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Stopping To Smell The Roses

Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the Rose Girl Farm in Casstown, Ohio.

It was hotter than the surface of the sun, but I had my trusty parasol and hat with me, so I was eager to jump out of the car and see in person the roses that I had been drooling over on Instagram for weeks.

When I arrived, Jenny, mistress of Rose Girl Ltd, greeted me from behind the roses with her trusty pruning shears in hand.

She does not grow your usual rose, the type you find in your local grocery store. Jenny grows very delicate English garden roses, opening flat with numerous small petals.

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As I followed Jenny through the rows, she talked about each bush and what was most popular with brides and florists. It occurred to me how careful a project this must be.

She told me that she walks the rows twice a day with a clipboard in hand, noting how many buds are sprouting on each stem of each varietal. She explained at what stage she must cut and ship them so that they will be ready for a bucket or arrangement at just the right time. This is a delicate balance of experience, knowledge, and judgement. Clearly, Jenny knows each stem on her hundreds of bushes intimately. I tried to imagine how terrified I would be of wind and hard rain. I think I wouldn’t sleep, ever!

As we continued down the paths between the long stretching rose beds, I tried to smell every rose I passed; and let me tell you, these roses are heavenly! The scent is just unreal. And that’s when it all seems it would all be worth it: the pruning, weeding, surveying, and careful, constant fertilization. The scent and the colors are just amazing!

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After we finished walking the rows, I was able to peek inside Jenny’s amazing garden studio. It even has an attached small English green house and all. Then Jenny took me over to her new herb bed and explained how she will soon be under-planting all of the rose bushes with various herbs. What a phenomenal plan!

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As the tour concluded, Jenny brought me inside her home and treated me to a beautiful spread of home-baked blueberry cobbler, lemonade with fresh blueberries and lemon balm, and an amazing centerpiece of a variety of fresh cut roses so I could do a “smelling.” I am now on the hunt for the perfect rose for new cocktails and concoctions at Indian Creek Distillery!

I sat there willing myself not to have a third scoop of the cobbler for fear I might turn into Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We discussed discovering our true passions and wishing we had put those dreams into action earlier in life. Jenny had strong memories of being in the garden with her grandfather and wondered how she didn’t come to this realization about her passion for roses and gardening earlier in life.

While we chatted and after I pigged out, I began to smell each rose that made up the centerpiece. It took time to compute as the fragrances were so intense, more than I had expected. The more time I spent taking in the fragrance of each rose, the more I began to note the subtle differences and be able to address the complexities. I imagine it would take years to really be able to understand these beautiful creatures. Jenny told me that if you smell something for thirty seconds, it leaves a permanent memory in your noggin.

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Well, I am so incredibly honored that I will be able to carry with me the memories and stories of these gorgeous roses that are very loved by Jenny.

Please visit Rose Girl Ltd on Facebook, and definitely sign up for one of her tours. And if you’d like to experience the fragrance of her roses this week, visit me at the Indian Creek Distillery for a sample of this week’s cocktails!

xoxo Sailor

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The Ladies of Bridge Grove

Kitty Hosts The Holidays

It’s 6 a.m. Kitty cannot remember the last time she was up this early, but today her nerves and excitement will not let her sleep. She reaches over and turns on the clock radio.

“Heaven,” Kitty says to herself. She squeals with excitement: “This day could not have a better start, Bing Crosby on the radio singing White Christmas!”

After a minute or two of snuggling Max the cat, Kitty jumps out of bed, grabs her silk chiffon peach-colored robe, and heads into the bathroom.

“Now, what to do first?” Kitty wrings her hands as she looks at herself in the mirror. “There is just so much to do!”

This is the first time that Kitty will be hosting Stan’s friends. At first she was terrified of the ladies. They all seemed too polished and were considerably older. They seemed to know how to do everything: cook, bake, host, decorate, dress. It was very intimidating. And when Stan said he would ask about hosting the annual Christmas party at their house, and he came home and said the group agreed, she was bowled over. The ladies had been so nice to her since she and Stan got engaged, yet still her nerves were already working on her. Luckily, at the last bridge game, the ladies suggested that each would bring a special holiday dish. They said that it is what they had done every year, so Kitty certainly didn’t want to mess with tradition. And boy was she ever grateful, since cooking was not exactly Kitty’s forte. She had been wildly studying the latest cook books, but nothing seemed to stick. But she had a plan, fingers crossed.

She chews her lip with nervousness as she takes inventory of her face. She could hear her mother’s voice in her head: “Kitty, stop chewing your lip!” She groans and heads downstairs.

So, first things first. Since she has a few hours until her appointment at the beauty parlor, Kitty decides to have a cup of coffee and survey the house. She could still detect a hint of fresh paint smell and hopes that no one will notice. She and Stan had only moved into the new house a few weeks ago after they returned from their elopement in Acapulco.

But the wallpaper did look splendid; it was so modern and chic. Thank goodness her mother offered up her interior designer as a wedding gift. He was somewhat famous in Chicago and she thought his work was just the bees knees. The ladies were sure to be impressed.

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The color choices, she was assured, were the absolute latest and most popular: the soft robin’s egg blues with chestnut browns and the gorgeous creams and silvers for the second floor hall and bedrooms. They were just perfect, Kitty thought. And on the first floor, the rich wood paneling, kelly greens, and red carpeting were just so luxurious.

“Okay now, I must remember how to use this new Coffeemate thing,” Kitty says to herself, coming out of her reverie. She was so excited when she received it as a wedding gift from her aunt. Kitty surveys the kitchen and dining area, happy that she had decided to go with copper and yellow as her colors of choice here. Mr. French assured her that copper was going to be the next big trend in color and that Kitty would be the very first in her neighborhood to have it. The copper handles and hinges on her ranch style cabinetry were just divine. Kitty had also decided on a country motif for her kitchen, which she thought was so romantic. After growing up in a penthouse apartment in Chicago her whole life, she thought the country look was just so darling.

The best decision she thought she made as she surveyed her new kitchen were her kitchen counter tops: canary yellow with silver boomerang shapes. “Just splendid,” she thinks. They were the most gorgeous countertops in all of Illinois, surely.

Kitty walks over to the nice bay window with banquet seat in the kitchen which Stan had chosen to add. As Kitty floats down to it and sips her coffee, she looks outside and watches the snowflakes begin to fall, thinking that this addition was just perfect for the house. Now she knows it will be the perfect night: fresh snowfall for her Christmas party, how wonderful.

Oh heavens, look at the time! Kitty rushes off down the hall to the living room to give it a quick survey. The Christmas tree is beautiful and the buffet table is already set up, thanks to Stan. She will have to add more garland to the fireplace mantle and some more candles, but everything looks perfect.

Kitty quickly dresses, feeds the cat, throws on her coat, hat, and gloves, and heads out the door. She mustn’t be late for the beauty parlor! She booked just enough time for her setting, makeup, and nails. Miss Beverly, who owns the premier beauty parlor in Bridge Grove, is very difficult to get an appointment with. Nancy Gold recommended her and said there was just no one else that she would trust her hair to. And by the looks of Nancy, Kitty would trust her with just about any advice on fashion; she was certain that Nancy must have been a model before she married Chip. Kitty was so impressed that she ended up choosing the date of the party only after she confirmed an appointment with Miss Beverly.

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As Kitty backs her cherry red Bel Air out of the driveway, she sees another lot on her street that is beginning construction. There were already six new ranch homes built on Meadow Lane. She is eager to meet new neighbors. So far, most of the neighbors that Kitty had met were mostly single men who were avid golfers and lived in the city during the week. It can be a bit lonely, so she hopes for a young couple or a family to move in and liven up the neighborhood.

Half and hour later, Kitty is sitting in the beauty parlor with her hands dipped in nail solution and Miss Beverly circling to size up her hair.

“So, it’s a Christmas party at your home, you zay?” Miss Beverly asks.

“Yes,” says Kitty.

“And you will be wearing ze emerald green satin cocktail dress, yes?”

Kitty nods, holding her breath.

“Zen ze only thing to do is ze bob and flip. Zis will make you look more mature.”

Kitty exhales, feeling like she just passed a test.

Within seconds, Miss Beverly’s assistants are buzzing around Kitty with curlers, powders, polishes, and creams. A few hours later, Kitty’s look is complete. Miss Beverly spins Kitty’s chair around to face the mirror. She takes one look and squeals with delight! Her hair is a perfect bouffant bob with the bottom edges flipped into a half curl. The height elongates her neck so elegantly. And her makeup is just gorgeous. Miss Beverly chose emerald eye shadow to match Kitty’s dress and a deep red for her lips and nails. “How very festive!” Kitty thinks happily.

The girls carefully wrap Kitty’s hairdo in a scarf, she pays the bill, and is off. After stops at the butcher and flower shop, Kitty arrives back home with a little less than two hours to get everything prepared. Within minutes, Stan arrives home with ice and a few extra bottles of scotch that he thinks might be good to have on hand. The butcher arrives to drop off the liverworst pate, tar-tar, vienna sausages in bbq sauce, and a pimento loaf, and the florist finishes setting up the poinsettias that Kitty had ordered.

Kitty catches Stan staring at the food items the butcher has delivered, looking perplexed.

“Why, Stan, is there something wrong?” she asks him.

“Ah, no, my darling, it’s just that this all looks so, er, so professional?” Stan says with hesitation.

“Goodness, they will know, won’t they? The ladies will take one look at this food and know that I didn’t make it. Oh no, this is going to be a disaster, isn’t it?” Kitty exclaims while wringing her hands.

“Now dear, calm down. The food looks beautiful and you are gorgeous! No one will notice. Everything will be just fine.” Stan kisses Kitty on her forehead and heads over to the bar.

