Saturday, April 10, 2021

Vintage People

I sure do love me some vintage people! Let's look at some fun old photos, shall we?

This first example is unmarked and undated, but the boy is wearing a very swell Hopalong Cassidy sweater, so I think it's safe to put this one in the "1950s" category. How much would that sweater be worth today? I can't decide if this family is home or if they are in a rented cabin. I'll say it's cabin, with a lake full of walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and maybe even some muskies... perhaps even a few wily crappies (!), just a short walk from their front door. As the sun sets, the lightning bugs come out, and the mournful cries of loons echo across the water as everyone settles in for dinner. If the fishing was bad, they resorted to canned chili.

Here's another undated example, but somebody wrote "Mary and Mom" on the slide mount. I wish I knew where this was taken, but no such luck. I'll bet Mom looked a lot like Mary 40 years ago. What do you think, is Mary still in her teens? I like the details such as the flower garden, the swingset, the laundry drying on the line, and the modest bungalows that might be postwar. I think the green leaves in the foreground are from a Bird of Paradise plant. 

It's some lucky girl's birthday, and her friends look on with envy as she holds the most beautiful doll ever seen by human eyes. I'm guessing these girls are (mostly) around seven years old, what do you think? The party really got going a minute later, when the birthday girl received a carton of cigarettes. The girl in blue is wearing a Cinderella wristwatch!

Like so:


Nanook said...

Oh, America... how we've missed you. Times seemed so much simpler back then - as I guess they were. I'm still studying all the details of the first image. Let's start with that Hopalong Cassidy sweater. HERE'S an image of both front and back - the back featuring Topper. Most-amusing to me is what the sweater is covering-up... THAT shirt-! (Just check out that pattern in the collar-!) And yes, our young friend will eventually 'grow into his ears'... or, let's hope so. And true to form, there's a trusty pack of cigarettes, matches, and an ashtray, resting on that armrest - all the hallmarks needed for a fine evening of smoking-!

I wonder if the drink of choice at the birthday party was some sort of fruit punch (or even Kool-Aid), as I seem to spy a little 'moustache' on the gal in the pink stripes. Too bad we can't quite make out the designs on some of those party hats. I certainly hope the birthday girl saw fit to share some of her cache of cigarettes with the 'gals' at her party.

Thanks, Major.

JC Shannon said...

I think post war is correct, Major. Dresses and skirts were shorter during the war to save fabric. If I had that Hopalong sweater, I would wear it even today. Good taste never goes out of style. I have a Lone Ranger mask and matching cap pistols I wear to most social functions. In the first photo, grandpa looks like he would rather be fishing than posing for a snapshot. The first thing I thought of when looking at the 2nd pic, is really old base housing. Check out the cheeks on the little one next to the birthday girl. Don't ya just wanna pinch em? Thanks Major.

Chuck said...

I think that may be a Madame Alexander Cissette doll the girl is holding, which would date this photo to 1957-63. It definitely has a "Madame Alexander" feeling about it.
I'll ask the resident doll expert when she comes out of hypersleep.

zach said...

We had an incinerator barrel in our back yard in the 50s so let's go with early 50s. These were the backyards of my childhood.

My brother had Hopalong Cassidy cap guns and holster and a black collared shirt, too. It was probably Gabby Hayes who took the photo in the cabin.

Thank you, Major

DrGoat said...

Nanook is right. It was a simpler time. I was about that kid's age around that time. The logical me knows that many things were going on that weren't so simple. Bad times for some people, but inside that warm, cozy family unit, things were good. Tucson was a great place to grow up in. Lots of open desert and room between houses with big yards. And I'm pretty sure, like everyone else here in GDB land, loving parents and a good home life.
Hopalong was a big deal in the 50s. I favored him over Roy Rogers. There was more shooting at bad guys in his show. That was probably it. Kids back then loved TV westerns with a lot of shooting at bad guys.
Yeah, and cigarettes. A generation of guys who stared smoking during the war, raising families, driving cars and smoking.
That dress on the young girl is a winner. Very eclectic. Can't identify that yellow structure in the backround. Almost an industrial type thing.
Gosh, it looks like the little girl with the mustache has a tear running down her cheek. That is one iconic wristwatch indeed!
Thanks Major. People pictures are the best.

JG said...

