Archive for February, 2013

Let’s Tango with Harry Horlick and His Orchestra! [1959]

Translated literally as “The Touch,” Tango is a dance that is performed exactly as it is described.

With its roots in Europe and Africa, Argentina today stands as the popular source of Tango. The music and the dance are distinctive, flowing and beautiful.

Harry Horlick wasn’t from Argentina.

Harry Horlick

That didn’t stop this Russian immigrant from putting out at least two Tango albums. The one seen here is a thrift-store find, worn to the point of being grey in the grooves. But the beauty of Tango makes its way through anyway. I digitized a couple of the tracks into a video for your home dancing pleasure 🙂

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Ray Coniff His Orchestra and Chorus – Mack The Knife [1963]

He had the chops to be considered the King Of Easy Listening.

When I think of instrumental versions of popular songs, I always think of Ray Coniff and His Orchestra. As a band leader, he was great. And to get what could easily be called “The Ray Coniff Sound,” he added choral parts over the instruments. Still without words, the vocals added an element to the songs that seemed to smooth everything out.

Listen to his version of Mack The Knife from 1963, digitized from glorious vinyls, and you’ll see what I mean!

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Afghan Awesomeness [1966]

Bernat Afghans VII

A thrift store treasure, beyond measure 🙂

I found this brief catalog – Bernat Afghans’ Contemporary and Traditional Styles, Book no. 132 – in a Long Beach WA shop for a whopping 25-cents. Initially I thought it would be a nice addition to Wall Of Retro – one which could dish out some of the cheesiness that only the mid-1960s could provide. Yet, as I began looking through the publication, I discovered that the pictures were just short of amazing. Staged without looking staged. Telling multiple stories, while giving focus to the subject of the catalog. The photographer employed a delicate depth of field in the work, and a film used duplicated the subject’s colors at an amazing level.

In short, I was duped by 25-cents worth of awesomeness.

While I was taken in by the quality of the photography, the stunning Mrs. BelRedRoad was smitten with the afghans themselves. “That’s beautiful work,” she said of the first one she saw, “and expensive.”

Bernat Afghans VIII

The stories depicted in these pictures are ones of relaxation, wonder, longing, and tranquility. In a sense, a warm afghan should be providing at least a couple of those – even ones that don’t cost big bucks. Check out these pictures; aside from being a warm time capsule of the Sixties, they also embody the feelings and softness in life which many of us want.

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I always make sure my chauffeur has an afghan handy…

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Bernat Afghans I

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Seattle Parks Video – “Parks, Pleasant Occasions, and Happiness” [1977]

It’s not every day when I can look back on the Seattle I knew as a 13-year old boy.

I just happened across this video today, which is actually a 17-minute short depicting Seattle and its parks network in 1977. There are no spoken words, only an upbeat musical soundtrack. The cinematography is simple and pleasant, void of tricks or trendy angles that frequented many of the films from the period.

The storyline is also simple and pleasant.

After the sun rises over the landscape of Seattle, a quiet old man sits down on a park bench at the beginning of the movie. He shuffles his way through all the parks in the city. Street scenes, locations, and buildings familiar to Seattleites appear often – including the legendary Space Needle. Greenlake, in the north end of the city, is shown as a bustling recreational area with sunbathers, bicyclists, and runners (it’s still that way today). Freeway Park – which now stretches above and across the ribbon of Interstate 5 that runs through downtown Seattle – is shown in Phase One on the east side of the freeway only. Included are segments filmed along Alki Beach and Lincoln Park in West Seattle. There also appears to be some footage taken at Colman Playground, situated just south of Interstate 90 near its western terminus. The final pan-out takes viewers over Seattle’s skyline at sundown during the end of the film.

It’s a cute movie that is accompanied by a flute, a clarinet, and pianist Norman Durkee.

After doing some research on Durkee, I discovered that he was also responsible for the piano accompaniment on Bachmann-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business;” The band was recording their album in a Seattle studio when Durkee walked through one night (story HERE); without knowing the band (and without them knowing he was a musician), Durkee recommended that they lay down a honky-tonk piano track for TCB. They asked him to do the part, which he wrote out quickly on a pizza box and recorded in one take.

