Friday, December 31, 2010

"We Must Have That Which Men Have…"

Clicking on these vintage typed pages should enlarge them enough to be easily read .

M Y   C O L L E C T I O N — This is a rather fascinating "find" from my collections. These two pages were typed using my great-uncle Art's antique Remington typewriter, below (I tested it carefully with the 120 year old ribbon in place!). It purports to be a speech in Congress by the famous Clare Boothe Luce, a vocal supporter of equal rights for women, and a former U.S. Representative from Connecticut. She was also married to the publisher of Time, Fortune, and Life magazines, and became the ambassador to Italy in the 1950s. 

Reading these two pages though, you realize it's a very clever satire of her speeches. It pokes good-natured (and adult!) fun at a typical Luce speech on equal rights for women. I have no idea if Art wrote it, or just typed it from a political newspaper or magazine of the day. I've read many of her speeches doing research for this post, and this piece uses many of her phrases, with twists and double entendrés throughout. It's really a fascinating look back in time, when clever satire was a tool for "regular" people, and not just a literate, "high brow" few.
  • The Wiki on Clare Boothe Luce, here. Her life is the very definition of fascinating and worldly!
  • For some of this fantastic woman's quotes, click here.
  • The Women's Suffrage movement is detailed at Wiki, here.

My Remington typewriter dates to the late 1800s. In this composite image, notice the keys are arranged in a full circle under the carriage, not in a semi-circle as modern typewriters are. For my earlier post on this vintage apparatus, click here.

Happy New Year!
I'd like to wish everyone that reads my blog a very happy and healthy new year. May we find peace, joy, and equal rights for all in 2011.

Repurposing, x2

This little wooden shelvng unit began as a pile of discarded plywood, left over from a previous project. I asked a friend of mine if he could somehow use the pieces to make a "shoebox" for me, a place I could store my shoes as I came in from outside. He came up with this small four-shelf piece, which I then painted with a stylized 1940s floral wallpaper treatment, above. Only thing, as you can see, my shoes didn't really fit all that well, lol. Then I had a "falling out" with said friend, and I grew tired of looking at it in my home. I have enough memories everywhere I look and I don't need to be confronted daily with bad ones …

… so I repainted it with my "trademark" casey/artandcolour technique, and gave it to my good friend, Nikki, to use in her office. It's now a perfectly usable shelving unit holding envelopes and work orders, and has nothing but good memories for her! If you look closely, this is a good example of the way I paint layers on wood and then sand them off in places revealing the wood's grain underneath. I achieve a look as if it's a vintage item that has been polished and cleaned for decades, loved as a family heirloom, worn away in some areas, but still vibrant in others, acknowledging the wood's texture at the same time. Click on images to enlarge.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Maybach Coupe. It's About Time!

My Maybach coupe for Bruce Wayne, not his Batman alter-ego. Please forgive the "jaggies" of this chop. I used to work at a much lower-resolution than I do today—many forums I posted at back then wouldn't accept any image larger than 800x600 pixels. I should probably revisit this chop at some point, but that list is long!

C H O P S — This is a chop I created more than four years ago, a Maybach luxury coupe of limousine proportions. The base car was Maybach's Batmobile-like Exelero concept car from 2006. I took off the rather horrid rear end, and photoshopped in contours and lights more reminiscent of the Maybach sedans for a more production look. I also smoothed out the rather, um, exhuberant side trim and details for a more low-key look. Well as low-key as a twenty-foot long luxury coupe can be, lol. jogged my memory of this chop this morning, with their post of a Maybach coupe financed by Saudi money. I rather like the shape of this new car, which is basically a coupe version of the Maybach 57 Sedan. Click over to see their article.

You Ought to be in Pictures

The Hollywood Glamour Years of the Roaring Twenties

Picture Play movie magazine from July 1922, featuring the young actress, Alice Terry (1899-1987). This was the silent movie era, and the romanticism of the big screen is readily apparent flipping through these pages. There are pages and pages of beautiful publicity shots of the stars of the day, male and female. There are articles on their lovely homes, their adventurous public lives in the Roaring Twenties. It would have been considered an honor to appear in the pages of Picture Play, with publicity items and photographs furnished by the movie studios. No running from the paparazzi in those days.

