Category Archives: Vintage Pop Culture

Fairyland For Everyone—Storyland Amusement Parks

One of the things I always loved about Oakland is Fairyland, a sweet little park filled with quirky and vintage rides and storybook-themed play areas.  It was always so unique in its charm—I even wrote about the first time I took the Peach there. Legend has it that Walt Disney loved it too and even used it as a bit of inspiration for Disneyland. See how cute it is?

Then one day while cruising the Internet, I found a picture of a certain boot:

But wait….Children’s “Storyland”? Hmmm…Looks pretty familiar to the one found at our beloved FAIRYLAND!

Turns out our sweet little Oakland Fairyland was part of a big Storyland amusement park franchise all across the entire US in the fifties.

Turns out, there was a Fairyland in Tampa:

And in Upper Jay New York a “Land of Make Believe”…

My personal favorite has to be Storytown, USA!

And if you were up to it, you could even check out Ghost Town and Jungle Land.

These amusement parks were more like a hometown version of Disneyland. They were all geared towards the seven and under crowd and don’t feature rides so much as they do “exhibits” —like one of my favorite things at Fairyland, Willie the Whale.  As  you can see, my sea mammal friend had quite a few cousins located  all over the country….

Here’s one that had little seals playing in the water!

And here is Jonah the Whale–a different spin. And different color…

But my sea faring heart belongs to this polka-dotty friend! CUTE!

This sweet but sad old whale that has certainly seen better days. Poor guy!

But whichever Storyland you went to, you were sure to seem some seriously charming stuff!

Although the majority of these charming little amusement parks are closed, there are still quite a few out there that offer affordable super cute vintage fun.  So, East Coasters, if you can’t make it to Oakland’s Fairyland, maybe you can make it to Glen, New Hampshire whose Storyland has swan boats and a Cinderella Coach, powered by a tractor! Or check out the version of Storybook Land in New Jersey.  And for folks in the South, there is one in New Orleans too!   A full list of parks can be found here.

Have you ever gone to one of these parks? What was it called? Is it still open?

Vintage Crush: Daniel Green slippers

There is nothing more addictive than a good Ebay search.

I have some set up for daily search updates. The list is long, but the one I remember and want the most is for a pair of Daniel Green brocade slippers size 10. (I know, I am a large footed lass!)

My obsession with these darling slippers began when my mother purchased a pair like the ones below for a fancy vacation with my Dad.  Her pair was bought on sale at Nordstrom for I believe $10.00. (My mother is the consummate bargain shopper-FYI.)  She loved them and was very excited to finally own a pair of Daniel Green slippers. However, during their airplane travel, my Mom’s luggage was lost and never returned. Unfortunately she never found another pair of discounted Daniel Green slippers, but she missed them.

Aren’t they darling?

Daniel Green slippers have been around for a long long time–since 1881, when a young shoe salesman named Daniel Green was inspired by slippers that workers at a piano factory made with the excess felt from leftover from the pianos.  Those little felt slippers turned into something fancier over the years.

When you think of those fancy satin high heel slippers that female celebrities wore with a stunning pegnoir, you were probably looking at a pair of Daniel Green slippers.

Amazing, right? And they are for sale. Right now.

Truly a gift to be cherished.  Wouldn’t you like to see a pair of these for Mother’s Day?

I think I’ll take one of each!

These little elf booties aren’t as fancy as pompom ones, but still so charming, yes?

From Salon of the Dames

These darlings are from the Frou Frou line and cost about $8.00 in the 1940s when they were introduced.  Divine, aren’t they?

From Straight Talking Mama

In the fifties/sixties, they started to shy away from the heel and focus more on creating a charming ballet flat.

From StutteringMama

But it was when Daniel Green incorporated its signature brocade that things really began to take off.  And many of the company’s famous brocade ones are available today in very good condition too!

Now these little gems are going for only $15 for some lucky size 7 footed lass.

Oh, how I wish I could squeeze my large feet into these gorgeous beauties, which must go to some lucky size 8.

