{NEW SERIES} Razzy Reads & Swell Sites: September 2015

  
Can you believe we are into October already? It seems like just last month I had gone to Viva and spent the week afterwards in California at my friend Nicole’s, and don’t even seriously tell me it’s been six weeks since my surgery! It seems that every year the train of time chugs along a wee bit faster than it had the year prior. Before I know it a temperature of 32 degrees Farenheit will be the norm and I will be cursing the snow every chance I possibly can. 

I have decided to start a new series, one where I will post the month in articles relating to vintage, history, rockabilly, and like topics. I will try to accumulate near a number of ten for you all – some months may be more fruitful, while others may be less so. I am sure you could understand that!

With that being said, let’s get to the links, shall we?

91 Year Old German Woman Faces Charges of Accessory to Murder as Worker at Auschwitz – I find this article fascinating. It brings up a lot of morality issues: is she still culpable 70 years later for her crimes? How involved was she? Should the charges be dismissed in the interest of her age? Certainly thought provoking.

92 Year Old Man Sings to His Dying Wife – If this doesn’t make you tear up or at least smile, you have no heart. Doesn’t everyone want a love like this?

Pre-Drug War Vintage Ads from When Cocaine Was Just Another Vice – Ads for cocaine paraphernalia, mostly from the ’70s (naturally). These will both shock and humour you.

Hollywood Sunset – An article/interview of Monica Lewis, the discovery of Benny Goodman, who could just about do it all – sing, dance, do jingles, host radio shows, and more. Quite the lady and a tale of the times.

The Leading Ladies of Old Hollywood – The photographs of legends such as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Grace Kelly by Sir Cecil Beaton.

Boxed up for 67 years and now set free: Brand new 1948 Youngstown Kitchen cabinets + 1948 GE Airliner stove – This set just made my jaw drop! Brand new and still in the box, this cabinet set and stove have been waiting for use for 67 years. If I could redo my kitchen with this, I’d be on it like white on rice!

Upper Deck: Traveling in Style – These are some amazing photos of some premium examples of air travel from the 1960s & 1970s. There were open bars, beds, tables, and LEG ROOM! Why can’t we still travel like this?

303 Dubsdread Circle – Check out the amazing home up for sale of Brownie Wise, former VP of Tupperware Home Parties (and soon-to-be subject of a movie!). I absolutely adore the mesh of both Art Deco and Mid Century Modern elements in the home. Such an amazing space! If I could deal with the Florida humidity I would live there in a hot minute!

Lunch Menu from Titanic Sells for $88,000 – The menu from the last lunch on the Titanic on April 14, 1912 has sold at an auction for a price well above its estimated fetching price. It’s amazing to see the opulence of the First Class of the ill-fated ship from a first hand source. Fillets of brill, cockie leekie, ox tongue…and to finish was a platter of numerous opulent cheeses. Is it just me or am I the only one who would be eating all of the cheese? 😉

The Start of My Vintage Yearbook Collection…

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…begins with this 1945 Westwood High School yearbook from New Jersey!

As some of you know, I was born and raised in New Jersey, so naturally when I saw this, I was immediately pulled in. And best of all, I know exactly where Westwood is! I love looking through the yearbooks; it gives me a real connection to the eras that I love and allows me to know what people’s everyday lives were like – especially those just starting their lives in a very scary and trying time – World War Two.

Regrettably, my mind sometimes goes to places that are depressing, and looking at a lot of these pictures made me think of how many had died in the war. I know it is a very viable prospect, and highly likely that this is a situation that exists in high numbers. It really makes things hit you that much harder when you see faces and lives in cold, hard ink. There is even a list in my 1945 yearbook of all the alumni who died in the war until that point, and later on in the book you see a list of who is going into the service from the graduating class.

But one of my favourite things is that it does give a real face to those in the war, and commemorates their lives rather than their deaths. I also enjoy the intense patriotism that these yearbooks show, and it makes my heart swell with pride to know that quite literally, everyone partook in the war effort in one way or another.

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The yearbooks also give a great glimpse into the real fashions that people wore, from the teenage/twenty-something students to the faculty and other people in between. I love looking at the outfits and the hair of the girls – I get rather envious of some girls with great dresses and perfect hair to match!

