Archive for April, 2012

The Return to Romantic Lace [1978]

While unpacking a box in the garage, I discovered a section’s worth of classified ads from a 1978 issue of The Seattle Times.  Flipping through it got me two things: First, an artsy ad from the late-great Frederick & Nelson department store, and this article about “Romantic Lace.”  When the stunning Mrs. BelRedRoad saw it next to the scanner yesterday, she was shocked.  “Oh my…That’s the dress I wore to my Middle School dance in 1978.”  Not surprised.

And she probably looked darned cute in it too.

The late 1970s seemed to be a time of organic color and material.  America was coming off a wave of “going natural” and entering an era of tech, brighter colors, and disco.  1978 was stuck in the middle, with fabric chosen for its earthy tones but with cuts that were more dramatic, slimming, or fitted.  Gone were the hippie sack dresses, but the material used to make them was still around.  Lace around the edges of this dress is a good example of tapping the past to create style for the coming year.

In high school many of my female classmates dressed this way, often teetering on a pair of Candies.

The article below talks about the history of lace and how it tied into the styles of 1978.  Fun reading.  If you click on the picture it will expand larger for easier reading.  Enjoy!


Voss Deluxe Typewriter [1959}

Black & White is really the only color for a picture like this!

Product picture of Voss Model S-24, courtesy of the Calouste Gulbenkian Art Library in Portugal. The smooth lines, the smell of the dusty ribbon, and the tap-tap-tap-ZIPPPP! of the action is stuck in my head from using typewriters through 1990. While I never used something as stylish as this thing back in the day, my Mom’s Underwood was quite a performer.

More about the European Voss brand here.

Vintage Cameras

Falcon Minette

Picked up some vintage cameras last weekend at a photography swap meet in Kent WA.  Well, actually I picked up two and BelRedRoad Jr. got the other pair!  He’s 10-years old and part of a generation that was “born digital” but now discovering analog everything – from film cameras and muscle cars to record players and metal Tonka trucks. While he does carry a 4MP digital camera when he goes on field trips etc, he knows how much film I shoot and that analog cameras offer a lot of variety and visual candy.  And on Saturday there was plenty of candy to be had.  Aside from cameras, we also picked up about 20 rolls of film, lenses cases, and a couple issues of 1930s photography magazines.  Lots of great stuff came home in my backpack.

Check out what we found on our rounds (more about the awesome wood table at the bottom of this post):

The Falcon Minette above is tiny!  I originally bought the thing because it was cute and seemed like it might make a good display piece; then I discovered it was still usable.  The Minette is made of Bakelite and is just big enough to fit a roll of 127 film – a smaller version of medium-format film which is still available in color and black & white at good quantities.  The lens has a 50mm length.  There are no adjustable aperture settings, and it has one shutter speed: Slow.  This one is very clean inside, almost like it has never been used.  Bakelite has a ‘feel’ like nothing else, like plastic and glass mixed together.  The original Falcon Miniature was manufactured starting in 1939; this one is probably from the 1940s.  Price for this little piece of plastic history: One Dollar!

I’m going to run some black & white film through it to see what will happen 🙂

Petri 7S Rangefinder

Petri 7S Rangefinder

The Petri 7S is a Japanese 35mm rangefinder camera made by Kuribayashi in 1963.  It has a 45mm lens rated at f1.8;  that last number indicates that the lens is very sensitive to light, compared to its f2.8 sister that was also available at the time.  The clear tiles around the lens cover the camera’s light meter; it does not require batteries. Focusing is done with a dial on the side of the lens; when the adjustment is done, a small ghost image appears in the viewfinder.  Line up the image with the subject matter, and the camera is in focus.  Pretty slick.  Leica still makes cameras with digital image sensors that focus in the same way.

Price for the Petri?  Five bucks.  The threads on the lens end are bent, so it no longer can take screw-on filters.  But other than that it’s completely functional!

