Holidays · Uncategorized · Valentine's Day

Vintage Valentines Through the Decades.

Do you remember as a kid bringing a decorated shoe box with a slit in the top to school to collect your Valentines from your friends? Or maybe you had an art lesson where you cut out 2 hearts and sewed them together with pink yarn to create an envelope to collect your Valentines from each of your classmates during a class party? I remember doing both throughout elementary school and how much fun it was to pour through my pile of cards and treats reading each card signed personally by my friends. I loved how each one was so unique and how special they made me feel.

This Valentine’s Day, I wanted to relive the warm and fuzzy feeling of sorting through all of those unique and quirky Valentine Cards and share them with you as we explore Valentines through the decades. First, let’s rewind history and explore where Valentine’s Day got its roots.

History of Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day dates back to the pagan holiday honoring Juno-the Queen of Roman Gods and Goddesses which took place on February 14th. The holiday also has it’s more well-known roots in the stories surrounding St. Valentine who was killed on February 14th and became a martyr for his faith. Later, during the Middle Ages, people in England and France also held a belief that birds started to look for their mate starting from February 14. But it’s the Victorians who made the holiday as we know it today. Valentines in the Victorian era were flat sheets of paper often printed with colorful illustrations with embossed borders. They were folded and sealed with wax so they could be mailed (5minutehistory). Valentines were so popular, the postmen were given a special allowance for refreshments to help them get through the exertions of the 2-3 days leading up to Valentine’s Day (5minute history). Let’s start off our journey through the decades with the romantic Victorians and early 1900’s.

Victorian & 1900’s

1920’s & 1930’s

1940’s

1950’s & 1960’s

1970’s & 1980’s

Raggedy Ann and Andy were a part of great childhood memories.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and I wish you a very happy St. Valentine’s Day!

Sources:

http://www.stvalentinesday.org/history-of-st-valentines-day.html

fiveminutehistory.com

History of Valentines Day, Hallmark

Uncategorized

Magical or Miserable? 5 Recommendations for a Blended Family Vacation

img_5336For eight months my husband and I planned a Walt Disney World Vacation to celebrate 5 years of blending

Not blending margaritas, but our family. We even made matching t-shirts that said, “5 for 5” (5 of us 5 years married). So, with our magic bands and matching t-shirts, we were off to Florida for our much anticipated once in a lifetime, thank goodness the kids are old enough to go off on their own, family vacation.

On our first day in the Magic Kingdom, we didn’t waste any time letting the 2 teenagers go off on their own while the adults went on Thunder Mountain. I must say, one of the benefits of vacationing with your family in 2018 is the ability to get in touch with your teens at any time. Now, instead of just worrying about where your teens are, you now can also panic about what horrible thing has happened to them because they aren’t answering your text message. But, the teens were actually fine while they explored shops and used their snack credits on their magic bands, while my husband, my son Christian, and I went on what used to be called “E-ticket” rides.

During our 5 day trip, we visited all 4 parks and created memories that I hope we will all reminisce about for years to come. Some of our best times were spent bonding in the pouring rain under umbrellas and exchanging ponchos while we waiting in line for rides.

We even managed not to kill each other in the hotel room all 5 of us shared! But, we are sort of experienced at this since we all shared a room a few years back at the Grand Californian at Disneyland, and a room in San Diego during an extended family vacation. Each time we go somewhere though, poor Christian ( the 21-year-old) always gets the sofa bed. So, we’ve had some practice! I think we were either too excited or too exhausted to get on each other’s nerves in the hotel room, plus we weren’t in there very much, to begin with.

If you are going to venture out on a Blended Family vacation, I highly recommend splitting up into groups. That way your not all stuck side by side forcing family bonding every second. Besides, each age group has different expectations for the day and wants different experiences. For example, my daughter and I enjoy the Princesses so we broke off from the guys in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to catch a Beauty and the Beast stage show. It’s not necessary, nor advisable to spend every waking second together.

I also recommend some couple time. One of my very favorite memories from the trip was when my hunky hubby in his dapper Disney poncho and I spent an evening alone exploring the World’s Showcase in the national pavilions at Epcot. We trotted the globe visiting the countries of Japan, France, Italy, England, and Canada…all in one evening. We stopped in the French pavilion at the Palais du Cinéma to watch the Impressions de France movie that showcased the beauty and charm of France in a 200-degree widescreen theatre and followed it up with coffee and a Christmas Yule Log called a Buche de Noel. Btw, that was our second dessert of the night! But that is how you roll at WDW. By the end of the evening though, the rain had stopped and my husband and I had a romantic evening in what turned out to be my favorite park. We took beautiful photos and had fun meeting people from around the world.

The next day we all went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios which was decorated like we stepped into a 1950’s classic Christmas movie set. Throughout the day, I annoyed my family by commenting on everything saying “that’s so vintage”.

For lunch, we had reservations at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe and enjoyed crazy-good fried chicken while watching reruns of The Mickey Mouse Club on tiny TVs in a 50’s style kitchen.

