1940's - 1950's
The first half of the decade was dominated by WWII. European artists and intellectuals fled to the United States from Hitler and the Holocaust, bringing new ideas created in disillusionment. War production pulled the US out of the Great Depression. Women workers replaced men who had gone off to war, and the first great exodus of women from the home to the work place began.
Rationing affected the food we ate, the clothes we wore, the toys with which children played. After the war, the GI bill helped servicemen attend college and buy homes; all those baby boomers began arriving; and the good life was on the way! New appliances, autos, and automania was about to happen.
PSWC members were eager, energized and involved as ever, if not more so, during these decades, and accomplished these and many other achievements:
Supported and worked to develop a library in town.
Helped organize a Girl Scout Troop.
With the Lion’s Club, helped finance playground equipment and pay the salary of a grammar school playground supervisor.
Educated members on a variety of topics from parliamentary law to juvenile delinquency.
Organized humane society to care for animals and to educate pet owners.
Held numerous public health clinics with Madge Holderman, local nurse.
Took a stand in opposition to bring horse racing to Palm Springs.
Stood in line for meat rationing; held a fundraiser to buy a bomber; and volunteered as Gray ladies at Torney General Hospital (converted El Mirador Hotel), and entertained servicemen at the Club with all day trips, meals and dancing in the evenings – their own Canteen!.
Won an award for their float in the Desert Circus Parade.
Grew membership to 220.
During these years, themed fashion shows were held. Unlike today, they held a morning show, at which a continental breakfast was served; and an afternoon show, at which tea was served. The shows were held at the Clubhouse, often with seating on the patio as well as inside the main room. Imagine the commitment and awesome effort to make these events happen! Photos of the era shows happy, proud faces, and well they should be. These PSWC pioneers have big shoes to be filled.
1960 - 1969
The sixties were the age of youth- 70 million post-war teenagers!
It was an era of do your own thing. Young people demanded change; changes which affected education, values, lifestyles, laws, and entertainment.
Movies reflected the widening gap from the conservative fifties to revolutionary ways of thinking about the cultural fabric of American life—from My Fair Lady to The Graduate or from The Man from LaMancha to Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf. Ms. Harper Lee’s to Kill a Mockingbird in 1960 was a forerunner to the civil rights movement and the struggle for equality. Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and the National Organization for Women (NOW) challenged the status quo in housing, the fields, transportation and accommodation, and in the workplace, for women, the term “the glass ceiling” was very tangible. The Equal Rights Amendment was passed and signed by President Johnson.
The generation gap became a growing phenomenon. Hippies, flower power, the British Invasion and more. The decade ended with Woodstock– a monumental event which changed our world, yet again! Mattel Toys introduced the Barbie doll in 1959 and little girls of the 1960’s clamored for her house, car, designer clothes, friend Ken, and more...altering forever millions of women’s expectations about adult life. Bouffant hairstyles go go boots, pantsuits at work and at play, rock’n roll, Elvis Presley - do you have a favorite song you still sing today?
Palm Springs was changing, too. City Council districts gave way to voting at-large; the first professional city manager was hired; the Palm Springs Airport terminal and runways set the stage for future airport expansion; hippies and lewd behavior on downtown streets shocked city fathers and residents during a Spring Break in the mid 1960s; Agua Caliente tribal members were given authority over their own lands– a move away from conservatorship; the Spa Hotel was built; and one-way traffic emerged downtown.
PSWC members wrestling perhaps with their own personal versions of these culture shocks, continued to present colorful fashion shows some which were blessed by inspired graphic designers for the event programs, marketing and promotion.
1970 - 1979
The decade of the 70s brought big questions to the American
dialogue. Vietnam, Kent State, Civil Rights, mood rings, hair
length, and polyester. America celebrated its 200th birthday,
and the internet was just around the corner. PSWC spotlighted
some of these issues through programs like:
International Poverty and the U.S. AID;
The Romanoffs of Russia;
The “Woes of the World” and the release of prisoners of war;
“Women’s Lib is not a 20th Century Innovation;” and
Films which served as vicarious journeys to “The Kingdom of Tonga in Polynesia” and “Safari to East Africa”
The Club joined in the community support of Up With People a worldwide goodwill musical touring group. Members fed a homemade dinner to 100 students.