Kitty nervously takes the food from the butcher out of the boxes and adds some finishing touches: Ritz crackers for the pate, melba toast for the tar-tar, and some fresh parsley for the pimento loaf, just like in the cookbooks.

Kitty catches a glimpse of the front yard as she walks into the living room to set out the new boomerang-shaped ashtrays and carton of cigarettes. It sure is snowing out there, looking so beautiful. She stands at the window for a while, smiling as she hears “Suzy Snowflake” by Rosemary Clooney cooing from the hi fi. She giggles a bit and then realizes that she does not have much time left to get dressed. She runs into the bedroom nearly knocking over the poinsettia in the hallway, hearing Stan yell to her from the kitchen: “Slow down dear, there is plenty of time!” She mumbles something back about men having no idea what it takes for a woman to get dressed.

Kitty unwraps her dress, such a beautiful shade of emerald, from the box. She takes out her girdle, stockings, dress, pumps, jewelry, shalamar, and poinsettia broach. “Perfect!” she exclaims as she views herself in the mirror, all put together. “Just perfect!”

As she arrives in the living room, she sees Stan sitting on the couch, reading the paper.

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“Now, let me have a look at my beautiful bride,” he says, ignoring her frantic pleas. “Wow, what a stunner! How did I get so darn lucky?”

He plants a kiss on her cheek, making her giggle.

“Hey, the gals just love ya,” he says. “Everything is going to be great! Look at this beautiful home I had built for ya. There’s nothin’ to worry about, dear, nothin at all.”

He sits back down with his paper and Kitty just laughs. “Men,” she says, shaking her head.

The door bell rings just as Kitty is lighting the last candle. She may have overdone it with the candles as she sees Stan’s reaction as he walks towards the door. Oh well, too late now.

She rushes to his side to greet their first guests, John and Vicky Pool. Stan chuckles when he sees that it’s them who has arrived first.

Vicky is wearing the most interesting pink coat with a pink sable hat, pink gloves, and pink pumps. She arrives with a casserole of franks and beans and a pitcher of her famous iced tea. Now that was one inside joke Kitty does know about. Oh my, her tea is just awful.

Stan gives John and Vicky the grand tour as Kitty lays out the casserole on the buffet table. She can hear John talking to Stan as they approach the living room. “We will have to get you a pool in that backyard this summer there, Stan. And who better to get you a great deal on a pool than the man named Pool?” John laughs and laughs, patting Stan on the back. Kitty chuckles to herself.

As the guests continue arriving, the buffet table fills up fast, the bed is piling high with coats and hats, and the smoke is wafting through the house. Kitty hopes that everyone is enjoying themselves so far.

Gladys, Kitty was told by Stan, is always the life of the party and it seems that she is in fine form tonight. The minute she arrived, everyone gathered around her and Jack as they told the latest story about their recent trip to Florida. She certainly knew how to work a room. Kitty so admired her.

Gladys is wearing a beautiful silver wiggle dress with a short cropped matching jacket. Her red hair is piled high in a beautiful coif, and the contrast of her hair against the silver shimmering material is stunning. Kitty thinks that Gladys looks like a movie star.

Last to arrive is Nancy and Chip. Vicky Pool had forewarned Kitty that Nancy is always fashionably late, so by no means should she pass out any hors d’oeuvres until Nancy and Chip make their entrance.

And what an entrance it is! Nancy has really outdone herself this time. She is a vision in powder blue chiffon with a floor length pleated gown gather at the bodice, with the most beautiful gold rhinestone star-shaped broach. The train elegantly dusts the floor, extending all the way up to the neckline. And her hair, what a piece of artistry, gorgeous curls swept up just like Lucille Ball’s.

Just then Kitty hears Gladys announce that her famous egg nog is ready and asks who wants a glass.

Kitty loves egg nog, and boy is Gladys’ delicious. Stan calls everyone to the bar and raises his glass for a toast. Kitty stands next to him and looks around the room. With the low lights and soft candle glow, the Christmas tree just looks magnificent with all of its colors and tinsel.

“Thank you, dear friends, for joining us tonight,” Stan says as he holds his glass high. “And to my new bride, Kitty, may this be just one of many happy Christmases together. And that means a lot, coming from a Jewish guy!” The crowd roars with laughter. “Cheers, everyone!”

All of the ladies rush over to Kitty to tell her how much they love her dress and hair, and oh that eyeshadow!

Soon after everyone heads to the buffet. What a beautiful feast it is! There’s liver pate, deviled ham, lobster newburg spread, sardine and bacon rolls, pimento pinwheels, mushroom loaf, chicken ala king, and a wonderful array of desserts.

Carla whispers to Gladys to meet her in the kitchen and they both stealthily slip away from the other ladies. Carla opens the napkin in her hand and gestures to Gladys to look at it.

“Is that a wrapper?” asks Gladys.

“Yes, it was under the entire liverworst” Carla says.

“Oh my, poor dear! Vicki found plastic wrap under the tar tar and quickly slipped it out before anyone else noticed, she told me,” says Gladys.

“We have to do something. We can’t let this poor lamb suffer and we certainly don’t need to be ingesting paper and plastic! She’s one of us now doll; we’ve got to help her out,” says Gladys. They nonchalantly head back to the group to mingle.

As the ladies eat and talk, Gladys realizes it is just the girls standing around, so she asks Kitty which dishes from the buffet table are hers. Kitty admits it’s the liverworst from the butcher. After a moment of silence, Gladys glances around the room and finally says: “Say, Kitty, you can’t cook a lick, can you?”

Kitty laughs with relief and says: “No, not a lick.”

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All the ladies laugh and take their turns hugging her. Susan says that she will teach Kitty to bake and the ladies nod in definite agreement. “Susan is the best baker among us, for sure,” says Carla Benson.

“And Carla should be the one to teach you casseroles. I swear every time there is a gathering you have whipped up some new delightful concoction,” says Gladys.

“Oh, and I would be happy to help you as well. Everyone always loves my roast,” claims Mary Peterson.

“My, yes, the best roast in Bridgegrove,” says Nancy. “I’m still trying to perfect the recipe.”

“I would be happy to give you my ambrosia and summer salad recipes, Kitty. Everyone always enjoys those dishes when I bring them to our gatherings,” says Vicky. “Oh, and my iced tea, naturally. I might be persuaded to share that recipe with you.”

The ladies all shoot each other a glance and try not to burst out laughing.

“No, Vicky, we wouldn’t want you to give away your trade secret,” says Nancy, as the ladies nod and sigh in relief.

“Well, there you go, doll,” Gladys remarks to Kitty. “And say, you realize you deprived us ladies of a wedding to dress for, right?”

Everyone chuckles and Kitty blushes. “I’m so sorry, girls. With the differences in Stan and my religions, we just thought it would be much easier for our families. I couldn’t bear either of us having to tell our families we had to convert,” Kitty responds.

“Oh my, I didn’t even think of that,” says Mary. “You are absolutely right, dear. Very smart.”

“Ladies, I have the best idea,” Nancy cries. “Kitty, you must let us throw you a proper wedding shower this spring!”

“Oh yes! What fun! How swell!” All the ladies exclaim to each other.

Kitty beams with joy. “I would love that! Thank you so much!”

“Leave it to us,” Nancy says. “Gladys, we have planning to do,” elbowing Gladys gently. The two exchange an excited look.

“Sorry to interrupt, girls, but may I steal my bride away for a spin across the room?” Stan asks as he reaches out his hand to Kitty.

Kitty smiles from ear to ear as she follows Stan across the room.

Within minutes, everyone is slow dancing to the sounds of Pat Boone. The snow is falling gently on the bushes outside the living room window. Gladys tiptoes around the room in stocking feet, handing out champagne. “Oh, my, I almost forgot the champagne,” Kitty thinks to herself.

Kitty is so happy, she lays her head on Stan’s shoulder and thinks about all of the compliments the ladies gave her on the party and her home decor. She feels such pride. Maybe entertaining isn’t so difficult after all.


Retro Stories, The Ladies of Bridge Grove

Vicky’s Hawaiian Shin Dig!

Vicky’s Hawaiian Shindig!

It’s 7:00 a.m. How in the heck did this happen? Vicky jumps from her bed and races into the bathroom. She slaps her Pond’s cream on her face and brushes her teeth with lightning speed, rinses, spits, and dives for the curlers from her vanity cabinet, racing to get each and every strand into a curler. She’s working so fast, she manages to poke her scalp with the curler pins more than usual. Now, her eyes are watering and creating little teary rivers in her thick Pond’s mask. Oh, what a mess.

As she not-so-deftly wraps each curler, she admires her pink floral wallpaper before noticing a wrinkle. Darn, why hadn’t she seen that before? Well, it is in the corner near the ceiling; surely it’s difficult to notice. If she hadn’t seen it ’til now, no one else will notice it. And after all, who would be looking up at that corner when there are pinky fluffy plush mats and toilet seat covers to admire?

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“There”, she says to herself. Curlers are set, it’s time to get up and get moving. How did she ever sleep so late? She opens the door to her son’s room, shouting: “Up and at ‘em, little man! Time to start the day.” After many groans and moans, Billy finally sits up and stares at his mother’s face in bewilderment.

“Mommy, why do you have that stuff all over your face? Haha! You look like a marshmallow ghost.” Vicky touches her face and realizes she left her cold cream on. Goodness, this is most certainly not a good start to the day.

An hour later, John finds his wife in the kitchen, bent over the frying pan, mumbling. He laughs to himself and walks over to plant a kiss on her cheek.

“Good morning, dear!” He says. “How are you today?”

“Oh, sweetheart, please don’t forget to get the charcoal from the A&P and wipe down the grill top. Oh, and remember that we need extra ice today,” she breathlessly fires off.

“Dearest, now I wish you wouldn’t get so in a tizzy when we host parties,” John says. “You are a darn good hostess and everything always goes off without a hitch.” He grabs his wife’s hand to kiss it.