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As a side note, my 21-year-old son tried a couple of time to see if it was too late to get out of going on this trip because I think he was worried the teenagers would annoy him.  Fortunately for him, the trip was already paid for and he had no choice but to be tortured like the rest of us! But as you can see from the photo above, he doesn’t look tortured and actually ended up having a great time and now I can remind him of our trip with cute annoying little sayings like “Stay Magical”. What was so nice about this trip is we had bonding moments with each person whether it was sharing laughs on a ride or taking goofy photos or enjoying a special treat.

Our final day was spent in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. To be honest, I was exhausted by then and glad the park was small. My feet were in terrible shape but at least the weather was warm and sunny which made walking around a lot more tolerable. Disney’s Animal Kingdom was my son Christian’s favorite park and where we ended the trip with a stomach-churning ride on Expedition Everest. Just when we get right up to the front of the line for the ride, my son asks to sit next to me in the VERY front row. I thought for a split second “do it, this is a bonding experience with your son and it’s the last ride of the trip…go out with a bang”. So I did and it was worth every second! My husband, Chris who’s a good sport got stuck sitting with the strange guy in the explorers’ hat behind us. Afterward, it felt like my intestines twisted into a pretzel, but the memory was well worth it.

Recommendations for a Magical Blended Family Vacation:

  1. It’s ok to split up-don’t feel like if you don’t spend every second together, you’ll miss out on precious blending opportunities.  Don’t build up too many expectations and be relaxed; the good times will flow if your calm and open-minded. Make time to create memories as a couple by going off on your own for a little adventure.
  2. Make time to create memories as a couple by going off on your own for a little adventure. If your kids are older, say 13 and up, let them explore on their own. Just set a check-in time and a meetup place for later in the day. The kids will enjoy the independence and you’ll get a much-needed sanity break. Then you’ll all be fresh minded and ready to spend some quality blending time together later on.
  3. Discuss ahead of time what you’re going to do that day-discussing favorite rides and attractions ahead of time will help you plan out your itinerary for the day. This way everyone gets a chance to voice what they want to do and plans can be made around it. In our case, we had Fast Passes already scheduled 60 days in advance, so we worked the other rides in around those. If someone really wanted to go on a particular ride, we worked that into our schedule and compromised.
  4. Find something that bonds you together. Food is always a good choice- blending may be smoother for some members of the family and more strenuous for others. If that’s the case, try and find something that you can bond over. Treats like popcorn, pretzels, or beignets are a good way to find commonality and create memories. My bonus son, Austin and I enjoy bonding over eating enormous amounts of beignets at Disneyland and now WDW.
  5. Be flexible and patient- traveling with a large group of people usually takes patience and a certain amount of flexibility. When traveling with a blended family, flexibility and patience are golden beignets from God. You just can’t have enough! Be open-minded and willing to try new things. Most of all bring your sense of humor…it will get you through some stressful times.

What I wished we did but didn’t have time for…. more down time to just chill by the pool.

Thanks to Lynette Katz of Wish Upon A Star for making this trip run as smooth as butter! Because of her planning and hard work, our trip was organized and hassle-free. She coordinated our whole trip ahead of time including dinner and lunch reservations and fast passes to the best rides. Also, her inside knowledge of the parks was invaluable. Thanks, Lynette….Stay Magical!

Classic movies · Travel and Adventure

Enchanting Getaway: The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa

All I could think of in the middle of the night was “the bent neck lady”. If you’ve seen The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix you will know what I am referring to. I stayed overnight at The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside, CA with my daughter this Veteran’s Day weekend. I never heard of any hauntings or scary stories about the hotel prior to our trip, except…my 15-year-old daughter’s assumption that since it’s a National Historic Landmark, it must be haunted.  Well, it wasn’t haunted. At least not from my experience.

MissionInnFlyingButtresses2

From the moment we arrived, I noticed the city-block-size hotel stood out as a gorgeous gothic treasure among the modern downtown buildings surrounding it. This romantically enchanting, one-of-a-kind Mission-style architecture was awe-inspiring. The bougainvillea-covered archways and flying buttresses, secluded gardens, and soaring towers with intricate details in the spires and twisted columns, stone fountains and statues were breathtaking.

MissionInnBellsNight

The California mission style bells greeted us as we walked down the entrance into the main lobby passing an outdoor restaurant and a large aviary with exotic birds and docents giving tours of this living museum. Fortunately for my daughter and I, we were headed straight to the Tuscan style Kelly Spa for our mother-daughter spa day before we officially checked in so we could take our time and relax before our treatments. The spa was very busy but still relaxing. My daughter had her first facial which did wonders for her teenage skin and I had a very relaxing massage. The pool and outdoor jacuzzi was a great way to end our spa day before checking in to our room.

