American Thrift

Presented by Chev Role
As a Tribute to the Woman American

Produced: 1962

This video was produced to showcase American woman as homemakers who pay the bills, and handle the household finances like a pro, and basically, are able to pull a rabbit out of a hat when the husband does not earn enough.

Opening Scenes

A young girl approaches her parents asking for a puppy.  They visit a local pet store but buying a puppy costs too much so then end up adopting a puppy from the local animal shelter instead.  Sounds sweet, but the message is not about saving animals but about saving money — shelter pup was simply cheaper.

As the family sits in their living room relaxing, mom is shown pinning dress patterns on the floor.  Her husband hands her a vacation brochure for Nassau, and as she ponders how to juggle the finances to pay for the family vacation, the rest of the family smile and nod at each other while crossing their fingers. Surely, mom will save the day!

The narrator continues to drone on about women being solely responsible for the financial stewardship of the household, making whatever her husband hands over to her not just meet, but exceed the short- and long-term needs of the family.

Mom is next shown cooking in the spotless kitchen.  Her hair is in a tidy bun, she sports freshly applied makeup, and of course, wears a spotless dress protected by a gleaming white apron.  As she carefully cuts chicken and vegetables to stretch them even further, the narrator chirps that she “spends to save and saves to spend.”  She lays out a fully home-cooked meal (complete with green beans, no doubt hand trimmed) and turns to see her young son enter with an injured hand. She consoles him and with a smile grabs her purse and heads out the door to take him the doctors.  She returns to par potatoes for supper.  Good thing mom clipped those coupons so she could afford the doctor!

Injured son now sits on the front porch, with a bandaged broken finger, playing his trumpet rather pitifully.  He hands the instrument to a pal who plays like a pro.  All the while mom is listening from the kitchen, pausing to listen in between spud peels thinking about how she can save more money and spend less.

In the next few scenes the message to make the family money go further than is humanly possible continues.  We see mom at the bank, passing out hand-me-downs, and grocery shopping.  I found it particularly interesting to note the style of dress.  Apparently, in 1962 women who went to the grocery store wore heels, dress suits and dresses, and looked like they had their own personal hair and makeup person.  They also seemed to leave their kids at home as boogery tantrum throwers are nowhere to be seen in the store aisles.  But of course, the important part to focus on here is now her hair and makeup but that she should only shop once a week and must carefully plan how every penny is spent because the welfare of the entire family rests exclusively on her shoulders.

The remainder of the video continues to assault female sensibilities with sexist remark after sexist remark.

If you want to see what it was like back in the early 1960s for women homemakers, this actually is not so far from how it really was.  As nostalgic as it may seem to you and I, unfortunately, this kind of backward thinking is still the reality for man women all over the world in patriarchal societies and for women in abusive relationships.