Way back when, Wednesdays

Funky fashion arrives in the North East

The days are getting shorter and the Autumn/Winter fashions are now in the stores. Let’s have a look at what people were wearing in 1971. The North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper covered the coolest threads on offer for men, women and boys, from pages 36 – 37 of the edition dated 14 July 1971.

Knitted suits for men

Yes, these photographs are real. Perhaps these brands of menswear should have been labelled with a hazard warning “Wearing this garment may compel doe-eyed women to hang themselves precariously off your person at any given opportunity.”

Mens fashions knit shirt

These articles focused on how it was essential for a man to be stylish if he wanted to be admired and attract a lady companion. The photographs are over the top by modern standards but we all know that the advertising industry still uses sex appeal and prestige to sell products! John Brown’s smart knitted suits for casual and weekend wear were styled following overseas trends. Note the focus on Australian manufacture, no doubt using fine Australian wool. Maybe these women are not really gazing adoringly up at the male models – they are really just feeling the texture of these garments. For as the article states, women might be coveting the clothing for themselves!

A married man would make his wife’s life at home a lot easier if he chose to wear modern, easy care drip dry fabrics. Synthetic fabrics had been popular during the 1960s. These colourful and distinctive knit shirts in the ‘Summerknits’ range by John Brown were made from high tech fabrics such as Tricel and Teteron.

 

hotpants in crimplene

Conversely, the ladies modelling a new range of women’s clothing don’t need men as accessories in these photoshoots. Wearing funky hotpants, this girl is confident, in style and ready to have fun.

During the 1970s fashions changed greatly from the beginning of the decade to its end. In 1971 the fashions were very much like those of 1969. Garments made from polyester were popular as they were inexpensive and did not need ironing. Bright colours and bold prints were still in demand. Checks and tweeds were in vogue too.

 

Lady with silver buckle

Distinctive fashions by young Prue Acton, the first Australian designer to break into the American market.  Prue embraced both new synthetic and natural fibres, to create her bold and colourful designs (https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/articles/2377).

 

Young women still liked mini-skirts but long, flowing skirts were also worn. Fashion continued to be influenced by the hippie era and ethnic influence of the late 1960s. Women wore long bohemian print dresses with billowing sleeves. Men’s loose shirts in floral patterns had ties around the neck or an open neckline. Not forgetting the leather sandals and scarves tied around your head. And hippie men wore beards and long hair.
Turtleneck jumpers were popular with both sexes and every woman owned at least one cowl neck jumper, to wear with pants or under a pinafore dress. Ladies still liked trendy short hair styles. But long hair might be worn down loose, plaited or dressed in a soft, bohemian up-style for a natural look. Or you could set it in waves.

Another trend emerged – the 1970s was the first decade where women wore pants and pantsuits for work and leisure. Women could wear jeans at home and elegant or trendy pants to a nightclub or restaurant. Some dress codes allowed women to wear business suits with pants to the office. By the end of the decade, women could basically wear what they wanted, which was revolutionary (https://www.retrowaste.com/1970s/fashion-in-the-1970s/1970s-fashion-for-women-girls/).  Trousers for both men and women were low rise, firm on the hips and with a wider leg which was sometimes cuffed. Corduroy clothing or men and women such as jeans, and sports coats with wide lapels, were seen everywhere (http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1971fashions.html).

 

boys 2

Knitwear and shirts by John Brown for little men, made from machine washable wool.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Easter Bunny or Playboy Bunny?

At this time of the year you might see the Easter Bunny greeting children and handing out chocolate eggs. Usually the character represents a confectionary company and is dressed in a soft, fluffy onesie and wearing a big rabbit head.

On page 2 and 15 of the edition dated 21 March 1967, the North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper printed an advertising promotion for the Modbury Shopping Centre at Clovercrest. The Easter Bunny would make an appearance on the Thursday evening before Easter and hand out eggs to children. One could argue that there is nothing fluffy about this Easter Bunny, with the exception of the fur trim on her costume and the image she presents.

Easter Bunny in heels

 

 

Easter Bunny with children

When you look at these photographs of the Clovercrest Easter Bunny you might wonder if the target audience of this Easter promotion was really children! The lady’s costume and footwear are more modest than, but reminiscent of a Playboy Bunny’s outfit. The late eccentric American billionaire Hugh Hefner created and published the pornographic men’s magazine Playboy in 1956. Playboy Bunnies worked as cocktail waitresses and croupiers in a chain of mens’ clubs and casinos across the world. Hefner’s first club opened in 1960 and he also used the Playboy Bunny logo on the front cover of Playboy. Not forgetting the Playboy Mansions where Hefner lived, surrounded by his harem of beautiful girls, his ‘Bunnies’.

