Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Square Pegs

There's a thread over at The Fedora Lounge discussing what initially sparked members' interest in the Golden Era.  Was it the movies, music, a specific TV show, what?

It got me to thinking back over my life, and how I've always felt at odds with everyone and everything around me.  Out of sorts.  The proverbial square peg searching for a place to fit in.

Looking back, I certainly have enough evidence to justify feeling that way.....

*When I was born, my parents were in their early 40's, so already there's a generation gap right from the start.

*Add to that, my dad was the youngest of 13 kids.  So by the time I was born, all of my aunts and uncles were old enough to be my grandparents....and my first cousins were old enough to be my parents.  My second cousins were the ones close to my age group.

*Because of the timing of births, I'm only one generation removed from the 19th century.  My grandparents were born in 1877 and 1889.  It's a bit mind boggling when I think about it too much. 

*My family and I moved five times by the time I reached the age of six.

*I started school earlier than I should have, entering kindergarten at age 4.  Long story as to why, but it's a decision my parents regret to this day.  I was not emotionally and socially mature enough to fit in with my class, despite being able to handel the academic work.  (except for math that is, *shudder*)

*Because of this, I was bullied and teased unmercifully by other girls in my grade no matter how hard I tried to fit in.  I was the one no one wanted to play with and was always the last to be chosen for teams in PE class.

*Because my parents were older, there was a disconnect with current pop culture, something I highly resented at the time.  I couldn't understand why my parents weren't like other kids' parents.  It intensified my feeling of not belonging. 

*I wasn't mature enough to see the forest for the trees....I wasn't able to plot my own course with my likes and dislikes and not care what anyone else thinks.  At that age, fitting in and belonging can be so crucial to a child's well-being.....especially for a child who was as sensitive as I was.  Children can be so, so cruel and viscious to each other....girls sometimes more so. 

*It didn't help that my class was considered one of the most "snobbiest and cliquiest classes to ever pass through our city's school system".  I actually heard a teacher say that to another in conversation when I was older.  I remember feeling vindicated at the time, to know that it wasn't just me who had felt that way.

*I didn't even fit in with the "nerds," because I wasn't "nerdy" enough.  I enjoyed Star Wars and Star Trek and sci-fi/fantasy stuff, but for the basement-dwelling dungeon master folk, you had to be invested in it hard core to belong.  There wasn't room for people like me with just a casual interest.

*If there was a clique that had existed of kids who read Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables obsessively and whose idea of fun was to dress up like Laura Ingalls and pretend we were back in pioneer days, that would have been the clique for me.  Alas, there wasn't.  Of course.

Now, I don't relate all of this to feel sorry for myself or to get pats on the back.  I had just been woolgathering and analyzing why I am who I am.  And why I am attracted to all things 1950's and earlier.

Having had older parents, and older extended family, I was exposed at an early age to stories and customs of a bygone era.  Those experiences were weaved into the fabric of my being, even if I wasn't consciously aware of it at the time. 

The bullying I endured in school turned me insular.  I had always been a quiet, introspective child, but I became even more so because of those scarring experiences.  This turned me into an avid reader....I could escape for hours at a time into another century, to a place where people understood me (at least in my mind).  Sometimes, my books were my only friends.

I liked old things.  I liked learning about them, reading about them, looking at them in antique stores, seeing them on TV.  But, none of my peers did.....so this I kept to my insular self, even as I grew into an 80's MTV teenager with mall bangs.  Thankfully, I did have a small handful of friends in high school who at least enjoyed some of the old movies with me.  We'd get together for Fred and Ginger nights....probably more often than they wanted to!

But after high school, through college, through my first marriage and well into my second one, I still never felt like I belonged anywhere.  I don't have any girlfriends....making friends "in real life" was always a painful, awkward experience that always led to more pain and awkwardness so I generally shy away from forming any kind of bond with my fellow females.  I can cordially and politely get along with co-workers, but never take it past the acquaintance stage. 

So where am I going with all of this? 

Well, in 2007 I had a raging obsession with all things Victorian happening (I've always been attracted to the 19th century, but at times it's more intense than others, lol) and I was randomly searching the internet on Vicorian hairstyles.  Not because I was intending to wear them, mind you, I just had a burning curiosity as to how they achieved them.  This search led me to a site that showed how to do 1940's hairstyles, and that site led me to discover The Fedora Lounge. 

After reading through a few posts, my obsession with Victoriana dissipated quickly.  Here was everything I ever wanted to know about how those beautiful ladies in the movies from the 30's and 40's achieved their gorgeous hair, and makeup, and......wait a minute!  Do you mean to tell me that there's people who actually dress like this everyday!?  There's women who actually do their hair and makeup like this and go to work looking like they just stepped out of 1940?  What?  There's people who actively seek out Art Deco home furnishings and choose to use old bakelite telephones!?  What?

My head was spinning, literally.  It had never, NEVER occurred to me that there were people so obsessed with the past that they chose to live their life dressed and surrounded by as much of the past as possible.  I loved it.

I knew I had found my niche.  These were people I could understand, people who felt out of sorts with the world around them, for whatever reason.  I've always described myself as an "old soul," and here were other kindred old souls who "got it." 

