Saturday, November 20, 2010

Edgar A. Guest Poem Clipping, "Wishes"

My Grandma Dorothy passed away in 2007 and ever since then I have been finding little things of her's around my house...well I guess it is more appropriate to say that I have been finding little things of her's in her house.  In her top desk drawer I found this little newspaper clipping, next to a letter from her dad (my great-grandpa) from 1957 and a copy of his death certificate from 1958.  The little clipping is of a poem written by Edward A. Guest entitled, "Wishes".  I think it was from a Los Angeles area paper in the 1950s but I can't be sure.  The backside of the clipping just has an address for Rivara Supply Company located at 120 N. 9th Street near McKinley School.  I tried to google map the address and I found a corresponding address in San Pedro, California near the port of Los Angeles and then other addresses that matched in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Manhattan Beach...but none are located near a McKinley School.  So I am pretty much at square one as to where this little poem was originally published.  However, it doesn't matter much.  I just like the fact that I have something of her's that she thought was profound enough or touched her enough that she took the time to cut it out.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Max in the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Maxwell J. Peanut & Robbie Monster looking fierce for the camera...

Really, what more can I say about these two magnificent beasts than that they are, well...magnificent.

Maxwell J. Peanut Naps

Has there ever been a cat more magnificent than this slumbering beast known as Maxwell J. Peanut?  He really belongs in a cartoon world and not reality.  I am actually convinced he is a figment of my imagination.  

Maxwell J. Peanut takes a snooze...

Vintage Eyeglass Holster

If you looked up the word "badass" in the dictionary, or maybe googled the phrase "frickin' awesome" then this is what you should find...

Eyeglass Holster

There are few things in life that I like more than cat eye glasses and the greatest compliment one can have to a pair of rockin' cat eye glasses is a little rhinestoned label pin that looks like a miniature pair of cat eye glasses for you to insert said awesome cat eye glasses in.  Like I said, badass...

Oh yeah, and I just happen to have a frickin' awesome pair of vintage cat eyed/horn rimmed glasses that belonged to my great-grandma back in the 1950s and 1960s.  Sadly, I had lasik eye surgery to correct my once awful vision and thus have no use for glasses...but someday when the peepers go these are definitely going to be my old lady glasses.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Mitt a.k.a. The Snoog

This weekend was a milestone for first garage sale.  And to assist me in my first garage sale were reinforcements in the form of the my aunt Jan, cousin Matt and of course...The Mitt!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Military Dog Tags

This Veterans Day I thought I would share with you a collection that is very dear to me.  Since I was a young girl I have collected military dog tags...though not intentionally.  I mean to say that I don't search them out on Ebay or put classified ads in the paper soliciting them.  But when I come across them in I always pick them up because these little scraps of metal represent something profoundly emotional.  They represent the life of a soldier and if only they could talk and tell us where they have been and what they have seen and who the man was who wore them.

I found my first dog tag when I was twelve.  I was perusing the displays at an antique store and was intrigued by the silver necklace in the jewelry case.

The US Army dog tags of Roger E. Constant

The dog tags of Tommy J. Decker

I found my next dog tag as a thirteen year old in an antique shop in Bisbee, Arizona.  I was on a road trip with my parents and we were on our way back to California from the Copper Canyon in Mexico and stopped off in Tombstone, Arizona for my to get my fix of a Sasparilla at the Longhorn Saloon.  We made a quick stop off at a junk shop in nearby Bisbee and I found this dog tag in a case right by the cash register.  My dad bought it for me for $19.

Years later I did some research and I was able to find an army record for a Tommy J. Decker that was born in Oklahoma and enlisted in World War II...this is

Name:Tommy J Decker
Birth Year:1926
Race:White, Citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country:Oklahoma
State of Residence:Alabama
County or City:Mobile
Enlistment Date:20 Feb 1945
Enlistment State:Alabama
Enlistment City:Fort McClellan
Branch:No branch assignment
Branch Code:No branch assignment
Grade Code:Private
Term of Enlistment:Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law

I am not certain if this is the same soldier but this dog tag is definitely a World War II era one and I have not been able to find any other Tommy J. Deckers with World War II service records.

