Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

Last night Husband and I watched a fantastic classic, "The Best Years Of Our Lives."  Made in 1946, starring Dana Andrews, Fredric March and Myrna Loy, it deals with returning WWII veterans trying to readjust to their old civilian lives.  There is also a very poignant performance done by a man who, prior to this movie, had never acted before in his life.....Harold Russell.

Mr. Russell was an actual veteran who had lost both his hands in the course of duty, and had learned to use prosthetic hooks to manage those everyday tasks we take for granted.  The director, William Wyler, had seen Mr. Russell in an Army film that featured different veterans, and thought he would be perfect for the part of Homer Parrish.

Homer returns home to find his family doesn't know how to react to his disability, which causes him to push away his fiance, Wilma, thinking she won't want to marry him now.  She tries to tell him she wants to marry him anyway....the following scene from the movie Homer shows Wilma just what they'd be up against, to see if she can handle it.  Wilma handles it beautifully.

True love doesn't let disabilities get in the way!

If you've never seen the movie and wish to watch it, I believe someone has uploaded it to YouTube in 10 minute increments. 

Two of my dad's older brothers, Charles and Clyde, both served in WWII.  Some photos from the family album:

And, a telegram sent from Clyde to the family back at home in Nebraska:

Have a great weekend, and remember to honor those veterans of all wars who fought to give us the freedom we know today.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away

This has been the chilliest, wettest spring that I can ever remember.  Normally by now we've had to turn on the air conditioner and I would be wearing capris and sandals.   Not this year, we still have our furnace running!  Heck, one day last week it only got to 40 F as a high and we had to pull our winter coats back out of the closet.  That same day last week it snowed 9 inches in the northwest part of the state.  Right now I'm in my office at work with my space heater running.  It's May for cryin' out loud!  Ahhh, springtime in Nebraska!  ;)

All of the rain we've had lately got me thinking about how people of the past handled rainy days. 

Remember rubber galoshes?  Raincoats?  Umbrellas?  Ladie's plastic head scarves?  I never see any of those things anymore, except maybe umbrellas once in a while. 

But even umbrellas are scarce.  It seems people would rather look like a bedraggled wet cat than take the extra few seconds to pop open an umbrella.  Again, it may be different elsewhere, but especially here on the college campus I work at, I hardly ever see students or staff using umbrellas when it's raining.  They're all wearing hoodies that are plastered to their soaking heads. 

Did I miss something, some cultural memo that states it's now uncool to use an umbrella?  Now, I'm aware that plastic raincoats and galoshes have been relegated to elementary school age children (and probably no higher than 2nd grade, as fast as kids grow up these days) for decades now, but umbrellas?

I guess it just goes to show how casual our culture is now.  Perhaps it's because women no longer wear elaborate hairstyles that would need more rain protection, I don't know.  But then, we've become so casual that we see nothing wrong with going to Walmart in our pajamas.  Or, rather, ratty sweatpants with a wrinkled t-shirt, because of course no one wears actual pajamas anymore, dont'cha know.

I'm sure if I came to work in a dress, heels, curled hair and red lipstick, wearing galoshes over my heels, using an umbrella, I would be looked at as if I just stepped off a spaceship from Mars.  Not that the dress, heels, hair and red lippy wouldn't make them look at me like that anyway, but I'm sure the galoshes would be the proverbial straw that broke the camal's back.

Aren't these galoshes from the Montgomery Ward 1936-37 catalogue lovely?  It's a shame they're now just a memory, except to us vintagephiles. 

What about you, do you utilize proper rain gear when heading out on a rainy day? 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Salt Shaker Epiphany

Lately I've become absolutely enamoured with vintage salt and pepper shakers, and other misc. spice and sugar containers.  For some reason, they have come to epitomize quintessential vintage housewivery to me. 

A few months ago, I found this lovely art deco pepper shaker at an antique mall:

Along with these little cuties:

(you can just barely make out the raised lettering of "salt and pepper" on them, the camera didn't pick that up very well)

I'd become obsessed with trying to find the mate to the green pepper shaker above, which led me to scour ebay, etsy, and do various internet searches on every variation of "milk glass shakers" that I could think of.

Finally, one small tidbit of information led to another tidbit, and I discovered the green one had originally been made by a company called McKee, who made all sorts of glasswear in the 1920's - 50's.  Then, paydirt!  I found this posting yesterday on ebay:

I'd found not just the mate, but the whole set!  I was just ecstatic!  Perfect condition with original bakelite tops.  Squee!!

I just HAD to have them.  HAD. TO.  Then, the mental battle started.

$34.95 for.....shakers?  Plus shipping?  Am I nuts?  With as tight as our finances are right now, am I actually considering this?  Over the last few months we've had some major expenses occur as everything with our home and cars decided to start breaking at the same time, not to mention the new furnace we had to buy last fall.  $34.95 is more than half my weekly grocery budget. 

But....but....look at them!  Look at how pristine the colors are!  Look at the arches on the sides and the font of the lettering and how it just screams art deco!  Imagine yourself using them as you cook, and how much like a vintage housewife you'll feel while doing so! we get to the roots of it all. 

I got to thinking about all of this and how severe my reaction over wanting to purchase these was. 

Now, I've been in love with the "golden era" for years, but I realized that I was focusing more on the aesthetics of it all, how beautiful the decor and clothing were, how classy the people always looked (even 'real life' folk, not just the glammed up stars), and the feelings of sentimental nostalgia evoked when listening to old music and watching old movies.  All of that is fine and dandy, but I was forgetting one essential piece to the puzzle.

