I Prefer Vintage

I’ve been catching up on identifying and labeling old photographs when it occurred to me, that I prefer vintage.

Don’t get me wrong…I love all of the things that have been introduced to my life because of technology.  For some of these introductions I am eternally grateful.  For example, I never would have met my husband…and that truly would have been a shame.   And I would not be able to watch my daughter and grandson grow from day to day…from 3000 miles away.  I never would have met you…my wonderful friends from around the world.  There are many other benefits but I think those three are the ones that are most important to me.

Yet, as I look at life all around me, its fast pace and heavy consumerism…what I call the disposable lifestyle, I wonder about what has been lost along the way.  I long for some of the pleasures that come from old things…simpler things.  A time when ones creativity and professionalism spoke volumes.

Simpson family 2Before the days of Vogue, Glamour and GQ, the average family had one or two nice outfits to wear for very special occasions.  As fashion changed, it did so tastefully.  In this picture, some relatives are dressed in their best attire for a family photo shoot circa 1902.  Many of these dresses were made by their mothers and the lace was hand made.  If you have ever had the opportunity to see vintage lace makers at work you will understand the skill involved.

Simpson familyHere is a picture of the same girls thirty years later with their mother.  Can you tell which girl is which?  Neither can I but luckily some forward-thinking person wrote the names on the back of the pictures.  Look how much the styles have changed.  I’ll bet they have more that one or two dresses by now.  Sadly, the boy is no longer with the family as he died during WWI.

An interesting note on the fashion industry is that magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair had surges in their subscriptions during the Depression and World War II.  Maybe a bit of wistful thinking was going on with Americans.  There were so many things that people had to forgo either for economic reasons or because of national rationing.


On the left, are my grandparents, taken some time in the late 1940s, very simple but elegant.  I think this was taken at a ship christening in which they would be interacting with owners and executives.  Even my grandfather in his bomber jacket, still wears a neck tie. Love the hats!  Interesting to see that women seemed to have a thing for shoes.  Both the picture on the right and the left demonstrate this trend. I know that my grandmother had a dozen or so nice outfits, nothing extravagant, but enough for a variety of occasions.

ImageBut things really start to pick up in the late forties and the fifties.  Check out the women in this picture from my grandfather’s work.  Not only are the fashions quite colorful, the hats come in a variety of styles…and the women are smoking.  By this time, women are fully engaged in consumerism, many having full wardrobes in their closets.

The biggest sales being automobiles and televisions.  With many of America now owning a television a new form of marketing was on the rise…the commercial.  Now the latest and greatest of new products came to the viewer almost instantly.  For every hour of television, nine minutes were slotted to commercials, usually of one minute duration.

In fact, consumerism was actually considered to be a patriotic gesture as the consumer was showing their support by adding to the economic wealth of the country.

ImageTo me, every era of military uniform looks great, maybe because the uniform symbolizes that person as a guardian or protector of the citizens.

This is a typical photo of a captain in the Air Corp and his crew.

Not surprising for the times, our captain’s sister was a nurse.

ImageRemember the days when nurses dressed like this?  This hat makes her profession absolutely clear, as did the hats of other professions of this time.

I think this look is rather classy.  Today, the professional look is almost completely forgotten.  Very few people wear a uniform to distinguish themselves from other occupations.

I wonder if the adopting of a casual attire for work has had any influence on the casual attitude that many people have in business?  About the only place I see people referred to by title is the medical profession and in addressing teachers formally such as Mrs. Jones.  Is that because they insist on it?

Paul TiffanyAnd what about little boys dressed up like this?  What used to be a familiar practice is unheard of in today’s world. By the way, this isn’t that ancient…this person is still alive today.  I guess the greatest benefit in changing lifestyles and fashions is that it can help us date when a particular picture was taken.

91This photo was taken circa 1915…the kids would go to the beach after Sunday School.  Remember the white bows that were the rave of this time?  That’s my grandmother pushing her baby brother through the sand.  I just love the old buggies or as the Brits say, perambulators.

Can you imagine anyone today wearing this much clothing to the beach?  Especially your Sunday best.  I’ll bet she was probably scolded for getting her shoes all sandy. It’s a bit harder to tell the seasons as most women back then covered their arms.  My grandmother lived to see me wearing a string bikini.  I wonder what she thought about all of the changes she observed in her lifetime.

Mary Agnes Wilson Smith, Aunt Ruth, Jane Wilson Mullin, Emma TiffanyI prefer the innocence of little girls at the turn of the century playing with dolls over today’s little girls who want to be models and singers or have their own reality TV show.  I wonder how much television has affected this trend?  The children of my client’s all have TVs in their bedroom. These girls never had a TV.  Imagine what children of today would be like if there was no TV.  What sort of creative activity would they be involved in?  With so much attention on entertainment, so many of today’s children have forgotten how to be ladies.

George Smith 2Now that’s a tricycle!

I’ll bet he had a lot of fun with that.  It seems to be pretty new as he does not seem tall enough to ride it yet.  And I’ll bet that when he is too old for it, his little brother would get to have it.  Or perhaps they shared it from the very start.

History of the spoons, Ruth Moultan

Love this one for two reasons.  The first being that it was a letter from an aunt to her niece and I truly do miss the art of letter writing.  Now having a few of them in my collection, I see how valuable they are at connecting us to our greater family in the past.  The second is that the letter was delivered without a street number, no return address or full name…simply Aunt Ruth.   Yet, the postman delivered it to the right person.  A letter that was important enough to keep as part of her treasured mementos before passing them off to her niece.  The notation of “spoons” is letting Martha know that this letter explains about the family spoons that have been collected from the silver settings of several generations, which Martha recently became the beneficiary of and this letter is an important documentation of her family heritage.  I’m so glad the mailman found Martha despite the missing information.

