doo-wop groups would play softly in the background while we told about our day. Delicious meals like baked chicken, fresh string beans, and corn were the usual fare.
Chrome and Formica Dinettes
The modern eat in kitchens of the day sported a dining set called a dinette , fashioned like the dining sets of casual restaurants. I was so proud of our pretty blue and white dinette set in our kitchen. Then a trend toward red and white dinettes occurred , and I fell in love with red and white kitchens, tubular steele chrome covered chairs and tables. The table tops were formica, and most chairs were in soft naugahyde or a shiny material called cracked ice.
To this day, many of us baby boomers fondly remember the happy times in our cheerful kitchens with its formica and chrome dinettes.
Nostalgia Trends in Home Decorating
Decorating in the style of my childhood years brings back fond memories.So many happy times were spent at our dinette of chrome and formica. We worked puzzles , did our school projects,polished our shoes, and folded air dried clothes on the table.
If you think that only a few boomers decorate with vintage or reproduction fifties kitchens, think again. Vintage and retro reproductions are a big business. Google retro fifties dinette or vintage fifties kitchens, etc. for a idea of what is available online in fifties décor. Red and white kitchens were the most common colors amongst our friends and neighbors. Other popular colors were blue and white, yellow and white, and black and white.
I absolutely love my nostalgic fifties chrome and formica dinette set which is pictured below.I bought it because the minute I saw it, I was taken back to wonderful memories of kitchens of my childhood. When I'm in my eat-in kitchen, my retro kitchen dinette makes me smile. I can almost see my roller skates in the chair and a stack of school books on the table. I can almost hear Ed Sullivan proclaim that he is going to have "a really good show for you tonight".
This Is My Fifties Retro Dinette
The name of my dinette set is RETRO NOW AND THEN. It is a high quality reproduction of chrome covered tubular stainless steele with a matte formica top.
More Fifties Kitchens
Photos # 1 advertising archives, others flickr .com
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