Tag Archives: Childhood pastimes

Betsy McCall Paper Dolls, Part II

McCall's magazine, December 1963

McCall's magazine, December 1966

McCall's magazine, December 1967

For a larger image, click on the picture; if a magnifying glass appears as you run your cursor over the enlarged image, it will enlarge one more time. I think the final enlargement will be about the size of the original in the magazine and is good for printing. I recommend using cardstock, or at least adhering the doll to something stiffer before cutting out. Regular typing paper will be about the right weight for the clothes. Also, I’ve had trouble getting a good print when using draft on paper dolls, therefore I now use a higher quality setting for printing.

For more pages and some Betsy McCall links (some of which are printable), go to my previous post here.

Hope you enjoy them.

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Filed under 1960's, Childhood pastimes, Christmas, Ephemera, Fashion, Vintage Magazines

Gingerbread Men

Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1968 edition

My friend Merrily gave me this cookbook when I was 16. She was one of the best cooks I knew, and certainly the best cookie maker. The recipe for my sour cream pound cake came from her.

We have literally worn the cover off of this book over the last 39 years. Joe’s luscious fudge is in this book, and this is the only gingerbread man recipe I’ve ever used.

Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1968

Notes:

* If rolled thick, this recipe makes a soft cookie, which is what my family prefers. However, with the last bit of dough, I roll them thinner for a crunchy cookie which goes well with morning coffee.
* Plan ahead and chill the dough. It does make a difference. I’ve tried doing it in a rush and it just doesn’t work. The dough is sticky and then I add too much flour.
*I’ve never used shortening, I’ve always used vegetable oil (canola, etc.).
* Make sure the cookie cutters are well floured before each cutting, or you’ll start losing arms, heads, etc. that don’t want to separate from the cutter.
* Keep a pastry brush handy. Flour is needed to dust both the rolling pin and the rolling surface, but you don’t want that floury taste on the bottom of the cookies. It’s a hassle, but dust them off before placing them on the baking sheet.
* Parchment paper gives the best result. For years I Pammed the sheet, but the pp results in a better cookie.
* Press raisins into the cookie after they’re on the sheet. Frozen raisins work better. Soft, room-temperature ones don’t want to press in and will likely fall off.
* Sprinkle sugar over the tops before baking.
* Bake one sheet at a time, although it isn’t as important with this recipe as it is with chocolate chip type cookies.
* Turn sheet around half way through baking.
*After baking, let set for about 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

I store the finished cookies in a clear jar on my counter-top. If left out on a plate in humid weather for a long time they stay soft, but not as nice. Besides, it’s way too easy to pick up one from a plate everytime I pass by.

My grandsons love these. In fact, they asked me to make paper gingerbread men for them to play with last summer. I used my larger sized cutter for a pattern and we had the plain, regular gingerbread man, plus Gingerbread Batman, Gingerbread Robin, Gingerbread Joker, Gingerbread Superman. Construction paper was cut out to make their clothes and their faces were done with Crayolas.

This post linked to Food on Fridays @ annkroeker.

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Filed under 1960's, Baking, Books, Christmas, Cookbooks, Cookies, Cooking, Food, Recipes

1961 Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog

What a joy it was when the mailman brought the new Christmas catalogs! My parents bought from both Sears and Montgomery Ward. Spiegel’s was for sophisticated people like my sister-in-law. We certainly didn’t have one at our house. And we never had one from Penny’s, but that may’ve been because the nearest Penny’s was only about 5 or 6 miles from our house – I think it was at Sheridan Village Shopping Center in Tulsa. Alas, Sheridan Village has gone the way of so many other familiar places in Tulsa. Just gone.

It must’ve been about September or October when the Christmas catalog arrived. Plenty of time to ooh and ahh over the treasures and decided what was best, and plenty of time to change my mind before December.

Aluminum trees were just the most modern thing. We didn’t have one, and that was okay because I have wonderfully fond memories of how our fresh cut trees smelled. (In fact, just writing this gives me that memory fragrance). I’m not sure what kind of trees they were; I haven’t seen that kind for sale for a long time. Probably like the one they had in A Christmas Story.

But I liked the aluminum ones then and now. My friend Donna Bull (Donna with all the Barbie family and the fantastic collection of paper dolls) had one at her house and I loved to watch the color wheel turn and reflect on the blue glass ornaments.

Clothes were so much prettier, then.

Stockings, not pantyhose. Nice ones came in boxes at department stores. Cheap ones were sold in packets at the grocery or dime store. Yes, they really did have a lot of stuff for a dime. Not just candy but also toys like jacks and balls and a lot of other stuff. A dime was what you got from the store when you returned 5 pop bottles.

Handkerchiefs were what one bought for a man if you didn’t know what else to buy or you didn’t have enough money for something like cuff links. All men carried handkerchiefs. So did all the ladies I knew. My mother even made sure that I had my own.

I didn’t have one of the metal dollhouses like these, but think that this was like the one Donna had: B. – the 6 room suburban style with sun deck. There’s one like it on ebay for $68.00 (without all the plastic furniture and dolls or one with everything for $139.00.)

(If you click on the page, a larger image will load and you can see the prices and descriptions better.)
Clock radios were a real luxury. Updated to 2009 prices, these would cost about $229.50. It was about this time that my parents got their first one and it looked a lot like the one in the picture.

For more information about 1961, click here.

It was a very good year.

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Filed under 1960's, Childhood pastimes, Christmas, Ephemera, Fashion, Fun, Vintage catalogs

White Christmas Season


Possible snow flurries? That’s what the radio said at 5:00 this morning.


Well, I’m telling you, this may not count for much in Montana or New England, but in north Texas, this counts as a White Christmas.


Lovely and free. A gift from God on this day when I needed it.

