Shampoo, Toothpaste and Face Cream.

I was buying a tube of toothpaste the other day and I was amazed, as I am each time, by the vast number of pastes available. Not just different brands. Each brand seems to have dozens of different types! Out of interest I did a Google search on Colgate toothpastes and found 55 listed. Back in the 1950s and 60s there were only a few brands. Each brand had one type. I remember Signal being launched and longing to try it but my mum always bought Gibbs SR.

colgate ad  SR

Two of the very few brands we had in my childhood.

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Today’s huge selection.

The same applies to other everyday toiletries. The main shampoos I remember are Sunsilk, Supersoft, Vosene and Loxene. All shops selling toiletries sold shampoo in sachets as well as bottles. There were no conditioners. The first one to hit the market was called Tame Creme Rinse. I used to buy a sachet for myself. You then mixed the contents with warm water in a cup and poured the solution over your hair after shampooing. It was a revelation. I could get a comb through my wet hair without having to spend ages working through knots and tangles.

vosene                             shamp sachets

 

vaseline shampoo                      loxene ad

 

shamp aisle

A bewildering choice of shampoos and conditioner.

I don’t think we heard the word moisturiser back then, they were known as face creams. We always had Nivea in our house. My mum used to rub it on our cheeks before we went outside in really cold weather. There were also creams called ‘cold cream’.  My mum used ro rub cold cream into her face before bed. I remember one my Nana used to use called Ponds Vanishing Cream. I can still recall the smell of it.

ponds             ponds-cold-creame-white-jar-5

nivea ad

I know a lot of people didn’t wear deodorant in the 1950s and 60s. I can recall, in high school in the 60s, being aware which girls didn’t wear deodorant. My mum used one called Odorono and my sister and I were encouraged to use deodorant as we approached puberty. The only other ones I remember the names of are Mum and Sno-mist. I favoured Sno-mist probably because it was advertised on Radio Luxembourg and had a catchy jingle. You could get stick on or sprays. The sprays weren’t aerosols, just squeezy plastic bottles.

 

sno mist     sno-mist-deodorant1-243x300

deodorants aisle

Some of the many deodorants now available.

 

 

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Health and Fitness

Like many people, I do my best to keep myself healthy and reasonably fit – for a woman in her 60s! Everyone I know – younger than me, older than me or the same age – does some sort of exercise. The choices these days are endless. There are gyms to join, walking groups, Pilates classes, yoga – the choice is endless. There are the things which don’t need to be done in a group or class like running, walking, cycling. Then there are the sports. Football, rugby, tennis, cricket, badminton – you name it!

What occurred to me the other day was that back in the 1950s, mums and dads, grannies and grandads didn’t exercise. They were probably more active physically in their day-to-day life than we are (fewer cars, no labour-saving devices etc.) but I knew no adults who played sport, ran or walked for exercise. There were hardly any gyms, exercise classes or fitness groups – certainly not where I lived. Perhaps it was different in the cities?

My memory is that, back then, many people enjoyed sport as youngsters when they were in school and maybe beyond that in college or in the forces. Some carried on playing football, cricket, or tennis for local clubs. Then when they got married and had children, they gave it all up. That was more to do with team games and a social life than for the health benefits. Similarly, many people enjoyed a walk in the country at weekends or on holiday but for the pleasure of enjoying the surroundings and the wildlife rather with fitness as the purpose. Walking groups are massive now. What I’m looking back at and realising is that people didn’t exercise simply for the sake of health and fitness.

Cycling has, in recent years, had a massive rise in popularity. The bikes are sophisticated pieces of machinery, clothing and accessories are scientifically developed. Cycling clubs have mushroomed and at the weekends our roads are alive with two-wheeled exercisers. Back in the 50’s, bikes were everywhere. The difference is that people cycled to get somewhere. It was the early days of motoring and many people still didn’t own cars. Men and women cycled to work, children cycled to school, vicars visited their parishioners on bikes, policemen went on the beat on bikes. A man cycling to work in an office would be wearing a tweed suit and a trilby, a workman would be in overalls with a cap on and his bag of tools over his shoulder or in a saddle bag. The bikes were sensible, solid and practical. They were not built for speed or rough terrain.

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Sturdy, reliable, hardwearing – the  bikes of the 1950s

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1950   People cycling to work in Oxford.

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My supremely fit son-in-law on his recent Alpine adventure. A very different sort of cycling!

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The following two quotes are taken from the Buchanan report ‘Traffic in Towns’ published by engineer and planner Colin Buchanan in 1963.

“There [should be] an allocation of movements to pedal cycles,but it must be admitted that it is a moot point how many cyclists there  will be in 2010.”

“Cyclists should not be admitted to primary networks, for obvious reasons of safety and the free flow of vehicular traffic. It would make the design of these roads far too complicated to build ‘cycle tracks’ into them … It would be very expensive, and probably impracticable, to build a completely separate system of tracks for cyclists.”

He had based his opinions on the fact that sales of new cycles had been dropping since the 1950s and reached an all-time low of less than 200,000 by the end of the 1960s (today, 2.5m bicycles are sold each year). This influential report, which guided road building in Britain for decades, effectively squeezed bikes out of our towns.

The next two quotes are from a study carried out based on the cities of Manchester and Glasgow by Colin Pooley and Jean Turnbull

“Use of the bicycle to travel to work between about 1920 and 1950 was particularly notable in smaller settlements,with commuting by bicycle the single most important means of travelling to work in such towns in the 1940s.” (Pooley and Turnbull 2000: 14)

“From the 1950s cycling rapidly declined in popularity.” (Pooley and Turnbull 2000: 19)

One thing I do remember is my mum listening to a lady called Eileen Fowler on the radio. She did a short programme where she talked the listener through various bends and stretches. Since starting this post I have looked her up and she was a fitness instructor from the 1930s so she was definitely ahead of her time. In keeping with the times, the likes of Eileen Fowler focused mainly on improving your shape and looking ‘younger’ rather than exercise for health as we now know it.

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I know that there were swimming pools in all towns even then and that people have always enjoyed swimming for pleasure. The popularity of swimming pools in British towns goes back to when most houses didn’t have bathrooms and the swimming local pool (often known as swimming baths) were used as a means of keeping clean. Indeed, many of them had cubicles containing individual baths where you could have a proper warm, soapy soak. We lived nowhere near any swimming pools so I had no experience of that apart from sometimes when we were away on holiday. Even so, I know that the difference now is that many more people take up swimming to get fit which wasn’t really a consideration back in the 1950s when it was looked on mainly as pleasurable and sociable.

bath    5030896452_062be21285_b

 

 

 

As usual, my disclaimer is this. I lived miles from anywhere so my memories will be very different from those of people who grew up in towns and cities. Also, I was a child and I’m talking about my view of the world of adults as I saw it then. These are my impressions and opinions only.

The images were sourced on the internet, as were the quotes. Anyone unhappy with anything I have used please approach me and I will remove the offending item.