Friday, October 7, 2011

Home Economics

This week for the first time I have decided to participate in Sepia Saturday.  I have been following the Sepia Saturday posts by others for quite a while after being introduced to the site on one of the blogs I follow: Robs Webstek Historybits.  While I had hoped to look through my old family photos and find pictures of my female ancestors participating in suffrage parades, or something equally significant, it was not to be.  Perhaps there were no such activities for women in the small, rural towns of  South Dakota or Oklahoma.  I can't imagine that the issues were not important to these women.  I know that education of both men and women was of the highest importance in my family.   The papers and documents that have been preserved make it clear that everyone was acutely aware and interested in issues of national importance and world affairs.  My mother was college educated in the 1930s which, although not unheard of, was not entirely common among her peers at that time.   During WWII she actually left home to work for the FBI in the big cities of Chicago and Washington D.C.   I expect that she may have been a participant in these parades had she been of age at the time.

The most relevant picture to Sepia Saturday's prompt that I could find in my files was one of  my mother and her  female high school classmates "holding signs":

Lennox High School, 1935

The signs that these girls were holding, however, were not signs for women's voting rights, but were signs to promote the importance of "home economics" for girls.  The girls are holding fabric samples, a cake, needlework and have what appears to be cages with live chickens  in front of them.  My mother is the girl in the plaid shirt and dark skirt holding a small sign just left of center.   

Hmm...Home Economics.  I had a home economics class while I was in junior high in the 1960s.  The girls went to Home Economics while the boys went to Shop class.   I don't remember much about the class except that we made brownies and sewed an apron (which I still own).   Home Economics was not a subject offered to my daughter at any time during her school years.   While I am very happy that she and her generation of girls see the world as having a much wider spectrum of opportunities than perhaps mine or my mother's did, I am also very sorry she was not given more information about how to "run a home."   She is away at college now.  My husband and I are constantly reminded, and I think it is also becoming clear to her now, that she has almost no clue about how to fix a healthy meal or balance her bank account  or replace a lost button on a blouse.  I know full well that this knowledge will eventually come to her, but it is really hard for us to wait for it!

11 comments:

Postcardy said...

That's a great picture. I had home economics for two years in junior high. The classes were not optional. The girls always took home ec, and the boys always took shop. I know at a later time, at least some schools let boys take home ec and girls take shop. I think ideally, both sexes should have a year of each.

Brett Payne said...

A nice photograph from your family to follow this week's theme, and a thoughtful and interesting story behind it. Welcome to Sepia Saturday, and I look forward to seeing and reading more of your contributions.

savethephotos said...

Great photo and topic! And Welcome aboard with your first post!

I was at the tail end I believe of Home Ec classes being phased out. I did take it in Jr High (in the early 80s) and I remember the classroom had stoves in it (that we never once used) I really dont even remember learning that much in there as the class seemed to be fizzling out and I sat at a desk with 3 other girls who were so not into anything taught there and made fun of it and did other things. I seem to recall baby dolls and touching on silverware etiquette. But thats about it. I took Wood Shop the following year, only 2 of us girls in the class. Sighhh I agree, I think its sad in many ways, the things girls arent learning these days.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

I had to take both needlework and cookery as two separate subject for three years. I'm sorry to say I hated needlework but, looking back, the teaching was far from inspirational. My younger son had to take home economics though, for a year or two! He is actually quite handy around the house. I think it's a good thing for anyone to study.

Bob Scotney said...

I went to a boys' school so home economics was not a option. I didn't take to woodwork either. My wife says it shows!
Your daughter sounds like mine who reputedly can burn a pan while boiling water.
Welcome to the Sepia Saturday world.

Karen S. said...

Welcome, glad you joined in. This is a perfect photo for this week's theme....and the information was interesting! See you next week!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Wonderful picture and post. I loved "Home Ec" and we took it in 7th grade. I made a drawstring bag, and a dress. I took the cooking part in high school. Our teacher made us dry the sink after washing it. I never do that now though, lol.

Some boys did take the cooking class. I wish that I could have taken shop. I think that I would have enjoyed the woodworking.

Thanks for the memories.

Kathy M.

PattyF said...

Welcome and congratulations on a wonderful first Sepia Saturday post! You have a great photo. When I was in junior high, both boys and girls had a semester of home ec and a semester of shop. I wouldn't worry about your daughter. At some point, knowing how to do those "homey" things will become important to her, and you will most likely be the first person she turns to.

Alan Burnett said...

First of all, welcome to Sepia Saturday. And if this weeks' contribution is anything to go by Sepia Saturday will be further enriched by your involvement. Great image, interesting write-up : you have a perfect understanding of what makes Sepia Saturday tick.

mary said...

Thank you all for the kind welcome to Sepia Saturday!

Rob From Amersfoort said...

I love to see these pictures showing the everyday life decades ago. It gives you the possibility to go back to that time, even for a short while, and imagine how life was back then.