The dog tags of Wilmar O. Anderson

The dog tags of Robert I. Goff

The dog tags of Eugene J. Loots

I found the battered dog tag of William H. Taylor as a seventeen year old, walking around the Pomona Fairplex at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show.  It was at the bottom of a bin of military antiques that I was digging through and I saw the light from the flourescent lights overhead reflect off it surface.  I reached for the source of the light and clasped the cold little strip of metal and ran my finger across the lettering.  I held it up close to my face to get a better look at it and read the name on the tag..." William H. Taylor."
The dog tags of William H. Taylor

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Saga of Buddy Lee in the Big Bad Woods

In preparation for my big yard sale I am going through every cabinet and looking under every rug for stuff to sell or throw away or burn (hey, my house is old and it is cold and we are in a recession...I'm also looking for things to turn into soup.)  Anyway, in a laundry basket (don't ask me why) in the corner of my room I found this stack of "Lost Cat" flyers I had made the summer before last in an effort to find my little lost kitty Buddy Lee.  

The infamous "Lost Cat" flyer that papered the community of Greeley Hill.

It brought back all of the memories that simultaneously tragic, comical and endless summer looking for him and so I thought I would share the story...

In the summer of 2009 my family opened a bed & breakfast outside of Yosemite National Park.  I moved up there (six hours from where I live the rest of the year) and brought my cat with me.  On the first day we were there my 9-year-old Los Angeles living indoor only kitty, confused by the car ride and the commotion of the people of the bed and breakfast got out.  We are not sure how it happened but we believe that the screen door did not get tightly shut and out Buddy went in the night.  So my 3 lb pampered city kitty disappeared into the big bad unknown of Yosemite.

I was frantic.  I combed the woods, calling his name.  Actually he is a she...its complicated.  Nine years earlier my dad and I found him in an intersection seconds after he had been run over by a car.  He was about a month old, fit in the palm of my hand and had a tire mark and fur missing where the car had run over him.  But, after an immediate trip to the vet he was pronounced to be a boy and his injuries were classified as merely flesh wounds.  I took him home and nursed him back to health, he immediately took to my mom and grandma and snuggled up with them while I was away at school and settled into his cushy little life.  A few months later he went into heat and began rubbing himself up against my dogs who were very confused.  Thus, we knew it was actually a girl.  But by then the name Buddy Lee had stuck and we figured it really didn't matter if we called her "he" and the legend was born.

My Mom wrote on all of the flyers that Buddy was the victim of a gender identity crisis...

So anyway, Buddy is precious and he sleeps wrapped around your neck like a stole.  He is just the best and we all love him and the idea of him being lost in the woods was too much to bare.  I immediately drove to the ranch and feed supply store in town and bought humane traps for catching raccoons, foxes and coyotes.  Then I began baiting the traps with sardines and salmon and every night before dusk going out into the woods and setting the traps.  In a week I caught seven foxes, one squirrel and pissed off one bear who was too big to get in and snatch the salmon.  Luckily our nearest neighbor up here, Tom Jenkins, the man, the legend, a seventh generation cattle rancher and descendent of the founder of our town of 115 people, father of the first soldier killed in the Iraq War, and owner of the most valuable Angus bull in the United States (apparently it has the largest testicles and most virile sperm in the Western United States), likes the foxes to keep the gopher population down so I was able to do him a solid and take the foxes over to his ranch and release them.  So I very quickly became a valued member of local ranching community and was asked to be the queen of the La Grange rodeo the following April. (I declined the offer but was flattered all the same).

