Monday, February 28, 2011

Open Highways (1966, 1971)

One of my favorite things about McKays Used Books, CDs, Movies, and More is the buying policy. Specifically, the good purveyors-of-books' decision not to take textbooks, visibly worn or yellowed books, or books mildly damaged in any way, in favor of (rightly enough) stocking their shelves with more sellable items. These rejected books are often left at the location by the person who has unsuccesfully to hock them, at which time McKays tosses said selections into three huge wooden bins outside marked "FREE BOOKS".

You do not have to tell me twice, Free Books sign.

Last weekend, I had a pretty lackluster "vintage movie star bios/50's suspense stories anthologies/old cookbooks/rare MGM movies not yet on DVD" run (which they're usually so good about having!!), but as I left, I thought I'd take a quick peek into the bin, which turned into a heartstopping moment of luck. Twenty or thirty early 60's young adult books! Donna Parker! Some knock off Hardy Boys esque titles! Nancy Drew! As I sidled up between two women who were having some long, loud conversation directly in front of the box, ABOUT the books in the box, I began to surrepetitiously pick books out of the mountain and hand them to Bab, who soon had a fifteen volume high stack to which I was still adding. The women caught wind of this, eventually, and began grabbing books for themselves, but I'd already taken the lion's share and passed them into Bab's helpful hands (he really is the best accomplice). Greedy? Yes. Happy? Also yes.

Amongst the titles I scored was a fifth grade textbook, originally published by Scott, Foresman and Company in 1966, but reprinted for this edition in 1971. The result was a strange melange of MCM illustrations and early 70's illustrations, the highlights of which I'll take you through story by story.

Above and below, these illustrations went along with the text of "Ernestine and Substance X". Unusual feminine versions of masculine names! Why aren't there more Ernestines and Bernadettes and Claudines these days? Ernestine Rosario and her friend Rosalie attempt to earn extra credit in fifth grade science class by inventing an "invisibility formula". Dialogue:

"For our experiment, let's try to find a substance that will make things the color of air!"

"But air has no color at all!" said Rosalie.

"That's right!" said Ernestine. "Now let's get started on our experiment."

Puzzling, but I guess true? I'm obsessed with the color and print of Ernestine's dress, by the way (the girl to the right). AND THE FLIPPIN WALLPAPER. Give me this wallpaper.

Ernestine's mother, Mrs. Rosario, comes home, and obviously Substance X, made up of household items of every kind, was not quite the hit it was meant to be. Slathered as it as all over a kitchen chair, the chair itself was still pretty visible. Mrs. Rosario, your tapered skirt, matched cardigan to trapezoidal purse, and lovely chignon are a perfect 10! I'm sorry about your kid's lack of scientific skill. Chalk this one up to experience.

A zoo theme carried through several selections... above, a boy and elephant bond of a shared love of an audience. Below, the illustration from an article about how zoos acquire animals (loan/trade from other zoos, buy from other zoos, buy from animal collectors). Included in the article, a 1965 price list for animals:

Royal Bengal Tigers, 1-2 years old.......$1200 each
Baby walruses..........................................$5000 each
Baby giraffes.............................................$4000 each
Polar Bears................................................$1200 each
Elephants (full grown).............................$4000 each
Hippopotami...................................$1500-2000 each
Dromedary Camels........................$1200-1400 each
Kangaroo males (full grown).............$700-800 each
Jaguars.................................................$400-450 each
Spider Monkeys (golden and black).$40-50 each

So, as a zoology investor, I guess spider monkeys would be your best deal, whereas a giraffe, elephant, or walrus can really set you back a few. How much is an ocelot or an otter? Inquiring minds want to know. Which one would you shell out the most for?

Speaking of Walruses ($4000 = $26915.30 in today's money, btw...worth it?), take a look at "Ookie", the subject of a short feature on his species.' It comes back around again to be cute. Almost. "Ookie is a walrus who likes people," the article begins. Beware, apparently, for if this is one of her defining personal characteristics, what does it say of others of her brethren? That they hate people? Ookie was scooped up at the tender age of "a few weeks old" in the ice fields of Alaska by a Dr. Carelton Ray and some Eskimo fishermen he had hired for the purpose of collecting specimens for the New York Aquarium. As this is a true story, you can see Carelton Ray's University of Virginia faculty page here (he's still working! Forty five years later!).

