December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

Make it Merry and Happy

...And Loud!

Mix it, Shake it and Stir it Up

"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 often sung to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight.

The song's Scots title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago","days gone by" or "old times". Consequently "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, is loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times", presumably reflecting a common Middle Germanic/low Scots root; " Vor Alte Lange Zeit" (And thanks to Wikipedia for finally answering all my questions of what the term really means).

3... 2... 1... Happy New Year!

December 30, 2010

1950's Space Traveler Paint By Numbers Set

1950's Space Traveler Paint By Numbers Set + Box

And another one slips away... well, this one went quite a bit beyond that, finally selling for a grand sum of 89 smackers *sigh* ...I bid boldy and still got my tail whooped!

I've been watching this one all week - an unused vintage space paint-by-numbers set, complete with 6 unpainted canvases of rockets, spacemen and other worlds! Junior has a few paint-by-numbers works of art in his bedroom, but nothing quite like this to go along with it's space cadet theme. Do you think the manufacturers at the time had any clue that their work would someday become so collectible?

I was so tempted... and I tried but as is often the case with my eBay bidding, it was not to be... I'll just have to settle for painting my own :)

It might even be fun, considering I haven't done one of these since the set I got for Christmas when I was about 10 years old!

December 27, 2010

Vintage Russian Space Race Souvineer

Oh my... just look at this will you!

A vintage space race ceramic space statuette, one of those dreamy items you see from Russia that make you wonder why our country hadn't come up with first. It's always interesting to me to see the similarities and the different tangents our two countries took in memorializing our passion for space travel. This particular piece is commorating the successful launch of Vostok 2 back in August 1961.

This would be absolutely amazing in the den with the other vintage space collectibles. And for only $250? Well I do love the look of this one, but I'm not about to start pulling my savings out from under the bed mattress just yet, even for this spiffy space ashtray.

Why is it Russian space souvenirs have to be so darned expensive anyway? :P


December 26, 2010

Ho Hum... But in a Good Way

It's another anti-climatic day after. For some perhaps Santa delivered the gifts that you wanted, and some of us had to settle instead with new underwear. I can't complain. A year ago we were buried under 10 inches of the white stuff with temps never climbing much higher than Zero. I'm basking in a heat wave of 27 degrees today :D Woohooo!

The holiday verdict for this year is that the oversized live Christmas tree was a winner! You don't need to have the aluminum tinsel or plastic white tree to feel Atomic (though there's nothing wrong with those choices either!).

Sure the live tree dropped needles and dried up to being dangerously combustible. And I don't know what was up with the lights. After all 20 boxes of bulbs were finally hung, one light set blew out. I fixed it, then it went out again. And then it took another string along with it. I'd already bruised a rib from shoving the storage boxes back up in the attic with the extra lights. So our tree stood there with a burnt out middle on Christmas.

Family heirlooms on the tree

And for some reason real honest-to-goodness tinsel is impossible to find around here. I tried the new-fashioned non-toxic plastic which the shops were selling instead - it reminds me more of Easter grass than icicles on the tree. Phooie! Next year I'll buy up all the tinsel in July if I have to! But despite all my decorative shortcomings and dead needles on the floor, our Scotch Pine was a cheerful sight to behold and was indeed the loveliest tree seen in this atomic home in years!

Junior did great in the Sunday School Christmas play (and reminded me just how big he's getting now). He'd gotten off easy though. After all when "I" was a kid, we had to dress up in uncomfortable robes and home-made costumes and recite entire speeches before the audience. There was nothing like the gnawing dread I had leading up to the night of the play. It would be begin the day that my teacher would hand me a strip of paper with about 200 lines and tell me to memorize it all. And as I got older and graduated from a Shepherd to a Wise Man, my part became even bigger, with singing even.

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!!

