Literary Pursuits

The Workbasket – October 1951

Yes, ladies (and any gentlemen who are interested), it’s time once again for an irregular installment of The Workbasket magazine from almost 60 years ago. Send along your 15 cents (in cash or stamps, please) and you, too, (along with Miss A. L. Davitt–whoever she might have been) can learn how to make a cross-stitch rug, along with many other delightful ideas for “home and needlecraft for pleasure and profit.”workbasket1

What in the world are those designs our dear Susie Homemaker is so lovingly stitching onto her “attractive and unusual rug”? The only thing I could come up with was cattle brands, but that didn’t seem quite right… so maybe some sort of Oriental or Indian characters? I was totally wrong on both guesses. Do you know? I’ll tell you at the end of this post. Be sure and let me know in the comments if you recognized them. I’d be interested to know how many do.
workbasket2I hate to tell you this… but if you ordered this “sensational” set of “solid stainless tableware”, it is no longer under warranty. It was only guaranteed for 45 years, so it would have expired in 1996. Then where would you have been? Without silverware, I reckon. Well… what do you expect for $5.95 anyway? A lifetime guarantee? I mean, really!
workbasket3Don’t you want to join the “Fad of the Month Club”? Not only do you get the kit to make this “utterly charming” Ballerina Boudoir Doll for your bed, vanity or mantel, you will also receive a fascinating fad club picture bulletin, chuck full of lovely exciting things you make yourself. How can you resist an offer like that? (Did you ever watch the 1980s sit-com Mama’s Family? Remember the prissy neighbor lady, Iola? This looks like something she would have been into!)

I know many stay-at-home-moms are often looking for ways they can earn money at home, and apparently homemakers in the 1950s were no different. That seems to be part of the idea of The Workbasket, and one monthly column was Women Who Make Cents.
workbasket4Mrs. W.H. Young sent in an idea for clever little storks to use as decorations at “cradle showers”. I can’t imagine that there would be much of a market for such a thing, but she claimed she sold several of them! All righty then.
workbasket5Eula Owsley laments that she was literally throwing money away for years without realizing it. In case you might like to try her idea, I seriously doubt there would be much call for typed lists of names harvested from newspaper announcements these days. But maybe you could troll the internet for names and email addresses to send to spammers. Nah. Probably not. They have automated “bots” or “spiders” (or something) that do that already. Oh, well. So much for that idea.

Since there’s not much call for shower storks or address lists, maybe you could make money by responding to this ad:
workbasket6I’m not real clear on what you would have to do to make the money, though. Whatever it is, it’s “amazing, new, and easy” and they’ll give you all the facts for free! Oh, and they’ll send you a beautiful plastic apron FREE! for your trouble. I’m just curious to know if the money-making opportunity involved selling the beautiful aprons to your friends and neighbors, or if the apron was totally unrelated. *sigh* I guess I’ll never know.

Here’s another stumper. Why in the wide world would anyone want to “highlight your heels”?
workbasket7Were heels considered especially attractive at one time, or what? I don’t believe I care to draw that much attention to the back of my foot. My heels are usually kinda dry and ugly. Or maybe it was the heel of the shoe they meant? If you had a pretty pair of high heels, then the “self color outline heel” of your stocking would accentuate your shoe? Eh. I dunno. I just don’t quite get it.

-=WAA~WAA~WAA=- Is this baby doll scary looking or what?
workbasket8“Pat her, spank her, cuddle her–she coos–she cries. Hours and hours of play thrills.”

I wonder what “lifelike rubber wonderskin” is?

Here’s something else for the kiddies. A column just for them. This is the first one I’ve come across. I’m not sure if it was a new column this month, or if it was just an occasional one, when they could come up with some craft idea for kids.
workbasket9What baffles me is how unoriginal the ideas are. I think just about any mother with an ounce of creativity could come up with activities like this. But maybe they were new and novel at that time?

As always I’ll close with the pattern page. I love looking at the vintage styles, especially the aprons. Please note that the price has gone up from twenty-five cents to thirty cents (in coins). This will be important to know should you care to try to order these patterns.
More to come!

The designs on the cross stitch rug on the cover are the signs of the zodiac. I would never have guessed. Did you?


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