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Filed under Childhood pastimes, Christmas, Free, Fun, Made in the U.S.A., Using What You Have

Kitchen Tables

our house, 1967

Houses were much smaller when I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s. Even new houses in Tulsa were small. I grew up in Mingo, just north of the city, a tiny community where none of the houses were new.

Nearly everyone in Mingo ate their meals at the kitchen table. There were almost no dining rooms in my neighborhood. I can only remember 2. Every night families gathered together after their day to share the evening meal. Late afternoon activities that would interfere with a meal were unheard of. Kids in my neighborhood didn’t have dance lessons, and very rarely piano lessons. I had heard there was a boys Little League team but in those days it would not have interfered with the evening meal.

It was a working class neighborhood. After school (and maybe a little television), weather permitting, children played outside: little kids played with dolls or cars, yard games like Hopscotch, Hide and Seek, Statues, Red Light-Green Light, or dress-up and make believe; bigger kids rode their bikes, played driveway basketball, or impromptu softball. Mothers prepared the evening meal. Dads came home from work.

Families sat down together and ate dinner. Webster defines ‘dinner’ as the principal meal of the day. My mother always referred to our evening meal as supper, because when she was a girl, the noon meal was the big one and her mother called it dinner. But unlike her growing up years when her father operated a country store a hundred yards from her house, my father worked at Douglas Aircraft or on a construction job and was too far away at noon to come home and eat. But old habits die hard, and even though she cooked every night, she still called it supper.

So, kitchens were an integral part of our homes.

The kitchen table was where my mother cut out the fabric for the clothes she made for us, where we did our homework, played cards or dominoes on Saturday night and met again each evening over home cooked food. I can remember the table covered with waxed paper and freshly glazed yeast doughnuts that my mother made. And how it felt to sit on my dad’s lap and learn how to play dominoes and Hearts; I don’t remember ever being told to go away while the grown-ups played cards. It was where I sat while my mother helped me practice my spelling words. At Christmas, I made marshmallow snowmen and helped my mother put stamps on Christmas cards. I must have been pretty young the first time because I remember 4 cent stamps – this was a penny less than normal postage for envelopes that weren’t sealed.

Our kitchen, 1966

Our kitchen, 1966


Somehow my mother was able to cook the holiday meals – from scratch – in the same room we ate in and kept it looking nice for the meal. My dad was a John Wayne type but he helped her cook Christmas dinner. However, on Thanksgiving morning, he and my brother were always out hunting. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were always at noon, and I can remember that I used to worry that they wouldn’t be back from hunting so that we could eat on time. They nearly always were.

My family was not able to pass down many family mementos. In 1937, my maternal grandparents home and store were covered with flood water for 2 weeks, ruining nearly everything they had. A few photographs survived and a Bible that still has the silt from the Ohio River dried in its pages. My father’s family had to leave everything at a friend’s house when they left Oklahoma when my grandmother died in the mid-1920’s. They were never able to retrieve their possessions. Oddly enough, only my grandfather’s blacksmithing anvil remains. It weighed about 100 pounds.

So, I didn’t inherit really old family treasures, but I do have several things from my childhood and one of them is our kitchen table. Not the first one I remember – 1950’s chrome and gray formica topped. The one they bought in 1964 – brown, wood grain formica with painted scenes in two opposite corners. It’s the one you can see in the background of some of my recipe and craft posts.

It’s not valuable or even particularly lovely to anyone else. Our home isn’t big enough to have a dining room, so our old table sits in the middle of our kitchen. It’s the one that my dad sat at to feed our sons, and it’s the one we sit around with our grandsons and share meals when they come to visit.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960's, Childhood pastimes, Family, Kitchens, Mingo, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Using What You Have

Paper Dolls, Fashion, Etc.

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One of my childhood passions was playing with paper dolls.   In the late 1950’s and 60’s, children didn’t have nearly as many toys as they do now.  We only received toys or special things at birthdays and Christmas.  But paper dolls, along with jacks, paddle balls and comic books were very affordable and could be bought anytime at  the neighborhood grocery store.  When candybars were a nickel, most of the paper dolls were 29 cents.

1961 M. W. Christmas catalog Barbie and Ken

Barbie  doll clothes were a little expensive for me, so I only had about 3 store-bought outfits.  My sister-in-law made some for me one Christmas. That was it.  One Barbie and about 6 or 7 outfits.  Very few of the girls I knew had more than that.  So paper dolls were a wonderful way to satisfy that urge for lots of clothes to play with.  And I think playing with them so much initiated a life long interest in pretty clothes.

1963 Barbie paper doll

1963 Barbie paper doll

1963 Barbie paper doll clothes

1963 Barbie paper doll clothes

I’ve always loved pretty clothes and tend to notice what people wear; not in a critical way, so much, but in kind of an appreciative way.  I seldom remember crummy looking clothes (except for my own) but I can tell you about clothes that my friends wore in 6th grade, or what I wore to see “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in 1967 (a pink mini dress with matching coat, covered buttons and pink Mary Jane shoes with a daisy cut-out by the strap).

Okay.  Back to the paper dolls.  I don’t have any of my originals.  One of the stupidest things I ever did was throw away that shoe box full of them when I got married.  I thought, “I’m an adult, so I don’t need these anymore.”  Well, I don’t need them but I sure do enjoy them.  I’ve been able to replace several, but the Lucy ones are beyond my reach.  About 10 years ago I was bidding on them on ebay and I quit at …. well, I won’t tell you but they sold for $135.  And I don’t invest in mint condition, uncut ones.  I prefer the ones that you can tell were played with, and homemade ones are even better.  I never made my own (except out of the Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogs) but I really admire girls who did.

1964 Lucy Paper dolls

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Filed under 1960's, Fashion, Fun, Paper Dolls, Vintage Barbie