The night of the Christmas play, the building was all dark except for the stage, and one by one we'd take our turns and stand before the crowd of family and friends and all those strange faces we didn't know stretching back in the pews as far as we could see. I don't remember too much of taking the stage, after I started to open my mouth... it was all a blur. Then suddenly it would be all over, just like that. The organ music would play and I'd feel a tremendous weight lifted. I was FREE! Then we'd scamper off downstairs to dig in to the homemade fudge and sugar cookies and punch. And before we went home we'd each be given a paper bag filled with peanuts in the shell and Christmas candy and more fudge.

After the end of his play, Junior ran off downstairs with his fellow actors and dug into the cookies and fudge and fruit punch in those little white Styrofoam cups. He got his gift bag of peanuts and candy too. And it's kind of comforting to know that despite all the drastic changes made in this world over just a short few decades of my own lifetime, that some things and some traditions remain the same.

Now the Atomic-powered bachelor pad household has made it through another Christmas season. Now lets get ready to bring in a new year.

December 25, 2010

A Merry Atomic Christmas to You

- to all of You and Your's this joyous time of year!

Finally It's Christmas!

Brother and sis posing with their new toys from Santa. And there's that brand new electric robot I told you so much about before.

December 24, 2010

Looking Up for Ol' St. Nick

I think he's worried whether Santa's got enough clearance down our chimney...

December 23, 2010

December 22, 2010

Under the Christmas Tree - What's Cookin'?

If it was made for girls during the mid century, odds were that it was coated in pink. And that it had something to do with making a home. And that it most definitely had to be the most Modern convient appliances of Today!

"Gee Beav... You'd better get your head unstuck in that oven before Mom and Dad get home!"

December 21, 2010

Christmas' Long Long Ago

Brother and Sis under a very modest tree back when the family used to rent a small place near downtown, before moving to the suburbs.

And here's a rare Christmastime shot with me, about 15 years later after the fam had moved to the burbs.

Under the Christmas Tree - The Real Action Figures

"Keep trying, Men! We absolutely must get through... I haven't missed an episode of 'Little Orphan Annie' in years!!

Yes, the original Adventure Team is back in action once again. Many a Good boy got one of these under the tree, but I acquired mine by sheer luck. I wasn't even Eight yet when the teenager next door gave me a box of his old 'junk' which he'd outgrown. Among the discarded items were two G.I. Joe figures! One was dressed in Army fatigues and the other in Navy dress. These were the original "action figure," both of the 1964 issue... before Joe grew that fuzzy flocked facial hair he was to became so well known for.

At it's beginning, the 12" G.I. Joe line represented four of the branches of the U.S. armed forces with the Soldier (Army), Action Sailor (Navy), Action Pilot (Air Force) and Action Marine (Marines). And every figure sported a cool scar on the face to prove he was ready for action.

Soon after my lucky score, Mom was buying me Action Man outfits and equipment when she took me along on her weekly shopping sprees to the local K-Mart (by the mid 70's, after the Viet Nam War, manufacturers worried it was no longer marketable to associate toys with the military, so toy-maker Hasbro turned G.I. Joe into an Adventure Team adventurer). Since my two G.I. figures were identical, I figured they were twins, one I called Joe and the other John. Every day they went on a new adventure. Oh, the fun I had!

My current collection of Joes (at top). A few years ago Hasbro produced limited anniversary editions of the original action figures, complete with authentic packaging (immediately above)... *sigh* I couldn't resist.

The original 1964 issue!

December 20, 2010

Visiting Santa Claus

I've been digging through some of the old photos for holiday shots. Here's a couple from when Grandma took my brother and sis to see Mr. C. at the department store.

I guess Santa had lost some weight back then...

December 16, 2010

Under the Christmas Tree - Batteries Not Included

The Mid-Century was the real beginning of the battery-operated age for children's toys: Toy robots and vehicles, radios, walkie-talkies, and all types of imaginative electronically advanced gadgetry to equip the average All-American kid. Remco would have to be, without a doubt, one of my favorite manufacturers, for all the attention the toy company paid to that all-important imaginative ingredient. Plus their products from this time-period just scream the age they were made in!

