Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stockings on the ration.

Sooooo I started this post about two weeks ago. 13 days ago if you want to get technical, but you know... I'm like that. My brain got sidetracked as it tends to do and I did things like paint and stuff.

Anywho today let us touch on my most favorite subject of subjects: Underpinnings. Specifically stockings. More specifically I want to talk about stockings on the ration; a subject that I've always found incredibly fascinating. No matter what was going on a fashionable lady in the 1940s still just had to have her legs covered.

I tried to think of something to equate this trend to in today's terms, but nothing came to me. The best I've got is today's requirement for toe nail polish with open toed shoes, but even that example doesn't really cut the mustard. Stockings had more to do with propriety. We were wearing shorter skirts and starting to lose the corsets and girdles, but stockings were still something that you just wore. According to my grandmother you found a way to get stockings during this time even if you didn't have much money for anything else. It was just something you did.

Woman wearing stockings in the 1940s
I still think all ladies should be wearing stockings, but that's just because nothing looks better to me than a lady's finely stocking-clad leg. (sidenote: Not being sexist, Dudes, but few men were wearing stockings back in the day. If you want to wear stockings today though I say go for it! It's 2011 baby!)

1933 Advertisement for Silk Chiffon Stockings. 
So rationing. Silk stockings were first rationed in the united states in 1941 due to deteriorating trade relations with Japan who had been our leading source of silk. Silk stocking production came to a halt. This meant that the stockings still available in the US quickly became very much unavailable. When the US did finally enter the war the military immediately began collecting used silk stockings to re-purpose into essential military supplies.  Parachute material comes to mind first, but it was also made into other war time items such as barrage balloons and powder balloons for navel guns. Apparently escape maps were sometimes printed on silk as well though I don't think that was taking up much of the supply.

Woman donated their damaged silk stockings in droves. A great show of patriotism says I! Those stockings that were undamaged were often reserved for very special occasions like Christmas or formal events and they were treated with great care.

The solution to the stocking shortage for most women was a switch to nylon, cotton or rayon stockings. (Though nylon became unavailable in 1942 when the War Production Board took DuPoint's complete nylon supply for the war effort.)

Ann Sheridan Shows off her cotton stockings during wartime.
Cotton and rayon stockings were not the complete solution however. The main problem with these types of stockings were that they didn't fit well and tended to sag around the knees and ankles. I've worn a pair of rayon stockings and I can attest to this. They also tended to be much thicker and therefore considerably less attractive.

Another popular solution was for ladies to literally paint the stockings onto their legs using oil based liquid makeup (typically MAC). They would then have a friend apply the back seam with eyeliner. Apparently the stockings could last for up to three days if the woman didn't bath or get caught in the rain. One also had to be careful when crossing one's legs as they could rub off.

Women painting stockings and back seams on legs. 
Interesting self seam application tool. Not totally sure why she needs to be standing on a stool for this, but you know. 
Another really interesting option particularly for women in the UK where makeup was far less available or for women who just couldn't afford the amount of makeup necessary was Gravy Stockings. Yes, you read that right. Gravy stockings. The technique was pretty simple. Boil down bones and left over bits of meat from dinner into a thick dark colored gravy and then paint away!

Here's a cute little video from a British show called horrible histories demonstrating this process (with a little less care than a lady would have used at the time.)

See you later, Alligators!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thief in the night!

Happy Monday, everyone! I can't begin to tell you how busy we've been. October can't seem to come fast enough. I really don't know what I was doing with my time before I started having to plan a wedding. I'm busy all week long and then there's no rest for the weary on the weekends. Overall this weekend wasn't too bad in terms of business. We had some ups and downs, but overall we were very productive.

Down: I received my writing scores for my GRE in the mail. Not what I thought it would be especially considering the fact that I paid a good amount of money to take a prep coarse and followed their strategies which were "guaranteed" to get you higher scores. But from what I hear with what I want to do for my Masters the school shouldn't care too much about my writing scores. My math and verbal scores were high enough so I guess there's nothing more to worry about other than my own disappointment in myself. Booooo...

Up: We found a fantastic bistro in our town while looking for a place to have our rehearsal dinner. This is extra awesome because until now we thought there were only chain restaurants and sports bars in town. Mr. Fiance had a fillet and I had delicious braised asparagus with creme fraiche. Yum yum yum. 

Down: We have a THIEF in our backyard. Here is the crime scene. 

Those were powder blue asters. Now they are stems. The weird thing is that our thief didn't go after any of the other plants including the zinnias (shown in the lower left) or the shasta daisies. Luckily I know the theif's Achilles heel.

So far we've had no more flower thievery since I sprinkled this stuff around the bed on Friday. Guess the thieves don't like it hot. Can't say I blame them. I'm not a huge fan of spicy foods myself. 

Here is the flower garden as of this morning. It's looking a little shaggy because of a couple of nasty storms we had over the weekend. It's also looking a little thin because the marigolds are reaching the end of their lifespan and I've started pulling them out to give the cockscomb room to grow. 

Up: We were invited to Mr. Fiance's cousin's daughter's birthday party this weekend and it was just about the cutest thing I've ever seen. She was turning two and they decided to throw here a Sesame Street themed birthday party. My favorite part was this full sized sign post so lovingly created by her daddy. 

