Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vocational Courses by Mail (1951)

Good morning!

 With school coming back in at the end of the week, an NPR story this morning about how students are graduating with waaaay more debt than degrees, and my second round of courses for that M. Ed starting up on the 25th, I've had school on the brain all day today! You could see why, then, as I was flipping through a Popular Mechanics from 1951, I took an interest in the last twenty pages or so of advertisements for vocational training by mail. Here, finally, an alternative to traditional four and two year universities! Not really, but I did actually think about how cool it would be to skip sitting through boring lectures and frustratingly obtuse quizzes to instead, in the comfort of my living room, pore over pages and pages of by-mail correspondence on wildly, wildly varied choices for my professional future.

Wanna see some of the weirdies? I know you do! Let's see what we may want to be when we grow up....

Occupation: Meat Cutter
Pro's: According to the ad, the meat industry is "vital". Think of all the fine cuts of meat you could have at at-cost prices! I could eat steaks and steaks and steaks and make money at the same time as either a "meat cutter, supervisor, [or] market manager"!
Con's: This is going to sound completely insane, but my great-uncle James actually did try to learn meat cutting at home once in the 1950's. The concept was not without precedent-- my German family on my dad's side came over in the 1850's to North Nashville and ran a successful butcher shop that did good side business in chitlins. Yes, chitlins. From what I can remember, the shop closed in the forties' after the great-great grandfather died, and the equipment was sold or split between the three brothers (my granddad Buster, great-uncle George, and great-uncle James). Apparently, James got a wild hair to go back to his roots and managed to get a whole, pre-deceased cow from someone he knew, and with only the "M" volume of the World Book Encyclopedia and a set of tools and kitchen knives, set to work on understanding the different cuts of the cow. Can you imagine how SERIAL KILLER his workshop garage must have looked, not to mention smelled? I don't know how it turned out, but suffice it to say it's one of the more vivid of my imagined-family-stories my dad's told me.
My Vote: NO. No, no, no, no. Let's find something with a little less entrails involved, and the heck with my vocational heritage, all right?

Occupation: a) Racket Restringer, b) Baker
Pro's: a) It's "pleasant, profitable work", and you can do it at home with no prior experience. Good, because I have never had to restring a racket. b) Baking is "nearly depression-proof"! People are going to want to eat, you are going to want to cook things for them.
Con's: a) Have you ever heard of anyone being a professional Racket Restringer? No. No, you haven't. Also, outside the Hollywood colony in the thirties' and the Bill Tilden set, how could enough people need rackets re-strung to support a family of four? b) Having to wear a toque, working in high temperature slinging  loaves of bread, etc.
My vote: No to Restringer, Yes to Baking.

Occupation: a) Hamster Farmer, b)Guitarist.
Pro's: a) Look at what I just learned from this ad: these hamsters are from Syria, and are often called Toy Bears. See, I'm a natural at this! Also, how cute are the little guys on the right, hugging up on each other? b) Rock superstardom, as I will obviously graduate from this by mail course (with honors) to sweep the Grammys and change the face of music as we know it.
Con's: a) There's a claim made in this ad that I just don't think could possibly be true, which is that the hamsters are "clean; odorless". I don't personally believe in animals that come without odor. Even sea monkeys smell bad if you don't change their tank like every three hours, so you're telling me a wild rodent would be less smelly? I don't think so. b) I am completely hopeless at stringed instruments and doing more than one thing at a time (i.e. changing chords and strumming at the same time, patting my head and rubbing my stomach, doing any ititeration of the Jerk or the Dougie).
My vote: No to hamsters; No to guitars (to the great detriment of you music listeners out there).

Occupation: "Plastics" (unspecified....plastic salesman? I think?)
Pro's: "I just want to say one word to you. Just one word."
Con's: What exactly am I selling? I like the idea of novelties, signs, lamps, jewelry, toys, and furniture (all things I like to add to my home), but I might need more info. Also, I would feel better if it was a school of salesmanship, rather than a school of plastics. Shouldn't that be for people who make the plastic?
My vote: No, based on lack of information.

Occupation: Electrical Repariman
Pro's: You could fix blenders, toasters, ovens-- other high ticket items that are liable to short out RIGHT in the middle of a luau or cocktail party.
My vote: I think you know what my vote is. I also think you know the face-in overalls that will haunt my dreams tonight.

Occupation: Rabbit Raiser (not to be confused with "rabble rouser")
Pro's: Rabbits are good for "wool, pelts, and meat".
Con's: You're not going to get much time to pet them, as you will be concerned with shearing, pelting, and meating them. Nooooooo.....!
My vote: I'm gonna have to pass. At least you didn't have to think about eating the hamsters!

