10 reasons I’m glad I don’t live in the 50s: A Retro Renovation re-run


WHEN YOU DO A BLOG LIKE THIS, people can jump to the conclusion that you want to actually live back in those “good ole days”. This couldn’t be farther from the truth in my case. I just like the design and believe in understanding and working with a house’s original design before you arbitrarily gut it…don’t read any more into it. In fact, here are my top-10 reasons that I’m very happy, thank you very much, to be living in 2009.

tevas.jpg10. Clogs and Teva’s — When my feet are happy, I am happy.

9. Crash safety standards — Cars really are much, much safer and better made today. Dollar for dollar, a great buy. P.S. I am a Ford girl though-and-through, take a look at these, readers.

8. Second bathrooms — We actually have three, a critical basis for familial harmony.

7. Free markets — I truly believe that liberal economic policies are the foundation for peace.

6. Yoga — The Beatles brought it here in the 60s sort of, didn’t they? Buddhism, too. For me, has provided much wisdom.

5. Stephen Colbert — Makes me roll on the floor laughing every night.

4. Civil rights — Goes hand-in-hand with free markets.
3. Birth control — For women, civil rights addressed the philosophical, the Pill solved the technical.

2. Our medical system — I have a somewhat contrarian point of view on all of this. While I know ‘the system’ could be better, I also believe that we should thank our lucky stars and count our blessings every day that we have an economy and medical research system that produces advance after advance after advance to help solve major medical issues that used to simply kill us. Because of this, I believe, we should also recognize that we are going to have to pay a lot more for all of this MORE BIGGER BETTER, and in fact should be grateful for the opportunity even as ‘imperfect’ as the system yet may be.


1. My morning coffee maker on a timer, and my Mr. Coffee cappucino maker from Target. 9 hours sleep and two big cups of Joe ready to go every morning are just the very very best and the secret to my success ha ha. And in the afternoon, I am in control of my own latte destiny.

This post was originally published in March 2008.


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  1. says


    I’ve already lived in the 50’s. I don’t need to again. I liked your list. It reminded me of one I wrote for my own website a few years ago. You might enjoy it:

    “July 20, 2003:

    I’ve made lists before of things that I “should” take for granted, but just DON’T. I know some of you DO take them for granted, and that’s probably the less “cluttered” approach to living a contemporary life…but I remain at least mildly amazed by things we find in OUR DAILY lives.

    I’m reminded of this today because I needed to check in with my Wife. She was somewhere in another state, driving down some road at 70 mph, and I had no clue where. To be able to simply press a few buttons on my landline telephone machine, which, through the air, instructed other machines to call yet other machines, and send another signal through the air to another non-landline radio receiver (cell phone) machine sitting next to her in this car machine somewhere…well, that still amazes ME.

    I’m amazed at electricity, airplanes, space stations, aircraft carriers, wrist watches, digital technology, organ transplants, the gyroscope, polyester shirts, television, radio, cognac, radar, cameras, contact lenses, cloning, the Hoover Dam, glass, movies, plastic, tape recorders, the Hubbel telescope, light bulbs, linear perspective, lasers, and the fact we continue to find “brand new” AND “long extinct” species of animals living right here amongst us.

    I prefer living this way.

    I like being amazed.

    I like moving through the world…looking, listening, touching…and thinking “Man, THAT is so cool! I’m SO glad someone came up with that!”


  2. maddy123 says

    I don’t wanna live in the 50s either! (And I wasn’t born yet, anyway…) But I enjoy many things about the past, and find a lot of design from earlier periods pleasing, or at least fun to re-visit. I love it when people appreciate the older stuff, and aren’t in such a hurry to move on to the next thing (like ripping out cool vintage features when they remodel).

    I love my cell phone and contemporary coffeemaker, for sure.

  3. Sumac Sue says

    Hi. Great post. Just spent the weekend with my 95-year-old grandmother, who has lived through a lot of decades. She definitely would pick today rather than the 50s, or any other decade she lived through, for that matter. She might want the youth, or the health, she had in years past, of course, but she has always loved experiencing the latest trends and inventions. She and my grandpa were the first people in their neighborhood to get a color TV back in the very late 50s or early 60s. (Can’t remember the year, but I remember that everything on TV looked green or orange, and it was a big hunk of a floor model.) Now, she is very proud of the flat screen plasma TV hanging on the wall of her condo!

  4. leslie says

    Wonderful list! The 40’s & the 50’s…..ahh, the boom of modernism in art and design. Products and ideas that still look more contemporary today than many of our convenient but anti-aesthetic advancements. Life was affordable, right sized and not so grandiose. But today? What can beat the ease of: travel, of “jetting” over the seas and arriving in another language, time zone and cultural way of life? Of resources at our fingertips, of knowing the well being of our friends across the globe on the same day they wrote? Of working, and choosing our professions. Our mothers received a reprieve when they went to work at our fathers dismay. They hung up their aprons (albeit lovely), bought a commuter car and made decisions outside of the house, this was their revolution. I take it for granted, a birth right but there were many that paved my way and I am grateful to be vibrant in the year 2008 with all of my choices, going strong yet still loving the aesthetics of a retro kitchen in the making!

