Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A House Fit for a King (Estate sale at a 1940 Tudor riverfront house)

Good morning!

Hope you all are staying warm wherever you're reading this, as it is positively glacial in Nashville, Tennessee! It's been a great long weekend for me-- I took Friday off to visit friends in Memphis, who showed us the BEST goldurn time the 901 had to offer. However! As I was going to miss a whole weekend worth of estate sales, I managed to squeeze in two just before I left Davidson County. One was a little forties' house off of Nolensville Road, chockablock with vintage clothes that were all about a size two (darn that dream), and the other....well, the other was this one.

(("Theme from Tara" here))


I had my mind made up to skip both sales in the interest of travel time, before my mom called me the night before. The conversation went something like this:

She: What time are you leaving tomorrow?
Me: Early-ish.
She: Like after eight?
Me: Definitely after eight.
She: You're gonna to want to see this one house before you go out of town.
Me: I am?
She: Uh, yeah, I'm pretty sure you will.
Me: Where is it?
She: It's in Madison down by the river.

Madison? Down by the river? I scoffed. While I spent many of my formative years in this suburb of Nashville, lo-o-o-ong before the East side became popular, the idea of crossing over to "the wrong" side of Gallatin Road in Madison did not hold much appeal. Behind the commercial district is a labyrinth of sixties' and seventies' apartment complexes and houses on streets with weird fairytale names like Peter Pan Road and Cinderella Drive. It's almost like the subdivision people were trying to add insult to injury-- here, live in this shoebox of a fifties' house on a street you don't even want to print on a Christmas card. "You live WHERE?" This house had a nondescript, Perrault-less address, just beyond the apartments, and on a dead end street, the property line terminating in the Cumberland River. "Wouldn't hurt," I thought, and after appealing to Matthew's better nature ("Do you want to go? Well, I guess we'd better go then!" quoted my favorite partner in crime), we drove up past a pair of wrought iron gates and were already pretty impressed.

And that was before we went inside. Whoooo boy. Fasten your seatbelts.


Now, being a dyed-in-wool estate saler, I have been to a LOT of houses over the last ten years. Small houses, big houses....million dollar addresses in Franklin and musty four square Victorians in Belmont, cottages in Old Hickory and once a penthouse condo in Bellevue on the twenty third floor (though the elevator button was haughtily labelled simply "P"...didn't I get a kick out of pressing it, like I was on my way up to Franchot Tone's 1930's abode!). AND YET, I don't know that I have ever been so surprised by a house in all my estate saling days. It went on, and ON , and on, and each room was just as elaborate and extravagant as the last.

Remember how I want to live exactly as say our-Joan-Crawford-who-art-in-heaven did in 1936? Um, this is the house I would need to execute that dream to the fullest extent of the law (barring time travel and/or a six million dollar time capsule style house in Holmby Hills). Get Matthew an ascot and a pipe, let me slip into something bias cut, put some Fletcher Henderson on the phonograph, and LET ME DREAM. I can't even describe this next picture to you without bursting into tears, so just look:

THE SCONCES.

((Anguished cry)) IS NOT EXACTLY AS I DESCRIBED IT? I would axe the giraffe and replace the couch with something boxier, but are you seeing the lighted chandelier style wall sconces? The high, dark overhead beams and the dark windows leading out to the patio? The dadblamed arches? Judas wept. Let's take a closer look at the back wall there:


Yep, still perfect. Davidson County Webpro data (my go-to site for finding out about other-people's-houses) dates the building to 1940. I love thinking of the swellegant people who would have lived here at the time and what their furniture must have looked like. Even these latter day tenants were kind to the house, putting a kind of Hollywood Regency spin on the interiors. While, owing to the many treasures from the Orient and wild exotic fabrics in the basement rooms and an addition, this one estate sale attendee in track pants kept breathing, "Musta been some kinda foreign people lived here. Nobody from around here would have stuff like this...", he was actually dead wrong-- the folks who lived here for several decades were actually from a tiny rural town north of Hendersonville and (from what I could find) lived in middle Tennessee all of their lives! You don't have to have a dramatic lineage or origin story to have dramatic flair (see: yours truly). The woman of the house ran a relatively famous nightclub in the Madison area for many years-- and if the house is anything to judge its owners by, she and her husband had a lot of vim and vigor to them!

Missing: threadbare Persian rug, movie screen that is hidden behind a tapestry....me.

This is one of enclosed patios with a full-fledged view of the Cumberland. My dad mentioned while we were gossiping about how impressive the place was that a) that was a million dollar view of the river and b) the people who lived here must have loved to entertain, as there were probably forty chairs in ten or twelve different seating areas complete with wet and dry bars! Again, I want to be this person.