 

There were multiple weddings going on each day we were there, which was not surprising since it has been a popular wedding destination since the 1920’s. Many famous people have been married there including Ronald and Nancy Reagan, The Nixon’s and Bette Davis.  At least 6 US presidents have been guests at the hotel and stayed in the 4-room presidential suite which has been converted to the Presidential Lounge.MissionInnPresidents

History of the Hotel

Taken from the website, “The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa began as a quaint adobe boarding house in 1876, and blossomed into a full-service hotel in the early 1900s thanks to California’s economic citrus boom and warm weather, attracting wealthy travelers and investors from the East Coast and Europe. Opened by Frank Miller, The Inn expanded in 1903 with over 200 guestrooms and the addition of the Mission Wing, built in Mission-Revival style while incorporating architectural features from more than 20 different California missions. The Hotel is home to many priceless treasures and 2 on-site chapels. The Mission Inn houses the oldest bell in Christendom, dating back to 1247.” (Web )

 

Famous Guest List

The guest list for this hotel over the 150-year history is quite impressive. I have never before stayed at a hotel with as much famous lineage. “Presidents Roosevelt, Taft, Hoover, Nixon, Reagan and Bush Jr; social leaders such as Booker T. Washington, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller and John Muir; and entertainers including Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand and James Brolin” (Web) have all been guests at the hotel which touts this kind of recognition:

  • National Historic Landmark since 1977
  • State of California Historic Landmark since 1961
  • U.S. National Register of Historic Places
  • Riverside Landmark #1
  • Member of prestigious Historic Hotels of America
  • “Best Historic Hotel” (201-400 Guestrooms) / Historic Hotels of America
  • “Best Historic Hotel in America” / USA Today’s 10Best.com Readers’ ChoiceMissionInnNightSky

During my stay, I spent much of my time exploring the hotel.  The historic hotel has a different feeling in the dark. It is enchanting at night and you can find lovers kissing under a bougainvillea covered archways lite by twinkling white lights. Inside the hotel, I was drawn to the Christmas wreaths and garlands that wrapped along the grand staircase and adorned the Tuscan style grand fireplace.

 

Chandeliers glowed and warmed the lobby with their reflection on the black and white checkered floor. All I could do was to capture the feeling of the place by taking a gazillion photos with my smartphone, all the while kicking myself for not bringing my Canon Rebel SL1!

MissionInnLobbyNight
The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa Lobby

 

My daughter and I enjoyed a great meal at one of the six dining options on the premises. My daughter looooves pasta, so we ate at Bella Tratattoria and finished the evening with a decadent cupcake at Casey’s Cupcakes. We loved the cupcakes so much, we decided to bring half a dozen to our friend’s house we were visiting the next day.

 

Next time I stay at The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa will be with my husband. It is literally one of the most romantic hotels I have ever stayed at. Many other couples seem to think so as well since it is a top pick for wedding events and couple getaways. So, even though I missed out on a visit by a famous ghost, my stay at The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa was beyond pleasant; it was decidedly enchanting, luxurious and by far, my favorite hotel in California.MissionInnGarland

Cemetary Tours · Classic movies · Travel and Adventure

Mystery, Scandal and Stars:Paramount Pictures After Dark Tour & Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Scandalous tales, mysterious deaths, and young stars doomed to tragedy. These are the stories lurking in the dark at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Many of these were Paramount Pictures stars and scandals. Did you know that the 24 stars in the original Paramount Pictures logo once represented the stars under contract at the studio? Every time they got a new star under contract, they added a star to their logo…and that my friends, is where we get the saying MovieStar.

To celebrate our 5 year anniversary, my husband and I decided to do something spooky since `tis the season of Halloween. I have never been on a movie studio tour, except Universal Studios, which I think of more of an amusement park than a real behind the scenes movie studio tour (sorry Universal, I still enjoy going on your tour). The Paramount Pictures After Dark Studio Tour looked like it might have spirits floating around stage doors, or at least, I was sort of hoping it would. Even though I didn’t see the ghost of Howard Hughes or Lucille Ball,  we were shown the exterior of their offices.

PSHHughesOffice
Office of Howard Hughes

PSLBallOffice
Office of Lucille Ball of Desilu Productions.

We also saw the exterior of a few famous sound stages that were constructed going back to 1929, like Stage 25. Many Televisions shows have been filmed there like The Lucy Show. Stage 18 was built in 1941 and was home to Alfred Hitchcock’s mystery, thriller Rear Window, 1947, starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly . Our tour guide told us a story about Alfred Hitchcock and how he built an amazing set inside this soundstage to create New York City for the movie Rear Window. Evidently, he opened up the basement of the building so he could build New York skyscrapers to look even taller for scenes in the movie.