Settling in at the aquarium, Ookie was noted for her love of, you guessed it, mealtime. "Ookie drank almost three gallons of clams, cream, and vitamins each day. No wonder she gained more than a pound a day!" This goes on for some time until they try to wean Ookie from eating with a a trainer to eating by herself. She wasn't having it, at first. Listen to this weird passage: "Ookie didn't eat anything all day. But she was already so fat that the aquarium people knew it wouldn't hurt her to go without food. So they just left her alone." What! I'm glad you guys are aquarium-ists and not child service specialist. Jeez Louise.

Some pretty weird photos of poor Ookie trying to get into the seals' pen for some company. She jumps out of her pool, waddles up the wall, stands on her flippers, and flings herself over. The aquarium people keep making the wall higher, and Ookie keeps jumping higher, until finally the wall is built seven feet high and Ookie's climbing days were through. This is okay though, because of the coda added under the last photo: "But Ookie isn't unhappy. Lots of people come to see her, and Ookie is a walrus who loves people." Good to know.

Just like today, textbook authors in 1971 were obviously trying to "hip" up their source material by adding two passages written and illustrated in comic book style. The story about Frank "Bring Em Back Alive" Buck was done particularly well... love the colors and the action shots. Hold that tiger! As with any of my posts, click on any of the pictures to see a larger version.

Wasn't that thrilling?

"Earthquakes in Anchorage" had photos of the fallout from an earthquake that took place March 27, 1964. May I point out to the gentle reader that the school building below is split IN HALF. It's as if the ground beneath it were a huge blanket someone took by the corners and just shook in the air. Look at that car inside the house on the right!! Exciting stuff for a fifth grade textbook.

Cuuuute midcentury modern scribbly illustration of Indian maids and misters. From the first sentence of this selection: "Once there were six pretty Mono Indian wives. Each wife had a husband who was a mountain-lion hunter." Now THAT'S a day job. Eesh. The men are holding their noses as the story detail their wives' discovery of the cooking applications of wild onions. The women just keep compulsively eating onions, to the great dismay of their menfolk. "That night the husbands made their wives stay outdoors because the onion odor kept them awake." At one point, the odor is so strong from being AROUND the women that the men scare away the mountain lions with their onion stank. Later, the women lasso a cloud and traipse around in the sky, letting their onion loving flag fly high. Eventually, the husbands wanted them back, onions or no, but the women wouldn't come out of the sky. "All agreed they would rather be alone in the sky". Nice. Then the men and the women turned into stars, the grouping of which is today called "The Pleiades". WHAT. KIND. OF. STORY. IS THIS. I understand that folk tales can be way out there, I'm a huge fan of magical realism, but how in the hello did we get from eating onions like they were going out of style to flying up in the sky and getting star-divorced? How did the 1966 fifth grader take this?

Some particularly pretty space illustrations, probably leftovers from the 1966 version. I love the watercolor look of these. The bubblegum pink one on the right is from a story about kids in space in the future. As it was written in 1957, it comes with a 1966-1971 space age caveat in the introduction: "Look at the bottom of the page and see when this story was written. Since then, many facts about space have been discovered. After you read the story, ask yourself if any of the things imagined by the author are accepted as being true now. Are there any things that you know are not true?" A thoughtful question about space and science fiction for a fifth grader.

Hope you enjoyed the excerpts and the scans, there will be more where that came from, if I get up the gumption to process this mother lode of material.

Are there any stories from your elementary school textbooks that you still remember? My favorite was a sixth grade literature book that included the entire script from the Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" (the link provides the self same script in pdf, possibly from that text book). Did my parents and I construct a kid sized cardboard car for the penultimate scene, complete with flashlight headlights? Did I get the important role of Charlie, as originally portrayed by Jack Weston? Was this or was this not COMPLETELY up my alley, in terms of all time greatest classroom assignments?

You be the judge. :)

See you next time!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Clothes Off My Back (6)

I realize it's been a long time since I've done a clothing post! I assure you, I've been wearing clothes-- but the time to photograph them has eluded me lately. Nonetheless, here are a few from this and last month that I managed to squeeze in between work and karaoke and estate sales (is there anything else...?).

This dress is from an estate sale a couple months ago ($1), a neat, graph-papery kind of pattern... I love the button detail on the wearer's left hand side, but the waist was far too generous for me. Solution? Popped off one of the lower buttons, replaced with belt. I sewed the button into the hem of the dress, in case I ever need to replace one of the others, but I think the general effect worked. The tuxedo jacket is from Target (clearance, $6.24), sunglasses from some long forgotten thrift store trip, the tiny fish pin you probably can't see was my mom's, and the boots are my ever reliable Rocket Dogs. Wore this to a much deserved morning-after-Corner-Bar breakfast at Waffle House. Carb war or no, for a treat, those hashbrowns and that raisin toast was OUT OF THIS WORLD. Put a bunch of Motown on the jukebox and just enjoyed swilling coffee and pigging out with my Bab. Truly awesome.