Anyway, after my trapping failed to produce Buddy Lee and two weeks had passed, I got desperate I hired a pet detective.  Yes, they exist and yes I know, you are laughing and cringing at the same time.  I first contacted Carl Washington, Pet Detective, who is basically a backwoods tracker in rural Georgia who when not searching out corpses in the bayous for the police uses his hounds to track the scent of your lost pet.  He is a giant African American man, in a booney hat who I am convinced was the inspiration for Robert Downey Jr. when he was creating his character Sgt. Lincoln Osiris in "Tropic Thunder."  Unfortunately Mr. Washington could not get out from Georgia to our place to track Buddy Lee so he suggested that I try another pet detective in California.  I was next put in touch with Annalisa Berns, owner, operator and founder of Pet Search and Rescue based out of LA. She told me that she could find my Buddy Lee and would be up the next day with her highly skilled search and rescue dogs for $2,500.  "Two and a half grand?!?" I blurted out.  "Yes, but typically when we search out an animal after three weeks, the animal is deceased, so time is of the essence," she replied.  I got sick at the thought of that and seeing how devastated my mom was by Buddy's disappearance I said "Okay...get up here as soon as you can."

She required payment up front and then drove up so I wired her the money and within eight hours she was at my door with her five dogs.  I heard the knock and when I opened the door...I knew I had made a mistake.  She was standing in front of me in a day-glow orange jumpsuit with reflective stripes and the words "Pet Search and Rescue" emblazoned on the back.  If that wasn't ridiculous enough her high trained scent search dog was a pug with an eye patch.  A pirate pug?  They can't even breath let alone sniff out another animal.  But I decided I had paid her and I was going to stay open minded.  I put her and her "driver" and the five search dogs up in the downstairs suite of the B&B and fed them.  The next morning she said she was going to go out and do her area search.  Basically it looked just like a Cal-Trans worker taking their fat little dog for a walk.  After 20 minutes she came back and got me and said she had found Buddy's remains.  I followed her down this little trail about 75 feet from the house and there in the middle of the hiking trail were two organs...a kidney and a liver. There was no blood and there was no ant activity and the organs were moist in 107 degree weather.  I stopped and said out loud, "A cat kidney and a liver?  That's odd isn't it?"  She assured me it was completely normal and that she finds organs all the time, that is how she identifies people's pets.  I was suspicious but she was insistent that it was completely normal and was pretty certain it was my cat which meant that it must have just happened hours before .  She suggested I take the organs to a vet to have them identified as feline.  If I had not been so emotional I would have questioned her but I knew they were cat organs because they were just like the ones we dissected back in high school.  She decided to take the rest of the day off to let me grieve and went into Yosemite.  While she was gone and I was crying in my soup feeling guilt and anguish over Buddy it occurred to me...wait a second...those organs did look just like specimens and there is no way a wild animal would leave a perfectly intact pair of organs in the middle of the road.  So then I started investigating.  I found a place on the internet that sells cat organs for research and then I looked up the website of her "search and rescue partner" and her website had testimonial of person after person who were so thankful that Annalisa had brought them closure and identified their lost pet by internal organ remains. I ran back to the place where she had found the organs and collected I suspected they smelled of formalin.  Long story short...I was getting furious at this point and I was on to her con.  I spent the rest of the day pacing waiting for her to get back so I could give her a piece of my mind.

When she walked in the door I confronted her and with righteous indignation she said, "You are insulting me with your questioning of my integrity as a pet detective!" At that moment it occurred to me that never before in the history of the English language has more ridiculous words been spoken.  "Get Out!" I replied, and she was packed up and gone in under fifteen minutes.  I thought my Dad was going to kill her and frankly I think she thought that too. :-)

Another month and a half passed and still there was no sign of my precious Buddy.  I was losing hope every day.  Luckily I had the constant influx of guests to distract me.  One guest who was a 600 lb man with the Chinese mail order bride who ate 7 1/2 lbs of bacon at one breakfast service was the best distraction of all.  

