Thursday, November 21, 2013

1961--It Was Such A Lovely Year

Ah! November of 1961! As a bride of only a few weeks, November of 1961 is a very good month for me. It is autumn, with the holidays ahead to celebrate for the first time as a young married woman.

We have small paychecks coming in from jobs we enjoy. Except for our rent, utilities, food, gas and incidentals, R.H. and I have only one payment a month in these pre-credit card days--$5.25 for a 17-inch black and white television from Western Auto.

On Thanksgiving Day I will wear the going-away outfit my mother recently made me. I had asked for something like this…

Mine is a tailored red wool suit. The jacket is short, to the hipbone, which I can easily find, and Mama covered the buttons with the same red wool and made bound buttonholes. The sleeves are not fur-trimmed but for our honeymoon to the mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee she lends me her silver mink stole.

R.H. does not tell me that the white harlequin glasses spoil the sophisticated effect of the suit and mink stole. Love is blind.

When Thanksgiving Day comes, we begin the tradition that is to last for years. We have an early Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law's house and then leave to have another later in the day at my own parents' house. Neither of us wants to give up Thanksgiving dinner the way our own mother prepares it.

And neither of our mothers expects me, the new bride, to cook anything to contribute to the meal. I have just barely learned how to operate my new can opener. I am beginning to cook from my new red and white plaid Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, mostly on weekends.

It all seems like play. Everything does, marriage, jobs, making a home in an attic apartment that I want to look like this…

Earlier in the year, before graduation, I sat in study hall and on television watched Alan Shepard splash down in the Atlantic Ocean after his short sub-orbital flight in space, but I am not worried about troubles building with Cuba, or nuclear testing, or about the United States aiding South Vietnam in their fight against the Vietcong. And sad to say, I am little concerned with news about the "freedom riders" coming to the South, wrapped as I am in a cocoon of suburban white wool.

It is my first Thanksgiving Day as a Mrs., and I imagine we will live the life of Father Knows Best, just as my parents have.

1961 was a lovely year.

[All pictures other than personal photographs appeared in the November 1961 McCall's magazine.]


  1. Loved this post! 1961 was my first Thanksgiving on the earth. I have such fond memories of big Thanksgivings with all my extended family...grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins..sometimes great aunts and uncles. Those days seem magical to me now.

    Love the red suit. Very chic.

  2. Oh, Deweena, you do bring back the memories! Those were the days, weren't they? Wrapped in a little love cocoon. We married in 1964 and bought the first Mustang...our incomes were 4,300 a year each as teachers...and we were rich!!! Reality gradually came in the door...

  3. What a sweet post! Lovely memories, and great illustrations!

  4. The early years of marriage, certainly do feel more like 'playing house', at least that's what it felt like for myself, as well! I went from living with my parents, (where I was not expected to do much in the way of chores, leaving me precious time for studying and aspirations for university), to living with my husband, (degree in hand, but no experience in domestics, apart from a few foolproof cake recipes!).
    How times have changed! Today, many couples choose to live together before getting married, and housework/cooking/childcare is jointly shared.

    Dewena, I consider you lucky to have been a young woman, newly married, at the start of such a phenomenal decade. Yes, there were many things to be concerned about, worried, even, as you noted, but there was also exciting music, pretty, feminine fashions, and the start of the Women's Liberation Movement.

    Each year that passes puts a colourful stamp on our own individual journey in this life, much like a newly received envelope that contains written treasures from a friend, or pictures of a new baby in the family, marking significant memories for us to open and share with others and ourselves.

    I think this year, too, has been a 'lovely' one for you! For me, it has been singled out for all the wonderful friends I've met, and with whom I get the opportunity to visit, that enrich my every day existence, with beautiful thoughts and images, like yours here, today, (and always). Perhaps in the future, we will say with a nuance of nostalgia, and a reminiscing sigh, ''Ah, yes, 2013, it was such a lovely year''.

    PS: Your red wool suit, custom and couture, is pure honeymoon allure! Love may be blind, but I'm sure R.H. noticed how pretty you looked in it!

  5. Reminiscing the first year of marriage together is wonderful...we were married in September and had to face where to go for the holidays....we ended going to the in-laws for Thanksgiving, Christmas day, and Easter was split...but we always had Christmas Eve at my Parents because that is the holiday I would not miss spending it with my side of the family. Congratulations, and Happy Anniversary...Hubby was a November baby and born in 1961 as well of course I am agreeing with you 1961 was a lovely year! Marisa XO

    PS I agree with Poppy your wool suit is pure honeymoon allure! I loved that your mom covered the buttons with the same material; my mom did that that was a craft...sewing ahh my mom sewed everything back then, and her work dressed three daughters with such cute outfits.. I never was able to learn how except I can sew a button and hem pants....(well at 5' I needed to learn) Any way those were the days that dresses had darts ( I think ) zippers were not seen and buttons covered...I loved the details yes the end result was beautiful but the other things that went into making a suit, or dress..the lining and how I remember my mom pressing seams....a barrel of memories and I think a lost art!

  6. What a lovely post. It brings back good memories of My Mom. She had a hairstyle like that one. I was seven years old than.

  7. What a lovely post! Thanks for sharing your memories. The fifties and early sixties were a more innocent time in my mind. As a little girl, I too imagined living the perfect life of the old sitcoms. I was lucky enough to marry a man who lived up to my image of the father in Father Knows Best. I know the best thing I ever did for my children was to pick the perfect father for them.