In trying to incorporate more "vintage" into my life, I thought the only way to do that was to surround myself with material things.  That if I filled my home with vintage decor and wore red lipstick, that would give me a bonafide vintage "lifestyle" to which I aspire. 

But....what does a vintage lifestyle really mean?  It probably means something different to everyone who lives it just the material things?  What about something deeper?  Values....vintage values....that's the piece I realized I was missing.

If I were truly a 30's housewife and we were in the kind of financial straits we are now, the thought of spending that kind of money on something so frivolous wouldn't have even entered my mind.  I would be "making do and mending" and focusing all my efforts on how not to spend money. 

Now, all of this may seem silly but when it clicked in my head, it really did make an impact on me.  Over the last few months I've been going through a lot of changes.....sort of a new self-awareness, if you will....and this was just one more light bulb going off.  One more, "I get it!" moment.

When I realized that I, under no circumstances, could dare purchase these, it was actually a little heartwrenching.....but I walked away.  Silly me, getting so worked up over not being able to purchase salt and pepper shakers, of all things!  Like I was making some huge, noble sacrifice or something.  But hey, baby steps.  The important thing is, it's a start!

I'll never stop loving the aesthetics part of it all, and I'll continue on my quest to surround myself with vintage things as I can afford it.  Truly afford it.  But in the meantime I'll keep digging deeper into the bigger picture and work on my priorities.

(damn priorities!)   ;)

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Late Mother's Day Blog

A belated Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there, I hope you had a fabulous day!

I was inspired by Jessica at Chronically Vintage, who recently posted a photo tribute to "mom" on her blog, to blog about a woman who I admire very much, my grandmother.  She had 13 children, of whom my dad is the youngest.

This was taken in the early 1960's, my dad is standing in the back row, second from the left.  In the middle, sitting in the front row third from the right, is his mother, my grandmother, Ethel, whose 1907 wedding photo I featured in my recent anniversary blog.  His dad passed away in 1945 after a long battle with cancer.

You only count 12 children in the photo, you say?  You would be correct; my grandmother's first child, Zelma,  died when she was only a year old, and the rest of the 12 above followed afterwards.  I always say my dad is the youngest of 13 rather than 12 though, because I think it's important to remember little Zelma....she counts too, even though she was taken from us so young. 

Sadly, my dad, and his sister Lela (front row, third from the left) are the only ones in that photo still living.  But I have such fond memories of all my aunts and uncles...I only wish I could have gotten to know them better as an adult, being better able to appreciate such things more now.

My grandmother weathered some very hard times.  When she and my grandfather were first married, they were reasonably well off as they settled down to farm in central Nebraska, as can be evidenced by the fact that the first seven children born all had formal studio portrait photographs taken (an expense poorer families couldn't make), such as this of little Zelma....


Losing Zelma must have been devastating, but that was just the beginning of bad times.  They made the mistake of moving to eastern Colorado and were hit with the worst timing....the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl Years on top of it.  Gone were the years of affording nice baby can be seen here by my dad's baby photo.

I can only imagine being a mother and trying to raise a family in those conditions.  I'm sure it was a relief, and hardship, as her older children began marrying and moving away.  Relief in that it was one less mouth to feed, but hardship in there goes one more pair of hands that used to help contribute to the work load.  Add on top of that my grandfather's battle with cancer with expensive treatments and trips to Denver hospitals, and health problems brought on by the never-ending swirl of dirt known as the dust bowl.  Both my grandmother and my dad's brother, Don, suffered from "dust pneumonia" which required stays in the hospital.  As faded as this photo of my grandparents looks, it's the dust in the air that makes it looks washed out.

I remember my dad and aunts and uncles telling stories from those days, about how the isolation and poverty on the farm almost drove my grandmother insane, and they joked about how when there was nothing else to eat she served "paste."  Flour mixed with water and a little sugar was breakfast, and flour mixed with water and a little salt was supper.  I don't know how close to the truth the paste story was, but I'm sure it wasn't far.  After my grandfather died, the remaining children at home all pitched in to help run things, including my dad dropping out of school at the beginning of 9th grade to help on the farm (he would go on to get his GED later on).

But for all the hardships, my dad and his siblings grew up to be some pretty fine folk with large families of their own.  Except for dad of course, who only had little ol' me.  ;)

My grandmother, who was always referred to as "Old Mom," died when I was just three years old, and so I only know her through photographs and stories.  I wish I could have had the chance to really know her....what wisdom and memories and stories she could have told!

My dad, grandmother, and little ol' me in 1973

So to all of you mothers out there, whether you have 10 kids or 1, or even just "fur-kids" (like me), thank you for all you do!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Blog Rut

I just can't seem to get back in the swing of blogging regularly. 

When I think about it, my mind becomes blank.  Completely and utterly blank, devoid of anything remotely interesting to write about.  Brain mush.

I've been busy around the house and yard, have gotten quite a few things accomplished actually that I've let slide for years....and I think, "I should be taking before and after pictures so I can blog about it," and then promptly forget about it.  I've even hit the 20 pounds lost mark, and thought the same thing....I should be documenting my weight loss journey with pictures!  And I haven't taken even one.

I've been a bad, bad, blogger.  *hangs head in shame*

I'll be better, I promise! 

In the meantime, I hope the weather where you are is gorgeous!  Get outside and do some gardening.....  :)