“John, sweetheart, everything just must go perfect, that’s all! I just want everything to be nice. Now, sit down and eat your breakfast. I have so much to do!”

A few minutes later, a car honks outside. Vicky grabs Billy’s case and shuffles him outside. Luckily, Billy is best friends with the boy scout troop leader’s son and they are going to Detroit for the weekend to visit the Henry Ford Museum.

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Vicky waves goodbye to Billy as the car backs out of the driveway and turns on her pink slippered heels to run back inside the house. Just as she grabs the door handle to close the door, she realizes that she forgot to ask John to hang the special wreathe she made for the party. It’s just so perfect for her Hawaiian theme, an entire wreathe made out of leis that she had specially ordered.

“John…..”

Vicky stands frozen in her hallway looking at her curlers in the hallway mirror, trying to decide if she should dress before or after she makes the iced teas. She quickly decides the iced teas are most important. She is so excited to reveal her new favorite: a pineapple-flavored iced tea.
As Vicky files her pitchers of iced teas in the Frigidaire she decides to do a check of John’s work on the back patio. Oh, and she almost forgets to feed Tweetie. A quick check of Tweetie’s cage as she walks to the back door reveals that the food and water dishes are full. Vicky spends a minute whistling back and forth with Tweetie and then she’s off to the backyard.

Vicky claps her hands and squeals. Everything looks splendid! The tables are all lined with raffia; John did a magnificent job of attaching it perfectly. They look like one big grass skirt.

The bamboo plants she managed to find at the nursery look perfect next to the buffet table. All of the multi-colored garland has been hung and there are plenty of candles. Everything looks so festive! Vicky is truly pleased. She lets out a little sigh of relief and walks over to compliment her husband.

“John, you did a wonderful job! If I didn’t know any better, I would think we are in Hawaii!”

John chuckles and picks up a large brown box. “Dear, I found this in the garage yesterday.”

“Oh, yes, goodness, I almost forgot,” Vicky says. “Those are the leis for all of our guests! I had them special ordered. There are enough for everyone. We must give them to each guest as they arrive. Please don’t forget, darling. You see, this is what they do in Hawaii when guests arrive; I want our guests to feel just like they are in Hawaii.”

Vicky notices the time and realizes that she must continue getting ready. She glances at her sofa as she walks through the living room and pulls off all of the plastic covers. Her pink velveteen sofa just lights up the room. She just adores it. What a wonderful compliment to her pink silk drapes that hang both in her living and dining rooms.

She chooses her brand new Martin Denny Exotica album to put on the record player while she gets herself ready. “The soundtrack is perfect,” she thinks to herself, looking around and admiring her living room. The rose colors just make her feel at ease. She looks at her watch again and rushes to the bedroom to get dressed.

Vicky removes her curlers and brushes her curls out to a nice smooth wave, the larger curls at the bottom, resting right at the lobes of her ears. She pulls out her vanity case and reviews her Avon guideline to makeup one more time: Eye shadow, rouge, brows, and last but not least, lashes and lips. Vicky decides on “A Pretty Pop Of Pink” for her lip color, a new pink that has just come out this year. Mabel swears it is the perfect shade of pink for any daytime or evening occasion. As Vicky mixes her lips together and looks at herself in the mirror, she quite agrees.

And there is her darling floral dress jumper with an accompanying light, dusty pink blouse to wear underneath. Vicky chooses pearls as her accessories and her favorite pair of nude wedge sandals.

She takes one last look around, smooths out the pink silk bedspread and heads for the kitchen; it’s time to lay out the food. Oh, and she must make sure that John is wearing his Hawaiian print shirt that she bought for him.

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As she carries out the last of the food, she sees John’s shirt and smiles. It’s time to survey the buffet table: Chips? Check. Pretzels? Check. Ambrosia salad? Check. Pineapple Jell-O mold?Check. Mini franks and pineapple slices in peking sauce? Check. Chicken chop suey? Check. Barbecue Jell-O salad? Check. And John has the beef skewered and ready for the grill.

“There are plenty of refreshments,” Vicky admires. There’s lemonade, iced tea, cola, and orange juice. The ice buckets are full. Just as she thinks to check how much back-up ice is in the freezer, she remembers to turn on the radio for the party.

Then the doorbell rings. Vicky claps her hands with delight; her first guests have arrived! Carla and Bill Benson are the first ones here. She gives each of them a lei, and Carla comments that it’s so festive, she cannot wait to see the spread. Carla has brought an apple pie; her pies are always magnificent. Vicky’s mouth begins to water as she ushers her first guests to the back patio and places the pie on the dessert table.

The doorbell rings again and Vicky whisks back inside. This time it’s Susan & Bob Schaeffer, along with Margaret & John Prescott. She hands out more leis, gets more compliments and more desserts. Susan has brought a fruit salad in a darling bowl that looks just like an orange, and Margaret has brought the ice cream, as promised. Vicky sends everyone to the back patio as she places the ice cream in the freezer.

Next at the door is Mary & Barry Peterson with Stan Mitchell. Mary seems to be giving Vicky an odd look, when Vicky realizes that there is someone walking from Stan’s car with him; it seems he brought a date. Oh, my. As she ponders how this will play out, Gladys and Jack walk up. Gladys has a thermos and a large bowl with her. “I wonder what that is,” Vicky thinks to herself and purses her lips.

The last to arrive are, of course, Nancy & Chip Gold. Nancy, as usual, looks stunning. She is wearing a very expensive-looking gold wiggle dress with gold sandals and an orchid behind her ear. Her blue eye shadow makes her gray eyes just pop. Vicky wonders how old Nancy really is. Her figure would suggest she’s quite young, but Vicky knows she’s older than all the other ladies.

As Vicky returns to the back patio with more ice, she sees all of the ladies standing around, sipping their iced tea. She is pleased, knowing that her new recipe would be a hit. She asks the ladies how they like the iced tea and they all express their delight.

Mary walks over to Nancy to compliment her on that smashing dress she is wearing. Susan dashes over to them and whispers: “Girls, have you actually tasted the tea? It’s absolutely horrible.” Gladys and Nancy laugh. “Goodness, I thought I was the only one. Yuck!”

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Just as Susan was thinking how badly she needs a drink, she hears Gladys call out to the ladies.

“Jack and I came across this darling little place last month when we were in Chicago for our anniversary dinner,” she says. “They make this amazing little drink called a Mai Tai,” she tells the crowd.

“We just loved it so much, we asked the bartender for the recipe,” Jack pipes in. “And we have been perfecting it ever since then.”

Everyone laughs.

“So, Vicky and John, we thought it would just perfect for your party since it’s a Hawaiian drink, or so the bartender said,” Jack says.

Vicky smiles and politely thanks Gladys and tells her and Jack how thoughtful that is. John walks over to Gladys and proclaims that he will be the first to try it out. He whispers to Jack: “Thank goodness! Vicky isn’t very good at cocktails; one drink and she’s smashed.” Jack laughs and they both clink their glasses.

“Anyone else?” Gladys asks. And at that everyone rushes over to grab a glass. “The food is impressive,” Gladys thinks to herself as she admires the spread. She will just skip the Ambrosia salad this time.

As everyone is loading their plates, Nancy comes over to Gladys who is standing with Mary Peterson.

“So, who is the young lady whom Stan brought this time?” Nancy asks Mary.

“Her name is Kitty, and Stan actually introduced her to us as ‘My Kitty’ when we were in the driveway, so that’s new.”

“Perhaps she will last more than one date,” Gladys comments, and the ladies chuckle.

Gladys elbows Mary. “Well, the boys sure seem to be impressed with her; just look at our men over there. They have her surrounded!”

A few minutes later, Jack walks towards the group. “Gladys, my darling, may I have this dance?”

“Why of course, sir, I would be delighted,” Gladys responds as she places her cocktail on the table.

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With the sounds of Arthur Lyman wafting through the air, it is hard not to feel festive. Gladys wonders as Jack twirls her if this is in fact what Hawaii is like.

Gladys is very happy with her choice of dress for the occasion, a Walk Away Dress with a full skirt and fitted bodice in the most beautiful shade of peacock blue with green lining. She chose to wear her hair down curled under and brushed to the side with a large yellow flower pinned next to her left ear. Her green Shake Charmer wedges just go perfectly with her outfit.

“So, I think I know where I would like to go for our next vacation,” Gladys smiles at Jack.

“Hahah, let me guess,” he laughs. “Could it be Omaha, Nebraska? I hear they have wonderful steaks and very nice Motor Inn’s. In fact, there might be…” Gladys playful slaps him on the arm, “Yes, darling, I think it would be a wonderful vacation and any chance to see you in a swimsuit is alright with me.” The two sway on the patio as the other couples join in to dance.

Vicky stands next to John and breathes a sigh of relief. “Well, my dear, I think you’ve done it,” he says. “I think you have put together the best party of the year,” he exclaims, putting his arm around his wife.

It does seem to go rather well. Everyone fills their plates several times and is laughing and now dancing, although the iced tea pitchers still seem to be rather full. “It does look like things have gone very well,” Vicky thinks.

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All of a sudden, Vicky hears someone shouting. The music is turned down and it looks as though Stan Mitchell is standing on a chair. “Oh, dear,” Vicky thinks, “I hope he’s not drunk again.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please?” Stan says. “Quiet down now, friends. I have a very important announcement.”

The dancing comes to a halt, and the crowd hushes and faces Stan standing rather unbalanced on the pool chair.

“You’ve all met my Kitty, and well, now you will all have to come to our wedding! I’ve asked her to marry me, and for some reason that I can’t fathom, she’s said yes!”

With that, Stan reaches down and pulls Kitty’s hand up and helps her onto the chair next to his. “Folks, four weeks from now, this lovely lady will be Mrs. Stanley Mitchell!”