Occupation: Amateur taxidermist
Pro's: I am the biggest fan of well done taxidermy alive (ha ha, no pun intended). If I could, I would have my living room look Ryan Matthew Cohn's Brooklyn apartment (cohost of the Science Channel's "Oddities" program, all around natural history/weirdnesses fan). If you're into the same, you should read this AMAZING book called Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy about the many facets of business and the collecting of said items.
Con's: Um, actually having to do the dirty work yourself. I don't think if I could stand to have a bunch of Ed Gein-like, except animal-related, death items hanging around the house.
My vote: I'm gonna have to say no. No disrespect to Snappy, but I just couldn't take the gruesomeness. Will I ever find a job that suits me?

Occupation: Dance Instructor
Pro's: I love the ad's saying that they take "Men, Women, 18 to 56". I.e., no grannies, please. Definite pro's of this set-up is WILL SOMEONE PLEASE TEACH ME TO FOX TROT, WALTZ, AND RUMBA? What if Desi Arnaz finally calls me for our Dream Date? I'll be stuck with two left feet!
Con's: Aforementioned two left feet.
My vote: Please call me, 1950's Desi Arnaz.

Occupation: Upholstery Cleaner
Pro's: This business is a "peace or war business" (whatever that means...) and you can clean furniture right in the home! Also, the 'Are YOU the Man?' at the top of the ad kind of makes me feel like "the man".
Con's: I can imagine it would be a tricky business, up there with sorcery, to remove chocolate stains from suede couches. How can you be sure to use the right setting and the right temp every time? You can't.
My vote: Pass.

Ok, you've seen the arguments for and against these occupations: now which one best suits you? What do you think the actual through the mail correspondence looked like? Do you think anyone ever actually started a business this way? Have you ever taken a course by mail (not online, cheaters!)?

Guess I'll have to stick with the job I have for now, haha! Gotta get to it; see you guys tomorrow!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Kentile Floors (1950's)

Good morning! Hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r-o-u-s, but in the immortal words of Elton John (or Bernie Taupin, however you want to look at it), "I'm still standing...yeah, yeah, yeah". Emphasis on last three words, belted out with mournful sincerity. At any rate! Why don't we look at some mid century floor tile ads? These always cheer me up!

Kentile Floors was a company formed in 1898 in New York, providing for most of the fifties' and sixties', quality, low cost floor tiling that were made of up to 25% asbestos (oops). So, if you find a box of these MIB at some estate sale, it might be your best interest to steer clear, but from a historical point of view, weren't they lovely? The advertising campaigns from the 50's took an almost schizophrenic sales line, alternatively pitching the brand as a low cost, do-it-yourself option, and a thrifty-but-high-end floor covering with cost advantages to elegant marble floors. Ya gotta decide, Kentile! Which tact do you want to take?

Using one of my favorite, old-time descriptors that we don't really take advantage of anymore, Kentile Floors tout themselves as being used in "Today's Smartest Floors". And how smart! Look at the Madame de Pompadour era paintings! The mink casually draped over a fedora on the fancy entry-way chairs! I would be lying if I didn't tell you the red couch, white carpet, ZEBRA RUG, and clean symmetry of the room did not highly appeal to me. THE ZEBRA RUG. I now want and would give my eye teeth for an imitation one. However! Contrast the icy "just-so" ness of this first ad (not exactly the kind of living room you can eat mac and cheese in while watching a Law and Order: SVU marathon, which is EXACTLY how I gauge livability) to the coziness of the kitchen in this next ad:

Oh yes. This we also like. From the stony kitchen back drop and oven hood to the built in blonde wood cabinets which include (drumroll)...a radio, an aquarium, and A TELEVISION. Just plain gorgeous. See the brass tipped leg on the cushion to the far right, as well as the matching hanging-lamps and striped couch thing going on in the far background. I mean, really, the tile is seriously having to compete for attention in this set up, because I am all about that couch. Not particularly good set design if you are in fact advertising the floor, but I excuse you Kentile ad makers for introducing that couch into my life.

Above, a series of the available tile selection (38 colors! 3 styles!) is displayed by a very Diana Vreeland-esque model. I think it would be intimidating to go and a select a color, much less think about the decorative motif you're going for in terms how you're going to arrange the tiles (see the first photo and the neat, faux marble look of it). Still, the tile model's chignon and slim LBD makes me believe in the implied elegance of the product. I wonder if she was initially holding a handbag or a ready-to-wear dress and they simply substituted the tiles in this case.

