Skip to comments.My week as a 1950s teenager
Posted on 11/06/2013 5:30:35 PM PST by lowbridge
Last week, I read that a Texas teenager made $300,000 the old-fashioned way: Maya Van Wagenen wrote a memoir about her experiences following the advice from Betty Cornells Teen-Age Popularity Guide an etiquette book published in 1958 and then got a movie deal.
Cornells book details all the essentials a girl needs to know to be popular in the 1950s from diet to clothing to being a proper hostess.
I was intrigued. Would a guide to becoming a popular teenager in mid-century America still be relevant to someone like myself a 14-year-old high school freshman living on the Upper East Side in 2013? I had to find out.
However, the first challenge was finding an actual copy of the book, which hasnt been in print for decades. I finally tracked one down at the New York Public Library. In the dated book, Betty made this promise:
I dont care who she may be, every girl wants to be attractive and popular. To get to be that kind of girl, all you have to do is try some of my suggestions.
With that in mind, I proceeded to spend a week in the squeaky-clean shoes of Betty Cornells ideal teenager. Here, I share my experience:
(Excerpt) Read more at nypost.com ...
Good looking young lady... but a $525 skirt? And $250 shoes? Get real.
2013- I dont care who she may be, almost every girl wants tats, a nose ring, a stud in her tongue, and free stuff.
She could have dressed like a 1950s Democrat and worn a Kefauver coon skin cap.
So interesting. Thanks for posting.
Yes I caught that too. Even adjusting for inflation I bet Elizabeth Taylor didn't spend that kind of money on shoes and skirts in 1958.
A "real" 1950s girl would have gotten her clothes at Penney's. Maybe Gimbel's if she was "rich".
Although I wondered how this lifestyle could possibly make anyone more popular, I did feel a lot more elegant, composed and energized by the end of the week. It was a lot of fun to step into the shoes of a 1950s teenager “””
Females used to be more alive, more female, today, many of them lack any spark, any verve, and they aren’t as cute, because they are pudgy, sloppy, and unrefined, they don’t sit well, or walk well.
$250 now is $31.18 in 1958 dollars.
I suspect the numbers aren’t too far off.
Or, if she lived in Minneapolis, at the Three Sisters
I made my own skirts and dresses in the fifties. Many of us did. I enjoyed sewing then, I still do, and my clothing was one of a kind.
Yes, in those days girls usually learned to sew.
Even when I was a teenager in the 70s, most did. I think it was more of a flyover country thing. A lot of them were in 4-H, FHA(future homemakers of America) and things like that.
In Whittier, Calif., a real 1950's girl living in the latter part of the decade would, indeed, have gotten a lot of her clothes at Penney's in the Whittier Downs Mall on Washington Blvd. just west of Broadway. This store was smaller than a modern supermarket and not at all like the Penney's stores in the big malls of today. If she wanted to spend more money, she would have gone to Myer's in downtown Whittier. If she wanted to find Myers in December, 1960, she could look for the big gold balloon floating above the store that was visible for miles.
If she wanted more variety, she would have had to go all the way to downtown LA, about 23 miles away to the six-story May Company on Sixth and Hill. While shopping there, she would likely be wearing one of her better outfits as well as a hat. If she was hungry, she could eat at the cafeteria in the store or the Italian Kitchen across the street. On her way home, she could get fine Mexican food at the El Poche Cafe in San Gabriel or at Ozzie's, a diner on Slauson at the Santa Ana Freeway, which opened in 1957 and is the only one of these eateries that still exists.
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