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‘50s-Style Give-And-Take

Sun., July 23, 1995, midnight

Two weeks ago in this space, we printed an excerpt from a 1950s home economics textbook that gave women advice on how to be good wives. It recommended, among other things, that women prepare for their husbands’ return from work. “Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking.” We asked readers if women ever really catered to men in the way described. Got some great responses. One was so well-written that we’re printing much of it here and we’ll print a few more reactions in a later column.

Rislyn Binson of Spokane wrote: “Maybe the average ‘50s housewife didn’t follow all the suggestions in the home-ec textbook, but most of us followed some of them. We were wives and mothers, the career we had chosen. We planned and prepared meals which we ate together as family. This gave us time to talk. It wasn’t all giving and no taking. Our husbands did the commuting, the interacting with people and situations that were sometimes very difficult. We wives stayed home and worked, wearing what was comfortable for us and for our families. And for our pay, we were provided with a home with all the furnishings, a family car, food, clothing, entertainment and more. Why not welcome home the person who allowed us this lifestyle? Why not try to help him relax after a hard day?

“Today’s liberated woman might not have to put a ribbon in her hair, but if she wants to succeed in her chosen career, she has to dress for the job - power suits - and her grooming is always under scrutiny. No one can tell her to please her husband. They tell her she has to please her boss. Besides that, she has to pay someone to take care of her children.

“None of this is meant as criticism. Only a comparison. Things are constantly changing, so maybe in 40 years someone will write a column asking ‘Did women’s magazines really have articles called How To Dress For Success? Come on, was it really like this, even in the ‘90s?”’

Mentor moms: If you get upset every time you read about child abuse and neglect, there’s a program that helps you combat the problem from the beginning. The Doula Project, sponsored by Catholic Family Service in Spokane, matches experienced parents with single parents. The Doulas help through prenatal, birthing and the early parenting months. Doulas make a year’s commitment and volunteer six to eight hours a month with the single parent. Research nationwide indicates that mother companion programs are an effective way to prevent child abuse. The program also matches experienced fathers with single males. Training begins soon. For more information, call 456-71

Mary’s motto: Mary Moody Emerson, aunt to writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, lived by this motto: “Always do what you are afraid to do.”

, DataTimes



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