Sunday, September 4, 2011

Retro Obsessions: Come on Get Happy

A window display at the Family Jewels vintage clothing shop in New York City. Of course I love the laundry hang drying in the display, and I also adore the pretty cotton tablecloth, cheerful yellow slip, the smart green gloves, the apron and those outfits on the mannequins. When I look at films, shows and even photographs of my parents during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the clothes and home furnishing are fabulous. Flipping through childhood albums, I coveted everything from a gorgeous floor length plaid skirt my mom had in a Christmas photo (I excitedly found a similar one thrifting at Housing Works) to the bedspread my parents had in a photo I was lying on as a baby in the mid-seventies.

I've been on a journey this year discovering (and sometime re-discovering) great American films, shows, music and styles of various decades. I am definitely drawn to things of years gone by. Perhaps it's partly because the news just always seems so dire now and much of our entertainment so cynical. I definitely need a little feel-good escapism.

I was at an ice cream social at work and we were all giddily eating our ice cream and declaring we felt like little kids, and my friend Jennifer pondered, "How come we so often associate happiness with our childhood?"

What do you think? Maybe because like a child delights in a balloon, little things seemed to make us so happy. Here are some of my balloons so to speak putting a smile on my face.

Remembering retro cartoons, like The Jetsons, which aired 1962–63 and again from 1985–87. It was Hanna-Barbera's Space Age counterpart to The Flintstones. I loved both shows. Didn't The Jetsons make the future look fun? All-time favorite cartoon as a kid: The Smurfs. Do you have a favorite you'd like to share?

Retro setting: sitting at the counter at an old fashioned ice cream parlor - this one Conrad's Ice Cream Parlor in Westwood, New Jersey, where I had a chocolate milk shake. Some history from

"Milk shake...When the term first appeared in print in 1885, milk shakes may have contained whiskey of some kind, but by the turn of the century they were considered wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups. In different parts of the country they went by different names...A "malted" is made with malted milk powder-invented in 1887 by William Horlick of Racine, Wisconsin, and made from dried milk, malted barley, and wheat flour-promoted at first as a drink for invalids and children. By the 1930s a malt shop was a soda fountain not attached to a pharmacy." - The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink.

It's funny what we remember about childhood. I can still recall eating grilled cheese sandwiches at this place as a kid (they sadly recently discontinued lunch and are now treats-only). I also remember making chocolate milk shakes in my family's kitchen in an olive green blender. In fact, I love older blenders - maybe that's why.

I recently watched Elvis Presley's King Creole set in New Orleans and loved the five and dime with a ice cream/sandwich counter. I wish those were everywhere now!

Retro show: The Partridge Family, which I just recently discovered. I found season one while thrifting for just $4, and fell in love with it immediately and picked up the CD for $10 at Music Merchant, my go-to main street music shop in Westwood, New Jersey.

What's not to be smitten with? Shirley Jonses' orange pantsuit with the white collar (which I love that she wore over and over); the yellow shag carpeting, green appliances and wood paneled cupboards; Keith's pink and white print shirt and shaggy hair; the comedic genius of young Danny Bonaduce! Those timely Power of Women vs. Morality Watchdog confrontations where some members of the latter were won over by "I Think I Love You."

Retro show and films: The Muppets. This was my sister's groovy Muppet Show lunchbox. I had a pink Smurfette lunchbox with a yellow thermos. I definitely want to check out the Jim Henson exhibit in New York (learn more from The New York Times.)

I love the frugality of brown bagging lunch for work, but peanut butter and jelly (a great lunch at any age) seems just that more festive in a lunch box. Did you have favorite cherished lunch box?

My soul always has a big smile hearing Kermit sing "The Rainbow Connection." Check out a beautiful version here by the Carpenters too which I read about in a book out about Karen Carpenter's life, Little Girl Blue.

Probably because I'm going through a bit of a seventies phase, I'm also loving blue eye shadow, colorful wallpaper, and bright prints for clothing.

We all need some balloons lighting up our daily lives. Feel free to share yours.


  1. I loved "The Partridge Family". We used to watch it after school in the mid 70's. I never fell in love with David Cassidy, however I had a huge crush on his brother Shaun. My friend and I used to kiss the tether ball pole at recess and pretend it was him. I wrote him a letter and never heard back, which broke my heart. ;-) And my favorite lunch box was from The Brady Bunch.

  2. Shaun Cassidy was dreamy! David Cassidy was playing in New Jersey with Davy Jones, but the cheapest seats were $60!

    That Brady Bunch lunch box sounds simply groovy.