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Display of 50s artifacts forms backdrop for Tupperware party

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SHIRLEY — The domestic 1950s display set up by Historical Society curator Meredith Marcincewicz and her helpers, including children’s librarian and society member Kathleen Farrar, is blissfully nostalgic, complete with an ironing board, gauzy curtains and an array of aprons.

It’s a perfect backdrop for a Tupperware party that’s both the real deal and a symbolic re-telling of a success story. Tupperware’s heyday was in the 1950s, when every homemaker worth her Formica countertops had a supply stacked in her white steel cabinets. Tupperware parties were as much a part of the suburban social scene as tract housing. The post-WWII years signaled a bright new day for the American dream, at the launch of the baby-boom generation. It was an era of stay-at-home moms; and if vintage ads reflect her tastes, mom had a penchant for gadgets.

A collection of bought and borrowed artifacts assembled in the display in the Lucy Longley Memorial Museum stirs cinnamon-scented memories of that era, all except a wavering black-and-white image on the tiny green screen of an old Philco television set. Loaned by the family that owns it, Marcincewicz said the vintage table model TV was one of the first in town and once sat in the owner’s window with its screen pointed toward the street for passersby to enjoy.

Other era-centric props include recently acquired museum-owned items such as a wringer-type washing machine and a 50s-issue chrome kitchen table with vinyl chairs. Loaners include a ceramic cookie jar, tin breadbox with matching canister set and stainless steel kitchen items that date to the period, such as a waffle iron and coffee pot.

The display also includes an array of vintage Tupperware items, some of which were loaned by the National Plastics Center in Leominster.

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