This room actually made me suck air through my teeth. OH. MY. GOD. It looks like something from one of those David Hicks books on interior design, maybe Decorating with Fabrics? Because that's exactly what's going on here-- the walls are the same fabric as the drapes, as the settee, as the accent pillows:

Perfect.
Something about the wood tones and the white, white ceiling with all this pattern is so jaw-droppingly gorgeous...at one point looking around, Matthew, impressed, stage whispered, "I wonder what they're asking for this place?" I guess he was given hope by the down-at-the-heels neighborhood that we'd been through to get to the riverside mansion area. That and my sweet Bub has no idea how much houses cost. Already having looked it up on my phone out of curiosity, I balefully rejoined, "Wellllll, it's $550,000, and it's already under contract," ((cue me singing "I Can't Live" by Harry Nilsson while performing a sorrowful supercut of all the wonderful times I would have had in this house)). Oh, it's cool. That's just like, over twice our reach price. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? I'm still staying out of the real estate market this year, but good God, why can't I live here.


Here in the bedroom, I once again stifled a gasp. Ok, those ruched curtains, that brocade wallpaper, MORE CHANDELIERS, and a quad-fold baroque mirror in front of a dainty little settee.


Which leads us up to the main focus of the boudoir. Um, excuse me, while I start listing all my furniture on Craigslist in the vain hope that I can redo my entire room to look like this. UUUUGH. Do you see...I mean, where do I even start? Crystal-roped headboard thing, sconce above the bed thing, and those tall, thin mirrors? The little bombe chest/nightstands? My tears fell like rain (not really, I'm super brave, but this was A TRIAL) :

I've packed my bags, I'm #ready2livehere.
My mom really didn't like the kitchen but I thought it was charming. Plus, who besides me do you think can reach those toppermost shelves with only a little help? I'm not sure what color I would paint them but some color, or maybe a less oatmeal, more white shade? If you thought you were impressed with the wallpaper reaching to the ceiling, in the words of Al Jolson, you ain't seen nothin' yet:

See, I could hide Christmas presents in the higher up cabinets. I hope our
kids are smaller like Matthew so I can retain my vertical advantage...
BAM. This room is fully committed to that wallpaper and it's so wingding it works! Update the appliances, lend me a couple hundred thousand dollars, and I am ready to move in!


Again, if this were my house, I would lay Spanish tile in this room and have it be the ballroom. A bantam sized one, sure, but how swank would it be to throw parties and instruct guests to "follow me into the ballroom for dancing and light refreshments." And with a house like this, it wouldn't look one jot out of place. Pappy kept mentioning Sunset Boulevard in his descriptions of this house and he's not wrong-- what an old world charm and new world verve the place must have had in 1940...and still has some almost 80 years later!

Have castanets, will travel.
One of like eight places you could eat dinner...again, a house after my own heart.
There were plenty of rooms in the bottom of the house where the basement was finished and a catacomb of bedrooms and sitting rooms and an office set up, along with a newer addition, but the top floor of the house was really the heart of the house. And was it ever still beating. I hope the new owners have a lot of happy years in these to die for rooms!

Want to see what I got at this sale (or that matter, things I've been hoarding up since the last)? I'll do a swag post soon! In the meantime, here I am via the She Was a Bird Instagram in one of the lady-of-the-house's many out of this world accessories, a hubcap sized vintage [Incan? Aztec? Meso-American?] pendant, which I am loathe to take off for how much I love it:

I both looked and felt that tired after a day at work, but I can't
resist a selfie!
                   
Anyway, let me leave you with Fats Domino telling you how I feel about this house! I hope you're having a wonderful 2015! Any crazy estate sale finds? If you're a Nashvillite, did you go to this one? Have you ever been to a sale that you stepped back and went, "OH WHY do I not live here?!" Which room in this house is your favorite? Tell me all about it!! I'll be back before you know it with more vintage tips and quips. Stay warm!! We'll talk soon. :)

                 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Valaida Snow, Jazz Trumpeter (1920's-1950's)

Good morning!!

Man alive, it has been way too long, kiddos! How in the heck are you? I'm still slinging books with greater accuracy and speed than ever--I'll tell you, this new job breaks down into 100% less transient men catcalling me at a public desk, but also 100% less free time than I had at my old government employ. So don't think I've forgotten you! I'm still to be seen each and every Saturday morning out at the better Davidson County estate sale offerings (meaning, the ones with the dustiest atics and highest density of fur coats per square foot) and I'm still hounding down "things you'd think Lisa would be interested in" both in print and the wide world of the web.... I EVEN still find time in my idle moments to dig up the best in vintage dirt for you. Being as this is one of those moments, I thought I'd dial you up and give you the run-down on this doll-eyed vintage vixen. Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Valaida Snow:

Doesn't she remind you of Clara Bow? I wish someone would say that JUST ONCE about me!
A couple weeks ago I broke down and got the paid membership version of Spotify, mainly because my father-in-law and his wife were coming over for dinner and since my aged, much abused iPod finally bit the dust, I didn't want my early jazz playlist constantly interrupted by messages about Square Space and Audible.com. Don't think it didn't pain my penurious little heart, but I realized that for $7.99/month, I WOULD GLADLY pay to listen to an uninterrupted feed of my francophone swing music and obscure David Bowie recordings (I would like to report that Baal is on Spotify in its entirety, and isn't the world a better place for it). So far it's served me very well! (End unsponsored rant). The wonder of what all is out there in the world these days for you to just pull up with the click of a button. Speaking of....