05_04_77I prefer old houses with charm and character that a hundred years later still lends a story about the previous owners.  This house was built for a family member around 1902.  They were farmers and her husband had died a terrible death of blood poisoning from a cut, leaving her to raise five young children on her own.  She continued on the farm for a few years…struggling. He fortunately had life insurance and it was a huge amount of money for that time period.  And, unfortunately it was how this woman was finally able to have her house in the city.   In fact, it is the house Martha lived in, from the letter above.   I took this picture 2 years ago and it still has all of it’s charm.  I was in a hurry at the time and would have loved to talk to the current owners…perhaps on a future trip.


This is my great great grandmother’s dining room.  Though they lived on a farm it is tastefully decorated with lace and fine china and furniture that was built by a true craftsman. The farm is still a running farm and still is in the family, though I have never had occasions to visit.  I wonder if the furnishings and dishes are still there as well.  This is one question that I could get answered.


I love this picture of a house my dad grew up in.  Hanging out each window are my aunt and second cousins but what makes this picture perfect is the Woodie at the bottom of the steps along the road.

A few years ago, my aunt was in the neighborhood and did stop by and say hello to the current owners.  They invited her in and gave her a tour of the place. She said it was wonderful walking through the rooms with memories of the past fresh in her mind.


I love the days when washing your car or giving it a tune up where things of the norm.  One of my proudest accomplishments was rebuilding a VW engine when I was six months pregnant.  Though I had never done it before, I took the owners manual and the Idiot’s Guide and had at it.  It really made me feel invincible.  I wonder if children of today ever get to experience that feeling.  As I look at my aunt washing her car I can’t help but think what a treat it would be to have one of those to drive around town in…or just to the local car show.


I prefer a time when people were free to travel the world and enjoy the many different cultures that are out there…and could do so safely.  But, I am grateful to have known others who were able to do so.  Somehow it feels extra special, knowing that at least my aunt got to see one of the Wonders of the World.

Though I have set aside some of those dreams of traveling to faraway places due to the current political unrest, I have not given up the idea of traveling.  I am hopeful that many more people who have traveled to exotic places share their collections with museums.  I know that a lot of my early interest in the world beyond America came from books and from visiting museums such as Leland Stanford Museum in Palo Alto where he kindly donated his collection of his many travels around the world.


I guess that it wouldn’t be too surprising to learn that I like vintage stereo and that my husband’s business before retiring was vintage speaker repair.

I love the fact that records have come back in style almost as a protest of the digital age.  It’s a good thing that I didn’t get rid of all of my vinyl.

Wedding 328

In addition, I prefer antiques. This is not my own, just a picture I took at the Eastman House, in NY.  Though this is very pretty, it would be of no use to me…I never paint my face nor curl my locks.

But, I do have a selection of antiques that have sentimental value or are family pieces and I just don’t think they’d mix well with the modern stuff.


You would have guessed correctly if you said that my favorite city is St. Augustine, which is historically the oldest city in the US.  My great grandfather took this picture around 1914.  Though the streets are empty in the photo, they are rarely empty today.

I love that the tourists are mostly European and that the architecture is a combination of English and Spanish.  Literally…the Spanish had control at one point and built the town and later the English came and built a second story to the original house.

It is one of the top tourist spots and has been listed in National Geographic as one of the top ten places to see for holiday lights.  Each year they dedicate two months for the Festival of Lights in which every building is lit up in white and festivities occur through December and January.


And when I reached my fiftieth, I told my husband I wanted to go for a plane ride…vintage of course!

I had an awesome ride in this open cockpit biplane and was unexpectedly treated to a very nice airplane museum on the same property.  It was really great, very hands on…you could climb in to many of them!  I’ve seen a lot of air museums and this was one of the better ones.


The very best road trip I ever had included traveling part of Route 66 and though there are too many photos about this trip, I thought I’d share just a few.  The Red Garter Bed and Breakfast in Williams Arizona is actually a fully restored bordello and saloon, turned bed and breakfast.  The saloon part is now a bakery.  We spoke with the Innkeeper and much of historic Williams was becoming obsolete because of the 40 bypass.  John Holst started his project and at the same time convinced others in town to do the same and as a result, Williams is one section of Route 66 that is showing her glory.  And, you can take a train into the Grand Canyon or tour other historic sites nearby.  This trip we were just driving through but one day, I’ll be coming back to the Red Garter…as a guest.


At one point we were in need of a stretch so we took a quick look at the Petrified Forest, got some cool pics and headed west only to meet up with the Painted Desert.  I remember my grandmother painting pictures of the landscape.  It sure was beautiful and all of this was new territory for Rick who had never seen a desert before.  Imagine that…you first view of a desert after fifty years.  His reaction moved me to appreciate deserts just a little bit more.

Painted Desert

Save as Cadillac Ranch

Just east of Amarillo is a special place called Cadillac Ranch.  It’s out in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere.  People know of it by word of mouth…and they come for a chance to see ten caddies, ends to the sky, decorated by the latest visitor.  It’s the only time graffiti is welcome and encouraged.  So of course…we left our message.  A simple youthful statement scrawled out on a vintage caddie, about two people who want to be together, that for a few days would be shared with anyone who came.