Remco's Electronic Radio Station was manufactured in a number of versions and colors over the years between the 50's through the 60's, including a colorful and spacey Dan Dare version aimed at the fans of the British comic strip. The station comes with an operational searchlight that you can manually rotate (just who or what you were expected to aimg it at is unclear) , a telegraph buzzer with a handy built-in note pad for taking down those secret coded messages, and a set of the futuristic Remco hand-held walkie-talkies that could be plugged into the station's advanced communication center. Add to this the multiple dials and spiffy twin signal towers, and you have an almost guaranteed ticket for hours of kid-entertainment!

And in my case it would have meant Dad would have been bumping around in the dark at night since I would have quietly borrowed the batteries out of his flashlight so I could operate my new toy... hmmm, maybe that's what the searchlight was used for?

December 15, 2010

Under the Christmas Tree - Atomic Science for Fun

In Atomic Age America, EVERYTHING was about Science. So naturally parents and toy companies lost no time in addressing the needs of that mid-century mindset.

This sweet chemistry set (#12066) in an all metal cabinet was made by the long-time premier name of science designed for the budding scientist, the A. C. Gilbert Company. Besides the long line of chemistry sets, the company also produced Erector sets, microscopes, and American Flyer trains.

The kit shown above are the remains of a set given to Brother Dear back when he was keen on science as many other kids back in the 50's and 60's. I got my little mitts on it when I found it in the family attic, forgotten for who knows how many years.

There used to be a experiment manual that fit in the left compartment, a complete set of test tubes, glass rods, chemicals and a little tube you were supposed to look through to discover the thrills and mysteries of the atom. I was old enough to be a bit wary of handling that tube since I didn't want to get any radiation on me. Sure, it said that the expirements were safe, but I knew better than to let an 8-year old mess around with atomic energy, even if that 8-year old was me... Such a smart kid, I was!

For a brief history of these sets, go to: The Chemestry Set Generation

December 14, 2010

Under the Christmas Tree - Toy Robots

What kid could have resisted Robert the Robot and Electric Robot (aka E. Robot and Son) who has a nifty little drawer in his chest to store his tools. These were the first two examples of all-plastic molded body parts to be used in toy robots, which were always constructed of lithographed tin plate before.

In the 1950's Electric Robot and Son were manufactured in the U.S.A. by Louis Marx in response to the immensely popular Robert the Robot by rival manufacturer Ideal Toys. Electric was just different enough from Robert to avoid copyright infringement, yet the strong similarities undoubtedly appealed to young buyers with smaller budgets.

This toy robot was molded with a black plastic body (there was also a rare silver-brown version) with movable red head and arms was electrically powered by two batteries, allowing Electric to illuminate his bulb eyes, run along on manually steerable rubber wheels (forward and reverse), and make loud buzzings through a Morse code button on his back (a nifty code guide was inscribed on the back of his head). Also on his head is an extendible antenna with an adjustment knob, knobs for right and left arm movement and from his chest opens a small drawer with tools (aka the tool chest for a hammer, wrench & screwdriver).

Completing Electric's gadgetry is a smaller "baby" version of himself, all red, and clad in a silvery diaper who the proud Father could swing from one of his silver clawed graspers.

December 12, 2010

Christmas All Over the Place

It's that time once again, children - time for the Space Commander to march out with some snappy tunes to help put you (hopefully) in that once-a-year Christmassy mood leaving you all warm, fuzzy and all that good stuff.

Now go get yourself a hot cup of cocoa, with a side order of margaritas, then sit back, relax and let the ol' Commander shoo those nasty old holiday blues away.

"Take it away, Myrone... And a-one-ah, and a-two-ah..."