One of my f-a-v-o-r-i-t-e dresses, this one came from Southern Thrift, which rarely has vintage clothes at the Donelson location, but almost ALWAYS has easily-taken-for-vintage-new-dresses from labels like Talbot's or so ($12.98...big spender!). As I often have to do with any dress meant to be above-the-knee-skimming on an average sized gal, I've added a froufy sort of skirt under the dress to extend the hemline from "majorette short" to a more acceptable "mildly go-go". Tuxedo jacket makes a reappearance (it's become the staple jacket to end all staple jackets). Bab found this goes-with-everything Banana Republic wool zip up at the same Southern Thrift (new with tags, $19.98... possibly the only time my man has spent more than me at a second hand store). No one recognized me with my hair down at Corner Bar later that night. I'm so neurotic about keeping it in place that to have a curtain of it just hanging down drives me nuuuuuts. It does look pretty in the picture above, though. :)

Chinchilla collar! I was home alone before running out to meet Bab at the Belcourt to see Brief Encounter, so excuse the not-exactly-Avendon quality of the photos. Plus, my hair was being a buzz killer altogether... can you see the 80% flyaways? That would explain the wool cap (garage sale, $3... they had an entire boxful, and I kind of wish I'd bought two). The bee pin is from an estate sale ($2). The jacket I've had since high school... I think most of the wear on it has been my own. Must have been less than five dollars. It always reminds me of a rattier version of the one Marilyn Monroe wore when she married Joe DiMaggio, which became an unlikely plot device in the movie Wonder Boys (I so love that movie).

Sunday-work outfit. Red blazer, Music City Thrift, $3. Black skinny pants, somewhat visible in the first photo, a candid in which I'm approaching Bab, no doubt with the words "Let me see the camera". Very paparazzi of me. A sunnier photo to the right, in which you can see the "Charlie the Tuna" esque pin I found at an estate sale in Goodletsville ($1). Same sunglasses from earlier.

Remember my complaining so about the inclement weather two or three weeks ago? It's so gorgeous out right now I almost forgot the winter hell that was a few weeks ago. Would that it stays! Here's some snow-footage, from my long walk to the bus stop. It doesn't look too bad, and then you think about how it's all ice. And we're in Tennessee. Not well-prepared for snow driving, oh, EVER.

Will try to be more vigilant with the clothing posts, if only to keep myself accountable for my daily threads. Have a few killer karaoke gowns I need to share, but we'll have to wait until my much put-upon fiance/shutterbug and I have enough to time to catch our breath...and then take a picture of it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How To Make 44 Party Drinks (early 1960's)

Forty-four! Count 'em! :)

I finally got around to scanning the bounty of paper goods given to me by Barry a few weeks ago at karaoke... can you imagine the two-step beat of my heart as one of our favorite Corner Bar regulars handed me a package with pamphlets deeee-rect from an inheirited dry bar?! He and his equally awesome girlfriend Kimmy were at my house for a Mad Men themed dual birthday party in August, when Barry first mentioned the possibly of handing down these sacred texts to me. Being the complete nut I am for any kind of 1950's/60's recipe cards, much less DRINK recipe cards, I was bowled over both by how neat the finds were and how kind Barry was to pass them on to me. So, first of all, big shout out to Barry!

The first in the set, "How To Make 44 Party Drinks" was published by Southern Comfort, to the greater glory of Southern Comfort, in the early 1960's. Couldn't place an exact date on it, but the address on the barware order form on the last page is zip code less, so I'm guessing pre-1963?

I've noticed that many party manuals from the Kennedy era stress pre-planning and convenience-- in the atomic age, one needn't spend hours bent over elaborately arduous-to-make canapes. Just pop some Chex Mix out, shake up a couple shakers, and laisse rouler les bon temps, mssr.

Here's me, enjoying the solicitous attention of a drink-bearing, blue blazered gentleman, while simultaneously complimenting myself on both my choice of green wiggle dress and lovely purple furnishings in my well appointed living room. I mean, duh. Man in the tab collar, please stop touching my faux objets d'art. They are not to be handled.