I recreated a playlist of a Smithsonian Folkways jazz series compilation from the early fifties' (the music on it was vintage THEN, as it came from the twenties' and thirties'), and while I was listening, came across a song I really liked on a Doxy records compilation of work by a pretty girl singer named Valaida Snow. "What a cute little voice, she reminds me of Ethel Waters a little bit..." ((tapping toes)) "CHECK OUT THAT TRUMPET THOUGH. Wow! I wonder if it's King Oliver or Louis Armstrong or some other linear-descendant of that too-hot-to-touch trumpet tradition?"  

                            

Oh...so it turns out, the singer, the gal on the cover, and the trumpet player, are all one gorgeous multi-talented package: Valaida Snow. 

Give me just one occasion in my life in which I get to wear a tulle ruff like this...if I'm very, very good?

Valaida Snow was born around the turn of the century in Chattanooga, Tennessee, though the exact date seems to jump around a little from source to source. A multi-instrumentalist, singer, and dancer, Valaida began her professional career at fifteen, touring in America and abroad throughout the twenties' and thirties' in a number of all-black musical revues, culminating professionally in 1931's Rhapsody in Black. The star and top billed attraction of Rhapsody was none other than the aforementioned soundalike Ethel Waters, against whom a cash strapped Lew Leslie, as producer, pitted Valaida in a professional and personal rivalry that he hoped would cause the better known (and more expensively salaried) Waters to quit. Neither quit, but neither was it the congenial, all us gals together backstage atmosphere of other productions they'd appeared in together. According this book excerpt, Waters and Snow's rivalry extended to the point that New Yorkers eager to fete the women and the rest of the cast in an after party would have to throw two separate soirees, one to which Valaida was invited and Ethel wasn't; and one to which Ethel was invited and Valaida wasn't. I care less about the diva arms race and more about this passage:

At the time of Rhapsody in Black

In 1934, a thirtysomething year old Snow married one half of the Berry Brothers, a dance act. Ananais Berry was handsome, talented, and young. Emphasis on the young, as the fifteen plus year age gap between nineteen year old Berry and his bride was a serious sticking point in the media and caused controversy even within the entertainment community. I was able to find a couple articles from the time in the Afro-American newspaper, adding to the mix charges of bigamy (she may or may not have been legally separated from a teenage marriage to her first husband) along with everything else:


                      


As their marriage fell apart, Valaida decamped back to Europe, where she toured successfully and enjoyed the freedom of a beautiful, brilliant, expatriate black woman abroad. She appeared in a French film, worked with Maurice Chevalier on stage, and performed for heads of state in places as far flung as Shanghai and Luxemborg, before Nazi occupation of the hexagon seemed imminent. Old friend and Broadway costar Josephine Baker encouraged her to leave France for the states-- Valaida got as far as Denmark. As this clip points out, that would be THE FIRST of three countries to fall into German occupation. Valaida spent a harrowing 18 months in a German occupation camp, which she described in the following clippings from a 1943 issue of Afro-American (right click "open image in new window" or save the photo for a full sized version):


Could you even believe that twist? Released in a prisoner exchange, a sixty-some odd pound Valaida, down from her usual petite 100, returned to America sans the gold trumpet the queen of the Netherlands had given her or any of her glamorous possessions, but nevertheless began to rebuild her career with characteristic grit and determination. Here she is in 1946 singing and playing trumpet in a brief musical clip, looking as gorgeous and sounding as fabulous as ever:

         

Valaida's star waned into the fifties' as she accepted Catskills dates and continued working and playing concerts throughout the northeast, before passing away of a brain hemorrage in 1956. Nevertheless! THIS gal at least, in 2015, is more than impressed with the talent and fantastic backstory behind a haphazard Spotify click. Wouldn't it make a riveting movie? I'm looking forward to tracking down a copy of her biography, but 'til then, you can check out her music on Spotify or Youtube. You won't be disappointed.

So! What have you been listening to lately? Found anything completely by accident that you've fallen head over heels in love with? What little known musical gem would you recommend digging up in this marvelous age of technology we live in? I'd love to hear from you, it's been ages!

Back with more vintage tangents and tchotckes soon-- I'll try not to go so long between posting! Have a fabulous Tuesday and we'll talk soon. Til next time!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ho Ho Hi: Pre Christmas vintage scores

Good morning!!

