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why did people smoke without concern in the 1940s? why did people shop downtown in 1940? what are memories of the milk man in 1940? why did people dress more formally in the 1940s?

-- julie (tommygirl14312@hotmail.com), May 01, 2003


why did people smoke without concern in the 1940s? -- Ignorance. People would claim that "my grandad smoked everyday of his life and lived to a lively 95," which statement was true for persons growing up in a world with less environmental pollution, food additives and pesticides which all help tobacco kill us a lot quicker today.

why did people shop downtown in 1940? -- Despite our love of travel, we hadn't yet become a nation of freeways and commuters. Downtown was the center of the community and that's where you went to see your friends and contribute to their earning a living.

what are memories of the milk man in 1940? -- We got daily deliveries into an insulated aluminum box. You could get everything from cottage cheese to cream and choose from homogenized milk or the kind where the cream rose to the top of the bottle and was delicious to lick off your fingers. We also got butter from the milkman, and some also delivered bread. No ice cream, though. Margarine you had to buy in the store. It wasn't allowed to be colored like butter and came in big plastic bags with a blob of dark yellow butter coloring in the middle of it. We kids used to get to knead it in the bag until the margarine was all properly colored. Yogurt was only gotten in health food stores. I'm not sure I even heard of the stuff until the 1960s.

why did people dress more formally in the 1940s? --- Vestiges of Victorianism. Good girls were bundled up in layers of clothing like you wouldn't believe. My roommate once counted 7 layers between her and her skirt. God bless the sixties when we got rid of all that damn underwear and got clothes we could wear straight out of the dryer (in our house, if it has to be ironed, we don't own it).

Another reason was that, in those days, class differences were still observed, and one had to have outfits for morning, social calls (afternoon and morning), sportswear, office, afternoon dresses, and many different degrees of dinner and evening dresses. Lots of people changed into more formal wear just to eat dinner. And lots of people still had maids to take care of all those clothes. It wasn't uncommon for a lady's maid to brush and sponge every garment her mistress took off before hanging it in the closet again.

During and after the war, maids and elaborate wardrobes began to thin out dramatically. We needed easier modes of living because most of us were working and being independent.

You should read Alison Lurie's "The Language of Clothes." It's fascinating as to what people wore when and what they were saying about themselves while doing so.

-- Rosa (rosadebon@yahoo.com), May 09, 2003.

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