Monday, January 2, 2012

Got milk?

Spotted: Schneider Valley Farms milk in whole and 2% trickling down from a titanic Schaefer dispenser in the midst of an austere breakfast nook at Comfort Inn of all places. The Pittsburgh-based dairy product distinguishes itself from the tiers of dry bagels and muffins and limp bacon and omelets with its red, white and blue typography, a true reflection of the dairy artisan's 1930s debut. The industrial dispenser rounds out the simple vintage look. Nearby Seneca, PA, supplies this milk for Lamar, PA, residents and businesses, including this Comfort Inn post. We love bumping into these regional finds during road trips, especially gems still branded with their original logo such as this. This chip of dairy pop culture perked up an otherwise ordinary overnight respite.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Baubles jingle jangling straight from the 30s

I obsess over vintage fashion, but I'm particularly drawn to the 1930s, when strong Art Deco designs chiseled their way into streamlined gowns with peekaboo backs and masculine-inspired suits were made popular by the likes of Marlene Dietrich and Kate Hepburn. Despite the gloomy cloud of the Great Depression, those with the extra wad of cash to spare lavished themselves with such decadent fashion, including jewelry sets such as this that jingled and jangled as ingenues stepped out of their roadsters or bounced down their spiral staircases.

This eye-popping matching bracelet and necklace represent the type of feminine jewelry ladies sported during the day, soft and delicate charms appropriate for teatime or department store shopping. An early Christmas gift from Matt, I was jubilant and speechless of the fact that he hunted down these rare items with not only my adoration for vintage fashion in mind, but specifically my attraction to the glamorous 30s. He discovered these trinkets at the Furniture Barn, a heart-warming antique store in Alum Bank, PA, that features throwback and refurbished furniture on the first floor while tucking away smaller items like jewelry and kitchenware on the second floor. They're the kind of beloved gift that hold more meaning than all the mass produced doo dads everyone is fussing about. The tarnished gold chain links actually provide a bit of brass appeal that fold well into contemporary times. As for the glass marbles, they're as flawless as Bette Davis's alabaster skin of the day. The flower designs are etched inside instead of outside the candy-colored beads, so not a bit of the images have been vanquished throughout the passing decades.

The roly-poly set came nestled in its original storage, a weathered and yellowed box hailing from John Horne Co, a department store in Pittsburgh that throughout time eventually got swallowed by various other dry goods giants including Lazarus, Kaufmann's and finally, Macy's. Little known fact, John Horne was actually born in Bedford County, PA, where Matt and I spent our formative years. Faint cursive writing on the front of the box reads, "Ball flower necklace and bracelet." As valuable and special as the jewelry is, the original receipt kept snug inside the box is also something worth whistling about. Our glamor puss of the 30s fetched these baubles for a total of $5.95 on April 9, 1938. Back then, that was a pretty hefty price for costume jewelry. I love how the blue lead on the tissue-soft paper still appears bold and strong after all these years.

I've been hesitant to wear my one-of-a-kind baubles, admiring them instead directly from the box or around my hands as I play coquettishly with the beads. I hope to find a 30s-inspired frock to complete the look. A roadster and spiral staircase would be grand, too!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Paisley Park

I'm not sure what decade these paisley earrings are derived from, but I love the Jackie O style they evoke based on the turquoise and sea foam green colors alone. They're heavier on the ears than I normally like my "ornaments" to feel, but for a mere $2 at Founder's Crossing, I'm willing to sacrifice comfort for fashion. By today's standards, these enameled jewels are a nod to Lily Pulitzer Palm Beach preppiness; they even honor the bohemian/straitlaced dichotomy of Tory Burch; uptown Manhattan socialites will find that they pair well with Milly's line-up of modern, vintage threads. They're formal enough for a cocktail party aboard a yacht in Monte Carlo, yet casual enough for lobster roll hunting in Maine. Whatever the occasion, these are my go-to studs for effortless fashion in a flash.


