Friday Treats

Every once in a while, I love to share links to precious finds and sites. Today, I bring you a cheerful little mix of entertainment and gorgeous, vintage fashion.

  1. Bombshells and Babes Vintage is a shop I introduced to you before but can only praise again. If my wallet was well-fed, I’d be the first one to empty those lovely online shelves.
  2. Moxie is another favorite store of mine. The shop is located in DeKalb, Illinois (which tickles me immensely) and is up high on my list of must-go places. You can also find them on Etsy or follow their blog here.
  3. For my fellow music lovers, I have a wonderful country treat most of you may already know, Della Mae. Their music is so beautiful and uplifting, I really hope to get a chance to see/hear the ladies live anytime soon.
  4. And last but definitely not least, I bring you a modern Shirley and Laverne. Created and produced by the two leading ladies (Chloe Taylor and Jennifer Erholm) themselves, The Mop & Lucky Files are taking the internet by storm and get well-deserved laurels and praise for a true web series gem.

Hard Candy

All right, I admit it: I have a sweet tooth. Growing up, I couldn’t get enough of it. I always had a glass jar filled with colorful drops, gummi bears and licorice. I loved anise, caramel, double lollies and woodruff leaves. So guess how excited I was to find vintage candy stores online – from candy bars to necklaces, most of them offer sweets from all decades.

Old time Candy, for example, lists candy from the 1920s through 90s – all fresh and mouthwatering of course. Hometown Favorites starts in the 50s, specializing in “hard to find” tidbits that will remind you of a bygone world. Same goes for Nostalgic candy, another store that takes its customers right back to their childhood days by selling Dubble Bubble Gumballs or bubblegum cigarettes.

Candy Direct, The Vermont Country Store or Candy Favorites offer more nostalgic treats. With Halloween already waiting in the wings, what could be better than a basket full of retro sweets?!

On A Personal Note

I’m happy to share a link with you today, a link to a wonderful magazine I’ve mentioned to you before, Queens of Vintage. As their most recent story, they are running an article of mine, “Sharpen Your Pencil, Beautiful: The Style and Fashion of Della Street”.

This publication coincides with the release of the new edition of Vintage Life, issue #22, which includes a review I had such a good time writing for them.

It comes from the heart when I say, August 30 has been a good day. ♥ Thanks a million to both magazines!

In Loving Memory

In 1916, my grandma was born. August 18th was her birthday. Gregory Peck was born that year, so were Kirk Douglas, Betty Grable and Olivia de Havilland. WWI was haunting Europe, leaving an entire generation lost and scarred. Radio was the connection to the world and newspapers the main source of information. Irving Berlin was a big name in music and Cole Porter presented his debut, See America First, on Broadway. Al Jolson was big in show business, as well as movie stars such as Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks. James Joyce published A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man while Claude Monet and Henri Matisse created some of their most beautiful paintings.

The world my grandmother grew up in seems so different now from ours and yet I always felt our souls were one and the same.When she entered her teens, she was affected by the Great Depression like everybody else. Those years shaped her understanding of money and security, and made her frugal despite her generosity. When she was barely of age, the world was shaken by another World War, a catastrophe that shaped her decisions about marriage, family and friendship. When the war was over, the world changed yet again, with women (despite their inferior legal status) struggling to juggle their jobs, children and returning soldier men. In the 50s, my grandma couldn’t afford to live the dream of a housewife, she had to work to support her two children because her husband’s salary alone didn’t suffice. She worked in a field she had been trained in with her father’s permission before the war and stayed with the same company until she finally retired at sixty. It took her years to afford a washing machine or other amenities, her household eating up much more time, without the help of her husband. I don’t know how she did it, but she cooked every day and created delicious meals on a tighter budget than I am scraping by today. She was a beloved host and as a child I always aspired to get as much praise for my cooking as she did.

It is her discipline, warmth and love I remember the most, the everyday routine she kept even after she had long stopped working. Her closet always looked impeccable, with neatly folded sheets and her well-groomed wardrobe. Her clothes were ladylike, her hair curly and naturally gray. When I close my eyes, I immediately see her in the kitchen, an apron safely tugged around her waist and her glasses steamed up from adding a secret ingredient to my favorite dishes. I often wonder how she would feel about my vintage life today and remember the feeling of reaching for the phone to ask her for a recipe or some advice long after she had already passed away. Sometimes I hear her voice in my dreams and I see her face smiling at me. When I wake up, I always feel blessed but also lonely for her presence, then I realize how many of the things I love were cherished and celebrated by her in a humble way. She read whodunits, loved music, embraced solitude as well as company and liked to talk to me at least an hour every day. Like me, she also loved Perry Mason and when I look at Della Street in her senior years, I always feel reminded of my grandma and what a gift it was to have been loved by her.

