Friday, May 7, 2010

My Look Back: 1941

Back when I was house hunting before purchasing the house I currently live in I paid extra close attention to the years the houses were built. I was especially drawn to houses built in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. The older the better if you ask me. I know it’s clich├ęd, but they really don’t build them like they used to. We saw houses that were built in the 1970’s and 1980’s and you could practically hear each other breathe through those cheap, thin walls, not to mention that architectural details are almost non-existent, and frankly I’m not a fan of the open floor plan. Viewing older homes I came across several very charming houses that included details that you just don’t see anymore, like coved ceilings, inlaid floors, and curved walls. Our house was built in 1941, and next year I will celebrate its 70th birthday (still deciding on what kind of cake it prefers - red velvet? tres leches? hmmmm). The architecture is extremely simple in our house. The fireplace is the most elaborate piece. If at one point it had crown mouldings, they are absent today, which is a project I plan to take on in the next few months. It does have a chair rail in the dining room, which I love, a curved detail in the hallway closet, a built-in ironing board, and this really great detail that harkens back to the days of milk deliveries (more on that in my next post). I think perhaps since it was 1941 and World War II was going on, builders probably relinquished most adornments and extra details when building a house. Nonetheless I love my house, and my interest in the year it was built led me to find several images from 1941.

The first is an advertisement for Coty Air Spun Makeup. The image is from the website, and it features a beautiful blonde wearing red lipstick of course. I really love the colorful containers pictured at the bottom of the ad. And what about those prices! $1 dollar for the air spun powder and 50 cents for the rouge. You even get shade suggestions for brunettes and blondes (don't know what the red-heads or raven-haired girls will do).
The next image I found and liked is one from April 1941 by photographer William C. Shrout, from the LIFE photo archive. It features Dorothy Lamour during a soldiers party on a beach in Hawaii. The young man accompanying her is carrying a small dog, which I thought was really cute (although the dog doesn't look all that happy to be there). Earlier that year, in January, soldiers held another party in her honor where Dorothy dined with the soldiers in the mess hall. Since she was considered to be one of the most popular pinup girls of that era, I can only imagine the thrill these servicemen got from interacting with the movie star. As part of the war effort, Dorothy Lamour, along with other Hollywood stars, toured the country promoting the purchase of U.S. government bonds. The actress was born in New Orleans and was 27 that year. Her movie, Aloma of the South Seas, was released in August 1941.
Another one that caught my eye is actually from Australia. The photograph shows two models outside the Minerva French Perfumery in Kings Cross, Sydney (photograph by Russell Roberts). The fashion of the time is really apparent, with the two women wearing hats, gloves, dresses, beautiful jeweled brooches, and one of them is wearing what looks to be a fox fur stole. I love this about decades past - men and women really took care in what they wore. I mean have you ever seen an I Love Lucy episode when Ricky is not wearing a suit and tie (besides the one where he refuses to throw out his old clothes)? Lucy even cleans in a dress! When I vacuum you'll find me in my pajamas and a pair of socks. I could go on with this, but I'll save it for another post. I also love the picture because of the perfumery itself. The curved walls of the facade and the lettering is so emblematic of the time period. All in all, 1941 was a very stylish year even with a war blazing on.

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