This page explains the various measuring methods and bar set up you're going to need to get this party started. If you don't already have a fully equipped Darren Stevens living room bar cart, this, even without a witchcraft savvy wife, would get you well on your way to at home bar competency. Despite my ridiculously large barware collection (Lord, if you don't want me to buy Your kitschy hi-ball glasses, do not make them so cheap and available), I admit I'm yet missing the last three of these glass types, but I'll get there. Also, the ratio of booze-to-guest table is particularly helpful. Multiply by three if you're drinking at Dean Martin's house.

Lunch time, brunch time....breakfast-time....just after you wake up time....anytime pre-cocktail hour is appropriate to drink these cocktails. I really want to try the last one, The Alamo, which is simply whiskey and grapefruit juice. The flavor combination there, when served alongside a plate of "Bacon suzies" (pancakes dusted with powdered sugar, filled with bacon, and then covered in syrup...Olé!), must be something very close to heaven. The dainty glasses remind me, as mentioned in the last paragraph, that I really must get some of the smaller ones. If not only to curb the voracious thirst of my guests, then to show off my hosting prowess in having a glass for yes, every drink and occasion. The cherry and orange garnishes sure make for a pretty cocktail.

"Yes, I remember you, Mister Butler..."

A French Quarter favorite, apparently, the Scarlett O'Hara is Ocean Spray, Lime Juice, and SoCo. As they promised in the introduction, the authors of this booklet provide you with the correct measurements for batches of 1, 4, 6, and 12. After that, you're on your own, scamp. "Strawberry Blonde" is a new one to me, but looks good! That hair classification always reminds me of the turn of the century set James Cagney movie of the same title and saying "23 skiddoo" over and over again for the next week after having seen it.

Always have been fond of the practice of putting the product name in the drink name, like a "7 and 7". In this instance, we get a "Comfort Collins", as well as a "Comfort Cola" (do not look for the latter in vending machines). "Comfort n Tonic" just seems like a waste of an opportunity to play with the name.

"Host special: mix now, play later"...that's right, kids, you can mix, and then you can relax, and then you can serve these drinks. I love preplanning! I never manage to pull it off at my parties though... you'll see me three hours in, still scuttling around, drink in hand, trying to make sure everything food-wise has come off as planned, no one needs anything, and that my slip isn't showing. The life of a bab.

Crab meat canapes, very fanciful! Has anyone every ordered a Gimlet in a bar? Or a Brandy Alexander? I'm always afraid they'll look at me cockeyed. Similarly, I always get jealous of the GQ man of the year looks my friend Brian gets when he orders something cool/tough guy, as he has when ordering Johnnie Walker or similar "your grandad's booze" choices. With girl drinks of the 60's, you are more than likely to get a blank stare or asked "what's in it, I guess I can make that"? Which leaves me stammering and red-faced. "I don't know, Lee Remick ordered one in a movie once. Can't you ask the other bartender?" I live in a world of inequity and strife.

Here's what we needed during that snowstorm. I have to say, the illustration of the punch bowl is one of my favorites in the booklet. Look at all the paper lanterns! Also, where can you get little sword shaped toothpick skewers outside of the internet now? I went to Krogers and a party store last time and the best I could come up with were some mildly festooned affairs with not a jot of the "gibe" of these little swashbuckling swords. Sigh.

The aforementioned Alexander, SoCo style, and a Grasshopper, and a Stinger. Put em all together, and you've got the liquid lunch of the century. Again, I wonder where I could comfortably order these? Must commit ingredients to memory, then insist.

I love that "Comfort on the Rocks", consisting of only So Co and ice, is a recipe pleasantly presented to you "As served on TWA Super Ambassador Jet Flights". Exactly what I would want with me at 30,000 feet. That's why I keep seeing that dude in the fuzzy suit on the wing, ok? I'm not crazy. Look!

((Monster: "Is that Southern Comfort you're drinking, Bill?" William Shatner: "There's a man out there!!" ))

Last but not least, has anyone spotted these gorgeous, teal-and-gold Steamboat glasses? Supposing this is 1960, a set of eight of any of the three varieties (Long Drink, Double Old Fashioned, On the Rocks) would cost about $25.00 in today's money. Matching napkins? $1.25. Steals, people! Steals!

What I should refer to in the future as "The Barry Collection" also includes two pamphlets on games of chance, and a flip book of drink recipes called "A Guide to Pink Elephants". Go ahead and start your weekend off right with the above recipes, and I'll bring you some more this time next week. Til then!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Vintage Valentine

Guys, Valentine's Day is JUST. AROUND. THE. CORNER.