A cut above the rest

When you're rummaging through the shelves of antique goods at Founder's Crossing in Bedford, PA, it's effortless to snatch up an armful of trinkets you may have little use for: Victorian Valentine's Day cards filled with handwritten sentiments...cardboard pharmacy boxes that once held bespoke potions and broken hair combs dangling from their retro paper backing. The best tactic to take when shopping in such an overwhelming environment, when your senses are at their most vulnerable, is to hone in on that one big-ticket item you're drawn to the most. My prized find at Founder's Crossing is this stunning glass jar from the 1960s used at barbershops to disinfect combs and brushes. For just $27, it was worth the purchase. It's in near-mint condition and the stylish lettering is still bold in looks. The plunger inside is also just slightly tarnished. Displayed in a guest bathroom, it'll be sure to conjure up some pleasant gasps. Even without filling it with barbicide, it will still be a unique vehicle to house combs for overnight guests to choose from. Maybe the Donald should have these jars dispersed throughout his penthouse.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Clammy hands

This rusty sign is one of three hands that survived the 2004 demolition of the Clam Broth House, a seafood enclave in Hoboken, NJ, that first surfaced in 1899. Structural failures prompted city officials to order the destruction of the historic facade, but in 2010, the legendary restaurant reopened its doors. Today, fans new and old infiltrate the two-story establishment to cuddle around bowls of clam chowder, elongated lobster rolls and if they must, a handsome rack of lamb. Despite its obvious aging, the iconic hand still features timeless charm, with its rounded typography and the downward "c" and "l." I haven't dined at the Clam Broth House yet, but I hope the seafood fare warrants a round of applause.


The preppies

Why wouldn't you want to send your dashing young gents off to St. Peter's Prep for a fine pre-collegiate education? The imposing blocked letters festooned on the side of this Jesuit school in Jersey City spells out vintage style in the most academic of fashions. They evoke a roaring rah-rah feeling from a 1940s high school football game. Brains, brawn and boyish aesthetics...what more could you ask for from a good 'ole Catholic boy?


Friday, May 13, 2011

Splashing around

Get out your swimming trunks and two-piecers! With pool-side frivolity just around the bend, why don't you splash around with a tall glass of "Bathing Beauty" as your summer-time primer? The 1944 comedy drenched in Technicolor teams together vaudeville alumni Red Skelton and Olympics-bound champion swimmer Esther Williams as a pair of lovelorn characters unknowingly double-crossed by Basil Rathbone's character's greedy tactics. Subtle screwball humor abounds after a misunderstanding sends Williams's Caroline in a huff back to Victoria College to her swimming instructing roots while Skelton's Steve sacrifices all sense of decorum to relentlessly win her back. As an "interim" male student in the all-female school, Skelton's comedic timing is flawless as he pulls off physical "stunts" like twirling about in a tutu and popping in and out of a coat closet while sidestepping the wrath of a monstrous Great Dane. It won't be difficult to root for this naturally sweet character, not just for his pure whimsy or his lovesick tremors over Caroline, but for the camaraderie he unleashes among his classmates. Caroline is less winsome with her rigid attitude, but Williams's icy-tinged beauty makes for a convincingly cold-shouldered character you can't take your eyes off. 

The hysterical side characters also make this lovely musical a delight to sink into. You've got Carlos Ramirez as himself serenading a perturbed Caroline, Ethel Smith portraying a stereotypical spinster music teacher complete with goof ball expressions and Bill Goodwin playing a straight laced botany professor also enamored by the elusive swim teacher. As you near the end of the movie, you'll be treated to a tautly crafted scene that involves characters emerging out of a closet on a tandem bike and a wide-eyed girl peeking out from a blanket suspended from the ceiling. The innocent shenanigans prove that back then, directors merely relied on G-rated humor to draw out guffaws from the audience.

On top of all the clever comedy, the tightly woven music and choreography will prompt some foot tapping and head bobbing. This was the Big Band era after all, so expect several rounds of ear-shattering drumming and saxing (check out the clip above of Harry James and company belting out a tune). Be on the heels of one particular scene where a brigade of enthusiastic music students listens to the music teacher tap the keys and pedals of the organ to produce a hoppity tune that sounds comparable to the modern scores of today. And the fashion, oh the fashion! I love the students' khaki uniforms pulled together with a red kerchief and Williams's sequined black and white-striped dress that she flaunts during dinner. As expected, the directors capatilized on Esther's mermaid-like moves in the water - you'll be captivated by her diving acumen, her seamless strokes and her spotlighted performance during a choreographed nautical number. Though bathing suits were quite conservative in the 40s, Bathing Beauty will still inspire you to sculpt and tone your way to a two-piecer.

Photo Source: Wikipedia