Archived Story

Nifty Fifties on display at museum next month

Published 1:28pm Thursday, August 14, 2014

For the past few weeks I have been writing about the 1950s, things that I remember from my mother’s house and mine.

The reason for this trip down memory lane is the new display that will be going up at the Edwardsburg Area History Museum in September.

It will feature This Old House of the Nifty Fifties.

But there is another reason. Many young people of today have no idea of the use of some of these articles. A case in point is at the recent US-12 Yard Sale a young woman asked what an ironing board was and what it was used for.

But I think that not many young people read these articles and I hit a nerve with my older readers when I wrote about teakettles. Several people let me know that they still have a tea kettle sitting on their stoves.

If you look at the kitchen makeovers in popular magazines today you will see nothing on the kitchen counters and no teakettles on the stove. As I look around my kitchen even today I have remnants of the 1950s on my counters — my toaster, coffee pot, and my toaster oven. I used to have my big mixer with the stand but I have given that up for my hand mixer, which is in the cupboard. But one of the items taking a prominent place on my counter is my canister set.

When I first married in the ‘50s, I had an aluminum set that was copper colored with black lids. Not only did I have flour, sugar, coffee and tea canisters but also a cookie canister and even a matching canister for grease and bacon drippings. Canisters are usually made opaque so that light does not get in and damage the contents. But there are canister sets made of clear glass and stainless steel. Tupperware makes a canister set also.

My current canister set is made of ceramic and matches my dishes. In order to be considered a vintage item it must be at least 30 years old but not more than 100 years old, which makes them considered antiques. Mine falls somewhere in between. It has obtained its share of chips over the years and I have replaced some of the lids.

My mother’s canister set was made of light turquoise blue plastic and was and sat on her kitchen counter. When women cooked every day they needed their cooking supplies handy where they could reach them quickly.

Just as my mother did, I keep sticks of unwrapped chewing gum in my flour canister to keep away the weevils that like to get into flour. Bay leaves also accomplish the same results. No bugs.

Some people who don’t cook much use canister sets to store other things, utensils, candy or pasta, but not me. I will continue to have my 1950s kitchen with only a few minor changes. Where will the younger generation keep their flour and sugar? First they will want to know what it is and what you do with it.


Jo-Ann Boepple works at the Edwardsburg Area History Museum.

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