Saturday, June 27, 2015

Down at Palisades Park

My dad and mom divorced when I was five years old. My mom and I moved to California and my dad stayed behind in New Jersey. Every summer starting when I was seven, my mom would put me on a plane to spend the summers with my bachelor dad at work.
My dad and his brother owned a small used auto dealership where he would fix up used cars to sell. My dad would put me to work washing windows, filling the tires with air or vacuuming the interiors. 
One in a while, I could talk my dad into taking me to Palisades Amusement Park, a little amusement park set on a tiny island off of Fort Lee. Visitors took a short ferry ride across the Hudson River to the old-fashioned, carnival style park with what seemed like millions of bright colored lights.

My dad would indulge my need to go on every ride such as the Scrambler, the Cyclone and the Hammerhead. He would buy me cotton candy, Italian ice, giant Pixie Stix or maybe a fresh baked pretzel. We always had such a good time there because my dad really loved the place! He particularly enjoyed playing the skill games. He was especially good at the baseball throw. One of my favorite memories of Palisades Park was my dad blabbing with the booth attendant, handing him a dollar for three baseballs then landing all three in the milk jug. Dad asked me which prize I wanted and I said the giant troll. I'd never seen a giant troll like that before. It had long straggly hair, amber eyes and wore a caveman costume. I named him “Iggy”. I've saved that giant troll for all these years and Iggy holds a prized spot on my troll shelf.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Flintstone Birthday Party

Not sure exactly when my love of the Flintstones started but I remember it being one of my favorite shows as a little boy.  The Flintstones was so imaginative and clever. I loved the theme song, “Meet the Flintstones” and I knew all the words. The dinosaur-powered contraptions and household appliances they featured were so imaginative and wacky. The array of guest stars that appeared on the show; Ann-Margrock, Stony Curtis, Rock Pile, Cary Granite, Alfred Brickrock, etc, was dazzling.
So when May came around and my mother asked me what kind of a birthday party I wanted for my seventh birthday, I told her a Flintstones birthday party!

My mom bought a tablecloth, paper plates, napkins and cups with Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty and Dino at Thrifty’s Drug store and ordered the cake from the local Cuban bakery. All week long, I daydreamed about the terrific party we were going to have and when Saturday finally arrived, I was beside myself with excitement.

My mom and I went to pick up my cousins; Bruno and Mimi then went to pick up the cake. We got back with the cake and refreshments then put them in the fridge.  The birthday cake was awesome. It was rectangular with green frosting hills, light blue cave houses, plastic palm trees and those weird, speckled candy ‘rocks’ stuck all over it. Best of all was the little plastic Flintstone gang gathered around the bridge over the transparent blue icing ‘lake’ standing next to words, “Feliz Cumpleanos Oscarito”.

When more of the guests arrived, my mom took the cake out and set it in the middle of the party table in the kitchen. We followed her into the kitchen. Bruno and I stared at the fantastic cake for a long time then I told Bruno that the lake was made of real water. He said, “Nu-uhh” then I said, “Un-huh!” I dared Bruno to touch the lake, then climbed up on the chair and pretended to touch it. Bruno climbed up on the chair. He leaned over and balancing with the other hand, reached out to touch the lake. Just then, the leg of the fold out table snapped into place and his little hand sunk into the lake. He started to cry and I knew we were in big trouble! My mom ran into the kitchen to see what the commotion was about.  My mom squawked when she saw the cake, swatted both of us then threatened to call off the party and take Bruno home. She took Bruno to the sink and washed off his hands. She then said to me, “Me la vas a pagar! “(You're going to pay for this!) She went back to the cake, picked up the little bridge and plopped it over the hole in the cake.  She moved some of the candy rocks from around the sides to fill it in further and spread the icing around with a knife. She then said I was punished and couldn’t watch TV or the Flintstones for a week. Oh well, at least she didn't end the party!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Earthquake: An Event!