Photo 1:
Grandad looks like me now.
I love the furniture. Weekend cabin get-together.
I’m taking the picture, my wife sitting by my mom, our son has her looks to some extent, sis is hanging on her boyfriend, who appears to have been gardening, or perhaps chopping fire wood, judging from the state of his trouser legs.

Photo 2:
Not sure if that’s mother & daughter, seems like they would stand closer if so. Odd body language in that one, seems to me that neither woman wants that photo made.
I’m guessing those are carnations in the garden, gray foliage, red & white blooms.
Major, I think it’s a banana leaf. Either way, it’s a warm climate.
We didn’t use a burn barrel, just took the papers down the field away from the house and made a little pile. My dog would go with me and bark at the fire.

Photo 3:
Yes the girl in pink stripes was crying, and drinking kool aide, perhaps all at once.
The little girl to right has the same mustache.
All the guests are thinking that Birthday Girl made out like a bandit; dolls, watch, bracelet...
The look in all their eyes... very poignant picture.

Thanks for these, Major. Good views of the lost past.


"Lou and Sue" said...

I would love to know what that young man in photo #1 is thinking...he has a distant expression on his face. I read it as he does NOT want to be there (or at least not in the family picture).

JG, I agree with you on photo #2. My guess is that the woman on the left is the photographer's "mom," and the gal on the right is "Mary" - the photographer's daughter. Which means that grandma and granddaughter apparently never bonded well.

Whoever gave the birthday girl the dolls with the four boxes of outfits - probably spent a lot of money on a birthday gift, for that era. Maybe those are from her mom. I'm sure the other girls were a bit envious. I love the pattern on the couch in the back.

Thanks, Major!

Chuck (with Special Guest Mrs. Chuck) said...

The expert I retain on staff says it's a Toni doll. I'll let her take over from here...

Hi guys! I'm so glad I can help out! (Hurray, I'm useful!) Looking at this photo and reference books, with help from eBay, this is a "Toni" doll. Toni was a pioneer in home perms, and in a moment of inspiration decided to do a doll tie-in. It was to prove extremely popular. Girls ALWAYS want to play with a dolls hair! Toni came with rollers and a "perm kit" (sugar water), and thanks to her Magic Nylon Hair you could shampoo and perm over and over until the cows came home. Or Daddy, which was always a time to put away your toys and wash up for dinner.

These were not cheap dolls, either. They sold (based on size) from $9.95 to $17.95 ($91.26 to $164.63 in today's dollars). That's more than an American Girl doll sells for today! But people in the 50's were more flush with cash because a lot of these dolls were sold. This lucky little girl is also wearing a charm bracelet and a wristwatch, which I assume were birthday gifts, too.

Here's my Antiques Roadshow summary: based upon the doll, the doll boxes with their logos, and the more simplistic party dresses the girls are wearing, I feel confident dating this photo between 1958 and 1962.

Chuck said...

Here's another view of the Toni Doll Play Wave Kit at the top of the stack of doll dresses.

Anonymous said...

My vote for the plant in No. 2 is also banana leaf. My best friend's family had one of these in Phoenix when I was a kid, and the one thing that always stood out was how they appeared to have been shredded by someone with too much time and too little to do.

Also in No. 2, we can see a red-and-green swing set (very similar to one I had), and some dried-out Adirondack chairs. As for the houses, I think they look too cheap and ugly to be '50s tract housing, so military base or other industrial housing sounds right to me. Spotty, Bermuda grass that is never watered (unlike the neighbors, who appear to have a lawn). That yellow structure in the center looks like the wooden frame of a project that is on hold, or maybe an animal pen of some kind. With that height, you'd think it would involve birds.

As JG pointed out, the body language of the two women is interesting. The older woman has had just about enough of the cameraman's crap and clearly wants to get back to her washing. The younger one is standing as she was instructed to pose for class photos, very serious and closed-off, and she's not looking at the other woman or the camera. A lot to speculate about -- but speculation is all it is.

Kathy! said...