Articles include:
  • What about Pola Negri?
  • Heroes I Have Known
  • If You Were Mary Pickford?
  • Some Bumps on the Road to Stardom
  • A Fan's Adventures in Hollywood
  • The Indiscretions of a Star
  • Little Shining Lights (Hollywood child stars)
  • Saying it With Frocks (fashion tips)
For more information on Alice Terry, click here. I was intrigued to read that she apparently was friends with several gay male actors, notably Ramón Novarro. She helped him disguise his sexuality by appearing with him out and about. It's reported she even accompanied him to speakeasies and parties known for their gay clientele in order to help him stay in the closet as we say today. Alice Terry sounds like she was quite a cool woman for the time, a good friend to her gay pals, and I'm really happy to have her on the cover of my vintage movie magazine!

Those were the days when leading men couldn't possibly be known as gay and work in Hollywood. Interestingly, Richard Chamberlain JUST THIS WEEK was quoted as saying the exact same thing. He warned any young, gay Hollywood "leading men" to stay in the closet if they wanted to work. I'd like to think this is a generational thing. Chamberlain is perhaps still seeing the world the way it was for him in the 1960s as a young leading actor in Dr. Kildare. On the other sequined hand, it might not be only in the minds of our senior citizens. Recently, there was this horrendous article by Ramin Setoodeh, who is barely thirty years old, which appeared in Newsweek online. In it he rips Sean Hayes as being too gay to play a macho straight character in a play. Then there's the unfortunate rise of the backwards-thinking conservative right-wing in this country, so perhaps, sadly, Chamberlain is correct. We've come how far in eighty years? 
  • For a different sort of trip down Memory Lane, here's the YouTube video of the theme from Dr. Kildare, Three Stars Will Shine Tonight. Chamberlain recorded it in 1962 and it reached #10 on the Billboard charts, helping to propel the young actor to hearthrob status. Even though I was only four-years old when the series began in 1961, the young handsome doctor was one of my earliest crushes! I guess my gaydar was working even at the early age, lol. 
The caption on this page reads: A permanent record of Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino in a scene from "Beyond the Rocks" which the cruel censors will limit to little more than a flash on the screen.

I wanted to scan several interior pages of this magazine, but the brittle eighty-eight year old paper and binding won't let me without tearing it. The magazine is in almost perfect condition, and by scanning the page above, a few small rips appeared on the spine so I couldn't scan any more.

When I lived in West Hollywood for a time in 1979-80, one of my favorite things to do was walk around Hollywood with my friend Andy, and find the addresses and homes of old movie stars, as well as famous places like the Roosevelt Hotel, the Hollywood Brown Derby, Schwab's Pharmacy etc. This vintage movie magazine is one of my favorites in my collection. I know I say that about a lot of my stuff, lol, but it's true!

Hollywood's Not-so-Glamorous Rags of the Fabulous Fifties

In stark contrast with the 1922 magazine at the top of this post is 1956's Confidential Magazine (Tells the Facts, Names the Names). This is a true "scandal sheet" filled with lies, innuendo and barely half-truths. Photos are taken totally out of context, "stars" are cut up and placed next to each other in such a crude manner, I consider it art now, lol. Pages and pages and pages and pages of totally made up fiction was probably quite entertaining to read in Smalltown, USA, but no doubt caused quite a few entertainers to question their choice of careers. The headline writers used up a year's worth of exclamation points in every issue!!! Check these out:
  • "Have Tux will Travel"... and that's what Bob Hope did with that Blonde!
  • Nicky Hilton—He prefers Scotch on the rocks to a honey on the divan! First the starlet threw herself at Nicky—Then over the cliff!
  • Yvonne De Carlo's RED HOT MAMA! The stripper was in the middle of her act when Yvonne's 50-year old mom let out a yell, "I can do it better!"... And she did!
  • Hubby Mike Wilding Didn't Knock... That's how he caught Elizabeth Taylor with Victor Mature!
  • The Quail who had Walter Pidgeon flying from the cops! "Pidge" just couldn't say "No" when two bobby-soxers told him they wanted to come up and see him some time.
  • The Hubby—The Boyfriend—and their Share Marie Wilson Plan! Marie's not so dizzy. She handled a brand new hubby and an old flame at the same time. And both guys knew what was cooking!
  • Why Tommy Dorsey went on the wagon! Sober, Tommy was as sweet as his music. The sour notes came when he'd uncork the bottle.
The subhead to this story, on the next page, was this: It was the old story of boy meets girl, but with Mrs. George Vanderbilt's gay son Peter, it turned out to the fairy tale of the social season... While Peter held hands with Zina—he had his eye on Liam.

Apparently, the young jet-setter with an international reputation as a playboy, Peter Howard, sneaked into a hotel room to be with, gasp, another man, and found a woman! The story goes on and on, lol, and probably has as much truth to it as the millions of dollars I have stashed in Switzerland, wink, wink. I have no doubt that perhaps the poor guy was gay, but the details that have been written into this three page story reads more like a Hollywood script than actual reporting. 

