Welcome to That's My Era. Vintage collectibles for nostalgia enthusiasts of almost every time period. Everyone has their own "era," right? Pretty sure you'll find yours here!

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

commuting in "my era"

this morning, as i prepare for yet another rush hour morning commute i find myself wondering what my commute might've looked like back in "my era."

apparently it wouldn't really have been any less crowded. who knew?
now, to be clear, my dream commute would consist of climbing aboard this every morning...

or this:

or this: (i'm really not picky...)

Monday, January 30, 2012

40's/50's Hottie of the Week...

dragnet started off as a radio show in 1949 then went to television in '51. episodes were always titled "the big ___". above video is to an episode entitled: "the big grandma." yep, granny's writing bad cheques... again.

speaking of radio shows, my brother and i used to listen to the shadow as kids. it used to spook us out - even more so than the twilight zone. unfortunately we didn't get to listen on this:
rather, we likely listened via this vintage piece:

and for all you young 'uns who have never heard the shadow, i present you with the infamously spooky intro:


ah, the thrills n' chills of yesteryear... hold me!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

it's personal!

every sunday here at that's my era i'll be featuring an item from my personal collection. today's beauty is this simple, classic number:

... my '50's pin-up girl ashtray! ain't she a beauty? true, the expression on her face looks a little bit uncomfortable, especially from certain angles, but you can tell she was lovingly manufactured. perhaps the creator based her on someone he knew. maybe she was the gal who worked in the local coffee shop who really wanted to be an actress... and maybe she did nude modelling at art schools on the side because that seemed somehow in line with her acting aspirations... and maybe her name was desirée... but i digress.

strangely enough i've never named my ashtray (trust me, this is unusual). she's the only one i have (i'm not a collector of ashtrays) so she's simply come to be known around my abode as "the ashtray."

speaking of ashtrays, here are some truly fascinating cigarette commercials from the '50's...
now aren't those some seriously impressive multi-tasking skills? you might want to get real specific on your résumé if this is part of your skillset...add an explanatory bullet point beneath 'excellent multi-tasking skills,' namely: "can smoke while water skiing."
i don't know if the waterskiing n' smoking commercial can be beat but this one is certainly a contender:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

atomic pajamas

peering through my "romant-o vision" of the '50's i imagine lounging around in my '50's atomic pajamas on a saturday morning... you know the ones. they have boomerangs or starbursts or sputniks or cowboys on 'em. they're really soft and they come in all the great pastels of the '50's. oh ya!

 love the guy smoking the pipe. and is that an early cordless phone i see there??
 just lounging in my pajamas. what?
 me too. what?
okay, so these aren't pajamas. these are frightening costumes. give the panda everything you have. do not try and fight him off. don't eat that pile of pink stuff the "mouse" is offering you. it's likely poison. kudos to the brown rabbits ears! i think that, given the way they've twisted them just so that they must be pulling in the twilight zone and who doesn't love that show?!
some more costume "ideas" for you... note the bunny boy carrying grandpa's watch. he reminds me of this kid i grew up with, mike, who used to go around (as a 7 year old) saying "time is money. time is money, guys!" mike, is that you? and that duck is a sitting target (a sitting duck even...). you could easily sucker punch him. if he asks you to hand over your wallet you could just say "no" and walk away because i don't think he can actually see anything.
finally, i came across these interesting ads in my google imaging travels for pajamas today...

what would you rather be? stout? or chubby? (yes, "neither" is a perfectly acceptable answer).

now i'll let the pajama game take this PJ posting out! happy saturday everyone! stay in your pajamas!

Friday, January 27, 2012

"pin-up" friday!

on fridays here at that's my era it's all about the "pin-up." yep, it's "pin-up" friday! welcome! now, here at that's my era we're all about equal opportunity pin-ups so sometimes the pin-up will be female and other times the pin-up will be of the male variety. today's pin-up is male... more or less. you be the judge!

allow me to present, for your viewing pleasure, farley granger!

he was a very handsome fella don't you think? it seems that farley's good looks are still appreciated to this day as i was surprised to find a gaggle of young women on facebook who created a facebook page on farley, aptly titled: "i love farley granger." it's true that farley's looks seemed a bit out of synch for the time period, being of the "pretty boy" variety, in an era where men were expected to look and act like men. for example:

in terms of acting chops, farley seemed like a bit of a... umm... "simple" actor. slightly keanu-ish... (sorry i realize it's bad form to speak ill of the dead...)

he also had a secret...


note that his *actual* secret wasn't revealed until much later in his life. yep, farley was gay. 

farley starred in a few of my favourite movies: they live by night (1949), side street (1950) and the most famous of 'em all, hitchcock's strangers on a train (1951).

here's farley in action... what do you think? just a pretty face, or...?

normally i wouldn't like a modernized trailer but this one's really well done...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

i have a hot date tonight... at the drugstore!

as per my earlier post (see: "start a little movement in your sacroiliac...") this post is all about the drugstore phenomenon of my era.

