Thursday, August 29, 2013

The return of the Trapper Keeper

Having school-age children will make you nostalgic for all kinds of things that you didn't think twice about back when you had them the first time around. For example, I've had borderline-Rosebud yearnings for my fire-engine-red Mead Trapper Keeper, the binder-cum-briefcase thingie that all ’80s kids carried with pride in junior high (Lindsay and I had a protracted discussion about this last night—by high school, the Trapper Keeper had lost its luster and was replaced by multiple single-subject college-ruled spiral notebooks, one for each class). 

Anyway, I can't tell you how many times I've thought "I loved my Trapper Keeper therefore my children shall have Trapper Keepers and love them as well" (really, I can't tell you how many times—it's too embarrassing). I always assumed I'd find one at an estate sale or thrift store, but it's never happened. Which is both frustrating and not: I mean, this is just the kind of grail I enjoy questing for, so I purposely avoided searching for one on ebay or etsy—I only do that when Iabsolutelyhavetohavesomethingthisinstant. Otherwise, I prefer the leisurely thrill of the hunt.

Well, the hunt is over. Kind of. Yesterday, I found myself at Super Target, futilely searching for some last-minute supplies in the desolate echo chamber that is the back-to-school section of any big-box store three days into the new school year. Only the least popular items remained; the aisles resembled an Island for Misfit School Supplies: Bieber notebooks, grimy white binders, folders with the wrong kinds of brads, #2 pencils that aren't Ticonderogas and...Mead Trapper Keepers?!?

Hello. Apparently I've been asleep at the wheel for a good six years because according to my friend Wikipedia, Mead reissued the Trapper Keeper back in 2007. In my defense, my kids were one and four years old at the time so organizing homework in a snappy retro binder wasn't a big priority—I guess that's why I missed all the fanfare when it made its triumphant comeback: "Trapper Keeper, the iconic school supply that defined organization is back and better than ever" trumpets the Mead website. 

Feh! The new Trapper Keeper totally sucks. Or, okay, it's not how I remembered it. For one thing, the snap closure doesn't work. For two, it's encased in clear plastic that gets all scuffy and gnarly—hence the abundance left on the shelves at Super Target, destined for the clearance section. And I won't even buy one when it's 75% off! They are an abomination. So naturally, I was driven to google the vintage variety, and naturally ebay and etsy is crawling with them. Average price? Around $75. Curse you, vintage resellers!

P.S. If you are wondering what the photo above has to do with anything, it comes from a Sunset Book I'm selling at the etsy shoppeChildren's Rooms and Play Yards, which was published in 1980 (the Age of Trapper Keepers). The photo appears in a section devoted to "enriching" a child's room and the caption is quite funny: "Classic technology clusters around an intriguing—if still costly—newcomer: a home computer....The computer broadcasts math exercises via the family TV (it can also straighten out a parent's tax confusions)."

P.P.S. Yes, that's Lori Loughlin starring in the Trapper Keeper commercial posted below. You may know her as somebody from some show called Full House, but I will always remember her as Jodi from the great noir-y soap opera, The Edge of Night.

A Trapper Keeper I didn't buy at Target.

Monday, August 26, 2013

More things I didn't buy: Game of Thrones edition

I bought a ton of stuff this past weekend at one major blowout of a sale (books!), but now that school has started and I'm back in the blogging saddle, I need to catch up on some old, dusty posts first. Like, don't you want to know all the stuff I haven't been buying? Starting with this totally awesome lantern sconce, which reminds me of Game of Thrones, probably because I really, really miss Game of Thrones, though it wouldn't be out of place in any medieval-style restaurant or B-movie. I appreciated it, but I didn't want it. There is a difference.

I seriously wanted to buy this giant medallion/sun dial wall plaque thingie (is it Mayan? Incan? cursed in some way?) because I have seen similar ones proudly displayed over fireplaces (as this one was) in many of my vintage Sunset Books. It's clearly the only place you can hang one of these things. But in my house that would mean relocating the family-room flat-screen and I don't think that's a negotiation I would win.

It amused me to see someone's old cache of Playboys squirreled away in a closet at an estate sale. I'm guessing this is where the original owner kept them and the estate-sale company didn't have the stomach to display them more prominently. All my early encounters with Playboy were in the closets of friends' parents or brothers (I think that sounds worse than it was), so this came as no big surprise. Sadly, these issues were all from the ’80s and I draw the line at the 1970s when buying nudie mags (and $3 each? Oh, honey please).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And the living is easy...