Reflekta II Twin Lens Reflex Camera

Reflekta II Twin Lens Reflex

The Reflekta II was made in East Germany between 1950 and 1954.  It is a medium-format camera, which uses readily-available 120 film.  Lens is a 75mm focal length.  The Twin Lens Reflex design allows the viewer to look down into the camera’s viewer on the top, and through the top lens.  The lower lens is the one that actually takes the picture.  While the outside condition shows wear, the inside is very clean.  Fully functional.  Fifteen dollars brought it home!

Spartus Folding Camera

Spartus No. 4 Folding Camera

The final surprise of our day at the swap meet was this “No. 4” folding camera made in 1949 by Spartus – which also made the Falcon Minette at the beginning of this post. The No. 4 takes 120 medium-format film, and takes eight shots per roll.  The camera looks more complicated than it actually is; user peers down into the viewer above and to the right of the lens in this picture.  There are only three aperture settings, and the camera has a “fixed focus” that is not adjustable (I told Jr. to shoot subjects from six feet away or more).  There is one shutter speed setting – about 1/100 of a second – but supposedly also has a timer setting.  On Saturday we shot a roll of 100-speed black & white, which will get developed this week.

Price: Fifteen dollars.

What I found most interesting was that the older TLRs and folding cameras were the cameras catching my son’s eye.  While I was looking for 1960s and 1970s rangefinder and SLR cameras and lenses, he was going totally old school.  I don’t mind, and I’ve already shown him how to shoot each one.  He’s having a blast!

About the Table – This magnificent table is smack dab in the middle of Cafe Cesura, a coffee shop in downtown Bellevue WA.  It appears to be one giant piece of wood, heavy and smooth.  This is where I sit to enjoy my Americano and Bacon muffin (Jr. has a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola with real sugar).  Cafe Cesura also has salads and seasonal sandwiches.

So very tasty!

Mid-Century Style [1967]

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Sunset Books: Ideas for Planning Your New Home

From the Intro:

The house on the cover is a provocative example of what can be done with the use of sky-lights. Glass walls open the house to the out-of-doors and the unusual sky-light system opens the roof over every room. Architect: Jacob Robbins

Triumph Spitfire [1965]

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Car and Driver, June 1965

Check out this magazine back-cover awesomeness.

This 1965 issue of Car and Driver was in my parents’ attic, part of a magazine stash I had left behind in the 1980s.  If I remember correctly, I had purchased this issue at a thrift store for 25 cents.  Sadly this back cover didn’t fare well, and it’s covered with wear lines.

Doesn’t detract from the Spitfire cool factor though.

The car was low slung and swift.  While not overpowered, it had enough to excite.  The swoopy body work had the classic lines of a British roadster.  Nothing like a drive in one of these on a sunny day.  And the name?  Pulled straight from a World War II fighter plane that is heralded as the Savior Of Britain: the Supermarine Spitfire.

Triumph made the Spitfire for 18 years.  I still see them around, but not in the same numbers as even twenty years ago.  Nice to see them when I do however!

Triumph Spitfire 4 MkII

Courtesy of Sicnag (Creative Commons)

Hi-Fi Set for The Atomic Age

Now that’s a music system!

This is what happens when entertainment is mixed with Cold War technology.  The I.T. Guy in me loves this picture for the technology it represents.  The Music Guy in me loves that she’s surrounded by 12″ LP records.  Is that an Oscilloscope in the rack?  I also see a turntable, two reel-to-reels, a massive speaker, a rotary phone dial (?), and Bakelite knobs a-plenty.  Rivets and screws are everywhere; the whole set is built to withstand Alien Hordes, Atomically-mutated Insects, or Godless Commies.  The retro tech and style queues here are almost too numerous to mention!

The rustic blond wood paneling behind tube-style electronics is classic early 1950s. The wagon above the cabinets is a nice touch.

We Heart Vintage will appreciate the snappy dress of our pretty music fan!

