Tag Archives: Holiday

Dad, the 60’s and the Aluminum Christmas Tree

19 Dec
an iconic shot

an iconic shot

There has been much interest in the Aluminum tree of late, strange that an item like this that at one time was the center of controversy and debate has become an object of adulation. The 60’s were a period sweeping tech advances, the space race was on and Pres Kennedy said we were going to the moon, as Jackie donned her modern Pillbox hat, which even Bob Dylan immortalized in song . The auto industry had abandoned the over wrought designs of the 50’s and embraced a new “clean look” Home appliances were now being dubbed “Sheer” no more bulbous refrigerators, rectilinear was the new design dictum. The Princess phone was the last word [no pun] in communications tech [ it lit up] Then along came the Aluminum Christmas tree, the ultimate in “modern” living, perfect for display on the moon. Reynolds Aluminum not wanting to left behind, introduced a game changer that flew in the face of Christmas tradition and all that was sacred.

The Clean Lincoln

The Clean Lincoln

As early as 57 a new look was coming

As early as “57” a new look was coming..note the right angles of her gloves.

Everything Aluminum

Everything Aluminum

Mad Men” was ahead of the curve embracing the revival of 60’s design. All of a sudden appeared the term “Mid-Century” modern, which replaced the “atomic age” label to describe the future look that swept the U.S. Many items that were once laughed at as naive and quaint were now becoming serious design statements. All things Mid-Century were in demand. an ironic twist, as I am a Mid-Century relic as well [and I’m not in demand] When Banana Republic teamed with Mad Men a younger generation was hooked. Skinny brimmed hats and the Rat Pack became synonymous with cool.

He was the last word in 60's hip

He was the last word in 60’s hip

It was my mother that fell hook line and sinker for the new look, Jackie was her style icon and she followed her style with religious fervor [as did many women of the day]  The Pillbox hat was essential and mom had one..a leopard one, [so politically incorrect these days]..Anyway the thought of a Christmas tree that needed no tending was irresistible to her. No dropping needles, no daily watering was “sheer” in every way. My Dad hated the tree he was a C.7 blinking lights and tinsel kind of guy. His protests fell on deaf ears. What wanted Mom she got. So poor Dad went out and bought the whole show, the color wheel and a set matching of gold tear drop ornaments. My sister and I had no say in the matter. I didn’t really love it either as I remember, but she did allow us to impinge upon her design scheme with a few of our favorite traditional ornaments, just to keep us quiet.

When I look at the shot of sis and I staring out the picture window, which Dad carefully composed, it never occurred to me that one day this life-less relic of a long gone decade would become a nostalgic touch stone. Thanks Dad, wish you were still around to see the current triumph your iconic photo and that hated tree.

My Mid Century Christmas

9 Dec

One would think that after a month of doing Christmas for others there would be little energy for doing it for myself…You are wrong, two factors made it easy for me this year, 1. I emptied my car of everything that did not make the cut in some one elses store and 2. We were hit with a snow storm yesterday.

Pre-dawn shot

Pre-dawn shot

A few cups of coffee and I was ready. Ready to deplete the amount of “stuff” I had to put away in my basement. On went Bing Crosby and I set to decorating the house. The snow falling outside the window was the perfect accompaniment to my labors. Yes even an old Scrooge like me does [at times] get struck with the spirit. take a look at my retro decor.


A long shot

A long shot

My favorite Kitsch

My favorite Kitsch

The 40's Window Candles

The 40’s Window Candles

A brass Gazelle becomes a  Reindeer  this time of year

A brass Gazelle becomes a Reindeer this time of year

My heirloom Nativity

My heirloom Nativity

60's brass candle sticks, found 2 sets..lucky me

60’s brass candle sticks, found 2 sets..lucky me

A plastic Santa Boot..like it a lot..

A plastic Santa Boot..like it a lot..

My Christmas tea pots

My Christmas tea pots

Cocktails? of course!

Cocktails? of course!

Just can't get over mirror balls..

Just can’t get over the 70’s mirror balls..

All dressed up and Christmas is near.

All dressed up and Christmas is near.

Fake is OK in a Mid Century display

Fake is OK in a Mid Century display

My skinny tree with bubble lights...OF COURSE! and lots of tinsel

My skinny tree with bubble lights…OF COURSE! and lots of tinsel

The Parting shot a very Merry Mid Century Christmas to All!

The Parting shot a very Merry Mid Century Christmas to All!

My blinking tree…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB8zlAaYAVU

Bubble lights

9 Dec

I must admit that despite my vocation my taste in holiday decor is very old-fashioned. I like over-done trees. The more junk the better. I especially like Noma Bubble Lights, my absolute favorite. Nothing sends me to Christmases long ago like those little bubbling tubes.