The disturbing part is the ease in which anti-gay ephithets are thrown into the headlines and stories, the "lavender" hi-jinks, the "fairy tale" of the season and numerous others worked into the text, You just know that in those dreary smoke-filled midtown Manhattan offices where these stories were concocted, the snorts and guffaws of those hack writers filled the air as they "cleverly" worked their homophobic slurs into the story. Of course, statistics prove that a few of them probably called their wives at home and told them they'd be working late as they headed downtown to the Village for a nightcap with the boys...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Smiling Elephants Cigarette Case by Volupté

This is a cigarette case by Volupté, an American company from Elizabeth, New Jersey. The company was founded in 1926 and closed its doors in the mid 1950s. The case measures approximately 5 1/4 x 3 inches, and is inlaid enamel over a gold-tone metal. The design is Persian- or Indian-inspired, with what I think are Ibis or Antelope, Peacocks and other birds and the cutest "smiling" elephants! The colors are subtle teals, ochers and a bit of scarlet, with a white wash in the filigree background. The edges are also engraved and washed with the subtle white enamel. The whole case is only 3/8 inches deep, and when closed, the cutline is barely visible between the top and bottom. The workmanship is exemplary, and having been kept in a drawer, away from sunlight all these years, the case appears as new. 

It's really terribly sad that American companies no longer manufacture much at all, as the quality of my vintage domestic collectibles is second-to-none.

Mark Twain: Following the Equator, 1897

First Edition. One of My Prized Possessions. Needs Some Work.

"Be good and you shall be lonesome" is lithographed and signed in Mark Twain's handwriting, on the frontispiece of this original edition of his Following the Equator. The words are written underneath a photo of Twain aboard a tramp steamer, feet up on the railing. The book was copyrighted by his wife, Olivia L. Clemens, in 1897, and the proper printer's mark is located on the proper page inside the text for a first edition. 

Unfortunately, this book lived in a trunk full of books and legal papers for most of it's 113 years. Sounds good, but the trunk was rifled through quite often and this book ended up on the bottom, with no special care given to its unbelievably rare status. The cover is torn from the binding, and the leather binding itself has dried out and broken into 15-16 pieces, which I have in a baggy to save them until I can have the book properly restored. The pages of the book itself are in outstanding condition, but most people judge a book by its cover, and this one is shot. Still, a first edition Mark Twain is something to treasure, no matter what the condition as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Capitol by Moonlight, 1946

Recently uncovered postcards from my aunt Hoohoo's trip to our nation's capital and Virginia in 1946. I love the nighttime moonlit view of the Capitol Building in D.C., above. I also like the artwork on these vintage postcards. Illustrations can really set a mood. The scene above, not long after the Second World War ended, shows a peacefulness over D.C. that certainly wasn't there during the war.

This is the cover to a folder containing eighteen attached postcards of Richmond, Virginia, also dating from 1946. They're all in perfect condition, sixty-four years later. The artwork, and the printing process, really adds to the softness and vintage appeal of these cards. I guess this package is meant to be sent in its entirety, as the address line and space for a stamp shows.

Just six of the images found inside, including a shrine to Edgar Allan Poe, bottom left. Technically they can't really be called postcards as the images are printed on both the front and back. They are attached nine to a side, and fold out like an accordion.

The back of the folder features this iconic postcard treatment, filling the destination's title font with images from the cards inside. This was done by hand of course, in 1946, but I'll never forget the first time I figured out how to do this by myself in Photoshop, lol. I was suddenly untethered from the technical person in the small design group I was working for, able to work out design treatments by myself on the Mac, instead of having to wait for someone else to render them. I realized pretty quickly that this was the program I was going to spend the rest of my life working in! And I have.

Another 1970 Muira: Matchbox Speed King K-24

Following on my post below, of the April 1970 Road & Track featuring the Lamborghini Muira on its cover, is my Matchbox Muira from their 1970 Speed King series. These were larger than Matchbox's standard models, 1:43 scale. The proportions are pretty much correct, but the wheels are totally wrong, and the trim is pretty much just molded into the metal without much paint used to pick out the details. There is a separate black plastic piece used for the rear slats, and the headlights are gray metal, which gives this four-inch long model just enough detail to make it a decent model. The rear engine cover lifts to reveal the V12 engine's transverse placement. What can be seen of the ivory plastic-molded interior, the shapes are correct if not detailed in any way. I don't remember the price of these larger Matchboxes, but I doubt they were much more than $4.00 at a time when the regular Matchboxes were about 75 cents. This is a Lesney Matchbox, made in England.