When the movie, “Earthquake” debuted in 1974, my best friend, Jimmy and I went crazy! We were already gigantic, ‘disaster’ movie fiends starting with “Airport” in 1970, “The Poseidon Adventure” in 1972, and “The Towering Inferno” also in 1974. For a twelve-year old, seeing all of the wild special FX, thrilling stunts and special effects make-up was everything a kid could want in a movie. We saw the movie in “Sensurround” at the Paramount Theater in Hollywood for weeks! That year, we spent nearly the entire summer playing ‘disaster’ which consisted of throwing broken pieces of Styrofoam, crumpled paper, packing peanuts and empty cardboard boxes on one another from the balcony of Jimmy’s apartment and going to Universal Studios.

Early Saturday morning, I would hop on the “No.  4” RTD bus into Hollywood and meet Jimmy at Hollywood and Highland. We would then transfer onto the Cahuenga bus that would leave us right at the main entrance of Universal Studios. In those days, it was free to get into the upper lot (for shopping and picture taking) and only cost .50 to ride the “Glamour Tram” and tour the lower lot. The lower lot featured so many of the iconic homes on television and films; the Munsters house, the “Leave it to Beaver” residence, the Bates Motel and ‘Psycho’ house, the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys houses, Marcus Welby’s home. 

The Backlot was incredible because nearly all of the streets were still dressed in full “Earthquake” damage mode, which for us was a dream come true! Jimmy took tons of photos with his Kodak Instamatic of the rubble and debris on ‘New York’ streets and ‘Colonial’ square. We were in ‘disaster movie’ paradise! When we got back to the area called, “Props Plaza”, they had a set up with giant foam rocks and boulders for guests to toss around and take pictures among. In the Studio Store, they sold foam bricks with Universal Studios stamped on the side along with big chunks of foam concrete for $2.00 as mementos of your visit. Delighted to find such a score, we each bought a foam brick and a foam rock. By now it was 4:00 pm and Universal Studios was closing for the day. Jimmy and I got on the bus then rode home with our terrific souvenirs.

The next day, I called Jimmy to ask if I could come over and play. He said, “Sure” and I rode the bus to his house.  I brought my foam brick and my foam rock for extra realism to our adventure.  I got to Jimmy’s apartment, said ‘hi’ to his mom and went up to his room. Jimmy’s younger sister was jumping rope below on the patio.  Jimmy thought it would be funny to drop a box of trash on his sister below. We started to load up the cardboard boxes with ‘prop’ debris, walked onto the balcony and we were just about launch it over the side when we heard a low rumble, that got louder. Then, suddenly there was a violent shake that lasted for a few seconds. It was an actual tremor and wow, was it scary! I think that was the last time we played ‘disaster movie’ but we did go back to see “Earthquake” a bunch more times before the engagement ended for the summer.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Meeting Chuck Jones

In 1972, my mom read an ad in the newspaper looking for kids to be in movies, television, photos etc. I was a precocious ten years old so she took me to a talent agent located in the Sunset/Vine Tower in Hollywood. After discovering that I liked cartoons and loved to draw, the talent agent said, “You should know that the guy who draws Bugs Bunny is in this very building. You should go up and meet him.”

Mom and I went up to the twelfth floor and found the offices of Chuck Jones Productions.  We knocked on the door and went inside but because it was after 4:30 there was no secretary at the desk.  The office was a plain looking one with enormous windows and an incredible view of Hollywood. There were framed pictures of the Loony Tunes characters on the wood paneled walls, a pair of blue rectangular couches in the corner and one of those freaky wire sculptures on the wall beside us.  After a few minutes, a tall gentleman with a little beard, wearing a scarf and glasses came out of the back room. He said, “Hi there. We're closed.”
My mom explained that we had seen the agent downstairs; that I was a fan of the Bugs Bunny Show and how I just had to meet the man who drew Bugs Bunny.  He smiled and held out his hand, “Oh. In that case, I'm Chuck Jones. C'mon, I'll show you around.”