Interesting to see everyone's analysis of the photos today. It looks like the photographer didn't warn them of when the picture was being taken in Photo 1, with the averted eyes and odd, strained smile on Miss Blonde. I like Mary's shoes in Photo 2. I noticed the "mustache" in Photo 3 too, a frequent phenomenon on my Kool-Aid loving cousin at that age. It also reminded me of a schoolmate in 1st grade who had a red ring all around his mouth from his tongue (eww). Thanks, Major, for these good "Write Your Own Story" pics.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Mrs. Chuck, thank you for the doll info! I still have a few from Disneyland's Emporium from the 60s and early 70s - by Furga, Madame Alexander and Bradley (with the large painted-on eyes). Since I never played with them and kept them displayed on my dresser as a kid, they are still in excellent shape. They're all boxed away now (except for one), but I can't ever part with them, as they were from my folks and remind me of wonderful Disneyland trips from my childhood. (Hope to hear more from you, Mrs. Chuck!)

Looking at the 2nd photo again, with the wash hanging out to dry, reminds me of my mom hanging out everything to dry, too, back in the 60s. Years later, when my mom was tossing out all her clothes pins, I grabbed a couple and tucked them away for memory's sake (you collectors understand). I just came across them recently and childhood memories come flooding back - warm sunny carefree days with mom, fresh smelling laundry...

Anonymous said...

Just a quick follow-up. Judging from the packaging, the doll is likely a late-'50s Toni doll by Ideal.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, things definitely seemed simpler, but I’m sure there was plenty of “stuff” going on that wasn’t so great that we just don’t talk about that much anymore. We always like to remember the good things. I’m amazed that the vintage sweater was sold for a mere $50! That lady could have gotten a lot more if she’s played it right. It looks like hers was in great condition too. I think the boy’s shirt is kind of cool! But I’ve never been known for my fashion sense. I noticed the red halos around some of the girl’s mouths, maybe they had Hi-C or Hawaiian Punch (as you suggested), that stuff was industrial strength.

Jonathan, I had a friend who collected many things, but among them he had some amazing Hopalong Cassidy things. He had a *mint* Hoppy bicycle hanging from the rafters in his garage, and a huge potato chip tin in his kitchen with Hoppy’s image on it. I know he had more, but those are the things that made an impression. Any good grandpa would rather be fishing, it’s a known fact. Ha ha, I hope people didn’t pinch that girl’s cheeks… my mom said that people pinched her cheeks and she hated it!

Chuck, I have heard of Madame Alexander dolls, I thought they were big. But maybe that was a particular kind, I suppose. Yes, ask the expert!

zach, my grandma and grandpa had an incinerator thing in their backyard, out where the horse was stabled. It was sort of obelisk-shaped, strangely; by the time I was aware of what it was, Los Angeles did not allow the burning of trash (air pollution, you know). Too bad you don’t have a photo of your brother in his Hoppy getup!

DrGoat, for sure, I know that the times when I was growing up had lots of turmoil and unpleasantness, but at that age I was mostly aware of the fun stuff. Monster magazines, TV shows, pretending to do kung fu in the backyard, going to the beach, and of course… Disneyland. I have a few friends who did not have such idyllic lives growing up, which makes me realize how truly fortunate I was. I didn’t start getting interested in cowboy stars until long after I was an adult, and more for the premiums and prizes. Still, I do have a fondness for Roy Rogers! Hoppy is kind of a cipher for me, I don’t know much about him. Gee, I hope that one girl wasn’t crying, but it DOES look like a tear!

JG, the lady in the slacks (with her arm on her boyfriend?) has an interesting look! My dad’s pants frequently looked like that when we went fishing… they’d get fish blood and guts and other fun things all over them. He would show us how to clean trout, which was quite a thing for a young kid who didn’t know anything about where food came from. The two women might be grandmother and granddaughter, I could easily see that. I didn’t really pick up on any dislike or tension though! And you’re right, that could be a banana plant. I suppose you know a party is really successful when people start crying (!).

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, the boy is thinking, “Man, I really could use a smoke right about now! That smooth Carolina flavor, mmm-mmmm!”. He’s been smoking for about six years. I wouldn’t read too much into expressions in a single photo… I loved my grandparents, but I’m not gazing at them with adoration in every picture! In fact I’m usually picking my nose. I remember my sister’s box of Barbie outfits, it was pretty insane. I still remember she was especially fond of a blue fur coat that Barbie wore. It’s only natural that kids would be jealous of the birthday girl, who is getting all the attention and goodies that day!

