Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Valentimes Day

It's the mushiest day of the year! I call it "Valentimes Day", just because it makes me chuckle. What, who said I'm weird?? WHO? Well, you're right. I had nothing special for this day, but our friend Sue B. came to the rescue with two vintage slides that she scanned. These photos were not taken by Lou Perry, just FYI. 

We'll start with this first one, from 1959. A young man poses in front of Gordon's Jewelers for some reason. Did he work there? Is HE Gordon? He appears to be in a shopping mall (location unknown) ... malls were still a relatively new phenomenon (1955 seems to be the date I find online for the debut of enclosed, traditional malls). Or maybe he's just standing on a city street! Who knows. What I DO know is that this fellow is a love bug, and I don't mean Herbie. 

Next is this 1964 photo of a classroom full of kids who seem to be enjoying Valentine's Day (I spelled it right this time!) treats. Heart-shaped cookies? Little tubs of ice cream? Paper cups with sauerkraut in them? It also appears that each desk has a Valentine holder made out of construction paper. My school had us use the cylindrical cardboard Quaker Oatmeal cartons, which we customized with glitter, paper hearts, and other classy stuff. 

MANY THANKS to Sue B. for providing these fun vintage scans!


Nanook said...

How come none of those kids are exchanging those olde timey embossed Valentine's 'cards' with wax paper sleeves-? And I'll bet you none of those kids have any nut allergies...

Thanks as always, to Sue for getting us into the spirit of the day.

JB said...

I don't get the joke... what's wrong with "Valentimes"??? ;-) I think I have heard kids pronounce it that way; maybe even adults. So I guess they spell it that way, too.

Whoa, a t-shirt with a printed graphic design in 1959? I didn't think they were a thing until the mid sixties, or so. And "Gordon" is looking very 'new age' here. All he needs is a Devo "energy dome" red plastic hat.

Major, those aren't cookies, they're heart-shaped mini pepperoni pizzas. But you did get the cups of sauerkraut correct. We used shoe boxes covered in construction paper, etc. for our Valentimes. Oatmeal cylinders sound like fun, too. But I can see little Sally, or Timmy, panicking on the day they're supposed to bring the box to class for decorating because their oatmeal box is still full of oatmeal... "Mommmm!!". I bet a lot of oatmeal got dumped into jars or something at the last minute.
Reminds me of the time (or is it "tine"?) when we were required to bring a chicken wishbone from home (surprisingly, I managed to bring one). We covered it in glitter and tied a ribbon to it. Not sure what that was for... I think it was meant to be a decoration atop a wrapped gift package(!). And then there was the time we had to bring an orange to class so that it could be studded with whole cloves; sort of a Christmas-y sachet, I guess. To make the house smell like citrus and spice. Well, I went overboard with the cloves (also brought from home). There were so many that the orange peel split in several places. I had orange juice running down the sleeves of my flannel plaid shirt. I don't remember what happened after that; everything is a blur. Obviously, it scarred me for life because I still remember the incident to this day.

Thanks Sue and Major for dredging up those ancient memories. :-D

TokyoMagic! said...

That first shot is interesting. Are we in the mall looking at the store front, or inside the shop, looking out at the mall. I would guess it's the latter, since we can see what looks like a bench outside the door, and I assume all of those plates we see are on display in another shop and not Gordon's Jewelers? Oh...or are we outside of the shop, but we are seeing a reflection of what's behind us? Maybe that's it, because the guy sitting on the bench just might be the one taking this photo. I see the subject of this photo is also holding a camera.

Those kids in the second picture have it too easy. They should be taking a math test. Or writing a 1,000 word composition.

Thank you Sue and Major, and a Happy Valentine's Day to all who celebrate!

LTL said...

first photo is an interesting moment. 1959 seems very early for a mall, so perhaps a city street, but the reflection on the left seems to be indoors. I see a reflected sign that I think will read "Lay Away"

yes, the Love Bug shirt is certainly entirely odd for that era. the unique bug character seems to be from a jewelry vendor -- it's also featured on the sign to the right of the guy...

"There are happy days ahead when the Love Bug [something]"

.... (ergo, to be happy buy jewelry)

Happy Balintimes, all

Stu29573 said...

The first thing I noticed in the kid's pic is that Sally (far left) is trying to appear larger to scare Billy away from his cookies and ice cream! Billy is having none of it, though, as a good mini-tub of ice cream will override evolutionary instincts every time! And thus has humanity progressed.
Not much to say about the top picture other than I think his name really is Gordan...but not THAT Gordan, making the whole situation a little awkward.
That's Sue, and happy Valentimes , Major!

Lou and Sue said...

I see that “Gordon” is wearing a wedding ring….let’s hope he purchased a nice Valentine’s gift for his wife—and didn’t just give her this picture (which she obviously did not keep).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

JG said...

Happy Valentines All.