Once again, hard to believe I've now owned this little car for forty years.

Road & Track, April 1970. Classic Issue!

Some of my vintage magazines are so chock full of history, it's almost unbelievable. Take this April 1970 issue of Road & Track magazine. Besides the gorgeous Lamborghini Muira on the cover (and yes, the young casey/artandcolour drew a circle around the badge on the hood... an early design critique, lol?), the new-to-America Datsun 240Z is tested—0-60, 8.7 seconds; curb weight, 2,355 lbs; list price $3,526: "New standards in performance and elegance for medium-prices 2-seat GT cars," states R&T. There is a wonderful 2-page spread of pen-and-ink drawings, a styling analysis of the 240Z by Werner Bührer, below.

I used to love these styling analyses in Road & Track. I'd say my critical "eye" was helped immensely by these Werner Bührer drawings and opinions. Robert Cumberford, in Automobile magazine, currently writes a monthly column doing the same thing, but I frequently find that he writes about concept cars I have no interest in, and that won't end up influencing much at all.

Other highlights in this April 1970 issue include:
  • Porsche 914 road test: "Leisurely performance and high price make it less than a bargain."  0-60, 13.9 seconds; curb weight, 2,085 lbs; price as tested, West Coast, $4,047.
  • Lamborghini Muira road test: "An exercise in automotive art." 0-60, 5.5 seconds; curb weight, 2,905 lbs; $19,250.
  • Jensen Interceptor II road test: "Chrysler engine and transmission clothed in an elegant European GT car shape." 0-60, 7.1 seconds; curb weight, 3.695 lbs; list price, $10,440, UK, US price not established.
  • Fiat 850 Racer (2 door coupe version of 850 Spider) road test: "Slightly more usable, weatherproof, custom-styled version of the Spider." 0-60, 17.9 seconds; curb weight, 1,690 lbs; price as tested, West Coast, $2,674.
  • R&T's annual "April Fool's" road test was the new Mercedes "GT," a European Garbage Truck! 0-50, 43 seconds; curb weight, 21,890 lbs; $19,600; 11 liter, 200hp diesel inline 6 cylinders; Fuel Economy, 6 mpg average.
  • Amazing paid ads for (now) historical cars: Lotus Elan S4BMW, prices ranging from under $3,000 to $8,277; Volvo P1800ETriumph, $2,395 to $3,595; Renault 10, 35 mpg; Citroën-$19,000 car for $15,000 less!VW Karmann-Ghia, $2,399; second generation Camaro Z28-Separates the Men from the Boys, 360 hp 350 V8; Audi LS 100, "Introducing Audi," First ad for the Audi in the US; Buick GSX, 350 hp, 455 V8, "A Limited Edition"; Peugeot 504"Italian style, French soul, International Muscle"; Porsche 911, "The Almost Perfect Car"AMC AMX, $3,395, 360 V8, 4 speed Hurst shifter, 140 mph speedometer and "big" tach; Meyers Manx SR"New as the Seventies!"
  • Miscellaneous Ramblings column included a photo and item on the new Stutz Blackhawk. Although its 118" wheelbase and blue-printed 400 V8 is mentioned, nothing is said of it being based on the Pontiac Grand Prix, and that the interior was almost completely stock Poncho. Price is given as $22,500, but a VIP model was mentioned for $75,000!
  • In the Ampersand column at the back of the book, the new AMC Gremlin received a photo and mention. They called it "a disappointment," not unexpected for the high-brow magazine, also calling it "basically a 6-cylinder Hornet," which of course, it was. They also mentioned that it "demonstrated AMC's lack of understanding of what makes a small economy car, or the company's lack of financial  capital to invest in new model development." We now know which one it was.
  • The always-interesting Market Place at the back of the book listed a 1959 Aston Martin DB2/4 Mk III in immaculate condition for $2,995; several Lotus Elites are listed in the $2,000 range; 1959 Edsel Villager wagon, "best offer"; 1959 Jaguar XK-150 coupe, 6,000 miles on rebuilt engine and automatic condition, $1,950; at least 100 other very desirable and historic cars for what seems like ridiculous prices today!!!
  • The center of this issue is a 16-page stapled insert, entitled, The Enthusiast's Europe, 1970, and is a comprehensive guide to "what's doing and what's to do" in Europe for the summer. Features include the late, great Henry Manney's Helpful Hints for the European Traveler; major Automotive Museums; the addresses for major race car builders and car factories open for to the public; buying a car in Europe; a calender of events for the car aficionado; and racing circuits you can drive around. This insert is overprinted in orange, as if printed on orange paper, and is extremely text-heavy. I can guarantee if this type of feature were to be published today, there would be 1/4 of the text and the rest would be filled with large visuals. I really don't think "we" as a public, have the time or the patience to actually read as much as we used to. Sadly, we depend on photographs and charts to help us disseminate information, and we're the poorer for it!
B T W : 
Mystery Car For Sale!
1958 AC Bristol, with a body that looks for the world like a specially-bodied Ferrari, was only $2,950, photos were $1 each. It also resembles the Nash Palm Beach dream car by Pinin Farina. I wonder what happened to this car, and I wonder why the seller didn't mention that it had to be a one-off? Or is this the wrong photo for the ad, lol?  I know that many carrozzerias used similar bodies on different chassis back then, creating one-offs for weathly clients. I'm thinking of a body design firm that was named something like "Buono" but I can't find anything online right now. I'm mystified by this car!