I won't even get into the matching Sesame character family tee-shirts, big bird feathers leading up to the door, Oscar can including Wormy, a real Dorothy the goldfish, handmade character cupcakes, and delicious food. These people know how to throw a party and I was taking notes the entire time. 

Downs: We were supposed to go to Athens, GA for a debate society meeting after the party but unfortunately one of us came down with a stomach bug so we scrapped the trip. We went home and watched Beau Pere instead. 

Up: I'm almost done painting my sewing room now that the nasty test is over. The hardest part was choosing the color, but I finally went with a pretty sunny yellow. It's got a good sixties-ish vibe without being too dated looking. I'm trying to decided on the wisdom of adding some green damask curtains. Perhaps something along these lines. 

What do you guys think? Too much?

And that's it for me so how about all of you? Anyone have some good ups or sucky downs this weekend? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Story time: Test test test test t-t-test.

It's done it's done it's done!!

My graduate records examination that is. If you follow my facebook or twitter feeds you'll know that I have been cramming like no woman has ever crammed before for that @!&# test.
Cute Vintage Math Flash Cards from Brooklyn Retro

Mostly my issue with this test came from the math/quantitative section. I don't have anything against math. In fact I've always liked math, but I have a BFA and my BFA comes from a school where no maths or sciences were required to graduate. So other than one chemistry class that I took when I was briefly considering becoming an animation historian I had not touched math since 2003. If you're counting that's eight years.

So began two months of relearning your basic algebra, geometry and statistics for me. I started by forcing myself into a strict study schedule. Every day after work I would pop over to a coffee shop or the library and do math problems for anywhere from 2-4 hours a day depending on how much time I had available, but those of you who have taken the GRE know that that is only the beginning of preparing for the test.

I find the above comic strip hilarious as it isn't far from the truth. You think you understand the math, you think you've studied enough, and then they throw in questions that don't even use any math and are really just there to make you squirm. What the GRE tests is your ability to take a examination. It's kind of like the SAT, except much more sadistic.

I took practice test after practice test after practice test and eventually I started to plateau score-wise. I kicked up the study time again, but finally decided that it was time to just suck it up and take this thing. I was fairly sure of what score I would get and even though it was still below my ideal score I just didn't have any more time to devote to this thing.

Of course over the weekend (two days before the test I had been cramming for for two months) I caught a cold. A nasty knock you down sore throat couldn't talk kind of a cold. I swear I have never gotten sick as much as I do at the radio station. I don't know if it's the enclosed space and the recirculated air, but when someone at the radio station catches something we all catch it.

So Monday I go in for this test dripping from every part of my face. Somewhat nervous, not super excited about it, with a sore throat and my ears so clogged I could barely hear. I would have rescheduled the exam, but you have to do that three days prior or you have to eat your entire test fee. That fee happens to be $160 so I decided to just suck it up and go.

The first 45 minutes of the test are an essay which is followed up by another 30 minute essay. Then they give you a 10 minute break which I took full advantage of. I went out to the front office and crammed a granola bar into my mouth as fast as possible, took a few sips of water, went pee, and went back into the testing room with one minute and thirty seconds to spare.

Then I broke the test.

For the record, if you are taking the GRE and a little window pops up that says something like "do you accept this break" and gives you a yes and a cancel button, click cancel. It is not okay to accept a break. Basically it freaks the testing software out and it won't progress to the next section of the exam no matter how many buttons you slam. CTRL-ALT-DEL also will not help you.

Did I note that this is a timed test? So here I am slamming every single button on the keyboard, clicking my mouse on every section of the screen, and having a general panic attack. I waved my hand to try and summon the test proctor, but she was off having a sandwich or something and definitely not paying attention. So finally I ran out to the main office in a tizzy and finally found someone who could fix the testing computer for me. Phew.

After that there was another 30 minutes of verbal and 45 minutes of math multiple choices, followed by a "experimental section" that lasts 28 minutes. Yes, the questions were full of things like the comic above, but for some reason I kept finding them easy. Maybe it was my heightened state of awareness from my almost melt down, but of course the first thing that popped into my mind was that I was getting them all wrong. The test is supposed to be adaptive so if you get questions right it should give you harder questions and vice versa.

But after several other Murphy's Law moments including snapping the lead off both my pencils and running out of scrap paper I completed the test!

It was time for the moment of truth.

The next question on the screen: Do you want to cancel your scores or view your scores?

I clicked view.


Not only had I beaten my ideal test score by 60 points, I had beaten my highest practice test score by over 100 points. I was so shocked by the outcome that I let out a rather loud "OH!" If you were one of the other students in the center, I apologize for interrupting you momentarily. I would have liked to get out of my chair and done a victory dance.

But I didn't.

I did call my fiancĂ©, Mother and best friend immediately after leaving the test center and retrieving my cellular telephone.

The End.

So what have you been up to, Dear Readers? I feel like we've lost touch. Leave some comments to update me on your goings ons. If you've got a blog I promise to head over there and catch up this week. If I haven't been a regular commenter at your blog leave me a link and I'll make sure to add you to my blog roll.

Peace out, home slices and please enjoy this photo of Mr. FiancĂ© testing out towels for the wedding registry.