Vintage Purple Tonka-mino

Twenty-five cents at the local church Rummage Sale! It’s BelRedRoad Jr. Approved 🙂

Green Bean Supreme [1970]

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After seeing this in the Pillsbury Entertainment Idea Handbook, I decided to add it to the blog post I was writing about all the pictures. But the more I looked at the photo above, the more I wanted to eat it. Something about it looked good.  Helps that I love green beans, and also that the stunning Mrs. BelRedRoad loves to cook.  She decided to make them for Easter 2012.

First thing she noticed was that mushrooms weren’t part of the recipe.

The ingredients were pretty simple: green beans, celery, and almonds.  The two latter items are sauteed before they’re mixed with the beans.  While our results looked different from the 1970 picture, they tasted great!

From: Party Like It’s 1970

Party Like It’s 1970

Nothing says “Living It Up Seventy-Style” like earthy tones, sideburns, wine made from things other than grapes, and wood paneling under harsh florescent kitchen lights.

For those of us who grew up in the 1970s, the sight of people gathered around dark wood and formica is burned into our brains.  These were our parents, frolicking on any weekend evening in their native habitat: the kitchen and the living room.  Of course, we kids were sequestered to our rooms or to the basement to watch Brady Bunch while they talked about politics upstairs with friends.  The low rumble of laughing in another part of the house – tied to the smell of percolated coffee – is still fresh in my head.

Pillsbury published the Entertainment Idea Handbook in 1970, which outlined tips on everything from conducting a wine tasting to decor.  It’s actually quite handy, with great recipes and party suggestions.  Its color pictures are also very unforgettable.  They highlight a social life well placed between the freestyle Sixties and the Malaise Seventies, where people in their twenties savor the spoils of their world in naive happiness and bold prints.

For this post I have created a fictitious 1970 party, by using the pictures from the Pillsbury guide.  Enjoy!

Glen and Linda Arrive

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The young couple brought their own rack.  The rest of the wine is out in the trunk of the Road Runner.  Glen has a taste for Tiger Beer, which he consumed in sizable quantities while stationed in Saigon.  But stateside he’s had to change the pace and switch to the grape – wife’s orders.  He still resists, steering towards hard liq instead.

Linda is 64 now, and still looks like Raquel Welch.  But then, so does Raquel Welch.

Meat Tree

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Appetizers await; this one’s a masterpiece of meat, fruit, and olives – skewered through a head of cabbage.  Think of it as an artist’s rendition of a  Soviet Satellite done in food.  If anything, it tasted better than this:

It’s Arti-Choking Me!

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An enthusiastic partier dips an artichoke leaf in french dressing.  Second custard cup from the right looks like it’s filled with mayonnaise.  Yeah, there’s a combo…artichoke and mayo.  Very possible it’s mayo’s tangy cousin Miracle Whip.  I’d be more inclined to christen that artichoke leaf with spray cheese before ladling it through that goo.

Let’s be honest: The artichoke looks like an miniature alien will be popping out of the top at any moment.

Social Hour `70

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They’re the Young Generation, and they’ve got something to say…to each other!

These are the men and women who tamed the Seventies,  Fresh and excited about the future, they celebrate their upcoming triumphs in laughter on a Friday night – lubricated by communal charm, posturing, and tumblers filled with alcohol.  In five years time, the good laughs would be replaced by PTA meetings on Thursdays and episodes of Six-Million Dollar Man on Fridays. No doubt that at least one person in this crowd owned a yellow Porsche 914.

I’m talking to you, Blue Velvet Suit Coat Guy…

Speaking Their Minds

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Lita’s black and white print dress catches the eye of Stan, who has been working with her husband at the plant now for three years.

Brad compliments Lynn on her burgundy sash and explains in animated detail how beautiful it is against her white dress.  He’s hoping for that date she promised in college.  She’s hoping he notices her wedding ring.