U P D A T E : 
Thanks to loyal reader, and automotive historian/guru, Paul NYC, I've found the Ferrari I was looking for. In the comments section Paul mentioned I was probably thinking about the design house, Boano—hey I was only one letter off, lol! As soon as I plugged in Ferrari Boano into Google Images, I came up with the car I was looking for. Well, this is the soft top version, but you can see it matches line-for-line with the "AC Bristol" above. 

1956 Ferrari 250 GT by Boano, virtual twin for the R&T ad for the AC Bristol above. Same body, different chassis, or wrong photo in R&T's want ads? Maybe I should look to see if I still have the May or June issues and see if R&T ran a correction.

Monday, December 27, 2010

On My Doorknob Every Christmas

Hanging on my front door each Christmas morning is a wonderful selection of cookies from my friend Melissa. I've known, and worked with, Melissa for, gulp, almost thirty years. Starting around Thanksgiving, Melissa and her husband Kevin start baking all sorts of holiday treats—cookies, brittles and fudge. Melissa actually saves a week of her vacation to take at that time of year for their baking. And then each and every Christmas morning, goodness knows how many of their friends and family are able to open their front doors and find this amazing selection of goodies. I wish I had thought to scan these treats when I first received them, several types are already gone, lol. I think I literally inhaled the fudge… It's a great tradition, hugely appreciated!

Ford's "Total Performance" for 1964

As perfect as my 1962 Ford brochure is, my '64 version is decidedly less so! Unfortunately this brochure was stored in my Mom's basement for years and years, and went through a couple of episodes with broken sump pumps and flooded basements. The cover and back cover suffered the most, sticking to whatever was on the top and bottom of them, but the interior has water damage too. This was a great year for Fords so I kept it, and hopefully it won't deteriorate any further. This piece has a litho date of 1963, and is missing Ford's brightest star for '64, the Mustang which wouldn't be introduced until April 17th of 1964. 

Featured in it though are Ford's almost completely restyled lineup, from the new sheetmetal and rooflines of the full-sized Fords, to the heavily facelifted Fairlane, and the completely restyled Falcon and Thunderbird. Illustrated above, in the opening spread featuring all of the new Fords, is a photo of the Swing-Away steering wheel in a Galaxie. My '64 Tbird came with that unique feature standard, but I never realized that it was optional on the full-sizers as well.

The Galaxies and Customs featured brand new rooflines. The four door pillarless hardtop is one of my all-time favorite large Fords, although it took me many years to come to that appreciation. This four door was available as a 500/XL complete with bucket seats and console! Note the blue 2 door in the upper right-hand corner. It's ID'd as the 500/XL convertible, and on close inspection it is, but the airbrushing artist got the roofline totally wrong. It has the "slantback" roofline of the hardtop. I thought they had just inserted the wrong photo, but on close inspection, the stainless trim at the base of the roof includes the snaps for the convertible's roof cover and the roof's details are different from the hardtops. Oops! 

Interestingly, the Galaxie/Custom line is given a third page in this 12-page brochure, and the Fairlane is only given one page. The Fairlane was heavily facelifted this year, with new roofs and new bodies, and would be again in '65. In '66 it was completely redesigned in a larger package, and was impressive enough for my Dad to come home with a bright red 500/XL hardtop coupe.

The completely redesigned Falcon is featured on these two pages. It was much more sculpted and angular. Bodystyles included sedans and hardtops, as well as the sporty convertible. The Econoline van was included in the Falcon lineup, called the Deluxe Club Wagon in passenger trim.