The more I delved into learning about the Golden Era, the more I fell in love with it.  I had liked it thanks to Ginger Rogers and the other old movies I loved, but I had never taken my interest beyond that.  Until now.  And the more I learned, the more I was led to other resources beyond the lounge.....including all of you wonderful vintage-philes here in Blogland. 

My obsession with the past can, at times, be a lone, solitary adventure.  My darling husband shares my interest, but not as deeply as I.  (but he humors me whenever he can)  I know of no other people in my geographical location that shares my interest in the Golden Era; I often get insanely jealous reading about others who have the opportunity to go to vintage-themed events and gatherings, or who have friends who are "in the scene" and dress vintage too.  Not that I dress vintage.....yet.  That's actually one of my motivating factors for the weight loss, so that I can buy repro from the online shops that don't carry plus sizes.......but I digress.

My point is, that even if it's only online on the interwebz, I now feel like I have a home port where I can be myself and no one will think me odd if I spend hours researching how to make a pin curl, or gush about some little tidbit like my milk glass pepper shaker.  This square peg has found it's square hole, and it's swell!

So what about you, dear readers.....what sparked YOUR interest in the Golden Era?


  1. Welcome to the square holes, we're glad you came!

  2. We love you for exactly who you are! And I completely agree that it is so much easier here than in "real life" - I am also the awkward girl. My mom used to tell me that people thought I was stuck up when I was actually painfully shy.
    I fell in love with Marilyn when I was in high school and learned that she wasn't a skinny little bitch.

  3. AmateisGirl from the Fedora Lounge here...and fellow Nebraskan! I know what you mean - I've always been a bit eccentric when it comes to what I am interested in. I fell in love with old movies as a young girl - they would always air them on Silver Screen Classics on NETV - remember that? And like you, I don't have very many close female friends (I think having two brothers made it easier for me to hang out with the guys) and I also don't have anyone who shares my love of vintage "in real life" that I can go hang out with. Hubby is slowly starting to get into it - we plan on taking swing dance lessons and he will wear a fedora, but I don't have a "gang" of people to hang out with. Too bad we live so far apart - though it's really only about two hours or so.

  4. James: Why thank you, sir! :)

    Fojoy: It's funny you say that because I'm aware too that some people think I'm snobbish in person. I can see where I might come across as aloof and standoffish, I tend to keep everyone at arm's length. Damn defensive mechanism. I'm better than I used to be though!

    Melissa: We should so get together sometime! How's the shopping in Lincoln?

  5. Actually, there are some terrific antique stores here. I've found some great stuff. Not really much for vintage clothing, though. Next time you're in Lincoln, give me a shout!

  6. It really is nice to know there are other people who also love vintage. Before I discovered the online vintage community (through blogs and sites like Queens of Vintage) I always felt like the odd duck out. None of my friends in high school really understood why I liked old things and I can't express how wonderful it is to have people to "talk" to about vintage things (clothes, movies, music etc) now! :)


  7. Wow! It's amazing the similarities we have. The being raised by a family of an older generation, starting school younger, not fitting in with any group...etc. You could have been writing about me. Even the part on how you felt when you found the FL....exactly the same. Spookie!!!

  8. Kate: Isn't the online vintage community great? It's amazing to me just how many people do love it, as evidenced by the sheer number of blogs and websites there are. Now if only all of that spilled over into real life in all locations!

    Naomi: I'm relieved that I'm not the only one! Being odd isn't so bad once you find your other fellow oddies. :)

  9. Thanks for posting this. I get it. Even though I had a fairly young mother, both sets of my grandparents were older. Since my one grandmother lived with us (tenth child in the family and born in 1895), she had quite an influence on how we behaved and what we wore.

  10. Just discovered your blog today...wonderful! Your post rings true for me too in many ways. Definitely have been a bit of a square peg most of my life.

    I too spend hours getting lost in vintage heaven! But as a new blogger, I feel like I'm finally in my element. Thanks for being an inspiration. And...thanks for introducing me to Fedora Lounge. Just signed up!

  11. Packrat: I wish I had been able to know my grandmothers, and all of the wisdom they could have imparted!

    Sarsaparilla: Thank you! And the FL is chock full of information on about any subject you could possibly think of regarding the 1920's-1950's. I'm Gingerella over there too....hope to see you around! :)

  12. You have an award on my blog! =)

  13. I would have loved a Laura Ingalls Wilder clique too, by the way! For some reason, the Fred and Ginger films were the only ones we were allowed to watch when young (über-conservative daddy) so the music, style, repartee became the standard by which I rated all other forms of entertainment and fashion!

  14. Someone asked me the other day if I could see any concert, what would it be? And almost without thinking I said, Sinatra at the Sands in the mid 60s.

    I don't think I dig as deeply into the past as you do, but everyone wonders what they might have missed, and if they might have fit better in another time/place.

  15. Like you I am the child of older parents (my oldest grandparent was born in 1889, the youngest in 1902) and I adore both the Victorian era and the period between about 1920-1970 with a special fascination with the 50s and 60s (closer to my own childhood, I guess). I loved reading my mom's magazines in the 60s (why oh why did I not save them!!) and now write about old ads and retro pop culture. Oh, and also about Victorian stuff.

    What a lovely blog you have! My oldest DD (age 16) and I love Fred and Ginger movies (and lots of other old movies too)...

  16. Hello Daahling! Great to hear from you :) This is such a great post, I loved it! I hope all is well with you and yours :)



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