Everyone begins to clap and the tiny waif of a gal seems to be ready to burst with happiness. The men walk over and help the two down as everyone else approaches to congratulate the pair.

Vicky admires Kitty’s pink lace Fit & Flare strapless dress with its short round skirt. Her tiny frame seems to swim in it, but her bodice is quite filled in. Her little pink sling backs are the exact shade of her dress and those pink pearl earrings are just gorgeous against her frosty blonde short curls. Gosh, Vicky just loves pink so much.

Margaret leans in and startles Vicky out of her pink daydream. “Did you know about this? Did you know about her? How long have they been dating?”

“Well, I have no idea,” Vicky says. “I thought that was your department. This is the first time I am hearing of any of it.”

The ladies whisper in hushed voices. Carla says that she and Bill bumped into them at the Golden Ranch Steakhouse a few weeks ago and had a brief drink with them, but they thought nothing of it, just another one of Stan’s girls.

“Well, we will have to get down to the bottom of this. Someone will have to do some recon on the matter. Margaret, this is your territory! See what you can come up with.” Nancy firmly states.

“Why is it always me who has to find out…” Margaret stops in mid sentence, noticing all the ladies giving her a certain look.

“Yes, yes, ok, I will find out what I can,” she says, and with that, Margaret walks away from the group to approach Kitty.

Mary Peterson seems to be ready to burst. “Ladies, a wedding! This means we get to shop for a wedding.”

A round of sighs, oohs, and ahs circle the group of ladies. The atmosphere of delight is palpable as visions of dresses and hats dance through their minds.

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Finally, the punch bowls are empty, the grill has cooled, and little cocktail umbrellas are strewn about the patio tables.

Carla stays to help Vicky clear up even though Vicky states it isn’t necessary. Carla knows that Vicky doesn’t have a house cleaner like most of the other ladies, though. Vicky can hear John and Bill laughing on the patio through the kitchen window and cigar smoke comes wafting in. Vicky hurriedly shuts the kitchen window so the smoke won’t get into the house. The men are instantly silenced and the sounds of chairs being pushed into tables begin.

Vicky glances over at Carla and they both begin to laugh hysterically as they dry the last of the dishes in their stocking feet.

“Well, seems like we’ve still got it! ‘The moment your husband doesn’t fear you, the marriage is over,’ my mother would always say,” Carla says in between giggles.

Just then John and Bill come in from the back patio. “Ready to go, dearest?” Bill asks his wife.

“Oh yes, just finishing the last dish here,” Carla replies while wiping the tears from laughing off her cheek.

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“What is so funny?” John asks.

At that both ladies begin to crack up again. The men look at each other and just shrug their shoulders.

John and Vicky wave to the last of their guests as the car pulls out of the driveway.

“Job well done, dear! It was a smashing party,” he says to his wife.

“Couldn’t have done it without you,” she replies.

“But, oh my, this business about Stan getting married, what do you think? How long has he known her? Has he said anything to you?” Vicky breathlessly fires off.

John puts his arm around his wife and ushers her down the hallway towards their bedroom.

“I will leave all of those details to you ladies. We men, we never know anything,” he says, chuckling. “Time for bed now, dear.”

Vicky lays her head on her husband’s shoulder as they walk down the hallway. Whatever will she wear to the wedding…


Retro Stories, The Ladies of Bridge Grove

Nancy Does Bridge… But Prefers Canasta

It’s 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday and Nancy is enjoying her last cup of coffee while flipping through the latest copy of Redbook. “You Send Me” wafts softly through the kitchen from the turquoise blue Motorola clock radio that is perched atop her dreamy canary yellow Westinghouse refrigerator. Just a few more puffs of her Lucky and another sip of Maxwell House, and Nancy will have to get into action.

Today’s bridge game is sure to be full of excitement. Nancy and the other wives take turns hosting their Wednesday afternoon card games. Today, Susan Schaeffer is hosting. Nancy has not seen her since Gladys’ Cocktail Party last month.

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Margaret Prescott called Nancy Saturday to tell her that she drove by Susan’s house and saw her walking to the mailbox from the car with a bandage across her nose. Margaret could hardly breathe, she said, as she did her best not to run over the Miller’s cat and end up on the sidewalk. This sounds like it’s going to be a very interesting day of bridge. Nancy loves a mystery!

And thank goodness Susan serves cocktails at her house. If this were Vicky Pool’s turn, it would be much less fun, as she never serves alcohol. The ladies have not mustered the courage to find out why, though. The Pool’s don’t seem particularly into the Church. Poor Vicky always seems so excited about her new iced tea discoveries: Sun Tea, Instant Tea, Lemon Tea. How many iced teas can one drink in an afternoon? Nancy even saw Mary Peterson dump her glass into a plant once.

On Monday morning, Nancy awoke with a well thought out plan of attack in respect to the outfit she would wear to this week’s bridge game. After a quick phone call to Rogette’s, Nancy’s mind was at ease; the shop girl, Jacqueline, assured Nancy that she had a wide variety of the latest day dresses in stock.

The ladies typically look to Nancy for style advice since she worked at a fashion magazine as a receptionist before she got married, but little do they know, Nancy really doesn’t know as much about fashion as they think she does. None of them know that she is from a small farm town. But, it was a good way to get into the group when she and Chip first moved to the neighborhood.

One must keep the show going though, so it was a serious job. Nancy had every magazine known to the fashion world delivered to her house regularly. She spent hours combing through the pages, memorizing the names of designers and upcoming looks and trends that these magazines anticipated. Luckily, Chip was willing to give Nancy just about anything to be able to golf every Sunday or go to the club with the fellas. And, Nancy was happy to exchange a new frock or two out monthly.

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Tuesday was a very productive day. Nancy got her nails done, had her hair set at the beauty parlor, and at Rogette’s, Jacqueline was reliable as always, having several perfect dresses set aside. They were just peachy, so much so that Nancy had to have all three of them. She decided to grab an extra bottle of Chip’s favorite gin on the way home, and to prepare his favorite meal, a nice roast, just the way he liked it.

Shoot, it’s 9:00 a.m. already; she must be ready by 11:00. Nancy closes the magazine, puts her coffee cup in the sink, and begins to head down the hall towards the bedroom, carefully making sure to trip over the cat. Those ballet lessons she took in her late teens never really helped her grace as much as she would have hoped. Pat Boone’s “Love Letters in the Sand” is now on the radio; oh, how she adores that song. She must remember to ask Chip for the new Pat Boone record for her birthday next month.

Nancy enters her bedroom and lets out a bright sigh of happiness. She just adores her bedroom; it is by far her most favorite room in the house. The walls were done in a perfect shade of Chantilly Blue, her absolute favorite color.

Yellow and gray lace curtains hang over the large windows with little cream colored pompoms hanging from the hems. She spent months looking for the perfect carpeting for the room when she and Chip moved into the house. In fact, they had to live with the horrid old wood flooring for several months until she found the exact shade she was looking for. It was the most gorgeous color named Imperial Ivory; the name alone just made her squeal with delight. Chip was so handy that he was able to find the same color in paint and have Nancy’s dressing table painted to match.

And the bedding, well, that was also a treasure hunt. Nancy really wanted the bedding to match the walls, so finding the exact style in Chantilly lace was quite a feat. Finally, she had to visit local decorators, an older Italian couple, who were able to have a Chantilly Blue bedding set made as she described. Lots of lace she required and lots of pompoms. And oh, what a spectacular job they did! The bedspread and all of the dressing pillows were all finished in cream lace and pompoms, and the bedspread had a beautiful lace pattern, too.

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Nancy opens her closet doors and realizes that she is going to have to take another set of dresses to the guest room closet. How she is always running out of room, it’s so puzzling.

She takes the three dresses from Rogette’s and lays them on the bed. This is a very difficult choice indeed. All these dresses would be perfect and all of them will work nicely with her bouffant up do. After much internal debate, Nancy chooses a yellow polkadot shirt dress with cap sleeves and scalloped edging. Luckily, she has a pair of cream sling back heels that will match just swell, and the perfect yellow bow to attach to her rather large bouffant.

Just as she sits down at the dressing table to begin making up her face, she hears the clacking of rain on the window. Oh no, Nancy cannot risk having her hairdo ruined! She studies herself in the mirror. There is no way that a hat will fit on the work of art atop her head. She digs into her bottom drawer and chooses a pretty floral scarf with plenty of yellows and golds. This will do; this will do nicely.

Two hours later, Nancy is in the Ford on her way to Susan’s house, only a five minute drive, thankfully, and the rain has subsided. Chip doesn’t think Nancy is a very good driver so he makes sure to keep her in a new car with all the latest safety features. Nancy probably drives a lot better than she lets Chip believe. After all, she did grow up on a farm and had to drive the tractor quite often to help her father out. But, if it means a new car every few years, then Nancy will continue to keep up the ruse.

As she pulls in Susan’s driveway, Nancy sees that all the gals have arrived. She prides herself on being the last one to arrive at all gatherings so her entrance is uninterrupted. She knows she will be showered in comments about her outfit.

Nancy has chosen to bring a bunt cake. She has never been very good at baking. When she and Chip lived in Chicago when they were first married, Nancy would purchase cakes and pies and then warm them up in the oven or cool them in the fridge on her own plates to give the illusion that she baked them. She even took baking classes, but still, no success. Now she has Margarite, her housekeeper, who does all of her baking and no one is the wiser. Everyone particularly loves the lemon bunt cake with powdered cinnamon sugar.

Just as Nancy walks up to the door with her cake tin, she feels a rush of excitement. Will Susan open the door with her bandage still on? Will there be a new nose on her face? She can hardly make it to the door without tripping over the walkway. She takes a moment to breathe, adjust her dress, tighten her gloves, put a smile on, and rings the doorbell.