Here, we see the practicality angle being worked again-- I swear I didn't take these from ads that were years apart! I'm pretty sure they appeared in the same time frame as each other. What appeals to me most about this one is Mrs. Richard Lansing's green velour, Peter Pan suit, wide brown belt, and loafer slingbacks. Yes, yes, and yes. With so many women keeping their maiden names when they get married these days, how retro does "Mrs. Richard Lansing" sound? I should go by Matthew's full name with a Mrs. tacked to the front when we finally tie the knot, just to weird people out.

This one easily takes the cake on the elegance front. Do you see what I see. DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? Take a minute...reflect on the scene....and then let your eyes sink in for a minute on the GOLDEN FOUNTAIN FROGS at each corner of the sunken bathtub. I don't even know if you can call it a "bathtub", seeing as there is no relation between this and what is currently in my ranch house bathroom...I think it's something more akin to the saucy Cleopatra bathing scene from the Burton/Taylor version than anything I've seen in a domestic setting. Or maybe something from that "Remember the Time" Michael Jackson Egyptian-themed video. What I am trying to tell you is, this looks super ancient Egyptian decadent, and I love it. Fountain frogs, people. Fountain frogs.

Back to a more mundane, less Egyptian themed room. I was interested in this one to see that round, directors'-chair-legged end tables replace traditional, square type end tables, that the seating in the dining area matches the throw cushions on the couch, and there's a  peacock mural behind said couch. I really need to get behind this midcentury mural thing, I wonder how hard it would be to pull off in a professional manner.

Back to "weird elegance" with the 1800's, topless Indian carving/statue (I mean, who doesn't have one of these in their den?), faux ivy hangings, and abstract Picasso style painting. Rooms like this always make me think "WHERE IS ALL THE STUFF?" You can't show a packrat a prospective home without that they should try and figure out where they would put things. That said, I really like the living room set here. I don't know what those buffet tables are doing out, unless they're about to have a party, but there they are nonetheless.

Last but not least, more homey-fifties'-ness as Mrs. William A Loock [sic] lays her own Kentile kitchen floor. My question: where, in this and the last "Mrs" ad, is MR William A Loock? I know he works all day, but shouldn't he be helping with this home-renovation project? That said, I like the cookbook storage on the door, and the green wallpaper. The cabinets I'm not crazy about, but the tile floor makes up for it.

What do you think? Which Kentile floor room would you most like in your home? Have you ever been in a grandparents house or estate sale house with the added luxury of fountains, statues, murals, or...saints preserve us...golden bath frogs? Let's talk!

Keep a good thought for me that this week is gonna look up! See you guys tomorrow!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Photo Friday: Every Dog Should Be Named "Ralph" Edition

Good morning! IT'S FRIIIIIDAAAAAAY! Thank the Lord. Which means it's time for another edition of Photo Friday from the Doris and Ray collection. Once again, though, the star of this particular photo essay will not be our main characters, but a littler, cuter member of the extended D & R family. See if you can spot a tiny little guy in the next photo. Not the eagle, not the cute girl in the Charlie Brown character shirt. Hint: see Ray's knee...

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Ralph. Who, outside of maybe French comics or the Wizard of Oz, has got to be one of the cutest, teeniest dogs I've ever seen. I'm not the kind to go nuts over a particularly small dog (I happen to love any and all medium to small size dogs), but look at his little face. In 1971, he must have been a new pup. And on this trip to visit Doris's son from her first marriage (dramatic organ music: I didn't even tell you about Sonny yet! I'll have to introduce him in the next post) and his wife in Maine, Doris and Ray were so impressed that I think they took more pictures of Ralph than of a subsequent visit to Niagara Falls! If you've seen one waterfall, you've seen 'em all...but how about that pup!

One of the funnier aspects of the photos to me is how timeless the dog looks (a dog is a dog is a dog), versus how very early 70's all the decor in Sonny and Diane's apartment looks. See the avocado, olive drab, and white knit circular rug in the photo above, or the green vinyl chair in the photo below. My grandmother had a couch made in exactly that style that sat in her den for most of my childhood. I remember coming in from playing in the yard and getting "stuck" to the couch in my shorts, backs of the thighs red from temporary attachment. I was glad to see that one go and be replaced, eventually, by a cloth couch that was probably five years newer but still thirty years out of date. Perfection.

 Does he not look like he should be on a U.S. stamp? See the no doubt hand-me-down fifties' or early sixties' skinny legs on the side table there, and Ray's pale blue pants and sneakers. We're trying to look at a pup here, Ray! Quit hogging the frame!