The most noteworthy things to me in the video are the skyline shots. The city looks exactly as I remember it from my youth – a bold mix of trees, concrete, and really huge cars. If I close my eyes, I can smell a 1977 Seattle summer – Warm air, dust, hot asphalt, and the exhaust from a 1973 Chevy Monte Carlo in traffic. While these elements may not seem alluring, combined they contribute to how I remember Seattle as a younger man and bring back a time for me which was simpler. This movie does great job of sharing my Seattle of the past.

Here’s an excerpt of the longer video shown above:

The Friendly Skies [1968]

United Airlines Stewardesses [1968]

Courtesy San Diego Air & Space Museum

There was a time when people traveled in something other than sweats and slip-ons.

And security was taken care of at the gate, no shoe removal required.  Flight attendants were called stewardesses, which at the time made sense because the term Steward was given to service personnel who took care of the traveler.  Many facets of air travel have changed; while I would never consider taking a “short hop” flight to places like Spokane or Portland from Seattle, because it would take me longer to get through security than it would to fly there.  While to the younger segments of our society this is standard, many of us remember when air travel was kinder on the soul.

Bad Apples who wanted to do us harm changed all that.

At Portland International Airport 05/1973

The fact remains that flying was once glamorous and fun, especially during the 1960s glory days.  It was the closest thing to space most of us would ever see.  Rarely was a motto so accurate: The Friendly Skies.  I still love flying, just not at the same levels as I did at 14.  I’m still amazed that a huge metal tube can hurl through thin air without falling.  Goofy me: I still love looking out the window at the passing Earth below.

While the golden age of air travel may be long past, it lives on with vibrance in an unexpected place: Pinterest.  In the past year I have found more airline, airliner, and flight crew photos on Pinterest than anywhere else.  It’s clear that people have a love for the style and feeling of the age, which embodied a sense of hope for air travel’s future that was seemingly quelled when hijackers started ruining the trips.

So today, thanks to the Internet, we can continue flying The Friendly Skies. Shoe removal not required.

Norwegian Summer Fashion! [1953]

Jet Setter is On The Job

Jet Setter is On The Job

In the northlands of Europe, the Summer is long and bright.  Many of us outside of the Old Country (I’m Scandinavian by ancestry) don’t think of the warm Summer days that Norway and Sweden possess; most of the time I think of the frigid cold and dark days of Winter – long and chill enough to create a Castle Of Ice which lasts long enough to be a hotel.

So when I caught these1953 fashion photos in Norwegian Government Archives, I was a bit surprised.

The purpose of these photos is unclear; they could have been for an ad campaign, since many of them use flash lighting in outside settings.  But the angles are not as professional as I would expect for ad graphics.  It is a mystery.  What is clear from the pictures, however, is that the model was having a lot of fun.  She plays with the camera, hams it up with her dog, and even makes watering the garden look like a glamorous endeavor.  Her expressions are priceless, and strikingly similar to those of the modern entertainer Katy Perry.

Moter Sommeren!

Moter, sommeren 1953

Moter, sommeren 1953

Moter, sommeren 1953

Moter, sommeren 1953

Moter, sommeren 1953

Moter, sommeren 1953

Moter, sommeren 1953

Quilting Overload [1973]

Quilting Overload 1973

Exhausted from Quilting

This is truly a time capsule of awesomeness.

Sunset Books put out “Quilting & Patchwork” in 1973, and these are the color pictures from that publication.  I have to tread lightly when it comes to quilting, because my Mom, my oldest sister, and the stunning Mrs. BelRedRoad all love it.  But after viewing these photos yesterday, even my Mom called the photo above “dreadful.”  So I figured I could poke a little bit of fun in any case.

Quilting Overload Tie 1973

Donna and Stan heading out for a night at the Rec Center

Quilting Overload Tennis 1973

Ad copy might read “You’ll 15-Love this tastefully quilted racquet cover!”

Quilting Overload Swirl 1973

Is it chocolate? A bird? Dirt? Top of a coffee drink?

Quilting Overload Skirt 1973

This could be my friend’s Mom at his 9th birthday.

Quilting Overload Mushrooms 1973

Heh-heh…HuhHuhHuhHuh…Heh-heh…Shrooms…

Quilting Overload Caftan 1973

Quilted Caftan!

After writing about Caftans recently, finding this picture was like a total win.

Quilting Overload Caftan 2 1973

Perfect for working at the Co-Op.

Quilting Overload Beach Throw 1973

Honestly, this could be 2013 instead of 1973.

Quilting Overload Apron 1973

Whatever she’s cooking has no meat. And a lot of cold lima beans.

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