I like glass bead chains, tinfoil bells with fake snow, red cellophane wreaths, real metal tinsel, window candles with C7 bulbs and plastic halos, anything St. Nickolas, paper mache nativity sets, printed cardboard mangers, silver glass MM balls on wire, heavy foil snowflakes and Glass Wax stencils.

I ran across this video of Mr. Christmas delivering a somewhat unrehearsed history of the bubble light, the undisputed king of all novelty Christmas decor

The Christmas Sweater has Returned

24 Nov

The one and only, the"Real" thing

The one and only, the”Real” thing. The most highly prized sweater. It’s that time again, Time to pull out your ugly Christmas sweater. The definitive manufacturer is Berek the originator of the “Art” sweater [as they loosely call them]  I’m sure they are enjoying their  surprising resurgence. True to the tenacity of American industry they have embraced the current trend for their overly “cheerful” designs. Why not? Bad publicity generally increases interest [and sales]  more than good. They are back in fashion albeit for their “kitsch” appeal.”Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” they say. Why they are selling again? Who cares? I say! the fact remains that they are. Good for you Berek, good to see you are still going strong, even though it may be for the wrong reasons.

check it out    http://buyberek.com/collections/christmas-2014

retail fix

Every year about this time at one point or another the subject of Christmas sweaters comes up. Make no mistake I’m no Scrooge and I will gladly don my gay apparel, red turtlenecks red socks and maybe a Santa hat, but reindeer sweaters are just not my style. During my display career I have had to suffer through the task of merchandising a table or 2 or 3 or more of the most God-awful Christmas sweaters imaginable, I thought they had gone the way of other 80’s icons like Olivia Newton John, no such luck. They’re back.

In most urban areas the C.S. had fallen way out of favor, too corny for the fashionistas of the East coast who celebrate everything in black. Not so when you travel a bit South and West including a few regions in suburban Philadelphia. I remember a client in Wilmington Delaware,our neighbor to the south where the C. sweater…

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Christmas Past…some things never fade away

4 Dec


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He was more important than Santa

Christmas will be upon us in a week or so. Before the Grinch takes hold of me I would like to share a memory or two of Christmas past. Whether we want to admit it or not many of our fondest holiday stories are retail related. Christmas, children and retail have gone hand in hand since some enterprising retailer first donned a Santa suit.

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 I was born in Cleveland, Ohio and although Cleveland has been a national joke since our river burned, it was a very different place when I was a child. Downtown Cleveland was dense with varied retail and a Christmas shopping trip was a much-anticipated event Cleveland’s three major holiday decor musts were; Halle Brothers, Higbee’s and Sterling Linder Davis. My maternal grandfather spent his entire working life at Halle’s and both my mother and her sister did sales stints there as well. Even though Halle’s was the highest end in Cleveland [and my family was not] we were loyal customers, due to the employee discount which my mother took full advantage of. Halle’s was always a part of our family.” A treasure in Store” they used to say.

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Halle’s always had the edge on its competitors at the holidays, due largely to their Santa’s right hand man. A month before Christmas Cleveland’s most famous holiday ambassador would start appearing on television after the local news, MR. JING A LING, a brilliant advertising concept. Upon reflection he was sort of an info-mercial, living advent calendar, talk show host. As I remember he would interview children with a jovial Dickensesque abandon that works so well at Christmas and promise his transfixed audience, [me and my sister] a key to Halle’s seventh floor toy dept. Hence his name, the sound of keys he always carried on his arm..The song is still ringing my mind some 50 years later…….

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Mr Jing a Ling how you ring a ling..keeper of the keys
On Halle’s seventh floor….We’ll be waiting for you to turn the key.

Higbees had the famous Twigbee shop,[for children only] and served childrens meals in little cardboard toy stoves, Sterlings had the city’s tallest tree and Francis the talking mule, Halle’s trumped them all. The great department stores are gone now, but the success of their Christmas efforts have become legend in the minds of many.

Sterlings Live Tree was a must.

Sterlings Live Tree was a must.

The Silver Grille at Higbees..mini stoves for all..

The Silver Grille at Higbees..mini stoves for all..

On a sad note Our condolences to the family and friends of Pamela Keyes, a friend and member of the Rocky River high schools class of 1970.

Bergdorf Goodman…Always Stunning Holiday Windows

2 Dec
ZeigFeld Follies

Ziegfeld Follies

This year the V.M. team at B.G.did it again. The theme is Follies,Ziegfeld,Busby Berkeley and “Some Like It Hot” [the perennial Norma Jean] every Display teams favorite, even Sally Rand makes an appearance. It’s an art deco extravaganza befitting the history and location of this iconic store. My congrats to David Hoey and his team for a job very well done.

check out this link for more..http://blog.bergdorfgoodman.com/windows/holiday-windows-2012-the-bg-follies#ad-image-4


Tis Season for Ugly Christmas Sweaters

11 Nov

This One Wins

Yes it’s that time again……Who would have ever thought 20 years ago when the Christmas Sweater was considered by fashionistas to be the absolute lowest garment on earth, and that today they would be the height of fashion during the holiday season. I remember well the having to drag them out every year along with the boxed cards. The ones that did not sell were always packed away with the christmas decor to wait out the year to try to sell them again. They were never “in” fashion consequently they never went “out” of fashion.

