Did 1950s/1960s husbands really buy their wives vacuum cleaners as Christmas gifts?

Women adore Roombas. They tend to personify them a bit (“Aww, he’s so cute!”) in a way that just doesn’t happen with regular appliances.

What role? Women spend approximately the same number of hours performing household chores today that they did in 1930.

In 1930, are you sure? 1955 I will believe. But in 1930 a lot of people didn’t have electricity or running water yet.

My great-grandmother’s life was one long battle against dirt (and actually I would call her pretty liberated). Housekeeping is effortless today compared to what it was in the early part of this century and throughout history. We worry about caring for too much stuff and clutter in our large houses, instead of hauling water, cooking basic meals with hours of labor, and getting soot, mice, and dirt out of our tiny, drafty homes.

If I spend as much time running my home as my great-grandmother did, I have a perfectly-kept large house, 3 easy and delicious meals a day, and a lot of clean laundry. Whereas she would end up with an adequately clean small home, plain meals, and much less clean clothing.

I would say that definitely electricity, running water, and home appliances have had a lot to do with women’s liberation.

It would be interesting to see how old the OP is.

You have to remember that in the 50s especially appliances were new. You had to make do with the old fashion way which was hard.

Remember Alice Kramden hanging wash out to dry. Or Lucy did this on occasion (though whether Lucy and Ethel’s had an appliance often depended on the convenience of the plot and didn’t match continuity)

So yeah it would be cool to get an appliance.

If someone gave you an iPhone or something you’d probably like it. But why? You got a phone right? But an iPhone is a new way of doing something old.

A vacuum cleaner would be a marked improvement over a carpet sweeper. You also have to remember in the old days vacuums were heavy. I recall my mum got a new vacuum in the late 70s that was self powered and it’d push itself.

Quite sure. I can’t cite to my source (Joann Vanek, Keeping Busy: Time Spent In Housework, U. Mich., 1973) because it doesn’t seem to be available online, unfortunately.

You can see snippets in related studies, though, like this one:

Basically, although the amount of leisure time has gone way up, it’s because the numbers of hours worked per household has gone way down, not because of labor saving devices in the home, which is what researchers initially assumed.

Reminded me of this video commercial which appeared on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyduncFpzl4

“It has dual bags!”

I grew up in the 50s and 60s and remember there being these sorts of presents every year.

Mom and dad grew up during the depression and never got over having been poor, even though dad always made very good money.

I think they saw these kinds of purchases as killing two birds with one stone. They could see that they needed a new vacuum, or whatever, but hated to part with the money to get it. Christmas gave them an excuse to go ahead and take the plunge.

Of course, dad always got mom something personal too.

There’s a printer in our basement right now that is destined to be a Hanukkah present for Mr. Neville (he doesn’t read the Dope, so I can post this). It’s definitely a practical present- he wanted one because his ancient laser printer finally gave up the ghost a couple of months ago, and he uses the printer mostly for work. The above quoted was pretty much my thinking when I saw it on his Amazon wish list. Neither of us lived through the Depression, for the record. Also, it’s not the only thing he’s getting for Hanukkah from me.

ETA: There are practical presents I’d be absolutely thrilled if he gave me. If he got a plumber to put a second garbage disposal in the other side of our double sink, I’d love it.

I was in a relationship where the woman was having major financial difficulty and was renting a apartment w/o a dishwasher. She has 3 kids, and there was so much work for her to do in cleaning. I frequently bought her disposable plates, utensils, cups, aluminum foil and pans, paper towels so she could be released of much of the extra cleaning burden.

Like anything else, it’s the intention of the heart behind the gift. Mine was that I wanted to free her from hardship, and it was taken as such.

Now I wouldn’t have bought her that as a Christmas gift, but that is not a major purchase as a vacuum cleaner was back then.

While it doesn’t eliminate the chore, it does free a lot of time when the chore comes up, and free time is a great gift IMHO.

I got my wife a vacuum cleaner early in our marriage. It wasn’t her only gift, but she had asked for a new one. I could say it was a for both of us, but the truth is I’m at work 40+ hours/week and she is an at-home mom, so the number of times i’ve vacuumed in the last two years could be counted on one hand.

My dad once bought mom an electronic calculator for her anniversary. He caught hell for that one. In his defense, it was the early seventies, and electronic calculators were pretty high tech then. But still…

Great quote!

Looking at the prices on some of those old vacuum cleaner ads, adjusted for inflation they were all fairly expensive. “Only $89.95” in 1955 is $715.51 today; far more expensive than a top-of-the-line Dyson.

My childhood was in the 1970s. Dad worked full-time; Mom started working part-time in the mid-1970s, and full-time in the early 1980s. Grew up lower-middle class.

My KitchenAid stand mixer is still my favorite present that my wife got for me.

Do you have the Flame sticker for it yet?


Is hanging washing out on the line not widely done in the US these days? Here in NZ it’s pretty much what happens to washing, unless you’re in an apartment or it’s raining.

No, it’s not. A lot of communities won’t allow you to have a clothesline, because laundry hung out to dry is supposedly unattractive.

I have a clothes dryer and love it. I put off doing laundry for too long now- I shudder to think what it would be like if I had to take things like weather into account.

Recent thread on this topic.

Awesome! I’d always though that Alton’s was a custom paint job.

I believe that Alton’s is a custom paint job. FlameKA saw a market and provided inexpensive mixer flames to the masses.

Interesting. Now you mention it, I don’t ever recall seeing an outdoor washing line on US television or in movies, whereas in NZ and Oz the rotating Hills Hoist out the back is near ubiquitous, and a cultural staple. Plus you got to swing on them when you were kids!

I don’t mind getting utilitarian gifts. It was my birthday yesterday and I got a big mini-muffin pan and a book of 500 cupcake recipes! Plus a few other little things. (I’m hard to buy for.) I really don’t much want or need clothing other people pick out for me, or socks, gloves, sweatshirt with a kitty on it, calendar, coffee mug, or fruity cologne. (That’s what I get, and accept graciously, though.) I would really, really love new tires for my not-so-sweet ride, I can hardly get traction bombing up the driveway in the snow any more.

Sometimes for Christmas we’ll skip the presents and just buy something we need around the house - a microwave, a toaster oven, good pots and pans. It’s all good!