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And there is Susan, smiling and looking, well, exactly the same: no bandage, no new and improved nose. Come to think of it, Susan’s nose is just darling, actually. Is Nancy just not remembering what it looked like before?

A little puzzled, Nancy walks through the door, gives a quick kiss and hug to Susan, and accepts all of the squealing and admiration for her beautiful dress. Nancy can barely get into the foyer as the girls rush over to admire her hair and her scarf: “Is that Hermes?”

“Why no, of course not, ladies,” she says. “It was a gift from Chip when he traveled to New York.”

She turns to Susan to tell her how lovely she looks in her pink circle skirt and cream cardigan, then shoots a look at Gladys, already mixing up cocktails, who shrugs her shoulders. Could Margaret have been wrong? Is it possible? It seems so unlikely, as Margaret has been the trusted news source of the ladies’ group for the last six years, and she has yet to be wrong.

Nancy notices Gladys’ absolutely darling dress, a mint green gingham printed Sheath with matching green pumps. The way it sets off her hair color is very becoming. Nancy is going to have to keep her eye on Gladys; she has really been close to outdoing her in her wardrobe lately.

After a few minutes of chit chat, everyone follows Susan out to the Florida room. Nancy pulls Margaret back for a moment and asks her if she is absolutely sure that she saw Susan with a bandage on her nose. Margaret emphatically states that she is absolutely sure and that she can even remember the exact time that she drove by. Both ladies admit that they don’t see anything different about Susan’s nose; it looks exactly the same.

“Well, now this is a mystery!” Nancy says to herself. How are the ladies ever going to unravel this one?

Susan has a delightful spread laid out for the ladies: egg and tuna salad sandwiches, bread and butter pickles, and bridge mix. There are several delicious sweets that the ladies have contributed, a gorgeous lime and apple jello mold, Vicky’s rather runny Ambrosia salad, which Nancy makes a mental note to skip, Nancy’s bunt cake, and a chocolate mousse cake, which of course has to be donated by Gladys; she is a terrible chocolate addict.

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As the ladies nibble on their sandwiches and sweets, they talk about the big news that has been occupying everyone’s minds lately: the highway. The state is planning to build one right next to their development in Bridge Grove. Some of the ladies are up in arms about it. Surely driving fifty miles an hour can only attract hoods and criminals. Vicky seems to be beside herself when she hears that there will be a fifty mile an hour speed limit; she can’t imagine why anyone would want to drive that fast. Nancy is no speed racer, but she did ride with Vicky once to a picnic and was sure that Vicky never broke fifteen miles per hour the entire drive! Nancy thinks Vicky is one of those people who was just born a middle aged woman; she can’t imagine her as a young girl.

Nancy manages to lure Mary Peterson into the kitchen as she gathers up a few plates. There, they whisper quickly about Susan’s nose. Does Mary see a difference? Does Nancy think Margaret got it wrong? Could there have been a change that they just don’t seem to notice?

Susan interrupts them as she walks into the kitchen with a stack of lunch plates. Nancy thinks quickly and tells Susan how much they admire her kitchen decor, the tropical wallpaper, and florida oranges motif is just darling. And even her Corelle-ware has little oranges all over it.

“How ever do you find these things, Susan?” Nancy asks.

“Well, as you know,” Susan replies, “Bob travels to Florida regularly for business and we have been vacationing there for years now, even before the children were born. Every time we are there, I grab anything I can find with oranges or with a tropical print. I just adore everything about the tropics.”

“This is true,” Nancy thinks. The entire house looks like one of those themed restaurants that serves Hawaiian style food. And Susan always has a tan, no matter what time of year, she is perfectly brown or brownish orange.

As they walk back into the Florida room, all the ladies are whispering and stop the moment they see Susan. “Rats,” Nancy thinks to herself, “it looks like Susan knows something is going on.” And when Susan asks what everyone was just whispering about, the group looks like deer caught in a headlight. Finally, Gladys bursts out with: “We were all talking about how watery Vicky’s Ambrosia salad is,” and everyone shakes their heads. Vicky frowns and tries to say something, but Nancy catches Gladys kicking Vicky’s foot.

Susan, beginning to grow suspicious, suggests that everyone settle down for bridge. As everyone takes their seats, Gladys whispers to Vicky that she is sorry and of course it isn’t true but she had to say something to break the silence. Vicky grumbles but accepts the explanation.

Nancy lights a cigarette and begins to shuffle and realizes that Susan is at her table. Well, maybe this is a good thing, since all the ladies think she is the best one to figure out the mystery for some reason. So, Nancy decides she will put her detective cap on and try to suss it out.

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After an hour or so of bridge, Nancy catches Carla staring at Susan. Nancy gives Carla a light kick under the table to break her stare. Carla squeals and then laughs when Susan looks at her with confusion.

“Everything okay over there, dear?” Susan asks Carla.

“Why yes, I’m fine, just fine; I seemed to have kicked my own ankle by accident,” giggles Carla.

Nancy is sure Susan suspects something now, so she quickly changes the subject to the new Elvis Presley movie, Jailhouse Rock. Everyone immediately swoons. The two things this group can always agree on are Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Vicky Pool, of course, favors the latter. She and her husband, John, don’t care for rock music, but she sure does think Elvis is dreamy.

It’s been three games and Nancy has yet to win a hand or pick up very many tricks. Why can’t these ladies play Canasta like most civilized people? Nancy is going to have to put more time into her bridge learning.

She looks out onto Susan’s backyard, noticing that she does do an awfully good job with her garden. In fact, her roses are stunning. Nancy admires the way the sunlight comes into the Florida room and the way the swirls of cigarette smoke dance around the ladies heads, it’s such a calming sight.

Mary takes another trick. Nancy sips her gimlet and is just reaching into cigarette case when she hears Susan slam her cards onto the table and say to Carla: “What is it?” Why do you keep staring at my face?”

Nancy freezes. Oh no, she knew that Susan suspected something.

Carla is absolutely flustered, beginning to stammer nervously: “Oh, nothing dear. I was just um, just, I was looking, at, well, you see…”

Just then Gladys jumps up and shouts: “Who is up for another drink? Anyone care to join me in another cocktail?” The ladies all immediately jump up and starting chattering about their drinks when Susan stands up and silences the room.

“What is going on?” she asks. “Now someone had better fess up and tell me what in green gables is going on with all of you? Why has everyone been staring at me and whispering?” At this point, she seems to have gone from annoyed to very near to tears.

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Everyone is frozen. No one moves, and no one says anything. Nancy is praying that Gladys will break the silence, but she says nothing. So, finally Nancy decides that honesty, decorum, and grace will surely solve this problem.

Nancy walks over to Susan and grabs her hand. “Now dear, you know that we all just adore you, and it seems that one of us should have just asked you plainly when we arrived. But it seems that you were injured last week, and well, we were all just so concerned and now nothing seems to be amiss. That’s all it was dear, concern for you.”

Everyone lets out a silent sigh and looks to Susan for her reaction. You could power an entire city with the silence in the room.

Susan begins to laugh, hard, then uncontrollably. “Oh, my,” Nancy thinks. “She’s drunk. How many Gimlets has she had?” She looks to Gladys, who seems surprised and shrugs her shoulders. She only made one drink for Susan, she recalls.

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All the ladies are looking around the room at one another in shock.

Finally, Susan gathers herself and turns to the group. “My dear friends, I am so lucky to have your care and concern. You see, my Skip had tryouts for the junior varsity football team, and well, Bob was practicing with him in the yard while I was tending to my roses. Bob called out to me to watch Skip kick the ball and well, he did. He kicked that darn ball real well, right at my face! The doctor thought my nose was broken, but it was just a sprain. There was terrible bruising for several weeks, so I didn’t leave the house the entire time.”

The ladies all begin to look to Margaret.

Susan continues: “I had to leave the house finally last week to pick up Skip from school one afternoon because he was sick.”

Margaret looks over to Carla and shrugs her shoulders. “Well, I never said that she actually had a nose job! I said that I saw her with a bandage on her nose. I can’t help what you all take from that.” She crosses her arms and sits down.

Susan begins to laugh again and then everyone follows. She looks over at Nancy and nods her head. “Well, I see how fast news travels! You all thought I had a nose job? I can’t believe it. Actually, I can’t believe that you all managed to keep quiet for this long. I think I would have burst by now!”

Gladys, in between snorts of laughter, tells Susan that Vicky was on the verge of passing out. At that, everyone cracks up laughing again. Vicky frowns again and pours herself another glass of iced tea, which makes everyone laugh even harder. She looks around at the ladies, completely confused.

That evening, back at home, Nancy lounges on her yellow Danish modern sofa with Chip, relaying all of the events of the day. She stirs the little glass cocktail stick in her box car as she giggles, remembering the look on Carla’s face. Chip states that he just will never understand women. “Why didn’t someone just call Susan up after Margaret saw her and ask if she had a nose job?”

“Oh, Chip, you see this is why you men need us!” Nancy says. “You would completely foul up every social situation with thinking like that.”

Nancy lays her head back on the sofa and lets out a long sigh, turning her attention to the next big event: What will she wear to Vicky’s Barbecue?

xox- Sailor


Cooking Stories

Oh Devil!

The deviled egg, in my opinion, is another one of those bastard dishes that gets a bad rap. The poor guy used to be so attractive, sexy, even. Often he was exotic and ladies just couldn’t live without him. And now, he’s the pot-bellied, balding uncle who drives an old, rusty Corvette, listening to Bobby Darin a little too loud, mostly due to his hearing. Sadly, he is completely unaware that he’s just not cool anymore, yet there is a strange draw that is unexplained. Maybe he really is still cool and we just don’t know it?

Okay, I was about to say that I actually like deviled eggs, but after reading the paragraph above, I’m kind of grossed out by the idea that an old fat uncle is delicious. Ew!

Anyway, back to the egg.