Here, the top of the little guy's precious head. Don't you feel like you could reach out and pet him?

Not just a pretty face, Ralph shows that he can do some tricks. I assume. I hope he was doing a trick and that's why they decided to take a photo, not just that they couldn't stop taking photos of this guy. Are those stacked up chairs in the background? I can't tell.

 The pictures get kind of strange from here. Do you know how in this, our digital age, we spend a lot of time throwing away or deleting photos that didn't quite come out like they were supposed to? It's funny to think (and I can cite several family photos that should have never seen the light of day, and yet are still floating around my mom's house) how you would keep every developed photo back in the day, because by gum, you took it, you paid to develop it, and that's just the way it is. Take the next few, for example:

That pale blue and white print in the background is a person, but who?! Faces would be helpful here!

Secretly, my second favorite of the bunch. Did you see his eyes? Did you see his crazy eyes? Plus random bare foot. This could be a David Lynch limited edition art print.

THERE we go. Finally back to a semi-normal shot, the small pup looks wistfully off camera.

I'm interested to see if I can find more pictures of this dog! He has such character in his face.

Did you have a family dog who was the star of your family's picture albums as a child? Did you have parents who went nuts over their first "grand-dog" when you were out of the house? How cute is this Ralph guy? Let's talk!

I'm out to the sales; wish me luck! See you guys on Monday.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Dating Game (late 1960's, early 1970's)

Good morning!

Just a quick note before I'm off to one of the branch libraries to spread the good gospel word about gadget checkouts at the managers' meeting! I helped develop the little FAQ that accompanies staff checkout of items like Kindles and Nooks so that we librarian folk can be a little more tech savvy on ebooks and the such. Imagine, wide-eyed, little old me, explaining staff checkout procedures to a room full of managers! I need to get my courage up to the sticking point, which means the coffee is brewing, and the eyeliner has been drawn on an inch thick. But, won't you miss a Thursday post from She Was a Bird? Not on your life!

I've been watching an inordinate number of celebrity clips from The Dating Game, and I'm telling you, I just had to share.

Steve Martin:

Michael Jackson:

Farrah Fawcett:

Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady):

Barry Williams (Greg Brady):

John Ritter:

Vincent Price:

Andy Kaufman (in character as a prototype of  Latke from Taxi?!):

David Cassidy:

Suzanne Sommers:

Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Who would you choose to go on a date with to exotic locales like Austria or Polynesia (spoiler alert, mine's Steve)? Do you remember watching this show when it aired? What's your guilty game show pleasure?

Gotta run, see you guys tomorrow for Photo Friday!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Let's Bring Back (2010)

Good morning!

I know you're looking at that parenthetical date up in the subject line of this blog post going "What? 2010? Is that a typo? Did she miss a '9' when she was trying to type 1902?". No, my friends, I actually have something from the twenty-first century to talk about this morning. Let's Bring Back might be my new favorite book! I finally got around to some of the titles in the summer reading list post I did earlier this summer, and this is the star of what I've gotten through thus far. The star, I say!

For starters, Lesley M.M. Blume is one of our tribe, readers. She writes a column for Huffington Post that's essentially "why don't we do this anymore" and "did you ever hear about...?" (two of my favorite interrogative statements, period). Two years ago, she distilled her wistful musings into one, pleasantly turned out volume (complete with book ribbon!), whose subtitle explains its purpose as "an encyclopedia of forgotten-yet-delightful, chic, useful, curious, and otherwise commendable things from times gone by". The gramophone and the Belle Epoque clip-art style scrolls and sparrows on the cover were a turn-off at first, but if you can get past the initial mustache-twirling art style, I promise there's plenty of stuff for us!

Equally versed in classic twenties' and thirties' Hollywood romantic comings-and-goings as in Edith Wharton, drawing room etiquette, the gal knows her oats. The book reminded me a lot of a grown-up version of Life's a Movie Starring You by Jennifer Brandt, one of the most influential texts of my middle school year. I wrote copious notes in a spiral about sixties' models and Brat pack style tips...I feel like I might have to do the same thing for some of the references that elude me in this book!

Some of the things I particularly get behind "bringing back" (all tapped from Ms. Blume's text, which you really should run out and get a copy of):

The Garden of Allah:
Formerly the private residence of silent movie star Alla Nazimova, the actress expanded the estate in the twenties to include a series of bungalows and opened it as a "hotel to the stars". My beloved Errol Flynn was a frequent flyer, as was F. Scott Fitzgerald (he wrote this postcard to himself from there, stamped, mailed and everything-- have I told you lately how much I love that man?), Charles Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, and Dorothy Parker. It fell into decline and was bulldozed in 1959...and, according to Blume, is now the site of a strip mall. BOOOOOOOO.....

