Vic and Sade, 1930s and 1940s

A fun way to get a glimpse of home life “way back when” is to listen to an old radio show called Vic and Sade. Vic and Sade was a daily 15 minute show so popular at the time that each episode aired several times a day. Most of the episodes have been lost or destroyed but the ones that remain are available online. You can find some of them right  HERE.

Whether the show is an accurate portrayal of life in the 1930s and 1940s, who can say for sure? Not me. I can only assume it was a realistic reflection of the era. It was certainly a slower, simpler pace.

The family consists of Victor Gook, his wife Sadie, and their son Rush. Vic is an accountant at the Consolidated Kitchenware Co. and one of his primary interests is his lodge membership in the Sacred Stars of the Milky Way, where he serves as the Exalted Big Dipper.

Sadie is a housewife, whose best friend is her neighbor Ruthie Stenbottom. It seems as if the two of them are always shopping at Yamilton’s Department Store to take advantage of a washrag sale and in the evenings, she and Vic often get together with Ruthie and her husband Fred to play 500 and have ice cream.

Rush is their enthusiastic teenage son. He’s always discovering money-making schemes, reading his Third Lieutenant Stanley adventure books, and going to the YMCA with his friends to “watch the fat men play handball.”

The episodes aren’t full of wild adventures, mysteries, and outrageous situations. There are no laugh tracks, punch lines, and only a few sound effects. Instead, each episode is a slice of an ordinary (yet quirky) family’s daily life. Many of the episodes take place in the living room after dinner as the family discusses the trivial happenings of the day.

I feel like I’m eavesdropping on the Gook family; it’s like the social media of the early 20th century. The conversations aren’t exciting, but just like pictures on Facebook of an ordinary family birthday party, you can’t help but look (or in the case of Vic and Sade, listen in). The storylines move slowly enough that you learn the family member’s personalities, pet peeves, and individual peculiarities and feel you know them well.  The shows get funnier over time as I’ve learned the personalities of the family members. The subtle humor often make me laugh out loud.

Give it a try sometime! It’s a peaceful change of pace from the usual blaring TV noise, with its ads and fluctuating volumes. Life seems to move a little more quietly after I’ve listened to a few episodes.

 

Juneberry (Saskatoon, Serviceberry) Jam, 1924

I recently read an article in a 1924 issue of the Farmer’s Wife magazine on using wild fruits. At first glance, I didn’t think I had access to any of the wild fruits mentioned, like red haws, pin cherries, and chokecherries. But then I had a chance conversation with a fellow camper over the Memorial Day weekend…

unripened Saskatoon berries

I learned from the chat with my campground neighbor that Saskatoon berries are also known as Juneberries and Serviceberries. I’ve had a couple of Saskatoon berry bushes for years.  The bushes have been slow to take off, but I finally got my first harvest last year. I picked all the berries and put them into the freezer, where they have remained because I had no idea what to do with them.  Our conversation reminded me that the article included a couple of recipes for Juneberries.

frozen Saskatoon berries

So, I had an opportunity to try out one of the recipes. I didn’t have enough berries for a full recipe, so I just followed the ratio in the recipe of 3 parts berries to 1 part rhubarb. 

simmering the berries and rhubarb

I began to drain the fruit as directed, but then decided that I prefer jam instead of jelly, so I strained it through my jam cone instead.  I really like the idea of jam that doesn’t use store-bought pectin but I struggle with the jelly test on the back of a spoon. I’m always afraid of overcooking it so my jam often winds up more like an ice cream topping, which isn’t all bad, but a little drippy for toast.

I concentrated on counting drips–”1, 2, 3….13, 14, 15, drip” then “1, 2, 3….20, 21, 22, drip” over and over, gradually working my way closer to 60. I found myself counting faster and faster to reach my goal before it dripped. Even while pouring it into the jars, I knew it was thicker than I’d wanted. I think my problem was that by the time I counted all the way up to 60, the jam had cooked nearly a minute longer.  

stirring and counting between drips

In spite of the thickness, the taste is absolutely delicious, like blueberry with a little tang. All in all, I consider my first attempt at Juneberry jam a success. I’m anxious for this summer’s crop to ripen, so I can make another batch.

Have you ever tried Juneberries? (or Saskatoon berries? or Serviceberries?)