  5. Patrick Coffey says

    Ok Pam I read your list and I have to take issue (poliely and respectfully mind you) with some of the reasons you and others are glad you do not live in the 50’s and point out a few reasons of mine that I ahve for thinking that it might not be so bad for ust to revisith the 50’s in ohter ways.

    Medical advances…..First off I do agree with you about medical advances that have been made since the 1950’s (did you hear about the disfigured lady who recieved a face transplant recently??? I am not kidding)….but isn’t it a shame that ordinary folks like me or you can NOT afford 95% of them because our beloved medical system is out for itself and does not consider people only $$$$$$$…this comes form someone who has not been able to offord health insuance for TEN YEARS!!!!!!!!

    Morning coffee…….,first off modern drip coffee makers IMO make the crappiest coffee I ever tasted are like most modern appliances…UGLY AS HELL to look at. My Sunbeam vacuum pots or any one of my vintage percolators makes a much richer cup of coffee and look a lot better doing it. On the rare occasion I want to have coffee made at a certain time before I get up I just plug the pot into an appliance timer set the time, set it for when i want it to go on and there I go. I am sure that your Frigidaire stove has a timed appliance outlet Pam (unless it was made after 1974) and as long as your stove clock works you could do the same using it. Also the vintage coffee makers have a lot more style and are a lot more durable then any piece of modern crap you buy today. that is unless you wanna spend 100s of dollars (most my vintage coffeepots did not cost me more that $20 and none cost me more than $50 and were gotten form thrift stores, flea markest and E-Bay).

    As for multi bathrooms……….I know a lady that lives in a little 3 bedroom house built in 1955 that has 2 bathrooms on the main level (one being the master bath) and one in the basement that was added in about 1960. Multi bathroom houses were born in the earlier part of the 20th century but became popular after the war. As to whether a house had more that one it had more to do with the price of and style of house than the era in which it was built. An example of this is when my folks built there new house in 1963. Tthe most basic model was a 3 bedroom 1 bath slab rambler that sold for $17,500. My folks bought the next step up which was a 3 bedroom 2 bath rambler with a full basement for $19,500. There were 3 other models available in the neighborhood…..a Split Level, a Split Foyer (in some places known as a raised ranch), and a more deluxe version of the rambler my folks had that had an extra bedroom. All 3 of these models had more than one bathroom in them and I know for a factthe split level had 3. Now a lot of homes in the 50’s did have only one bathroom but rememeber that was becasue most of the available housing stock at that time was built in the earlier part of the 20 century (just like most of the available housing stock now dates form the 50’s 60’s and 70’s). Also as well documented on this sight any house from the 50’s is a lot more attractive than these modern Mc Uglies they build today.

    As for civil rights….yes we have come a long way but baby we still got a long way to go…look how long it took usto elect a “Black” (politically correctness can talk to the hand) president, 44 years after the Civil rights act was signed and we have our first Black President……if that does that not blatantly prove thatwe still have a lot of wrok to do on the civil rights front then I do not know what does. And believe it or not there is still segregation in this country. It is not by law thats true but it still exisits and so does discrimination.

    As for cell phones……I am glad Ronn can get in touch with his wife wherever sheif he needs to ….. that is a convienience but I hope she is not one of the type of woman that have more than once almost ran me off the road becasue they are to busy talking on the phone to pay attention to the road and obey simple traffic laws like using their turns signal when switching lanes. That is why I am glad that the police in DC now fine people for talking on their cell phones when driving..I wish Va. and all the other states we have the guts to do the same.

    I also think that there is really good technology that we have today that we did not then ,like OnStar in cars and GPS so we do not have to try to read maps and drive. But a lot of this technology is crap we do not need (like flat screen tv’s and cell phones that take pictures and connect to the internet and video games). I feel the most important thing we do need to do is go back to doing what our folks did in the 1950’s and 60’s and that is living with in our means. If we did that the housing market would not be in such a mess and people who are as young as 25 would not already be thousands of dollars in debt . I honestly believe that it comes from having developed into an instant society. Instant food stuffs, Instant money (from AMT on every corner) Instant credit and on and on. Our parents bought things on time (houses appliances cars etc.) as they could afford them and they took pride in what they got as they got it. Now a days my generation wants it all now and look where it has gotten us. In the 1950’s comapnies like GM Chrysler and Ford were giants to be reckoned with. As they saying went in those days “Whats good for GM is Good for Amreica.” Now of course there were flaws in that type of thinking that really hit home after the 1st energy crisis in 1973 -74 but for things to get to the state there are now where 3 of the biggest companies in the world have to be begging to be bailed out, come on thats sad. Sadder still is the fact that we make nothing for ourselves anymore because of the cost to do it (greed again rears its ugly head) and our country has gone from being at the top of the heap in 1950 to the bottom of it by 2000. I have said all this to say …yeah there were a lot of things about the fabulous 50’s that might not have been so fabulous but maybe if we were to embrace the slower simpler pace of life from that era and stop being so greedy maybe we would all enjoy life a little more and our world will turn out better for the future generartons and maybe kids would grow up better if it was possible for one of their parents (EITHER ONE) to be home more when they get there from school. I understand there are instances where a parent being home is not possible (like having a single parent). But if people would learn to live on one paycheck again I think kids would really benifit from it instead of haivng all this material crap. I know my older siblings and I did and we grew up in the decade of greed …the 1980’s.