Vintage 1950s Deviled Egg recipe[3]

Have you ever walked through a thrift store, an antique mall, a yard sale? The number of dishes specifically designed for deviled eggs suggests that this was one hell of a popular item.

In fact, so much so, that I recently heard an amazing tale of a church bazaar in the early 1960’s that illustrates the power of the deviled egg. The bazaar was to be well attended, so the church ladies agreed to pull double duty and make double of their dish of choice to bring.

On the day of the bazaar, all of the ladies arrived and rushed down to the basement to set out their dishes. The first couple ladies laughed when each of them uncovered plates of deviled eggs. “Oh my,” one said, “Well, you can’t ever have too many deviled eggs.” Then came a coffee cake, another coffee cake, then three more. The deviled egg ladies whispered to each other how silly it was that there were now five coffee cakes. Who needed five coffee cakes at one church bazaar? Good thing they had made deviled eggs!

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A few minutes later, the rest of the ladies came filing in with their dishes. “What have you brought, dear?” Deviled eggs!

“And how about you honey? Those are awfully large dishes!” Deviled eggs!

Soon enough, the food tables were filled end to end with plates of deviled eggs (and five coffee cakes). Quickly enough, the ladies began defending their eggs: “Well, mine are made with Spam;” “Mine are made with horseradish and dijon mustard;” “Ladies, clearly mine are different, they are made with crab.”

And so, the professing of one’s unique and clearly more exotic and delicious recipes continued until the reverend’s wife came by to referee and asked the ladies to quiet down. She claimed that there was a simple fix to this: they would announce that today the church bazaar would include a deviled egg contest. And in the future, they would constitute a sign-up sheet for baking/cooking for all church functions. Good idea, ladies!

And, well, to this day, the church has an end of summer bazaar and hosts a food contest. But deviled eggs are no longer the main focus. It seems that the damn egg held on until the mid 1990’s, which is a pretty long stretch. The “church ladies” of the deviled egg days had all retired from their cooking posts and it seems that the young folks today just don’t understand a good deviled egg. And I should mention here that these gals referred to the deviled eggs as stuffed eggs, as they didn’t feel it made sense to devour a food named after the devil while in church.

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So, I began to think about my own fascination with the deviled egg. I will eat them when I see them laid out at parties, knowing full well that this is a 50/50 gamble. There have been a few eggs that have put me off the deviled egg game for years, the ones usually containing Miracle Whip. (No, no, we won’t get into that battle right now; I will save that for another time)

A few times, there have been sweet deviled eggs. Nope, can’t do it. Then there have been the deviled eggs that were so spicy, I couldn’t taste anything for the entire night. And a few times I have gotten some fun surprises in the eggs, like cranberries or nuts. WHAT???!!!!

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But, I still walk right over to the damned things and shove one in my mouth. I don’t even smell them first. It’s like they have some strange power over me: “Just eat me! Don’t smell me, don’t inspect me, don’t worry about your food allergies. No, I can’t harm you. I’m a good egg!”

Bologna, I say! Oh, and I have gotten that too, once, inside an egg. Yuck!

The deviled egg has been around for a long time, actually. It first shows up in written text in the 1700’s and is not, obviously, an American born food. Nor is deviling specifically linked to eggs. It refers to a spiced or zesty food. Think of deviled ham. And yep, got that inside a deviled egg once, too!

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A deviled egg, for those who may not know, is a hard-boiled egg, sliced in half. The yolk is removed and put into a bowl, then various things will be added to “devil” it, usually mayonnaise, mustard, and paprika. But some also add sliced olives, ham, and horseradish. The combination is mixed and mushed well, and then either spooned or piped into the half hard-boiled egg-white. These are the basic deviled eggs, but everyone has their own version or family recipe.

The deviled egg, though, saw its absolute heyday in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was the rock star of hors d’oeuvres! People just could’t get enough of them. Card games, picnics, BBQ’s, appetizers, potlucks, buffets, these guys were everywhere.

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My paternal grandparents had a small cabin on Lake Ontario when I was a child. They would stay for a month, and the entire family would come on the last weekend of our time there for a last hoorah. There were a lot of people, so many that the entire lawn was lined with tents.

On beach days, we would take the boat across the inlet to the beaches, and it took several trips to ferry everyone there. We would stay all day, which meant that my grandparents had already taken several trips to the beach before any of us were really awake to bring beach chairs, folding tables, the grill, and the food.

When we arrived, there would be a huge tent set up and my grandmother would be working away. Whatever you wanted, she had it! You wanted chips? OK, there were the choices. You wanted ice cream? OK, there were the choices. Hot dogs, hamburgers, salad, chicken, cake, pie, whatever you asked for, by God she had it. And always, there were the eggs, a huge plate of deviled eggs. I would sit and stare at them while she was getting whatever treat I had requested, and I would think to myself: “Who wants that weird egg at a beach?” I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I loved eggs, but this was a weird egg. And sure enough, not even halfway through the afternoon, the plates would be empty or have just one egg left.

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I once asked her who ate the deviled eggs. She looked at me in surprise. “Everyone!” she said. “No one has a picnic without deviled eggs; it’s unheard of,” she told me.

And that was that. I had to accept my fate that the eggs would always be there, everyone ate them, it’s not a picnic without them, so that all equals I was the weird one. Well, dammit, I wasn’t ready to accept that just yet, so one summer, I ate a freaking egg. There was a lot of praying and sniffing before my first bite, but I ate it. And you know what, it wasn’t so bad. Maybe it was actually even good. Yep, I was hooked. The devil had me, and I would forever be weakened by the powers of the deviled egg.

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So, next time you are at a party or a picnic, grab that egg, enjoy and relish it. There is no point in fighting the deviled egg! Just go with it.

xox – Sailor


Uncategorized

Ho Jo’s: A Love Story

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In the early to mid 1970’s, if you looked in the glove compartment of my grandmother’s car, you would find one of these: an official Howard Johnson’s Road Map. Howard Johnson’s was the “Landmark For Hungry Americans” and my favorite motel chain.

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My family traveled several times a year by car from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Long Island, New York, and back. And always, if my grandmother was in charge of the trip (which was often), we stayed at a Howard Johnson’s and exclusively ate at Howard Johnson’s restaurants while on the road.

Howard Johnson’s was founded in the 1920’s, first as a soda fountain and ice cream counter in Mr. Johnson’s drug store. By the 1960’s, it was the largest restaurant chain in the US with 1,000 restaurants and 500 motor lodges in both the US and Canada.

Howard Johnson's Motor Lodges

Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodges

To me, a Howard Johnson’s hotel felt like I was in Hawaii. That’s what I imagined Hawaii to look like, anyway, and from what I saw on Hawaii Five-O, I was pretty darn close. Or maybe it was an alien-like Tahitian Paradise on Star Trek, with blue and purple ladies with Bee Hives in sexy night gowns wandering about.

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Some of the Ho Jo’s, as we affectionately called them, even had legit thatched roofs on the buildings near the pool area. And the farther north you went, they had INDOOR POOLS, with plants and stuff around them. Inside! Did you hear me? A tropical paradise indoors! Ho Jo’s was an exotic and magical place, for sure.

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Ah, the colors alone – the signature orange and peacock blue – just called out to me while sitting in the back of a station wagon with my face pressed up against the window. “Come on,” it would whisper, “tell your parents to turn off the highway. There is so much fun going on in here! We’ve a pool and palm trees and colors and beds to jump on.” How could one resist? Ho Jo’s were unmistakeable. You could see those A-frame roofs from a mile away and the peacock blue towers, even farther.

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And guys, come on, they had clam strips, fried clam strips, and over twenty flavors of ice cream. And they used the word “Snackatites.” Genius! It had to be Don Draper who wrote that line. “Snackatities!” I can’t stop saying it.

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The best thing was the Ho Jo’s at the bottom of the hill where my paternal grandparents lived. And, get ready for this guys, one of my aunts was a waitress there! Oh yes, I was a freaking V.I.P. in that joint. Big stuff, I tell you. She was surely a rockstar to be working at Ho Jo’s, and OMG the uniform, when she put that puppy on, she was a true Johnson girl. I was so envious!

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Ho Jo’s was a reliable choice for our parents. It was thought to always be clean, have good food, and was priced well. Quality was consistent, so no matter what location you were at, you could always rely on Ho Jo’s and the kids loved it. How could you go wrong?

Ho Jo’s also had a knack for having two very different atmospheres at once. Somehow, you could go to a Ho Jo’s and sit at the bar in a fancy dress and have cocktails, while at the same time a family is pulling in with their kids ready to hit the pool and have ice cream. The two somehow never mixed while existing in the same lobby or restaurant.

Every time we pulled into the parking lot of Ho Jo’s, I was bursting with excitement. I knew that four very important things were in my immediate future: French fries, ice cream, a pool with a slide, and the perfect beds to jump on.

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I have so many great memories of being in the pool, yelling “Mom, Mom, look at this!” with my sister beside me shouting “Mommy, Mommy, watch this!” We had that kind of fun for hours. I am sure my mother looks back on this and thinks: “I didn’t really want to read that book, I wasn’t really that tired from driving for ten long hours. I was just so content to sit on my pool chair and listen to my kids yelling my name instead of relaxing.”

And the bed jumping! Oh, yes. And as we got older, my sister and I worked out that we could do somersaults from one bed to the other through the air. Again, I am sure my mother thinks to herself: “That was so charming. What little dolls they were. I didn’t mind screaming ‘Girls, stop! Someone is going to break her head. Don’t knock over the lamp! Who knocked over the lamp?'” It was hours of fun!

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Look at that lush paneling and those light sconces, the gorgeous carpet colors, and the bed spread. Oh, those scratchy thin bed spreads. Who wouldn’t want to rest their weary heads here?

