Tag Archives: retro

Vintage Flashback:: Big Wheels Keep On Burning!

Oh, the Big Wheel.

Image via The Cabin.

Do you remember that very specific gritty sound it made while your rode it? Plastic meeting concrete? So wonderful.

Even more awesome than an Eames Chair.

I remember seeing mine under our glorious snow-flocked Christmas tree gleaming in the California winter sun.  I almost swooned with joy.  I know this girl’s unbridled joy.

Image via: melinnis.

If you think about toys from the seventies, I bet the Big Wheel comes to mind pretty quickly. As it should. It seems to always be in the background of many a photo taken during that time period.

Image via: The Season of Plums and Cobblestones.

Heck, it was even featured in The Shining as the kid’s favorite mode of transportation around the hotel. Perhaps the twin girls wanted to take a ride?

Really, who could resist the wonders of the Big Wheel? Not even CAPTAIN CRUNCH!

Introduced by the Marx company in 1969, the Big Wheel became hugely popular in the U.S. partly because of its low cost to make and secondly because consumer groups said it was a safer alternative to the traditional tricycles of bikes since it was so low to the ground.

Image via: Deco Dog.

And thirdly, there were so many version you could buy!

(note the little seat up front, so your Barbie could roll in style with you…)

Oh, and don’t worry, they did have one for you Qbert fans out there. All four of you.

Images via: Original Big Wheel, Muppet Wikia, and Val*Jean.

Yes, you can buy a big wheel now for your kiddo.  But for the young at heart, there is BYOBW—Bring your own Big Wheel race down the world’s most crooked street in San Francisco. And it looks to be one part spectacular and one part terrifying.


But next year, I’m going!

Come Fly With Me! Pan Am + Vintage Airlines

image: DannDC

I’m obsessed with vintage travel. I love every thing about it—old suitcases, vintage travel posters, retro airports and I love love love old stewardess uniforms (yeah yeah, I know…“flight attendants”). The other night Miss Dottie and I were out for dinner with The Dames (our retro supper club) and she mentioned that there was a new TV show on the books called Pan Am—all about a group of stewardesses in the 1960s. While I know this show is clearly pandering to the Mad Men craze, I can’t help but say, lawdy I’m excited!

I’ll post the trailer for the show at the end of this post, but first I wanted to share with you some of my favorite old skool airlines!

Back in the day flying was much more glamorous. Taking a trip was an event. People were genuinely impressed with the miracle of flight (“Holy smokes! We’re FLYING through the air in a metal ship!”) Everyone got dressed up and wore “traveling outfits” when they went on vacation. You ate food on real china with real silverware. You didn’t have to pay for drinks. You were a jetsetter! And stewardesses were like super models, tall, chic in stylish uniforms. Becoming a “stew” was considered quite prestigeous…and dating one? Well it was the ultimate status symbol.

Of course I know it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. The ladies had to maintain strict weight requirements and “grooming standards” in order to fly—not to mention leering drunkards pinching their pert lil booties. But at its most basic, it was a pretty glamorous lifestyle. My favorite “vintage” airlines were Braniff, Pan Am and PSA. Lemme show you why.


First up, Braniff. These guys had it going on. In 1965 they famously hired graphic designer Alexander Girard to revamp their brand. He launched a campaign called “The End of the Plain Plane,” which introduced  a bold color scheme that was applied to everything from the lounges and ticket counters to the aircrafts themselves. Check out the fleet of “Jellybean 707s” in their brilliant candy colors!

Of course the other reason I love them is that Girard convinced top execs to hire Italian designer Emilio Pucci to redesign all the Air Hostess uniforms. Pucci, as we all know, is the master of the colorful, crazy print. He revamped their uniforms in his iconic patterns, adding a flair to air travel that had never been seen before.

One of his most infamous creations was the space bubble helmet (officially called a “rain dome” by Braniff) which protected your coiffure in windy/rainy weather. He also came up with a multi layered, inter-changeable wardrobe, which was dubbed the “air strip” because flight attendants would peel off various parts of the uniform (jackets, scarves etc) during flight to mix it up. Oooh lala!

images: BRANIFF

In the 70s they even had Alexander Calder paint a design on the planes to make them even more whimsical and fun. Oh Braniff, how we miss you!


Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) might not have had the space bubble (although that turban up there is prettttty darn close) they DID have what I think is quite possibly the best logo in aviation. This iconic airline was known a pioneer in transocean and intercontinental flying—they travelled to every continent except Antarctica. They are also credited with numerous innovations including the Jumbo Jet.

I have many happy memories of flying via Pan Am to Europe with my parents in the 70s. For some reason it always represented the ultimate in classy travel to me. It’s no wonder that they are the topic of this new TV series!

image: pollymcmillan

images: PAN AM

Back in the 90s I scored a Pan Am flight bag at the thrift store and its always been one of my prized possessions.I went through a phase where I tried to dress in a “60s stewardess” inspired way—neck scarves and tailored little dressies. Ahhh, those were the days!

PSA (or Pacific Southwest Airline)

Let’s face it folks, PSA was the total swingin’ 60s/70s airline. I discovered their crazy, colorful stewardess uniforms many years ago and was forever hooked. Mini skirts with hot pants and sassy go-go boots?? Sign me up! From 1970-1976 the ladies wore these amazing orange and pink or red and pink ensembles:

images: PSA


And one bonus shot, from a vintage Southwest Airlines crew. WOW. Look at those lace up go-go boots! A far cry form the khaki shorts and polo shirts flight attendants wear these days, eh?

I know we’re all about “being comfortable” these days. Most travelers wear sweats and sneaks or (shudder) shorts and  flip flops. We charged for everything from peanuts to water. We bemoan the delays and try to cram colossal rolling suitcases into the tiny overhead bins. But every now and then I’ll spy an older couple on a flight, beautifully dressed, sitting serenely. And I know they remember. To them, air travel is still a miracle of modern science. An exciting adventure. I always try to catch their eye and smile, as if to say “Hey! I remember too.”

image: julia davila
You are now free to move around the cabin. Or watch the trailer for Pan Am. Hee.

Tiny Dancer :: Vintage Ballerina Love

Via: Kitsch and Curious

I don’t know about you, but I had one of those ballerina jewelry boxes that I loved so much. Not because I had oodles of fine jewels that needed to be protected, but of course because of the wonderous twinkly toed ballerina spinning away to a little tune.

Of course I wanted to be a ballerina.  I mean, isn’t it almost a right of passage for little girls to want to be a dancer? But I must admit I think I wanted to be a ballerina for one reason only–the fashion of it all.

Oh, if I had a dime for all the things I did because I liked the outfit. Please note that that will be a separate post on its own.


Of course there were the class photos with the other well turned out ballerinas, like these below…

I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a similar photo of myself like this…

1, 2, 3, 4.

I also remember wanting one of these ballet boxes so badly.  You can find a few on Ebay every now and then.  Here are some other cool ones.

And of course ballerinas were a great design/style theme across almost all decades.

Don’t you love this sparkly little ballerina?

Or this high relief ballerina in a frame?

Or your could start your little one’s love of ballet with a ballerina jewelry box–maybe just like the one you had as a kid.

Hee! Did you take any ballet classes as a child? Did you love it or hate it?

Vintage Monday :: The Dames Hit the Town

Last month I told you about a new, monthly supper club that Dottie and I started with some great gal pals: The Dames. It was the brain child of our friend Doe, who is one of the most creative, organized and talented people I know! We realized that we wanted to see each other more—and we wanted to connect with other cool mamas. The concept? Get 10 or so rad mamas who love dressing up and once a month we hit a retro restaurant and have a fun night out! Last month we went to Joe’s of Westlake, an old school Italian restaurant with fab architecture. This past month The Dames decided to go to the historic John’s Grill—a cool seafood joint made famous as a setting in Dashiell Hammett’s novel The Maltese Falcon.

BUT before we met at the restaurant, our friend Shona suggested we meet at the Union Square Macy’s 6th Floor bathroom. “The Macy’s Bathroom? Whuhhh?” Sounds a tad strange, but hear me out. The Macy’s 6th Floor Bathroom is somewhat historic. Upon entering, you pass through an unremarkable, generic bathroom with the classic row of white sinks. Turn a corner, however, and you are suddenly met with this:

Off the main restroom is a square room made of green and cream marble. There are pedestal wash basins, a lovely crystal chandelier and a gilded ceiling. It’s FABULOUS! The walls are covered with floor-to-ceiling mirrors and it’s not until you push on the mirrors that you realize that all of the stalls are hidden behind them.

