Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Always prepared

So, yesterday in my 1950s class, we were discussing suburbs. I asked students what they thought of when they heard the word "suburbs." One immediately mentioned the neighborhood in Edward Scissorhands. I popped in the video I had handy, all cued up to the appropriate spot (the tiny video store didn't have the DVD).

Another student said she thought of the theme music to the show Weeds. I immediately pulled up Pete Seeger's "Little Boxes" on my iTunes.

Of course, you and I know that in the U.S. these are iconic references to suburbs. But the students didn't know that, so they were impressed. One actually just sent me an e-mail: "You have a gift!"

It reminded me of another moment when trillwing proved herself especially well prepared. While waiting for the bus one day in high school, a friend stared at his broken cassette tape then looked up nonchalantly and asked, "You wouldn't happen to have a knife, some tape, and a piece of foam rubber, would you?"

And yes, I was, until about age 12, a Girl Scout.


Queen of West Procrastination said...

Ha. I'm love being that person. It's the inner Girl Guide in me, with more than a touch of the OCD, where I seriously won't leave my house without all my ID, and so of course I'm also the one to ask for foreign currency, bobby pins, a sewing kit, kleenex, or hand sanitizer at any given moment.

So, can I fly to CA and attend every. single. lecture of this course you're teaching? It's the most exciting thing I've ever heard of. It's exactly why I ended up writing my Honours thesis on a '60s ban-the-bomb group made up of housewives. (The moment that my Canadian history prof played "Little Boxes" and then "Guantanemara": that's what converted me to studying the '60s for several years.)

I may have already recommended this book, but: Richard Harris, Creeping Conformity. It's the history of the making of Canadian suburbs and I love it.

Also: have you read Alison Clarke's Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America? Hands down, it was the best book I read in 2005. I can't stop raving about it.

Leslie M-B said...

QoWP, you're welcome in my classroom anytime. Come visit!

And yes, I too love the Tupperware book. I haven't seen it yet, but apparently the PBS documentary on Tupperware is the most frequently shown DVD in the American Studies department. :)

I heart Tupperware. In my material culture course, I usually bring in two pieces of Tupperware, one gen-u-ine piece from the 1950s and one I received as a wedding gift in 2002. The students have fun trying to read these now-familiar objects to learn something about changing habits and values.

Anonymous said...

I humbly doff my cap to you.

Speaking of books (previous comment) last night (at 2am) I finished Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. It's astonishing.

Breena Ronan said...

You rock!