Shelley and Maya are content to sit and discuss General Hospital over Cabernet.

Glen shares a Highball and a little floor time with his boss, Mr. Pennington.

“Yes, Mr. Pennington – that pipe tobacco smells great.  ”

“No Mr. Pennington – I actually think that bald is beautiful.”

“Well Mr. Pennington – I agree that me working next Saturday is good for the company’s bottom line; I sure hope you have fun golfing then.”

King of The Cheese Tray

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Under the watchful wrought-iron sentry of chained gothic candle art, guests devour appetizers.  Cliff has no resistance whatsoever, to the piles of crackers and bowls laden with liquidy cheese product that adorn the living room table.  And why should he have any?  Since the bypass last year, these tasty snacks no longer giving him heartburn!

Marge knows to stay out of his way when it comes to cheese, preferring to nibble a single cracker by his side while nursing the Cosmopolitan in her left hand.  Denise and Laura agree that the crackers are wonderful, and each grab a symbolic single cracker in order to pretend eating.  They’re saving space for the Fondue.


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In the kitchen, all the elements of party success are assembled on the counters, under the dark wood cabinets and curtains patterned after dish towels.  Linda’s wine rack is filled and at the ready.  Candles are lit, blending the aromas of vanilla, berries, and a random Kool menthol to create an ambiance of smoky comfort. Laura has set up a wine tasting center – complete with:


Booze Candles!!

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What day in 1970 would be complete without dripping multi-colored stalagmites of wax?  Ten bucks says the bottle on the left once held fermented loganberries.


Wicker Anything!!

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Is the vine plastic?  Only the host knows, because it’s placed high above an avocado-green rotary wall phone in the kitchen.


Savoring Life’s Fermented Fruit

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Ron – in all his argyle finery – tries a newfangled “California Wine” that recently arrived on the market. He smells something that raises alarm, which brings a concerned scowl to his face.  Linda was almost successful in convincing Glen to have a taste; but after spending a half hour placating Mr. Pennington, her husband instead chose to conquer another Highball and the giant cheese globe with Cliff.

Time For Fondue!

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Gently placing the food around the table, Laura prepares for her guests’ enjoyment by providing tomatoes, mushrooms, and all other sorts of rounded food – ready for dipping in scalding goo.  The print in her dress is from the Summer Of Love Collection at J.C. Penney.


Space-Age Hot Tub for Meat

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Main Course

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Real parties have bowls of raw meat, dinner lava, and endless glasses of brandy.  So says Pillsbury.


Bring on the Veggies!

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Since Green Beans Supreme were cooked in 1970, it’s very likely that butter and salt were involved.  Lots. of butter and salt.  At least they didn’t add this to Jell-O.

Minus the mushrooms, we are making this for a family gathering soon.

Melted Chocolate Makes Everything Fonduier

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Hope they waited until the fruit and marshmallows were gone before dipping the raw meat in there.


Dessert Contemplation

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Scowling Ron considers the shape of Laura’s dessert offering, staring sternly for several awkward minutes.  Linda, Glen and Lynn shroud their mental health concerns in silence – with good-natured smiles.  They all know about Ron’s problem…

The Man says, “You’re done in this town.”

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After he eats this artfully-crafted orange, Lindall “Wes” Galvin will decide your future from behind an important-looking dark wood desk – heavier than a VW Beetle and covered with rotary telephones and a gold pens.  The presence of Rosé near his plate may be your only chance at keeping a job.

Designer Dessert

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Awesome swirly rough-crafted coffee mug – likely filled with Folgers – is presented along with a slice of coconut coffee cake.

After 2750 calories of fondue, 1000 calories of wine, and a 850 calories of cheese off the waxy wheel, each 1970 party goer is nearly full after this tasty dessert – and ready to sit back with a Marlboro.  It has been a great gathering, a place to recharge and catch up.  Forty years from this night, they will be immortalized in a computerized media form no one had ever thought of!

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