Saturday, December 19, 2020

More Vintage Christmas Pix

Happy Birthday to our friend Matthew!

Christmas is a holiday that evokes so much powerful nostalgia for many of us. We grew up watching old movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street", and "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" every year. We pored over Sears "Wish Books", made decorations in school, heard endless Christmas songs in stores... it made a huge impression. So looking at some vintage photos from holidays past is a lot of fun.

Let's start with this first one, undated but possibly from the late 1940s. A little girl is delighted with her record album, "Tales of Uncle Remus" (it's playing on the portable record player). Her foot rests on a new toy stove, complete with tiny pots and pans. She got a sketch book, and possibly some new dolls as well. The woman to the right (the girl's aunt?) looks like she just finished her shift at the hospital. 

Next is a pair of photos from 1960 (though I would have guessed earlier if they weren't dated). Santa Claus has made an appearance, at a  church (I assume) in what seems to be the public meeting room. How does Santa keep his beard so silky, with no split ends? A view out the window shows that it is snowy and cold.
Well, there he goes - Santa has a busy schedule. All the children are wearing paper hats that look like upside-down men's underwear. Who am I to complain? I hope they got something a little more fun, though. When I was a kid we got little glazed ceramic manger animals in Sunday school. There's a painting of the Virgin and child on the wall, and the church's priest (with his stylish biretta) says his goodbyes to St. Nick.
This last one is my favorite because it is so darn weird. The slide was labled, "Christmas, 1959", and shows a table with a dozen toothy mouths. Is the pink stuff clay? Or Play-doh? The teeth seem to be some sort of white beans, such as Navy beans. The cigarettes are a classy touch. What these have to do with Christmas I will never know, but I love it.
 

24 comments:

"Lou and Sue" said...

Happy Birthday, Matthew! We haven't heard from you in a while (I always enjoy your comments!) - hope you're doing well and enjoying your special day!

Major, I can't click on the last picture and enlarge it - and I really want to get a closer look at those goofy mouths/teeth.

I'll check back later, as I CAN'T WAIT to read everyone's comments. These are great holiday pictures - thanks, Major!

Nanook said...

Major-
I love the 'dime store' Santa, with his silken beard. But I've been totally-distracted by the sea of 'homemade dentures'(with extra teeth) - with optional 'smokes'-! The mind boggles.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

That last pic doesn't seem too Christmas-y, but someone had the Christmas spirit and decided to leave out the "two front teeth" on one of the models! ;-)

How does Santa keep his beard so silky, with no split ends? He uses, "Gee, Your Beard Smells Terrific!"

JC Shannon said...

These photos are certainly different. Maybe Canadian or British. The little girl is literally buried in gifts. Ho Ho Holy cow, how about them toothy mouths. Nothing says Christmas cheer like a table full of disembodied jaws filled with teeth. Where are the folks that made them? Where is Rod Serling, or a young Stephen King? Spooky. Thanks Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I forgot to say happy birthday, Matthew!!!

Stu29573 said...

I did a little detective work on Tales of Uncle Remus (ok, very little, but still...) and found that it was released in 1947 and then again in 1948. It was a three record set and played at 78 rpm.
So we've probably narrowed this Christmas down a little. The is a Life magazine on the left, but I can't make out the cover. Oh well.
And yes, that little girl made out like a bandit that year!

Divajones48 said...

Great holiday pictures. The blonde lady on the left in the church santa picture is certainly not impressed by the paper mens underwear hats. Maybe she was hoping for some more dignified ladies brassiere hats. The last photo is the best thing I've seen this week.

Thanks!

Chuck said...

Tales of Uncle Remus was released a couple of times in rapid succession. Apparently, the initial 1947 ceramic 78 rpm issue broke relatively-easily and was re-pressed in a more forgiving material to be handled by kids around 1948. It was also issued as a 45 rpm set in 1949.

Here's a YouTube video of the Tales of Uncle Remus record. Listening to it, it sure sounds familiar. I think there's a good chance that portions of the recording (like maybe the narration or at least the script) were re-used on either my 1970 copy of Songs and Stories of Uncle Remus or my sister's and my 1979 cassette copy of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby (there was apparently a record version, too).

We've seen that church social room before. I recognize the window over the door and the Boy Scout troop flag from another shot taken at almost the same angle.

I have no idea what's going on in the last picture, and I love it.

Happy birthday, Matthew! Always your pal, Chuck.

Chuck said...

Link to Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby cassette & book set referenced above.

MIKE COZART said...

All the best Matthew!!!

Always YOUR pal!

-Mike

zach said...

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

That 4th photo reminds me I haven't seen the dentist since Covid.

Thanks Major,

zach

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, sooner or later I’m going to wish a “Happy Birthday” to somebody who won’t see it! Sorry about the picture problem, I swear it’s not my fault. It’s been fixed.

