Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Vintage Gen X Halloween (Week 21 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

This year my daughter's Halloween costume is serious vintage.  I made an amazing find on Ebay: a never-been-worn toddler costume from the 1960s that was cheap because it just needed some repairs and cleaning.  Ben Cooper  was a company that sold packaged Halloween costumes that included a mask and an outfit:  in this case it was pink fuzzy flannel.

Ben Cooper made costumes from the late 1930s to the early 1990s.
From the 1950s-1970s, the company was iconic of an American Halloween. 

I have a distinct memory of Halloween night in 1979: after I was done trick-or-treating, I remember opening the front door with my dad to hand out candy to kids and seeing a small kid in my neighborhood standing in front of me wearing this exact costume.  So either they were still making this costume in the 70s, or it was a hand-me-down from their older sibling.  Why do I remember this since I was 3 at the time and now I'm 35?  I have this weird knack for photographically memorizing patterns like the one on Fluffy the Bunny's crazy bow tie...    

Still in the original box! I remember taking my costumes
out of boxes just like this when I was a tot.

I imagine this box being stored in someone's attic under some old Super 8 reels which would explain the dent on top.  When I look at the pumpkins at the bottom of the box all I can think of is "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."  They look just like the pumpkins at the party where Lucy goes bobbing for apples and finds Snoopy in the water. 

Here's to all the vintage memories of Gen X watching Halloween specials on TV, running through neighborhoods in the dark, collecting candy in the cold air, and feeling condensation form on the inside of a plastic mask that turned you into someone else, even if just for one night.  

(c) 2011 photography and wrting by Chloe - all rights reserved

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gen X and Live Aid (Week 20 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

"It's twelve noon in London, seven AM in Philadelphia, and around the world it's time for: Live Aid...."

- Richard Skinner (British Radio and TV Broadcaster) opening the show

Many Gen Xers remember Live Aid as a monumental event that took place on July 13, 1985.  The concert  was a collaborative effort between JFK stadium in Philadelphia and Wembley stadium in London, along with acts happening in other parts of the world like the INXS performance in Australia.  I remember the buzz going around my sleepy, small-town neighborhood about the event, though at the time I could not have imagined how big it all was.  I did not know that weekend would hold "the day music changed history."

I was just an elementary school kid who hadn't really gotten into music yet - I could recognize a couple of Top 40 songs from the radio, but that was about it. By the end of the day though, things had changed - I had been introduced to the best bands of the decade, along with the concept of social consciousness.  Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats had organized "the greatest live concert ever staged." Roughly $283 million was raised for the famine in Ethiopia at the time.
I will never forget that day.  Around 2 billion of us were watching this broadcast.  Gen X watched this together from both sides of the Atlantic and countries around the world.  I spent the day learning who different bands were.  I also worked on figuring out all the male singers with blond hair - Sting, David Bowie, Tom Petty, Bryan Adams....

Broken-up bands reunited even if just for one day, but when the day was over Duran Duran had split.  Queen's set was considered by many to be the best performance in rock history.  The feed was supplied by the BBC, ABC, MTV, and the radio.  Any musician you can think of from that era was there, meant to be there, or helped to write some of the music.  Fuses blew, cords came loose, a generator broke down, but the show went on.

Clips I decided to watch of Live Aid this week included:

 1)  Bono saving the life of a girl about to be crushed by a massive wave of  people pushing forward toward the stage - they were performing Bad, and everyone thought he had just picked her to dance with him.

2) Cyndi Lauper's commercial to get people to buy the Live Aid book - unlike now when you can go online and look at info. and photos of an event immediately, back then you had to drive to a book store, bring the book home, open it, and actually turn the pages....

3) Simple Minds singing Don't You Forget About Me - What could possibly be a more iconic Gen X moment than this?

Older Gen Xers will remember Live Aid as something they looked forward to for weeks - it was a day they took off to stay glued to the TV.  If they couldn't get the day off, they listened to Live Aid from radios as they worked at their minimum wage summer jobs.  Younger Gen Xers like myself may remember Live Aid as the Saturday we put our cartoons and toys aside to open our eyes to the larger world around us.

