Put The Top Down: 1950s

My ultimate dream car is a 1955 Chevy convertible in two-tone, preferably green and white (but who am I kidding, any color would do) with white wall tires. The big, yet skinny steering wheel, the push button radio, the hood ornament, the headlights, the tail fins, the cavernous front seat. . . I’m getting misty-eyed just thinking about it. Yes, I know, they’re not exactly “road friendly” but I suppose some updates to it would do the trick, because I would drive this – everywhere. I would eagerly take this car over any other car that could be offered to me. Of course, I just have to dream about, and drool at seeing, classic cars when I get the chance, because I think the chance of me ever having one is slight to non-existent.

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Enough Giggle Water May Earn You The Bum’s Rush

Do you know the password?

You approach an inconspicuous door, with a look over your shoulder and a lick of parched lips you signal with a rap of your knuckles. The hatch slides open and a gruff voice says, “Password?” You respond, “The milk steak is good.” The hatch slides shut, and you wait with anticipation. The door opens and you make your way through the darkness until you reach a shabby looking door. You step through into the bustling, smoke-filled world of the speakeasy. The gin and moonshine flow freely, the jazz intoxicates the ears, and everyone is carefree and decadent. Any moment the lights might flash three times, signaling everyone to down their libations and hide the evidence – the police have arrived.

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Big O Tells Me Everything’s Alright

I don’t like to play the “favorite” game, it’s so difficult to choose one thing to be my favorite. However, when people ask who my favorite musical artist is, the first response seems to come quite easily: Otis Redding. (I have such eclectic taste in music, I usually ramble off an extensive list of artists following Otis. You know, because I have trouble picking just one.) Otis Redding does something for . . . to me. I can’t quite explain it fully, but here’s an attempt.

Anyone who has read this blog can clearly tell vinyls are a big part of my love of nostalgia, see header photo, and I have used my records as “preparation soundtracks” for (hopefully) edible posts. I’ve been somewhat hesitant to write solely about vinyls, mostly because I have so many I want to feature and it’s hard to choose where to start. Plus, I want to, in fact, write about most of them. (And plan to as I go along.) The choice was made much easier with the more recent discovery of two records at a local record store. (I’ve had a 45 of “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag/Direct Me” by Otis for a while, but some how skewed my ability of being satisfied with owning an actual, full record of his.) The first record I found of his (the same day I found the two) was completely out of my price range. I was disheartened and a bit glum leaving that record store, having seen my first Otis vinyl in person, able to place my hands on it yet being forced to leave it behind while it taunted me with its exuberant price tag. The next record store (which was a heavenly delight even if it hadn’t had Otis) re-energized my spirits. In fact, I placed my hands on Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul and Pain In My Heart and instantly had heart palpitations, tears took up residence in the corners of my eyes, and of course, I swooned. I thought I was dreaming. . .perhaps the victim of a practical joke, but no. They were real. And they were mine.

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Finding a place that has been in existence since 1949 is a win for me. Finding Rudford’s Restaurant, is a definite win. Even though this place doesn’t have diner in the name, it is your typical, classic diner.Which is a good thing.

It has that classic feel and atmosphere to it, a great variety of locals who frequent the place, yummy “home cooked” food, and oldie songs playing in the background. The booths are covered in red, the lights hanging overhead are stark in blue shades, and the walls of the kitchen and windows are metal. You can see it was built and has been around since 1949, all of which I love.

A friend and I went (who I have to thank, she is the one who sent me the Yelp link to the place) this morning. The staff is super friendly and have that “down home, we’ll probably remember your name” kind of vibe.

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Where’s One Of Those Wonderland Cakes When You Need One?

When I was younger, I was obsessed with miniature stuff. My Dad had made me a dollhouse. I loved it, with it’s little rooms, ladder to get to the second story, and red chimney. The only purchased items for it were wooden dishes and a Trivial Pursuit game. I made the bedding and furniture (with a little sewing from my Mom) out of old clothes and rags, wood scraps, and cardboard, hung up “wall decorations” made from magazines and old necklace pendants and the like, and made my little bear and rabbit families magazines and books to read. I still have all of it, even those little magazines and books I carefully cut out and stapled together and even wrote titles on. It’s all kept active at my parents’ house, where my niece now gets to live out her own little world.

I say I was obsessed, but I still kind of am. I don’t own or collect any miniature items or dollhouse furniture now, but when I find it at antique stores, I still take it in with a wide-eyed fascination.

Left: Departures and arrivals at the train station./Right: The train yard.

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The Greatest Generation

This may turn out to be my first book report in about a decade. Luckily, I don’t have to stand in front of the class stumbling over reading it with a garbled speed while my cheeks turn red. (I was never very good at speaking in front of people.) I hope I get an A. *fingers crossed*

Read it.

Little Heathens is Mildred Armstrong Kalish’s story of growing up on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression. I read it for the first time last year. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it (plus, it has some good recipes in it). The official title is Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression. That really sums up the whole book.

They grew their own food. They planted it, maintained it, and harvested it. Once the harvesting was done, they prepared it. They knew all the ways to keep it from spoiling and all the different ways to utilize it in a recipe or meal. They didn’t think food just came from the grocery store. They didn’t eat artificially flavored or “produced in a laboratory” foods. They knew what they were putting in their bodies.

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What’s In A Basket?

Crunching leaves, gentle breeze, warm sun, and birds chirping. This is what could comprise a glorious day having a picnic. Remember those?

*Photo by Graeme Weatherston

The idea of an “old-fashioned” picnic conjures the vision of people in their car, driving until they find a nice spot alongside the road to pull over and cop-a-squat. Picnics now are more the local park variety. Which is nice, don’t get me wrong, but a bit restrictive. No glass

Scene from Mad Men

bottles, no alcohol (come on, wine!), and too many other people around. Think Mad Men Season 2. Just don’t flip the trash off the blanket and leave it on the ground.

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Stitches of Love

Growing up, my Gramma was always making things, not only cooking and baking, but she was an artist at embroidery. She set to work making each of her eight grandchildren keepsakes they could eventually use for their own homes when they became adults. She embroidered tea-towels and a tablecloth. My sister’s, brother’s, and mine sat in my Mom’s hope chest while we were growing up. When I finally moved to my own little house with my very own kitchen, I broke out the mementos my grandmother had worked so lovingly on. And also a small hat shaped pincushion my great aunt Marie (other side of the family) had crocheted.

I use the pincushion. But let’s be honest, I don’t sew and I’m pretty useless when it comes to even trying to fix a small whole, but I still bought needles just so I could stick them in this little hat pincushion. Mint green (as I’ve mentioned before as a favorite color of mine) was my favorite color growing up, along with peach. So those are the colors she made mine. She was a fun lady who was always a treat to visit. She never forgot a birthday, confirmation, etc. I’m thankful for this small gift from her I’m able to still use.

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Click Click Click . . . Ding!

There are certain sounds that are like nectar from the gods. The clicking of a typewriter is one of those. (For me, at least.) When I was younger, my parents had an electric typewriter. At the time, I loved clicking away on it, writing my stories, pretending and making up “documents.” I would also, occasionally, get a finger shaken at me for wasting paper and the ribbon. My Mom clearly did not understand how important the paperwork was for my pretend world. There was always something about the feel of the paper, the click of  the keys, the whir of taking the paper out, and having that freshly stacked paper just waiting to be sifted through.

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