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

The Playlist:
  1. Outer Space Santa - Lennon Sisters
  2. Hot Christmas - Squirrel Nut Zippers
  3. I'm Coming Home for Christmas - Squirrel Nut Zippers
  4. Here Comes Santa Claus - Gene Autry
  5. Oh Christmas Tree - Vince Guaraldi Trio & the Peanuts Gang
  6. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry
  7. The Chipmunk Song - Alvin & the Chipmunks
  8. 'Zat You Santa Claus? - Louis Armstrong
  9. Little Saint Nick - Beach Boys
  10. Sleigh Ride - Mitch Miller
  11. Christmas Time is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  12. Jingle Bells - Bing Crosby
  13. One Foot in Front of the Other - Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
  14. Dancing Snowmen - the Blenders
  15. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Burl Ives
  16. Santa's Beard - Beach Boys
  17. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - the Ronnets
  18. It Must've Been Ol Santa Claus - Harry Connick Jr.
  19. Hooray for Santa Claus - Milton DeLugg & the Little Eskimos
  20. Snow Miser - Year Without a Santa Claus
  21. Santa's Too Fat for the Hula Hoop - the Pixies w/ Thurl Ravenscroft
  22. Shake Hands With Santa Claus - Louis Prima
  23. Oh Christmas Tree - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  24. Skating - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  25. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas - Gayla Peevey
  26. Christmas Time is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio & the Peanuts Gang
  27. Hark the Herald Angel Sing - Vince Guaraldi Trio & the Peanuts Gang
  28. I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus - Brenda Lee
  29. All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth - Spike Jones & His City Slickers
  30. I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas - Billy Gilman
  31. Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
  32. Rock 'n' Roll Santa - Little Joey Farr
  33. Run Run Rudolph - Chuck Berry
  34. Christmas is Coming - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  35. Sleigh Ride - Squirrel Nut Zippers
  36. Carolina Christmas - Squirrel Nut Zippers
  37. Hanging Up My Stocking - Squirrel Nut Zippers

December 11, 2010

It's a Blizzard Out There, but Inside it's Cool

Yep, it definitely is getting wintry outdoors now. Today the temp dipped from a grand high of 11 degrees (and plummeting), the blizzard winds are making the house creak, and the snow is whipping across the landscape in wispy white torrents trying to snake it's way into every crack and corner. But it's not getting into my home sweet home... Especially not after an emergency call to the furnace man to kick my heater a few times and getting it to work again!

As suddenly as if waking from a dream I realized that Mr. Winter has indeed arrived and Christmas is tagging inevitably along, not too far behind. Maybe I should start throwing a few decorations on the house?

It had all started a week ago with an unplanned visit to a Christmas tree stand and being uncontrollably drawn by a tree which beckoned me to please take it home. From that point on, there was no turning back.

Yes indeedy. Christmas has definitely arrived at the atomic man cave :)

I've clung to my Grandma's genuine aluminum tinsel Christmas year after year (and have incurred some unfair ridicule from friends over it!) Oh the memories of setting it up with her in the corner of the living room and hanging those really old decorations. But this holiday for some inexplicable reason I had a craving to go traditional and trim the real deal. There's nothing in the world like the smell of a real Scotch pine living inside your home, after all...

And Grandma's decorations look just as much at home on a traditional tree, don't ya think?

Oh, and here's the Sputnik lamp, decked out in an appropriately colorful attire of Christmas lights.

I've been waiting almost the whole year to fire up the electric fireplace...

Keep warm and toasty out there. Wear those wool socks and the long underwear, 'cuz Summer's a whole 4 months off yet. Until then, Ho ho ho ...and pass on down another margarita!

October 10, 2010

The Powers of 10

On this historic date (10/10/10) I'd like to share with you a short work created by the Eames (Eameses?), namely the Powers of 10.

Basically, the Powers of Ten is a 1968 American documentary short film written and directed by Ray Eames and her husband, Charles Eames, depicting the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten.

This film has been stuck in my mind since being wowed by it in my junior high school science class. Believe me, most of the filmfare we got in school was pretty dry stuff!