Alfred Hitchcock on the set of Rear Window (1954)  (Source: reelartpress)
Alfred Hitchcock on the set of Rear Window, 1954 SOURCE CREDIT – “British Film Institute”

 

voxsart:      American Casual.      Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, 1954.  (Source: voxsart, via meinthefifties)
voxsart: American Casual. Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, 1954. Filming of Rear Window, 1954 at Stage 18 Paramount Pictures.(Source: voxsart, via meinthefifties)

Paramount Pictures Famous Stage18
Paramount Pictures Famous Stage18

This is also the soundstage where the infamous black comedy Sunset Boulevard, 1950, starring Gloria Swanson, Nancy Olson, and William Holden was filmed. There is also a famous scene of the aging silent screen star, played by Gloria Swanson, entering through the Bronson Gate and famously saying “Without me, there wouldn’t be any Paramount Studio”. Check out this blog post from dearoldhollywood for photos of locations for filming the movie at Paramount Pictures and nearby locations in Hollywood.  GlamAmor.com expertly breaks down the brilliant costume design by Edith Head who transformed Gloria Swanson into Norma Desmond, one of the most iconic film characters of all time.

Gloria+Swanson+++Sunset+Boulevard+++Paramount+visit+2
Norma Desmond being greeted by the security guard in “Sunset Boulevard”.Image:GlamAmor

Gloria+Swanson+++Sunset+Boulevard+++Paramount+visit
Norma Desmond driving into original studio entrance gate in the movie “Sunset Boulevard”. Image : GlamAmor

PSEntrancegate
Bronson gate today at night.

PSCastingcalldoor
Old casting office for casting calls.

I must also mention that one of my favorite Jerry Lewis movies, Cinderfella, 1960, was also filmed in Stage 18. If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. It is comical and laugh out loud funny and is a great one to watch on family movie night.

‘Lewis, Jerry’ ‘s musical entrance down grand staircase was done in one take, a Lewis trademark. But Jerry’s 7-second rush up the same 63 steps landed him, and his heart, in the hospital.

Some exteriors were shot at a Beverly Hills mansion also used in “Beverly Hillbillies, The” (1962)

Cinderfellamovieposter
Image:imbd.com

On our tour I also got a shot of the Hollywood Landmark water tower that used to actually hold water as part of the studios’ self-sustaining small city. The studio also has its own gas station. All of the major studios have their own water tower with their logo on it and stands as a symbol of their small city within a city. Our tour guide recalled that even though the tower no longer holds water, the studio owners keep the tower as a studio symbol and Hollywood landmark “because other studios had water towers and so would they”. PSWatertower

You might be wondering right about now, whether I made it into any actual historic sound stages. Well, no, but our tour guide did take us into a very dark Dr. Phil sound stage, where he pointed out how small the studio actually is compared to how it looks on TV……the magic of Hollywood. Interestingly enough, the Dr. Phil Stage butts right up against the walls of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Which leads us into our next part of the tour….the cemetary.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The Hollywood Forever cemetery houses the Garden of Legends. This is where many famous stars and their scandals and mysteries are buried. Our guide took us to the graves of famous Hollywood legends like Cecil B. DeMille, one of the founders of Paramount Pictures, whose grave site has a view of the studio beyond the lake. Many other Hollywood legends are also buried here such as, Douglas Fairbanks, Peter Lorre, Mickey Rooney and Janet Gaynor. As we walked through the dark cometary , the tour guide told stories about the famous legends and their scandals. There are two that really stood out to me among many:

The “Fatty” Arbuckel Scandal:

Image:streamline.filmstruck.com

“Fatty” Arbuckle got his start on the Vaudeville circuit, then in 1913 became one of the Keystone Kops famously throwing pies in the face in silent pictures. Then in 1921, Arbuckle signed a 3-year contract with Paramount for $1 million, which was an unheard of amount, even by Hollywood standards at the time.  In 1921 “Fatty” Arbuckle got caught up in a terrible scandal.

According to ThoughtCo., “”Bambina” Maude Delmont, who frequently set-up famous people in order to blackmail them, claims that Arbuckle herded 26-year-old Virginia Rappe into his bedroom and party goers later heard screams coming from the bedroom and then she was found bleeding behind him when he opened the door”.

But, according to ThoughtCo., Arbuckle had a different version of the story “that when he retired to his room to change clothes, he found Rappe vomiting in his bathroom. He then helped clean her up and led her to a nearby bed to rest. Thinking she was just overly intoxicated, he left her to rejoin the party. When he returned to the room just a few minutes later, he found Rappe on the floor. After putting her back on the bed, he left the room to get help.” Nonetheless, Arbuckle was arrested and charged with the murder of Virginia Rappe, who eventually died 4 days later at a hospital from a ruptured bladder.

After 3 trials, two convictions and one acquittal, “Fatty” Arbuckle, was blacklisted by the Hays Office and his career was destroyed.  Arbuckle eventually began directing under the name William B. Goodrich. Sadly, he died at the age of 46 from a heart attack in his sleep.

