Tag Archives: 1970s

Kissing Clauses

The holiday season had clearly taken hold of Philadelphia, and Martha was forced to swerved between more people than she had ever seen on South Street before. She passed Repo Records and finally swerved left to get off of the main street and head down to Bainbridge for a while. The relief allowed her to slow her pace and take in the sights of a road less traveled during her usual holiday shopping routine.

She passed a junk store she’d never seen before and out of the corner of her eye spotted something that made her stop dead on the sidewalk, leading a homeless man to bump into her. He excused himself and continued around her as she turned to look in the giant window filled with vintage holiday objects. She scanned the display, past a plastic wreath that had seen better days, ignoring a small set of Rudolph salt and pepper shakers to a shelf that was eye level. There they stood, and she instantly flashed back to childhood at her grandparents’ home in the suburbs. Santa Claus, hands behind his back, leaning in for a kiss. Mrs. Claus, hands also withdrawn, leaning in for the same kiss, standing on a little pedestal that Martha knew would make Santa’s wife spin and play a cute little holiday song similar to those that came from children’s jewelry boxes. Martha turned and entered the store, opening the door a little too boisterously, causing the bell attached to the top to ring with more violence than it should.

She could practically hear her grandmother tell her to be careful as she reached for one of the statues. The man at the counter, old and frail beyond his years, looked up at her over his wire-rim reading glasses. He smiled and approached her, fixing his aged suspenders as he walked.

“Interested in the kissing Santa and Mrs. Claus, young lady?” She nodded and put a hand out to take the statue of Mrs. Claus.

“Careful now,” the elderly man warned her. “Those are hand painted and from the 1970s. Do you know the set?”

She thought back to Christmases past and could practically smell the spaghetti sauce cooking in her grandmother’s kitchen. She could see the chestnuts roasting in the fireplace, her grandfather worriedly checking them every few minutes. Even the old marble table where the two statues sat year after year came into view for Martha.

And then she remembered what happened to the set. Her little sister was playing with them, winding up Mrs. Claus, when the tragic event took place. A stumble, a fumble and Mrs. Claus’ severed head rolled up to Martha’s left foot. A frantic aunt sneaking the statue away and quickly playing doctor with quick dry rubber cement, and it was almost like it never happened. But Martha could tell; she could spot the spider web crack in the statue’s neck in an instant, maybe just because she knew it was there.

“Young lady, are you okay?” the man asked her, waking her up from the memory. She shook her head.

“I’m fine. I would love to purchase this.” As she turned the statue, examining Mrs. Claus’ white apron, her green dress and the puckered lips, she noticed a tiny crack in the neck.

Set in Stone

Set in Stone is part of the new book Capturing a Moment, available for preorder on my Etsy. The original is also available on etsy. Support a starving artist! 🙂

My Second Book, Coming Soon!

 

Coming soon! Wrags Ink., a new publisher in the Philadelphia area, is putting out a collection of my typography on vintage photographs! You’ve seen some of them before here and possibly on my Etsy, but this collection has about fifty images and more than half of them have never been seen before! So get ready, readers! My work is also being featured in a few magazines coming out this summer, and I’ll be sure to let you know about that as it comes up!

Also, once the book is out the prices will probably be going up a bit on my Etsy, so if you want any, better get them soon!

Thanks for reading!


Barkley, Mister Hooper and the Farm

He’d left his giant pile of Legos and I’d gotten so used to the noise of him rooting through for specific pieces that the silence pulled my attention out of my book. He was looking out the window watching the rain.

“Guess no playground today, huh dad?”

“Probably not, kiddo. It’s raining pretty hard.”

He went back to the Legos and started sifting through again. I have to give him credit, he handles bad news well.

“Okay, how about we dip into the yard sale stuff?” He perked up instantly and ran to the closet where we keep the “new” toys I yard sale for him. I get so much that my wife and I decided to keep a storage closet of toys for when he deserves a reward or something. It keeps him from being overwhelmed by all of the toys at once and kind of makes it fun for everyone.

“Okay, we have some superheroes, this stack of books, some old wooden puzzles…”

“Wooden puzzles!” he exclaims. I pull down the stack and hand them to him. “Why are they wood? Wood’s so heavy.”

“That’s what some of the puzzles were like when I was a kid. As a matter of fact, I had this one as a kid!”

I found the Sesame Street puzzle and pull it from the pile. Instantly I remember playing with this one in the 70s with my dad and mom. He looks at it and looks up at me.

“You had this one? You watched Sesame Street? Did you love Elmo too?”

“There was no Elmo when I was a kid. But yes, I loved the show. I used to ask for aqua instead of water, that’s how much I watched it.”

I love how slow and deliberate he is with new toys. Any other kid would dump the pieces out, start the puzzle and then move on to another, leaving this one for me to clean up. But not him. He runs his hands across the shiny wood, feels the little knobs and then starts naming Muppets.

“Big Bird!”

“Yup.”

“Grover?”

I nod. Then he comes across the big, shaggy white, orange and brown dog.

“Who is this? I don’t know this dog!”

