Ah, the crisp air of autumn–not yet arrived here in muggy, dank … dare I say, sultry, Texas. Leaves are still green on many of the trees, and my hair is still frizzy with humidity. But Halloween, she comes. And with that, an obligation for children to trick or treat from home to home, virus be damned at this point. While I am not the sort of adult who dons costumes anymore, it is always fun to travel back in time to mid-century university life and revisit the apparel of yore. The couple above were captioned as “night-shirted mambo dancers.” They take it quite seriously.
But not as seriously as young love.
Next we have a gaggle of hoboes (also acceptable: hobos. Reminds me of the buffalo conundrum.) Yes, this is when it was acceptable to make fun of the homeless, before many of them were traumatized Vietnam vets. Back then, they were lovable tramps who hopped the trains–and evidently never left home (well, camp) sans hat.
Up next, a Li’l Abner couple, although little is the last word that comes to mind.
Finally, we have a prone mummy, an Indian brave and his maiden, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and others.
Do recall that Ann and Andy were siblings, so let’s hope this didn’t get weird at the end of the night. Did you know that the Raggedy siblings are over 100 years old now? Methinks we should bring the term “raggedy” back into play. It means shabby, so perhaps we could start calling interior design “raggedy chic”? Shabby chic with a hint of red yarn?
I realize that most of us had to stem our woodcarving budgets to almost nothing under this economy. But back in 1946, when James Watson Webb and his fantastically-named wife, Electra (which is more fun to say than Alexa) sat down in their posh residence on the North Shore of Long Island, only the most desirable location at the time, trees were plenty, and money was no object.
JW was no commoner, no basic blogger like you or I. Nay, he was born into greatness. His mother was a Vanderbilt, his grandfather an ambassador to Brazil under Lincoln. So he did things neither you nor I could do: graduate from Yale, found a brokerage firm, play on the American polo team, serve in the House of Representatives. Do you feel like a loser yet?
Electra herself was the daughter of a sugar tycoon, and she spent her days on buying sprees, snatching up bits of Americana and brilliant craftsmanship (like those above) to add to her collections. Everything from paintings to quilts to New England furniture. At the tender age of 18, she bought a wooden cigar store Indian for $25 and named it Mary O’Connor after one of her favorite family servants. What others at the time would have called tobacco store junk was art in the eyes of Electra.
The year after the above shot was taken, she established the Shelburne Museum, a home for her treasures, and became a pioneer in preserving remnants of early Americana. It houses the SS Ticonderoga, a passenger steamship, an 1890s rail car, a light house, and various sleighs and carriages. Aren’t the grounds lovely? They even have an apothecary shop!
Mary O’Connor eventually wound up on the other side of the country, in the California home of her son, J. Watson Webb, Jr. As he had no children of his own, one wonders where Mary is now. The museum?
Here you see Horace offering his armpit to Shirley, who tries her best to look unimpressed, though the combination of pineapple pulp, hibiscus, and Polynesian breeze are an intoxicating aphrodisiac indeed. Phillip, downwind of him, seems overcome by the pheromones.
Don’t look now, but the fumes of anti-perspirant have attracted the coeds from down the hall! Everyone’s up for Aloha Fresh.
While tiki torches burn, Raynard and Viv spark it up. Aloha Fresh neutralizes that irritating side smoke, and even the stench of cheap domestic beer.
The truth is, no one wants to believe he or she has an issue with odor. But we’ve all been in cabs. It’s real. Better safe than sorry. Shouldn’t you be Aloha Fresh today?
What could be sadder than Prolon-induced pig anxiety? Perhaps hooves clutching a wishbone of a fellow creature? Who cares? Hitler is dead!
All of today’s ads come to us from the summer of 1946, when the country was just beginning to get back on her feet. The war was in the past, and so was hog bristle. In this new age, science was the winner, and pigs vs prophylactic Prolon made good copy.
But not as good as a head of youthful, vibrant, slick hair that caught a young lady’s eye. Watch as his locks emanate vitality.
And speaking of crushes, why not try Orange Crush, filled with the juice of tree-ripened Valencia oranges? Yes, that’s right. Actual juice in the bottle, as well as pulp!
Not a fan of orange? Then pause to refresh with Hires. Cheers to silly puns! Now let me dig, woman.
Not a soda person? Maybe a Bloody Mary is in your future. Make it sing with A-1, the dash that makes the dish!
After all that imbibing, it’s time to wind down, head to the parlor, and listen to some Big Band on the Crosley radio. Perhaps make room for a cooling after-dinner mint. Everyone’s heard of Richardson’s mints. U-All-No!
Set down your coffee to read this one, folks. It doesn’t marry well with toilet bowl. I stumbled upon this image early this morning, perusing pics for a Facebook birthday post. I wondered why I had kept this Polaroid for nigh on 40 years. You can see the Polaroid edges, no? In it, the family cat of my tweens, Ran Tan, has decided to rehydrate from an exhaustive day of lounging and nibbling.
Did I keep it because I will always have a special place in my heart for her? No. She was a cat. She was not a dog. The special place is clearly filled with our dog.
But it speaks to a time where one did not have a camera in one’s pocket. If one had stumbled upon the cat mid-drink, one would never have time enough to go find the Polaroid and lug it to the water closet before said cat had vanished. I don’t recall the circumstances of how perchance the shot exists, or even who took it, though it’s been in my possession all these decades. It must have been happenstance.
It also speaks to growing up in a house with one potty for all to share. Patience was a virtue. My son grew up in a home where each bottom has its own toilet. Ah, luxury!
I imagine we sprinkled the bowl with Comet soon afterward. Note the stylish tiles, which, if original to the home, would be nearly 100 years old now. And how often do you see a black toilet seat? It complimented Ran Tan’s fur just fine.
Perhaps the point is the cliché seize the day, seize pleasure where you find it. Perhaps the point is to stay hydrated. Or perhaps the point is to save at least one picture of your family cat, even if it’s just the tail.
Sometimes when infatuation spills out of you so effusively that you can’t hold your dimples in, you just need your bestie to have your back, and go tell it on the mountain–or go tell the bestie of your crush that you think he’s the most.
Then he can relay the information. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Then it’s up to him to make the next move. Or bring his buddies with him as wingmen.
What is going on here? No one is rushing the stage. Folks are in their seats. No Zippos in the air. No bra straps showing. Petticoats are full, waists cinched nicely. It’s a remarkable expression of containment and decorum, when you know full well those girls are about to. lose. their. minds.
And there is Elvis, prostrate, barely legal to drink, full of chills that are multiplying and sending electric shocks up the spines of the mostly female audience. I would say he’s all shook up, but that won’t come out till next year, the year he buys Graceland and is drafted into the military.
Fortunately, Elvis lives to tour again and continues the theme of lying down during set lists, even as his age doubles from 21 to 42. Yes, the sideburns and jumpsuits (and karate moves) are new. But some things never change.