Then one day I got a call from Gretchen the mail lady who thought that she and her husband had found Buddy living under their barn.  She said she would call me when her husband got back and we could come over and pick him up.  I was ecstatic but then when 12 hours passed and we received no word from them I decided to drive over there and look under their barn.  Their house is about two miles away and set way back into the woods.  I took my flashlight, nobody seemed to be home, so I decided to start poking around under their barn.  I did find a cat, that sort of looked like Buddy but it was a big tomcat with large testicles...apparently drinking the same water as Tom Jenkin's prize bull.  Sweet Gretchen had erroneously assumed that the cat I named Buddy Lee and referred to as a male was indeed a male and not a neutered little girl cat.

For two months solid I trapped in the forest hoping to find Buddy and I basically trapped every single fox in the area save for this one big old one with a split ear and a broken tail shaped like a lightening rod.  He really looked like a cartoon villain and no matter how many traps I set out or how many different fox delicacies I baited them with I couldn't catch him.  He was so smart he even started walking up to the security cameras around the property and looking in the if to taunt me.  He would also stroll around the driveway in broad daylight looking at me through the window as if to say, "Yeah, I'm something about!"  I really grew to hate this fox...especially for the fact that in my isolated world up here I was being driven to the point of believing a fox was my arch nemesis.  But the final straw came when I opened my curtains one morning to find a fox poop on the wall right outside my window.  It was his calling card...and I was shaking my fist in the air at him.

I realized that I was losing my mind.  I was living in a town of 115 people, talking animal tracking with the cattle ranchers at the saloon in town, paying money to a pet detective and getting riled up over a sly old fox.  Oh and get this...I had stopped wearing nail polish and begun looking forward to trips to Wal-Mart to buy new shirts.  I decided it was time to mourn the loss of my cat, and reclaim my old self...when there on the security cameras was a live feed of my cat Buddy chasing a butterfly down by the creek.  He was alive after 63 days in the woods!  I immediately pitched a tent in the little area where I had seen him hunting bugs and began hanging out down there a few minutes every day.  Then, armed with new knowledge of animal trapping I baited a large trap with a whole rotisserie chicken.  A week later I had him back.  He was skin and bones and covered in blackberry thorns but no worse for the wear.  Now he is back safe and sound and the local paper even came out and did a story on "Buddy Lee the Wonder Cat of Yosemite" The byline read, "City slicker cat survives two months in the wilds of the Stanislaus, becoming a living legend in Mariposa County."  I personally felt they should have given Buddy Lee the keys to city.

Now, a year a half later, I have my little Buddy Lee back and the distinct pleasure of burning all of those awful "Lost Cat" posters.  So today, I officially close the book on the saga of Buddy Lee the lost kitty...

The flyers are committed to the fire...


Buddy Lee sunning himself in the window this afternoon...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

High School Corsages: A Time Capsule

I am preparing to throw the biggest garage sale in the history of the universe in a week and in my preparation for said sale today I came across a pile of dusty old dried flowers in the corner of a cabinet.  Upon closer inspection the dusty pile proved to be my corsages from high school formal events.  You see boys and girls, in days of yore, awkward teenage boys would bring a bracelet made of flowers featuring over the top explosions of curling ribbons and glitter as a token of good faith to the young ladies who had agreed to accompany them to the ball.  And in the high school kingdom I inhabited  the more impressive the display of flowers a young lad brought you...the more interested the boy was...or his mom had really good taste, or that he was gay...or his mom was also a florist.  Okay, maybe it didn't mean anything at all.  But here for your reading enjoyment is a pictorial retrospective of my corsages, then and now...

Christmas Banquet, Sophomore Year
The Withered Remains of The Corsage of Christmas Past
Me and my date Tommy and the FABULOUS orchid corsage Tommy so thoughtfully picked out. 

