Literary Pursuits

The Workbasket – December 1950

The December 1950 issue of The Workbasket had a new cover design. I wondered if this was the first month for it, or if it debuted the previous month? I am missing the November issue. Still no color, though. And notice the 15 cents price!


workbasket1aCheck out this ad for a convertible shopping bag See how it unfolds into a larger bag? Nifty, huh? But what cracks me up is the fine print that says, “Unique Double Duty design astonishes everyone… Ends drudgery…” Wow! A shopping bag can do all that? I gotta find me a penny postal to send my name in for one of those!
This next ad isn’t particularly funny. Just interesting. It’s a kit for making artificial flowers… out of paper, chenille (isn’t that like pipe cleaners?), and wood fibre. Sounds like a Vacation Bible School craft to me. But apparently it was another way for the 1950 housewife to make quick and easy money in her spare time at home!

workbasket3Oh, look! I can make a pansy potholder to go with my sunflower potholder from the September issue. Well, I could… if I could follow the pattern! I tried it and had to give up. I really do know how to read crochet patterns, but there is something about this one that is very confusing. Eh.

Each issue so far has featured a column called Aunt Ellen’s Club Notes. From all I can make out Aunt Ellen was the editor of the magazine, and apparently there were “Aunt Ellen Clubs” for housewives all around the country. The column included “What Clubs Are Doing,” “Program Suggestions,” and then ideas for “Recreation Hour.” I’m here to tell you these women must have been thoroughly bored to find these ideas entertaining! Here’s one game suggestion:

Condiment conundrums — These conundrums should be written on slips of paper and wrapped around stuffed dates. They may be tied in place with a bit of Christmas ribbon or tinsel. Each must answer her conundrum before she may eat her date.

  • What date is married to an uncle?–antedate.
  • What date is ramshackle and tumbled down?–dilapidated.
  • What date is part of a fence?–post-date.
  • What date makes clear?–elucidate.
  • What date brings together?–consolidate.
  • What date floods?–inundate.
  • What date ate too much?–stuffed date.
  • What date can look around?–sedate.
  • What date is not a woman?–mandate.
  • What date can’t see?–blind date.
  • What date is used for punctuation?–accomodate.
  • What date is sweet?–candidate.
  • What date gives information?–data.
  • What date makes one fearful?–intimidate.

Be honest now! Would you have gotten to eat your date? And if not, would you even care?
The wording on this ad cracks me up. Okay, so that’s true of most of the ads of this era. But it asks, “Which do you want?” Then it lists, “Better Digestion, Restful Sleep, Normal Elimination, Strong Healthy Teeth.” You mean I have to choose just one? I can’t have all of those things?

It kinda reminds me of a modern infomerical. “But wait! There’s more! Order in the next 10 minutes and we’ll also send you…” an Electrical Grill and Toaster, plus a Vita Miracle Recipe Book!!! (They even list the value of the recipe book. Fifty-five cents.)

Another regular column was the Flower and Garden Forum where the ladies could write in questions about “any aspect of gardening” to be answered by “one of the nation’s leading gardening experts, C. L. Quear”. Here’s a sample question and answer from this issue:

I would like to know if I should put sheep manure on my strawberries this fall or scatter it on in the spring? Mrs. A. K. M., Minnesota

A fertile soil that would produce a good crop of potatoes, preferably a fertile clay soil is what you need for strawberries. After the plants are growing in such a soil don’t add sheep manure either in the spring or fall. Fertilizer would do no good and might prove quite harmful.

Silly me! I never thought of planting strawberries in the potato patch! Now what am I gonna do with all this sheep manure?

workbasket5“Have you ever thought of decorating a small Christmas tree with pan holders and filling each with small kitchen utensils, such a tea strainers, measuring spoons, sugar scoop, etc.?”

No? Me, neither. I wonder if the idea was to give the sweet little pan holders with their cute little utensils to all your girlfriends as gifts at a party… or if this was supposed to be an idea for decorating the family Christmas tree using things you just happened to have laying around the kitchen?

workbasket6If you’re looking for a career with Big Pay you ought to check into becoming a practical nurse! The ad leads me to believe they actually offered correspondence courses for becoming a nurse… and in 12-weeks at that! Could that really be true, or are there perhaps some facts in the free booklet that explain the catch? Surely a person couldn’t learn enough in a 12-week correspondence course to pass State Boards? Or maybe they didn’t have to pass State Boards to practice nursing? That’s kinda scary!

Isn’t this a cute toy? It seems like I vaguely remember playing with something similar when I was little. But I wonder why it was considered a “miracle”?

This is the last issue I have from 1950. Next up is February 1951. And guess what? It has a color cover! (I didn’t say full-color!)

But for now, I’ll leave you with Your Winter Selections. Be sure and mail in your twenty-five cents (in coins) to order any of these patterns!



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