Can you possible think of an era without sprawling shopping centers and even ubiquitous strip-malls? When my family moved to the burbs in the early fifties, the main street was lined with small independent shops and stores. Last spring I walked along this street for a trip into yesteryear. In the mid-fifties the first shopping center in the area was built, and gradually the small shops were closed and converted for other uses. Eventually, most were bulldozed and replace with larger modern buildings. But dotting the street there were still a few of the old buildings like this one. Mostly in disrepair …
I have no idea what it originally housed, I think it might have been a kids shoe store. I know there was one on that block. Or perhaps it was one of the several neighborhood barber shops that were on that street. (Men used to get their hair cut more often back then. Sometimes even every week.) You can tell it had wide plate-glass windows on the front, and a much wider front door. The ceramic coping stones still top the side walls, but the cornice has fallen away. Also the aged building is starting to shed the coat of latex paint that was used to spruce up it up. The same can be said for the for the last business to occupy the building. Action Printing hasn’t seen much printing later. But the building is still around after at least a century.
As to the shopping center that brought the little shops and stores to their demise, it didn’t even last fifty years. Bigger and fancier centers and malls enticed its customers away, until it was as vacant and forlorn as the little independent store is. When that happened, its multi-levels were demolished. And about ten years ago they started replacing it with a new shopping mall with individual small shops and larger stores arranged in single level block like formations.
If it wasn’t surrounded by acres of parking spaces it would almost look like the rows of little shops that once lined the street where these now stand. What goes around, comes around.
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!
Yes, I grew up with the Lone Ranger. But not on television!
I was one of those kids who used to spend his late afternoons sitting in front of the big old radio in the living room listening to each daily episode.
The Lone Ranger existed almost entirely in my imagination.
Little did I know that under his mask he really was an actor named Brace Beemer. I also didn’t know that the hoofbeats of the great horse Silver were really a couple of half coconuts clumping on various different surfaces to mark his passages over sand, ground, rock and water.
The last new episode of the Lone Ranger was broadcast on September 3, 1954 … two days before my 15th birthday. I wasn’t even listening to the Long Ranger anymore. The big old radio in the living room had been replaced with a Magnavox TV and I was developing new interests. The Lone Ranger was fading into my memories of YESTERYEAR.
Shortly after my birthday my parents bought their own house, and we moved from the northside of Saint Louis to the house in West Walnut Manor where I live today with a lifetime of memories.
I’ve decided to revisit some of these memories and share them with you. So I’ve created a new blog category titled LOST YESTERYEARS, and periodically, I’ll be using this space to take you on a trek back to some of my fond yesteryears.
NOTE … it’s not easy recapturing the past. Our old living room radio was photographed in the background of about three old family photos. Film was expensive back then, and my mother would never waste a shot on a radio. (Thank God for digital.)
I enlarged one of the photos as best I could and began an online search of vintage radios. I actually found an almost matching radio … the 1940 Philco shown at the top of this post. I actually think our radio was a bit older since it might have been a 1938 wedding present my parents received.
Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the gas heat’s so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Though it’s slushy and melting on paved surfaces, the trees and lawns have accumulated yet another two inches of fluffy white stuff. At times this morning it was coming down so thick and heavy, it looked like the angels were having pillow-fights. You know you’re getting old when things your mother used to tell you when you were a wee wisp of a boy start popping into your memory. Yes, those little grey cells are in time machine mode again. Actually the snow was coming down so thick, Mlle. Renee refuse to go out this morning. She just gave me her “I’ll hold it in.” look. Oh, well, just heard we spring forward to Daylight Saving Time this weekend. Didn’t we just fall back four months ago? Since I really don’t want to miss an hour of sleep again, maybe I’ll throw an overnight Charlie Chan Classic Film party Saturday/Sunday. Wise man say, “If you do not sleep, do you really loose an hour of same?”