I have five yearbooks now – three from high schools, and two from colleges. Why the college yearbooks? It gives another insight into life back during that time. I love to look at the majors of everyone and see what kind of path they were paving for themselves. I just so wish I could further investigate their lives and see what they made of it. I may have to at least pick a few of the ones that interest me the most and do some research! As would be anticipated, most of the women in college either majored in home economics, English, or education. But I did notice a few outstanding women who went above and beyond the “boundaries” of their time to major and go into fields such as political science, psychology, chemistry, and even medicine. These women make me proud – they didn’t let stigmas of the time dictate what kind of live they led. They let their passion take the driver’s seat rather than what was “expected” of women during that time. And that is trailblazing at its finest, my dears! 🙂

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My favourite yearbook has to be the 1942 Flambeau from Manitowoc, Wisconsin. It’s called the “Victory Garden Edition”, of course paying homage to growing your own veggies to offset the rationing of the time.

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This yearbook is unusual first off in that it is spiral bound – this has to be the first and only time I have ever seen this! It was owned by Howard Lensmire, a junior during this time and was slated to graduate in 1943. He seemed to be quite a popular and well-liked guy by all of the signatures he acquired!

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On nearly every page you see a few signatures from kids in the school. I love reading them, and knowing that real people wrote on that exact page back in 1942. It just blows my mind and makes me smile 🙂

But the real cherry on top of this ice cream? Well, when I opened up this yearbook initially, a piece of paper fell out. It was yellowed, obviously showing some age. I opened it, and immediately was stunned – it was the whole wedding coverage of the yearbook owner’s nuptials! Not only that, there was the announcement of his second child’s birth!

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How amazing is that?! I feel like I know Mr. Lensmire personally because of having all of this first hand information. I want to research more of his life and if he is still alive! I think this may become a pet project for me now LOL!

Howard was also on the Junior Varsity Football Squad, and in the picture I have the yearbook opened to that page. You can see him in the group by looking directly where the lower right hand corner of the birth announcement is pointing to in the picture. I believe his jersey was #17.

I have had a few people give me weird reactions when they know I have a collection of vintage yearbooks. My one friend even said, “Why do you have yearbooks from a school you never went to and people you don’t know?” But I feel that unless you are either a history nerd or a vintage buff, you won’t entirely understand the magic of it. But if you are a history nerd or vintage buff, I highly recommend getting yourself a vintage yearbook or two from your favourite eras. They’re not expensive at all, either – the most expensive one I have cost $15 with shipping included on eBay! It is a very cool and very fun way to have an authentic attachment to a period that holds a special place in your heart.

Bundles for Britain

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I’m sure a good many of you have probably not heard of the group “Bundles for Britain” that started during the war, as I haven’t heard of it myself until reading a book on New York in World War II. I figured it was a very interesting and very proactive look at America just before entering the war and our own activities with the war effort for Britain.

Bundles for Britain was started in 1940 by Natalie Wales Latham in a store front as a knitting circle in New York City that sent various knitted goods such as socks, scarves, gloves and other items over to aid the war effort and support those fighting for Britain. In sixteen months Bundles became such a success that there were over 975 branches and over a million contributors. By 1941, the group was sending over much more than just knitted wearables – ambulances, field kitchen units, surgical instruments, cots, and much more were sent during their tenure.

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Ms. Latham thought that despite the Neutrality Act of 1939 and the Lend-Lease Program that America should be doing more to help Britain’s cause. She managed to borrow a Park Avenue storefront rent free and posted a picture of a British service member and sat in the window and began knitting. Before the night had ended, numerous others had come to join her. And they joined not a second too late – nationwide rationing began on 8 January 1940, and Bundles for Britain was born six
days later.

Just over a year later, the group had expanded to 975 branches and helped raise over $3 million dollars for their cause. Not only did they collect knitted clothing, but began to collect numerous other items as well. If the items could not be used then they were sold to help raise funding. Before long, Bundles traded their Park Avenue storefront for office space as well as a shipping and storage house on 89th Street. Ms. Latham began to correspond with Mrs. Winston Churchill herself in order to ensure a more efficient use of the items and help she sent. And throughout the months of the Blitzkrieg, Bundles adopted 19 London hospitals and sent money to pair for their repairs.

