Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vintage Lundby 1970s Dollhouse Kitchen

Lundby 1970s doll house kitchen.

As kids we loved playing house. We loved pretending we were "the mom." Some of us had playhouses outside. Some had toy kitchens complete with pots, pans and plastic foods. Some of us had miniature houses or doll houses. 

The coolest room in any doll house was always the kitchen. There was something about the appliances, tiny bowls, plates, cups and saucers and micro-sized silverware. Doll houses were memorizing. They could keep a child's attention for hours -- well at least that's how it was for me.

I didn't have this exact kitchen (see above), but possibly a friend, neighbor or relative did. I remember it so clearly. It's designed by Lundby, a Swedish company. If I were single or married to a retro fanatic, I swear I would try to emulate this kitchen in our future home. Stainless steel is cool and modern is awesome, but there's something comforting about the older styles. Something that brings me back to simpler times of my 1970s childhood. Days when mom made her own bread and yogurt and avocado, brown, yellow and orange were the coolest colors ever.
Another cool doll house kitchen from yesteryear.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Then There Was Serena

Meet Serena!
Alright, so I've filled you in on Dawn and I promise to post if I ever hear any updates about her whereabouts and whatnot. Today I will return to the friend I alluded to here and how her mom ended our friendship.

I met Serena in seventh grade. Because Catholic grammar schools span K-8, kids oftentimes entered in seventh to avoid the local "rough" junior high school in our old neighborhood. That's what happened with Serena. Her folks didn't want her to have to attend public school. 

I remember her first week. She was a novelty to us as our small class of 18 kids had remained the same year after year. We were thrilled to have some "new blood." I made my grand entrance in third grade and by seventh was still somewhat considered a weird intruder. It seemed only natural for me to form an instant bond with our newest former public school escapee. 

Let the Good Times Roll!
Serena explained that her folks sent her to our small school because her brother attended their local high school and witnessed a knife fight in the halls. Her parents couldn't allow her to be around that. She was bright. She was creative. She was going places. 

We instantly clicked. We loved teen magazines, makeup, '80s fashions -- she had the best collection of neon colored clothing ever! We idolized music and movie stars together. We passed notes and planned sleepovers. We attended a new PG-13 movie every weekend. We had crushes -- she loved D.S. and although he was cute, I preferred D.G.

In grade 7, Serena adored Baryshnikov and Chad Lowe (Rob's brother). In grade 8, we were all about the '60s group, The Monkees. Micky was my fave while and Peter was her's. We had a bond. We shared and kept secrets. When we weren't sleeping at each other's houses, we would literally fall asleep on the phone together talking about boys, our parents, the nuns we hated, TV shows we loved and more. We spent two New Year's Eves together watching the ball drop and stuffing our faces with snacks and cola.

In the summer, we'd swim in my pool. Serena was very fair and would arrive covered in sunblock, an ornate cover-up and a floppy hat. She would relax in the shade under our Dogwood, while I would work on my summer glow. Other days, we'd hit the mall and raid cheap trendy mid '80s teen-friendly stores like G & G, Deb Shops and No Name, grab lunch in the food court and giggle at gag items at Spencers.

We graduated Catholic grammar school in 1986. I had no clue where I wanted to spend high school. Serena chose to attend a very large coed Catholic high school about twenty minutes from our hometown. At that age, I wasn't very concerned about my future. I just wanted to go off to high school with my best friend and experience boys, proms, chorus and having a real locker (instead of just a desk) like the kids on TV and in movies had -- with my BFF.

While at our new school, I made a few new friends -- I was a bit outgoing while Serena was more of an intellectual type. She was more reserved, refined and quiet. I introduced her to the new girls I met from different classes. Serena was in honors so we didn't have any classes together. Serena was focused on art programs. I was more involved in writing, so we didn't join the same clubs.