I’ve actually collected most of the Chan films made during the 30s and 40s on DVD with three different actors playing the title character … Warner Oland (1931-1938), Sidney Toler (1938-1947), and Roland Winters (1947-1949). They were favorites of mine at the Friday night double features at the old Salisbury Theater. (It still exists, only now as revival church.) Admission was just a dime, and my Aunt Edna took me and my brother every Friday. The Charlie Chan character actually originated in a series of mystery novels written by Earl Derr Biggers in the mid-twenties. I have a couple of the novels that were reprinted a couple of years ago.
Note on the snowscape illustration … as a Hanukkah gift for my great-nephew Jake in 2011 when he was four, I made of craft/play project for him consisting of a stack of different winter snowscapes which I printed out on 8 x 10 heavy-stock photo paper. I added a box of adhesive-backed winter themed foam cutouts. He used them to make Christmas gifts for the family. The photo is a scan of the one he made for me.
It’s now 1:00 pm and while there are still a few flurries outside it seem the heavy snowfall has ended.
Part II of the Weekend Calendar ChallengeAgain trying to compensate for the lack of a real origami challenge this weekend, I have resorted to a bit of parlor trick origami. I have folded a real 5-dollar bill into the image of Abe Lincoln wearing his traditional stove-pipe hat.
OK … as I mentioned at the start of this challenge series, you have to use your imagination when viewing origami and or any form of paper-folding. While Lincoln in a tall hat can’t possible compare with yesterday’s gold foil goldfish, who just happened to be named Goldie, it is quite appropriate since I had planned on going to see LINCOLN, The Movie later this morning. Notice I said had. Thursday, I got the first inkling that I was coming down with a cold.
Yesterday, I had planned on going to see the Met’s Live In HD satellite transmission of Maria Stuarda at my local movie house. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get out of bed until a half hour before the opera was supposed to start. Blame it on a slight fever and head congestion and the fact that I had turned the alarm off instead of hitting the snooze button. Or perhaps Mlle. Renee who decided to share my bed with me when she got cold in the middle of the night turned it off. Anyway I’m quite sure Mary Queen of Scotts lost her head to Lizzie I without me.Thankfully the theater box office was closed when I tried to buy my ticket earlier in the week.
Anyway, Renee and I laid around all day yesterday. I did make Tortilla Bean Soup for my dinner in hope that the spices would help clear my head a bit. And I practiced on mastering my somewhat forgotten money folding skills.
Then I heard that Stan Musial had died at 92. While I have never been a Cardinal, I always admired Stan The Man. Without a doubt he was the last of the real baseball stars. And I had the opportunity to meet him several times, but who in Saint Louis didn’t meet him at one time or other? Once, it was because I was setting up a company meeting that was being held in the restaurant he owned, but usually it was because he was sitting at the table next to mine in a restaurant. As soon as he walked into the room and people recognized him, they would shout out, “Hey, Stan, how are you?” And yes, he always carried his harmonica with him and at the first request from any of his fellow dinners, he would pull it out and serenade them. Like Will Rogers, I’m quite sure he never met a man or woman he didn’t like. They don’t make men like Stan a lot, and he will be missed.
Oh, and I did work the weekend puzzle on my third calendar.Without I doubt, I’m quite sure the powers-that-be prepared this puzzle especially for me this weekend. And wouldn’t you know it, I don’t have a drop of pineapple juice in the house. That means I don’t have a thing to mix a shot of bourbon with and treat my cold. Thankfully, I made sure I got my flu shot in October.
Seventy-five years ago my grandmother, upon learning that her son would be getting married at the end of September, began working on a wedding gift for my mother. I think it took her nine months of crocheting to get her gift completed.
In case you don’t know what an antimacassar’s purpose in life was I’ll explain. Back in the first half of the 20th Century, men used to slick down their hair with various types of oil or pomade. Macassar Oil was one of the popular brands. To protect their overstuffed furniture from becoming oil stained, women began making little doilies to place on the back of the furniture where the man’s head would rest. The set my grandmother made contained smaller pieces for the arms of the chairs or sofas and also a larger scarf for the corner table in the living room. In the 30s every living room had a corner table that was the repository for a lamp and cherished photographs.