The Rudolph Valentino and the cursed ring scandal:

rudolphvalentino
Image: United States History:rudolphvalentino.gif

In the beginning of the tour we each took a red rose and were asked to leave it at a gravesite that touches us as a way to pay our respects. I held onto my rose for the entire tour until….our last stop on the tour, the crypt of Rudolph Valentino. Our tour guide shared a couple interesting stories about this crypt and about how Valentino died. One is about the Lady in Black who since his death has been leaving fresh flowers at his crypt.   Her identity is a mystery. Also, evidently, since Valentino’s death was sudden and unexpected, and he was 3 million dollars in debt, a friend, June Mathis, who had recently gotten divorced, gave Valentino her former husband’s crypt next to hers. There were arrangements made to raise money to build a memorial for his final resting place but never came about due to the depression. This is why this silent screen legend is buried in the corner in a small crypt.

A Cursed Ring

Rudolph Valentino left New York City  because he was infatuated  with a married socialite and went to San Francisco. It was there that he found a silver ring with a semi-precious stone in it. The jeweler he bought it from told him that all the former owners of the ring had bad luck. Intrigued, Valentino had to buy it.  A series of unfortunate events happened after he began wearing the ring. First, he wore the ring while making “The Young Rajah” which flopped so badly he did not work for two years. He did not wear the ring again until he went on his promotional tour of the “Son of Sheik.” Within two weeks of wearing it he died from peritonitis.

He left the ring to actress Pola Negri who he was dating at the time of his death. Her health failed soon after, which almost ended her film career. She gave the ring to a singer named Russ Columbo, who could have been a double for Valentino. Columbo later died in a mysterious shooting accident. Columbo’s cousin then gave the ring to Joe Casino, who wore the ring and was run over by a truck. The ring was later worn by an unknown actor in a screen test for a film about Valentino’s life. Ten days later, the actor died at the age of 21 from a rare blood disease. After all of these strange deaths and string of bad luck events, the ring was put under lock and key in a Los Angeles bank, which suffered a few bank robberies and a fire. Today, the whereabouts of the ring are unknown, possibly reeking havoc on the lives of the owner….

This is where I left my Red Rose…..Valentino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

United States History: https://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h3872.html

See Stars: https://www.seeing-stars.com/buried2/HollywoodMemorial.shtml

Unsolved Mysteries:http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm352194.html

Seeks Ghosts:https://seeksghosts.blogspot.com/2011/09/rudolph-valentinos-ghost-and-cursed.html

ThoughtCo.: https://www.thoughtco.com/fatty-arbuckle-scandal-1779625

TCM : http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/70941/CinderFella/trivia.html

Paramount Pictures Studio Tour: http://www.paramountstudiotour.com/studio-tours.html

Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/sunset-boulevard

GlamAmor:http://www.glamamor.com/2014/09/SunsetBoulevard-GloriaSwanson-EdithHead.html

Dear Old Hollywood: http://dearoldhollywood.blogspot.com/2009/01/sunset-boulevard-ready-for-my-close-up.html

 

Art Deco architecture · Classic movies · Travel and Adventure · Uncategorized

Bullock’s Wilshire Department Store: Art Deco Tour and Fashion Show.

IMG_4172Do you enjoy shopping at a Department Store? How about shopping where Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Walt Disney and Alfred Hitchcock were patrons?  The Department Store of old Hollywood glamor like the Bullock’s Wilshire in Los Angeles with its Art Deco copper and etched glass doors welcomed upper crust LA society and Hollywood stars starting in 1929. This was the first department store built to cater to the burgeoning automobile culture at the time and welcome shoppers who wanted to shop somewhere closer than downtown L.A. The 241 ft tall tower on the exterior of the building made of copper, tarnished green, welcomed motorists from the suburbs with it’s light at the top that could be seen from miles around.

This is a special place, like no other modern day department store I have ever been to.
The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles hosted a Fashion Show and Tour at the Bullock’s Wilshire on June 10th 2018, as was promised at the Egyptian Theatre event where Margaret Leslie Davis discussed her book, Bullock’s Wilshire (Balcony Press, 1996) followed by the screening of the movie The Women, 1939 (see blog post). My mom, who went with me to the Egyptian Theatre event, joined me again for the Fashion Show and Tour.

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Mom and I on the J.G. Bullock’s private suite balcony with a view of downtown L.A.

I grew up watching classic films with my mom and no doubt it’s because of her influence, that I have a love for classic films and history and as a result, a passion for historic preservation and re-purposing. My hope is that we will get to experience many more of these special events together.

Join us for a glimpse of our Tour and Fashion Show at Bullock’s Wilshire:

As you enter the Foyer with it’s soft, natural lighting and elegant floor to ceiling St. Genevieve Marble and Travertine floors, you feel a sense of high glamour and sophisticated taste.

Bullock's Wilshire Perfume Hall
Perfume Hall awash with natural light muted by walls of St.Genevieve marble and Travertine Floors. Doors facing Wilshire Boulevard

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On of the Elevators finished in nickel, brass & gunmetal.

Every room was designed to create an “experience”, a place where you wanted to spend the afternoon shopping and lunching with your friends. This is the place where Judy Garland was known to have sipped cocktails in the dressing room and where May West infamously waited in her car under the Port-Cochere as clerks brought merchandise out to her to purchase .