Mr. Jones led me into the room that he had come from where there were 4 large drawing tables and tons drawings pinned to the corkboard wall. There were stacks of books on the shelves, piles of animation paper, gray sculptures of various characters, a full ashtray and jars with pens and pencils. He pointed out the various drawings on the wall explaining that they were called ‘storyboards’, ‘backgrounds’ and ‘layout drawings’. Then, he told me that they were currently working on a feature called, “A Cricket in Times Square”. He asked me if I’d ever heard of the story. I said ‘no’ but that I knew Time Square was in New York. I noticed a picture of the Grinch on the wall and proudly told Mr. Jones that I'd seen that show on TV. We went into a smaller room that contained the animation camera. He showed me how the lights worked and how the camera could be automatically adjusted to zoom in and out. After touring me around the office, he said, “Well, what do you think?” I turned to him and asked, “Where are the machines that do the animation?” He laughed and laughed then held up his hands. “These are the machines that do the animation!”

Chuck asked me who my favorite character was and I said, Pepe Le Pew. He sat down, picked up a black pencil and quickly sketched out a full standing figure of PePe Le Pew holding a rose. He inscribed it, “To Oscar, Mon Ami from Pepe Le Pew + Chuck Jones, 1972”. He handed me a baggie containing a plastic Dakin figurine of Bugs Bunny, thanked my mother and I for visiting then showed us out.  One of my favorite and most cherished childhood experiences!

                                   Photos of the Chuck Jones Studio courtesy of Alan Light

Friday, March 27, 2015

Batman & Robin in Hollywood

My cousin, Bruno and I loved to watch the TV show, “Batman” when we were kids. We would tuck a pillowcase into the back collar of our t-shirts for capes and run around the block pretending to be Batman and Robin. I usually got to play Batman because I was older (and taller). My mom knew how much I loved the show so she bought the Ideal Batman cowl for my birthday.

My mom and I lived on the top floor of a three-story apartment building at the corner of Hollywood and Garfield Place while Bruno and his family lived across the parking lot in the first house in a row of five bungalows. One day, Bruno and I were playing “Batman” all over the parking lot when we wandered inside the lobby of my apartment building.  My mom, my aunts, uncles and the rest of our family were at Bruno’s place.
We ran around the lobby, up and down the stairs, slid down the banister and tumbled down the carpeted stairs. We ran all the way up the stairs to the third floor when I noticed the roof access door. I thought would be ‘fun’ idea to go on the roof so we could get a ‘bats’ eye’ view of the city. We pushed the door and set a brick in the door jam to hold it open.  We walked around on the roof for a few minutes enjoying the spectacular view. We sat on the edge of the roof. I suddenly got the idea that it would be neat to swing over from the edge of the roof into the open third floor window.  We’d seen Batman and Robin performing this stunt regularly on the show so I thought we could do it, too. I explained the directions very well to Bruno, handed him the Batman cowl and suggested that he be the first one to try.

Bruno was brave so he put on the helmet and he draped his little leg over the side.  I started to give him a boost up the wall when we heard the familiar voice of our Uncle Calvo screaming from across the parking lot.
“Hey! Don't you two dare move! I’m coming up there right now!“ Uncle Calvo was 6 feet tall and very intimidating!  He was the disciplinarian at the family functions. Bruno almost fell off the roof at this point from terror.
Our uncle ran up the stairs and found us on the roof. He grabbed us by the ears then shouting all the way, dragged us back to Bruno’s house for a spanking. I remember the thud of the plastic Batman cowl hitting the tar paper roof.
Personally, I still think the stunt would have worked. After all, we saw it on TV!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Happy Birthday Barbie!

A friend took me to a party at the soon to be my good friend, Kari’s house for a “Barbie Birthday Party” many years ago.  Kari’s house was incredible! She had tons of various toys and dolls on display, glittery pink floors and the entire house were all decorated in Barbie art. Tacky pink Barbie banners stretched across the ceiling, pink lights and gold spray painted dolls hung on the branches of the ficus tree that grew from outside through the crack in the living room window! 

