Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Old Fashioned Life

Recently, I told my heart's desire I was toying with the idea of tap dance classes while sharing lemon meringue pie, $2.95, and coffee, $1.40, at the River Edge Diner in New Jersey. Yes, I'm getting a little carried away watching those Busby Berkeley films from the library. His reply, "Isn't that a little old fashioned?" You could say that a lot about my life. Take a look...

I love classic diners, and since I live in New Jersey, I'm lucky enough to have plenty of them. Note the vintage cocktails on the placemat. The lemon meringue pie - invented by Philadelphian Elizabeth Coane Goodfellow, a pastry chef, businesswoman, and cooking school founder, in 1806, according to HistoryCooks.

While reading about record demand for the new Verizon iPhone, I found my "new" record player far more exciting, a hand-me down from my parents. Actually, this used to be mine. Isn't it funny how things we no longer wanted return into our lives?

My life: completely functioning and thriving without the need for "apps" (contrary to what those salespeople try to convince you of otherwise with their monthly plans).

Everything old is new again: men's hats are coming back in style, according to the New York Times, which notes there are just 10 independent major manufactures of hats operating in the United States, compared to 180 in 1940.

Some of my vintage hats, $6 each, from C.A.T.S. Resale Shop, in Westwood, New Jersey.

Reproductions of vintage clothing are rising in popularity as well, The Times reported, in part thanks to Mad Men's success. Perhaps because the economic times have been so dreary, we're looking to add a dose of glamour into our lives. I also think we've gotten a bit too casual in our daily dress, as I regularly spot people wearing pajama style pants in public.

I was admiring this 1920s vanity stand ($225) at an antique shop in Westwood, New Jersey. There's something so elegant about having a beautiful hairbrush and comb set, perfume and nice lipstick.

When Steve and I went to see True Grit at a local moviehouse in Teaneck, New Jersey (with budget friendly prices: $5.75 weekends, a dollar less weekdays), I love they had this organist "warming up" the crowd on a Saturday night. It reminded me of being in a scene in the Jim Carrey film "The Majestic" when going out for a night at the movies was a big social event.

Other old fashioned things I like: watching the 6:30 nightly news, reading a newspaper, barbershops (if I were a man, I'd patronize them), bow ties (love them on a man), Coca-Cola in bottles, black and white films and photography, vintage gloves, older phones, and five and dime stores (overheard at one recently, one little boy declaring to another he's always wanted a cow bell).

Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough, who has penned books on John Adams, Harry S. Truman, the Jonestown Flood and 1776, said from a little garden shed he's dubbed "World Headquarters" he still writes all his books on a typewriter he bought secondhand in 1965 in New York. I love that! I typed my college papers while studying political science on one. Who says you have to progress with the rest of the world (and what defines "progress"?) In our always upgrading to the 'next best thing' world, I take comfort in many things nostalgic and old fashioned.


  1. I love vintage-style clothing, too. I both love and hate Mad Men's success (though I love the show!) because I feel like everybody's jumping on the vintage clothing train. :-)

    I do agree that people should make more of an effort to look put-together when they leave the house. Even when I'm just wearing nice jeans and a nice top with some accessories, people think I'm dressed up.

  2. It's kind of how I feel with everybody being a Betty White fan. I am a proud Golden Girls fan before it was "cool" to like her (although I love history-loving, witty Bea Arthur's Dorothy the most).

    I couldn't help smile when David Lebovitz recalled in "The Sweet Life in Paris" how he changed into a nice dress shirt and pants from sweats to take out the garbage in case he ran into anyone. While I don't think we should go that far, we do need a dose of glamour. I love how dressed up everyone is in Mad Men. Although I hate all that smoking!

  3. Oh! I love five and dime stores, vintage women's gloves and the look of the 40s & 50s, although it's nearly impossible to find such clothing in fat women's sizes. (dramatic sigh) I certainly don't want to return to the days of Jim Crow laws and not being able to vote, but I do love a sense of gratitude for the quiet things in life and living without constantly being attached to a glowing rectangle.

  4. I'm not sure if the vintage reproduction companies do larger sizes. In the Times article I zoned out after "the majority are moderately priced with dresses in the $150 to $300 range." This reminds me of those splurge/steal pieces when the "steal" is quite costly too. So I rely on thrift store finds or hand-me-downs. At least the hats fit regardless of my fluctuating wasteline (see: lemon meringue pie)!

    There was a CBS Sunday Morning piece about people who love and romanticize the 50s, but someone pointed out that if you were a minority, perhaps it wasn't so great. I definitely appreciate the gains that have been made in various social justice movements (although am saddened by the apathy of women in particular on voting and participation). But I do long for simpler times, and miss when everyone wasn't glued to a cell phone.

  5. I must confess that in the 26 years that I have lived in River Edge, I have been to the River Edge Diner only twice. But, I have driven by it over a thousand times already. It's a shame considering that the Greeks who own it also own the Suburban Diner on Rt. 17, and they are friends. Our children went to school together.

  6. I hadn't been to this diner in ages myself, and have the habit of going to the same local favorites. Worth a trip.