How's tricks? Have you been busy as Santa's elves these last couple of days? I am ashamed to say that I'm still a gift or two shy a full Xmas sleigh's worth here at the homestead, but I hope to remedy that toute de suite after work. Orrr...break down and buy gift cards, Big Lots commercial ladies' admonishments be damned. I HAVE been shopping for myself in the last few weeks, because, really, what else do I do in my idle moments, few though they be? I thought I would show you some of the treasures I've picked up along the way, before they're fully integrated into the house and I forget what's what and where it came from. Ready? Steady? Let's go!


Mmmmm, build your own bloody Mary bar....yours truly at Sunday brunch. Note oversized garnishes in the background. Once a fat kid, always a fat kid.

My folks and I drove A-L-L the way to Columbia the other day for an MT sale...it's about an hour outside of Nashville and what a long, two lane highway ride it was. It's funny how being from Nashville I think anything beyond the county line as being emphatically rural, though there was plenty of civilization out there once you got to about the car plant. This was the rare occasion where all three of us found something spectacular-- my dad scored a WWII tank driver's paper compass, in a little leather carrying case, for I think a dollar... my mom was over the moon to scoop up this vintage hot potato toy from the sixties' called, appropriately enough, "Spud", and yours truly? Oh, not much, just this LADY'S HEAD VASE. I already shared it on Instagram but if you missed it over there, really, it was a lulu of a deal if ever I got one. Fellow vintage lovers, chime in-- these things are a) highly collectible and b) usually north of fifty dollars in the price tag department. For four dollars, I was glad I'd driven all the way out to Maury County (pronounced "Murray" county, for those out of the state...still a bit of a headscratcher but it's their county and they can say it how they want, I guess). Look at her flirty expression and Dietrich eyebrows, I could die.

While in Columbia, I was really into seeing all the gorgeous, gabled, columned, regal looking antebellum-to-the-thirties' houses along the way. We kept doing something I used to do all the time as a kid as we drove around Belle Meade on Sunday drives..."Oh, there's my house. Nope, I take it back, that one....OH WAIT, LOOK AT THE ONE WITH THE GAZEBO. THAT IS MY HOUSE." Plus ca change. For those of you dizzy over the sky high numbers in the Nashville real estate market, I present for your viewing pleasure a house I actually drove by on this out-of-town jaunt, and you should have seen my eyes pop out when I saw the price tag. I've made you a pretty little dream collage not unlike something I would draw out to spec in my fourth grade journal, but for more pics, check out the Realtor.com listing here.

Did they switch a one with a four there or something? How is that less that $300k? BECAUSE IT'S IN MAURY COUNTY. Orrrr...it's haunted, but that's not really a problem for me, bring on the poltergeists. My heart hurts thinking about the Gibson Girl realness I would perpetrate on the scene, and the fantomas I would befriend. But I digress. On the way back to town, Mom and Dad wanted to stop at another estate sale in Brentwood (because they are estate sale junkies, I have turned my parents on to the addiction, apparently), which I was going to pass on but went to humor them. Um, good thing I did. The house was pretty much empty, and in one of those bleh subdivisions that are all over the main drag in Brentwood, but lo, as I crested the top of the carpeted stairs, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a pair of these midcentury Danish chairs. There were four total, actually, but two of them were a brick red and while I didn't need two chairs, I REALLY didn't need four, so I left the rouge part of the set for someone else to love. At $15 apiece, they were irresistible. 

Some intense googling sessions later, I was able to track down the maker and model number on this Australian purveyor of vintage furniture's website, which listed an ash blond pair of my chairs as "Vintage Jørgen Bækmark Chairs Model J104 FDB Møbler. $450ea ". Did you get a load of that price tag? I didn't do too badly for myself!! According to this website:
Jørgen Bækmark was a member of the team established at FDB Møbler by Børge Mogensen in the 1960s. FDB—the Danish Consumers Cooperative set out to develop practical and inexpensive furniture following design principles that had their origins in the German Bauhaus. Recently furniture manufacturer HAY has begun to manufacture some of these early FDB pieces—the J104 chair, originally designed by Jørgen Bækmark in 1966, being an excellent example. The J104 range of furniture shows definite Shaker influences. Its understated simple elegance fits into any interior.
Thank you, why yes, it does fit any interior. I might have to axe a chair in one of the other rooms to make room for this guy's mate, but I'll get it figured out eventually! Here are some markings from under the chair, including instructions on how to mount the legs and the maker's label:






What else, what else...a trip to the flea market last weekend yielded up a half dizaine of weirdities, including these glass photographic plates:




I'm kicking myself for not taking a better photo, but imagine that these are clear glass plates onto which an image has been printed to somehow be turned into a 1940's children's book illustration. The guy in the booth had a large crate full of picture-portrait sized plates and these about-the-size-of-a-trade-paperback ones, and while I have a set of glass negatives with just 1890's people running around the world, making me wish I was one of them, those are negatives, with the colors inverted and spookiness abounding-- these, as you see, are just like what would end up in the book, except on glass. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. When you remove the paper from the back (they're just sitting on the paper, unattached, the image seems to fade away for a minute as the contrast disappears. I'm not sure how I'm going to display these, but as that has never stopped me from buying something I'm interested in, so the tradition continues (and these sit atop my chifferobe wrapped in paper until I can figure out what to do with them).