Coffeehouse Culture
And don't think about Starbucks when you hear coffeehouse...or poorly put together prose readings after school in eighth grade. I'm talking beatnik, underground culture of the late fifties' and early sixties'. Places where an impossibly young Bob Dylan might play a bunch of Woody Guthrie covers or Jack Kerouac might be drunkenly trying to pee into an ashtray. Just look at that lady Beat's eyemakeup in the representational picture I found for you guys! What is not to love?

Femme Fatales:
From the movie Morroco; not sure of the source. Look at how attractive these people were!
Batwing-eyelashed, deliciously devilish women. Where are they today? Blume mentions Louise Brooks, Rita Hayworth, Joan Bennett, and Veronica Lake to illustrate that sultry, glamorous narrative staple of Hollywood movies from the teens' to the fifties'...Dietrich in her von Sternberg period is really the archetype. Post-noir, there seems to be a dearth of cigarette smoking, dangerously "bad" seductresses. I want to be draped entirely in black satin and ostrich plumes, cheekbones like cut glass, and proving the untimely moral downfall of some handsome missionary or soldier or married man. Did femme fatales lose popularity as morality and "good vs. bad" became less of an issue in movies? I don't know, but I want 'em back!

Fruit Hats
And just Carmen Miranda in general, now that I think about it. I bought a hat with strawberries on it, not nearly this literal but very cute, last weekend at that sale out in Erin, TN. I'll have to show you if I ever get my act together and photograph it with the rest of that haul!!

There's also a wealth of words and phrases that have gone out of fashion that Blume suggests we bring back. Why don't you try on some of these for size in your everyday conversations? Here's your word bank; if you don't know 'em, look 'em up!

arriviste, bon ton, cooking with gas, dough, dungarees, floozy, frippery, hooligan, kerfuffle, luncheon, madcap, nothing to write home about, persnickety, rouge, scanties, seedy, stinko, swell, wisecracks, whippersnapper

You really should read the book; I can't bring all these things back singlehandedly!

What would you add to the list of things that should be around that aren't anymore? Which one of the four things I mentioned appeals the most to you in terms of resurrection? Read anything you couldn't put down so far this summer? Let's talk!

I'm off to finish the book (I'm only to "g"...there are so many more obscure things I need to learn about!); see you guys tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kitchenology (1931)

Good morning! How was everybody's Monday?

I picked up this copy of Kitchenology with Principia Friends at a sale a week or two ago, blatantly disregarding the self-imposed embargo that has been placed on cookbooks in my house. Second only to etiquette/manners manuals, cookbooks are one of my top estate sale foibles. You show me handwritten recipes in the front, and if the price is right (usually under $2), I'm a sucker for a book full of mid-century or earlier foodstuffs. Plus look at this cover!

This copy of Kitchenology was literally falling apart at the seams, having been lashed back together with Scotch tape at a time sufficiently long ago for the adhesive to have all but disintegrated-- some of these scans are not my best work, but I was concerned about the daddurn thing falling to pieces before I could give you a chance to get a look at it! To say the least, it was well loved, and there are plenty of written-in and stuck in on notecards recipes. On the title page and its facing page alone, we have recipes for such diverse course offerings as "Julie Child's [sic] Crepes Batter", "My Divinity", "Teriyaki Sauce", and "Pumpkin Bread". Warning: do not try these together. 

Click on any of the images for a full-size version:

This book is a total cutie for the reminds me of Carole Lombard movie title cards...urbane, cosmopolitan, and still somehow adorable. "Principia Friends" refers to the Principia Mothers' Club, who organized and published the cookbook to raise funds for the Principia School. What's the Principia School, you ask? A school for Christian Scientists in Missouri (and later Illinois, and then back in Missouri, in the same town Matthew's Memaw lived for thirty years! How crazy!). You can read all about their school's history (since 1898!) here. I don't know much about Christian Scientists, but they turn out p-r-e-t-t-y cute cookbook.

Here, the owner has added "Famous White Pound Cake", "Blue Cheese Buttermilk Salad Dressing", "Swedish Pecans", "Pralines", and "1 2 3 4 Cake Polly Ring". Not sure what the last one is, but it sounds good! I like the emphatic underlining on the pecans recipe. ONE STICK OF BUTTER! No more, no less!

