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  What happened to "stuff" in the 50s/60s before garage sale mania?
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What happened to "stuff" in the 50s/60s before garage sale mania? Sign In/Join 
Picture of MyLifeVacation1
posted
As I grew up in the 50s and early to mid-60s I do not ever remember seeing or going to a garage sale. I cannot recall what my mother did with outgrown cloths, misc. dishes and furniture, etc.

Was I in a bubble? Were garage sales common at that time?
 
Posts: 967 | Registered: Oct 15, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Kathy_in_wlsv
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AS I recall, we simply didn't HAVE as much "stuff." We used it up, made it do, wore it out or passed it on.

There were rummage sales, yes, but I seem to remember being in various people's homes and there just wasn't the kind of "stuff" you see now. A well equipped kitchen in 1959 had a stove, fridge and toaster.

My friends all shared bedrooms with 2 or more siblings, and shared bikes, roler skates, hair dryers and phones. I was absolutely AMAZED when my "rich" cousin, an only child, got HER OWN PHONE in her room. She was 16 and this was in 1964.

The first garage sale I ever saw was in 1979, in the Chicago suburbs and I couldn't figure out where they got all the "Stuff" they had to sell. I did go to thrift shops and the Sally Ann but those are different since they aren't private enterprises.


Life is GOOD!!
 
Posts: 1510 | Location: Upstate NY | Registered: Nov 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In those years, Mother went to thrift stores which were just getting started and there were "farm sales" where furniture and knickknacks and appliances....plus machinery was sold. If our clothes were usable (maybe not because we climbed trees, played in the dirt, etc) they were passed on to cousins, neighbors and etc. We used everything we had until it wore out or was unusable. Mother made our dresses with feed sack material and we had some pretty dresses too.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: May,


love life
 
Posts: 1423 | Location: omaha, ne U.S.A. | Registered: Sep 18, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of conrad
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Garage sales seemed to have started here back in the mid 70's. Prior to that, thrift stores (Salvation Army/Goodwill) and auction/estate sales or just newspaper ads were the other venues to get used stuff.

And yes, acquiring stuff, and more new stuff, to replace the other stuff, seems to be a constant. Donation was one way to get rid of things no longer needed (both in the past and now), and classified ads in the newspaper for any items worthy of the cost, back when that was not so expensive.

Often clothes were once more expensive off the rack, than one could buy material and sew. Now materials needed to sew are so expensive at the fabric stores, and throw away cheap at stores like Target. (But we know why that is too)
 
Posts: 9432 | Location: Plains & Mountains | Registered: Jun 08, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Kathy_in_wlsv
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I do remember going to auctions. My parents loved auctions and I made my first bid in 1963, paying a dime for some salt and pepper shakers I still have.

Mom sewed most of my clothes, and I have fond memories of her sewing clothes for friends as well. I'm on FB with a friend from almost 60 years ago who still remembers a dress my mother made for her.

We had a constant rotation of hand-me downs of school clothes from cousins to sibs to close friends and baby supplies as well.

It was a HUGE deal when my father went out and bought new a radio on Nov 22, 1963 so we could listen to the news, since we had no tv. Now its assumed you have multiple TV's, radio's Ipods,pads phones and more. As George Carlin said.. "I need a place for my STUFF!"


Life is GOOD!!
 
Posts: 1510 | Location: Upstate NY | Registered: Nov 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of nettiejay
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I was born in 1950 to a lower middle-class family. As already stated by others, we didn't have/need/want as much 'stuff' as today's families do. I had a large extended family... 50+ first cousins alone, so what was still good in the way of toys or clothes got passed on to them. What they didn't want or couldn't use was picked up by the Goodwill donation truck. Everything else got used up and eventually thrown away.

No one we ever knew held garage or yard sales. Like our family, they didn't buy extraneous stuff and used up whatever they did buy. "Rummage" sales were held by chur_ches, not by individuals.