So many colorful people in wild costumes and hats from every decade of the Barbie doll! Spiked pink punch with fruit slices, bowls of pink gumdrops and plates of pink cookies with sprinkles. Kari was dressed as the Twiggy doll in a human-sized version of the Mattel Twiggy doll’s original outfit. She had various performance artists doing erotic performances featuring Barbie as their perverse theme. Plus, the best part was that Kari had set up assorted Barbie craft projects to do in every room. In one room there was piles of doll clothes, shoes, heads, bodies, arms, scraps of fabric, X-acto knives, hot glue, colored foil, glitter, paint, scissors and markers on a circular table so guest could create their own expression featuring the iconic doll. I sat down beside a guy named Bichon who looked like a kooky beatnik. We started to chat, hit it off and became collaborators on a Barbie project. I stripped off the paint from a doll’s face with acetone. I taped off her head, exposing her hair then spray-painted her hair black. Bichon started to make a wedding dress from a few paper doilies.  When the paint on the hair dried, I pulled the tape off and repainted the make-up on her face. I found a tiny bridal bouquet, added a black veil, a ribbon and colored the flowers to look weathered.  Bichon had finished the elaborate wedding dress and it was spectacular! The dress had a long train in the back, scraps of old lace with plastic spiders on the peplum, bows and puffed sleeves with tiny Tic Tac breath mints glued to them. Kari gave prizes for the favorite art creation so after the voting by the crowd; Bichon and I won the contest!


The Bride of Frankenstein Barbie was our lovely creation that night.

Bichon and I became great friends after that. Hope you making some fantastic Barbie art in heaven, Bichon.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gas Station Premiums

Sometimes when I go to the gas station today and see the price of gas, I'm reminded of when I was a kid going to the gas station with my mom. We would usually go on Friday morning before school and always went to the same Texaco station down the street from our apartment in Echo Park. They had the least expensive priced gas plus they gave away donuts and coffee. They had full service too. The way that worked was you drove your car over a rubber cord that lay across the ground in front of the pumps, that rang the bell to alert the gas station attendant, who would come running out of the office to serve you. “Fill ‘er up? Regular or Premium?” asked the friendly attendant. Then he would wipe the windshield and check the oil. It was awesome!

One of the greatest things about the gas station was all the wonderful premiums and giveaways they had. One summer, Union 76 gave away ‘Funny Face’ drink mix pouches compliments of the station. They also gave away a mini version of their famous 76 ball logo to put on your car antenna. Sinclair passed out Sinclair Dino piggy banks and inflatables for the kiddies. ESSO had a faux fur tiger tail representing their mascot, the Esso Tiger, to hang off the rear view mirror. Shell Oil gave away free Presidential Coins and a coin-collecting card. If you collected enough coins to fill up your card, you could score the grand prize. Chevron sold the ‘Chevron cars’ that were featured on their animated commercials in the 80’s.

One summer, ARCO gas (which was the ‘new’ gas station at the time) had a promotion playing off their name, ARCO, featuring a pair of Noah’s Ark animals, ‘free’ (with a three gallon minimum purchase). There were 12 pairs of animals to collect and once you collected all of the animals, you could buy Noah’s Ark play set, which included a figure of Noah and his wife. I wanted the entire set so badly.

Week by week and pair by pair, my mom indulged my latest desire to collect the entire set of ark animals mainly because the gas at Arco was inexpensive. About a month later, there was a commercial announcing that you could finally buy Noah’s Ark. Friday morning, my mom and I drove into the station when mom suddenly announced that we weren’t buying gas today after all. She said, “Mira para alla! They raised the price of gas from .25 to .27 per gallon! Bandidos!” She drove to school then dropped me off. I was bummed all day at the thought that I wouldn’t have the beloved Noah’s Ark to play with that weekend.

