Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Any Inkling?

I was at an estate sale earlier this summer and saw this sitting on a shelf.

It's ink on paper and sandwiched between a piece of glass and heavy cardboard.  It's held together with a frame of black tape. It only measures approximately 6" by 3.5", but something about it called to me.  Maybe the simplicity of the silhouette rendering, the quaintness of the scene of two children playing with a sailboat in a creek, or maybe the 1931 vintage placing this squarely in the depression.

Given the graceful execution of the drawing, I was a little confused by the askew signature.   Maybe just following the flow of the creek?

I tried to do some research on the artist, but with a name like "Beacon" it's a little hard to separate Google results of paintings of beacons and paintings by Beacon.  More than likely, Beacon is an unknown.  Just someone's relative who had a talent with pen and ink.

How about it all you artist types out there (and you know who you are)? Were pen and ink silhouette drawings popular during this period?  What is this style of art called? And has anyone ever heard of the mysterious Beacon?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Sight at the Opera

While flipping through some record albums at an estate sale in North St. Louis County this past Friday, I paused when I saw "Bizet Carmen for Orchestra" and a familiar face staring out from its cover.

I knew that face.  It was unmistakably 1950's pin-up queen Bettie Page.

I was first introduced to Bettie in the pages (no pun intended) of Dave Stevens' Rocketeer back in the early '90's after having seen the movie featuring the watered-down version of her in the role of Cliff Secord's (alias The Rocketeer) girlfriend Jenny as portrayed by Jennifer Connelly.

Bettie's story wasn't a happy one.  Graduating Salutatorian of her high school, she set out to become a teacher, but then decided to try acting.  Like so many hopeful actresses, Bettie instead found the only way she could support herself was through modeling for pin-up photographers later moving into acting in "stag" films.  She gained some fame after appearing as Playboy's Miss Janurary 1955 and was named Miss Pin-up Queen of 1955.  But with the FBI's investigation of the stag film industry along with her conversion to a reborn Christian (at one point working for Billy Graham), Bettie left the modeling world and faded into obscurity.  Her years between the late 1950's and the 1990's were marked by divorces, psychiatric issues and poverty.  During this time, and unbeknownst to Bettie, she had attained cult status, becoming a pin-up icon, her likeness appearing in painting and comics, and even developed a groupie-like following of women who emulated her bangs and dress style.  Bettie has inspired the look of Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, singer Katy Perry  and burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese and even has her own clothes line.

The image on the album, which was released in 1957, appeared to be a cropped version that appeared on Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" album.

I've seen her image used on one other album, oddly enough "The Best Musical Comedy Songs".

Bettie learned of her popularity via a 1993 phone interview with Robin Leach of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous".   Finding an agent, Bettie finally began receiving royalties for the use of her likeness in her final years.  She passed away in 2007.  In 2011, her estate earned $6 million in royalties, placing her in a tie with George Harrison and Andy Warhol as 13th highest-earning dead celebrity.

In 1998, of her career, Bettie said, "I never thought it was shameful. I felt normal. It's just that it was much better than pounding a typewriter eight hours a day, which gets monotonous."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sign of the Times

Time was when you didn't have to be a Superman to find a phone booth.  These days even the lowly wall-mounted payphone is becoming a rare sight.  I fought as hard as anyone to avoid getting a cell phone, but finally broke down a few years ago.  Until then, if I received a page while I was out (yes, believe it or not the company I work for still makes us carry pagers), I would have to drive around looking for payphones.  I knew the location of each and every payphone on my way home from work.

I was at the estate sale of a ex-Bell telephone employee and saw this in his basement mounted next to the bar.

I was there on the second day of the sale and it was getting late in the day.  It was marked "Make Offer" so I offered $5 and they accepted it.

It needed to be rewired which I did with a re-purposed extension cord.  I think it looks great mounted over my 1952 Western Electric 354 wall phone.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Slide Blowout

These slides are from the same batch as the previous blog.  No witty remarks, just throwing these out here for your enjoyment.

1963 Ford Thunderbird



Somewhere out there is a film of this slide being taken...

Clay H. Orrick




Whoa, I'm trippin', man!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Street Smart

This post will probably only be of interest to readers familiar with St. Louis, particularly South St. Louis County where I grew up in the town of Oakville, and it might not even be of interest to them!  So if that doesn't catch your fancy, I'll see you next time.

Are you still there?  Okay.

I bought an old St. Louis street guide at an estate sale last summer (the same sale where I found these).  The guide is undated, but appears to be fairly old.  Looking at the map, the streets are noticeably different from the Oakville I know.  And looking through the street names, many sporting first or last names, I became intrigued as to their source.  (You'll need to right-click, open in new window or tab for better details.)

Sunbeam T-9 Toaster

I've previously mentioned myaddiction to chrome toasters.  As I've often said, I've never met a toaster I didn't like.  Usually my wife just rolls her eyes when I come home with yet another.  But this past week while estate saling, she revealed her true self -- an enabler.  We were at an estate sale off of Gravois Road, a very crowded one, I might add.   While squeezing around, I had become separated from her.  Suddenly, she appeared before me holding this.

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