I may have to write a little letter to our friends at Daniel Green who make some lovely slippers, but need to bring back the brocade ones, don’t you think?

And they truly are comfy! It says so on each insole of Daniel Green shoes. Each pair lasts quite some time and the quality is amazing.  I love the idea of buying a pair of these with my black yoga pants adding a bit of glamour to my work at home day.

Do you have fancy house slippers?

The Eyes Have It.

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I’m obsessed with Margaret Keane. When most people hear the name “Keane” they think of the somewhat cheesy big-eyed orphan paintings. What most people don’t know is that Margaret Keane’s early work in the 1960s is very different. She painted some of the most deliciously languid mod portraits around. True, the big dreamy eyes were still there….but these paintings are decidedly more grown up. I have a few prints of hers and an amazing book with excellent photo plates. I thought it would be fun to take a look!

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See what I mean? Still a tad creepy, but in a beautifully dreamy way…I love these petulant girls sipping their coffee:

Ahhh, the old portrait within a portrait. Creepily awesome.

While we are on the topic of the “classic Keane” look, allow me to dazzle you with a little of the history behind the Legend of Keane. It’s a good story. Back in the 60s, Walter Keane was known as the Master of the Big Eyed Waifs. While Margaret did these more chic ladies, his images were largely of young children with hauntingly sad eyes. The Keanes opened up a gallery in 1959 in New York and it quickly became a success. Walter was the consummate business man and the story goes that he would often leave faux packing cases addressed to famous movie stars so people would walk in and say, “Oooh, Dean Martin is buying one? I better get one before the prices go up!” Crafty, eh?

Throughout the ’60s, the popularity of Keane paintings soared. Stars like Joan Crawford, Natalie Wood, Dean Martin, Dinah Shore, Liberace and even Zsa Zsa Gabor all owned original Keane paintings. My favorite is this crazy portrait of Jerry Lewis and his family. And their pets. All with longing eyes. Totally insane:

In the ’70s LIFE magazine declared Keane’s paintings to be the most popular art in the western world. They even got a nod in the Woody Allen movie, “Sleeper” (Diane Keaton, presented with a big-eye painting, squeals with delight, “It’s Keane, it’s pure Keane!”).

In 1965, Margaret and Walter went through a bitter divorce—and it was revealed that Margaret was ACTUALLY THE ONE PAINTING ALL THE PAINTINGS! Walter simply took credit for them. It was never clear whether it was because they thought a male artist would have more credibility or if it was because he was a savvy, controlling business man. Either way, Walter was now attempting to stop her from painting “big eyed waifs” claiming he was the one who originated the style. They battled in court for years and finally the case made it to a federal court. The judge requested a “Paint Off” —asking that they each paint right then and there in the court room. Margaret triumphantly dashed off a quick portrait of a saucer-eyed child looking over a fence….while Walter, in a TOTAL Brady Bunch style maneuver, claimed he couldn’t paint because of a neck/shoulder injury. HAH! Needless to say, Margaret won. Bravo Margaret!

I have to confess I’m not much into any of her post Walter stuff. She said that while she was “living a lie” and letting him take credit, all her paintings had “sad eyes”. Her later work (in the 80s and 90s) has “bright eyes” as a result of her new-found happiness. (Is it wrong that I’m not a fan of her “new-found happiness??”) ANYWAY….let’s get back to her sad eyes, shall we?

image: the lovely whoreange

To date, Margaret Keane’s work has been discovered by a new generation and claims fans like John Waters, Tim Burton, Matthew Sweet and David LaChappelle. As I said in last week’s Link Hootenanny, Tim Burton is  directing the biopic on her life starring Amy Adams and Ryan Reynolds. I’m looking forward to that one!
The popularity of Margaret’s big-eyed babes inspired a slew of copycats…but I think we’ll save that for a follow up post, yes? So whatcha think friends….are these paintings terrific or terrifying? As Margaret herself has said, “You either love them or hate them….there really is no in-between.”

