Saturday, June 29, 2013

Just Folks

One of the things I love about looking at vintage slides is the small individual slices (like Velveeta) of people's lives, as they lived them 30, 40, 50 years ago or more.Today we'll look at a selection of average folks.

Travel by plane in the late 1950's was still a bit exciting and glamorous, unlike today. Here's a mom and her son (remember them?) sitting in their comfy seats. Mom has dressed for the occasion, and I don't mean sweats and flip-flops. The kiddo has his cool toy airplane with him, I want to take it from him. Hey, where do I plug in my iPad? 

From the same photographer comes this picture of a hard-working man named Larry (thanks to the hand-written info on the slide), behind the counter at a humble eatery, circa 1959. It could be at a diner in Victorville, California, since there was an exterior photo of a place called "Grethel's". Larry is wielding a mustard dispenser for somebody's cheeseburger. Why do I like this picture? I don't know, but I do.

This final picture is from the 1950's and shows a family dining in a semi-finished basement for some reason. Was it cooler down there on a hot day? Were they banished from the main dining room because they belched the alphabet? This reminds me of visiting my grandparents in Minnesota; my brother and I slept on lumpy folding cots in their basement. There was a wood shop for my grandpa, laundry facilities (including and old-fashioned wringer for the wet clothes), and lots of old stuff that was fun to look at. 

I couldn't help noticing the artwork on the heating oil tank in the background. Even at this small size I suspected that it was by an illustrator named Henry (Hy) Hintermeister. He was like Norman Rockwell, only less threatening! 

After a search on Google, I found the original painting on an auction site. It was signed "S. Eleanor", which is believed to be a pseudonym that Hintermeister used. The small artwork sold for a mere $600 back in 2005.


Nanook said...


These are the sort of images that really document a slice of American life so vividly. They're seemingly unposed and so natural. You can just stare at each image for minutes on end.

The odd display case in the "restaurant", placed in front of the wall thermostat, and on top of it, a strange assortment of packaged goods and a single cardboard 'ornament' for Winston Cigarettes, both nestled amongst the potted flora. Oh - those 1950's.

I love the poor, lonely single red unlit candle marking the center of the dining table. And just what exactly is on the plate next to "Grandpa"-? Baked and sliced cardboard-? Yum-! The striped candy canes adorning the mirror, along with the bells surrounding the window might indicate a Christmas dinner-? Oh, brother.

Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

I spy the largest if my Grandma's vintage Pyrex Primary Color mixing bowls in the basement dinner picture! I ended up with some of her dishes, which I treasure, but nothing said Grandma's kitchen like those bowls. I can taste the boiled potatoes now.

The man in the plaid shirt kind of looks like Frasier Crane's Dad.

Chuck said...

It's great to see the First Post family again!

I'm going to concur with Nanook about everything, but especially the Christmas dinner assessment. There are more Christmas ornaments on the blue-grey painted sideboard - reindeer, snowmen, a Santa and his oversize boot. Also note the Lionel train set on the table in front of the Hintermeister print and the reflex camera and flash (Kodak Brownie Reflex Synchro, perhaps, although the flash doesn't look right) on the red dresser behind Mom.

This brings back so many memories of my grandparents' houses - the colors, the knick-knacks, the sounds and smells of their basements and finding all sorts of cool stuff down there.

I love Mom's smile.

Irene said...

My Mother wore aprons like the Mom in the last photo all the time. Guess it was the norm in the 50's. But my Mother did take it off when we sat down to Christmas dinner :)

TokyoMagic! said...

These are wonderful "slices" of Americana, Major. And is that Lurex in the mom's sweater in that first photo? She's looking a little sparkly!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, yeah display in the diner is not exactly a Tiffany window. And when I first scanned the basement image, I thought, "Hey, look at the Christmas decor!". By the time I actually decided to post it, I had forgotten about it. Foo.

Melissa, I love those Pyrex nesting bowls, if you have the whole set I think they can be worth some $$. My mom got some Fiesta bowls from her mother in-law, those are great too.

Chuck, I am just dying to know why they are eating Christmas dinner in the basement! Maybe more than one family was sharing a home? And what says X-mas more than a Lionel train set?

Irene, my mom still has some awesome aprons from the early 70's, the colors will blind you.

TokyoMagic!, you mean the Lurex that speaks for the trees? (I don't know what a "Lurex" is!)

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, Lurex is a shiny metal thread that was used in clothing and even in furniture upholstery. I just looked it up and it appears that the company that makes it is still in business.

SundayNight said...

These are all great but that “Christmas in the Basement” photo wins. I keep asking myself - why the basement? Perhaps their dining room was just too small for gramps and guest. If this is California, in some semi-desert community, the basement would be cooler. If it’s the Midwest, it would be pretty chilly down there and I don’t see anyone with a sweater. Did you notice the little choir boy candles on the dresser? Is that some sort of desert to the right of the guy with the suspenders? Marshmallows? Quite a spread! I think mom was just too tired to take the apron off. Let’s eat!

Anonymous said...

Delightful! Look at all the space in that airplane!! WOW! Great vintage photos!