In 1963 journalist and feminist Gloria Steinam ventured undercover for eleven days, securing a job as a Playboy Bunny in New York. Steinam wrote her two-part article in the form of a diary entitled A Bunny’s Tale, for the May and June issues of Show magazine. Gloria had managed to secure employment as she was physically attractive – The Clubs stated in their recruitment advertisements that ‘homely’ women need not apply. Her writing discredited the idea that working as a Playboy Bunny was glamourous and profitable. Steinam exposed the sexism of the club and the horrible conditions that Bunnies had to work under. It was mandatory for the girls to be tested for sexually transmitted infections when they took up the job. They were told whom they could date, namely the Club’s top tier members.

 

Gloria bunny

Gloria Steinam wearing her Playboy Bunny costume.  Image:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/26/gloria-steinem-bunny-tale-still-relevant-today

 

Besides being ogled and treated as sex objects, Bunnies earned low wages and were allowed only one week’s leave a year. They wore tight revealing costumes that cut into their flesh and high heels on long shifts. The Bunnies had to pay for the upkeep and cleaning of their costumes and the Clubs took a percentage of their tips.
(https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/26/gloria-steinem-bunny-tale-still-relevant-today)

 

Bunny working in Miami club

A Playboy Bunny working in the Miami club during the 1960s

 

By 1967 Hefner operated 16 clubs and two international Playboy Bunny resorts. Hefner was also honoured with a cover story in Time magazine in the edition dated 3 March 1967. The magazine proclaimed him a genius and a “prophet of pop hedonism.” (http://time.com/4515185/hugh-hefner-obituary-playboy/)

Time

Despite Steinam’s article, business continued to flourish. Hefner had created a mainstream brand for the sophisticated man to enjoy and the Playboy Bunny had become an icon worldwide (http://time.com/4963765/no-hugh-hefner-did-not-love-women). The dumb Bunny stereotype was entrenched in popular culture. The Time article pictured a photograph of several Playboy Bunnies sunbaking and exposing their bodies. The caption read “Young, pouty types without excess intelligence.” (http://time.com/3547122/playboy-hugh-hefner-1967/)

Hugh Hefner always claimed that by publishing his magazine and inventing the concept of the Playboy Bunny that he had contributed to the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He had dismissed the prudery and taboos of the 1940s and 1950s by promoting free speech and free love and by having being open about sex and pornography.

Following Hefner’s recent death in September 2017 at age 91, the controversy still exists as to whether this statement was ever true in any way or if Hefner was simply a master businessman who had tapped into an existing market and who knew how to exploit women for profit.

 
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Way back when, Wednesdays

Out there on my own

International Women’s Day 8 March 2018

 

It’s the early 1970s. Imagine being thrown out onto the street by your family because you became pregnant – they no longer wanted you. You only had the clothes you were wearing and some loose change in your pocket. You were homeless and you had no way to support yourself. There was no Parenting Benefit in existence at this time.
In the edition dated 25 August 1971, the North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper told one woman’s story, which highlighted the plight of young unmarried mothers. In a special report, made up of two articles on pages 1 and 3 the Leader sought to raise awareness of the financial issues, condemnation and social isolation single mothers experienced. A new South Australian organisation called ‘The Council for The Single Mother and Her Child’ could offer these girls help.

Unwed mothers

We have all heard the horror stories of young unmarried women being coerced or forced into giving up their babies for adoption during the 1960s. Children were also put in state run institutions such as orphanages. The Commonwealth Department of Social Services was created in 1939 and became fully operative in 1941. However, the Government did not introduce a supporting mother’s benefit for single mother’s pension until 1973. From 1942 in Australia, a single mother could only receive a small pension if she had been married and was widowed, deserted by her husband or divorced. You were also entitled to a benefit if you husband was in prison or a committed to a mental hospital, Seeing the lighter side, A history of the single parent pension in Australia.

“In 1973 supporting mother’s benefit was introduced for single mothers not entitled to widow’s pension. The new benefit was payable after a six-month waiting period, during which time the States remained responsible for the single mother’s income support under the Commonwealth-State cost-sharing arrangements introduced in 1968. The supporting mother’s benefit was extended in 1977 to single fathers, including widowers and divorcees, and renamed supporting parent’s benefit. The six-month waiting period for this benefit was abolished in 1980 when the States withdrew from the Commonwealth-State cost-sharing arrangements.”  Australian Bureau of Statistics

Unfortunately the Australian Bureau of Statistics does not hold data on the number of babies born in South Australia in 1971 but“1500 illegitimate births” does seem quite high for the population of South Australia. So you might think that having a baby ‘out of wedlock’ was not uncommon. However, Society viewed an unmarried pregnant women as having loose morals.