I do remember a slight workaround to enable my oatmeal box to be available on time, but can’t recall what it was. I didn’t eat oatmeal on school days, too hot, no time to let it cool off.

Cookies and sauerkraut, one of my favorite combos. Had those exact metal desks like checkered shirt boy, the top adjusted to different angles as a work surface over a big metal tub where you stored your books and crayons. There were holes in the bottom of the tub to sweep the pencil shavings and crayon bits off on to the floor. In fact, that whole classroom could be my second-grade room, right down to the cabinet pulls and blonde wood grain veneer on the storage wall. Man, I hated school.

I can’t fully explain the Buddy Holly pic, but I think it is a view of a jewelry shop from outside (and outdoors), and not in a mall. The wall above the window is clad in travertine or similar stone panel, widely used in 50’s & 60’s storefront remodeling, but more rare in interior work (elevator lobbies were most common interior). Something about the uneven lighting too, red reflections might be a traffic signal…

I think the display of fine china for sale is inside the shop, not a reflection, because to the left, there is a reflection of another shop and a man on a bench like a bus stop. The sign reflected there advertises “Lay-Away” (in reverse), but the vertical mullion separates the reverse image from the shop window. The men behind the counter seem to be reacting to the photographer. Also displayed are picture frames, silver trays (suitable for engraving, no doubt) and similar items. These aren’t unusual merchandise to be offered together, and it looks like some spoons and other non-jewelry items like animal figurines are in the window display. One might be an elephant?

The little sign in the window to the right advertises “There’s happy days ahead where the Love Bug bites” tie-in with the t-shirt. Do you get the shirt with purchase of a ring or other item? I think posing with the t-shirt is the purpose of the photo and maybe the slogan applies to Buddy. I see he has a camera too, maybe the photographer and he are traveling and it’s a spur of the moment pic?

Thanks Sue and Major, wish everyone well.


JG said...

There are a number of Gordon’s Jewelers still operating. They seem mostly in Texas and Kansas, but all the ones I can find are in mega-malls now, not in street storefronts.


Steve DeGaetano said...

Thanks Sue and Major for a trip down memory lane. They still sold packets of 30 or so valentines (plus one for the teacher(!)) when my kids were little, not so long ago.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, that was the year of the wax paper crisis. It was terrible! And I know that nut allergies are a serious thing, but how did we go for most of my life with peanuts everywhere? Did lots of people die and I just didn’t know about it?

JB, the joke is merely that I remember lots of people saying “Valentime’s Day” when I was growing up. Nothing much to it! I agree that the t-shirt seems anachronistic, but hey, they had to start somewhere. Yum, little pepperoni pizzas, there’s nothing wrong with that. I would definitely want two. I think our poor teachers would bring extra oatmeal boxes, knowing that kids would forget them. Did the teacher eat oatmeal every day for a year to save up the cartons?? Lucky for me, my dad did eat oatmeal often, so it worked out. We had to bring in a wishbone for a class experiment, I think we soaked it in vinegar for a while and it became as pliable as rubber. Which taught me… something very important. Never soak your wishbones in vinegar! A lesson that has saved lives.

TokyoMagic!, yes, I can’t really tell where the man was standing. Now I’m thinking that he was probably on a street; you know, the old shopping districts. But the jewelry store makes me automatically think “MALL”. I think you’re right, we’re seeing through Gordon’s to another shop, otherwise the plates make no sense. This photo is more mysterious than any picture of Bigfoot!

LTL, I have now convinced myself that this was a street scene and not a mall scene, though I could easily change my mind. Maybe Gordon’s Jewelers had a whole Valentine’s Day “Love Bug” ad campaign, long forgotten now? I’m happy and I never buy jewelry! All I need is Beanie Babies.

Stu29573, I could use a mini tub of ice cream right now, with one of those little wooden spoons that you can then chew on for a while. I’m not crazy! Also, who is “that” Gordon? Gordon Lightfoot? Gordon MacRea?

Lou and Sue, I’m sure that ring is a prize from a cereal box!

JG, I don’t remember eating oatmeal for breakfast except when I would visit my grandparents, and then I loaded it up with brown sugar. It was mostly brown sugar, to be honest. Those desks must have been manufactured by the millions I liked them better than the kind with the funny-shaped top, you know the ones I mean. At least I could keep my bottle of vodka beneath the desk lid. I’ve seen travertine used on the walls of indoor malls as well, but I agree, I do now think that the first photo is from a street view. I had no idea that the first photo would be the source of so much conjecture! We will need to send it to JPL so that it can be fully examined using every trick in the book. A “free” t-shirt is an interesting incentive to spending cold hard cash on jewelry, but it might have worked.

JG, I seem to recall seeing ads for Gordon’s Jewelers years ago; our local mall has something like Zale’s instead of Gordon’s.

Major Pepperidge said...