Last but not least, I splurged mightily on these Victorian-and-later masonic mourning pins in one of the antiques booths at the flea market-- at $10 apiece, they were my most expensive find, but it was really a matter of how-can-I-not after I realized what they were. The left and right hand ribbons are probably a little later, while that center ribbon, if you can tell from the typography, looks older. Best part?




The one on the left is reversible! Got a parade to go to right after a funeral? Don't bother having two pins, you can just flip over the one you have. Weird. Wild. Right up my alley.




I have to get back from  my lunch hour to the Christmas Eve day grind-- still a lot of work to do! But I will see you guys back here just after Christmas for a look at a couple other things I've dragged home with me-- including a pair of items that are currently in fierce competition for the coolest article of clothing I own. But how about you? Any last minute Christmas gifts you're still wrapping? Witnessed any Christmas miracles in finding bargains? Buy anything nutty for yourself? I'd love to hear about it.


Have a very happy holiday and we'll talk soon!! :) Catch you then.


                         

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Coat Crazy (So Many Vintage Coats, So Little Time....)

Good evening!

Phew, the time has flown by again since I last told you about my scores-- I had a minute here and thought I would bring you up to date with the latest things dragged into my house from the outside world. Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? We spent ours up at my mother-in-law's house with a mix of Matthew's family and mine-- it was a raucous, but totally sweet, time to catch up with loved ones. I made sweet potatoes and apples, and black eyed peas and greens from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Post Punk Kitchen website-- as usual, that girl is my go-to jam for vegan-food-that-doesn't-taste-like-you're-missing-out-on-anything. Having everyone together for the holidays makes me super excited about holidays. 

But I digress. To the subject at hand, which is-- winter coats.

I'm be fresh as hell if the Feds watchin'....plus beloved persian lamb turban.
If you're a fellow hoarder, do your collecting habits vary with the seasons? My favorite things to collect, in no particular order, are lamps (the more figural or fringed, the better), framed pictures (preferably of your Victorian forebearers or historical figures made out of painted gravel), hats (all kinds), sequined anything (esp. black or gold), vintage dresses (ones that fit me and ones that don't), coats (see below), and weird/macabre stuff (yes, thank you, please wrap that coyote skull and 1920's mourning memorial picture, stick them in the bag with the horror comic books, I'll take the lot). A trip to St. Louis the other day found me hauling back everything from thirties' hand painted china to men's platform shoes to a sixties' holographic picture of a poodle that appears to pant if you look at from differing vantage points, but also three, count 'em, three coats, when I said I was buying zero, yes really, zero coats from here on out a couple weeks ago. My closet runneth over! Having oversized feet and an accompanying dearth of shoes in my size out there in the wide world, I think I collect coats the way some women do heels-- for every outfit, turn, turn, turn, there is a vintage coat, turn turn turn...and a time to every purpose unto heaven. That purpose is probably buying more coats.

While I've been able to lay off the gas on picking up every single lamp that strikes my fancy (I'm looking at you, huge primitive sixties' lamp of criminally low price at Robinson Flea Market last weekend), again, outerwear has been messing with me in the last month or so. One, because it's the time of the year you would need a coat-- two, because the universe has been practically throwing them at me. Here I am at the aforementioned Robinson Flea Market (in its new home across from St. Joseph's on Gallatin Road) having my mom take a picture of me in the absence of a full length mirror, in the coat above:

Caught in the act... and check out that seventies' dress to my right, killin' it!
It's hard to see the detail, but it's a low-pile velvet with soft faux fur trim at the lapels and cuffs with a matching belt...in other words, an almost irresistible combination of luxe materials that remind me of a Stevie Nicks 1920's flapper coat. Yes, please. I carried it around the store for fifteen minutes and finally succumbed to its fanciness and fifteen dollar price tag. "I told myself I didn't need anymore black coats and then I decided that I did," I confessed to the cashier, and went out with it bundled into a grocery sack under my arm. At the time, I was already wearing this coat:




Which was one of the guilty St. Louis three. Six years ago or so, we visited Matthew's family for Thanksgiving in Missouri and I came with a cute cloth coat that was entirely useless against the kind of midwest winters for which the Show Me state is apparently famous. I hie'd forthwith to a Goodwill first thing and picked up a sensible sixties' black wool coat that I literally wore to tatters in the ensuing years. Only this winter, having sewn the arm hole linings for the fifth or sixth time and having lost one of the distinctive buttons, did I finally give up on the Guess-What-Missouri-is-a-Very-Cold-State coat as my go-to winter outerwear, just in time to find this one at a Savers in St. Louis. Go Cardinals, and thank you for my coats, Missouri. I had to sew up the lining of this one, too, but I guess it comes with the territory. How sharp are those lapels! I also like coats to fit me so tightly they're almost too small, and this one is per-fect (if unsuited to me raising my arms above my head or performing other stretching tasks). That hat is one of the ones from the Dickson sale in my last post, aaaaand I love it.