I'd planned to share a YouTube link with you today... unfortunately the video has since been removed... booo. Hopefully this new link below will remain active through today (crossing my fingers). If not, you can still visit the official website to learn more. I'm pretty sure it won't be removed anytime soon ;)

September 12, 2010

Today's Future - Yesterday

I confess, being a longtime user of the internet and the Big Three social networks I've often thought how lost I'd be if I were thrown back in time before these techie luxuries ever existed. Now thanks to a little imagination from an ad agency, Moma Propaganda, we can all witness what life would have been like if Facebook was part of the mid-century daily routine -

If Mad Men Pitched Twitter, Facebook and YouTube /

August 26, 2010

Who I'm Watching: Peter Gunn

He was suave. He was sophisticated. And he was "like coolio-daddyo to all you cats!"

I only have a couple too few episodes that I picked up in one of those value-priced DVD tv collections. And I never was lucky enough to catch the series in syndication, though I've heard plenty of the series and the unforgettably suave yet danger-ladden theme music by Henry Mancini (Best Arrangement, Grammy Awards, 1958; Album of the Year). But I think I'd really like to see more this stylish private eye detective show. It's left me with a hungry appetite for more each time I've gotten to follow Gunn on a case.

Peter Gunn may have been the coolest gentleman private eye to be seen since the Thin Man series with William Powell. The epitome of cool as envisioned by the mid century, the original suave and sophisticated man's man. Remember, Peter Gunn was happening even before Agent 007 burst onto the big screens with the first Bond movie, Dr. No.

"Hot on the case, cool under fire," Peter Gunn originally aired 114 1/2 hour episodes from September 22, 1958 to September 18, 1961, preluding the years that brought us many classic spy and crime dramas such as The Avengers and The Saint. The show was the creation of Blake Edwards, the same mastermind behind the Pink Panther movies, starring Craig Stevens, Herschel Bernardi, Lola Albright. Stevens portrays the stylishly hip and ultra cool Mr. Gunn with an ample helping of wry humor thrown in for good measure. The cases takes him through an assortment of moody imagery: mod hangouts, avant-garde artists pads and film noir-esque back alley ways, always with the swanky sax, bass and drums setting the cool mood through it all.

Hmmm.... wonder if a cool cat wannabee can locate a copy of the complete soundtrack from the series?

August 18, 2010

Vintage Tourist Traps

I posted a little about the old Sioux Trading Post earlier and got to do a little of my own research about the history. Here's a bit I found on the Ogallala, Nebraska store, not to be confused with the Sioux Trading Post in Rapid City, South Dakota (a native craft supply & dealer, which incidentally I've been to before) as well as some other facts about the colorful family-run operation:
In all three souvenir stores "Out West" have been owned by the Henline family over the years along the old Lincoln Highway. The Buffalo Bill Trading Post was on the west end of North Platte on Hwy 30, and was opened for business in 1950 and sold in 1954. The Sioux Trading Post (above) was in Ogallala, Nebraska, also on Hwy 30, was opened in 1952 and closed permantly in 1969. Fort Cody Trading Post of North Platte was first opened on Hwy 30 from 1963-1969 then relocated to be close to the new Interstate I-80 in 1968 where it continues to operate to this day.

First the Sioux Trading Post and later the Fort Cody Trading Post were the summer homes for the Whitecalf family of Pine Ridge South Dakota. (some members pictured above) The family lived in the back towers (at Ft. Cody) and performed their Native American Dances during the day for our customers. They also presented a half hour evening performance which featured traditional dances including the Hoop Dance. Their final summer in North Platte was in 1977, when they returned to live year 'round in South Dakota.

The Henline family also operated the Wigwam in Atlanta, Nebraska, and the Seminole Trading Post and Indian Village near Miami. They also ran the Dunlap-Henline Company that published postcards out of Omaha during the 1950's through 60's.

Great photos seen on the following two sites:
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