Walker Scott Department Store generously supported the Annual Scholarship fundraiser for 4 years. Fashion shows were routinely presented at teas and luncheons, including a “What Not to Wear in 1973” and an “Easter Parade of Yesteryear.” A Christmas Yuletide Breakfast was held, including white elephant gift exchange; and husbands were honored at the last event of each season. Members enjoyed card parties, seasonal themes, and even a bikini clad elephant at a fashion show. Bikini? Must have been for practical purposes?
To honor the 1976 Bicentennial, “Salute to America,” was chosen as the theme for the annual fundraiser. Doris Henkle, then President said ...“it was chosen to emphasize what is right about America” an antidote to the negative attitude that prevailed at the time.
There was also a program which included a display of lifelike mannequins of 1776 patriots. Members sold soft drinks from a booth at the Desert Museum Sculpture Garden and contributed the proceeds to the Palm Springs Bicentennial Committee.
The 1980s became the me generation of status seekers; shop til you drop was the watchword—labels were everything, from clothing to cars; the buying splurge may account for why 10 million Rubik's cubes were sold! Baby boomers reached the age of majority. Popularity and accessibility of the personal computer skyrocketed and Americans used them in their homes, offices, and schools; the disease of the decade—AIDS. The decade began with double-digit inflation, but the stock market recovered after its historic 508 point drop on October 19, 1987; inflation reached 13.5% and the prime rate hit a whopping 21%! Gone with the Wind turned 50, ET phoned home; Prince Charles and Lady Diana were married; Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court Justice; and the Berlin Wall fell at the end of the decade.
It was a time filled with debates, problem solving and giant steps toward the new millennium barely 10 years away. Americans gave generously to charity during this decade. Ed and Marian James notable philanthropist and seasonal desert residents donated $10,000 to PALM SPRINGS WOMAN'S CLUB for air conditioning.
The 1990's - The decade of the electronic age! The World Wide Web was born in 1992; mid-century modern style of the 1950s and 1960s made a big furnishings comeback, especially in Palm Springs. Amazon.com flourished and Borders and Barnes & Nobles drove small specialized bookstores out of business; the Book Club of PSWC, which often sold used books prior to Club meetings, was rapidly becoming a relic of the past. Members eased into use of cell phones and computers. The United States took on the role of world policeman, beginning the decade in Kuwait, to the Gulf War, to Haiti, to Bosnia and Kosovo, ending the decade much as it began with U.S. forces as arbitrator, enforcer and peace keeper throughout the world.
While sex scandals from the Tailhook affair to the White House affair, gun control debates, Rodney King, Oklahoma World Trade Center bombing, Branch Davidian, the Columbine High School shootings, and the O.J. Simpson trial may have occupied hours of television viewing time, the PSWC members steadfastly worked to achieve its goals of providing scholarship funds and social enjoyment.
Club scrapbooks of the era are slight on text and loaded with photos. If interpreted correctly, the well-dressed members enjoyed exceptional, professional entertainment. Marian James generously provided $3000 annually to assure members of quality programs. Talent from Los Angeles was auditioned before invited to perform! Costume Halloween parties; well-attended teas and luncheons; incredibly yummy meals; and a strong leadership vested in two presidents for the second half of the decade – Arlene Wells Hunt Ducote and Klara Bacher – each of whom served two years.
The club presidents from 1991-1996 each served one year. The economy was booming; Americans enjoyed the country’s affluence, and travel was up 40% - a plus for a tourist driven community like Palm Springs.
The following prayer was found in one scrapbook of the decade. Perhaps it was read by the then and still Inspiration Chair Mary Faith Cripps. It underscores the values of volunteers and perhaps that of the general society in the 1990s; and by the end of the decade, philanthropy was incorporated into the PSWC endeavors.