Matt Damon is even wearing one

All things in fashion are at times unexplainable, although in this case it seems to be due to the coastal urban “tasteful” crowd who are reveling in sheer ugliness of the classic Noel garment. Let me remind you that in some quarters [south of the Mason Dixon] line they are still de rigueur for holiday festivities.

A toast to my sweater

Many of these beauties show up in thrift shops around this time, although due to their recent popularity I bet the prices have soared, especially for the truly hideous examples. I can’t believe it but even I am considering prowling around for one. No matter what your true reason for donning gay apparel, the season is for laughs or compliments accepted gracefully. No one need know your intent. shop early to bag a good one.

A Very Merry Christmas to You

I wrote this post last year, Now I have an update from the foremost manufacturer of the ugly Christmas sweater. Berek company is the originator of the “art” sweater as they loosely call it.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is the only statement I can make. Kitch appeal is a valid reason for prizing these “works of art”even I have to admit a certain fondness for their “cheerful” themes in a perverse way. Berek is still in bis and true to American manufacturers  they recognize the renewed interest in  thier products, they have embraced it rather than trying to deny ugly label. Who cares about the reasons as long as they sell?   This is Berek’s link to  Christmas 2014

Merry Thanks -A-Ween

6 Oct





The holiday season is upon us whether we want to admit it or not. I’m already hearing sound bites not-so-discreetly placed in TV commercials,”Makes a great holiday gift” Let’s face the reality, drugs stores and most retailers have decided that its easier to lump all three holidays into to one, a new holiday has been born, Happy Thanks-A-Ween. All this starts to appear after BTS, (for those not familiar with retail jargon Back to School) The bag candy starts piling up the week school starts, from that point on (and after the sand pails and boogie boards have been cleared out on half price) the real onslaught occurs.

Next comes the Spiderman costumes and talking skulls. Those of you of a certain age will remember that adults did not participate directly in Halloween, other than answering to door after a few martinis or for the less fortunate accompany toddler,witches,princesses and cowboys around on their appointed rounds. The Day of the Dead has risen to second only to Christmas in retail sales, largely due to boomers who can’t give up portraying their alter egos as Vampire witches,celebrity princesses and porn star cowboys.

The perfect outfit for a children with aids benefit,everyday is Halloween

All the while if you look closely you will notice that the disposable turkey platters and Pilgrim party decor has taken a small space in the card aisle or a space that candy or costumes was unable to fill. Wander a few aisles away and you will see that cologne gift sets are making their seasonal debut, I despise gift sets,send a card with cash. The last thing I want is Old Spice soap on a rope.

The Swagger set..virility in a box

This is the Swagger Set Instant virility in a box……Swagger? Just what I always wanted,how about a little Swish to go along with it.

Enough on the subject of drug store merchandising. Fact is that Lynne and I have already done a few per-holiday,holiday decor…and have a date for Christmas garland bulb check at a local mall next week,a loathsome task requiring us to plug them in and replace burned out lines.

I’m burning too,with jealousy that the normal world is still enjoying their thoughts of summer while we’re steeped in the fast approaching holiday season,made even earlier by the fact that Hanukkah is early this year. Keep nurturing those tans and donning shorts,but take a moment to honor the less fortunate that live their lives a season ahead of you who are making bows and stringing lights, Merry Thanks-a-Ween to you and yours.

Do you know what it’s means to miss New Orleans?

19 Feb

Laissez bon temps rouler! as the Cajuns say, every year around Fat Tuesday I recall a trip I made with friends to the Mardi Gras. We boarded the “Southern Crescent” at Philadelphia’s 30 th. Street Station. Yes, we trained it and what a trip that was! One of those unforgettable experiences [what I can recall of it] Everyone on board started the party as soon as we departed. 2 days  later when we poured out on the platform at the station the celebration went into HIGH gear, if you catch my drift. The whole trip read like a Tennessee Williams novel, red velvet Southern decadence.  It must be 30 years since,YIKES!  but the memory lingers on. I, for one know exactly what I means to miss New Orleans .  I will never tell the details [at least not on this blog] about my days of youthful spontaneous abandon.


Louis and Billie define it..


Christmas Country Style

24 Dec

 Our wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year…From Hickory Hollow   follow the link


Terry,Evangeline,Vori,Rene, Zorro,Poppy,Sparkie,Landfill,Suky and Limo

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