My mother would only bring out these crocheted pieces at Christmas and Easter and use them as scarves on every available flat surface in the house. Then on the twelfth day of Christmas she would collect them, wash, starch and iron them and store them away flat in her bottom dresser drawer between tissue paper until the next holiday season arrived.
To maintain the tradition, each Christmas I will get several of the scarves out of the drawer and put them on a couple of flat surfaces. Trust me, I draw the line at starching and ironing them.
My grandmother used a shiny beige colored thread in all the pieces that she made. My mother also had scarves made by her mother and aunts that used a white or multi-colored thread. Here’s one of them …
These were gifts that people made, rather than bought at a store. They are part of a bygone era.
This is a painting that hangs on my wall. It was painted by a co-worker and long-time friend. I tell people that it’s a painting of me. But in truth, it was painted from a snapshot he took of me standing on the curb outside a hotel in down town Saint Louis on an early November afternoon about 40-years ago. I was standing there waiting for him to park his car and come back to help me carry the pile of A/V equipment that was standing next to me into the hotel for a company business meeting. Artistically, he downsized the pile of equipment to a single case.
After we moved the equipment into the hotel and set it up for the meeting that would be held the next morning, we headed uptown for the old St. Louis Arena for a concert by The Moody Blues. Hey, they were big back then! Anyway, we were running late and we got there as the SRO crown packing the arena was booing the opening act off of the stage and stomping their feet demanding the main attraction. We didn’t even hear the opening act perform. It was some pianist/singer named Billy Joel and apparently he didn’t make a very big impression on the half or more stoned crowd. Hey, who knew the piano-man would become famous. Apparently, he did, because he always mentions his debut appearance in all of his return engagements.
So, that is the story behind the painting on the wall. My friend actually painted it from the photograph several years after the incident. And it was several years after that before he gave me the painting. He didn’t fare well as he grew older. He was in ill health and we only got together on an occasional basis. He passed away suddenly about five years ago. Now the painting has become a source for memories of both the good times, and the bad times that followed.
Last Friday, I took a photo of a Nigerian carved wooden bowl and stand for the Weekly Photo Challenge that was themed Foreign. Saturday afternoon at the Met Opera Live in HD showing of Verdi’s Othello, a friend asked me, “What do you keep in your foreign bowl besides the dust I know you seldom clean off the furniture?” It’s rough when friends know you so well, they can comment on your occasionally lax housekeeping habits. So I simple replied, “Treasures, just little treasures.” And I went home and gave the bowl and contents a thorough dusting. I also decided to take a second photo to show you what resides in the foreign bowl.
The contents of the bowl are “little treasures” and they’re also dust collectors. Thankfully, they’re not my little treasures … they’re my mother’s little treasures. They’re sundry items that she collected over a lifetime. Currently they consist of polished gem stones and mixed sea shells that she either found or her children brought her from their various travels.
If I’m really ambitious, I’ll occasionally change the bowl’s contents to one of her other little treasure collections — perhaps her miniature ceramic frogs that are posed on various stones she found around the lake when my father was pretending he was catching fish.
Yes, they are all dust catchers! But they’re all memories of the good times when I was growing up. And she never complained about the time it took her to dust her little treasures.
Then last night’s rain storm not only send baseball players and fans running for cover … it also covered the lawn with a new layer of multi-hued leaves. This morning I found the yard completely covered with leaves. Recalling the days of my youth and the fragrant smell of leaves burning in tall bonfires, I almost considered raking the leaves up. Then I remembered that it was against the law to have leaf burning bonfires. No, I’d have to run the power-mower over the lawn and catch the chomped up leaves in the mower bag to dump on the compost piles. Drat, they really take all of the romance out of maintaining a lawn these days! But since the lawn and leaves where too wet to pick up with the mower, I put the lawn cleanup job off to a sunnier day. Instead I picked one of the bright red leaves off the lawn, and went inside to relive those wonderful memories of yesteryear with a bit of creative photography.
MEMORIES OF FALLEN FALLS