my first question to those who frequented drugstores in their heyday: "how was the lighting??" because i cannot imagine going on a date at a drugstore. seriously. yet many dates took place at the local drugstore. the local drugstore was the place to be! oh ya, cool cats, these pictures don't lie:

one of my favourite film noirs, tension, from 1949, takes place primarily in a drugstore. the hero is a hapless pharmacist and of course a big-time sucker for femme fatale audrey totter:

and to any audrey fans out there, i leave you with this (and may i say that even if you're not a fan, please watch this as you may just fall in love...):

finally, to those of you who enjoy reading more than watching audrey's truly amazing faces, here's a link to an *actual!* *real!* old-timer with his account of the drugstore of yore:
(and yes, "suddenly senior dot com" you say? i can relate).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

exhibit a: why our parents might have issues…

i actually remember this video from public school but I believe ours was in technicolour…

taking a walk on a fine spring day with your sister? please remember to duck and cover. having a picnic with your family on a sunny day in august? please remember to duck and cover. most of all, remember that the atomic bomb could hit “at any time.” there might be a warning. then again, there may be no warning. 

my parents both came from holland to the “new country” in the ‘50’s. welcome, herman and margaret… please be seated. we have a short film for you to watch…

mom, dad… (((hugs)))!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

start a little movement in your sacroiliac...

no this isn't a post about maintaining… er… regularity. i’m talking about doing the hucklebuck! and how exactly do you do the hucklebuck, you ask? well, first of all you: “push your partner out… then you hunch your back… start a little movement in your sacroiliac. wiggle like a snake. waddle like a duck. that’s what you do when you do the huckleback.”

this song was made famous by chubby checker in 1960 and kay starr did a great cover of it as well. the song was originally penned by paul “hucklebuck” williams in 1949. (speaking of chubby, do i detect an early hip-hop type monicker here? maybe today he'd be "puff checker." or "biggie checker." hmm?)
speaking of kay, here she is in ’52 belting out a couple of tunes (not the hucklebuck unfortunately – couldn’t find that one). could that gal sing or what?
another dance craze that swept across the world during WWII is the 'jitterbug'... while the '60's is synonymous with the "mashed potato" and the "watusi" the "jitterbug" was all the rage starting in '45 and lasted well through the '50's. the word "jitterbug" appeared in 100s of songs through the '50's, particularly in rockabilly circles. this janis martin hit from the time illustrates:
note that this song appears on this must-have CD (for any rockabilly fans out there): 
i love the whole drug store phenomenon of 'my era.' the fact that the drug store was the place to hang out - kind of like the starbucks of today - is definitely a post unto itself (stay tuned!)

back to dancing...

if there's one dance i wish i could do it would be swing dancin' - or the jitterbug - or, both. unfortunately i believe i would hurt the one i love (and myself) if i ever attempted these moves but let's just say any dance that combines wicked acrobatic moves along with geeky rubbery leg movements (actually i'm quite skilled in that department...) is pretty amazing!

i leave you with this:

Monday, January 23, 2012

But does it have a "spit cup" mouth piece?

anyone who knows me, (even a little) knows that i'm pretty wild about mid-to-late '40's & '50's telephones. i own two: one, a very extremely heavy (should be registered as a weapon) jet-black western electric desk set circa 1946 that looks like this:

and the other is an ericsson, around the same vintage but with a "spit cup" mouthpiece (see picture below):
unfortunately mine isn't the "pyramid" variety and doesn't have a curly ancient-looking brown chord but it's got the "spit cup" mouthpiece and i enjoy picking it up from time to time and feeling the way my voice would've been funneled in such an aerodynamic and streamlined way into the ear of the person on the other end... (i feel a "they don't make 'em..." coming on).

while none of us can ever hope to play "brick and bat" on these relics, i must say that an add on, an "app" if you will, for my blackberry, could be and should be the "spit cup" mouthpiece.

all this to say, my coveted phone, that is not yet in my possession, (in any of the dazzling colours below) is the sweet and elegant ericsson "ericofon."

just gaze your eyes on those beauties! in as many flavours as there is ice cream! look at this woman relaxing in the comfort of her hospital bed (according to the website this is from that's where she is - i thought she was chillin' at home) with her beige (too bad!) ericofon.

and don't you wish you could have one so you could say to someone "call me. call me on my ericofon." you could say it like the guy in the ikea ads, with a "swedish" accent no less. hot!

and to close, a little "spit cup" immortalized on film....