My beloved '64 Thunderbird! Photos highlight the cozy "Twin Cove" rear seating in this series of Tbirds, as well as the absolutely perfect profile proportions seen here on the Landau. The convertible's clean lines is obvious on the red 'Bird, the result of the modified retractible roof mechanism of the '57-'59 Fords and first 4-seater Tbirds of '58. The soft top retracted completely into the rear trunk, which opened up electrically "backwards" to accept it. It then closed with a smooth metal cover replacing the usual bulky boot-covered rear stack for an oh-so elegant appearance.

• This '64 Galaxie 500/XL 4 door hardtop was sold a long time ago, but the link still works. It shows the 4 door with bucket seats, and just how well-trimmed and special Ford's Galaxie interiors really were.
• That same purveyor of vintage cars, Memory Lane, also has this great '64 Falcon Sprint convertible for sale. Thanks to loyal reader, Woody, for posting the link in the comments. I'm adding it to the "front" post so everyone sees it, What a great looking little convertible, and it's a great suggestion of Woody's that Ford sell a new convertible for less than its current Mustang.

And Thus it Began

The scene from Pink Gardens just a few minutes after the snow began yesterday morning. Looking out today, it seems as if we escaped the majority of snow that the rest of the Tri-State area and New England received. I can see perhaps 5-6 inches, although it continues to snow today. We've had massive winds though, with gusts up to 60 mph. There are numerous branches down, and I can feel the wind coming right through the windows and 150 year old walls. I'm going to get back under the covers for a few hours. The wind was howling all night. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Classic Domestic Car Lineup—Ford for '62

When I think of a "classic" American carmaker's full lineup of product offerings, the 1962 Ford perfectly fits the bill. They had a compact, an intermediate, a full sizer, a luxury offering, and even a "people mover" or van as they were called back then. The Falcon, Fairlane, Galaxie, Thunderbird and Econoline are really all anyone needed, or needs today!

My father came home with a black Galaxie 2 door post sedan in 1962, with a 390 V8 engine, the lightest-weight bodystyle with the FE series V8. There were also a couple of 406 engines available but apparently were special-order only, and my father was an impulse "buy from the lot" type of guy. For a young car lover, he certainly gave me some great surprises growing up because of that!

To make "room" for their upcoming intermediate, Ford renamed all of its full size cars "Galaxie" for 1962. Higher trim levels were thus the Galaxie 500 and 500/XL, adding trim and features and equipped to near luxury levels. Elegance was stressed, as can be seen in the way the Galaxie was photographed. The Falcon also added a new model this year, the Squire wagon, available with bucket seats if so desired! The new Falcon Futura featured Thunderbird-inspired bucket seats, console and thickly padded vinyl interiors.

Though there were "senior compacts" from GM in 1961, Ford really can be credited with creating the new "intermediate" class in 1962 with its Fairlane. Interestingly, this new class of cars, fitting perfectly between the compacts and full sizers, this '62 Fairlane used the 115 inch wheelbase of the very popular full size Fords of the mid Fifties. Ford even plucked the Fairlane moniker from that popular series of Fords. For this new car however, Ford used unibody construction, similar to the Falcon's, for lower weight. Ford kept this construction for its intermediates until the 1972 model year.

At the top end of Ford's lineup, the luxurious and sporty Thunderbird added two new models for '62. The now-classic Landau luxury coupe and Sports Roadster convertible both made their first appearances. The Landau upped the luxury ante inside with lots of woodgrain trim and added a vinyl roof complete with "S" bars on the C pillar. The Sports Roadster used a fiberglass toneau with built in headrests covering the rear seats. This was meant to evoke the original 2-seater Tbird, and has become a highly-coveted collectible in its own right. The bottom spread illustrates all of Ford's passenger cars for '62, really a lineup for the ages, in my opinion!

B T W : 
This piece is entitled, "Ford Owner Newsletter Supplement, The Long Ford Line for 1962," measures 11 x 8 3/8 inches and is 16-pages including front and rear covers. The layout is almost haphazard when you look at all of the spreads as I've scanned and grouped them here. The fonts are consistent throughout, but the sizes aren't for the titles. There is not much of a discernible template, as text column widths and photo widths vary. This piece is in exceptional condition, a bit odd since it wasn't an expensive piece to produce—no glossy varnished pages, no heavier-than-usual paper stock. I think it's all the more desirable to me because of it!

As Modern As the 1920s' Tomorrow

As promised, the sixth of my vintage Christmas light ornaments, the dirigible. Thanks to the wonders of age-old Elmer's Glue, it's almost good as new. Well, it's as good as an unbroken 80+ year old piece of glass and metal could be! I'm wondering now if these lights could actually be a bit older than the 1920s. Was this a subtle piece of United States "Great War" propaganda, an airship in red, white and blue with the American flag on the side?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Vintage Christmas Lights—The Grape's Wrath?