It's been interesting to see society change as I've aged. When the majority of women went to work outside the home, more "stuff" became important to have. Bigger houses with higher maintenance costs and more rooms to hold more furniture, bigger closets to hold more clothes, a car for each driver in the family, etc. I'm not saying this kind of spending and consumption is a bad thing in itself, because it's the hope of everyone to improve upon their parents lot in life. But now that the economy's future is dimmer for the average Joe and can't support as much extravagance, I feel sorry for those who haven't yet learned or are unwilling to learn to do with less.

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Posts: 4343 | Location: zone 6b, Missouri | Registered: Sep 19, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of lady of shallot
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quote:
AS I recall, we simply didn't HAVE as much "stuff." We used it up, made it do, wore it out or passed it on.

I was a depression baby and graduated from h.s. in 1952. I do remember garage sales in the '60s but I went to Goodwill, Salvation Army etc for my "finds"

We were 5 sisters and one brother. Mother made our clothes but often we got others clothes handed to us which I think my mother resented. We did not have "extra" household goods, decorative items etc. Although economically not much better off than my parents, I bet I have 5 times as much stuff in my house as my mother ever did for a household of eight!
 
Posts: 12168 | Registered: Jun 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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LOS- bet your mom didn't have your china and dish collectionSmile
 
Posts: 3054 | Location: Michigan and sw Florida | Registered: May 16, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of KeepYouInStitches
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I had cousins older and younger and a neighbor with girls older and younger. We passed clothes and shoes back and forth as we grew into them and then out of them.

Appliances were simpler back then and could be repaired instead of the electronic board going out and having to be tossed.

We also donated to Good Will. And we shopped at Good Will. (Back then, clothing manufacturers donated overages to GW. All my dad's Levi's came from them.)
 
Posts: 16493 | Location: Daingerfield, TX | Registered: Feb 07, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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MyLifeVacation, Love this thread! And I think I can offer a few answers to your question of what did everyone do with their "extra stuff" before the days of yards sales and such?

Simple answer ~ no one had that much extra "stuff" and what they did have was used until it was completely worn out. Clothes were passed down from child to child in the family (often embellished with new ruffles or such to make it seem new to the younger one), given to others who could use it, cut up to make squares for quilts and then, when no other option remained, used as scrub rags.

Furniture was built to last a lifetime and no one paid any attention to "fashion trends" ~ if a leg of a chair broke, there was usually someone in the family/friends circle who had the skill to repair it. Things bought with hard earned money in those days weren't considered disposable.

And, then, along come the "newest and best gadgets that simply everyone had to have" - the beginning of the electronic age! But, back then, washers and dryers would last at least 20 years, a sound investment for most. Same with refrigerators and stoves....

Don't know when, exactly, that we became a "throw-away" society but it happened slowly over time until it now seems to be the "norm." Confused
 
Posts: 6487 | Registered: Jan 01, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ack, stuff. I have way too much stuff.

I remember the chur ch would have a rummage sale once a year or so. There was a lady across the alley from my gram and her garage was a constant rummage sale. She kept the side garage door unlocked and anyone could go in at any time and shop or leave items. Have no idea how that started but I remember going into her garage a couple of times to shop. I bought my mom a necklace on Oct. 10 one year for Christmas.

Other than that, I remember my mom talking about Goodwill. I don't think I knew about thrift stores growing up.

I have way, way more stuff than I need. I was just thinking tonight how messy my house is and partly it's because, there's too much stuff. My parents never had the vast amount of stuff that I have. They shared a 4 drawer dresser and an average sized wall closet. They had a bed, two coffee tables as nightstands, and the 4 drawer dresser in their room. My brother and I shared a room until high school and we each had one 3 drawer dresser.

We had the same furniture in the living room the whole time I was growing up, the same kitchen table and chairs, the same dining room set. I moved out of my house back then with the same furniture I had grown up with.

Really and truly, I have been thinking these past few days to try to research how to live more "zen-like."
 