I definitely missed the heyday of Ho Jo’s. By the time that the early 1980’s came around, Ho Jo’s was in a rapid decline. My grandmother still held onto her tradition though, even as my mother balked at staying in the “outdated, crappy motels.” Holiday Inns were in our near future.

So, what killed the Ho Jo’s of my childhood? Well, I’m no hotel tycoon, but I tell ya, it was the damned Holidome. Look at the crap! Who can compete with indoor pools, hot tubs, shuffle board, and mini golf; and what’s worse, you don’t have to walk far to the bar because it’s RIGHT THERE! And the waiters bring you stuff to your pool chair, INSIDE! Even if you ask for five brown cows and your mom doesn’t know you’re ordering them and charging them to the room. Psha, they don’t care. They bring them to you and call you “Miss!”

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Sure, sure, my sister and I would scream at the top of our lungs and bounce off the car windows until my mother agreed to choose the Holidome for the night. But that didn’t mean we didn’t love Ho Jo’s anymore. It was just a few times, I swear; we only cheated a few times, and it meant nothing. I mean, it was crazy fun and the brown cows were delicious, like I said, but we didn’t mean to leave you all alone Ho Jo’s; we didn’t mean to leave you with not enough customers for your fried clam strips. Oh my God! Am I responsible for taking down the entire Ho Jo’s empire? If I am, geez, I’m sorry, I was a kid. I had no idea! Kids don’t possess self control.

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As awesome as the Holidome was, it still didn’t have that same feeling that you got from Ho Jo’s: the orange roof beckoning from the side of the highway, reminding you of the magic that awaited you. Ho Jo’s reminds me of a gentler time filled with warmth and possibilities, a time when I truly believed I could jump from one balcony to another and actually make it. Good thing I never tried.

So there you have it, my Love Story of Ho Jo’s.

xox
Sailor


Retro Stories, The Ladies of Bridge Grove

Gladys Is Having a Cocktail Party and You’re Invited!

It’s 1957 in a suburb outside of Chicago. Gladys Richmond and her husband Jack, who works in aviation in sales, are very proud of their newly built ranch style home. They are a typical middle class American couple, enjoying their postwar modern conveniences and the comfort of being a two car family. Gladys adores her 1955 Chevy Bel Air almost as much as she enjoys juicy gossip.

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Tonight Gladys is throwing a cocktail party. Every detail has been carefully planned. She has been waiting to put on this party for almost five months; she just needed the new carpet to be installed, and then the brand new living room would be ready to show itself to the neighborhood.

It took a lot of convincing and many perfectly crafted gimlets to get Jack to agree to an entire living room redesign. After all, he did get that promotion he had been gunning for last year, and they were still using the furniture Gladys’ parents gave them when they got married in 1950. She squealed with delight when he agreed to the plan: brand new wall-to-wall carpet in the perfect shade of almond, and a delightful wallpaper pattern that is most popular among Hollywood stars. The wallpaper store clerk assured her that the print called “Tropical Paradise” with its gorgeous hues of teal, yellow, and pink, the name alone saying it all, is like having a piece of Maui right in your living room. And of course, she found the new Starlight sectional sofa in canary yellow and dual turquoise sitting chairs. It’s just a dream, this set. It perfectly compliments the new modern cherry wood Hi Fi cabinet and matching coffee table they purchased after the promotion came through. The purchase of a top of the line Hi Fi took a few less gimlets for convincing.

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All of the furnishings have now been placed perfectly, even the gorgeous, new pink ceramic lamps with whip-stitch shades, a gift from Mother that accents the room wonderfully. Gladys was even able to find matching pink ceramic ashtrays with tiny little gold boomerangs inlaid, what a hoot. The last item that she needed was the perfect size starburst gold clock that she had seen in an advert somewhere, which took some searching. But finally, a fellow that Jack works with had a cousin in furnishing and found the largest one she had ever seen. She put it in its place right over the couch. The room was finished with perfection.

It’s now 4:30 p.m. Gladys has just returned from the Beauty Parlor and the groomers. Her apricot locks have been expertly coiffed in a stunning foot high bouffant and her nails freshly polished in the perfect shade of blush. The poodles, Petra and Petey, have been groomed and donned with pink and blue bows, accordingly. Jack should be home within the hour to prepare the bar. She has another cup of coffee from the electric percolator and takes a brief moment to observe the arrangements that she’s been up since 5 a.m. preparing. She spent all weekend planning the buffet and cocktail menu. Last month, when the Benson’s had a cocktail party, Carol laid out a spread of very exotic Asian hors-devours, such as Peking wings, pineapple and ham rings, Spam and cherry tarts. It was very impressive, so Gladys had to be sure to raise the bar.

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She reviews her menu before putting on her face, carefully checking each dish and noting what time she should begin heating each item:

Strawberry Cheese Salad
Bacon Wrapped Mini Franks
Deviled Eggs
Liver Pate
Pickle & Pimento loaf Pinwheels
Bologna Cheese Wedges
Curried Tuna Toasties
Cheez Whiz on Crackers with Pearl Onions
Jello Cherry Cheese Charmer Mold

Finally, Jack walks in the door with several bottles of gin, as requested, along with two cartons of Chesterfields. Gladys tells him that there is a new Hawaiian print tie waiting for him in the bedroom and to please be sure to remember to change into it after he shaves. As always, she hears a “Yes, Dear” and a chuckle as she races down the hallway to put on her face and get dressed. She chooses a brand new Midriff interest dress made of a luxurious peacock blue crepe fabric. Its softly draped bodice is wrapped in a cummerbund-effect of fine pleating; the skirt is a whirl of tiny unpressed pleats. With its scoop neckline, this dress is sure to wow, or at the very least make Mary Patterson from across the street green with envy. At Mary’s last cocktail party, she had the nerve to show off her new red Asian print dress that her husband Barry brought back from a business trip that made her look like a model, or a mistress, even! This time, Gladys would be sure to outshine all her card playing gal pals with this amazing frock.

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This is Gladys’ favorite time, where she gets thirty minutes to herself, a perfect break for pampering and running through final plans in her head while preparing her look for the evening. Taking her seat at her vanity, she spreads out her makeup items. She just had a lengthy discussion with Eva, her Avon Lady, last week about tonight’s event. Gladys wanted to be sure she had the latest in eye shadows and lip shades; pinks and misty blue shades were chosen. Shalimar will be her signature scent for the evening. Jacks knows it’s her favorite and always gets her a bottle for her birthday, which she saves for special occasions. After a few puffs, she wriggles herself into her girdle, stockings, and her new dress. And what dress wouldn’t be complete without a gorgeous pair of strappy, pink, peep toe pumps?

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Gladys emerges from her bedroom forty-five minutes later with her face neatly “on,” her eyes powdered in risky blue with her darkest false lashes draped across her lids, her cheeks perfectly blushed, and her lips decked in Double Dare red. Her dress is tighter than she remembers when she tried it on. Sitting will be challenging, but no matter; she looks ravishing, and, after all, she is the hostess.

Gladys checks with Jack to see that the bar is fully stocked and ready to go. They jointly review the cocktail list:

Vodka Gimlet
Gin Rickie
Old Fashioned
Manhattan
Sidecar
Tom Collins
Gin Martinis

Gladys reminds Jack of the fun little umbrellas that she purchased for the party. She saw them in a McCalls feature and thought they would be a darling addition to tonight’s cocktails. She admires the ice bucket they chose last year when they purchased their bar. She loves the multi colored starbursts and the gold handle, which matches the room perfectly.

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Guests are due to arrive at 6:00 p.m. Surely, Vicky and her husband, John Pool, the car salesman, will be the first to arrive, promptly at 6:02 p.m. Vicky has never understood the practice of the term “fashionably late.” Gladys is fairly certain that the Pools fast all day before a party or card game and are first to arrive so as not to miss the spread.

The food dishes are now heated and the buffet table is stocked. Jack admires the bounty and tells Gladys that she has outdone herself. Just then, at the stroke of 6:03, the door bell rings. Jack and Gladys look at each other and laugh as they simultaneously mouth “The Pools.” As
Gladys goes to the door to greet her guests, Jack starts the music, choosing Martin Denny’s new album Exotic to begin the evening. Gladys thinks one last thought before she opens the door, imagining several types of murder scenes and the possibility of prison if anyone spills anything on her new furniture. She quickly ushers the poodles off the new couch and rounds the corner to the yellow double doors to greet her guests.

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By 8:00 p.m. Gladys’ house is packed. She has clearly impressed the ladies from her bridge group, and she overhears Nancy Gold tell Susan Schaefer that Jack must have gotten a rather large promotion, because the new living room looks like it cost a fortune! And the dress, all of the ladies have been absolutely falling over for it, and even Margaret Prescott asks if Gladys has a new diet plan, and Margaret is rare to hand out the compliments as she was born a size zero!

Phyllis Spencer tells her husband Dick that she wants the exact same carpet when they re-do their family room. Gladys thinks that the shade will be odd with their country style decor, and wonders if perhaps she can talk her into another shade, perhaps a lovely orange, at their next bridge game.

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Stan Mitchell is drunk again and trying to dance with anyone who walks by. The smoke is thick in the air and the only items left on the buffet are a few slices of Jell-o mold and a couple of mini franks. Carol tells Gladys that she certainly succeeded in outdoing her own Asian inspired shin-dig and could she share the recipe for the wonderful strawberry cheese salad, Bill just adored it! She had been seen with several Martinis, but Gladys decides to take the compliment as true statements and not the booze talking.

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It’s a job well done. Gladys gladly accepts another Tom Collins (this might be her fourth, but who’s counting?), kicks off her shoes, and allows Jack to take her for spin around the living room to some Bossa Nova. Gosh, this carpet feels heavenly!

xox- Sailor


Vintage Collecting

Let’s Do Tea.

