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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

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.

plane car

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.

Wallpaper

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.

food spread

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.

1956

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