Birthright

A woman seemed to experience most of the shame, rather than the father of the child. It could also be difficult for the mother of an illegitimate child to find a man to marry her and adopt her child as their own. Living together in a de-facto relationship was socially unacceptable. Unless your family were willing to support you financially and emotionally, a single pregnant woman faced some tough choices.

Sometimes a girl’s parents would insist on a young couple getting married as quickly as possible before her pregnancy started to show – what is known as a ‘shotgun wedding’. This was an attempt to not only hide the unplanned pregnancy or at least regain some of the respect that their daughter had lost by getting pregnant. The girl’s boyfriend was basically threatened by her father and told to take responsibility for the baby! Adoption was a common choice. The girl was supposed to move on with her life, when in fact she would always be dealing with the loss of her child. It should be acknowleged that some  fathers also reluctantly lost their children to adoption.

Legal abortions were not readily available. Never an easy decision for the mother, abortion was legalised in South Australia in 1969. Abortion was only legal if performed in a hospital and it was deemed by two medical practitioners that continuing a pregnancy was detrimental to the physical and mental health of the mother or if there was a substantial risk that the child would be seriously physically or mentally handicapped if it was born, Abortion Law in Australia  Frightened women also sought out illegal abortions, putting themselves at risk of infection and death.

Some brave young women did decide to keep their babies. At least ‘The Council for The Single Mother and Her Child’ was in existence in South Australia to help supply them with baby clothing, and support with finding accommodation and employment. A single mother would have received a child endowment payment as the Commonwealth Government’s Child Endowment Act of 1941 had introduced the payment of weekly sums to mothers of children under the age of 16. But it would have been very almost impossible for a single woman to find somewhere to live with a baby and no other income. Day care centres and government subsidised childcare are a modern invention. A woman would have had to leave her child with relatives and friends or pay somebody she knew to look after them while she was at work.

Note also the small article printed on page 3 about the organisation ‘Birthright’ which was trying to establish a branch in Tea Tree Gully to assist widows and their children. Living on a widow’s pension was not easy either.

Most sole parent families still live on low incomes and those on Centrelink payments face a high risk of poverty. “Unemployment among sole parents is generally about twice the rate across the whole workforce. The reasons for this include their responsibility for caring for a child alone, together with low educational qualifications and the need to live in areas where rents are low but jobs are scarce (such as public housing estates). Many of those who do have a job are vulnerable to unemployment because they work in casual and part time jobs.” Fact sheet: sole parent payments

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Way back when, Wednesdays

For the woman who loves cheesecake

In the summer of 1968, the North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper featured a section dedicated to its female readership, on page 4 of the edition dated 17 January. A Page for Women was made up of articles that were deemed to be of interest to the average woman in the 1960s.

Take a look at these articles which are predominantly about social occasions: a birthday and weddings. Plus advertisements for home furnishings and the latest ‘modern’ novels to enjoy, when you had finished spending most of your day on home duties and looking after your family. You might reflect that many publications aimed at women still focus on Society, weddings, celebrities, home decor and recipes!

modern novels plus shopping

celebrations

Burns for Blinds

Future Liberal politician, member for the seat of Kavel (1970 to 1992) and 3rd Deputy Premier of SA (1979 to 1982) Roger Goldsworthy also managed to secure some advertising space to criticise the State Government in office at the time (The Labor Government with Don Dunstan as Premier).

Roger Goldsworthy advertisement

For a fabulous dinner party, to celebrate a special occasion, to impress family and friends or perhaps to entertain your husband’s boss, the North East Leader printed this recipe for a pineapple cheesecake.

You might like to make it for your loved one! Let us know how it tastes. You will need scales which measure weight in the Imperial system or go to http://www.metric-conversions.org/weight/ounces-to-grams.htm to convert to Metric.

You can use butter or salt reduced margarine for the melted shortening. You may also substitute cream cheese for smooth ‘creamed, cottage cheese’ if you wished. To make cottage cheese less crumbly, cooks online recommend adding a little cream, https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/16693/can-i-use-cottage-cheese-instead-of-cream-cheese-when-making-a-cheesecake

Pineapple Cheesecake

Ingredients

For the biscuit crust:

2 cups crushed plain biscuits
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
4-6 ounces melted shortening

Method

Combine all ingredients. Press into the sides and bottom of an 8 inch spring form tin. Chill.