Posts: 6052 | Registered: Feb 08, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of MyLifeVacation1
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The reason I brought this subject up was that I had an impromptu garage sale yesterday. It was planned for next weekend so I had a lot of items cleaned and priced already when I saw the neighboring streets advertising their sales so I thought I would take advantage of the free advertising and traffic they were generating in the neighborhood. I sold a lot of STUFF -- and cheaply to boot. My goal was to get rid of it, not to make money.

I even sold things I was not planning on -- one lady wanted the piece of cloth I was covering a card table with -- no problem lady. I was selling the table umbrella but planned to keep the matching round table in the shed for future use at yard sales -- someone wanted both -- no problem. Now I no longer have to disassemble it and struggle to transport it to the back of the property to the shed. My load has been lightened a bit.

My regular street sale is scheduled for this coming Thursday thru Sat. I really don't have that much left to offer -- well I do, but people driving by will slow down and then speed up without stopping because the pickins look skimpy.

My plan -- Thurs. and Friday EVERYTHING will be half price, including my mid century chair with new cushions that I have marked at $125. I have no use for the chair, and I think the true value is $300 - $400, but it is just taking up space in my small home and after several yard sales and attempts at selling on Craigslist, it has to go.

On Sat. morning, EVERYTHING that is left over will be FREE (except the chair if its still here -- that I will give to the local charity shop).

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Posts: 967 | Registered: Oct 15, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Linderhof
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I echo what everyone else is saying -- we just didn't have the stuff! I think I had 5 school dresses every year and jeans and shorts to play in after. I didn't have a closet full of clothes to chose from. And household stuff -- you had pretty things sitting around but you didn't constantly get new stuff. You bought and then kept -- furniture too. And bedding was white chenile or matlasse which lasts "forever" so you didn't change your bedspread every season.

I do remember SA and Goodwill's so I guess what people didn't want they donated and I also remember estate sale and farm auctions.

I think we all have too much "stuff"!!!

But I must admit that I love what I have!

Martha
 
Posts: 5409 | Location: On the prairie of Kansas | Registered: Dec 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Grapefruit
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Like everyone has said, we now have too much. Things used to last a long time and we were happy about that!!! We bought a sofa and took great care of it. We would have never thought of replacing it because we wanted a different style or color! You replaced it when it was worn out....30 years or more.

I admit that I have trouble parting with things while they are still usable. I use sheets that were my DH's when I met him ....40 years ago. I also use a couple of towels that were my grandma's....she died in 1963 !

This is a very fun thread! Thanks, MLV. Good luck with your sale!
 
Posts: 3033 | Location: central PA | Registered: Jan 08, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Agree that people didn't have as much stuff back then. Obviously there weren't all the electronics, gadgets, etc that we have now.

Appliances and other goods were made better and you didn't have to replace them as often.

Clothes were handed down in families.

And people just didn't have the extra money back then when families generally had just one parent working outside the home.
 
Posts: 616 | Location: Indianapolis | Registered: Nov 03, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of nettiejay
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quote:
Originally posted by MyLifeVacation1:
I sold a lot of STUFF -- and cheaply to boot. My goal was to get rid of it, not to make money.


Feels good, doesn't it? These days, I feel much better after unloading a bunch of "stuff" than I feel by acquiring more "stuff". Wasn't always that way.

I love your chair. Too bad you can't get market value for it.
 
Posts: 4343 | Location: zone 6b, Missouri | Registered: Sep 19, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of lady of shallot
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LOS- bet your mom didn't have your china and dish collection

For sure she did not Mamaspoon! She had two sets at the end and I think they were both Francescan ware.

My 2 close in age sisters and I each had 3 skirts for school in jr.&high school. Since we were the same size that was 9 skirts to choose from!

My mother did not approve of my shopping at Goodwill and the SA and did not want me to be a "bad influence"on my sisters in that regard. We were all in at least our 20's at the time!

Btw I do not apologize for me being a person who replaces things. I have two sofas. One dates from about 1840! I also have 4 chairs that are from the 19th century. Three bedsteads ditto. A table we are using (it belongs to DD) that is also that old. My dining room chairs are from a yard sale held in 1970, my kitchen chairs free from the swap shop.

