Monday, February 28, 2011

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule was a big deal when I was a kid.  Every time I pinched my sister or shoved my brother, I was sure to hear one of the adults say "now, now.. remember The Golden Rule, you wouldn't want your brother to push you would you?" This amazing statement seemed to apply to everything including being the first one to reach for the largest piece of chocolate cake or sharing your new toys, or flushing the toilet in a timely fashion. 

Your parents, pastors, teachers and local police officers were all making sure you got the message, even the Coca Cola Bottling Company was hard at work drumming the point of social responsibility into our hearts and minds with slogans printed on common household objects.  Every time you reached for a wooden ruler, you were reminded of that rule.  At which point,  you quickly measured something, and ran to the icebox to get the last Coca Cola before someone else could snatch it out from under you.  If you did, you were sure to hear something about sharing the last coke instead of being a greedy little piggie and drinking it all up by yourself.

Little by little, day by day, the rule sunk in.  Its right to be courteous, kind and self-sacrificing and wrong to be greedy, self-absorbed and cruel.  Now, if we could just get the message out to drivers who won't let you over a single lane to make that sudden right turn you weren't expecting.  If only we could train people who have a month's groceries  for a family of 10 to happily step aside and let us check out one gallon of milk first, or give golden rulers to men at home improvement stores who actually race you to the check-out, nudge you off balance with a cart full of lumber and sport a triumphant grin when they see you totter back out of their way.  Well, that would be a better day indeed.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Momma's Pancake Breakfast

You don't need to dig too deeply into your sub-conscious to realize the title of today's post seems awfully familiar. That's because you've probably ordered and consumed at least one of these belly busters at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant's somewhere here in the good old USof A. The fellas who started the place in Lebanon, TN back in 1969 were hoping to set up a comfortable, homey place where folks could sit around relaxing with friends or family vexing and jawing about the state of affairs and other interesting stuff.

Some friends of ours joined us early last Saturday to grab a breakfast and head on out to the local flea market to see what kind of vintage treasures we could drag home and we got to thinking...... How much do you think the antiques in a Cracker Barrel are worth?  Next thing you know we were appraising everything in the place and multiplying the whole thing by 540.  Let's just say... the total was a pretty big number.

Curiosity got the best of us, so out came the i-phones and we started searching up some pretty interesting facts.  It wasn't long before we decided Larry Singleton has the best darn job in America collecting all the antiques to put in the new stores when they open. He and his family have been decorating Cracker Barrels since the day the first one opened.

Larry, we think we found some stuff you just might be interested in and if you don't like what you see, well sir... we would sure be willing to look for some more, as soon as we finish that last biscuit, drain down to the dregs of our coffee cups and come to some kind of agreement on what a rusted RC Cola sign is really worth in today's market.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spurn The Iron

That's right, I said "spurn the iron".  That's what the new wonder-blend fabrics of 1961 promised to do. Still, I seem to remember ironing a lot back in the sixties.

I also remember going around in sleevless tops with no concern for sun protection of any kind.  Okay, we were a reckless generation who thought we were all immortal.  After all, our lives were supposed to be wrinkle free.

Take a look at that waistline, I mean...... only Barbie has a waistline like that.  Barbie and your average size 10 woman of the sixties. Right, a size 10 was something quite a bit different back in good old 1961. Ten was the samllest size this pattern came in, if you were any smaller than that you were probably either a child or near death from starvation... like Twiggy.

These tops are actually still pretty cute and apparently quite easy to make.  Back in 1961 you just clipped the little ad out of your weekly copy of Parade Magazine, taped two quarters to a file card and mailed the whole thing to Radio City Station.

Then waited by the mail box for the Postman to drop your wonderful Patt-O-Rama pattern in the box. In 2011, if you want to "spurn your own iron", get a hold of some wonder fabric and head over to Mama's Etsy shop for some vintage sewing inspiration of your own.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cutting a Fine Silhouette

A silhouette is, in one sense, a shadow cast on a surface and in another its a fine paper cutout of an image of a shadow carefully mounted to a contrasting surface.  The one I found at a garage sale last weekend was done in the 1920's when having your silhouette cut at the State Fair was all the rage.  She sure is a fine figure of a woman isn't she?

A little research into the subject of silhouettes quickly brought me to Mary Granville Pendarves Delany who was a British matron of the high society type back in the late 1700's.  The poor dear had been married off to a rich, old alcoholic at the age of 17 and suffered a horrible few years before he died.  During this time the creative pursuit of fine embroidery and other crafts of the times were her solace. Her tools were her constant companions.

When she was 72 years old, she embarked on a new endeavor using her scissors to create some silhouettes. This led to her seminal life achievement, the execution of 1,000 intricately cut and pasted botanical collages which are now in the permanent collection of the British Museum.

Much has been written about Mary and several comprehensive biographies are available online and  for purchase, most include images of her work.  I imagine viewing them in person at the museum would be amazing, but for now... you can follow this link to The British Museum to see some of the wonderful imagery she created.  Mrs. Delany has left her shadow, her silhouette on art history and she did it as an old woman in a culture which valued her and her achievements very little.  Mary Granville, you were a fine figure of a woman indeed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Old Time Romance

Back in the good old days

Things really haven't changed, have they.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A, B, See

As a child, I had a huge fascination with Helen Keller and all things having to do with blindness.   I loved to color and read and.... according to my family..... spend an inordinate amount of time staring at myself while dancing in front of a mirror.  How in the world was Helen Keller coping with a sightless and soundless life?

Maybe I have Helen Keller nostalgia today because I've come across a stash of vintage braille paper.  Could I read this if I gave it a little effort? 

All I can feel is a general sense of texture.  Perhaps if I do a rubbing, I'll be able to see the dots and decipher what they mean?

Nope, no help at all. I guess if my worst fears ever come true, I'll  have to rely on a talking book reader because reading braille seems next to impossible at this point. 

I hear the braille paper I found is highly prized by collage makers and journalers .  The textures are gorgeous and the stock itself is thick and receptive.  Adding color and form to a page which was once read by someone who could see neither will seem hauntingly redemptive to me.

If you never got the pleasure of meeting Helen Keller or only saw her portrayed in movies, here is a brief clip of the real (incredibly inspiring) Helen.