Pound cake, bran muffins, and more pecan recipes. This lady must've had a pecan tree?

Jeannette Mann's Apple Cake recipe shares a page with Canapes and Cocktails. I MISS BOTH CANAPES AND COCKTAILS. It seems like it's well nigh impossible to reintroduce these to modern Americans without the goofiness factor of our declassé twenty-first century factoring into it and, as it so often does, ruins the whole blamed thing. I would LOVE to throw a party where everyone hangs at the edges of sofas, eating aspic and sipping strong vermouth, in slinky bias cut gowns and dinner attire, but you know someone would show up wacky shorts and a cardboard top hat, and I would be so disillusioned with the whole process as to give up on it entirely. Why won't people in our generation "play the game"?

One of the interesting aspects of the cookbook is the contribution of several recipes by Mrs. Tatsuo Takaki and  Mrs. Miyo Matsukata of Tokyo, Japan. On this above page, you can see their recipes for "Tamago-Toji" (a Japanese soup) and Tamago Tofu, respectively . While the book seems to be pretty much a basic cookbook, there are a few exotic recipes from authentic sources (including curry, later in the chapter)-- imagine how exotic Japanese food would seem to the average midwesterner in 1931! There's also a (crookedly scanned, my bad) section on meat substitutes. Was Christian Science popular in Japan? Is there something about being a Christian Scientist that might encourage meat substitution (though there are meat recipes in the book) or are they just particularly foward thinking with regard to vegetarianism? I don't know! You decide.

More adorable illustrations. Each chapter is begun with a quote in verse, and the one for entrees reads:

After the fish, before the fowl, 
One has respite in a way
When he may pause and catch his breath
And dally with the suave entree.

Well! You didn't know they were poets as well as cooks, did you? Kitchenologists, excuse me...I meant kitchenologists. Aren't the entries here so-o-o-o 1930's? "Macaroni and roundsteak"  and "chicken loaf" especially. I'm glad there's no calorie count! When contributors give their own names, rather than their married names with their husband's name listed, I can gawk at names like "Nellie Lou Broom" and "Verna Holmquist" and do I love to gawk at old names. Can Nellie Lou Broom be my stage name?

Some recipes for sandwiches. I really think these are an underutilized party food option. The book that changed my culinary life, Square Meals by Jane and Michael Stern, taught me how to make these mango chutney and cheese sandwiches, and another that was raisins and jam and something else, that were the star attraction of a party I had shortly there after. Do you know how cheap bread is compared to 90% of ingredients you would throw together for a menu? Also, cut into little stars and hearts with crusts discarded, they look so hi-tone. If you're planning a bash soon, consider sandwiches! How Wallis Simpson would dainty watercress and cucumber sandwiches be? Thought so!

Last but not least, the front and back inside covers are decorated with this, a literal interpretation of the title, in which our dainty, Mary Astor-looking homemaker consults her telescope to a constellation of cookery! Look at the little baby chef in the big dipper. I'm in love all over again.

Do you have any dogeared or heirloom cookbooks, yours or ones you've picked up, at home? Do you have any particular vintage recipes you wish people would bring back in fashion? All you at-home chefs out there, chime in! :)

See you tomorrow!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kenny's Drawings (1948-1950)

Good morning! And isn't this just a killer little face to start your day off with? Ladies and gentleman, I want you to meet Kenny. Snazzy little guy, isn't he?

Kenny was a student at Inglewood Elementary in the late 1940's and early 1950's. He had two siblings, Joan and Johnny, and his parents were both painters (of portraits and landscapes and such, rather than, say, houses). I know all of this because I went to an estate sale this weekend in a rambling, huge house just at the end of Music Row, where the majority of stock was comprised of famous autographs. I saw a three page typed letter about the shooting of Dodge City in 1939, written and signed by Errol Flynn (the only time I've legitimately been given pause over the possibility of spending $1,000 on something other than college classes...the will was there, but the wallet was weak!), Alfred Hitchcock's famous self-portrait outline with his signature, and a Life magazine cover signed by Gary Cooper, all of which I was mightily impressed with.Upstairs was hot and yielded no treasures; downstairs, in the basement, there were a number of large art pieces, probably from the seventies', and lots and lots and lots of dust and dirt. In a cedar chest, I found a large manila envelope with sheaves of writing paper sticking out, labelled "Children's Drawings" in brisk, large cursive script. I bought that and a metal ice tray from the fifties' for $2, and called it a day.

When I got home, the treasures that envelope produced! I spent a good part of the afternoon trying not to sneeze and sifting through the probably 100 + pieces of paper inside.

