Prepared to watch the New Year's fireworks at Yucca Flats
Happy New Year's Eve my friends, aquaintences, and every body else! Tonight we're watusi-ing at a deadend little grotto I fell upon, Googie's. I suggest you should find time to drop in as well. We'll spin the vinyl on the TeslaTone Plasmatic Music Box featuring a red hot atomic-age selection, with aptly titled tags like 'Radioactive Mama', 'Love Goddess of Venus', 'Fallout Shelter', 'Knocked Out Joint on Mars' and 'Atomic Bomb Blues'. Swingin!
Stay tuned America!
This has been a bulletin from Atomic Living's Emergency Broadcast System for
Please tune in again - Same Atomic time - same Atomic channel!
Always got to love the overhanging living rooms on a drop-off, the wall-to-wall windows, the easy-going slopes roof lines, the winding flagstone leading you to the entrance. You know, nothing fancy, just all the modest necessities for mid-century living!
It's not very big. It's not fancy. It's not fashioned of blown glass. Nor is it considered to be of much value... except by me. I remember this ornament. It's been a part of every Christmas holiday. For a very long time. As long and as many as I can remember.
The little ornament hung on many real trees and artificial. It hung under the shade of natural green evergreen needles and silver. It was on the tree when carollers came knocking on our front door. And when my Uncle Richard, dressed-up as Santa, scared the daylights out of me so that I hid under the kitchen table and absolutely refused to come back out to claim my gift. In 1968, this little ornament was on the tree as our tiny black and white television transmitted images of astronauts on Christmas Day, orbiting around the moon for the history-making first time.
It was on the family's tree the Christmas I opened my best space toy ever - a Major Matt Mason astronaut action figure and his Star Seeker capsule. It witnessed my first Hot Wheels raceway set, and then a super-charged Sizzlers set. It was already getting old when I received a toy Batmobile all shiny new. And a Houdini magic set. A Cookie Monster hand puppet. And then all those Star Wars toys that came later.
This ornament saw our family temporarily shrink in size after my sister got married and moved out of town, and then grow again with three nieces and a nephew. And it was hanging there for Junior's very first Christmas too.
It hung there, a silent witness through Christmases of both good times and rough. In sickness and in health, 'til death took some away. And since this ornament originally belonged to my Mom, she's in affect still decorating our family Christmas tree.
I wasn't even Five years old. I remember looking at this ornament in wonder at it's simple molded plastic detail. It told a story. Joseph and Mary and the new-born Jesus in the manger. And how well I already knew that story. It's the story of what Christmas is all about.
Yep. She may have not known it, but my Mom sure got her 10 cents worth out of that one little plastic ornament ;)
Ohhhh.... really wish I had stumbled upon this one earlier. 'Tis a little too late in the season to be ordering one in time for a Merry Christmas now.
Gold Sputnik Christmas Tree Topper - BillyBobBossen "This is a fabulous piece that comes to us from the old Nordstrom display sale a few years back. The box these and the other colors came out of was labled al-tree topper-098. This is wild, and comes apart in pieces. It measures in at almost eight inches tall! We have four colors, and not many of each, there is aluminum red, aluminum green, aluminum silver, and aluminum gold."
Junior's home from school sick in bed today, so there's nothing more for me to do than play at a computer in the meantime. Which has one good result -- I can get caught-up on some blogging! Here at the Space Commander residence we're still fixated on creating our Atomic Christmas theme for 2011 and how to bring all that old goodness together with a touch of new. Be warned, today's post might get a bit ranty :)
My color-coordinated tree - aluminum and blue are the swanky colors for this Christmas!
The last time you saw this aluminum tree, it was freshly set-up out of the box. Even without decor these trees are striking. But now it's sprouted ornaments all over! Instead of throwing my usual varied rainbow of vintagey bulbs on the tree, this season it's all gone color-coordinated... more or less... in shades of blue, cobalt, aqua, teal.... whatever. It's all blue to me!
Unfortunately after I had made up my mind to do the coordinated ornaments thing, I was horrified to learn that we barely had a bulb left after sorting out all the non-blues from my accumulated stash. "No problem!" I thought, "I'll run to the store and buy some cheap, plain ornaments to fake out with the real eye-candy!" One by one I'd enter with high hopes and left with broken dreams each store on my shopping list. I had come up empty handed. Nobody, it seemed, wanted to sell me one single, plain lousy bulb that was even remotely blue!
Well, to be fair WalMart had an assortment, but these looked just a bit too post-millenial 2011-ish for my tree. And Menards had a few medium blue ornaments with some dopey graphics that nobody wanted. So naturally I grabbed 'em up to fill out the back of my tree.