This, was a place where famous starlets shopped and where one of my favorite actresses, Angela Landsbury once worked as a clerk (Go Jessica Fletcher!) and upper crust L.A. Society came to feel pampered in the discrete boutiques. Upstairs, were showrooms with live models (as seen in The Women, 1939), and the Desert-color themed Tea Room with adjacent lounge where ladies could enjoy refreshments and watch fashion shows. Fans of classic films will appreciate that Irene Lentz (known as Irene) who became famous for dressing celebrities and designing wardrobes for major Hollywood studios, including MGM, was reported to have the first boutique devoted to a single designer inside a major US Department Store at Bullock’s Wilshire.

J.G. Bullock’s invited titans of business and politics up to his private suite on the 5th floor to enjoy cocktails and horsd’oeuvres while shopping. While on my tour with the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles, I was fortunate enough to be able to go into his dark wood walled suite and onto the private balcony. Our docent showed us the secret panels that opened up to hide alcohol during the prohibition era.

More photos from the Tour:

Now for the Fashion Show which took place in the Louis XVI Room where designer dresses were sold, formal wear and later furs:

Getting ready for the event:

I had found two amazing dresses at a couple of consignment shops in Ventura on Main St. But I still needed a hat and gloves to complete my outfit. I knew exactly where to go…the Attic Trunk! I had bought a very special black velvet hat there a few years back one day while out exploring Main St with my husband. I remembered Jackie and her spark and how she had to find the perfect box for my hat I was purchasing. The box just happened to be a vintage Bullock’s box. You see Jackie was know for her vintage hats. In fact, many gals went to her store to purposely buy hats for Dapper Days at Disneyland. Jackie not only had a fantastic vintage hat collection, she also knew all about the history of fashion and could expertly show a clueless gal like me how to wear the fancy hats.

So, to the  Attic Trunk I went. Sweet Jackie helped me chose a navy blue hat with a short veil and after much searching, also found me the PERFECT pair of gloves that were navy blue and had fancy stitching along the edges of the fingers.  I was set! We were having so much fun, I asked Jackie if she’d like to see my dresses I just bought and she said she would love to see them. I left the store and ran down the street to my car and got the fifties floral dress and my forties sailor inspired Stop Staring brand dress.  When I returned, I showed her the dresses and she was so thrilled and immediately pointed to the sailor inspired 40’s style dress. She said “that’s the one”.IMG_4184

After all of that, I told her that I was going to the Bullock’s Wilshire in Hollywood for a fashion show of vintage clothes from the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s. She was so excited about it she covered her mouth with her 2 hands and gasped in thrill. We talked about me coming back to her shop to show her photos of how I looked that day and the event itself. We discussed how I should definitely wear stockings (which I truly did!).  Unfortunately, I never made it back to show her any photos. Since then, I learned of her recent passing and I feel a sense of loss for myself that I will no longer have the luxury of walking into the Attic Trunk whenever I want and peruse through all of Jackie’s goodies and talk vintage clothing shop talk. I feel a sense of loss for our community to have lost a business owner who took pride in owning her own version of a Department store with glass cases filled with jewelry and lovely gloves. You will be missed Jackie and I hope you are meeting all of the classic Hollywood fashion icons whose clothes inspired generations of ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for making all of our days Dapper!

That’s a wrap!

To find out more information about The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles visit their website.

All Images: Christina Embry

References:

Docent-Art Deco Society of Los Angeles

Davis, Margaret Leslie. Bullocks Wilshire. Los Angeles: Balcony Press, 1996

 

Uncategorized

Encouragement Found In My Grandma’s Purse.

Ever since a dear friend said to me “how do you have time to blog?“, I stopped blogging. After a whole summer had gone by without writing a single blog post about the cool historical places I had visited, I realized how easily susceptible I was to discouragement when it comes to writing.  I let those very innocent words from my dear friend stop me from doing something I so enjoy because I thought, “she’s right, it’s probably a waste of time and I don’t have what it takes anyway”. I recently remembered a similar situation where I also felt discouraged about writing that took place when I  was about 10 or 11 years old.

One summer day, I gave my Grandma Rose a gift and in my innocence, I was so excited for her to read my expertly written short story about her. I thought for sure she would be overwhelmed with joy and shock at her granddaughter’s gift at prose. No, not even a little bit! As I sat on her rocking chair on a warn red cushion in the corner of her bedroom looking across the room as she read my story, I was bursting with anticipation of possible tears of joy coming from her. Then, her words came out and hit me like a ton of bricks…”It’s alright“. Wait, What? I just poured my creative soul into this and gifted it to you! I thought.

Years later, after my grandma passed away, my mother showed me the very same hand written story neatly folden in a ziplock baggy that she kept in her purse every day for the last 15 years. Wow! My mind was blown! I didn’t understand how my Grandma, who seemed so underwhelmed by the story when she initially read it, could have cherished it enough to hold onto it so tightly and preserve it all those years.

