Route 66 in Missouri
This motor court was built before the fifties, but it was in prime use during that special decade that I'm celebrating! Our stay felt pretty authentic, although it would have been a lot move fun had we been traveling in a '57 Chevy! Then we could have parked it in our own little carport, which came with our room!
I'm not sure how common TVs were in motels in the 1950's, but we didn't have one. Instead we enjoyed the evening listening to some tunes on a vintage radio. We didn't even mess with our cell phones or IPads. Instead we chatted and read and wondered about Clark Gable. Our host Donna claimed the movie star had stayed in our very room when he was in the service!
A Halloween Excuse
I don't really need an excuse for any of my silliness, but a Halloween party gave me extra motivation to pull out the old dress up box. And in this year of my BYB Celebration, why not dress up for the fifties! I'm not really sure who I thought I was, although my sister claimed I was channelling our grandmother who often was seen holding a cigarette and scotch and water. I was probably a mixture of many relatives since everything I wore belonged to family.
The black gloves were my mother's. The glasses belonged to Aunt Ruth. The stole, belt and skirt (with petticoat) belonged to my mother in law. The jewelry came from my other grandmother, "Daw". The hat? I can't remember, but it was family. The martini glass was from my cupboard... and the cigarette? I bought a pack of "Lucky Cigarettes" from the candy store!
A Penny Hike With Marsha
If Marsha and I had been little kids together in the fifties, we might have gone on a Penny Hike. We aren't kids and I don't think kids do Penny Hikes anymore... but Marsha and I both have childhood memories of wandering with friends, using the toss of a coin on every corner to determine the route. I was thrilled that Marsha was up for trying the old activity.
Our penny took us into neighborhoods we've never explored and it even wound us in circles a couple times. We were jabbering so much we hardly noticed. Then I tossed the penny right into the grass and lost it. (We had to create new rules with a stick toss.) Our hike lasted nearly 90 minutes. Thanks, Marsha! What a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather, some exercise and good conversation!
Dreamy Pool Memories
When Don & I planned a stop in St. Louis with a stay at the iconic Chase Park Plaza Hotel, I ordered this fine cap on Ebay. The dreamy & stretchy cap with chin strap, too me back to my childhood.
Sadly, it did not arrive in time. I couldn't celebrate the fifties in the Chase pool, by doing some fine strokes in my pink cap. After all, the Chase's swimming pool was where they did the live broadcast of the 1956 Miss America Pageant! What a hoot it would have been to have taken a swim, in my cap... in the very pool where all those lovely babes strutted, years ago.
This photo with my cap, was taken at home later. I'm smiling, but it was freezing. I'm smiling, like I love swim caps. Actually, I hate them, after years of mandatory ones in the 1960's. This will be my last pose in the swim cap.
Crown Candy Kitchen in St. Louis!
It might look like the malt is the big focus here, but I got more of a thrill out of the egg salad sandwich than anything! I've done the diner thing and I've done the malt thing, during my year of celebrating the fifties. But I have not been to Crown Candy Kitchen in years and that is something worth celebrating! CCK has been a St. Louis icon since 1913.
In the fifties, teens came to share yummy treats like the "Lovers Delight". (See writing in mirror) But I am not a teen, so I went for something June Clever might have gone for if she and Ward had stopped in for a bite. The best part of the whole outing, was thinking about my mom and knowing she used to come here in her youth. Since there are only about 10 booths, there's a chance she once sat in my very spot!
Swinging in Springfield!
I love porches and I love swings. I don't own either. When planning our road trip, I hoped that at least one of our 22 nights would involve a porch. When I learned that our B & B in Springfield, Missouri had a porch and a swing, I made sure to pack the fixings and announced my plan. "I'm going to have lemonade on that porch!"
That seemed like a perfect way to celebrate the simpler times of the 1950's! By time we reached Springfield, the weather turned chilly and damp, but that didn't stop me. I had a cup of pink lemonade and thought about that house. We didn't realize it when initially researching B&Bs in Springfield, but found out that my Great Great Uncle Harry Jewell once lived in this house!
During our recent road trip, we stayed one night on the Dull family farm. We slept in a cozy guest barn and hiked a road along a cornfield. Best of all, I got to go in the chicken coop and help collect eggs in the evening! Now, I didn't actually know I would be getting to do that, but I packed my farm wife apron, as I call it... just in case I happened to have use for it on the farm! It was easy to feel like I was back in the fifties when chickens roamed freely and cows came back to the barn at night! I wish I could have celebrated more than one night!