We Love Lilly.

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As we enter warmer weather, my mind turns to colorful sundresses. Those delightful little shift dresses in kapow colors that make you smile and only need a pair of flip flops and a tan to finish off the look! Well, the essence of that dress can be traced back to one person—one word: Lilly.

Lilly Pulitzer, as many of you might have read Sunday, died at 81 in her home in Florida.  She left behind such a colorful and happy legacy that we can’t help but smile and thank her for adding a bit of fun into our wardrobes when we needed it most.

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The Lilly empire actually began when she set up a little orange juice stand in Palm Beach, to turn a coin on all the citrus trees on her property. As legend has it, Lilly made her first dress out of splashy colors to hide the juice stains she got on her clothes while working at the stand. From that first simple sleeveless shift, she launched a fashion trend that extended all the way to the White House— Jackie Kennedy was often spotted wearing these comfy, colorful shift dresses. And a fashion obsession was launched!

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Here is Lilly in her original Palm Beach store just off Worth Ave. Love it! Notice how all the shifts are in her trademark colorful prints? If someone called to order one, she’d ask “Do you want it mild or wild”? I’ll take mine WILD, please!!

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Good gracious, I NEED that Lilly Lugger—don’t you?

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For a certain set (of a decidedly preppy turn) your summer wardrobe wasn’t complete without a couple of these functional, yet fun dresses.  And the best thing about them? They did mother/daughter combos!  My holy vintage shopping grail will be a mother daughter set of Lilly dresses. ONE DAY!

Here is Lilly with her two daughters—in matching ensembles of course! Vanity Fair called her Palm Beach’s Barefoot Princess, but we just like to call her fabulous.

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Her delicious dresses were a sunny spot on 1960s fashion and beyond. And her peppy prints were only matched by her delightful bon mots, like:

    • “Anything is possible with sunshine and a little pink.”
    • “It’s always summer somewhere.”
    • “Style isn’t just about what you wear, it’s about how you live.”
    • “That’s what life is all about: Let’s have a party. Let’s have it tonight.”
    • “Being happy never goes out of style.”

I’d like to have any one of these needle-pointed on a pillow!

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And three cheers for Alix for making the pictures extra fabulous–xo!

Vintage Style // The Fabulous Sunglasses Hat

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The year was 1954 and THIS HAT appeared on the scene. No longer would a girl have to choose between people watching or shielding her face from the sun. This chic and quirky hat came with whimsical built-in sunglasses. What’s not to ADORE! Now, normally when I do vintage posts like these, I love to give you guys a little history…but to be honest, I don’t know much about this hat. I know it was from the 1950s-60s. And that most were made in Italy. I also know that this hat is AWESOME. I mean have you ever?? The hat was intended to be worn two ways: perched on your head or tilted down so the faux sunglasses were around your eyes.

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At the first Tiki Oasis I went to, I spied THE HAT and was obsessed. I finally bought one for myself a few years ago and around that time my friend Doe bought one too. We giggled as we put them on. So fun! Then another friend bought one. And then another. Dottie was on the hunt and she scored one too! Before you know it, we were a “sunglasses hat” girl gang! At the last Tiki Oasis we all brought our fancy funky hats and had a laugh at all the many different styles!

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They can run a little pricey ($50-100+), but if you keep your eyes open you can find them on eBay and Etsy. Here are a few of the other styles:

This one got a little tiki makeover with a sweet rattan fringe on top! The “glasses” are extra large too. Yes!

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How about this kooky version—complete with eyebrows!! My friend Karen owns it and it’s hilarious and awesome:

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They even made a version for kiddos—Wolfie has the cutie one on the right:

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If you can’t track one down never fear! Kate Spade (who we all know loves the vintage looks) came out with their own version—with red or black “shades”. I have it in red and it’ SUPER cute!

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So whaddya think? Is this crazy cool hat “you”?? Would you buy one? Do you already have one??

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