As said before, I know I'm kind of a sucker for ephemera (see the entire Doris and Ray collection, sitting in boxes in my den), so I've tried to be good lately about not picking up mountains of other people's photos and memorabilia just because the individual and personal angle appeals to me. In this case, though, the price was right, and I can't tell you how impressed I am with these musty little pieces of paper! The mother saved drawings from all three children, but Kenny was a particularly prolific artist and I have to say I like his pictures the best. All four and five year olds scribble and scrabble out drawings, but this little guy had real talent! Above, a representative drawing from the envelope-- you've got your law men/ cops/ robbers/ cowboys and a bevy of weapon choices, all rendered in full color and carefully detailed. See the triggers on the pistols? Or the boots and hats on all three figures? Will they choose a knife or a gun as their accessory? Who knows!

This picture, which the labeling tells us is from February 7, 1946, when Kenny was five, shows a "pirate man" with beard. Again, notice the gauntlet gloves, the knife scabbarded in the pirate's belt, his Smee-style hat and striped shirt under a blue coat. Something about all of these drawings remind me more of Basquiat than first grade art class. I wonder what kind of artist he was when he grew up!

While some of the pictures are helpful explained by his mother's pencilled-in captions, others remain a mystery. This one looks like a little girl in boots, possibly in a closet? Bottles and pans and shelves...could it be a roadside knick-knack shack for selling trinkets? What are the buildings or scribbles to the left and right? I won't definitively know, but who definitively cares? These are just the most precious little drawings. I love them.

Last but not least, the "over" message in the left hand corner tells you that the back is labelled "Kenny, Age 4, Cowboy". And OH MY GOODNESS, LOOK. At the age of FOUR, the little guy has successfully shown a Tom Mix like character complete with gun holster, ten gallon hat, medallion-embellished chaps, horse, and livery. I want to try and figure out if there's a way I can manipulate these (sans Photoshop, only because I don't have it) to clean or brighten the color up a little bit and repair the tear, thus leaving me with as good a little art print as I can imagine. Wouldn't these look cool over the couch?

Well, that's my treasure for the day. There's a WHOLE lot more where that came from-- I'll try and figure out how I want to parcel these out to show you guys. If you're as interested as me, that is! What do you think? Which picture is your favorite? Do you remember having any particularly crazy pictures saved by your parents over the years to delight or mortify you in your adulthood? Did you find any surprise treasures this weekend? Tell!

See you tomorrow, have a great Monday!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Photo Friday: Gone Fishin' Edition

Good morning! We made it to Friday again! I never stop being amazed that another week has come and gone-- this one, I won't mind bidding fond adieu to. It's been a mess, people! But, being glad that the freakin' weeken' is almost here, let's celebrate with a particularly long winded dive into the Doris and Ray photo archive. I hit the jackpot as I was combing through the boxes for something good to show you guys!

These Kodachrome prints came from a red vinyl, self-adhesive paged spiral photo album and comprised about ninety percent of the book, chronicling a fishing trip in Florida in May of 1968. Doris and Ray were joined by another couple (not one of Doris's many sisters!), and since, as usual, nothing is labelled, let's put on our sleuthing hats and deduce, deduce, deduce.

First, Doris and Ray meet up at...let's call them the Costners (he really does look like Kevin Costner at first glance in this first picture) house to load up the gear and start the long drive to Panama City. That's eight hours in the car, peeps. Can you believe the SIZE of this trunk? The brown blotch to the left of the trunk is a trilby hat you'll see again on Mr. Costner's head. See the almost-dawn sky in the far right corner of the picture, and how cute the little columns are in the front of the Costner house. I haven't been back down Bresslyn Drive to see if Doris and Ray's house is still there-- like I may have mentioned before, the West Meade neighborhood was and is very tony, so a lot of houses in the area are bought for the shady, green lots and replaced by McMansions in due time. Doris and Ray's house was in pretty bad disrepair, but maybe the new owners kept the structure and just updated it (best case scenario), using the bones of the old house to make the new one. At any rate, the bones of the Costners' house are adorable. So VERY fifties'/sixties'.

Doesn't Doris's hair look great? One of the best parts about all these pictures are the clothes, the clothes, the clothes. I really need to invest in some color pants-- I only have denim or black in that separates collection. If you figure they left around 5 in the morning from Nashville, here they are some ways into their trip-- diner stopover for lunch? See Mr. Costner's undershirt peeking out from his mustard colored sports shirt, and Doris's matching cardigan and pants. I think Mrs. Costner may have a little chiffon scarf in matching pink at her neck...so chic!