It’s sad, really. Because I took her initial reaction and words so to heart that I gave up on creative writing for a long time.  Words have a strong meaning, especially words from those we cherish and respect as children and as adults.  I looked up to my Grandma as a child,  I cherished and respected her as I do my beautiful friend. I believed when they said “It’s alright” or “How do you have time for that?”. Now, I cannot put all of the blame on them, for goodness sake! I’m the one that read waaaay too much into those words as a child and as an adult. I admit I can be a little sensitive.

Words do matter, but I have come to realize that just as their words meant so much, mine can too. So with that, I want to continue to share my words about historical places and people, historical preservation, vintage clothing as well my repurposing of the past through art and writing. I’d like to share stories and traditions to preserve the past and repurposing them for the future. I want to write about it all and share with all of you, making time and secretly hoping you will be like my Grandma Rose, cherishing blog posts in a special “ziploc baggy” in your own purse….or wallet.

Image Credit: Pinterest 1955 bolsos de cuero del día

Travel and Adventure

San Francisco: Our “Grown Up” Girl’s Trip. Tour of Victorians, Tea Gardens, and Trolleys.

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Image: Rose Dolowy. Queen Anne Hotel. Used to be a finishing school for girls.

I was worried about taking a 14-year-old Girl on a 3 day trip to San Francisco. But, to my surprise, she was all in and even better, enthusiastic about everything we did. I was especially excited that she truly loved the Victorian Home Walking Tour that we took on our first day in town. Our guide, Jay, took us through Pacific Heights and Cow Hollow walking us through neighborhoods that big tour buses are not allowed to go. We learned all about the different styles of Victorian houses like Queen Anne, Italianate, and Stick-Style. He explained how to distinguish between Victorian and Edwardian buildings.

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Edwardian Style

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Victorian next to Edwardian

He also explained how it was  popular in the 1920’s to “smear”  Victorian homes with stucco giving it a smooth contemporary look, which made all of us on the tour sad every time we saw one. To smear or not to smear? I say, don’t smear!

Fun Fact: Did you know that people in the Victorian era “updated their status” by building it onto their homes? To learn how to decode San Francisco’s secret Victorian symbols, click here.

Most of the changes to the original Victorian era city homes and buildings were from the 1906 fires that burned for 3 days started from the 7.9 magnitude earthquake. About 80% of San Francisco was destroyed and created major alterations to the city. For example, the now famous commercial area called Union Square on Powell Street was once a residential area lined with Victorian homes prior to the fire.  In order to stop the fires from spreading, the city made a decision to create a fire break along Van Ness Avenue resulting in the intentional burning of hundreds of beautiful Victorian mansions.

Our guide took us back in time as he showed us a building that used to be a horse stable and a mansion next door with gates high enough for tall carriages to drive through. It’s these details and vivid descriptions that Jay explained along our 2.5 hour tour that made this so special. My daughter and I did all of the touristy things people do in San Francisco, but I have to say, this tour was our favorite part of the entire trip for both of us!

Some other highlights from our trip include the Palace of Fine Arts and the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

 

My daughter and I have taken a girl’s trip almost every year since she was 7 years old and have visited Santa Barbara, San Diego, Catalina Island and multiple trips to Disneyland. But this trip was different from all the others. It was a “grown-up” trip, where we took a plane and navigated a city alone that is crowded and full of interesting people, smells and a lot of hills. We bonded as she held my hand for security while we walked the busy streets and huffed and puffed up and down the hills. I was a proud mama as I watched her bravely run to catch a cable car in the middle of the street and take photos of places she saw the beauty in. This was a trip where we both matured a bit in our mother daughter bond and extended out of our comfort zones. Best part is, we did it together!

**For a list of classic movies featuring San Francisco as the backdrop for the location, please visit this cool site. My list of personal favorite movies about the city by the bay are Vertigo, 1958, Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993, and Princess Diaries, 2001. **

Classic movies · Travel and Adventure

The Theatre at ACE Hotel:Dita Von Teese’s New Years Eve Gala 2018

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Image: Christina Embry

A night of LOVE. Love for excitement, Love for my husband, Love for the vintage lovers around me, and most importantly Love for Dita Von Teese. What an amazing experience. I’ve always admired Dita from a far, wondering how she gets her hair so superbly sleek black and perfectly pin curled. I always admired her commitment to the vintage lifestyle.  Her show in Los Angeles at The Theatre at ACE Hotel, reflected her beauty, elegance and talent. My favorite performances of the evening were many, but I just absolutely loved the act “featuring a giant prop MAC lipstick tube that she sits on and straddles provocatively”. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-5422837/Dita-Von-Teese-announces-U-S-burlesque-tour-2018.html#ixzz5Aiypi2rh

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https://theatre.acehotel.com/events/dita-von-teeses-new-years-eve-gala-show/

It was a sold out show and when we arrived we stood in a line that wrapped around the block.  It was fun to see everyone arriving in their Vintage-esque garb as men held the hands of their ladies in heels avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk…such gentleman. Then at some point a beautiful gal with red lips walked up to my hubby and I to let us know that some scoundrel hit our car and that she made them leave their phone number. What a sweet sister! Unfortunately, the number was fake, but the damage to our car was very real. At first I thought it was a bad omen to start out the New Year. But, I soon forgot all about the damaged car and my worry about the possibly doomed upcoming 2018 as soon as I stepped into the grand lobby of this Spanish Gothic beauty.