But I refuse to compromise any further! Being a somewhat stubborn man who has now become so set in my vision of ideal atomic Christmas tree goodness, I'm now beginning to play around with the idea of using spray paint on some discolored bulbs I had no use for. Hmmmm... that is, if I can only find the right shade of blue paint. Sounds like a plan! :P
Okay, I've done finished my wordy bit now. It's time for the fun part: Space Commander's Show and Tell!
One of the contemporary copies of the classic Atomic Ball Clock hangs over the kitchen entryway
One of Grandma's holiday craft magazines
For the holidays I hauled my Uncle's cedar chest in place of the coffee table to show the family's old nativity. The figures are over 50 years old, they're banged-up, glued and worn (probably due to a very young space commander-in-training) but each and every Christmas they have never failed to take their places.
Always hassling with your greeting cards blown over with each blast of Winter's breath from an open door? Why not try hanging them up instead
My brother rescued this Nativity-themed music box from the trash collection and passed it on to me. It pays to have family with connections!
For some reason Junior thinks we don't have enough stockings hung... just in case Santa is feeling very generous to him this year (yeah, well don't get your hopes up boy!)
Just because it's non-blue doesn't mean it's verboten! I set these ornaments out in a large wooden bowl which Dear Mom had often used for the same purpose.
From the local greeting card and gift shop... the Abominable Snowman living in MCM style on the slopes! Contemporary artist Shag (a.k.a. Josh Agle) never fails to recreate the humorous atomic graphic work of the past without sneering at it. He makes kitschy icons classy. His worlds are always populated by hip, swanky dudes and dudettes living the idyllic lifestyle.
The shop I recently stopped in carried a large number of Christmas-themed cards with the Shag illustrations... I like this piece the best (though all are worthy of admiration, I promise). And look at the Christmas tree ornament shapes of the ski-lift in the picture window!
While the kidlettes are shooosting down the snow-covered slopes of Suburbia (more specifically, my front yard) I went on a hunt ( more specifically a used book hunt at the Yellowed Pages Used Books store).
I love reading vintage paperbacks, especially the old science fiction of the 50's and 60's. And today I hit paydirt! Rocketship Galileo (originally published 1947) by Robert Heinlein is a classic. Likewise Fredric Brown'sMartians, Go Home (1955). Murray Lienster is another top author of the period, I found his Space Platform (1953) in near-pristine condition. And there's one of the prized anthologies edited by Martin Greenberg (the co-founder of Gnome Press, which was always on the cutting-edge of the s.f. genre of the day). This one's titled Men Against the Stars(1950).
Oooh, which one to dig into first??
Another thing.... Who says you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover? Being unmistakably a product of their time mid-century book cover illustrations, especially for the science fiction, suspense, mystery (you know... the "manly-man" type of reading?), were almost never failing at being intriguing, inventive or creatively abstract and modern. And, of course, always eye-catching!
Look what I found at a local retailer this year. Three contemporary yet authentic glass ornaments with a FAB retro space-age theme, ready to hang on the aluminum Christmas tree. These are full size ornaments, not plastic knockoffs. I almost fainted with holiday joy when I spotted these! Somebody pinch me ;)
Recently while looking through boxes and boxes of family treasures, I found these two contact prints among my Dad's photography. Now that we've just had our first real snowstorm of the season, its as fitting a time as any to share them here.
It'd be interesting to go back and photograph the same locations today... if I only knew where exactly in town they were taken from! I can however photograph the weekend's first snow as it settles on our beloved ranch house which we call home.
It's the return of Grandma's Regal Sapphire aluminum tree, with the tinsel mechanically attached for that perfect hi-tech look!
Ahhh, all those Christmas seasons that I remember helping Grandma set-up and decorate this very tree. And what a spectacle it was, displayed in the corner of the living room near the kitchen entryway. The color wheel light endlessly casting reflections of red, blue and green, dance on the silvery needles. Soon it would be sheltering a colorful horde of presents, professionally wrapped ones by the retailers too!
When the first aluminum trees burst upon the scene in the 1950's, many people scoffed at the idea, and only treated as a fad by others. But not my Grandma. Unlike the nay-sayers and scoffers who never understood, Grandma "got it." And fortunately for later-comers like me, she still got it well into the 1970's so that I too could honestly claim that I had "gotten it" as well.
Today the Tree made of aluminum tinsel is enjoying renewed acceptance, not so much as a kitschy fad but more and more as trendy stylin'. In fact the trend has been gaining enough momentum that retails have taken notice and have been offering brand new renditions of the metallic icon in a whole host of color variations. What was old is new again!
So here's to you, Grandma and your forward-thinkingness... and thank you for all those memories you made that still keep me going forward today!