Christmas Banquet, Junior Year

Here is what is left of my corsage from my date was much larger and more beautiful until I closed it in the car door of my Mom's Thunderbird on the way home from the Golf Club the banquet was held at.  
Here is the corsage when it was in full bloom...and my date Ryan had the posture of a ballroom dancer or a presidential candidate.  I somehow managed to make myself look like a twelve year old boy in an evening gown that night...and now because of this picture and the certain scandal it would cause Ryan can never run for public office.

Junior-Senior Banquet, Junior Year

The mummified mass of roses and ribbons that was my prom corsage junior year.
Here is the corsage on the day it was made and my date Richard rocking a stare into the camera that would make Richard Grieco jealous.  May I just say that someone should have attacked me with a straight iron or a curling iron before I left the house that day.

Christmas Banquet, Senior Year

This gold and glitter explosion popped against my black velvet and faux fur trimmed dress.   I thought I was channeling Julie Christie in Dr. Zhivago (the dress even had a muff)...but in retrospect I think I was channeling the Talbots Catalogue circa late nineties.

All I can say is that this hair style was a the spring of that school year I would learn to use hair spray.

Last but not least...Junior-Senior Banquet, Senior Year

The completely pathetic remains of the once majestic senior banquet bouquet...these corsages are beginning to feel like a metaphor for my life, or rather my figure post high school.

The one and only time in my life I will get to wear a giant candy apple red ball gown.

Now since I need to make space (mama needs a redecorated house and a place to do aerobics)...I decided to ceremoniously burn these floral reminders of my past.  Just like the ancients honored their dead by lighting a funeral pyre beneath them so too did I honor my memories of high school by placing them atop last year's yule log in my fireplace and taking a Zippo to them...

Placed upon the pyre...
The Flame Touches the Offering...
Purified by flames...
This is super melodramatic and I am a huge dork...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Key to City of Chicago, 1934, Chicago World's Fair: A Century of Progress

Today's random item plucked from the obscurity of my attic is a cast iron key painted gold from the 1933-1934 Chicago World's Fair: "A Century of Progress".

Key to Chicago, 1934, Chicago's World's Fair: A Century of Progress

I presume my great-grandparent's picked it up while strolling around the fair grounds which were sprawled out across a new parkland created along the Lake Michigan shoreline between 12th and 39th streets, on a 427 acre portion of Burnham Park.  The Century of Progress opened on May 27, 1933 and the fair was kicked off when the lights were automatically activated from the rays of the star Arcturus.  This is sounding like science fiction and you are thinking that Whitny, waxing nostalgic is just making things up,  but actually the star was chosen as itt had started its journey at about the time of the previous Chicago world's fair—the World's Columbian Exposition—in 1893. The rays were focused on photo-electric cells in a series of astronomical observatories and then transformed into electrical energy which was transmitted to Chicago, thus illuminating the exposition.

I found these cool posters from the exposition on-line that sort of give you an idea of what the fair itself was meant to look like...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vintage Viewmaster (circa 1950s)

Today I decided to add a second post to "Stuff I Found In My House" and showcase this cool vintage Viewmaster that has been collecting dust in my attic for years.  Now, when I was a little kid in the 80s we had red Viewmasters with yellow and black accents that allowed us to take a peek into the lives of such celebrities as the Smurfs and He-Man and She-Ra.  But this is a first generation Viewmaster from the 1950s and these  "discs" range in age from the 50s to the 70s and feature far more interesting subjects like Lassie, Barbie and an awesome peek into the life of the Partridge Family.  Now that is just good entertainment.  Enjoy...