What did I tell you about bodies of water improving picture quality? Here, it looks like they've made it down to Florida and are having fun with the (dead) wildlife.

What IS this thing? Any amateur marine biologists out there that can shed a little light? Please? Before I have nightmares about fish puffer things slimin' around under my pillow?

Don't they look just like little kids? Ray makes his first appearance (I think he took the majority of photos for this trip, excluding the ones he's in of course), stylish as ever in a cool v-collared shirt. You guys quit horsin' around! Something about middle aged people showing that they still have a sense of fun really touches my heart.

Look at the portraits of Civil War generals over the beds! I bet that and the avocado green color scheme got totally nixed in the very next renovation. That said, that is the very color of my pinch pleat drapes in my bedroom. I admit it freely! You know it wouldn't be a Doris and Ray post without a picture demonstrating their great camaraderie and love for each other. Sheesh. Aren't they sweet?

Show 'em how it's done, Ray!

And good work, Doris! That said, should you guys be fishing right off a bridge like that? Who am I to question you.

Here, Doris and Ray and the Costners head out on a real live fishing boat! If this Panama City beach guide is to be believed, the Ocean Queen (or a namesake of the Ocean Queen?) still sails the coast! This pair of snaps may be my favorite of the bunch. Note to self-- pose with life preserver on next (first?) fishing boat trip.

Doris! Are you double-fisting your drinks here, or holding one  for Ray? I asked you a question, young lady! I love the messy ashtrays (two, one on each side of the table), and the mystery wrapped-in-foil package on the table.

Another postcard-like picture of our favorite couple. Don't they look like they could be in an advertisement?

I think these are shipmates of Doris and Ray? I can't place them in the other photos, but I thought it was funny someone took a picture of them sleeping on deck. It's kind of precious.

The most stylish windbreaker I think I have ever seen. People! Where is this vintage item! How can I get my hands on it!

I told you you would see that trilby in action. Can you believe how festive it is? I can't.

See the sun and the beautiful path of the waves? If it looks this pretty on a faded Kodachrome, imagine what it looked like in real life!

Here's the Ocean Queen fully loaded with its glut of gutted fish. I know compared to "would you believe?" photos that these don't look very big, but dang! I know I've never caught a fish that big!

A close up of the unfortunates. Kind of spooky! I think these are red snappers. Look at me, acting all fish knowledgeable.

I think it's a pretty clever marketing technique to have a big sign with your name and phone number on it behind the vacationers in their souvenir snapshots. It's like you too can experience this fishing success!
Check out Ray's denim fisherman's cap.

Looking like a scene from a Sofia Coppola movie, our intrepid vacationeers venture out onto the beach. And from Ray's towel-clutching in this picture, I feel like there's probably a strong ocean breeze chilling him! How cute is he in his little shorts.

Doris in the same swimsuit from that other trip! When you find one that works, you should hold onto it! I feel like she is also expressing coldness here. Guys! If it's cold, don't get in the water! They make jacuzzis, you know. Your hotel probably has one!

Once again bundling for warmth, poolside at the hotel. CHECK. OUT. THAT. CIRCULAR. DECK CHAIR. I'm in love.

It looks like Mr. Costner has a green version of the brown and white v-neck shirt Ray was wearing earlier. How cute are those pink pants, additionally? I STILL WANT THAT CHAIR, OMG.

"She said whaaaaaat? About whoooooo?"

I found this postcard and the following information about the Escape Restaurant on Card Cow:

Adjoining 60 luxurious units directon on The Gulf of Mexico with a 600 foot private beach, dining room, convention room and lounge, background music, phones, TV and a pool for your enjoyment. 11115 W. Hwy. 98; phones - Motel ADams 4-2588; restaurant ADams 4-3331. The Escape has everything.

I can't tell if the "The Escape has everything" is just a cut-off sentence, or they really meant to end the sentence that way, but I can tell you that they had me at "background music". Arthur Lyman, anyone? Wait, they have the back of the card! It not only ends with the "everything", it's in all caps! I'm double signed up for this one now.

What did I tell you all about horseplay?! Quit tickling her!

Lining up for ice and tackle. Slice-a-life, folks. Slice-a-life.

And last but not least, our sleepy party heartiers are on their way back to sunny Tennessee. Look at the old Coca-Cola sign!

Have you been on any epic vacations this summer? Seen any vintage sights? Tell us all about it!

That's it for this week, but I'll see you all again on Monday. Get great stuff, and meet back here ready to gab about it! :)


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