Chuck (and Mrs. Chuck!), thanks for the information! As soon as you said it was a Toni doll, I thought of the home perms (so many commercials), but never knew that they created a doll as a tie-in. The doll looks like a cross between Grace Kelly and Shirley Temple! I wish I had magic nylon hair, instead of the boring regular stuff. Yikes, $91.26 to $164.63! That’s a LOT of money! That little girl was spoiled rotten by her loving mom and dad. I can’t quite make out the charms on the bracelet, sadly. Thank you so much for your fun help!

Chuck (or Mrs. Chuck?), that is definitely the same thing! $35 is “intact but worn” condition - imagine how much a minty version would fetch.

Anonymous, I should certainly have recognized the banana leaf, we had a banana plant in our backyard when I was a kid, and my best friend still grows them from “pups”. I can just hear the squeaks from that swingset, and imagine the splinters from those Adirondack chairs! I thought that the bare-wood structure might be a pergola, but it’s hard to tell. Imagine how nice it would look when covered with flowering vines! I think a lot of people get impatient when asked to pose for a photo when they feel like they’re not looking their best, or when they are busy. And who knows, maybe I’m wrong, maybe the younger girl wasn’t crazy about her crabby granny!

Kathy!, the strained smile on the blonde woman’s face is all too familiar - some people just can’t pull off a naturalistic grin when asked to smile for a photo, so it looks like they are suffering from a stomach ailment. We used to have Kool-Aid at parties, but I remember that my mom always made grape, and I liked cherry! But hey, it was cold and sweet, and I needed all that sugar so that I could continue to make trouble all day. I remember plenty of gross kids from school, including one who never seemed to make it to the bathroom in time. Ewww indeed!

Lou and Sue, neat that you still have your dolls from the Emporium, still in excellent shape! I have large, painted-on eyes too. I’d imagine that some of your dolls were too nice to play with, as silly as that seems. You didn’t want to mess up the perfect hair, or their crisp outfits. I have Hot Wheels cars given to me by my dad, the cars are beat up, but I can never get rid of them because I still remember the day he came home from work and gave them to me and my brother. My grandmother in Minnesota always hung her laundry out to dry at the side of her house. She also had an old-fashioned clothes wringer in her basement. We slept down there (on cots with creaky metal springs), and I still remember the smell of detergent and bleach so vividly. Aw, I’m glad you have some of your mom’s clothes pins! Good memories.

Anonymous, interesting, since Robert the Robot (from yesterday) was also from Ideal!

Nanook said...

@ Chuck - and "Mrs. Chuck" (it all sounds so formal, but more fun) -
We certainly are a knowledgable bunch, here-! Perhaps not the sort of knowledge that would guarantee graduating from an Ivy League university, Magna Cum Laude. But on the other hand, it turns out THIS is the useful stuff that will benefit you throughout your entire life-!

Thanks for sharing it with us.

Chuck said...

Mrs. Chuck thanks everyone for the kind words. I think she knocked one out of the park today. This will be reflected in her end-of-year bonus (you can see why I keep her on staff).

Major, there are some pretty big Madame Alexander dolls (the famous Cissy fashion doll was 20" tall), but the Cissettes of the late '50s were only 10" in height.

Anonymous, Ideal did put out the original Toni dolls, but by the late '50s they were being produced by the American Character Doll Company. The ACDC version used the same face mold as their Sweet Sue Sophisticate doll. Ironically, when ACDC went out of business in 1968 (by then known as the American Doll & Toy Company), they sold their doll molds to Ideal.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it’s always nice to talk to someone who is knowledgeable about a particular subject. And one never knows exactly which specific knowledge will come in handy!

Chuck, my mom used to have a Time-Life series of books about collectibles, and I’m pretty sure that my first exposure to Madame Alexander dolls was in one of those volumes. I can almost recall a photo with a fairly large doll sitting on a sofa, looking rather spooky! It sounds like Toni’s doll experiment must not have been quite the roaring success that they’d hoped, since they changed production (and name?) by the late ‘50s. “Sweet Sue Sophisticate” - I need to buy the film rights and produce some blockbuster movies about Sweet Sue!

JG said...

Wow, Mrs Chuck nails the doll ID. Nice work.

Nanook is right, lots of specialized knowledge at GDB. It’s a joy to watch these threads unfold.

I had forgotten Hawaiian Punch. Ugh.

Major, I think the blonde girl in photo 1 is glad to be there, and maybe a little embarrassed. You are right about those frozen expressions, especially in flash photos, not always what we meant at the time.

I still think Mother doesn’t approve of Mary though.