    Sorry to get on the soap box….I am getting off now and I want everyone to know that what I have said here is my opinion …just like what you have said here is yours and that in no way is what I have written meant as a slam on anyone else here. We are all entitled to our opinions and I respect all of yours as I hope you do mine.

    • Jason says

      Hello…I enjoyed reading your post in reply to Pam’s 1950’s list. Without the intent to make a political discussion out of this, I must disagree with your paragraph regarding civil rights. I do believe that civil rights has taken gigantic steps in the last 60 years as well as a change in attitude amongst the American people. But to equate the level of civil rights advancement to electing a black president, I think is wrong. Enourmous opportunities have been open for the black population who wish to take advantage of them. But if a candidate’s ideology and beliefs are wrong and a detriment to the United States…I care not what his skin color is….he/she should not be president. If color was the only issue…then why not Alan Keyes? There are black members of congress, the Supreme Court, doctors, lawyers, accountants, business executives and the like. But I cannot accept the notion of civila rights advancement to the election of a black president. If one comes along whom I can trust and shares my views, then I may vote for him/her. I hope this opinion will be taken as just that…my opinion. Now, back to Pam’s wonderful retrorenovation blog. Thank you.

  6. Juju says

    What a brilliant list! So true!

    Here’s one that just jumped to my mind:
    Double beds (didn’t they use two twins at one time?) I love my Cal King!

  7. says

    I love the 50’s but, hey I am glad for my computer and the internet, automatic cars, and maxi pads with no belts or pins!!!! How horrible THAT must have been!!!! (HA HA)

  8. sablemable says

    I like my modern amenities and the advances in medicine. What I did like about living in the Fifties was the feeling of being safe in our small town. You could leave your doors unlocked and windows open and nobody would bother your home or family. Your neighbors looked out for each other. Fast food was a treat and you didn’t see a McDonald’s on every corner. I can remember saving my allowance to spend on a club sandwich and a Coke at the local Woolworth’s Luncheonette or a strawberry sundae at the drugstore. Things like that I miss, but time marches on for the better.

    And yes, Monica, it WAS awful!

  9. Christopher Christenson says

    1. The Pill
    2. Hair gel
    3. The 80’s/90’s
    4. Ipods
    5. Ebay
    6. Color TV
    7. Microwave Ovens
    8. botox
    9. lptops & internet (see # 5)
    10. Lindsay Lohan (although Annette Funicello was nice to look at)

  10. Jason says

    Actually…..maybe it wouldn;t be a bad idea to go back and spend a few weeks living in the 1950’s…….if for no other purpose than to experience it first hand so that we can enjoy our wonderful modern age………which to the people who ldid live in the 1950’s was a wonderful modern age!

    Who then, could imagine the techological advances and products that we have to day? One must experience the time in CONTEXT to itself…without comparison to our own time, to really understand it.

    I’d love to visit the Blue Note in Chicago, the Village Vanguard in New York, the Copacabana, Ciro’s in Los Angeles, experiencing live performances of June Christy, Stan Kenton, Chris Connor, Frank Sinatra, Martin & Lewis, et al. What wonderful entertainment…….!!!!!

  11. Mike S says

    So many reasons I’d like to visit the ’50s, and many why I wouldn’t, so speaking of today, I like:

    • Cars with a gazillion cup holders
    • LED lighting
    • Smart phones
    • Keurig coffee makers
    • Specialty coffees to brew in my Keurig coffee maker
    • Soy milk to put in my specialty coffees
    • Large cups from which to enjoy my specialty coffees
    • Travel mugs for taking coffee with me
    • Vinyl flooring which looks exactly like wood
    • Laptop computers
    • Wi-Fi
    • Flat screen televisions
    • Electric heaters which look like fireplaces
    • “Big Box” home improvement stores
    • Highways (Thanks, Ike)
    • Etsy
    • Mid Century Modern blogs
    • Manufacturers of Mid Century Modern stuff
    • Pink bathrooms? Yeah, they’re pretty cool

    … and much, much more.

    Thank you for the site, Pam, and all you’re doing!

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