Friday, August 25, 2017

Vintage 1950s Toys


         The Tinkertoy Construction Set was created in 1914 by Charles H. Pajeau, who formed the Toy Tinker Company in Evanston, Illinois. He was a stonemason and designed the toy after seeing children play with sticks and empty spools of thread. Pajeu partnered with Robert Pettit and Gordon Tinker to market the toy. The goal was to allow and inspire children to use their imaginations. A colorful “how-to” instruction guide accompanied each set. In the 1950s, color was added and the wooden sticks appeared in red, green, blue, and yellow.

For a generation, Tinkertoy was the "Lego of it's day."

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Vintage 1950s Music

     Rock Around the Clock

          The number 2 hit on Billboard in 1955 was Rock Around the Clock, a rock and roll song in the 12-bar blues format written by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers in 1952. The best-known and most successful rendition was recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1954 for American Decca. It was a number one single on both the US and UK charts and also re-entered the UK Singles Chart in the 1960s and 1970s.

          It was not the first rock and roll record, nor was it the first successful record of the genre (Bill Haley had American chart success with Crazy Man, Crazy  in 1953, and in 1954, Shake, Rattle and Roll sung by Big Joe Turner reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart. Haley's recording became an anthem for the 1950s youth and is widely considered to be the song that brought rock and roll into mainstream culture around the world. The song is ranked No. 158 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
          Although first recorded by Italian-American band Sonny Dae and His Knights on March 20, 1954, the more famous version by Bill Haley & His Comets is not a cover version. Myers claimed the song had been written specifically for Haley but, for unknown reasons, Haley was unable to record it until April 12, 1954.
          The original full title of the song was We're Gonna Rock Around the Clock Tonight!. This was later shortened to (We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock, though this form is generally only used on releases of the 1954 Bill Haley Decca Records recording; most other recordings of this song by Haley and others (including Sonny Dae) shorten this title further to
Rock Around the Clock.
          Rock Around the Clock is often cited as the biggest-selling vinyl rock and roll single of all time. The exact number of copies sold has never been audited; however, a figure of at least 25 million was cited by the Guinness Book of World Records in its category Phonograph records: Biggest Sellers.
          The song was used in the opening of the Happy Days (1974 to 1984) tv show.
Take a walk down memory lane! Here is a link to the song:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Vintage 1950s Hawaiian Shirts

Men’s 1950s Hawaiian Shirts
          Hawaiian shirts were another form of button down shirt was not worn tucked it. It’s collar also did not button all the way up but was left open so the large point collar could lay flat. It came by many names- Camp shirt, pool shirt, Cabana shirt and Hawaiian shirt. They were the ultimate in casual, pool or beach-side wear. Since pool parties or “Tiki” parties were extremely popular house party themes it was the ideal shirt to wear in the summer. They came in solid colors as well as vivid prints depicting Americana life, tropical inspired motifs, sporting scenes and cars.

          Authentic “Hawaiian”shirts are made in Hawaii, often with coconut or wood buttons. They were expensive to buy in the ’50s but there were plenty of knock offs that gave men the same tropical look. 

          Hawaiian shirts are the most widely worn style of 1950s men’s shirt today.   

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Vintage 1950s Unsolved Mystries

            Jean Elizabeth Spangler a dancer, model and bit-part actress in Hollywood films and in early television, disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1949.

          On October 7, 1949, Spangler left her home in Los Angeles around 5:00 p.m. She left her daughter with her sister-in-law Sophie. She said that she was meeting her former husband to discuss a late child support payment and after that, she was going to work on a night shoot for a film. The last person to see her was a clerk in a store near her home who said that she appeared to be waiting for someone. She was never seen again. Sophie, went to the police and filed a missing person report the next day.

          Though Spangler had told her sister-in-law that she was going to work on a movie set after she met with her ex-husband, this lead went nowhere. She had worked as an extra for several different Hollywood studios, but none of those studios had any work in progress or were even open on the evening of October 7.

          Police questioned Spangler's ex-husband, Dexter Benner.  He said that he had not seen her for several weeks. His new wife Lynn Lasky Benner told police that he was with her at the time of the disappearance.

          Two days later Spangler's purse was found in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, with both of the straps on one side torn loose as if it had been ripped from her arm. Police officers and over one hundred volunteers searched the park, but no other clues were found. The police ruled out robbery. There was an unfinished note in the purse addressed to a "Kirk," which read:
"Can't wait any longer, Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away,"
          The note ended with a comma as if it had not been finished. Neither "Kirk" nor "Dr. Scott" could be located, and neither Spangler's family nor her friends knew anyone by those names. When Spangler's mother, Florence told police that someone named "Kirk" had picked up Jean at her house twice but stayed in his car and did not come in. Police questioned every doctor with the last name Scott in Los Angeles, but none of them had a patient with the last name Spangler or Benner. Spangler had been involved with an abusive man she called "Scotty," but her lawyer said she had not seen him since 1945.

          Spangler had recently completed filming a bit part in the film Young Man with a Horn starring Kirk Douglas. Douglas was vacationing in Palm Springs when he heard about the disappearance; he called the police. When interviewed by the head of the investigating team, Douglas stated that he had heard of her name, and knew that Spangler had been an extra in his new film, but that he did not know her personally.

          Spangler's girlfriends told police that she was three months pregnant  when she disappeared and that she had talked about having an illegal abortion. Witnesses, who frequented the same nightclubs and bars that Spangler did, told police they had heard of a former medical student known as "Doc," who performed abortions for money, but police could not locate him, nor prove that he existed.
          Spangler had been seen with Davy Ogul, an associate of infamous mobster Mickey Cohen. Ogul disappeared two days after Spangler did. This led police to investigate the possibility that Spangler and Ogul, who was under indictment for conspiracy, had fled to avoid prosecution. In 1950. A customs agent in El Paso, Texas reported seeing Ogul and a woman who looked like Spangler in a hotel in El Paso. The hotel clerk identified Spangler from a photograph, but neither Davy Ogul nor Jean Spangler's name appeared on the hotel register.
          The Los Angeles Police Department continued the search without successful. Despite a nationwide search and a $1,000. reward, no further clues have surfaced. She is still listed as a missing person, and the LAPD has not closed the case.
          In 2001 an episode of Mysteries and Scandals featured the case