Merrill Park in Grinnell, Iowa
It's hard to find the kind of playground equipment that filled parks in the 1950's. Some of it is considered too dangerous now. But this mid-century-merry-go-round, is still open for play! Don and I made a stop here, while on a road trip. I moved to Grinnell as a baby in 1957, I have fond memories of this park.
Below is a photo of me playing on a bigger merry-go-round in Grinnell, when I was 9. I was glad to have a few siblings, because a merry-go-round is not so fun, by yourself.
On the day that Don and I stopped at the Merrill Park, I must admit I felt a little sad. Some of my favorite pieces of playground equipment were long gone. No elephant slide. No horsey gliders. And no kids from my childhood. The park seemed oddly quiet and somewhat distorted, like a dream.
I didn't ride the merry-go-round, because a mom was watching her children play on it. It would have been hard to explain why I felt the urge to ride.
So I settled for celebrating the park and the merry-go-round, by snapping a few photos and remembering!
I have removed a fish from a hook a couple times in my life, but I made good use of my fishing partner for that!
Remembering "The Little Rock Nine" in 1957
On September 21, I did a different kind of celebrating of the Fifties. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, Don and I visited Little Rock Central High, where 9 brave and determined African American teenagers attempted to go to school, 57 years ago. They were banned from attending that first day, by the Arkansas National Guard. To protect the students from mobs of angry protesters, Eisenhower eventually called out the US Army's 101st Airborne Division to escort the students into school.
With my often silly focus on the fifties, it was nice to celebrate something really meaningful for a change... to celebrate the amazing young people who made a big impact on the desegregation of American schools.
Overnight with a Hair-Do!
Not every friend is willing to go along with my fifties celebration using curlers. (Even fewer friends are willing to go along with capturing the moment with a camera.) I gave my friend Christy the ultimate friendship test by asking her if she was game to go along with some curler fun. Since I was visiting her home from out of town, we were "having a sleepover" so that added to the retro feel. We stood in front of her powder room mirror, gasping with laughter at our incompetent attempts at beautification. The wine we'd enjoyed on the patio a bit earlier helped us find the whole thing more amusing than it should have been. Our hair-dos after the curlers? Not worth recording!
Greenwich Village... Sort Of
If I lived in The Village in the 1950's, surely I would have had some bongos. Maybe I would have used the rhythm to accompany a little poetry. No poetry for me today, but I celebrated the Beat Generation by pounding along with an old album titled "Skins". It had a 10-cent tag on it from when I bought it at a St. Louis thrift shop in the 1970's. (Why? Because I was talking an African dance class in college and I thought I could practice. ) So here I am in a black turtleneck, beret and bare feet, drumming on the floor. Could I fool anyone with this photo? No. I don't look serious enough.
Cooking a 1950's Meal
I had fun picking out recipes from a 1954 cook book. I made sure not to alter any of the ingredients, so I got the true flavors of the time. Which meant the eating of the meal was a comical reward after my cooking efforts. "Mmm, my this is bland."
Don made retro Whiskey Sours to enjoy with my fine appetizer dip (Cream cheese, Roquefort, Worcestershire, olives and paprika) It had no flavor, nor did the celery and saltines. Then we sat down to our colorful Orange Snowflake Salad made with Jello, cottage cheese, onion, ginger, celery and pineapple. (Not a keeper) Then a dull tuna casserole with chip crumbles and no special seasonings. Finally some tea with our Fruit Icebox Cake, which made good use of more pineapple bits, marshmallows and graham crackers.
We enjoyed the retro fun of it all. But sadly the leftovers never got eaten!
Hopping With the Kiddos
It's easy to find adult friends who want to participate in my retro fun, if it has to do with vintage Tiki cocktails. But for enjoying some 1950's outdoor summertime games, I had to count on the kids I volunteer with at the Women's Shelter.
They were very excited when I pulled out the chalk. They went right to work drawing a few hopscotch boards... Is that even what you call it? We were all mixed up about the rules and my feet were a little too big for some of their squares. But we had a good time and I got a little exercise!
Big Top Shop in Austin,TX!
The best place to buy your retro candy is at Big Top Soda Fountain on South Congress in Austin. The best person to buy candy with, is my daughter Heidi. We spent nearly an hour and bought over $40 worth! The place was packed and that was part of the fun.
I don't have memories of eating candy in the fifties, since I barely had teeth back then. But I do recall loving some of these candies when I was a little older and could walk to the candy store in Grinnell, Iowa. Candy necklaces, wax lips, candy cigarettes (I can't believe they still make them!) wax bottles with watery sweet liquid, Fizzies...!