I am a tea lover. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am a tea totaler, because I love booze like Brick Tamland* loves lamp. But I do prefer tea over coffee, and I do drink it every morning like a ritual. And I do love to find an occasion to have tea in the afternoon.

I’m not talking about iced tea here. I am talking about a good, hot cup of English tea, complete with sugar and milk. To me, that’s REAL tea.

We have been cleaning out the basement at our house and finally unpacked a few boxes of items donated by Mark’s grandparents. One of the boxes that we unpacked contained some treasures that Maddy and I had fallen in love with and packed away for ourselves. One of these treasures is a floral tea pot, circa the late 1950’s. It inspired me to rebuild my collection of vintage tea cups that I lost in a house fire many years ago.

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Then it occurred to me: I have never hosted an afternoon tea party! That will be coming up next.

The actual taking of tea in the afternoon developed into a social event sometime in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s. It was Anne, Duchess of Bedford, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, who is credited for first “inventing” Afternoon Tea, but actually it had been a gradual evolution. The gap between lunch and supper was widening, so Anne started asking for tea and small cakes to be brought to her private quarters. I am sure she quickly realized that a lot of gossip could be shared if she invited other ladies to her quarters to share her cakes.

Queen Victoria herself was encouraged to start hosting her own parties as a way of re-entering society after the passing of her beloved husband, Albert. Legend has it that this was when a cake was named Victoria Sponge and served at her tea parties, which became large affairs. Other women picked up on the idea and it spread like wildfire. Thus, the ritual of afternoon tea began. Women do know how to get things done.

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When I moved to London, aside from loving pints and crisps** every day, I was having an amazing cup of tea pretty much anywhere I went. Not only that, but I was offered tea everywhere, all the time, all over the place. It was awesome! I celebrated the British loo*** heavily while peeing my brains out constantly.

Finally, after being there for several weeks, I decided I was going to do Afternoon Tea. And I mean do it right. And I did, a lot! The plan was to drink an entire pot of tea and eat every weird little sandwich and sweet treat offered.

I heard that the Ritz did Afternoon Tea really well and very traditionally. They host tea in the Palm Court, which is just stunning. And, they still have a dress code! Yesssss! My dream had come true! (Think Downton Abbey)

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Since I didn’t really know anyone in London yet, I went by myself, which was fine, since I wouldn’t have to share any of my treats with anyone. I decided to go with the Traditional Afternoon Tea. And let me tell you, it’s not cheap. So, this was a rare treat; but it was so worth it!

Traditionally, women wore opera length gloves, long gowns, and hats. Afternoon Tea is a snazzy affair. I skipped the gloves, chose a nice, fancy summer dress and an appropriate hat. This was one occasion where I was not overdressed; perhaps I was even slightly underdressed, which almost never happens to me.
Before my time in England, I had done Afternoon Tea in the States with my grandmother. We would go to the Russian Tea Room in NYC yearly, as a treat. And while I was living in San Francisco, I had Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont. Both were lovely, but none could stand up to my experience in London. It’s possible that just being in London made the difference.

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Some say that London’s delicious, vintage water makes British Tea very British, sort of like the lovely scent of the Thames wafting through the air like a soft summer breeze. Whatever it was, (not the Thames) the experience was amazing.

In the end, I didn’t eat all of my treats; it was impossible. But I did take a bite out of everything, save the coronation chicken, which I couldn’t eat, because I am a vegetarian and it would have been very improper to barf all over the lovely Palm Court. Go America!

I felt that the traditional tea menu was brilliant, designed to hold you over in between lunch at noon and dinner at eight. The light, tiny sandwiches and sugary treats, along with the caffeine in the tea, definitely perk you up and prepare you for being fabulous for the rest of the day.

So, now to prepare my own Afternoon Tea Party, dreams of clotted cream are dancing in my head. Expect your invitation soon!

xoxo- Sailor

*Brick Tamland is a very intelligent and important Weatherman in San Diego. He is so impressive that he was invited to be part of the cast of the movie Anchorman.
**In England, crisps are potato chips, and chips are french fries; who are you people? Don’t you watch any British TV?
***The loo is the bathroom, silly.


Retro Beauty

What To Wear, Pencil Skirts

Pencil Me In For One Of Those Nifty Skirts

Love ’em or hate ’em, the Pencil Skirt holds a very special place in history. In my opinion, the Pencil Skirt is one of the most flattering skirts for any shape and figure, other than the circle skirt.

As I always talk about in the Retrocentric Pinup Workshops, WWI and WWII had major influences in fashion, including the creation of modern looks and adaptability. Much of that came out of necessity and modernization, due to new areas women were going to before and after the wars, such as the workplace.

In 1940, Christian Dior presented the Pencil Skirt, taken from the original and impractical Hobble Skirt, popular before WWI. The Pencil Skirt was utility based, more practical, and used less fabric due to the shorter hem line and tighter fit, which was important due to rations and shortages.

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The first Pencil Skirts in the 1940’s were not wiggle skirts, which often get confused with each other. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s that you saw skirts hugging the frame tightly and the hem line rise again. Think of Marilyn Monroe or Jane Mansfield; the types of skirts they wore are more of the wiggle skirt version of a Pencil Skirt.

The popularity of Pencil Skirts lasted into the 1970’s. They would vary from less fitted to wiggle style, depending on what look you were going for. A less fitted Pencil Skirt with a short jacket or blouse was a good office look. A fitted, tight Pencil Skirt with maybe a tight sweater was a little more provocative and may have been worn more in the evening or by the girls who liked fast cars. Woohoo!

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Either way, Pencil Skirts are a must have for a retro wardrobe. They should always be below the knee and high waisted. This elongates the figure and creates a very attractive, curvy silhouette.

One of my favorite places to grab a nifty Pencil Skirt in a range of styles and sizes from XS to XXXL is Mode Merr. Angela sure does know how to craft that beautiful shape! Check her selection out here: www.modemerr.com

Now, what to wear with your Pencil Skirt? Well, there are just so many options! The first choice for me is a button down sweater, either long or short sleeve, fitted and tucked in.

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Another option is a blouse, button down or tied, tucked in, or worn over the top of the skirt and belted with a wide belt in a corresponding color.

Now, pair that Pencil Skirt with your favorite pair of back seamed stockings and your favorite pumps, and you are ready for a night on the town!

Wear it well!

xoxo,
Sailor


Retro Beauty

What To Wear, Red Lipstick

What is the most important accessory for a retro gal?

It’s not her adorable basket purse or her fascinator, nor is it her cat-eye jeweled sunglasses.
It’s her red lipstick!

My grandmother never left the house without her lipstick on. Oftentimes, when we had talked her into going and getting ice cream late at night, she would finally relent and say: “OK, go get ready, and I’ll meet you at the door in five minutes.” We’d race down the hall, throw our clothes and shoes on with lightning speed, and be at the door in four minutes ten seconds flat. She’d arrive a moment later in her bathrobe, zipped up, with slippers on, purse around her shoulder, and lipstick on!!!

We would always laugh and beg her to put clothes on, and she would say: “I’m not getting out of the car! Why should I?” And we would ask, giggling uncontrollably: “Then why do you have lipstick on?” Her answer, well, it was a power answer, putting on a posh tone, was: “Because one never leaves the house without one’s lipstick!”

Hot damn!

It would take me many years to really understand that sentiment and the practice. And it would take me a few more years to experience a similar belief.

Several times during my recent surgeries, I was scheduled for various medical tests and doctor appointments. I felt like crap, I mostly looked like crap, and I probably was crap. However, I would force myself to put on something decent, something that wasn’t pajamas, and if I couldn’t muster a full face of makeup, I would at the very least throw on some mascara, my eyebrows, and, of course, my lipstick. Because then, if I had lipstick on, I was truly put together and I was okay.

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And after a little while, I would feel better. I was teaching myself to fight the feeling that there was nothing more that I could do about my physical situation. But, you see, there was.
My lipstick was healing me. Okay, no, I am kidding, but I’m sure that you can see how important lipstick as an accessory can be.

Now, what lipstick shade should you wear, and when?

The answer? Red, red, RED! Always red! You cannot go wrong with red. It literally goes with every skin tone, every eye color, every outfit, and every shade of eye shadow. Sure, the cosmetics industry wants you to believe that you need thirty lipstick shades in your purse for day or night, the office, the club, a day at the beach, lunch, a pap smear, you know? “You cannot wear the same lipstick for every occasion and at all times of the day,” they say. The hell I can’t!

Should you have other shades of lipstick around as an option, of course, sure, that’s fine. Ladies do love to have options. And, oftentimes, I will throw on a dusty pink shade just for the heck of it, or pull out my amazing 1930’s inspired Tango Red Lipstick when I’m feeling a little wild. Rawr!

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Usually, though, I stick with my tried and true basic retro red. With its blue/purple undertones, it is a perfect middle-of-the-road deep red that goes great with everything.

So here is the lowdown on my personal favorites. Most important, I believe in cruelty free cosmetics. I think it is unjust and utterly disgusting to harm any living thing for vanity or luxury items. It is hard at times to keep up with the changes that cosmetics and personal care companies make to their formulas, meaning that a new ingredient might not be cruelty free, which in turn means that the product itself is no longer cruelty free. So, it is important to stay up-to-date on all ingredient changes.

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*Besame – 1946 Red Velvet, my top choice! The packaging, the commitment to quality, the historical accuracy, Besame has it all!

*Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics – Lip Tar, Stalker Red (be sure to use a lip brush)

*Senna – Venetian Red

*Vapour Organic Beauty – Siren Lipstick, Ravish

*Zuzu Luxe – Starlet

*Urban Decay – Revolution Lipstick, Bang

*Gabriel- Sheer Rose

*Too Faced – La Creme, Stiletto Red

So the next time when you’re wondering what to wear? Start with your red lipstick!

Wear it well- xox Sailor