Category Archives: Vintage Pop Culture

Oh Arthur // Do the Retro Cha Cha

OK, I admit it. I watched the Dancing with the Stars opener the other night. I haven’t watched it in ages (I’m more a So You Think You Can Dance gal) but I have to admit it was pretty fun! Which reminded me of these photos I stumbled upon a while back. Looooong before tans, bedazzled bodysuits and feathered head pieces were a glimmer in Bruno and Carrie Ann Inanba’s eyes, there was Arthur Murray. Arthur Murray’s famous chain of dance studios were all the rage back in the 1950s. The country was really embracing “exotic cultures” and Latin influenced music extremely popular. Everyone was dying to learn how to cha cha or mambo and that, of course, meant DANCE CLASSES baby!

Check out these amazing photos from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio from 1958-1962. “A beguiling mixture of awkwardness and grace.” Oh yes!

Images: Square America

Vintage Target Back in the Day.

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I love Target. But I didn’t realize they had been around since the sixties! The first store opened its doors on May 1, 1962 in Roseville, Minnesota. These photos are like the Target of my dreams.

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In 1968 they revamped the logo (down there on the right) to be a little more bold and iconic. It’s the logo as it stands today. I wish I could track down even more photos….it’s pretty fascinating to see, no?

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Next up? Track down the story behind this lil beauty!

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images: here, @targetstyle on instagram and the target archives

Vintage Flashback // Summertime fun in Santa’s Village

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‘Twas the night before Thursday, a bit quieter than most
    As I sat on the couch wondering what I should post…

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Ho ho ho everyone. Yes, this is a summer post, despite what you may think!

Although I grew up in Michigan, every summer my parents packed up the family car and drove us across the country to Santa Cruz, California. My dad is a professor and he and my mom taught at the UC Santa Cruz Summer Language Program. It was the perfect place for a family vacation— Santa Cruz is a cool, beachie town and I have tons of amazing memories of playing in the redwood trees and swimming for hours each day. But of all the memories, I have to say that one of my favorites is of a little place called Santa’s Village.

Santa’s Village was a Christmas-themed amusement park built in 1958 (opening up two months before Disneyland!). The concept was simple: bring Christmas joy to children all year round. A little insane and yet….totally amazing! My brother and I were fascinated by the place (we would pass it on the highway whenever we were taking a weekend road trip to San Francisco) and would beg our parents to let us go inside. We visited it only once and then sadly it was shut down. My favorites were the Flying Christmas balls (kind of like the Dumbo ride at Disneyland, only with holiday ornaments!) and of course all the little gingerbread houses.

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Oh look, here’s Mrs. Claus with the infamous Lollipop Tree!

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How cute is this place?? There is something so awesome about celebrating Christmas in the summer time…it makes the whole place even more magical. Like you were getting away with something sneaky!

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Just look how cute these ladies are in their sassy little elf costumes! You know there was a hierarchy to the uniforms—I’m guessing red elves were the entry level workers. Green elves were clearly the senior team members. Uh oh, looks like Green Team Leader Dolores swapped her beige tights for non-regulation pink. I’m going to have to tell Santa about this one….

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There were eventually three parks opened—two in California (Skyforest and Scotts Valley) and one in Dundee, IL.

“Residents of Santa’s Village included Santa and Mrs. Claus, their elves who operated the rides and sold tickets. There was a baby petting zoo filled with goats, sheep, bunnies, ducks, deer and a Mexican burro. All the buildings were designed to look like log chalet-type structures, repleat with snowy roofs and gingerbread trim. The park had a gingerbread house, a elf toy factory, a lollipop tree and brightly colored gift shops. Around the village were tree-top tall wooden soldiers and candy canes. Santa himself had a huge mailbox to accept all the letters from children around the world.”

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Pretty amazing little place, huh. And guess what? That giant pumpkin carriage is actually FOR SALE ON EBAY! HAH! Scoot on over here at snap it up for the jolly price of $29,000.

IMAGES: Alameda Net

Taking Your Hi Fi on the Highway.

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Summer is road trip time and I’m sure music lists have been created and ready to get you through that long stretch of road. But before there was the iPod, the cd, the tape, the 8-track, there was THIS:

(images: UAW Daimler Chrysler)

Yup! A little record player for your car, ready to spin your favorite 45s.

I love the old ads for it.

And look at this fellow on the directions. Clearly driving someplace woodsy with all that plaid flannel!

And clearly they were popular with celebs too! Fancy!


We’d love to get one for our car, but they seem to cost upwards of $700 on Ebay nowadays, but we’ll think good thoughts and wish we had one of these beauties!

Hee hee!  Any road trips plan this month, friends?

The Little Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs

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Gather round friends, have I a special retro find to share with you today! The all but forgotten art of the Underwater Mermaid Show. Oh yes…feast your eyes on this:

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Back in the 1950s in the sunny state of Florida, the Weeki Wachee Springs was a unique and popular destination, thanks to the beautiful mermaids who performed there daily. The attraction was created in 1947 by an ex-Navy frogman named Newton Perry. Perry based the show on an innovative underwater air hose breathing technique. He built an 18-seat theatre into the limestone at the edge of a spring and recruited pretty young girls to be his mermaids.

“Without masks, mermaids learn to take gulps of air from the hose, balancing the pressure on their ears and sinuses while being buffeted by a 12-mile-an-hour (19-kilometer-an-hour) current. They also learned to drink beverages and eat underwater.” source

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Eventually ABC bought the property and created a much larger 200 seat theater. This unique underwater theater was embedded in the side of Weeki Wachee springs 16 feet below the surface. The glamorous mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs performed eight shows a day to sold out crowds who thrilled to the sight of these underwater beauties.

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The “mermaids” captivated the crowds with a variety of themed shows with elaborate props, music, and story lines — Underwater Circus, the Mermaids and the Pirates, and Underwater Follies. They even performed underwater renditions of classics like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Snow White.

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Being a Weeki Wachee mermaid was considered quite the honor, with girls coming from as far away as Tokyo to try out for the privilege of becoming a mermaid. The mermaids were treated like royalty wherever they went in Florida. And who wouldn’t love to be seen with these beauties???

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The attraction was a definitely a family affair with guests of all ages heading to this quirky destination:

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Even celebs couldn’t resist heading the mermaids— Don Knotts, Esther Williams, Arthur Godfrey and even ELVIS all paid a little visit to the Weeki Wachee (the name kills me….could I possible say WEEKI WACHEE more times in this post??).

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Amazingly you can still travel to the Weeki Watchee(ding ding ding!) and see the mermaids. The New York Times also visited recently and has an video of the current show. You can check it out here. Have you ever been to see the mermaids??