(c) 2011 photo and writing by Chloe - all rights reserved

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Gen X and Tradition (Week 19 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52 Week Project)

The fog lifted over the fields so we could see the blue mountains in the distance, and the rain stopped for a while as my family began a new yearly tradition of going out to the pumpkin patch.

Any generation who grows up during a tumultuous time either in their home life or in the world in general finds themselves especially needing tradition and familiarity.  Too much of the lives of Gen Xers has been filled with stress and has gone speeding by.  Too many seasons of my life have passed when I was consumed entirely by work or school or others' expectations of me.  Now it is time to live more intentionally in the moment - and in the season.  Walking through the cool air on the soft earth, we went back to the car in our muddy rain boots. Pumpkins rolled around in the back seat as we turned the corner to get on the road to take us home.

This was the best thing we could have done with this day that was given to us. 

______________(c) 2011 photography and writing by Chloe - all rights reserved_____________

This entry was featured on the blog of Jennifer James: 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Saturday Morning Cartoons and Waffles with Maple Syrup (Week 18 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

This weekend my family and I ate waffles and watched a sampling of old-school Saturday morning cartoons.

Cartoons I watched as a kid that immediately come to mind...

Rocky and Bullwinkle, Rainbow Brite, Scooby Doo, The Smurfs, The Care Bears, Richie Rich, He-Man, Pac-Man, Looney Tunes, Heathcliff, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mighty Mouse, The Jetsons, The Flintstones.    

Sometimes, in 2nd grade, I'd get up in the morning and then proceed with following events:
1) change the channels and try to find cartoons on TV
2) get mad because cartoons were not on
3) realize it was not Saturday
4) realize it was Friday
5) panic
6) scarf down a bowl of Rice Crispies
7) grab my Snoopy lunch box, throw it in my backpack, and run to school as I put my hair in a side-ponytail

As diverse and multi-ethnic as Gen Xers are, the ultimate common thread of our experience is what we watched on TV.  The most common experience of our childhood may be a very important ritual we adhered to - Saturday morning cartoons.  This kind of collective experience is what makes a generation.  Although we didn't realize it at the time, all of us 46 million Gen Xers ate our waffles together....

(c) 2011 photo and writing by Chloe - all rights reserved

Sunday, October 2, 2011

School House Rock and Root Beer Floats (Week 17 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

My husband went out of town for the weekend, so I promised my two-year-old a mom-and-daughter weekend-o-fun.

Itinerary for mom-and-daughter weekend:
jump on the couch 
eat whipped cream straight from the can 
sing extremely loud at will 
watch School House Rock and drink root beer floats!

Good old YouTube.  We watched a bunch of classic episodes, and every time I showed her one, she wanted another.  I didn't think she'd be that into it!


As I've said in a previous post, my mind sometimes turns into an old VHS player -- as in I can actually hear the tape rewinding until it stops to show me a still-image memory long forgotten.  As I've been doing the Fireflies at Dusk project, I've been seeing images and hearing sounds that I have not heard for decades.  It is a bit strange to reconnect myself with these mementos of my life.  It feels something like a pang of homesickness or that sort of grieving that you feel when the sun sets on the last night of summer before the first day of school.  When I saw the episode about the number 8, and the girl began ice-skating in a figure 8 shape, my mind went into rewind mode, and I was suddenly a little kid standing in front of a TV on shag carpet and sun was spilling into the room.  When I started this project, I did not know why I was compelled to do it.  Is it to create a scavenger hunt of finding puzzle-piece memories in my mind to put them together to form some sort of mosaic?  If so, what is the picture I'm going to see?

Your assignment for the week:
1) Sing your favorite School House Rock song in the shower as loud as you can.
2) Jump on your couch at least once when no one is looking.
3) Eat something that tastes really good - some comfort food from your Gen X childhood that makes you really happy.

(c) 2011 photo and writing by Chloe - all rights reserved