Nanook, yes, as soon as I saw that slide with all of the Play-doh palates and teeth, I knew it was a keeper!

TokyoMagic!, I’m just trying to imagine WHY they were making those things around Christmas. Maybe they were all married to dentists? Good eye on the “two front teeth” observation! I’m glad Santa’s beard smells terrific, and not like old soup and cigarettes.

Jonathan, when I was a kid, my parents and grandparents gave us so much stuff; I remember having a friend over, and actually feeling kind of embarrassed at the sheer overload. Lately the pile of gifts has grown smaller as we have gotten older - but there’s still a lot.

Stu29573, somehow 1947 or 1948 sounds about right to me, though of course the Uncle Remus record set could have been purchased any time after that. I have more pictures of that little girl as she gets older and older, and finally is in her wedding dress!

Divajones48, ha ha, I kind of wish the kids were wearing brassiere hats! I’m sure you’re right, the lady wishes they’d listened to her and used that idea. Everyone loves weird Christmas photos!

Chuck, who knew that there was a songofthesouth.net?? You did! Interesting that the songs were performed by Johnny Mercer (and the Pied Pipers). As a kid I was only familiar with the songs from “Song of the South”, and maybe the footage of Uncle Remus singing “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah”. One of my teachers played Disneyland Storyteller records in class sometimes, I remember “Bambi” and “Peter Pan” vividly, but I don’t think she played SotS. Have we seen that church social room before? If so, I am unaware of it!!

Chuck, thanks for the link!

Mike Cozart, I hope Matt sees this.

zach, I know! I cancelled an April checkup, and it’s been nothing since then. Gotta keep flossing!

Andrew said...

Santa (distanced, don't worry) came by a bit ago on the fire truck. I think that he also fit Nanook's definition of a "dime store" Santa.

I don't want to know what happens to those toothy mouths when you turn your back to them.

Happy birthday, Matthew! If you're reading this, thanks for checking in today!

Melissa said...

So much old-timey goodness in today's pictures!

The living room in #1 looks so much lke my grandmother's. I can practically smell the wood smoke and Grandpa's wintergreen chewing tobacco. I've never listened to "Tales of Uncle Remus," but Disney sure knew how to put together a good kids' record. I'm sure all the Gorilla Scouts are familiar, but I love mousevinyl.com for digital versions of those old Disney records.

All the toys are pretty cool, but I think I like the Red Riding Hood doll the best.

The radiator in #2 is a thing of beauty, and I dearly covet the church ladies' hats.

"All the children are wearing paper hats that look like upside-down men's underwear."

OK, time for the Overshare of the Week(tm). It's always been a Christmas tradition in our family to give each other socks and underwear in addition to "fun stuff." Over the years we developed a secondary tradition: When you open a present that turns out to be underpants, you have to put them on your head like a party hat. When you unwrap your fist pair of socks, you put them over your ears so they look like floppy dog ears. You have to leave them on until all the gifts are unwrapped.

Try as I might, I can't find any kids dressed alike in the third picture! What kind of crazy parallel universe is this? Little Miss Folded Arms looks like a young Betty Draper. I always wanted to be able to wear my hair in looped-up braids like the little blond girl near the bottom left, but it would never cooperate. I wonder if the person seated near the center in the lacy mob cap is Mrs. Claus?

That last picture is too weird even for me! I'm speechless! My other grandmother would have loved that green poinsettia wrapping paper. She was one of those ladies who carefully unwrapped, folded, and re-used the same paper year after year, and old-fashioned poinsettia patterns were her favorites. (There was always at least one piece of old, yellowed tape stuck to the paper, that looked like it had been there since the Roosevelt administration.)

Oh, and...

Happy birthday to Matthew,
Happy birthday to Matthew,
I can't give you cake, but
I can sing 'Happy birthday" at you.

JG said...

Happy Birthday Matthew!

Fun stuff today, Major, but that last pic will haunt my dreams.

Thank you, everyone.

JG

Nanook said...

Now I'm beginning to feel like a real heal for not wishing Matthew a proper Happy Birthday. 'Many happy returns of the day'-! Your comments always add so much to this blog.

I just now noticed in Pic #1 that rather odd-shaped, free-flowing triple candle holder sitting on the off-white bookcase behind little "Suzy". Those are some rather tall, and large diameter candles; and in that lovely, orange color - almost resemble rather long and straight carrots (with wicks). AND, I'm gonna go way out on a limb and say if that family only kept current issues of LIFE Magazine, there's a strong possibility that issue seen resting behind that grouping of dollies is from December, 22, 1947.

Melissa said...

In the third picture, it kind of looks like the priest and the church ladies are checking out Santa’s butt.

"Lou and Sue" said...

I'm stopping back to read everyone's comments and am NOT disappointed.

