The ‘Woman’s Dilemma’ Of 1947 – The Woman’s Mettle Of The 21st Century

Housewife Marjorie McWeeney, 1947 - Photographer: Nina Leen

Housewife Marjorie McWeeney, 1947 – Photographer: Nina Leen

This photo by Nina Leen [“Housewife Marjorie McWeeney amid symbolic display of her week’s housework” in “Woman’s Dilemma,” Life, June 16, 1947, p. 105] depicts part of the housewife-y stuff of attention in the course of her 100-long-week.  The remarkable part of the photo is that all of this was displayed in a window display at Bloomingdales.

Part of Ms. McWeeney’s average work week included “35 beds to be made, 750 items of glass & china, 400 pieces of silverware to wash, 174 lbs. of food to prepare, some of 250 pieces of laundry.on a line, & a ringer washing machine”–that plus paying attention to her children during  the 70+ hours a week in which they are awake.   – JF Ptak Science Books  Post 1047

From the LIFE magazine issue:

Actually Marjorie’s chores are much lighter than they would have been a few generations ago. She cleans with machinery propelled by electricity, she uses food prepared in canneries, she buys clothes factory-made to fit every member of the family. But her jobs, though relieved of old-time drudgery, have none of the creative satisfactions of home baking, home preserving, home dressmaking. And, because her family unit is small with no aunts or cousins in the household, all the time she saves from housework must go into supervision of her children. Unless she makes special arrangements with a baby-sitter, she has no relief from child care.

Many women in Marjorie’s position feel that this is a life of drudgery, that it is not good for Marjorie, a graduate of a junior college, to stay with small children long, continuous hours. Marjorie herself has no desire to work outside. Because as an individual she likes the job that she does, she has no problem right now. Like most busy young housewives, however, she gives little thought to the future–to satisfactory ways of spending the important years after her children have grown up and left home.

via JF Ptak Science Books: “Her Work” Visualizing the100-Hour Work Week of the 1947 Housewife..

So, what image do we, in the 21st century, present as a ‘symbolic display’ of today’s woman? The most recurrent image is woman as goddess – and not just any goddess, but the multi-armed Hindu victor of good over evil – Goddess Durga, also known as Chamundeshwari or Mahishasura Mardini:

Goddess Durga, also known as Chamundeshwari or Mahishasura MardiniCompare Durga with this image:

Modern Multi-armed multi-tasking GoddessAnd this one:

Modern Multi-armed Multi-tasking GoddessOf course, the many arms of the modern woman represent ‘multi-tasking’ in the conscious mind. But what about the subconscious effect? In Hinduism the many arms of the deities represent their immense power and their magical ability to do several acts at the same time – it is the artist’s attempt to express the deity’s superhuman power. Are today’s women an evolutionary step towards a different kind of society in the future?

The ‘woman’s dilemma’ in Marjorie’s time was to be a stay-at-home-housekeeper or join the outside workforce. The woman’s dilemma of today doesn’t appear to be that simple to define. One observation can be made though – while the roles of women in the world of today are often taken for granted and under-appreciated, a subtle but certain empowerment is taking place. An empowerment many women in Marjorie’s generation only dreamed of – it’s a hard and challenging road, but could this be one that leads to a more promising future?

Only time will tell.

The ‘Rolling’ Ralston Rocket Clubhouse – The Story Of A National Sensation


The science fiction adventure series, Space Patrol, was a television phenomenon that ran from March 1950 to February 1955. It began as a local daily 15-minute live TV show aimed at children on KECA – an ABC network affiliate in Los Angeles. In December of 1950, ABC picked up the show for its Saturday lineup and made television history by being the first network to broadcast a live program coast-to-coast. The 30-minute Saturday Space Patrol series became so popular with both children and adults that the 15-minute daily was shown in other cities via kinescoped film prints. A weekly radio program was added to the franchise as well as a comic book series. A cottage industry grew with all kinds of Space Patrol merchandise – a 1952 LIFE article estimated sales of $40 million on 80 items, ranging from space helmets to ray guns, viewscopes, spacephones, puzzles and clothes.*

To this day one of the most talked about memories of the show is the ‘contest to end all contests’. The challenge – ‘NAME THAT PLANET.’

This…contest asked viewers to submit a name for the gigantic Planet X — kingdom of the evil Price Baccarrati — that figured in the series’ storyline during the summer of 1953. The grand prize was [a] forty-foot long rocket clubhouse replica of Commander Buzz Corry’s battlecruiser, the Terra IV (and a sem-truck to pull it!) plus an thousand additional bicycles and Space Patrol toys. Ten year-old Ricky Walker of Washington, Illinois submitted the winning name – Cesaria – and took receipt of the fabulous first prize on January 14, 1954.  –

The rocket clubhouse was one of the two ‘rolling’ Ralston Rockets which toured the country as an attraction at public events and gatherings promoting Ralston products and the show – the company was one of Space Patrol‘s leading sponsors. Below is a video compilation of the contest hype.

For a short time, Ricky Walker was the most envied kid in the U.S. – it was a huge day in Washington, Illinois when the rocket arrived:

'Ricky Walker Day' Announcement in storefront window.

‘Ricky Walker Day’ announcement in a storefront window. (Photo via

Kids greeting ship in Washington's square in cardboard space helmets

Kids greeting ship in Washington’s square in cardboard space helmets (Photo: Yale Joel of LIFE magazine via The Spaceman’s Toy Chest)

Ricky Walker On Rocket Bunk -

Ricky Walker On Rocket Bunk – ‘Inside the ship is equipped as a clubhouse, with eight folding bunks, table, benches, phone, kitchen and power generator.’ (Photo: Yale Joel of LIFE Magazine via The Spaceman’s Toy Chest)

Ralston Rocket At Night In Walker Family Driveway

Ralston Rocket At Night In The Walker Family Driveway (Photo: Yale Joel of LIFE Magazine via Street Worm at Universal Monster Army)

Eventually the novelty wore off and Ricky’s parents sold the rocket playhouse to a traveling carnival for the sum of $1000. The Ralston Rocket faded into obscurity but lived on in the memories of the viewers as one of the most – if not THE most – amazing prizes in television history. Sadly, the end of the road for the rocket was far less glamorous. In 1985 it was discovered on the property of a small construction company in Gent, New York. No longer the glistening star of 1954, the Ralston Rocket Clubhouse was now rusted and neglected. Area resident Rick DeMeis took the following photographs which he later presented to Solar Guard for posting on their Ralston Rocket page. A short time after these photos were taken, the construction company had it unceremoniously destroyed and sold for scrap.

Thus came the unhappy conclusion to a national sensation.

Entry to the Rocket

Entry to the Rocket

Road side view of Rocket- Santa is looking out

Road side view of Rocket- Santa is looking out

Rear view with Christmas lights

Rear view with Christmas lights

Control center for the Ralston Rocket

Control center for the Ralston Rocket