Saturday morning, I woke up early and went into the kitchen. On the table was a note from my mom to say that she had left to run some errands that morning and for me to fix myself breakfast.  I poured a bowl of Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries with milk and flopped down on the sofa to watch, Scooby-Doo, Where are you?, The Brady Kids, Josie and the Pussycats. I heard my mom’s car pull up in the driveway around noon and she honked the horn. I ran outside to help her bring in the groceries. Mom said there was one more paper bag in the trunk and to bring it in. She handed me the bag and when I looked inside, there was Noah’s Ark! Apparently, she found a gas station that had last week's gas prices and she bought the ark for me that morning. Love ya, mom!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Freeway

For the longest time, I had a hectic work commute driving from my home in Mount Washington to El Segundo every day. Anyone who lives in Los Angeles will agree that our freeways are a brain numbing experience particularly, the 110 Freeway. The freeway is surrounded by numerous sports venues, businesses and schools so it’s usually busy at all times of the day and night.

One Friday afternoon, when I was driving home on the 110 and by driving I mean plodding along at five miles an hour, stepping on the brake constantly and changing lanes hoping to move a little faster. Ironically I was in the ‘fast’ lane.

We were moving along at a snail’s pace when the driver in the car behind me started to tailgate my bumper. The driver continued to tailgate and stop short of my car’s bumper every few car lengths. I thought, “What a nitwit” and continued to navigate the stop and go traffic. When you’re driving that slow on 110 Fwy, you really start to notice the amount of debris along the inside next to the center divider; hubcaps, busted car parts, Spiderman diapers, bits of smashed wooden furniture, shredded tires, a broken coffee mug.

Up ahead in my lane, I could see a greenish blue object laying on the ground over the double yellow line. As we got closer, I could see it was a plastic toy. I recognized it as one of the two-headed dragon from Imperial Toys circa 1983. Insane! My car rolled to a stop right next to the thing so I pulled on the parking brake, popped open the door, leaned over and scooped it up! Well, this was too much for the driver of the car behind me because he swerved out from behind me into the right lane, drove around and cut in front of me. The traffic ahead in our lane had moved several car lengths forward.  

A couple minutes later, there was a long tire screech followed by three loud car crashes. A little plume of black smoke slowly billowed from the cars in the lane ahead. I slowly moved into the second lane and drove past the accident to find out that the impatient driver behind me had slammed into the car in front of him, who slammed into the car in front of him, who slammed into the car in front of him. Saved by a two headed blue plastic dragon sent by the freeway gods!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Living Doll

Everyone has seen the episode of the Twilight Zone called “Living Doll” in which the little girl receives an adorable ‘talking’ doll from her mother. The doll says her signature phrase, “My name is Talky Tina” but when no one is looking, the creepy doll comes to life, threatens and terrorizes the girl’s stepfather played by Telly Savalas. Without spoiling it too much, the story doesn’t end well.  Do you ever wonder what happened to the family? Were they stuck in the apartment at the mercy of this demented doll?

Special Effects prop masters created ‘Talky Tina’ from the Vogue Brikette doll that was available in the early 1960’s. They animated the head turning and the arms swinging because the original doll did not have that feature. They also added the talking because the Brikette doll didn’t do that either.
In the mid 1990’s, I found a Brikette doll at an antique store. I flipped because I had never seen one before and of course, I recognized her as the freaky doll from the Twilight Zone. That was my toy for that day and what a score!

My friend, Van Arno said that he had a friend who wanted to meet me. Van told his friend, Rob, about my insane toy collection and Rob couldn’t wait to see it. Van said Rob was totally toy crazed and that we would get along like a house on fire.
Finally Rob came over and sure enough, we had a lot in common. Rob and I were both from New Jersey and just about the same age so we shared a lot of the same childhood experiences. I led him to the toy room and he went wild. Rob’s eyes were practically spinning! We blabbed for hours and hours about all our favorite childhood space toys; Ideal Zeroids, Eldon Billy Blastoff, Mattel’s Major Matt Mason, the Colorform Outer Spacemen but Rob’s all time favorites were the Topper Ding-A-Lings robots. He was obsessed with them! We started to call him, "King Ding”!

The Talky Tina doll particularly entranced Rob. He wanted one just like her. I told him that Brikette dolls were really hard to find and that I’d never seen one before this but I would look for one for him. About two months later, I actually found a Brickette doll in a completely different antique shop. I called Rob and told him that I found a Talky Tina for him. He said he wanted to come over that night to pick her up. Rob was so thrilled to finally have Talky Tina, he put her in his briefcase and we said goodnight.