Steve DeGaetano, oh yeah, I remember getting those packs of Valentines! I also remember that it was required that we gave one to every kid in the class, even the jerks!


I don’t think that GORDON’S JEWELRY is an outside storefront …. It doesn’t feature exterior element windows or door trim. It’s possibly inside a mall - however not many indoor shopping malls existed quite yet …. It’s mostly likely in a shopping arcade … very very common in the 1920’s and into the 1950’s . These were groups of shops - usually high end in the lower levels of bank and executive office buildings. Also quite common in large “grand central “ type passenger service train stations .

JB: there’s an early LEAVE IT TO BEAVER episode where Beaver ,and Gus buddies Gilbert and Whitey ( I think ) see an ugly monster creature shirt for sale on the weekend … it was like a octopus monster with eyeballs at the end of its tentacles. Anyway they all agree to but one and be funny and all wear their monster t-shirt to school Monday morning …. Of course the other boys chicken out and only Beaver wears his … getting him sent to Mrs Raeburns Principles office and a call home to his parents. This episode always intrigued me because you just don’t think of graphic T shirts being a thing in the 1950’s … but we know they were as some of the the most earliest and famous Disneyland collectibles includeds very rare -to -survive 1955-1960 era graphic t shirts … the Adventureland ones being EXTREMELY desirable… some however would be considered offensive by todays views .

In grade school our classes would make Valentines Day “ pouches” from construction paper … I remember a heart shaped one … one time we made the pouch from red , white and pink strips of art paper and weaved the strips together creating a checkered pattern on the front. We would hang these on the edge of our desks … then on Valentines Day go around and delivery out Valentine cards out .. as a kid we would be thrilled to get cards holding a penny or a candy message heart … one year a classmate passed out STAR WARS valentines from the film being barely a year old … we boys went CRAZY over them!! At this early age I was somehow aware that some of the valentines featured artwork that looked “dated”
Meaning event though it was day 1974 …. The card art was from the 40’s or 50’s … and obviously the publisher was using artwork over and over ….how I was aware of this I’m not sure … it’s possible I had seen vintage birthday cards my mom received as a child and the art looked the same . Now when I see the “current” “modern” 1970’s cards .. they look vintage and dated … lol.


JB said...

Major, I was joking about not getting the joke. No joke! (joking)

Mike, now that I think of it, when I was 4 or 5, around 1958-'59, I had a t-shirt (ocher yellow) that had a printed design made to look like an old-west cowboy's shirt. With a printed neckerchief, western-style stitched pockets, and other western doodads; all printed. So I guess t-shirts with printed designs were a thing back then. But I still don't remember seeing designs with clever, witty messages and such till the late sixties.

Nanook said...

[Technically] that Leave It to Beaver episode isn't from the 1950's. Titled "Sweatshirt Monsters", it originally aired on June 2, 1962. Even stranger, someone is selling recreations of those 'Sweatshirt Monsters'-! LOOK HERE

Didn't I send you scans of several designs from those 'retro' Valentines complete with their wax paper 'sleeves'-?

Melissa said...

Gordon looks like he's auditioning for a David Lynch movie.

I was only in one class that exchanged Valentines; if I remember correctly we made some kind of construction paper envelope that hung off the front of the desk like the kids in the picture. I remember my Mom baking cupcakes in ice cream cones for the class, with conversation hearts stuck in the icing.

JB said...

^ Maybe Gordon IS David Lynch!

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, an arcade sounds like a mall! Is the difference just semantics? As for crazy t-shirts, I think I’ve read that some of those early car culture guys (“Big Daddy” Roth, Von Dutch, Robert Williams) used to make custom airbrushed t-shirts at various events, fairs, etc. And I would imagine that those often featured the kind of bug-eyed, slobbering monsters that those guys loved to draw! And as you said, Disneyland sold a variety of graphic t-shirts, Patrick’s “Stuff From the Park” blog shows some of them. Making pouches out of construction paper sounds much more practical, no need to somehow acquire an oatmeal carton. I guess a shoebox would be OK too, but even that might be a pain. My mom still has boxes full of what is probably “antique” Valentine’s Day stuff now, paper doily hearts and other shapes, and those tissue “accordion”-type things that would fold out (hard to describe). It’s funny to see folks selling “old” Valentines on eBay, and many look like the kind I probably had when I was a kid!

JB, I figured you probably got the joke! Your “cowboy” shirt sounds pretty elaborate compared to most t-shirts.

Nanook, hmmm, that Sweatshirt Monster definitely rings a bell, though I can’t imagine where I might have seen it before. You might have sent me scans of retro Valentines, I assume that was a while ago? I apologize for not remembering!

Melissa, maybe that guy has an Eraserhead Baby back home! Oh man, your mom was a peach, I used to read the recipe for cupcakes in ice cream cones on the box of cones, and always wanted those, but to this day I’ve never had one.

JB, we are ALL David Lynch.