Print Recipe
Juneberry (Saskatoon, Serviceberry) Jelly
originally shared in 1924 by Mrs. Floyd Luros
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Wash and pick over berries and dice rhubarb. Put fruit in kettle with pinch of soda and just enough water to cover. Cook slowly until the fruit is soft and tender and then strain through a cotton flannel bag. Add an equal amount of sugar to the strained juice, bring the boiling point and simmer gently until it jells. A good plan is to see if the last drop on the spoon can be held while counting sixty, as then it will surely jell. Pour into hot sterilized glasses, cool and seal.

Are Wives Loyal? 1937 & 1938

Letter 1–

It seems I am never with some of my married friends–girls my own age as well as those of the older generation–but they are complaining about their husbands, or criticizing them, one way or another.

Perhaps you would not call that a lack of loyalty, but I feel that it is.

I have been with these same husbands a lot, and have been more or less in their confidence. It is seldom, if ever, that they say one word in criticism of their wives. Is it because the wives are so nearly perfect in their husband’s eyes? Or do they, perhaps, see our faults, but are loyal enough to say nothing about them, even to close friends?

After all, we marry of our own volition, and surely should not expect our husbands to be faultless, when we ourselves are not.

Letter 2–

The other day I overheard two women talking about their husbands. Each seemed to be trying to make hers out the worse–nothing especially bad, just ordinary “meannesses” and I could not help but wonder what they would think and feel if their husbands “visited” the same way.

Why isn’t it just as easy to say, “John likes me to have meals on time,” as it is to say, “John is always so cross and unreasonable if I am behind with the meals”? Both statements can be true but how differently they sound when saying them to a group of other women!

One evening I knew my husband would be away late on business so I started the chores and was milking when a neighbor came in. She watched me for awhile and then said, “I wouldn’t milk any man’s cows. He could do it himself if he was late.”

“Well,” I replied, “I’m not milking ‘any’ man’s cows, I’m milking our cows.”

There wasn’t any answer.

 

Balancing Our Lives–Two Perspectives; April & July 1938

The following letters appeared in The Farmer’s Wife magazine and illustrate the age-long struggle women face in achieving a balanced life. Although I cannot say that I completely agree with either woman, I do lean more toward one of their positions. What do you think?

Dear Editor:

After looking around at some of my friends who are in a rut, I have resolved not to allow myself to become one of them.

I will not stay home day after day doing the same old things,–washing, ironing, cleaning, baking, and endless other chores; I will not spend all of my evenings mending. I will see that all these things are done for my husband and two small children, but they shall not take up all of my time, for my family’s sake as well as my own; everyone likes a happy, contented wife and mother better than a cranky and bedraggled one. One day a week I will take my children, aged 3 and 1 ½ years, to town, look around in the stores, perhaps have our lunch at a restaurant, and then call on some of my friends. A visit will do us good.

One evening during the week, I will go to the movies–with my husband if we can find someone to stay with the children; alone, if we cannot, and my husband will stay with them. (He will be free to go out alone for recreation any other night he chooses.)

In this way I’m sure I’ll have more pep about my work, get it done faster, and really enjoy doing it. My family will enjoy my company more for my having a better disposition and we’ll all be happier.–Mrs. S. from  New York.

Dear Editor:

I think the letter of Mrs. S. of New York, in the April issue is one of the silliest  you ever published.

It surely would be a jolly trip, taking a three-year-old and an eighteen months old baby to town to “look around in the stores, have lunch at a restaurant and call on friends!” I suppose the children will sit at a table and eat restaurant food?

Just when will these grown-up children have their naps? At the home of some “friend” no doubt. I am sure the friend will be delighted to have a woman with two tired, fussy children descend upon her for the afternoon. What does it matter if they wet her best bedspread? Or is she supposed to furnish baby beds with rubber sheets?

I think it is a crime for people to drag small children through stores. The child is way below the level of counters, and what can he see that interests him?

I should like to see that procession crossing the street when the light changes and cars are making right and left turns. I don’t feel safe when negotiating a crossing with my purse in one hand and my three-year-old child holding the other.

If such trips make you “happy and contented” my dear Mrs. S. I thank heaven for the discontented and unhappy mothers who stay home and take a nap when the baby does! Mrs. Y.  from Ohio