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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesday, 8 July 2008: 1950's fashion

I was born on 11 July 1951 in East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa. When I was 18 months old, Dad was promoted and was our little family (my brother and parents) relocated to Cape Town. Dad bought our home for six thousand pound sterling in the beautiful coastal suburb of Camps Bay. Today houses, like our family home, reach millions of South African rand (multiply by seven to get US dollars). With Twelve Apostles mountain range nestled behind our house and the white sands of Camps Bay beach a five minute walk, it was an idyllic place to grow up. Here I am in my school uniform on the first day of school. The page is from my scrapbook and my school report states that in the third term: "Eleanor's reading needs particular attention." Fortunately, that has been sorted out in the last 50 years!

Mom was a wonderful needlewoman and all her clothes were made on the old Singer. She loved to dress smartly: peep toe shoes, nylons with seams deadstraight down her shapely calves, gloves and a hat to complete the outfit. Pencil slim skirts with fitted jackets and a brooch on the lapel were her favourites in sober navy blue or grey. She made me dresses with net petticoats which scratched...and knitted jerseys which also scratched!

We spent our summers on the beach. I remember mom's bathing costume, skirted for modesty.

On 2 June 1953 Princess Elizabeth was crowned in Westminister Abbey, London as Elizabeth II. South Africa was still a member of the Commonwealth and we were all avid royalists. I am adamant I can remember crowding around our only wireless with my parents to listen to the hushed proceedings. But maybe that memory is just based on the anecdotes my parents told me about the great event. For years, I used to refer to Our Queen, much to my husband's chagrin. "What on earth do you mean our Queen? We're a republic! "

Here is a sketch of Norman Hartnell's wonderful gown designed for HRH.

More memories tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, dearest. Hope you have a lovely, lovely day. Big hug ~ Alexandra

Theresa @ Take A Sentimental Journey said...

Dear Eleanor, In case I don't make it back here on the 11th, I will wish you a very Happy Birthday now.
I enjoyed your little trip down memory lane this morning.

Wouldn't we all have a ball if we could fly over for your birthday !

lady jane said...

A little bird (Alexandra) whispered the news of your special day. Happy birthday!

willow said...

These are wonderful memories and lovely photos! I was born in 1956, so you are five years ahead of me. I remember well those scratchy net petticoats under my dresses. They were worth it, though, because they really made my skirts fluff way out! :) This is fun, Eleanor! Looking forward to more tomorrow...

willow said...

Oh! The Yeats!! I almost missed it. I am familiar with this piece, but haven't read it or thought about it in years. It is beautiful. It, also, would have been very nice paired with the Sahlberg painting! Thanks for posting this for me, dear friend!

x o Willow

Eleanor said...

Thanks for all the lovely comments. Lady Jane, I tried to find you to no avail. Willow, you are welcome. I often think of this poem when I am in a city - the grey pavements!!!

Daryl said...

Happy Birthday .. what a good time to stop by and thank you for visiting my blog ... its a pleasure to meet you .. please come back and visit again .. I know I will be back here again...


Kathleen Grace said...

What a cute little girl you were! I rather like those modest swimsuits, a little skirting can be a girls best friend;>)

Janet said...


Happy Birthday on Friday! I remember the net petticoats, but the thing I remember most was when my Mom would pin the bodice to the skirt ( while the dress was on) and how I had to keep sucking in to keep the pins from scratching me. Maybe I should start doing that again, perhaps it would help get those abs trimmed...or NOT!


Ms.Daisy said...

Eleanor, What a wonderful tribute to your Mother! Those days were so innocent looking back on them...I also have very fond memories.
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you - - I will be back on Friday for your party!
Thank you for your support and encouragement of my blog efforts. Some days I need all the help I can get! LOL! :-)

Rhondi said...

Hi Eleanor
We grew up in the same era. I grew up in Canada and I remember when the queen came for her first visit as the queen. We all went downtown to see her. My aunt who was English would often say,"I don't care if the Queen of England is coming for tea, I'm not doing."..whatever. So as a young child I always thought that a visit from the queen was a possibility!
Thanks for leaving a comment on my sister's blog,
Hugs, Rhondi

Rhondi said...

Just realized it was your birthday. Happy birthday dear Eleanor.
Hugs again,

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I love your school photo! And I must admit, I love the drawings of the 50's fashions more than what I've been seeing in stores at present! Those shoes are wonderful! And it does sound like a perfect place to grow up! Happy Birthday Week!

Mary said...

Everything in this lovely post speaks to me Eleanor.
What a beautiful place to grow up in. Your school report and pic, so cute, the fashions (when women still had tiny waists - how did they do it?), the 'bathing belles' so lovely at the beach, and then of course HM in that amazing gown at her coronation. We celebrated that day with block parties - I remember it was actually warm and sunny and we had such a great time.

Thanks for the memories!

HiHoRosie said...

I thought your birthday had come and gone but it's Friday! Happy birthday WEEK/MONTH! *<:-D

You were a little cutie! What fun posts you have. Love all the fashions. I love all the variety we have today but one thing that's very clear from then is that women's fashion was feminine and beautiful. It'd be kind of fun to dress up more but sometimes not. ha ha!

Have a great day!

KarenHarveyCox said...

Eleanor, these are wonderful memories. I was born in 1948 and the 50's are my most cherished chapter. I loved how we dressed back then, little white socks and those petticoats made all the dresses look divine.


Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Charming post. What a little cutie you were, and how precious is that scrapbook!

Your mom was like mine....a talented seamstress. What a wonderful gift to have, I wish I had it (but I don't).

That vintage pic of the bathing beauties...priceless.