Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Welcome to my Blog - An Introduction

From the bloggers desk, in this first article I’ll share a little about myself and my history.  Both my Father and Step-Father were in the Air Force, so I am “lovingly” called, an Air Force Brat.  I was born, planted, and transplanted from SAC Base to SAC Base in Europe, Germany and Italy, across the US from Massachusetts to California, and for a time in north eastern Canada.  In the late 1960s my father was expected to serve a tour of duty in Vietnam.  My Mother had friends in Florida and McCoy AFB was an operational base in Orlando, so we relocated here when I was in Junior High School.  As a young child we never lived in one place long enough to consider it home.  We never knew how long we would be stationed at any one location, it was always temporary, so “home” was always at my maternal Grandparents farm in Indiana.

My love of vintage sprouts from the seeds planted at their farm, my Grandparents were collectors and perhaps today they would be called “pickers”.  Attending farm sales, auctions and visiting antique stores; a trip to Shipshewana was heaven!  My Grandfather bought and restored old steam engines, horse drawn farm equipment and the everyday things that waxed familiar.  He so loved the old school house where he went to school, he bought it so he’d never have to see it torn down during his lifetime.  Plus, it gave him a place to store old sap buckets, wagon wheels, feed sacks, anything that couldn’t fit or didn’t belong in the basement.  My Grandmother collected what seemed like everything from Hummels, Depression glass, tramp art and crockery and such; but her love was old pump organs and music boxes.

She baked, canned, tatted, knitted, crocheted and sewed.  When she was in her 80’s went into a cottage business with another woman; they created and sold wonderful hand loomed rugs made from upcycled blue jeans, curtains and any other strong fabric they could find.  The beautiful sturdy rugs which had a signature flying goose pattern were sold to antique and craft shops in the area.  If she were alive, she’d have a shop on Etsy.  As I grew up, I learned to love each new antique shop and listen for the story, the excitement of a good auction or steam engine show.  Some of that just rubs off on a girl.  Like when you play in the dirt; it gets ground in and it won’t wash off; but in a good way.

In the heat the day, during my childhood summer visits, I would dance down the wooden stairs to the cool basement to investigate.   Ogling the dusty mason jars filled with old buttons of every color, shape and size, explore the boxes for newly acquired treasures and play dress up in the Victorian dresses she had “saved”.  It was at her house, I was introduced to American cut glass, Depression glass, salt glazed crockery and stoneware, tramp art and Victorian dresses and Valentines.  I learned to appreciate handmade and the value of living frugally and taking pleasure in the little things life had to offer.  She taught me to take pride in my work and the concept of imparting love through the mundane tasks of everyday living.

In between baking bread and making lunch for the men working the fields, she would share about the Victorian sense of humor or how they would pass the time before radio and television.  She would show me her Valentines ephemera collection and tell me stories of when she was a little girl.  How it was a privilege to have been the first woman in her family to graduate from High School; which was a luxury because you had to be sent to live in town during the winter months as the roads were often not passable.   The importance of being involved politically, when she was born women didn’t have the right to vote and she was proud to be active in the League of Women Voters and help “man” the polls on voting day.  She spoke in American old English, with words like tisn’t and tain’t and I relished her country sensibility, poems and stories.

In my everyday life, we lived a much different lifestyle.  Bread came from the market; we didn’t grow our own vegetables but appreciated the many road side stands for fresh produce when available.  We shopped at the Base Exchange and in the “big” city.  But frugal traditions lived on and my mother made many of my clothes.  My father was a history buff and there was a strong push toward educational vacations and road trips.  We listened to Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee; show tunes and talked politics more than farm reports.  It was the age of the Rat Pack and Camelot.

Although we honored our heritage in the kitchen, with a display of antique kitchen utensils artfully hung on a wall covered with old tobacco barn siding; we didn’t can.  Our dining room was French provincial and the living room had a white sectional sofa and Italian gold gilt Tole painted bombe chest and coffee table with touches of Hollywood Regency throughout.  It was designed and intended for grown-ups, entertaining, dinner and cocktail parties.  I was taught about Wedgwood, Royal Dalton, Waterford crystal, Emily Post’s rules for etiquette, and Julia Child’s French cooking.  The kids TV was in the rec-room, usually in the basement, decorated with an eclectic mix of styles which included a green mid-century modern sofa, some primitive antiques with clean lines and built-in shelves which housed our collections, rocks, artifacts and our library.  

It is from this menagerie of travels and influences I came to love design, architecture, antiques and vintage.  I’ll continue to share along the way as I create a voice for featured antique and vintage items and provide a showcase for the vintage lifestyle, history, vintage care and repair, shopping tips, beautiful frugal projects, a sprinkling of vintage entertaining inspirations, economical retro party ideas and ideas for creating traditions that enhance the vintage experience.  While I do not consider myself an expert, I am a lifelong learner and will share my memories and research with you.  If you have a topic or question or something you would like to share, please contact me at my email and I’ll do my best highlight it in an upcoming post.  If I can’t answer your question I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction with great links that will help guide you on your vintage journey.