Barkcloth and gingham - oh my!

today's post is all about the fabulous fabrics of my era, namely: barkcloth & gingham. first, an explanation from ol' faithful (wikipedia):

"Barkcloth or bark cloth is a versatile material that was once common in Asia, Africa, Indonesia, and the Pacific. Barkcloth comes primarily from trees of the Moraceae family, including Broussonetia papyrifera, Artocarpus altilis, and Ficus. It is made by beating sodden strips of the fibrous inner bark of these trees into sheets, which are then finished into a variety of items. Many texts that mention "paper" clothing are actually referring to barkcloth. Presently, barkcloth is a soft, thick, slightly textured fabric, so named because it has a rough surface like that of tree bark. This barkcloth is usually made of densely woven cotton fibers. Historically, the fabric has been used in home furnishings, such as curtains, drapery, upholstery, and slipcovers. It is often associated with 1940s-through-1960s home fashions, particularly in tropical, abstract, "atomic" and "boomerang" prints, the last two themes being expressed by images of atoms with neutrons whirling, and by the boomerang shape which was very popular in mid-century cocktail tables and fabrics."

so yeah, basically barkcloth is part cotton, part tree. how cool (and earthy!) is that? feast your eyes on these swaths of barkcloth below (note the nubbly texture!):

Gingham is this:

"When originally imported into Europe in the 17th century it was a striped fabric, though now it is distinguished by its checkered pattern. From the mid 18th century, when it was being produced in the mills of Manchester, England, it started to be woven into checked or plaid patterns (often blue and white). Checked gingham became more common over time, though striped gingham was still available in the late Victorian period.Gingham is made of carded or combed, medium or fine yarns, where the coloring is on the warp yarns and always along the grain (weft)."

probably the most famous piece of gingham was in the form of a simple dress, namely this one:

worn by this gal:
though honestly, when i think gingham, i think this, pure n' simple:

and that concludes the "fabrics of my era" posting for today. and sorry, but i do believe this calls for a great big, resounding: "THEY DON'T MAKE 'EM LIKE THEY USED TO!"

or better still: "BRING BACK BARKCLOTH!"

1940's Hottie of the Week...


what the heck is 'catalin' you ask? allow wikipedia to explain:

"Catalin is a brand name for a thermosetting polymer popular in the 1930s. Developed when the American Catalin Corporation took over the patents for Bakelite in 1927, Catalin is a cast phenolic, which can be worked with files, grinders and cutters and polishes to a fine sheen. Catalin is transparent, near colorless, rather than opaque, brown. Therefore, unlike other bakelite phenolics, it can be dyed bright colors or even marbled. This fact has made Catalin more popular than other types of Bakelite. In the 1930s-1950s, it quickly replaced most plastic consumer goods.
Catalin is heavy, quite greasy in feel, and as hard as brass. It is heat resistant and does not soften under boiling water. Like Bakelite, it gives off a distinctive phenolic odour when heated and can be tested using Simichrome, which turns from pink to yellow. Due to oxidation, older Catalin items darken in color with white fading to yellow. This caused some very interesting effects when radio cabinets were made from Catalin."

i'll let these other pictures of catalin, in their other popular forms, speak to their unique and mouth-watering hotness:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An oddly paired '50's duet...

My Rifle Pony and Me   
Sun is sinking in the west
The cattle go down to the stream
The redwing settles in the nest
It's time for a cowboy to dream
Purple light in the canyon
that is where I long to be
With my three good companions
just my rifle pony and me
Gonna hang my sombrero
on the limb of a tree
Coming home sweet my darling
just my rifle pony and me
Whippoorwill in the willow
sings a sweet melody
Riding to Amarillo
just my rifle pony and me
No more cows to be ropin'
No more strays will I see
'round the bend she'll be waitin
For my rifle pony and me
For my rifle my pony and me 

who says music videos got their start in the '80's? here's an early precursor to the music video... yes, this happens to be a snippet from a movie but still... 

and can't you just imagine dean martin saying something like: "okay, if i have to be in this very obviously gay musical interlude i'm going to do it as coolly and as butch as possible, so i'll be lying down, with a hat covering most of my face and a cigarette in my hand..."

ricky, on the other hand, wasn't as lucky...

la bamba!

so apparently i'm playing that six degrees of separation game because desi makes me think of ritchie valens (naturally) and this 'hit' was kind of a rare phenonemon for the '50's in that the song is in spanish... wikipedia has these interesting facts about the song as well:
""La Bamba" is a Mexican folk song, originally from the state of Veracruz, best known from a 1958 adaptation by Ritchie Valens, a top 40 hit in the U.S. charts and one of early rock and roll's best-known songs. Valens' version of "La Bamba" is ranked number 345 on Rolling Stone magazine′s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and is the only song on the list not sung in English."

the love child of desi & doris

so posting that pic of tony curtis for some reason made me think of desi arnaz which naturally made me think of my father, and in turn, my "mother." yes, it's true, i'm the illegitimate love child of desi and doris...

which '40's/'50's stars are you the love child of? do tell!

even if it's not a '40's/'50's star, tell anyway because in fact, my father, in his later years, grew out of his desi look (when he lost much of his hair) and was instead frequently compared to this guy:

people thought he looked so much like him that my dad was called "bob" by my friends. given that my dad's actual name is "herman," i wonder how he enjoyed the very alternative and toned-down monicker, "bob..."?


so last night i found myself watching part of "some like it hot" and found myself pondering the fact that tony curtis was, at the time, considered a major heart throb... what do you think? is heart throb-dom really just about great hair and cool-looking eyes? i personally love this swirly hornet's nest frontal lobe thing he's got going on here...