Book Review: Retro Housewife – A Salute

Publisher: Collectors Press

Year: 2004

Pages: 130

Type: Hardcover

ISBN: 1-888054-92-1

A Rose-tinted look back

Is June Cleaver your idea of the ideal housewife? How about Harriet Nelson? The 1950’s certainly served up a plethora of mostly-identical women playing the perfect homemaker on television. And in movies. Really, anywhere a home needed to be made. And make the home they did!

Now, to quote from the Introduction, and to get this post started: “Now dears, it’s time to come along with Mother on a trip down memory lane – that is, if you’ve finished your homework, washed your hands, and put your bikes away.”

Front Book Cover Jacket

Author Kristin Tillotson puts on her mothers old floral-print apron and pens a tongue-in-cheek look back at the 1950’s housewife, or Suburban Superwoman. The resulting book is filled with facts about the era, the products, and the struggles that filled the life of the stay-at-home Mom.

Perhaps the real charm of the book comes from the images. Each are rendered in a retro 50’s style. Below are some examples:

The book is divided into five main sections: An Attentive Wife; Mother Knows Best; The Way to the Heart; A Home That Sparkles; and That Feminine Touch.

Most of the pictures are of women who are way too excited about mundane things! And I must say, I’ve never seen so many pictures of refrigerators in my life! Apparently, women in the 50’s just lived for a good deep-freeze!

Actual Hardcover of Book

I like the imagery on the dust jacket but just had to show the actual hardcover of the book. It too radiates a retro vibe!

Now back to a few final images of women having way too much fun with appliances and vintage décor:

Tillotson balances the content between facts about the era with statistics about women in the workplace, divorce rates, and cultural changes. Most images have text relevant to themselves but some of the text seems out of place on the page. But that’s a minor complaint.

Back Book Cover Jacket

Retro Housewife originally sold for $16.95 US. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the nostalgia of the 1950’s and in images of that era.

Collectors Press produces many other books in the Retro line, including titles such as Retro Baking, Retro Beach Party, and Retro Diner, amoung others. If you’re like me and can’t afford your very own time machine, these books just might be the best way to visit the past!

FUN FACTS: The most popular names for boys in the 1950’s included James, David, Robert, John, and Mark while the girls got Susan, Linda, Debra, Nancy, and Karen. The most popular colours for children’s pajamas were Canary, Blueberry, Flamingo, and Robin while the colours of choice for furniture were Moss, Cocoa, Lime, Peacock, Mist, and Coral. Yes… it was a vibrant time!

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