Recommendations

On this beautiful Saturday, I bring you a couple of new finds, favorite blogs and shops of mine:

And on a personal note – I recently started my creative writing blog on WordPress, Della’s Notepad. Please feel invited to come on over and enjoy. ♥

Tune in again tomorrow, will you?!

Do you like to listen to the radio?!

Well, if you’re like me and enjoy the beats, lyrics and commercials of the swing, big band and rock ‘n roll era, I just found the place for you today: Radio Vintage.

Go ahead and listen in, they are online and a wonderful addition to all the available programs on the Internet Archive  (including Lux Radio Theater, selected episodes from Dragnet or Father Knows Best, Mr. and Mrs. North, Our Miss Brooks and Perry Mason).

But be warned, you better plan to sing along and move your feet – I know I’ve been doing that all day and enjoyed every blessed minute!

Della Street

Everyone who knows me is aware of this: I’m a big fan of Della Street. I have been for many years, ever since I was a kid and watched the Perry Mason TV movies until my grandma introduced me to the original show from the 1950s and 60s. That’s when I liked her even more, for her skills, her style, her elegance. She’s the epitomized girl Friday who was brought to life by Helen Trenholme, Claire Dodd, Genevieve Tobin, June Travis and Ann Dvorak in the 1930s, by Gertrude Warner, Jan Miner and Joan Alexander from the mid 40s to 50s, and ultimately by my favorite, Barbara Hale, in the classic TV show and movies.

Created by Erle Stanley Gardner in 1933, Della Street entered the scene along with her famous boss, attorney-at-law Perry Mason in The Case of the Velvet Claws. Included from the first novel on, Della was a little feistier upon introduction, but every bit as skillful and loyal as in the following eighty-one whodunits. It was made clear from the start that Della had quite an influence on Perry, that their relationship ran a little deeper than that of an employer and his confidential secretary. Always supported by their friend, private eye Paul Drake, their cases took center stage however and the couple never went beyond an ardent kiss. Proposing to her a couple of times, Perry Mason was generally turned down by his irreplaceable office pearl  who understood that he wasn’t the type to settle down, nor was she willing to spend her life without him in a large home as a housewife and mother. So she stuck it out with him through hundreds of cases in the books and movies, on radio and finally on TV.

Always a little altered in the adaptations, Della remained steadfast, pretty and faithful to her boss and got marry to him once in Warner Brother’s very free version of The Case of the Velvet Claws in 1936. In general, Della Street was quite sassy in the Perry Mason films of the 1930s and frequently involved in taking flight from the police on radio a decade later. With television being a more conservative medium in the late 1950s, Barbara Hale did not get to flirt with Raymond Burr’s Perry as much as her predecessors, but thanks to their on screen chemistry and her intuitive acting, the seething romance between Della and Perry continued in the hearts and heads of many Perry Mason fans until a kiss in 1993′s The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host finally confirmed their relationship.

Never described as anything but beautiful in Gardner’s original books, Della Street donned platinum hair and brunette curls, as well as alluring outfits that were appropriate for the office. As the Della Street who’s left a lasting impression on her audience, Barbara Hale wore outfits that were typical of the time between 1957 and 66: figure-hugging, feminine and always covering her knees. Upon the insistence of executive producer Gail Patrick Jackson, Della did not follow every trend when the 60s introduced new hemlines every year and thus stressed the classy elegance Ms. Hale had established for her TV alias. With her limited collection of clothes, Della often changed her outfits by combining her blouse or sweater with another skirt. Her trademark look can be pinned down to waist shirt dresses (including one with her embroidered initials), pencil skirts, cardigans and blouses that embellished her neck with a bow. In the first season, Della was also constantly running around on mules which she later replaced with a classy pair of heels. As an accessory, Della often wore a pearl necklace or a charm bracelet on her left wrist while her little finger frequently showed the presence of a simple ring, matching her boss’ on his own hand. From time to time, Della was also seen wearing a necklace with a pendant showing her initials, long before Carrie Bradshaw made it fashionable for a whole new generation.

In the 1980s, Barbara Hale returned to TV with her longtime screen partner Raymond Burr and continued the tradition of presenting Della as efficient, warmhearted and dressed to the nines. Again, following contemporary but conservative fashion, Della combined over-knee skirts with stylish boots, turtleneck sweaters, blazer jackets and two layers of pearls. Without changing her hair as much as on the original show (while avoiding the beehive), Della Street kept her cropped, practical curls which added credibility to the on-screen depiction of Perry Mason’s tireless associate.

Today, Della’s look can be re-examined on DVD and copied thanks to the many vintage stores and new designs that are inspired by more graceful times. With a circle skirt and scarf, a classy faux vintage suit or classy heels, it’s easy to feel as sophisticated and charming as Della Street. Add a full head of curls, matching intimates and a petticoat to your outfit and you’ll perfect the sentiment. From where I’m standing it is worth the effort, paying tribute to a character many real life secretaries still love to look at for inspiration.