Me joking with cameraman Matthew about how Sears catalog models are always in mid stride and smiling...it turned out
surprisingly well! Maybe that's why they did it so often! 
Unconnected to the St. Louis weather incident, and stemming from my history of riding the bus to my old job at the library, I have a latent fear of being caught in the rain or other inclement weather in insubstantial or unsuitable attire. I was wearing a full length cotton dress one time and was caught in an unexpected summer down...POUR on Church Street a couple years ago...I can remember wringing the dress out like a dish rag and looking like I'd jumped into a swimming pool when I got to the Music City Central. Keeping that in mind, I am very conscious of non-all-weather gear, which is why I haven't worn this gorgeous thing out yet, but by Godfrey I intend to, and soon! Check it out:


This was $20 on the half off day of a BLVD estate sale off of Franklin Road-- it's real rabbit fur and I think homemade? But very professionally put together. Another vintage enthusiast slash maybe reseller was adroitly slinging hangers from a rolling rack at the end of a dark hallway, I positioned myself at the end of a rack as she was at the beginning of it and sharked this guy like whoa. While she may have won the battle with a bunch of sixties' print dresses on her side of the rack, I feel like I won the war with this gem of a forties' coat. Check out the belled sleeves and slightly raised shoulder pads, I am serving Joan Crawford realness in this sucker.



St. Louis coat #2 came from another Goodwill-- I was licking my wounds after finding out a seventies' Sears Fashion Store tan suede coat with faux shearling collar was freakin' $45 (IN WHAT UNIVERSE, PLEASE, MERS GOODWILL...I was in such a foul mood after finding this price sharpie'd into one of the pockets) when I bought this weirdly poncho-like, drapey, high fashion as anything eighties' wool coat for $10. I sat on it the other day when I took it off in a too-hot-car on the way home from work, but ignore the wrinkles and embrace the drape there. While, as said before, I usually hate coats with even an inch of breathing room to spare, this one is cool because I can wear outfits with blazers under it-- plenty of room to fit a sleeve within its commodious sleeves, AND it's well draped enough to look almost tailored when I come sashaying into work (more like half awake power walking into work as I should have showed up like ten minutes earlier). The hat is McHenry's Nashville label topper with a distinctive split brim in the back-- remind me in the next couple of weeks I need to tell you what I found out about the label's history, which stretches back to the 20's in my very own home town.


Last but not least, I about lost my damn mind when I found St. Louis Coat No. 3. Things to consider:
  1. It is made to fit someone about a foot shorter and thirty pounds lighter than me.
  2. It noticeably sheds some disintegrated part of the lining when worn.
  3. My mom said it looked like a Santa Claus costume when she saw it at my house last week.
  4. "I do not even care WE ARE IN LOVE AND NOTHING CAN STOP US," said me with regard to this coat.
When I was a wee lass of thirteen running around the greater Nashville area to thrift stores and vintage stores, wanting desperately to emulate the style of my beloved David Bowie in the late sixties'/early seventies' pre-Ziggy phase, I remember finding an amazing...an AMAZING...Woodstock Jenny from Forest Gump looking shearling coat at the now defunct Flashback Vintage on Elliston Place in downtown Nashville. It was hanging from part of the railing outside the second floor balcony of the shop, waving undulously in the breeze at passersby and me in particular. I can remember even now that the hand written price tag cost was $60, and my dad, admittedly lenient enough to take me to the place in the first place, would not budge on fronting me six weeks of allowance to buy the thing. "What do you want it for?" he said, doing a characteristic my-dad sigh and appraisal of the coat. "It looks like that coat Jenny wore in Forrest Gump. And it's old." "YES I KNOW DAD," I said through gritted teeth. Usually, he is 110% on my side with "if you want it, get it"...in a rare case of dissonance between our sympatico hoarder natures, we left coatless in 1998, and I don't think the loss of that coat has ever left me. While my style is more late forties' now and I do stick to tailored, tiny, black velvet style hats and jackets and nipped waists for the most part, there is still a part of me that pines for that ultra-boho look of the 1968-1973 period. That part of me slapped down a credit card with moxie for this $7 purchase (among the earlier mentioned poodle print and a thirties' tin cake carrier and a repro painting by Dyf) without hesitation. It doesn't suit me at all and I'm gonna wear it anyway. Do you see the metal linking closures? The white faux fur? I was helpless. Also, St. Louis has better thrift stores than us, hands down, no contest.