I guess we still are recycling, using up. maybe some people cast off things, but some also take those things and give them future useful life!
 
Posts: 12168 | Registered: Jun 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of ga.karen
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It was a HUGE deal when my father went out and bought new a radio on Nov 22, 1963 so we could listen to the news, since we had no tv.


Are you sure you didn't mean 1953? We were VERY poor but got our first tv around 1957. And I graduated in '63 & most folks were converting to COLOR tvs at that point.

And everyone is right...we didn't have as much "stuff". But there were also church sales and there were yard/garage sales way back when but there were also LOTS of household auctions. And there are still many auctions in certain areas of the country, like central Ill.


"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
 
Posts: 4332 | Location: SW Ga. 8b | Registered: Apr 21, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Nov.22, 1963, the day JFK was shot. I know that it seems strange about a radio that late in time but some of us will never forget what we were doing when we heard the news.
 
Posts: 1925 | Location: Northern New Jersey | Registered: Mar 23, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of ga.karen
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Originally posted by jaysmom49:
Nov.22, 1963, the day JFK was shot. I know that it seems strange about a radio that late in time but some of us will never forget what we were doing when we heard the news.


I remember quite well, I was at work in a department store. I had gone to the receiving area in the basement to double check an invoice with the receiving clerk & we both heard it on her radio down there.
I didn't have my own tv at that time as I was a newly "out on my own" gal...so I went over to my brother's when I got off work to watch it on their tv.


"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
 
Posts: 4332 | Location: SW Ga. 8b | Registered: Apr 21, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Kathy_in_wlsv
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For several reasons we had no TV from April 1962 to April 1968 !!! YIKES and no radio from about 1959 til 11/23/63. We never even had a car radio until I moved out in 71.

We got our first TV in 1956, and kept it til April of 62- but it only got 2 channels and didn't always work.

We we extremely poor as well. mom was widowed twice, the first time she had SIX children under the age of 7 !!! More than once we kids had to be farmed out to stay with relatives or friends for a few days or weeks when our dad was out of work. It was hard. so tv.. and radios were true luxuries.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Kathy_in_wlsv,


Life is GOOD!!
 
Posts: 1510 | Location: Upstate NY | Registered: Nov 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of lady of shallot
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Although I married in 1961, we had no t.v. until we moved to Maine in 1967!

My parents bought their first t.v. in 1952 (at my urging) so we could watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth the second!

Re-reading this thread though reminds me of an incident when I was about 7 or 8. We were visiting my Grandma in Penn. and my aunt lived across the street. My aunt was telling my mother about a nearby empty lot where people dumped still usable and desirable things. I remember this being the first time my avaricious genes kicked in! I wanted to be able to go through that dump and find things!

BTW this was also the age when adults would start to talk with kids in the room and they would always say "little pitchers have big ears"
like we were going to go out and spread whatever gossip they were sharing!
 
Posts: 12168 | Registered: Jun 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We were always told "little children should be seen and not heard."
 
Posts: 6052 | Registered: Feb 08, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of KeepYouInStitches
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LoS, My mother was telling me something one day in front of my 11-years younger than me baby brother. I said, "Mama! Sssh!" and nodded toward brother playing in the living room floor. She said, "He's not paying attention." He cut his eyes toward me and grinned.
 
Posts: 16493 | Location: Daingerfield, TX | Registered: Feb 07, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Spanish Revival
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Ditto on what has been said so far, and adding the homes just were not as big as they are today, especially today's newer homes. I grew up with 6 brothers and my Mother and Father, nine of us in a 3 bedroom house, and my father was out of work, not a lot of the time but at times he had no job. We relied on my Mothers Mother and Father and a very generous uncle. My Mom and Dad used their appliances till they were unusable, my Dad could fix just about anything and he worked on the car too. He even did the plumbing and installed what ever needed to be replaced. My Mom didn't have a dishwasher either, she hand washed and dried her dishes, silverware, pots and pans every night with my help (I was the only girl). I'm still in awe of her making an equivalent to a Thanksgiving dinner for 9 every single night of the week, no extra c@sh to eat out. For myself, I like my home to not be cramped with a lot of "stuff". Except for the things my husband and children have given me I have no special attachment to anything. If I'm shopping and see something I want I first ask, "where am I going to put it, store it if it's another small appliance", and I usually end up putting it back on the shelf. I'm a sucker for pretty dishes and bed linens and spreads though Smile
 
