Heywood Wakefield hoarder ahoy!

Yeah, that would be me. In the last two weeks I got two more (yes, these make three) vintage Heywood Wakefield M308G “step” side tables in the “Champagne” finish and the M320 “kneehole” desk in “Wheat.”

Heywood Wakefield side/end tables.

I seriously love this side table model. If I could be a piece of furniture, this is what I’d be. steppy second level and the sweepy legs are quirky, yet graceful. The inward-upward taper created by the legs and the smaller upper step take a page straight out of classical Greek architecture. This is the freaking Parthenon of end tables.

While this particular style was only in production for about six years (1948-1953) and they don’t come cheap, there are enough M308Gs out there to populate your own modest-sized mid century furniture planet if you really wanted to. I got these from a knowledgeable collector who had a nice HeyWake buffet project in the hopper and didn’t have time or space to deal with them now.

Now for the desk and chair. I picked them up from a nice couple who needed to make room for their baby’s crib. The wife’s grandfather had purchased the set new, which made me a little sad to think that such a nifty piece was leaving its original family. That said, I will give it a very nice, loving home, so no one has to worry.

Heywood Wakefield kneehole desk.

Heywood Wakefield produced this iconic kneehole design from 1950-1965. Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky – the 20th century Russian-American industrial designer known for his streamlined, modernist style  – created it. What makes the desk extra-nifty is the very wide upper drawer. And the left-lower double-high bottom drawer, which makes it perfect for storing file folders. And the fully finished desk back. And…well, pretty much everything.

My plans for world domination through mid century birch furniture are becoming reality! Craigslist, I couldn’t do it without you!

Fashion Icons: Vertigo, Edith Head, Alfred Hitchcock, and Kim Novak

Madeleine’s icy white coat, worn by Kim Novak in Vertigo. Scan from an Ebay poster auction.

Anyone who knows me knows I love me some Vertigo. It’s my favorite Hitchcock film. The mystery involved makes it an obvious choice for Halloween, but there’s more to in than that. There’s the local aspect (I’m from Northern California), the Edith Head costumes (which aren’t exclusive to this Hitchcock piece, though they are particularly wonderful in it), and Kim Novak, whom I admire greatly.

She’s not just beautiful, she’s a tremendously sensitive actress. Novak’s very raw, vulnerable portrayal of Judy resonated with me. I could relate. Plus, she looked darn hot as both a rough-edged shop girl and a sanitized stand-in for the very patrician Madeleine Elster.

Continue reading “Fashion Icons: Vertigo, Edith Head, Alfred Hitchcock, and Kim Novak”

I <3 WTC

Early 1964: Architect Minoru Yamasaki and Gov. Nelson D. Rockefeller pose with the first “finished” configuration model of the World Trade Center.

This humble post is dedicated to Minoru Yamasaki, modern architectural master, and Guy Tozzoli, the man who directly managed the original World Trade Center project and deeply loved his Twins.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was a source of political contention and financial worry. In the late 1970s, it was a symbol of metropolitan glamor (it was the Emerald City in The Wiz, after all!). In the 1980s and 1990s, it stood for commercial success and tourist fascination. In the early 21st century, it became Ground Zero. And now, for most people, the World Trade Center is back to being the World Trade Center once again, proof that determination can – just as in the 60s and 70s – overcome political strife. Things may never be right in Lower Manhattan again, but things can be good.

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Happy 58th, Disneyland! and the Barstow Family’s “Disneyland Dream”

The Barstow family in Disneyland, 1956.

Disneyland’s 58 years old today! To celebrate, here’s the Barstow family’s 1956 D-Land adventure! One of the kids won the trip – a dream vacation to the then-one-year-old theme park – through a 3M cellophane tape contest.

The film – titled “Disneyland Dream” – is a great record of early Disneyland, but it also includes glimpses of old school Knott’s Berry farm and 1950s SoCal in general. These days, it’s hard to imagine northern O.C. covered by anything but pavement and buildings… Continue reading “Happy 58th, Disneyland! and the Barstow Family’s “Disneyland Dream””

Coming soon!

I’ve got some post-projects lined up for this spring and summer, running the gamut from fashion to home decor! Please stay tuned while I finish up my work for this semester…

Meanwhile, behold the backside of North America! One of my photos of the Unisphere from Corona Park…

Unisphere by Kali.

The WPIX Yule Log and classic Christmas music

Merry Christmas!

I’m a Christmas nut. I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but I freaking love everything about the season – the lights, the food, the festive mood, and maybe most of all, the amazing holiday music. My favorite Christmas tracks are nostalgic, particularly the ones from the 1950s through the early 1970s that remind me of my early childhood. This is why I love the original WPIX Yule Log, a Christmas Eve television tradition since 1966. Originally conceived by WPIX General Manager Fred Thrower to bring old-fashioned holiday hearth experiences to New Yorkers, the “classic” WPIX playlist – like the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Main Street Christmas loops compiled by “voice of Disneyland” Jack Wagner – brings many of my absolute favorite Christmas recordings together in a single, quirky package.

Being a West Coaster and a child of the 1980s, my first TV Yule Log experience happened care of KOFY TV-20, the legendary independent station in the San Francisco Bay Area known for its crazy dog bumpers. I remember hours of Philadelphia Brass, but I’m fairly sure the playlist was similar to the following WPIX playlist, which features everyone from Percy Faith to David Rose:

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A 1930s Halloween

Halloween kit cover.

‘Tis the season for spooky festivities! While some current Halloween traditions have roots that stretch back to antiquity, our contemporary children’s holiday activities – like parties, games, costume parades, and even trick-or-treating – were actually devised in the 20th century as ways to keep kids from partaking in the destructive and dangerous pranks that plagued the season in the 1920s and 1930s.

The following Halloween party ideas come from a wonderful Halloween Program Kit distributed by the Cooperative Recreation Service in Delaware, OH, in the 1930s. My copy is stamped as the property of the Fresno, CA, Works Progress Administration. The kit – marked #28 in the series, revised – was edited by Lynn & Katherine Rorhbough. Continue reading “A 1930s Halloween”

Happy Hallowe’en!

The Three Witches from Macbeth (Elizabeth Lamb, Viscountess Melbourne; Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire; Anne Seymour Damer) by Daniel Gardner

Hallowe’en season is here! To commemorate spookiness’ return, I’ve adjusted my blog theme to feature Daniel Gardner’s “Three Witches from Macbeth.” This pastel triple-portrait from 1775 features Lady Elizabeth Lamb, Viscountess of Melbourne; Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire; and Mrs. Anne Seymour Damer, the artist, portrayed as the famous witches from Shakespeare’s play.

The famous Duchess of Devonshire was about eighteen years old when she posed for this piece. It was created not long after her marriage to the Duke, at around the same time she became a rising star in Britain’s most fashionable set, the bon ton. Following in her friend Lady Melbourne’s footsteps, and owing to her marriage into a powerful family of Whig partisans, she would also become the most celebrated political hostess in England.

The three friends make awfully cute sorceresses, don’t they? For more on this piece, check out its official entry at the National Portrait Gallery.