Monday, August 29, 2005

Searching for the Past - Or Something Like It

I've spent about two hours tonight searching for a photo that I know is in this house somewhere, but to no avail.  It's a picture of me with my Honda Elite 250 scooter, standing in front of Niagara Falls in 1985.  A matted 8x10 of the photo was in with my mom's stuff, and I'm sure I found other photos from that trip in recent months.  But not tonight.  My scooters are so old and filthy and ruined now that I'd be ashamed to show 'em to you, unless you could also see one or both of them as they looked in better days.

So I'm not doing the scooter entry tonight.  I hate to renege on a self-imposed obligation like that (although I do it all the time), but I'm sure you'll understand.  When I can illustrate them properly, I will tell you all about  my scooter-related adventures.

What will I give you tonight instead?  It will be midnight any second now, literally, so I'm not up for anything too ambitious.  (Ah!  There it is.  Midnight.) So I'm going to give you the fast and superficial version of an entry I've been preparing for photographically since March.  I can always revisit the subject later, properly.

Ace's Hobby Place, next to the Barber Shop.Thirteen months ago,before most of you had ever seen this journal, I wrote an entry called "Shopping by TARDIS."  (A TARDIS is a kind of time machine, as seen on Doctor Who).  In that entry, I expressed a desire "to shop in January and July of each year from 1955 to 1969."  I went on to say that my local Ace Hardware and independent Yikes! Toys were about as close as you can come to shopping in the 1950s and 1960s today.  Not all Ace locations are anything special, but the one I'm about to show you definitely is.

I can't seem to find a Yikes! picture, but here are a few of the many pictures I've taken at Ace this year to illustrate the point.  In this first one, which only shows a small fraction of the nearly block-long building, you can see that the Ace at 22nd and Kolb has a model train-oriented hobby department, next door to another relic of a past era, the barber shop.  The "Hobby Place" has a largish (S scale?) model train that runs around near the ceiling, and a wide variety of model kits, and some Estes rockets, all of which were more commonly seen circa 1968 than they are now.

Inside the main store, you can buy a couple of washers, replace your faucet, or have the staff mix you up a bucket of paint.  You can buy a cookie jar or an ironing board, a smiling teapot or a hurricane lamp, a garden gnome or a large round garden thermometer with a picture of a deer on it.  The housewares are particularly impressive.  Where else, aside from eBay, or possibly an Anchor-Hocking web site, can you buy Jadite baking dishes in this day and age? (Jadite is that green china in the picture.  It was a big deal, a very long time ago.)

When I was four years old, I had a little red wagon.  I expect that a lot of kids had them.  Chances are good that it was a Radio Flyer.  That brand name used to appear on wagons and wheelbarrows, tricycles and sleds.  And guess what!  It still does.

It's also still possible to buy toy trucks, Tinkertoys and even Lincoln Logs.  The packaging is not the same as it was 40 years ago, but one can't have everything.

What has set off my nostalgia binge tonight?  Well, I said on Thursday night that I want a very large, midcentury modern home in Tucson.  And I do.  In case you don't know what that is, it's a house with 1950s/1960s sensibilities: modern and fun, with clean lines, geometric shapes and an open floor plan.  Frank Sinatra's house in Palm Springs (built 1947) is a good early example.

Late Saturday afternoon, I set out to illustrate what I meant by finding a large 50s modern style house in the actual Tucson foothills. I didn't quite find what I  was looking for, but I took pictures of a number of houses that came close.  To preserve the privacy of the homeowners, and because I didn't ask permission to take the pictures, I'm not going to tell you in what part of the foothills area I did my scouting and photographing.

This nice, large house appeared to have just been built.  I liked the combination of round and square shapes. The adobe color is not very retro, though (not midcentury, anyway), and the nearby traffic light kind of spoils our view.  Still, it's probably just about big enough for John, Tuffy, me and all our stuff.

I like this one.  Pink is one of those desert-compatible colors, but it's also quintessentially 1950s.  And Barbie, but let's not go there right now.

Sometime in the last week or so, I showed you a picture of this dilapidated relic of a sign at 22nd and Wilmot.  Here's a better shot, in which you can see that there were once "31 MERCHANTS TO SERVE YOU" at Oxford Plaza shopping center.  It must have been at the edge of town when it was built, but today it's on the near East Side of Tucson.  Very little of the original building still stands.  Most people would consider that no great loss.  It was never especially pretty or wonderful.  At its worst, just before the owners added the section that faces onto 22nd Street, the building was considered downright ugly.  but it was vintage, a definite relic of the past.  This poor old sign is still here to remind us of a time when people in the new Terra Del Sol neighborhood lived out in the boonies.  They probably really needed 31 merchants to serve them.

Same shopping center, different sign.  Cory's Eastside Cafe has been gone for at least a year, replaced by a Pizza Hut and a Wendy's.  But the sign survives.  The spire on it is a very 1950s motif.

And of course, I've written about Kontiki before.  Short version: it's got great food, the original circa 1960 decor, and too many loud yuppies drinking there on Saturday nights.

this photo is actually turned sideways.John and I will be heading out to Disneyland sometime in the next couple of weeks.  This is another relic of the 1950s, of course, celebrating its 50th birthday.  We may take a few of our nostalgia books with us, and take a "Tiki Road Trip" to see what survives of the 1950s and 1960s in good old Southern California.


1 comment:

ryanagi said...

My bakeware is the ones above the jade green. The classic white. LOL