These vintage Christmas lights must have had a separate string of wiring that they plugged into. They date to the 1920s or early '30s and were on my mother's trees as a child. They're approximately two- to three-inches tall, or wide, in the case of the fish. There is one more, a red, white and blue dirigible, but it's drying right now. When I opened the box (not original) it was in three pieces. These lights are quite heavy glass, and it was easy to glue the pieces together. I'll scan it in a day or two and post. It's a pretty unique piece, as are all of these. Isn't the doll just a bit bizarre? I bet a tree covered in these lights was quite a sight to behold.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I haven't been as careful with some of my vintage belongings as others. On the other hand, these ornaments are now so fragile, I smashed a few just lifting them out of their cardboard holder. No matter. The colors are still fun, and I have no problem owning broken things. I'll probably use these in a piece, stuck into a grouting mixture, much like some people do with ceramics.

The ornaments in this post were marketed under the brand name "Shiny Brite" by the Max Eckardt and Sons, Company, of New York (45 East 17th Street), in the 1930s through 1962. Mine date to the late 1940s. Some of the pictured ornaments aren't the originals to the boxes, the little figurines etc, but they've come to "live" in these cardboard holders through the years so I leave them.

Although my Thanksgiving and Christmas cactuses (cacti!) bloomed early this year, I have a few stragglers that made an appropriate entrance today. The porcelain basin and pitcher in the background dates to the 1860s and was a wedding present to my mother's paternal grandparents. I used a "film grain" filter on this shot of the flower.

Right on Time, Christmas Amaryllis Blooms

The box stated "Plant by Thanksgiving, Flowers by Christmas," and dang if it wasn't true. When I posted this Amaryllis's buds two days ago, I really didn't think they would bloom so quickly. These three blossoms opened up Friday afternoon, Christmas Eve day. I shot the photo above in the east-facing window the plant has been growing in. Below, I brought the plant outside to see how it looked in natural light. I added some color to the composition with the painted base of one of my new pieces and the plaid paint treatment on my porch rocker. The additional colors and patterns contrast perfectly with the red and white stripes of the petals. Both photos are clickable thumbnails, as always.

Forget the Sleigh!

Vintage Santa Clauses Ride on Skis, Tricycles

These vintage Santa Clauses date to the 1950s. The plastic Santa on skis is a container, most likely for pens or pencils. It's about five-inches high, with a deep space in his "bag" but the opening is pretty narrow, too narrow for candy or any sort of holiday treats. The Santas on tricycles are tin-toys, and operate with a key-wind. They ride around on flat surfaces quite well. The pinwheel-like ornament on the back of the tricycle is a bell that rings as Santa rides around; the spiral painted bell turns around and around for a crazy, op-art type of display. Although also made of tin, the "balloon" is mounted on a very thin wire, and flails around as the trike is propelled. They're really quite charming, and they've managed to stay with their original boxes.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Works Two Days a Year at Pink Gardens

This Santa was created by my Dad in 1961. It was a kit he sent away for, a transferable pattern, including an outline to cut the Masonite board, and the "paint by numbers" for the body itself. Almost fifty years old, he is in almost perfect condition. Originally, his lantern had a box behind it and held a lightbulb that shone through some sort of frosted glass, but that's gone missing through the years. Still, he's in fine fettle, looking much the same as he always has. I put him outside of the house two days a year, the day before Christmas and Christmas day. My friend John usually stops by with his young daughter, Makayla, for her present, which is always a purple Matchbox car. She starts reminding me about it in the summer when I see her, lol. I'll take a photo of them in front of Santa, something I've done a few years now.  

Holiday Programming: Set Your DVR. To 1954.

Legendary TV Guide's programming schedule for Christmas week, 1954. The cover features the equally-legendary Nelson Family, Ozzie, Harriet, David and Ricky. Notice the wonderfully Fifties commercial art on the back cover. Those holiday candles are beautifully rendered. I also find it very interesting that the TV Guide didn't sell a back page ad for this issue!  The third legend in this equation, publishing mogul Walter Annenberg, was the Editor of the 'Guide during this time, and I suspect he had something to do with this issue's lack of crass commercialism this week.