As a coda, don't think my coat buying is limited to just to myself! Oh, no. Matthew brought two coats home from St. Louis as well, and was nice enough to model them for me in a rare turn before rather than behind the camera (#willworkforhugs). This first coat is from a Goodwill after a nourishing, non-diet-friendly-but-oh-so-delicious meal of the local Imo's chain pizza:


Bad, right? Bad as in good!! This coat was hanging in the ladies section but was definitely a piece of gentleman's attire. What I loved about this was trying to discuss the (again, sharpie'd) price with the cashier:

Soooooo...10? 19? 109?                
It ended up being the much ballyhoo'd $10 price, which was nice, along with this, $9.99 find from Savers:


I could buy these suede and wool jackets ALL DAY for Matthew, he looks like the little 1980's celebrity he should have been in another life in them. I'm glad he doesn't mind me dictating his wardrobe because I feel like even if I chose it, it sure does reflect his "cool dude" personality!!

Well, I have to get gone, but what do you think? Which coat is the best? Do you have a particular weakness for a certain item this winter or do you still indiscriminately pick amongst the picking sites for whatever catches your eye? Do you have a go to cold weather look? What have you found lately? Let's talk!

That's all for today but I'd love to hear from you. Have a great Sunday night and we'll talk again soon! Til then.

                      

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Here a Hat, There a Hat, Everywhere a....(Dickson Estate Sale, Vintage Hats)

Hello again!

How's tricks? Are you getting ready for turkey day tomorrow? I've just got a minute here but as heavily hinted at in the last post, you know I am almost dead from not being able to share the good word about some of my estate sale hauls. I thought I'd pop over and tell you a little before I have to start dicing, slicing, peeling things for tomorrow! Ready? Steady? Let's go! And caveat: I hope you like hearing about hats an eighth as much as I like talking about them because, spoiler: there are a whole lot of hats going on in this post.

It's...so...BEAUTIFUL...
Because I've been trying to take this gym routine kind of seriously, and because the time of one of my favorite exercise classes falls smack in the middle of that tiny estate sale window on Saturdays when you can still get things half off, I've been scrambling lately to hit the sales and still make it to the dance floor by 11:45. In the last month or two, I usually pick my folks up around 8, run around to only the best sales, run home, change, and dash back out to the Y. It's close scheduling but it's not too bad. About two weeks ago, Michael Taylor, who, in spite of my abiding love for all estate sale agents in the Nashville area, is definitely a KING among tag sale runners, was doing a sale in Dickson, TN, a good hour-ish drive west from town. I thought, "Eh, that means I'd have to be like at my folks' house around 7 to get to the sale by 8 to get back to town by nine-thirty and hit maybe two other sales in time to drop them off by 11. Thaaaat is kind of cutting it." A few seconds of poring over the preview photos elapsed before I was texting my parents, "7 AM REPORT TIME DO YOU COPY OVER" on Friday night. Do you see....all the hatboxes....at the above left? I KNOW YOU DO. And I know when I did, this ol' heart of mine, been broke a thousand times, swelled up a tiny bit again in anticipation of the picking I was about to do.

Did I cut it close? Girl, you know I did. Did I come home with a haul? Also, affirmative. But first, let's look at the interior of the house, because honestly, the whole place was kind of amazing:


Fiestaware, chandeliers, patterned wallpaper, oh my! The house was just off the square in downtown Dickson and nestled among a spattering of thirties' or forties' slightly Tudor cottages. When we rolled up in the Civic around 7:55, there was already a line of dedicated salers standing out in the blustery November weather, baskets and reusable shopping totes in hand. I queued up with the rest of them and checked my cell phone at least four times in anticipation of the 8 AM start time. When the glass paneled, dark wood door swung open to invite us in promptly at eight, I clambered up several brick steps to the porch and into the house itself. A TIME CAPSULE. Stately, turn of the century furniture mixed in with forties' and fifties' pieces, and oh, the wallpaper. Each room had a different pattern, more baroque than the last! My favorite was this colonial courtin' and sparkin' pattern in one of the bedrooms, but really, they were all my favorite, when do I move in?