One of the snazzy metal and marble wash basins. The faucet got cut off but it was golden…

The bathroom was actually designed as part of the old I. Magnin department store back in 1948. I’m not sure why it was never renovated—but we were sure glad it survived! While we waited for everyone to show, we took pictures. I think everyone who actually had to *use* the restroom thought we were crazy. Festive! But crazy.

Dueling leopard was glamorously hilarious!

I look so serious! haha

Finally we made it to John’s Grill! This time there were 9 of us—and we branched out to include some “non-mama” friends but very groovy girlies. Alas, Dottie couldn’t make it this time but she was very missed! The beauty of The Dames is that it’s low stress—can’t make it one month? No biggie, just show up the next month!

For some reason our table only had half the place settings. I snuck around and grabbed them off the other tables, “I think they had us confused with The Broads…..we’re The DAMES, dammit!”

The elusive Maltese Falcon, used in the movie of the same name. I am not quite sure why there is an Emmy in the case too but any chance to pose next to an award? I’ll take it!

The food was fab and the company even more delicious. I was just so nice to get out and get to know this lovely group of ladies. I highly recommend starting your own little monthly supper club! You don’t have to be vintage obsessed—mix it up! Here’s all you have to do:

1.  Invite a great mix of ladies. You can get together with your besties, but  you don’t have to even know everyone well. Honestly it’s kind of more fun when you don’t. Our group is a mix of a few women who are already good friends and a handful I didn’t really know that well to start—but I’m soooo enjoying getting to know them better! Start with 2-4 people and let each person invite one extra!

2. Pick your “thang”. For us, it’s finding retro, old timey restaurants, but there are so many options. You can pick the newest restaurants in your town (and discover new favorites), you can explore different cultures (thai! sushi! ethopian!), you can pick a favorite food (pasta? pizza, seafood?) and try all the spots in town in a quest for the best….the possibilities are endless.

Getting a little time out on your own is so important for a mama—and even if you don’t have kiddos, quality hang time with your ladies can be so rejuvenating. Once a month isn’t a big commitment either. Give it a whirl! And be sure to let us know if you try it! Do you belong to any other groups? Reading groups? Crafting circles? Or do you just have a standing date with a best girlie? I’d love to hear!

PS  Pssst! Due to a nasty looming cold, I wasn’t able to go to the third installment of The Dames, which was held last week at Spenger’s Fish Grotto. Miss Dottie was there representin’ and I must say it looks like she had things alllll under control. Dottie rules!


Then and Now :: Groovy Playhouses

I’m just gonna go out on a limb and say it. This is quite possibly the coolest playhouse EVA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It rules on so many levels. And yes it’s hip, but most importantly it looks like it would be SO fun to play inside. It got me thinking, “What did play houses look like back in the day??” So I went on a hunt. Lemme tell ya, it was a little hard to find. For example, I love this image, these kiddos are so cute (and stylish!). That playhouse is a tad grim though, eh?

OK,  this is more like it! A-frame goodness….with a built-in sandbox on the side.

This clever little playhouse is made of cloth. Love the big flowers….

This isn’t vintage, but it’s made of vintage sheets. It’s enough to make me want to hop on the tee pee bandwagon!

images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

I love all of those so much! I was curious if I could find some modern counterparts that had as much style and here’s what I turned up!

I really like this rad little pad—the double doors are very cool and it seems so light and airy inside! (nevermind that it KINDA looks like a 70s office building…)

image: modern play shed

This one is interesting but I have to admit it sort of looks like you’re playing inside a stylish piece of cheese:

image: smart playhouse

I like it better at night:

So this one….it’s slick, but seems so dark. Not very cheery, ya know? I’m all for hip design for kids, but not sacrificing FUN!

Ahhhh, see? This one is pretty groovy.  AND it still seems fun. Wouldn’t you rather have a fun slide than a CHIC! MODERN! MIDCENTURY! WOOD BOX! (ahem, playhouse above)

This one is quite adorable. The clear ceiling makes it really airy!

image: modern cabana

And finally….check out this bad boy. It ain’t purty but you know you would have one helluva good time staging battles and pretending your backyard was the planet of Tatooine. And your golden retriever a wookie.

Mmm hmmm. Featuring a 4-Sound Electronic Console. That *is* gym-dandy.