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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Babysitting on New Year's Eve

I'm a very far cry from a teenager, and I won't have on saddle oxfords, but everything else about this picture will be true...more or the stroke of twelve tonight. I will be babysitting my two grandsons while my daughter and SIL go out with friends to ring in the new year.

New Year's Eve 1958

I'll take a good book (on my Kindle)...lay in a few snacks...kick back in a comfy mid-century chair. The boys will be snug in their beds by the time the ball drops, but that doesn't guarantee they'll be alseep.

This Saturday Evening Post cover from 1958 has Miss Teen Babysitter enjoying a glass of milk while watching the festivities on black and white TV. Artist Ben Prins captured the home decor and fashions perfectly. I'll definitely be in jeans and sweater; however, I'll be slugging back a Diet Coke and watching the Times Square insanity in living color on HDTV.

Here are a couple of other New Year's Even illustrations from bygone days that I think you'll enjoy.

Waiter with no one to kiss at midnight by Constantin Alajalov - New Year's Eve 1949
Norman Rockwell's waiter in The Morning After, New Year's Eve at the Waldorf Astoria

I'll probably have this big a mess to clean up...but it will be Legos, alphabet blocks and Weebles!

Have a safe and pleasant New Year's Eve
A Very Happy 2012 to All!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Back in the day: Hair curlers

Over the past 60 years, I have endured just about every sort of torture device invented to make women's hair beautiful. Looking back, it's a miracle I have any hair left at all.

I wish I had a dollar for every pincurl my mother wound on my head. The upside to bobby pinned curls was that they weren't terribly uncomfortable to sleep on. The downside was that it took my thick hair forever to dry.

Bobby pins

Pincurls...still being used in the late 1940s/early 1950s

Me, as a pincurl girl

My got my first perm in the early 1950s. My grandmother lived in a small East Texas town of 1,000 people. The beauty salon on the town square was a bit behind in hair care technology and was still using an antiquated perm machine from the 1930s. Without my parents' permission, I was hooked up to a contraption like this...even though I already had Shirley Temple ringlets. The result was horrifying, and my parents were not pleased. There are no photos extant from that period. I think it was a condition of my parents' agreeing to speak to my grandmother ever again.

Permanent wave machine...invented in 1934

From pincurls and bad perms, I graduated to brush rollers. These things were hellish to sleep on! Women suffered in silence for years, until some genius invented small rectangular foam pads to put next to the scalp. The rollers were fastened together with plastic picks, the best of which had a metal rod down the center so they didn't bend.

Brush rollers - southpawtracy

My picks of choice back in the day...still being sold

Brush rollers and hairnet

Foam curlers were invented to give us some relief, I suppose. Even though they were much more pleasant to sleep on, they never worked as well for me as brush rollers.

Foam rollers

The scarf...pre-bouffant satin hair bonnet

Ditto plastic rollers...not as effective as the ones with brushes. Like the foam rollers, they always creased my hair.

Clip-on plastic rollers

Too prone to crease

Smooth plastic curlers were an improvement, but they were still very difficult to sleep on. At this point in hair curler history, the diameter of rollers got completely out of control. And when I couldn't find curlers big enough, I used orange juice cans!

I was all red, all the time.

Plastic rollers and the super-long bobby pin

Finally, in the mid-1960s, I got a decent night's sleep when hot curlers were invented. Aside from the occasional burn, they were a boon to women everywhere.

Clairol Kindness hot curlers
Hot curlers and special clips

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A. Quincy Jones homes

Two homes designed by the noted architect A. Quincy Jones have sold in Southern California in the last 18 months, and one is still on the market. Jones is known for designing many of the homes built by developer Joseph Eichler.

The first home is the residence that Jones designed for actor Gary Cooper and completed in 1955. It is located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Holmby Hills. According to the previous owner, who sold it for $15,500,000 in July of 2010, the neighborhood sits above Sunset Boulevard and is less known than Beverly Hills but more upscale. The 6000 square foot, 4 bedroom/5.5 bathroom house has a single-sloped roof rising to a wall of windows, mitered glass corners, ranch-like wings, a stone fireplace and a small pool with a miniature waterfall that is half inside the house and half out, flowing beneath a glass wall.

Gary Cooper home

Interior of the Gary Cooper home

Next is the Hamma residence, a 1731 square foot 3 bedroom/2.5 bath home in the Los Angeles area. It was built in 1951 and declared a Los Angeles Historio-Cultural Monument in 2005. The home sold in June of this year for $1,575,000.

Hamma residence

Interior of Hamma residence

The third home, originally listed at $29,000,000, makes the other two homes seem like a bargain, even at its marked down price of $24,900,000 ($2,929/sf). This 8500 square foot home sits on 3.6 acres in Bel Air and boasts ocean and city views, glass walls, a vineyard, a guest house and meandering paths leading to the gardens, pond and swimming pool. The house was built in 1965.

Bel Air home
Pool area of Bel Air home

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nanny Still

Nanny Still (1926-2009), also known by her married name of Still-McKinney, was a Finnish designer of glass and ceramics. She studied at Finland's Central School of Arts and Crafts, receiving her degree in 1950.

In 1949, before finishing her education, she started to work as a glass designer for Riihimäki, Finland's largest glassworks, and remained there in some capacity until 1976, although she designed some pieces Norrmark, Heinrich Porzellan and Val Saint-Lambert. Starting in 1977, she designed glass and ceramics for Rosenthal Studios and continued to do so for the rest of her career. She also designed for Iittala.

Her work was shown in the 1954, 1957 and 1960 Milan Triennials, and she received the Diplôme d'honneur in 1954 for one of her pieces. She won an A. I . D. International Design award in 1965 for her Flindari decanter. Some of her most famous designs are the Harlequin (Harlekiini) series from 1959, the Saturn (Saturnus) series from 1960 and the Ambra series from the early 1960s.


Flindari bottle

Raillo vases

Pompadour vases

Neptuna bottles

Harlekiini collection

Ambra candlesticks

Grapponia bottle

Glass and wood candleholder

Saturnus candleholders

Stalactite pendant lamp

Mango flatware for Iittala

Nanny Still

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You look so familiar: Part 3 - Stacking

Ah, the ubiquitous stacking chair. It seems that almost everyone has dabbled a bit in this design over the years, and the wheel is still being reinvented, so to speak, as evidenced by Knoll's 1999 Cirene by Vico Magistretti, the 2000 Gigi by Marco Maran and  2004 chair by Ross Lovegrove. 

A quick Google of "stacking chairs" will show just how many designers and manufacturers have come out with their versions, yet very few, if any, significant changes or improvements have been made over the last 6 1/2 decades. Enough already!

The Stacking Chair

Charles and Ray Eames - 1948

Ray Komai - 1949

Georg Leowald - 1955

Arne Jacobsen Chair 3107 - 1955

Robin Day for Hille - 1963

Cirene chair by Vico Magistretti - 1999

Gigi chair by Marco Maran - 2000

Ross Lovegrove for Knoll - 2004

Monday, December 26, 2011

Making memories: Christmas 2011

My grandsons on Christmas Day...

Sixty years from now, I hope they look back on photos like these with the same fond nostalgia with which I view snapshots of my Christmases in the early 1950s.

Note to self: Don't forget the failed attempt at weaning Gray from the bottle on his first Christmas Day (and all that entailed...ewww) or Holden's first encounter with hot chocolate and marshmallows, which he called "marshmuscles."