Today I embraced Hankies
Today I decided I would focus on all the hankies and handkerchiefs that were carried in pockets and pocketbooks in the 1950's. I actually have a few memories of being rather mortified by this practice. Since my dad was a proper handkerchief carrying man, it meant there was a simple solution when I forgot my hat for Sunday mass. More than once I was humiliated by wearing his pressed white square of material on my head. (Clean at least) I also remember the feeling of shame when I forgot to stick a hanky in my lunchbox when I was in first grade. Mrs. Clemens did "hanky checks" at PS 35 and if you forgot, you had to stand in front of the class.
But today I chose to embrace the fun side of hankies. For some reason I have a small collection of these vintage dainties and I shared them with the kids on one of my volunteer outings at a local Women's Shelter. I had the kids guess what they were and a few said "Kleenex". None knew the word "hanky" or the game, "Drop the Hanky". I used a non-vintage hanky and the game was a big hit.
I didn't blow my nose on a hanky today, but I made good use. These kids will grow up with a better memory of hankies than me!
Nashville Meets Small Town Texas
If I had lived in Nashville in 1957, I might have gone to the Grand Old Opry on a Saturday night. If I'd lived in small town Llano, I might have put on a western shirt and taken in a movie at the fine LANTEX theatre. This past Saturday night, I got to combine both outings. I put on my cowboy boots and joined quite a crowd of locals at the Lantex for an Opry Evening that included 81 year old Stonewall Jackson. He sang some of the hits that put him on the charts back in the fifties in Nashville. I nibbled my popcorn in the old theatre seats that were mostly occupied by the very folks who sat in them as teens in the 50's. What a hoot!
Wonderful Wonder Bread!
My friend Patti Long gave me the Wonder Bread idea, along with a few other inspiring ideas for my list. I wish we weren't living in different states or I would have had her over for this fine lunch of PB&J, potato chips, pickles and milk. Wonder Bread was first sold in 1921 and Lays was introduced in 1932. So I guess this qualifies for a 1950's experience. However, living in 2014, made me feel so guilty about white bread... I only had half!
On Board Our Vintage Yacht
Last month, Don and I spent the night in a renovated vintage Chris Craft Yacht. (docked in an Arizona desert) The rental came with a fully stocked galley, tons of boating memorabilia and a great collection of island themed record albums.
With little else to do for the evening, we sampled numerous fifties era tunes from Harry Belfonte's Calypso to Don Ho's Hawaiian crooning. We have no film footage of our comical attempts at dancing to these albums, so you'll have to take my word for it. We were good. Lawrence Welk would have hired us!
We don't get the newspaper anymore, so today I had to go buy the Sunday paper. It's been a long time since I read the funnies, so I had to make sure I gave it my all. I grabbed a Stewart's root beer (around since 1924) and a couple straws and headed for the hammock.
As I opened up the funny papers I started to wonder which of the featured comics were actually around in the '50's. I was relieved to find six! Blondie is the oldest, from 193o with Prince Valiant following in 1937. Beetle Bailey and Peanuts got on board in 1950 with Dennis the Menace and Hi and Lois following in '51 and '54!
Old Fashioned Chores
It wasn't my best celebration of the fifties so far, but sometimes you have to embrace the simple things...like the fact I have a home to clean!
Last weekend Don and I packed up some old suitcases and headed for the Kingsland, TX. We didn't actually "travel" on the train at all, but spent the night in a Little Red Caboose, which is set up for overnight accommodations.
We brought along some curious old train books, some games and food. We had drinks sitting up in the observation cupola and talked about all the interesting travels you can take by train.
I wish I could go back to the fifties and travel those stylish trains again!
Shopping for Tunes
Don and I recently had a little fun shopping for vinyl at The Goodwill Store. I was pretty excited to find 2 Harry Belafonte albums, which are both from the 1950's.
"Jazz goes Dancing" seemed to be from the right era as well, but I'm not sure about Al Hirt, Lawrence Welk and the Western Campfire album. But for 80 cents each, how could I pass them up. Nothing like listening to some old tunes with the great scratching sounds!
This 27 foot long Kozy Coach trailer was our home for one night. It wasn't quite as luxurious or long as the "Long, Long Trailer" in the Lucy and Desi movie, but it was just as silly.
I made sure to pack an apron and pearls to help me feel at home. We listened to the radio and lounged on our porch and even took showers in the outdoor shower that reminded me of another fifties movie, "South Pacific". Yay for trailers!
57 Celebrations of the Fifties!
April 9, 2014...My BYB!
I don't remember the 1950's, since they ended when I was 2. But since I turned 57 today and this is my BYB (Birth Year Birthday) I'm going to just appreciate the flavor of 1957! My goal is to celebrate in at least 57 simple ways throughout the year! I will dabble in the fashion, the foods, the music and the culture of those times...just for the fun of it!