    I love the styles in your photos. You must have felt very beautiful and sophisticated in your red wool suit with your mink stole, and I'm sure your husband was dazzled by you.

    Have a great day, and thanks again for the sweet memories.

  8. I was newly married that year, as well. Sadly that marriage ended twenty years later in 1981. But I remember 1961 well and it was a good year.
    I had a suit with that boxy style jacket and my hip bones were easily found.
    I was a military wife and aware of a lot of stuff going on, I might not have realized otherwise.
    I remember $60 a month rent for cute duplexes, fully furnished, including appliances and utilities!

  9. Of Dewena, what a wonderful post. What the world was like with so much hope for the future. My parents got married in also February 1961. I often think that generation saw the absolute best this country has ever been:-)

  10. Dewena, What a beautiful glimpse into your young marriage. I smiled that you had the checked BH&G cookbook. Blessings to you and RH.xoxo,Susie

  11. Dewena, we honeymooned in Gatlinburg! Love these images from McCall's! And the images from your honeymoon are wonderful! I love that your mother let you take her mink. You look very cosmopolitan. How stylish of you to pick that outfit for your mother to make. I still have my first BH&G cookbook. That room is beautiful. I'd love to have that room today! Another great post! laurie

  12. oh my!
    what an enchanting walk down your memory lane you've given us!
    you were a pure delight then ~ as now. i dearly love pictures.
    you reminded me of me. every holiday we spent on the road. literally. back and forth from one house to another to eat at each one. my own darling mother was back in new york. and I missed her so.
    but my father's mother lived in oklahoma city then. and even though daddy died the same year JFK did . . . my grandmother expected bob and me to ALWAYS be at her table. as did bob's own mother!
    so we always had to do both. and bob's parents lived in Tulsa ~ 150 miles from my grandmother's house! our holidays were eating and driving.
    do kids even bother about that nowadays? we felt so obligated! they expected it. we did it.
    perhaps only one small reason i simply enjoy being in my own little HOME for the holidays! LOL.

  13. what a lovely post and wonderful memories you've shared, thank you.

  14. 1961 was a good year indeed, as it was the year I was born. Truly this is a lovely post. My Mom would talk about things from earlier days, and I would ask her, were things really more simple then and she would say, yes they were. Thank you so much for sharing such lovely memories from your life. I love your mink stole!
    Patty at Home and Lifestyle Design

  15. Hello Dewena,
    Thank you for visiting us and following Red Rose Alley. You have such a lovely blog. How nice that you will be participating in the 'Tis The Season Blog Tour. This is only my second one, so we will be new at this together. :~) I look forward to seeing your creative post in December, and it's so nice to meet new friends.

    ~Sheri at Red Rose Alley

  16. Wow! As soon as I saw that McCal's Magazine photo, it took me right back to my childhood. I remember so vividly how much my mother loved that magazine. I am sure that very issue you featured was in our living room. Thank you for sharing your wonderful year with us...wishing you many more!

  17. That is a lovely and heart-warming post Dewena. I especially love the red suit inspiration. You were lucky your mother was so dedicated and made that for you. I would have loved that to the max. My mother used to knit quite a bit and knitted my figure skating dresses for me when I was a child. I loved them to pieces. I remember one which was grey on top around the shoulders and had a zig-zag detail which then changed to red for the rest of the dress. I often think I should learn to knit but am too lazy to. :) Anyway, I think a happy anniversary wish is in order and I hope you two have many, many more happy years together. :)

  18. What a beautiful picture of you in your new suit and glasses and mother's mink! It was definitely a different world in 1961. Wonderful, wonderful post!

  19. Lovely post, Dewena. I'd be happy to have a living room now like the one in the photo you posted. I think you and R.H. have always been cute. :)

  20. Hi Dewena, it is so nice to meet you! Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a lovely comment. I look forward to being on the Christmas blog tour with you. I loved this mom was a newlywed in 1961 also, and I was born in 1962! What a cool look back at the good ol' days.

  21. It must have been lovely not to have anyone expect you to cook. Great writing as always. Happy Thanksgiving, Olive

  22. I love this post, Dewena. Such a lovely peek into your world in 1961 - a new bride, a new marriage - how exciting! I remember that cookbook - I can see it very clearly!


  23. This post brought back such memories Dewena! The fashions, the cookbook...everything. I loved reading it and I was pulled into what your life must have been like during that first year of your marriage. Yes, 1961 was a wonderful year, but any year we are here and healthy is a good one ;).

  24. One more thing..did you get the help you needed about adding the button to your sidebar?

  25. What a wonderful post. It brought back memories of how simple we were about our lives. I also have been remembering family from long ago and wishing just for an hour to visit with those who have passed. Happy thanksgiving. Enjoy your holiday.

  26. Oh, Deweena, another perfect post from you. I wish you had shown us your little attic apartment. How is the book coming along?

  27. Such a sweet post. Yes, I was waiting for your attic apartment pic too. I bet your children enjoy your sweet memory posts!

  28. Aw, how sweet!!! And that living room from 1961 would be well-received today with the houndstooth loveliness (roll tide roll) and the pretty black toile!
    Don't get me on a tangent of how many more bills we have today….even more than when we were married 25 years ago (cable, internet, cell phones….UGH!)….



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