This historic United Artists Theatre, built-in 1927, was the vision of silent movie starlet Mary Pickford, who also started the United Artists Studio along with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and DW Griffith as a rebellion against the Hollywood studio system at the time. The Theatre at ACE Hotel we see today in the Broadway District in Downtown LA has been restored and is currently used for various events such as movie premieres, concerts and seminars, among many other events. For more information on the history of The Theatre at ACE Hotel, click here.

The 1,600 seat theatre itself, made me swoon as I stepped back in time admiring the intricately detailed craftmanship. I just love the attention to detail early movie houses paid to the ceilings (see blog post on The Egyptian Theatre). The light pink dome was encircled by what looked like sun rays. Mary Pickford envisioned a true “movie palace” where movie goers would feel the full grandeur of the experience in the magic of the movies.

Spending New Year’s Eve in this nobel theatre, I could feel the love and devotion the United Artists felt toward their craft as I absorbed the creative spirit they poured into the design of this movie house. Not even recovering from the flu could dampen my enjoyment of the evening ringing in the New Year alongside Dita Von Teese and her fellow performers, in a huge martini glass, of course. For more information on future shows, click here.

To wrap up this Vintage Life Adventure, I highly recommend the classic movie Lady of Burlesque, 1943, staring Barbara Stanwyck and Michael O’Shea. This movie is about a burlesque dancer who, along with other performers try to solve a murder of a fellow burlesque artist. This is a film adaptation of a mystery novel, “The G-String Murders”, written by legendary burlesque artist, Gypsy Rose Lee.

 

Art Deco architecture · Classic movies

Movie with Mom: “The Women” (1939)

It was one of my favorite days ever! I was in my happy place amongst “my people”. All around me were classic movie fans and folks who could spend the afternoon celebrating the past through the lens of Margaret Leslie Davis who wrote  “Bullocks Wilshire”. This one hour illustrated presentation, sponsored by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles, showed photos of the interior of this department store in all of it’s art deco glory during its heyday of the 1930’s. To see current photos of the restored interior and exterior of the Bullock’s Wilshire building which now houses the Southwestern Law School Library, click here.

 

Afterwards we were treated to a snappy movie “The Women” (1939)

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Image: Journeys in Classic Films

about a group of women gossiping about other women’s love lives in this all women cast. What made this whole experience even cooler was reliving 1930’s history inside a living preserved piece of glamorous Hollywood at the Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre (1922). This theatre, has landmark status and is now owned and operated by the American Cinematheque.

 

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Image: Christina Embry

Experiencing the day through my Mom’s eyes made it all the more fun.  She saw the movie Ben-Hur (1959) at the Egyptian as a kid and remembered it as being a lot more grand and glamorous. She recalled the interior lobby being more open and spacious with props from the movie on display. But even with all of the changes, it still holds it’s vintage charm especially inside the 616 seat theatre with the original sunburst ceiling that I could just imagine stars like Cary Grant and Judy Garland at a movie premiere gazing up at the same ceiling appreciating it’s detailed artistry. I was in awe of the grander which is the spectacle of the old movie houses. For a complete history of the Egyptian Theatre click here.

The day wouldn’t be complete without going out to lunch. Being that it was my mom’s birthday, I really wanted it to be special, so I made reservations at the Pig’n Whistle, Hollywood CA. This historic 1920’s pub was built before concession stands were the norm like inside theaters today. Stars like Shirley Temple, Barbara Stanwyck and Clark Gable would visit the Pig’n Whistle for their favorite drink and meal before or after a movie premiere. It was indeed a favorite spot of the Stars among many eateries along Hollywood Blvd. For a list of the stars favorite drinks click here.

 

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At the end of the day, what I really wish for is to relieve history, step back in time, feel if just for a moment, what it was like during that time in history. That’s what I will be doing in this blog. I will be rewinding time and exploring history through the lens of classic movies, historic places and interesting people that influenced and inspired generations before us and hopefully people today. I could just enjoy this time travel by myself or bring my family and friends along for the ride and keep our jewels of discovery to ourselves, but I know there are folks out there who cherish the past as much as I do and this blog only adds to our internet library of vintage life. So, off we go into the past. May it never be forgotten or overlooked when we walk by an old building, see a black and white film on TV, or read a story from history. Let it captivate and inspire us to live in the present with an utterly joyous appreciation for the beauty of the past.

More info:

***For opportunities to explore the Bullock’s Wilshire historic landmark in person, docent-led tours are offered in the summer and by invitation only as well as a self-guided tour. To get more information on these opportunities, click here.***

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Cheers!