In spite of the generous appointments of each room, with twelve foot ceilings and parlor-into-formal-dining-room-into-kitchen dimensions larger than probably the sq/ft of my entire house, there was the to-be-expected traffic jam of people who don't understand that if you stop in midtrack to examine an heirloom clock, people behind you may also have to stop...I sidled past a dawdler or two as I've been sharked out vintage baubles I don't know how many times by someone who was there just a few minutes before me. Not long after the doors opened,there was the sound of breaking glass from the left side of the house in the honeycomb like layout of bedrooms...I was too busy standing, maw agape, at this wallpaper and the hats that were remaining on the wall in the front room to rubberneck the unfortunate maladroit shopper. Lord have mercy:


"She had enough hats, didn't she?" an older woman in a windbreaker opined as we both looked once and twice over the over-the-top toppers. While these pictures are yanked from Estatesales.net, know that there were at least that many hats there the second day, as the stock must have been replenished. There were MORE HATS THAN THERE WERE PLACES TO DISPLAY THEM. I don't know if my mind will even properly wrap around that idea. A card read "VINTAGE HATS $15", and it was half off day, so I carefully weighed my shopping options. As I was looking, one of the sales ladies who always greets me by name came up and touched my elbow. Sotto voce, she intoned: "I hoped you were comin' to this one! Go on upstairs, there's a ton of vintage dresses." And upstairs, she was right! Two closets and two rolling racks filled with clothes from no later than the eighties'. While I was sad that a lot of the preview stuff was gone with the wind (goodbye, kaleidoscope of color fifties' crinoline; 'til we meet again...), everything left was five for a dollar. Wait, five for a dollar, you say? Uh, yes, twenty cents apiece, every stitch of clothing in the house. I promptly pulled anything of vague interest to me off the hangers and into a SOLD box on the first floor. But there was still the question of hats.


Things we may have talked about before....a) I have a wild and untamed passion for vintage headgear...limited only by b) my extremely large, contemporary-azz head. I always like to cite the big-head-little-body formula of thirties' movie actresses (hallowed Joan Crawford prime among them), but even their outsized craniums were vintage ladies' outsized craniums. As few six foot tall women as there were in these olden days, I'm sure there were an even fewer percentage of women in that tribe with heads like casaba melons. All that not to elicit pity but to explain-- if I could, I would buy ALL the hats. Few are the hats I've ever seen and not gone ga-ga in my oversized head about. But I know from the heartache of a beanie-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-cloche too many that there are hats you can "make work" with this hatband size and ones you can't. I promptly started scouring the house for those that fit in the former category.


Rumbling down the narrow central stair of the house back to the checkout counter to claim my pile of polyester dresses and collared shirts, another of the sale workers took notice of the pair (yes, sadly, just two) hats I'd grabbed, again, in considering size, practicality, and the $7.50 price tag. "Is that all you got?" he said, then, "Go back and get you some more hats. I'll give you a deal." Me: "How good of a deal?" He: "Five bucks a pop. Go on, get you a couple more hats." Is that salesmanship or what (the what being am I sucker for a good deal and a hat)? Both, really. Before I was done, I walked out with seven hats. SEVEN HATS. Am I sorry? I am not.

My hair wasn't cooperating with me today so I borrowed this gorgeous bust of an African American lady I found at Goodwill a couple years ago to stand-in for me as a hat model. For balance, the center shows her sans chapeau and the lower right hand, Elizabeth-Taylor-in-the-sixties' hat is from a thrift store in St. Louis. But all the rest were from the sale!

Some of these look better on her than they do on me...but only by a little! :)

Looking at the hats in panels here all on one head, I was thinking about all the different outfits over different decades the lady of the house must have worn them! From flapper decadent (bottom row middle) to 1940's My Girl Friday (middle left) to Streisand fabulous (bottom left), there's a LOT of style going on here. Can you guess which is my favorite? Oh, I'll spare you the suspense and let you get a look at this thing stuffed on my oversized head: 

"There is nothing like a turban! Noooothing iiiin the wooorrrld.
There is nothing you can name that is anything like a turban!" Apologies to
South Pacific.
Ugh! Could you die! My usually non-plussed-at-my-purchases mom went, "Oh my goodness, that is so cute" over the gold turban and I'm on #teamturban right there with her. It's a tight fit, but if I stuff all my hair up into the recesses of the interior....well, don't I feel just like Nefertiti on her Nile. Oh! And clothes! I forgot to take pictures of all of them but rounded up a couple from my closet, here's dresses:

The center dress is killing me for how much I love it. TWENTY CENTS.
And here's shirts:


Again, there are four or five other shirts and one dress getting laundered but these were on hand in my closet. The woman for whom the estate sale was being held was no-o-o-ot afraid of standing out in a crowd! And I think that's a fine thing. I'm looking forward to taking these babies out on the town (or...just to a regular Tuesday work day)!

At any rate, I came back to the car positively beaming and my folks were excited for me that I'd found so many goodies. We goofed and laughed all the way back to Nashville, went to another sale, and then I was able to drop them off, change, and get to Zumba just in the nick of time! Best weekend I've had in a long while.

I've got to scoot, but tell me-- which hat is your favorite? Had any looney tunes deals out at the sales lately? What have you scored while I've been away that has a story and a half behind it? I'd love to hear from you!

Have a happy, HAPPY, happy Thanksgiving and I'll be back at it with more vintage chatter next week! If you don't already follow She Was a Bird on instagram and Facebook, check back there too for the next time a post comes up! I'll talk to you soon!!

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