I'm a huge fan of any holiday, and Valentine's Day is definitely in my top five (somewhere in there with New Years', Christmas, Fourth of July, and Halloween). Even in single-times, I don't mind seeing people paired off two by two as long as I get to decorate everything with huge, cut from paper heart garlands and tinge the most unlikely foods bright pink and deep red. There are so many opportunities for kitsch at Valentine's I can't see how anyone could be anti-V-day. During a prolonged visit to Ebay this morning, I see that the internet is rife with holiday-induced shopping opportunities that hadn't even occured to me until a two certain words beginning in "v" were entered into the search box. Vintage Valentine's Day, why are you so enticing?

I was not aware of this custom until today, but at the top of this entry and below you'll see tons of V day handkerchiefs. Giving handkerchiefs as a memento for Valentine's Day apparently predates even cards, and I can see why. Wouldn't it be nice to be reminded you're someone's someone everytime you open your purse for what not? The fox one at the top of this entry is $45... more than I could ever hope to spend on a handkerchief...but how crisp the colors and how whimsical the dancing, be-sneakered foxes.

I love the graphics on the one to the left, and the simple sweetness of the WWII one to the right.

My second favorite after the foxes is the one at top left... a lot of graphic design bang for your buck. The folds of the girl-on-the-card's skirt form a keepsake handkerchief to the left, mint in box! Below that, little embroidered suitors bustling around to deliver you an oversized parcel of heart shaped love! Atta boy. Love these. I have two huge drawers-full of handkerchiefs and scarves at home as it is, never use them, AND YET. I am tempted.

Most random items found while searching "vintage valentine's"? This lecherously winkin' California Raisin, possibly trying to hail down a cab, or thumbs up your love affair, and the COMPLETELY RANDOM Bobby Vinton Happy Valentine's Day 1984 t-shirt. Maybe it's me, but I don't know that I would want to go to a BV concert on Valentine's Day, though I worship him. "Blue Velvet"? Sad. "Mr. Lonely"? Desperately sad. He possibly put on this concert simply so he wouldn't have to be alone on Valentine's Day, 1984. Still, besides one dress and the foxes scarf, my most coveted ebay discovery of the day.

Valentine's Day cards, always fun. At the top, you can see a dapper little guy putting on the Ritz, and the hilariously understated "I KNOW MY ONIONS; YOU'RE MY VALENTINE" card. Oh, Martha Louveridge, you made the right decision in the five and dime over 80 years ago...this is one of the best cards ever.

As you might have been able to guess (and/or empathize with), the decision of dress for this occasion has been weighing heavily on my mind. It did not help that in looking around on ebay, out of all of these delicious dresses, not one is priced lower that $100. I am a miser, a miserable miser. But my eyes have seen, this morning, some flame red dresses I could love to love me, and these are those:

To the left, my absolute favorite. It's even in my size. A Lanz original (I'm pretty sure I have a lace collared shift, very Twiggy, made by this company), it's a perfect, Joan/Mad Men/Kennedy era wiggle dress with a curious, though too cute, white lace insert detail on the neck. Right up my alley.

To the right, the EXACT (EXACT) same dress I once bought in a junk store in Kentucky on vacation, and gave away to a friend in college because it was cut for someone about a foot shorter than me. WHY DID I DO THIS. I misted over a little thinking of a) the price tag and b) the ways in which I could somehow make this work for me this coming Monday. So sad.

Prints and patterns! Why not. The hacienda, full skirted number at the top. Want. Want.

Last but not least, one must accessorize. I like the sterling look of this love birds pin, and the ever popular in my camp Enid Collins bag to the right. "My heart/love for you", I get, but what's with the frug pants next to the heart? My love for you, is like doing the Watusi. In an early Sonny and Cher stage show. That's something else.

I forgot to save a bunch of the links to these items, if you're lucky enough to bid on them....however, here are links to some: one, two, three, four, five , six (BEST DRESS EVER).

Special music video bonuses: Bing Crosby crooning "Be Careful, It's My Heart", from the Valentine's Day sequence in Holiday Inn:

And a song I'm playing first at my wedding, "Irresistable You" by the great Bobby Darin.

Happy early Valentine's Day! Does anyone have any particularly vintage plans? I'll have to dish all about ours next Tuesday! Next up, a bunch of 1960's bar-related pamphlets, courtesy of my friend Barry. Full scoop forthcoming. As soon as I sit down long enough to scan them, they're yours, mine, and ours. :)


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