Friday, December 21, 2012

Louisville, KY movie ads on December 10, 1957

All that's left of the Ohio is its facade and marquee.  Likewise, only part of the Uptown exists and is now a restaurant.  The Rialto, one of Louisville's largest and most impressive movie palaces, was torn down soon after playing the 1967 Rex Harrison musical, Doctor Dolittle.  The Crescent, always known as a neighborhood art theater, has long been converted into a restaurant.  The Westend and Cozy are long gone.  The Brown became a legit theatre many years ago, and continues as such to this day.
Neighborhood theaters, all gone.
The Mary Anderson was one of the older theaters in downtown Louisville.  Part of an office building, it was gutted long ago.  The Kentucky still exists, though gutted and repurposed.  The drive-ins are all gone.  
The Lowe's & United Artists was an unusual corporate sharing of one theater when it was built in 1928. John Eberson, famed for his atmospheric theaters, designed it.  In the early 1960s, the balcony was converted into the Penthouse while the downstairs became the United Artists, eventually inheriting the Rialto's Cinerama screen, which they touted as D-150, though neither movie shot in the process -- Patton nor The the Beginning played there.  It is now known as The Louisville Palace and has been completely restored.

Memorial Auditorium, a handsome Greek revival-style venue, still exists.  Who knew that Paulette Goddard toured in The Waltz of the Toreadors?  In 1958, Melvyn Douglas took it back to Broadway with Betty Field.  Perhaps Paulette had had enough.

Merry Christmas from Stewart's Dry Goods, Louisville, KY

This charming watercolor graced the cover of Stewart's catalog sometime mid-century.  Stewart's was the Bloomingdale's of Louisville, and like most regional department stores, it no longer exists.  The flagship store downtown was saved, at least, and is now an office building.  More information is on this excellent department store museum site.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Mother's Big Moment, December 10, 1957

December 10, 1957:  a bank robbery so large in suburban Louisville, KY it was picked up on the wire and the robbers didn't even get the fame they deserved.  It all took place at the Citizens Fidelity Bank branch at Dixie Manor Shopping Center.  My mother, who was the bank secretary, stole it from them.  As she later told me many times, the robbers came in waving guns and said "Everyone out front."  "Well, I was already out front," she told me.  "I thought they meant outside, so that's where I went!  I didn't even have a sweater!  I was freezing!  I heard one of them say, 'Hey, where's she going!' but I didn't think he meant me until I turned around and saw I was the only one out on the sidewalk.  So I ran until I saw a lineman up on a telephone pole.  He called the police." In the complete article which follows, you'll detect a slightly different version.

My aunt, who was in college in Missouri, read about it in the St. Louis paper.  When my mother told grandfather on the telephone that 'we were held up today but I'm okay,' he replied "Oh, all right," rather nonchalantly, assuming she was referring to being held up in traffic.

Soon afterwards, a periodical of some sort speculated that since my mother walked out of the bank unscathed, it was rather hard to believe she wasn't in on the scheme, even referring to her as a 'cheap blonde.'  Oh, how I wish they'd kept a copy!  More troubling was a letter we received.  Angry at her interference, someone, perhaps even a cheap blonde, threatened to kidnap me!  The police weren't convinced it was to be taken seriously as I recall.  I was never kidnapped, so I presume they were right.

The sentencing, December 10, 1958.  No mention of George.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The very, very best of Little Lulu

When we get the chance to look back at things we enjoyed as children, things like comic books, for example, we're often disappointed. Comics that seemed clever to our childhood eyes might seem simplistic or corny or even insipid when we're adults. Happily, that's not the case with Little Lulu.  I loved the comics then and I still do.  John Stanley, who wrote and drew Little Lulu from the late 1940s through the late 1950s, infused his stories with genuine wit.  These were probably were at their peak in the early 1950s when each was a thick fifty-two pages and boasted more elaborate covers and lengthier stories as seen below.

As per Wikipedia, John Stanley's writing style has been described as employing "colorful, S. J. Perelman-ish language and a decidedly bizarre, macabre wit (reminiscent of writer Roald Dahl), with storylines that were cohesive and tightly constructed, with nary a loose thread in the plot. He has been favorably compared to the legendary Carl Barks, and cartoonist Fred Hembeck has dubbed him "the most consistently funny cartoonist to work in the comic book medium". Captain Marvel co-creator C. C. Beck remarked "The only comic books I ever read and enjoyed were Little Lulu and Donald Duck."

In the last decade or so, Stanley has become more appreciated and much of his work has been reprinted, much of it in expensive hardbound, boxed volumes.

My personal favorite is this story of degradation, humiliation and revenge originally published in August, 1951. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tifton, GA modern motel

On the way to St. Petersburg, FL from Louisville, KY in July, 1970, my father took this shot of us at a modernist motel in Tifton, GA, just off I-75.  My mother felt she could rely on Holiday Inn for cleanliness and cost, so that's probably what this was.  I have no memory of it at all.  Note the Poloroid case lying on the ground.
A little sleuthing on the internet turned up these shots taken forty years later of the same motel on the Modern Phoenix site, looking a little forlorn but surprisingly unaltered.  I was able to find it on Google maps.  The address is 1008 8th St. W, Tifton, GA 31794, and was most recently a Budget Inn, but it appears to be closed.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How the 1960 Ford Falcon was styled

The Falcon eventually looked like this in its debut in the 1960 model year.  As the September 1959 Motor Trend explains, Falcon (originally called XK Thunderbird, then Lavion, then Astrion) was originally conceived as a smaller, cheaper Thunderbird (after Thunderbird spread its wings and fins and grew into a personal luxury car).
Here the quad headlamps are very close to the 1958-1960 Thunderbird...
...while the rear profile design (top) is a bit like the 1960 Rambler. The rear design on the left would eventually find itself used (more or less) on the 1962 Mercury Comet.  The design on the right, however, is like a finless 1958 Thunderbird.
As explained in the article, the Ford designers were very much in love with the vertical grille (above and below) which was of course, used on the ill-fated Edsel.  Note the double-Cyclops stacked headlights on the European-like design below.  Surely no one thought that would be approved.
A variation on rear end, above, right, would later turn up on the 1961 Thunderbird.
 Aside from the quad headlights, this design for the grille was getting closer.
Curiously, Motor Trend tells us the top sketch on this page was rejected, but it's the closest to the design that made the final cut.  The design at the bottom recalls the 1962 Mercury Meteor.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Create your own mid-century garden walls

Frustrated that you can't really buy mid-century inspired garden walls, fences and screens?  That may because most of them, even at the time, were custom made.  Thanks to Sunset Magazine's 1963 Garden Art and Decoration book, here are some really interesting notions that might inspire you to create your very own designs.
 Art for the carport?  Why not?
 Those of your who have access to a kiln might try creating your own tiles like these.
 I like the carved plaster panel at bottom left.  If you're really industrious you could create a whole series of designs  and set them within a wood fence.
 How many dull retaining walls have you seen?  Consider a mural of colored pebbles, ceramic or glass.
 Whenever one of these books says 'easy to make' you have to remember this is relative to mixing plaster and cement.

Here's where things start to get more complex but very interesting.  If you're very clever, you could turn an average patio into an art gallery.
Something tells me these sand casts will take a lot of practice to get successful results, but good old Sunset helpfully provided step by step instructions, below.

 Now here's the stuff I really like.  Decorative outdoor screens were all the rage mid-century.
Look closely at the sample at the top left -- mosaic tile panels alternating between plastic panels.  You can still get translucent plexiglas in various colors.