Ingredients

For the filling:

1 15 ounce can well-drained crushed pineapple in juice.                                                             Note:  You can now buy a 440g tin of crushed pineapple in supermarkets.
1 1/2 tablespoons gelatine
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice
½ pound creamed cottage cheese
1 cup sugar
1 large can of undiluted evaporative milk, chilled icy cold.
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method

Soften gelatine in ½ cup pineapple juice and dissolve with lemon rind over hot water. Cool. Cream cottage cheese and sugar together. Add cooled lemon juice and gelatine, cool until partially set. Whip the icy cold evaporated milk in a large bowl to soft peaks. Beat in gelatine, cheese mixture and vanilla essence. Fold in crushed pineapple. Pour into crumb crust. Chill 6 – 8 hours or overnight.

Ingredients

The glaze

½ cup remaining pineapple juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 dessertspoon cornflour
¼ cup lemon juice

Method

Blend cornflour and sugar, stir in lemon and pineapple juices. Cook until boiling, stirring constantly. Cool. Spread over cheesecake top, decorate as desired. Serves 6 to 8.

Pineapple cheesecake

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Extra duties at work

When you look at the issues of the North East Leader Messenger from the first two months of 1972, they are filled with photographs of fresh-faced children of all ages enjoying the summer heat, usually swimming at the local pools, or taking part in fun activities at Tea Tree Plaza. Looking at these images can evoke fond memories of your childhood. You might reflect that kids never change, no matter the era in which they grow up.

Fortunately some things that were not so wholesome have changed. The North East Leader at this time often pictured photographs of staff at Tea Tree Plaza, wearing some of the outfits on sale at different stores. Most of these depict ordinary people modelling dresses or casual wear. They are usually female staff.

On page 20 of the North East Leader dated 16 February 1972, Tea Tree Plaza featured a sales promotion for the big sidewalk sale. In conjunction with Hooper’s Furniture, Sussan advertised ladies nightwear. In the accompanying photograph young sales assistant Wendy Cummings is pictured in an alluring pose, wearing a short nightdress and showing off her legs. Besides her is another set of nightwear. During the 1960s and 1970s Sussan was a major retailer of lingerie and the place to purchase your wedding ‘trousseau’. We cannot know if Wendy volunteered for the photo opportunity or if modelling Sussan’s stock was just part of her job.

Sussan nightdress

Two of my colleagues recall how much sexism they experienced in the workplace during the 1970s. The advertising industry still uses sex appeal to sell products and objectify women. Thankfully today we do not usually see this type of image in the Messenger newspaper, with its focus on family and the community. When you work in the retail industry it is no longer considered acceptable to ask your female staff to promote your shop’s stock by being photographed wearing a little nightie. You also have the right to say no to such a request.

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Way back when, Wednesdays

Everything old is new again

Why is the woman in this photograph trying to look attractive in a swimsuit, while lying on an ironing board? The Leader Messenger printed this story advertising the locally produced Slant Board, on page 11 of the edition dated 11 June 1967.

Slant board lady

Doing just ten minutes of exercise while lying on a slant board relieves tension in your nerves and muscles, increases circulation, strengthens your back and shoulders and leads to weight loss. The slant board is even better than a nap, a physiotherapy session and can help people who suffer from respiratory illnesses.

Were some of these amazing claims somewhat exaggerated? Possibly.  Nevertheless, exercise is good for you.  More modern forms of the slant board exist today.  You can use the decline bench with weights to build core and abdominal strength.  Advocates of ‘Inversion therapy’, where which you lie on a slant board with your legs raised above your body, believe that this practice can relieve stress, ease various types of back pain and improve your breathing.  They revere the work of Dr. Bernard Jensen DC (mentioned in the Messenger article) who discovered and wrote about the positive health effects of slanting in 1933.

Advertising tactics have not changed. Health conscious Americans and Hollywood celebrities use the slant board, so you should be modern and buy one too.  It looks like using the slant board will make you look glamourous too.

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South Aussie Women of the Arts

ThWomen of the Artsis fabulous new book, Women of the Arts showcases 50 of the state’s female arts personalities, including film directors, costume designers, singers, songwriters, actors, dancers, production coordinators and everything in between.

Produced locally, it was written and photographed by TTG residents Ali and Rocky Feo who have strong ties with SA’s arts world.

They have creatively and beautifully captured 50 of the leading women in the arts field highlighting the personal stories of identities such as singer Rachael Leahcar , Costume, Makeup & Hair Design expert Beverly Freeman, author Dylan Coleman, actor Michaela Cantwell and dozens more.
We have two copies – one for loan, and one for preservation in our Community History collection. You can place a hold here and you can also follow the book’s Facebook page.