Posts: 908 | Location: Florida | Registered: Aug 22, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of cocok
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I grew up in the 60's. What I remember is that about once a year my mom would "shuffle" things. She would pass cloths down from child to child as we grew. Things that were too small for anyone in our family were passed on to cousins. We would get things from our older cousins that were too small for them. She would also sort and give things we didn't need to someone who did need it, or to charity. I know we never had a garage sale. There were just other ways to buy and sell. For instance, mom usually looked through the nickle want ads, and she bought many pieces of furniture that way.
 
Posts: 7077 | Registered: Apr 08, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of KeepYouInStitches
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One closet! I had one closet growing up. Now, just two in the house and every closet is FULL! (Well, one does not qualify because I'm a quilter and it's full of "stash" - fabric, batting, books, patterns, etc.)
 
Posts: 16493 | Location: Daingerfield, TX | Registered: Feb 07, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I remember that shoes were well-made and were repaired at the shoemaker. Same with clothing...it was well-made and many items eg.winter coats etc. were kept for years and years. I wore a uniform to school and the only new things were maybe a white blouse if needed. Our family of 6 lived in a small bungalow with three bedrooms and one bathroom and we all (except my mother) had to get out in the morning. Mom didn't own good china or silver until about the time I left home to get married. If I really wanted something, I bought it with my babysitting money. I even recall my mom making braided floor mats with old nylon stockings. Dad always had at least 3 or 4 old toasters and tea kettles saved for parts; and always did repair on our tv. We didn't even own a camera,hair dryer or dishwasher. We saved everything...magazines, old curtains etc. - a military family, we moved often and those curtains might just fit the next place. Dad still had the old Duncan Fyfe coffee table they got when they were married when he passed at 85. Thinking about myself...barely few of the gifts we got when married in 1970 are still around. We buy new appliances about 6-8 years, new mattresses etc. and don't have any of the furniture we started out with anymore. What I am finding lately is that no matter what the label, clothing is poorly made and cheap...people are into wearing clothes one season and then buying all new. Buttons pop off, hemlines come out in the wash and I've resorted to washing in cold water and hanging otherwise the clothes wrinkle and shrink. I could go on and on.....
 
Posts: 735 | Location: Canada | Registered: Jan 15, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My mother managed to spirit the stuff (usually ours) that she didn't want around anymore out of the house and pass it on to the less fortunate either directly or thru goodwill. I'm sure the dump claimed it's fair share too.
 
Posts: 642 | Registered: May 11, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of JoW
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quote:
Originally posted by cocok:
I grew up in the 60's. What I remember is that about once a year my mom would "shuffle" things. She would pass cloths down from child to child as we grew. Things that were too small for anyone in our family were passed on to cousins. We would get things from our older cousins that were too small for them. .....

My mom was involved in a couple of chains like that. We didn't live near relatives but she had friends with kids slightly larger than us and slightly smaller than us.
 
Posts: 8582 | Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA | Registered: Oct 13, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of lady of shallot
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I remember that shoes were well-made and were repaired at the shoemaker

Me too and I loved the smell of those shops and the raised chairs.
Although we were, I guess, poor (who knows when they are a kid) my Dad insisted on us wearing good shoes. From the best shoe store in town and never ever wearing anyone else's shoes.
My mom says once he insisted on buying her a $25 pair of shoes,which in the 30's would have been what he made in a week!

My mother once made my brother a snow suit out of an old coat of my dad's and she made slip covers out of a silk burlap for our maple living room set. She made all of our dresses (with matching panties worn over regular ones) and on occasion we used dress pattern tissue for tp when we ran out!
 
Posts: 12168 | Registered: Jun 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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