Here in San Antonio, despite the continued triple-digit temperatures, summer is most definitely winding to a close. School inexplicably begins the week before Labor Day (this either has to do with bureaucratic hokum or with air-conditioning), so we've got little choice in the matter: The new lunch boxes, backpacks and shoes have all been procured; the outdoor pool at the health club is now closed so the lifeguards can get educated; even our own pool has become mysteriously chilly. Last week I tried to get my kids their umpteenth pair of replacement goggles only to find that the pool section at the sporting goods store had been subsumed by the hunting and fishing department. No more wacky noodles, no more inflatable recliners. All of which leads me to believe that there's a conspiracy to make us forget that summer actually ends on September 21, not August 25, so we'll sooner submit to the lash of structure and routine and punctuality and carpooling and early-birds-always-getting-the-worm. Bleh.

But before it's too late, before Summer turns into a pumpkin, I wanted to share this dreamy coffee table tome I picked up at the used-book store at our city library (a signed first edition—I love that store!): Summer Places, written by renowned critic/bon vivant Brendan Gill and photographed by Dudley Witney. Published in 1978, it's a quintessential hostess gift—a visual survey of the great, historic summer towns and summer homes across North America, along with some nostalgic summer rhapsodizing courtesy of Gill:
Unfailingly, summer places have been the agreeable ghosts that accompany me throughout the winter and help me survive its bitter humors. They are robust and yet tender-hearted ghosts, not shadowy, unfeeling ones, and I hold out my hands to them for warmth. As I grow older, these ghosts of mine remain ever the same age, ever youthfully on tiptoe. It is morning with them; there is dew on the tops of the hedges among which they stand and somewhere far off a glint of sea.
I spent the bulk of my childhood summers at the Jersey Shore, a place that's full of robust yet tender-hearted ghosts so I think I know what he's talking about...

But does anyone read the text in a coffee-table book? It's all about the photos. Some of the ones in this volume are a bit blah to my eye; too many architectural details of grand old seaside hotels, too many empty landscapes. It feels a little lonely, like maybe it should've been titled Off-Season Summer Places. I prefer the photos that feature actual human vacationers (maybe because I like to look at the clothes, hairstyles and eyewear). Still, it's all here—the salty breezes, the smell of lake on your swimsuit, the creak of a saddle, the clamor of the boardwalk, the clink of boats nudging the dock... Sayonara, Summer.

Playing shuffleboard and beanbag in Quebec

On the beach in Galveston, TX

East Hampton, Long Island, NY

Asbury Park, NJ

Camp at Lake Timagami, Ontario

Ranch near Cody, WY

A shell shop in Galveston, TX

Friday, August 2, 2013

From the etsy shoppe: Architectural Digest Celebrity Homes

Coco Chanel's staircase

I hope it's not troubling anyone that lately this blog has been more bookish than thingish; that's just where my head's at during these waning, hideous days of summer. I know in other parts of the world early August is prime-time hazy crazy dazey what-memories-are-made-of, but here in San Antonio you just want to wither and die. So I like to stay hunkered in my cave as much as possible and sort books.

Architectural Digest Celebrity Homes is a great big honkin' coffee table book published in 1977. I'm not a huge fan of the magazine—too glossy, too remote—though I admit I haven't really read it since the renowned EIC Paige Rense "retired" a few years back. When Conde Nast shuttered two of my favorite shelter mags, Domino and House & Garden, they sent AD in its place and mostly it collected dust. This book, however, is different. I love it because it's a 1970s time capsule; the selection of celebrities is just the right mix of right on and WTF. Gayelord Hauser? Who he? Sybil Connolly? Huh? But then: Woody Allen, Pauline Trigere, Robert Redford, Joni Mitchell,  Bob Newhart, Diana Vreeland, Sonny & Cher... The list goes on (and on—I also have the second volume, which I'll feature at some point).

For the most part, the interiors in this book are not my particular cup of tea—too much toile, too many French antiques, heavy fabrics, you know—rich people stuff (though Joan Crawford's pad was pretty cool). But imagining Woody holding court at his farm table or Truman Capote descending the spiral staircase into his Hamptons library? You gotta love it. I've got a copy for sale at the etsy shoppe, but you can be sure I wouldn't be selling it if I didn't already have one in my library.

Woody Allen's dining room

Senator Edward Kennedy's living room

Pauline Trigere's guest bedroom

Barbara Walters' living room

Truman Capote's living room

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