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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Outdoor Living: 1954

Outdoor Living: 1954

1954. "Backyard Rooms. Woman posed with yard equipment, outdoor furniture, appliances and utensils used to cook outdoors. Equipment shown includes power lawn mower, lawn sweeper, grill, patio table and umbrella, and portable radio." Medium-format negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Look magazine assignment "How to Build an Extra Room in Your Own Backyard." View full size.

 

1950s Lawn Sweeper

That machine was designed to pick up lawn clippings and leaves via a rotating brush. The one we had failed miserably to perform any task assigned to it. One day my father went out to the garage with a .45 automatic and we never saw the sweeper again.

In Constant Dollars

These items would cost some serious money today. The sweeper's $41 price (1951 ad) was a serious chunk out of a week's wage, for sure.

More juice

We had a similar hooded charcoal grill with the same type of adjustment device underneath the pan for the height of the actual grill, but instead of a hand crank up top it came with a portable electric motor for the rotisserie which, I might add, we never used. Why barbecue a whole chicken easily when you can flip dozens of pieces of chicken with burning skin and dripping fat? As for the standard set of three grilling tools, I get the spatula and fork but I've never understood what the spoon is for. I would happily trade it for tongs.

Hedge trimmer

My wife's family ran a seed business for years, and everything on the right side of the photo could be found there, including the Sunbeam hedge trimmer, the twin of which I still use on a regular basis. One of those lawn sweepers from the store still sits in my storage shed, and bigguy1960 is quite correct about its uselessness.

Before Nespresso

The coffee maker appears to be a Sunbeam, one of the largest makers of this type of appliance. The competition was the Universal brand and of course the ubiquitous GE Housewares Division, which in 1965 absorbed Universal.

The Cold War

only intrudes slightly on this idyllic 50s scene. The Emerson model 850 (tube-type) portable radio has triangular markings on its dial for the two Civil Defense CONELRAD frequencies, as required for all sets made in the US from 1953 to 1963. I remember the CONELRAD TV commercials from my childhood.

Sweep Your Troubles Away

We had a lawn sweeper like that back in the early 60's - if ever there was a more cumbersome, useless piece of lawn equipment, I haven't heard of it!

Where's the "juice"?

Can't understand why they included an electric coffee percolator and an electric frying pan. I don't recall many backyards in the 50's that had outside power outlets.

[Ours did. - Dave]

Awkward pose

Either that blouse is on backward, or her head is.

The Emerson radio is a nice touch.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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