Thursday, November 04, 2010

Blast from the past

I’ve been scanning old photos again, encouraged by Prompt 8 of True Stories. I’ve posted other scans here from time to time along with what I remember of them.

My mom, when she sees the blog posts, calls me up and tells me what I remembered wrong or adds details to things I wouldn’t have known at the time. We sometimes argue over who is correct. I tend to think it is me because being 28 years younger than her I have had less time to forget things & fewer memories to crowd them out.

This is from my folk’s house in 1975 (as if that is not totally obvious to everyone)


What makes this so obviously a photo from 1975?

Where to begin…

The phone my father is speaking on is mounted to the wall, with a short cord.  You could just barely sit at the kitchen table while talking on the phone. Mostly though you had to stand, so make it a short conversation. Especially if dad was expecting a phone call, which was always. There was no call waiting back then.

You can just about make out on the right side of my dad’s face his sideburns. He had IMPRESSIVE side burns. Side burns were BIG in the 70’s He looked like Engelbert Humperdinck, or so I am told. I cannot find a photo of EH with the side burns for comparison.

Then there is the woman.

Not my mom.

One of our neighbors but I don’t know who. I rarely recognize any adults in that era.

She is wearing a sleeveless polyester pantsuit with an orange, yellow & brown striped shirt under it. The shirt collar is HUGE. So are her glasses. Note how the color of her hair matches the overall hue of the room.

She is SMOKING. In the HOUSE! Just off to the left of the photo is an enormous brown ceramic ashtray that would be just mounded with butts at the end of a visit from the neighbors. They all chain smoked. My parents chain smoked. I have that ashtray now. I use it as a candle holder with greenery for Xmas decor

That drink in front of her is called a highball. I once knew how to make them as a party trick when my dad hosted poker nights. (I was 8 in 1975, 8 year olds mixing drinks was a bit of ‘thing’ in our neighborhood. The kid across the street made a mean martini)

She is sitting at a round orange laminate table with white rounded plastic chairs. These chairs had orangy-tan cushions that were held in place by a single strip of velcro that often gave way if you wiggled at all in your seat, sending you sliding to the floor along with the cushion & if you were lucky you didn’t smack your chin on the table on the way down. Adults just found the cushions slippery. Kids who couldn’t reach the floor with their feet lived in fear of dinner time.

Because sliding off the chair & smacking your head on the table was proof you were “Goofing off at the table! Go to your room! no MASH reruns for you tonight”

But it was a useful place to hide green beans when no one was looking.

Then there is the serviceable brown fridge. We also could have gotten it in avocado green or harvest gold, but my parents liked the contrast of brown appliances with an orange & tan kitchen.

If you held the fridge door open longer than 2.5 seconds a voice from somewhere in the house would shout “Close the damn fridge door! You know what is in there! You were just looking in there 5 minutes ago!”

And I now find myself saying the exact same thing….

Last we have the wallpaper.

No one could mistake that wallpaper for anything other than exactly what it is. 1970’s kitchen wallpaper. I’ll bet a quarter of the people reading this blog, who were alive in the 1970’s, had that same wallpaper in their kitchens, or it was in their best friend’s kitchen. Admit it, most of you encountered that wall paper, in either gold/orange or green/brown at some point in the 70’s.

There were matching curtains on the kitchen window.

Not pictured is the flooring. Vinyl. It had an orange & tan pattern of interlocking squares.

Interesting coincidence… when I was 15 they remodeled this kitchen and went with a blue motif. New wall paper, new flooring, new cream colored appliances. When I was 30 we bought our house and the tile in our kitchen was the same pattern as my parent’s 70’s kitchen but in the blue and cream color of the redone kitchen.


Mom will no doubt let me know which of the neighbors that is and probably correct me that it’s not Engelbert Humperdinck but some other 70s singer that everyone thought my dad looked like.

And probably that isn’t a highball but a whiskey sour (a drink I still make).

But I am 99% those are Virginia Slims she is smoking.


Maggie said...

Delurking because my mom had that exact same shirt (about the same time). She used to wear it to work with some A line skirt, huge chunky boots, and a vest. Good times. Also our kitchen wall paper was white with huge yellow and orange flowers. Oh the '70s...

SciFi Dad said...

"Adults just found the cushions slippery. Kids who couldn’t reach the floor with their feet lived in fear of dinner time."

I actually laughed so loud at this line that my wife jumped.

Helena said...

I love everything about this photo. you can't get much more 70s than this!

ridgely johnson said...

This post took me back to my youth- I am older than you- I know you probably don't remember party lines on the telephone-- I definitely remember the highballs, the cigarettes, the sideburns and closing the fridge door on command. Great post!

Kai said...

It is crazy that the 70's had such ... ahem... style. I think my grandmother had that wallpaper. Our kitchen was painted in gold. I think our dishwasher was that 70's green. My parents and grandparents and anyone they invited to our house all smoked incessantly. And I knew how to make a mean extra dry gin martini on the rocks with a twist of lemon (just "wave" the vermouth over it)... but not until 1978, when I was 8. LOL - you always crack me up!

Rinda1961 said...

I never tire of reading your writing! Funny and heartfelt and a little scary in it's truth, all atbthe same time. Thx for sharing.

humel said...

That photo so totally catches the time! I was born in the early seventies so a lot of my childhood photos have exactly this colour scheme. Even now my Mum favours brown in her house, thought thankfully she's moved on from the orange....

Beverly said...

Blast from the past absolutely! Thanks for the time travel trip!

Lucrecia Gray said...

Ah yes, I remember all of those things! Our children have totally missed out!

Andrea Chamberlain said...

Holy hell, I just about fell off my chair - that photo is so reminiscent of my childhood, it's almost scary.

That wallpaper is almost *exactly* what we had in our kitchen growing up. My mother wore those clothes. I can almost feel the laminate on that table.

And just 2 weeks ago, my brother and I replaced that exact phone in my parent's kitchen down in NC. It came with their house which was built much more recently than the seventies so why it had that phone in it, we don't know. We're thinking that the people who used to live there were hippies or something. Geriatric ones, but hippies nonetheless.

Carrie said...

Fun post - brought some memories back!

Lori said...

I just have to say, my 18 year old son now owns that striped shirt.

I am so not kidding.

Like, that EXACT shirt.

Not sure if that's good or bad.

Cheri said...

Could have been in my house too... when I was in high school!

Comfy Mom said...

One of my closest friends had that wallpaper in their kitchen. I liked it more than ours because of the yellow

Comfy Mom said...

Actually, because we lived in ashort cul de sac we had a party line until shortly before this photo when my dad became such a heavy user of the line he demanded we have our own. I remember listening for our 'ring tone' when the phone rang

Comfy Mom said...

My oldest son is 8 now & DH is teaching him how to make his preferred scotch & soda, with 3 cubes of ice.

Comfy Mom said...

My parents have converted to blue & cream, with yellow accents. very bright. But they live in Florida now & that seems to be a very Florida beachy color scheme

Comfy Mom said...

I regularly look at shirts in clothing stores these days and think "been there, worn that. done my time in it, not doing it again"

Jean Has Been Shopping said...

I'm having issues with my computer loading jpgs today, but from the way you describe the scene, I'd bet money that it was 1975.