A front-of-the-book interior page of this issue shows the column, TV Teletype on the left, imaginatively presented in a typewriter font, and printed on yellow, like certain carbon copy paper. Among the items mentioned was one on how a few Congressional wives were offended by Red Skelton's recent routine at a luncheon in D.C., Eddie Fisher and his then-fiancée Debbie Reynolds receiving an award in Washington, and a short "heads up" of one of my favorite singers of all time, Peggy Lee, who would be appearing in a Disney movie called "Academy Awards." I was fortunate to see her perform twice, and she was a classic right up to the end. There is also an item about Hume Cronyn and his wife Jessica Tandy, whom I saw perform in The Gin Game, at New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre in 1977. I also saw the married couple several times on the commuter train I was taking daily into New York, and even sat across from them once at New York's famed Russian Tea Room. They were a lovely couple, very down-to-earth, and two of the finest actors this world has seen. A humorous article begins on the right page on how the Mertzes "got that way" referring to the famous neighbors from I Love Lucy.

This spread is an illustrated poem entitled, "Television Brings Your Way Christmas Presents Every Day." It mentions virtually every early TV show and actor and famous personality, surrounded by cute caricatures of those performers. Fifties commercial art is one of my favorite periods for this decorative medium.

Another color spread, towards the back of the book, features a puff piece on a then radio and TV star, Lyn Osborn, of Space Patrol fame. He played a role known as Cadet Happy, and I have to admit I've never heard of the show or Mr. Osborn. He was 28 years old at the time of this article, and he is portrayed as quite a humble fellow, apparently preferring to "play with an electric train than attend a Hollywood party." After playing this role for 4 1/2 years, he said he was open to other roles, but no villains, "Nothing that might hurt Space Patrol." Unfortunately, this young actor died just four years after this piece, in 1958, from complications from brain surgery. On the right-hand page, Father Knows Best is featured, and continues on to another spread, in black-and-white, describing the trials and tribulations of filming a family TV show.

A typical black-and-white listings page for this period, although the programming for this Saturday Christmas morning, wasn't typical of a "normal" Saturday. Interestingly, Christmas also falls on a Saturday this year, 56 years later. Saturday morning shows listed include Roy Rogers, Rin Tin Tin, Captain Midnight, Space Patrol, Renfrew of the Mounted, the Lone Ranger and Happy Felton's Knothole Gang, a show aimed at teaching youngsters the finer points of baseball, featuring a former Vaudville performer.

• It wouldn't be "artandcolour" if I didn't mention the complete lack of diversity apparent in this 56 year old TV guide. Yes, there is Desi Arnaz representing the Hispanic community I suppose, but he was clearly more representative of the Hollywood "Star." Not a single African-American appears in an ad, or in any editorial photo. 1954 was, of course, the year that Brown vs The Board of Ed was decided in the Supreme Court, establishing once and for all that separate schools for blacks and whites was unconstitutional, a landmark decision in this country's fight for equality. Emmett Till would be celebrating his last Christmas the year this TV Guide was published, perhaps watching the very shows listed here until the 14 year old was murdered in August of 1955. Just about a year after this TV Guide was published, Rosa Parks of Birmingham would refuse to give up her bus seat for a white person.

• For a lengthy listing of events that occurred in 1954, click here.

A Holiday Wish from Casey/artandcolour:
For all the gains this country has made in the last 56 years, and we have seen the continuing fight for equality play out in just the past few weeks with the repeal of DADT, in this holiday season, let's not forget just how far we have to go. There is unspeakable poverty in this country, there are unspeakable racial divides to this day, anti-gay rhetoric heard on TV and in streets, there is still anti-Semitism to be found in this country. There are established hate groups like the Family Research Council and NOM that are still given "equal time" on TV airwaves. They're allowed to spew their hate and filth as if they were a legitimate partner in this country's political discourse, instead of the purveyors of lies, stereotypes and junk science that they are. We all need to speak up and fight for the rights of every single person in this country, every single day. Laws like Arizona's "Papers Please" legislation must be struck down. We are all human beings, we all have the right to live our lives and care for those in our lives in peace, and that doesn't mean whether or not you have your citizenship in order. Your neighbor is your neighbor is your neighbor. None of us gets out of this world alive, we are all here only for the blink of an eye, no one, not one single person, is any better, or worse, than any other. In the larger picture of life, IDs don't matter one whit. Discrimination is wrong on every level and that includes every single human being on this Earth (and in low orbit around the Earth, a shout out to the Space Station crew!).

Have a great Christmas if that's what you celebrate. Enjoy time with your family and loved ones, or by yourself like I do, regardless if this is a special weekend or not. I'll be cooking a turkey, my favorite protein, working on book production, writing my blog, maybe even working on art—in other words, the same as every day, which is just the way I like it. 

Feliz Navidad and Good Will Towards Everyone.