“That’s Barkley. I don’t know if he’s on the show anymore. I haven’t seen him. I’m surprised I remembered his name!”

He frowns and looks at me. “Where did he go?”

“Um…maybe he moved to a farm.”

“Were there others who moved to the farm?”

“Mister Hooper…kind of.”

He starts pulling the knobs and realizes there are more characters behind them. “Whoa! Oscar was behind Big Bird! Look there’s Big Bird’s nest!” I smile. I can’t believe I remember this puzzle so clearly. I must have been three or four when we had it. “There’s The Count! One! Ha ha ha…” I try not to laugh at his impression. It’s not very good. “Cookie Monster! He’s eating a cookie! I hope he ate his carrots first!” I find that a little disturbing, but only a bit.

He goes through each piece, looking at what’s behind it and then gently placing it back until he’s checked them all twice, then pushes it away.

“Want to do another? I have a Bert and Ernie one, Cabbage Patch Kids and Wuzzles.”

“What’s a Wuzzle?”

“I have no legitimate answer to that,” I say.

Inseparable

I created this with filmstrips I got at a yard sale, I’m guessing from somewhere in the mid to late sixties and early seventies. I came up with the story and edited it into the filmstrip. I did not edit the film from its original shots in any way. It may take a moment to load, or if it doesn’t work for you, click HERE.

A Simple Piece of Paper

He woke up that morning and knew, just inexplicably knew he was supposed to get into his car and drive.  So he threw a dirty pair of jeans on over his boxers, an old orange t-shirt, and got into his cherry red Camaro.

He turned the key, revved the engine, and then pulled out, no clue where he was going.  How would he decide?  Would the car know?  Would fate just guide him?  He pulled the car out and a sudden honk made him jump, a passing car with a driver waving a fist at him as it passed.  He would have to be a bit more careful.

He pulled off of his street, and knew there was nothing in this small Pennsylvania town that would draw him out with such mystery and magic, so he headed right for the interstate, somehow fully aware that he had a long way to go, even though he had no real destination.  It was only a few minutes before he was driving on the highway, accompanied by only one other car, a blue Ford truck, about a mile ahead of him.  He drove until even the Ford was gone, and he was alone on the highway, not an oddity for this area at this time of day.  The sun had only been up for moments, and after all, it was a Sunday, most people were still asleep.  He looked up at the sun, wondering when the last time it was that he woke up this early any day of the week let alone a Sunday.

He saw an exit coming up, an unmarked one he’d never noticed before, and decided to turn off the interstate, this particular road made of dirt and pebbles, probably a truck exit or something, he figured.  The sun almost disappeared, the trees were so thick here, and as he continued down the road, if it could even be called that, he was jostled all over the front seat due to its giant potholes and general unevenness.  Something darted out in front of the car, a white blur, and so he slammed on the brakes.

Peeking over the dashboard, he turned off the radio, trying to see what it was that he’d quite possibly killed.  Seeing nothing, he got out and walked around to the front.  Lodged under the front tired was a large piece of paper, a map, most likely, so he got back in, backed the Camaro up a bit, then had to jump out and retrieve the paper as the wind took it again.

He chased it into the woods a bit, finally catching up with it as it was momentarily caught by a tree branch, snatching it up quickly before the wind could take it again.  He gently opened it, since it seemed old, and realized it was covered in writing.

As he read it, he became overwhelmed, spellbound, excited.  He could feel the world spinning, actually sense the movement under him, and he could see and hear every leaf in the woods move, every single little motion, he could hear the thoughts of a nearby bird searching out food for her babies, she seemed so scattered in her thoughts.  He suddenly knew, without a doubt, that down the road was a cabin where a family was just getting up to the smell of bacon and eggs, and farther than that a deer was eating a sapling, and a bit down from that a river ran where a bear was trying to catch a fish, and he was even fully aware that today, that bear would not catch that fish, and the fish would go on to have many children, but that the bear would not.

He couldn’t even fully understand what it was that he was reading, but he could see himself, fifty years down the road, a grandson on his lap, his wife, whom he recognized as a neighbor of his, cooking in the kitchen as his family, and some of hers, prepared for some sort of celebration.  He saw beyond that, wars, famines, tragedies, all in the future, he saw planes fall, men walking on Mars, tidal waves, love, he saw everything that would ever happen, understood it all, and suddenly realized what was happening.  He continued to read, and the longer he read, the more of the world he saw, and he wanted to stop but could not, he wanted to know it all before this moment went away, before whatever was happening stopped, he had to know.  He saw cities grow and change, buildings stretch higher, airplanes bigger, cars smaller, flying machines, floating buildings, crime, weapons beyond anything he ever knew could exist, and then, all of a sudden, he saw nothing.

He startled back to the woods at a nearby sound, and noticed a deer crashing through the woods, the same deer he’d seen eating only a moment, or maybe it was a day, a week, a month ago, he couldn’t tell.  He looked around, remembered where he was, when he was, and headed back to the car.  As he climbed back in, he suddenly remembered the paper in his hand, held it up in the air, and just let it go.  The wind took it off in an instant, and he watched as it floated up into the air, back down, and then into the woods and out of his sight.