Bundles for Britain was a very important and oft overseen contribution to the war effort before America officially joined the war. Being able to have a small movement grow into a huge national organization like Ms. Latham did take a significant amount of gusto and also even more of an amount of dedication as well as support. America had all of that. Many think that the U.S. was completely isolationist just before the war, but that is not completely true as evidenced by the sheer power that Bundles had managed to grow in a short period of time. I believe reality was setting in on a good portion of Americans, and we saw Britain as our sister who was in dire straights with an enemy who was becoming more malevolent every day. While Ms. Latham and her Bundles comrades did not serve in uniform, they certainly did serve to help the war effort and surely helped Britain when she needed it most. America entered the war of December 1941 to provide aide in the Allies winning the war, but certainly Bundles for Britain provided as well – they provided help during a time of great sacrifice.

America Right After Pearl Harbor

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As we all know, the “date that shall live in infamy” was on 07 December 1941. America changed forever, and we still feel its effects today. But what was it like immediately after the bombing?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (of whom I am related to…not to brag heheh) soon addressed Congress and thereafter declared war on Japan. Only only representative, the Pacifist Jeannette Rankin of Montana, objected. FDR also signed executive order 9066 to take Japanese residents and place them in internment camps. While we look back at this move with disgust, you must remember that during this time there was an intense hatred of anyone of Japanese heritage, and FDR was also helping to keep them protected from others in a way. But this still does not absolve this action.

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All over the country the country’s young men were lined up to the brim with viable candidates to serve. There were seriously long lines outside of recruiting stations, and the military sure had their choice as to whom they would accept. This was completely different during Vietnam, where the armed forces were just trying to get just about anyone to sign a contract. But we also saw another post-Pearl Harbour enlistment surge right after 9/11. Even by the time I joined the Marines a few years later, they still had pick of the litter.

As America’s men went to war, our women went to work. This would be the first major time that you see a widespread and widely accepted time of women working out of the home. Even Marilyn Monroe found herself working in a factory for the war effort, where she would soon be discovered by David Conover.

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Even the men who were labelled 4F still did their part. For instance, my grandfather was labelled 4F because of his bad colitis, but he still worked in a propeller factory. And those who did stay in the states to help with the war effort also helped out in another huge way: rationing.

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These are my grandparents’ gas rationing stamps. The rationing in the U.S. spread to nearly everything – food, meats, gas, fabrics, metals, and women even had to forgo their beloved nylons for the war effort. But soon they were drawing lines on the backs of their legs to simulate the seams of stockings. You can also see how the fashions changed, as any way to use less fabric was encouraged. Skirts became a bit shorter, rarely were many pleats, ruffles, or any other “embellishments” used as in the past.

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Victory gardens were a common occurrence that you could find at almost every house. It helped offset the war rationing for the house, and even helped to cut down on using your stamps. Using vegetables and the sort was common and thought of as very patriotic to helps our boys fighting overseas.

Life during WWII was certainly not easy at all, but you can sense a real camaraderie and patriotism in everyone that sadly is not longer present today. I think that is why I love this era so much, that there was so much humanity on the home front while there was so much bloodshed all over the world. It is such a fabulous and amazing time to learn about, and surely will pique any history or vintage lovers out there!

Recent Additions to My Closet

Over the past few weeks one could say I have had a minor addiction to eBay. I have several searches saved and I check them every day. I have come across some gorgeous dresses recently, and have gotten them for much cheaper than they are actually worth! And I needed some more dresses in my closet anyway. I think I have about 26 vintage dresses now 😉

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This beauty I just won about two days ago. It is a fabulous 1940s novelty print dress that I could not resist. I can’t wait to get my mitts on this and get to wear it! I clinched it for only $33.

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This is another gorgeous ’40s dress that I managed to snag for only $40! It fits me perfectly and the print is so cute. It’s from around the war, and you can feel it’s a little dainty now that all of that time has passed – 70 years! But still amazing nonetheless.

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This ’50s dress was just too perfect for fall to ignore! I was bidding on this during the hurricane with the power being out so I would turn my phone on once in a while to check that I was still the high bidder LOL. It is made of a rayon silk fabric, which feels amazing and rather luxurious – all for $31!

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This little number is obviously more rockabilly than vintage but I still love it nonetheless. As you can tell, it has more of a spring/summer vibe to it, which is probably why no one else bid on it and I got it for only $20! That’s a good little trick for the rest of you too – buy off season and you will tend to get better deals. And hey, with vintage clothing you will never have to worry about being “off-trend”, because it’s all classic and timeless!

What do you all think? Have any of you gotten any great finds lately?