I especially love the JC birthday cake that Andrew added!

In the first pic, that little girl is DEFINITELY related to the other gal. Boy do they look alike!

Chuck, yes, I also remember that room - but those pictures weren't during a Christmas party, I don't think. They must've taken pictures in that same room for another event??

Did you notice the lit cigarette in one of the homemade dentures?? Very creative!

Speaking of homemade dentures, that last picture does bring back warm Christmas memories...seriously. One of my aunts and uncles and 6 cousins would come over for Christmas dinner at our house--my Grandma and Grandpa lived in the "flat" downstairs, and me and my folks lived upstairs. Besides the wonderful spread of food my Grandma prepared for days, us kids had the pleasure of being entertained by my Grandpa. He could pull coins out of your ear, pull your nose off and put it back on, AND make his teeth and gums push out of his mouth -- FREAKED US ALL OUT, EVERY TIME! And when it was time to go home, we stood in line to get a great big hug from Grandpa AND a quarter to take home to our piggy banks. I miss those Christmases!

Kathy! said...

Happy birthday to Matthew!

Nice photos today. I like the clay home-made(?) Santa ornaments in the first pic; why does it look like he's wearing a baseball uniform? I like the tropical foliage curtains.

Like others today, the second and third ones remind me of a memory. In kindergarten, Santa visited our classroom and the teacher took photos of us on Santa's lap. She'd pair up a boy and a girl, one on each knee. I got paired up with a boy I didn't care for >:(. Anyway, we also had to wear these tissue papery white collars with red paper bows that went over our heads, and I swear they were toilet seat covers.

The bean dentures are hilarious. The napkins look like they have the logo or crest of a place in St. Louis. Thanks for the extra smiles, Major.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Kathy - I think you solved the mystery... That last picture is of the St. Louis Dentist Association Christmas Party 1959! They KNOW how to party!

Major Pepperidge said...

Andrew, aw, I wish Santa would pass by on a firetruck here! No such luck. I’ve seen worse Santas than the one in those photos, but I’ve seen better too. Ha ha, now I’m imagining a stop-motion animated table full of toothy mouths.

Melissa, I can’t say that the living room in photo #1 looks like any that I personally experienced, but it sure does evoke lots of nostalgia for classic post-war Christmases. My mom said it reminds her of the house we lived in when we were in Evanston, Illinois, a house built in the 1910s. I don’t remember that one at all though. I am definitely familiar with Mousevinyl. Hey, I’m sure lots of families have crazy Christmas traditions, though I admit that I have never heard of people wearing socks on their ears! I figured the folks here would like the last photo, it’s nice to see that we all like weird stuff!

JG, I’m just doing my job!

Nanook, maybe Matthew has moved on to more exciting things, like sky diving and running with the bulls at Pamplona. I tried to ID that issue of LIFE, but couldn’t find any that had that severe angle right next to the logo, but I’ll take a look at the issue you mentioned.

Melissa, oh yeah, they like what they see!

Lou and Sue, I’m glad the comments were worth the wait! I’m assuming that the lady in white is the little girl’s Auntie. Chuck has reminded me that I ALREADY POSTED those two photos, six years ago! Oh well, somehow life will go on. I used to see my grandma and grandpa (the ones in Minnesota) brushing their dentures, which always freaked me out. I just assumed that their teeth were the real thing! I was lucky and had three of my grandparents until I was in my 40s, so in a way i think that makes me miss them even more.

Kathy!, we used to make ornaments out of a dough made of salt and flour, sort of a home-made Play-doh, it would harden like a rock, and then we could paint them the next week. We might still have a few gingerbread men and such. Ha ha, I’m picturing little kids wearing toilet seat protectors! Good eye on the words “St. Louis”, I tried to decipher something but had no luck.

Lou and Sue, I’ll bet they brought some nitrous oxide for later!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Matthew!! Yep, that last shot got my attention first. Before bringing that up to size on my PC I thought...how many geezers were attending that party and just what were they thinking? Nothing worse than seeing a grandparent pull their teeth out. I remember! Yeesh! KS

Nanook said...

Major-
That "severe angle" I believe is merely the cover being creased from the right-top corner. That threw me off, too. It's too hard to determine if the dark background of the cover is dark blue, or simply black - as a dark blue cover is a rare breed. (I guess we'll really never know).

Chuck said...

Kathy!, great eye. It looks like the napkins say "St. Louis - Clayton." Clayton is a western suburb of St. Louis, so wherever the napkins came from probably had locations in both Clayton and downtown STL. Wish we could read the matchbook just above the Major's watermark. The crest doesn't look familiar to me.

Major, my grandpa used to like to knock his dentures out with his tongue to make us laugh. I had totally forgotten about that. Not sure why that never freaked me out. I guess it was because I thought about it as just something Grandpa did.