Vintage Viewmaster (circa 1950s)

"American Bowling Congress, Chicago - 1929" Lapel Pin

Today's random item found in my house is a gold plated lapel pin from the 1929 American Bowling Congress meeting held in Chicago. Truly if ever there was an organization that needed to be formed for the good of humanity it was the American Bowling Congress.  Here's why...according the Encyclopedia Britannica the American Bowling Congress was organized on September 9th, 1895 in New York City in order to end the feud between Midwestern and East Coast bowlers.  The rift between these bowling brethren further deepened as New York bowlers were going renegade and making up their own rules and regulations.  Obviously this chaos...nay, anarchy had to be stopped and thus the American Bowling Congress was formed.  In 1901 Chicago received endorsement as one of the nation's leading bowling centers when the American Bowling Congress (ABC) conducted its inaugural national men's tournament on the lanes in the Welsbach Building on Wabash Avenue in the Loop. These gatherings were held from 1901 on to discuss and maintain the integrity of the game of bowling and further the agenda of bowling enthusiasts everywhere.  Balance and order were restored and bowling as the harmonious union of man, ball, lane and rentable shoes as we know it today was born...

American Bowling Congress, Chicago, Ill - 1929 Lapel Pin

Now how this label pin came to be in my possession I know not.  Well I know this belonged to my grandpa or at least it was in his cufflink box, but I sincerely doubt that my own grandfather had attended the congress when he was six years old.  Thus I can only assume that it belonged to my great-great uncle George Brown who was the treasurer for the railroad worker's union in the 1920s and 1930s and had a big three story house on Wentworth St. over on the South Side of Chicago.  He was a mover and a shaker in 1920s Chicago and carried a thousand dollar pocket watch and loved a good cigar.  When you look at his life...leader of a union in Chicago, big house during the Great Depression, lots of cash in his tailored trench coat and a Ford Model T in his garage I think you can draw a pretty clear conclusion as to what he was...

George Holmes Brown (1866-1949)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vintage Houbigant Perfume Compact

Today's find comes from my own jewelry box.  Several years ago my grandmother was cleaning out her bathroom and gave me this little perfume compact which at the time still had the solid perfume in it.  As the perfume was spoiled I washed it out and have use this as a pill case on my dresser ever since.  Its sort of a classy little way to hold your morning pills in an inconspicuous manner.

Vintage Houbigant Perfume Compact
Vintage Houbigant Perfume Compact - Interior View

Now for those who are interested in the history of Houbigant Perfumes here is a little background on the brand...

Houbigant was a perfume manufacturer founded in Paris in 1775 by Jean-François Houbigant of Grasse (1752-1807).  The original shop,  called "A la Corbeille de Fleurs", was in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and they specialized in selling perfumes (of course), gloves and bridal bouquets.  Clients included Queen Marie-Antoinette of France, two French emperors, Princess Adélaïde d'Orléans, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, wife of emperor Alexander III of Russia,  Madame Du Barry, mistress of King Louis XV of France and Queen Victoria of England.  Houbigant perfume still exists today though they were bought out in 1995 and are now part of one of the giant international beauty conglomerates.

For your viewing pleasure I have found some Houbigant advertisements from the the era in which this little treasure was created...

Houbigant Perfume Advertisement for "Flatterie" circa 1960

Houbigant Perfume Advertisement for "Chantilly" circa 1965

Oh yeah...and this is my grandma who it belonged to...


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nocky's Treasure Box

As promised yesterday, here is the treasure box of my great-great-grandmother, Ekaterina Zaharudnikova Pavlikova, a.k.a Kate Pavlik, a.k.a "Nocky"(c. 1866 - 1951).  I acquired this little treasure box when I was about 13 when my grandmother Dorothy, who was the granddaughter-in-law of Nocky gave it to me.  I was looking for something to store my little treasures and keepsakes in and Grandma Dorothy pulled this out of a cupboard in her room and said I could have it.  According to her, Nocky had given her this box back in 1949-1950 when they were living together in Chicago, saying that she knew my grandmother would take good care of it for her.  Flash forward fifty years and my grandmother gave it to me telling me the same exact thing.  Now it sits atop my bureau and holds my locket, a shell I found on the beach when I was a kid and an antique cosmetic case that belonged to my grandmother.  Hopefully someday I will have a granddaughter of my own to give it to...