The few nights later, I got a call from Rob. He said the weirdest thing had happened to him that day at work. Rob was the VP and Director of Legal Affairs for the Anaheim Indoor Marketplace. He said he’d had a meeting with the board that Friday morning. When Rob went to open his briefcase, Talky Tina doll popped out and he almost fell out of his chair. Rob had completely forgotten that she was in there and was startled by her unexpected appearance! He spent the rest of the day teasing and tormenting the staff in the office with her.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Introducing '69 Hot Wheels Action Set

My mom worked on the assembly line at Mattel Toys when I was a kid. My aunt, Dora and my aunt Berta worked there also.  This is back when Mattel toys were made in Hawthone, California, USA! I loved the stories my mother would tell about working at the famous toy company. My mom described the Hot Wheels department as rows of tiny cars with ladies on either side working the assembly line performing some function such as polishing the cars, plugging the spoiler in place, bagging the cars, heat sealing the car on the card, etc. I pictured Lucy and Ethel on the assembly line at the chocolate factory only with Hot Wheels cars!

Every Friday, my mom brought home some little gifts for me. Sometimes it would be a few Hot Wheels cars. She explained that Mattel had a company store on the premises and they sold these cars to employees for a quarter because the cars had little imperfections or were molded in the wrong color (for that model) or had missing labels, etc. I had a greatest collection of 1969 year cars in all kinds of funky colors like hot pink, turquoise and yellow gold. I had about a dozen Custom Volkswagen cars in every color of the rainbow! Hot Wheels cars had the most amazing "Specratraflame" colors and finishes. Real works of art!

On Sunday afternoon, my mom and I would go to my aunt and uncle’s house to visit and have dinner. I loved to go to my cousin Bruno’s house to play Hot Wheels.  They had a big living room and we could spread out the Hot Wheels track set with the Power House, the corkscrew loops, the bank curves and watch the cars race. Bruno had some Hot Wheels cars that my mom had given him. We would lie on the floor watching the cars at eye level and play for hours! It was probably about 9:30 when my mom announced that it was time to go home. We begged for a just a few more minutes, my mom gave me the ‘look’ so finally I began to dismantle the track set and slowly put the pieces in the box. I started to collect up my cars and put them into the big Rally Wheel.

Well, Bruno started to pout and say he wanted to play more then he claimed that one of my cars was his. I said, “Bruno, I just brought that one over, my mom gave it to me a few days ago”.  “No!” I tried to pry it out of his hands but he was squirming too much. We started to wrestle then Bruno’s dad shouted from the dining room to knock it off.
My mom heard the commotion and came over to reason with Bruno. “Brunito, we have to go home now, honey.  Portate bien, and we’ll be back next week, okay?” He got up, started to stomp his feet and shake his little fists. Then, he kicked the Power House and knocked it over. Then he grabbed a couple of Hot Wheels cars, one in each hand. He started to cry and scream, “They're mine! They're mine!” All of the sudden, he threw the Hot Wheels and cars went flying. I don’t remember if any of the cars hit my mom but she was pissed off! She picked up an orange Hot Wheels track and swatted both of us across the butts. There’s nothing like the ‘whirring’ sound of a Hot Wheels track! Bruno screamed, jumped like a little squirrel and ran into the bedroom. Tearfully, I packed up the rest of the playset and my cars and my Power House. We said goodnight to my aunt, my uncle and my little cousin, Mimi and went home.

A few days later, my mom said she didn’t want any more fighting with Bruno about whose car was whose so she decided to paint my initials on the bottom of each of my cars. The only kind of paint she had was nail polish so to this day; I have Hot Wheels cars with the initials, OM, in iridescent pink polish.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Best of the West

When I was a kid in the 1970’s, we lived in Silverlake, a suburb of Los Angeles. Silverlake was a cool place to live because there were all kinds of different people living there; hippies, Hispanic families, gays, avant-garde artists and old folks. My mother and I lived on Vendome Place in the back house of a triplex apartment. Across the driveway, there was a four-unit Spanish style apartment where my friends, Anthony (or Buddy as we knew him), his brother Andy, Cambie, Christina, Tommy and little Brennan all lived with their parents, Rosemary and Arthur. Arthur was Japanese and famous for being a ‘one-man band’, playing ventures like the Doo-Dah Parade and nightclubs all around town. Arthur was a marvelous artist who impressed me tremendously. Every Christmas, Arthur would paint Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts characters, snowflakes and holiday greetings on the front windows of their apartment.

One day, Buddy Andy and I were outside playing cowboys and Indians with the Marx “Best of the West” characters. I got the idea that it would be ‘fun’ to send smoke signals to our friends down the street. I knew exactly how to do it, too. I’d seen it on the ‘Lone Ranger’ show countless times. First, we collected some rocks and laid them in a small circle around base of the drainpipe on the side of our house. We sat Johnny West, Cochise and Geronimo next to the rocks. Then we got some dried grass and leaves, crushed them up and put them in the center of the rocks. I reasoned that the smoke from the burning leaves would go up the drainpipe and out of the top, sending puffs of smoke that our friends could see from far away. I snuck a box of matches from our kitchen and came back outside to light the campfire. We lit the fire, it started to burn and we fanned it with a banana leaf. We were going to use the banana leaf to cover the drain and break up the smoke signals. 

Just then, from down the driveway, we heard Arthur scream out, “Buddy, Andy, what are you doing!” and he ran over to where we were. His started to stomp on the fire until he put it out. He swatted Andy and Buddy hard on the behind and pulled them by the ear. They started to cry. He screamed at me to go in the house and stay there until my mother got home. I started to cry and ran inside the house. Buddy and Andy weren't allowed to play with me for a week and my mom spanked me, punished me with no TV or contact with my best friends for a week also. I remember sitting down that week and drawing a picture of cowboys and Indians at a campfire sending smoke signals.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas in the Valley of the Dolls

Before we get too far along into 2015, I want to post a few photos of my vintage Barbie dolls dressed in their winter fashions and the party in the Christmas display. 

I've been collecting Barbie seriously as an adult since 1982 when my dear (and now departed) friend, Kurt Krause, took me to my first vintage doll collector show in September of that year. I had never been  'into' Barbie or any dolls really until I saw the vintage Mattel’s "Twiggy" doll in someone's booth. I flipped out because I distinctly remembered the MOD doll from my childhood and I just had to have one. I didn't have any dolls as a kid although my mom for Christmas bought me, the Ken Gift Set featuring handsome Malibu Ken dressed in his groovy flower print windbreaker, swim trunks, swim fins, face mask and boogie board. He was awesome and I considered him more of an 'action figure' and not a doll! 

Anyway, the Twiggy doll was about $100 and I didn't have the money for her so sadly, I walked away without the Twig. Kurt bought a few “bubble cut” Barbie dolls, a couple of pairs of spiked high heels and a red one-piece bathing suit for Barbie. I learned a lot about the collector’s mind and the world of collecting in general and I was hooked! I started to go to dolls shows with Kurt, which was in those days, every weekend. 

A few months passed until it was December then suddenly, it was Christmas. Kurt loved Christmas so he would make sugar cookies, decorate his apartment with little model houses, hang his Granny’s vintage decorations on the silver Mylar tree and play Christmas songs on the piano.  Kurt called me and asked me to come over to see his Christmas display. He lived up the hill from my apartment so I told him I'd be over in a few minutes. Of course his apartment was all decked out with boughs of holly, candles in the window, fake snowflakes in the corners, etc. and under the Christmas tree was a single present. Kurt ran over, grabbed the present and handed it to me. “Open it, open it!” he squealed.  I tore off the wrapping paper and slid open the box. There inside was the Twiggy doll! My first Barbie doll. Merry Christmas Kurt, I miss you.