Beginning of "The End"
By late fall, Serena began to drift. I remember our last conversation. It happened over the phone. It was much like the breakup I experienced with my college boyfriend once we both graduated college. He began the break-up call saying, he was talking to Pete and Pete suggested we break up. Serena began the conversation saying that her mom thought it'd be a good idea if we stopped being friends. My heart sank.

Her mom didn't think I was a good influence on her daughter. Mind you, even though we were young (I was 13 turning 14 in November and she was 14 turning 15 in January) ... I never drank. I never smoked. I never did anything other than kiss a boy. I would never dream of doing drugs. I wasn't a bad kid. Honestly, I was just a dreamer. I loved celebrities and bands. I loved writing in my diary. I was even a teen reporter for the biggest Long Island newspaper. I wasn't a super student, but never failed or gave up. I struggled a bit as my mind sometimes wandered in math and science class. Serena's mom wanted her to focus on her schooling and mingle with fellow honor students.

School was never going to be the same without her. The new friends I met became awkward. Some went with her and some stuck it out with me. That was the very worst year of my school life. To this day, I have to say ninth grade was probably the most painful year of my teen life. It's almost as if it were a blur. I was alone in this immense school, miles from our hometown. I felt like a fool. She was the only reason I was there and now she was gone. I tried to make the most of it and befriended a boy named Don. He was cool. We talked on the phone often and I somehow survived that year. I transferred into public school and somehow made it through that as well. I never really did fit in, but at least I was over that weird, random abandonment.

Where is Serena Today?
I heard Serena moved to Connecticut. There was a sighting of her in a Danbury mall, though this was never actually confirmed. There were jokes that maybe her family was part of a witness protection program. I'm sure that's not really true.

I wonder what ever happened to Serena. I've since Googled her of course. From those free FIND SOMEONE websites, all I can see is that she is married and may still reside in the Connecticut area, but without an easy-to-detect Facebook page, I would appear stalker-like to attempt any contact.

After all this time, you may say, why bother? Why do you care? Closure. To see if I did anything that upset her that much that she had to end our friendship. I know for sure her mother loathed me. But still. At 14, who listens to their mom? So Serena, if you're out there or if someone out there reads this and knows of a tall, slim, fair-skinned Italian chick who once lived on Long Island who moved to Connecticut and her name was Serena. Tell her I'm sorry our friendship didn't weather high school. However, I am thankful of the time I did have our friendship. I'm not sure I would have survived 7th and 8th grade without her. We were a great team. Like Kate and Allie or Laverne and Shirley. We ruled!

Did you have a friend you've lost touch with whom you'd love to connect with again? Even just for a few minutes?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Before Serena, There Was Dawn

In my last post, I mentioned my BFF from seventh and eight grade. Some Fourth Grade Nothing readers asked what the deal was with her mother banning us from being friends in ninth grade. I promise to get to that ...  However, to keep the chronological order, I'll first introduce you to my first real buddy, Dawn.

In 1982, my friend and next door neighbor was an Irish/Italian girl raised by her father. Unlike me, the oldest of two,  Dawn was the youngest of three. She lived with her older brother and sister and was a year older than me. Which for some reason seems like a big deal when you're inching toward the teen years. 

Dawn was street smart. I was, as you know, a clueless, sheltered Catholic school girl. She was from the tough streets of Levittown. By the way, Levittown in the early 1980s was really just an average American suburban, middle class town on Long Island just like my own hometown. A mere twenty minutes from where I grew up, Levittown to an 11-year-old was like 100 miles away.

Dawn used rough words. In addition to the standard four-letter terms, she often said, "ain't." As the child of two teachers, this word was never spoken in our home. Dawn was frequently teased for looking scruffy. Boys would call her dirtbag and even as a little girl the words hurt me like. I hurt for her. The other girls on our block were not allowed to play with her. Raised by her corrections facility father, Dawn wore her hair short and dressed more like a Tom Boy. 

She liked tough-looking boys and read, Seventeen. One afternoon, in my bedroom, I proudly unveiled my very first copy of YM magazine. Dawn just laughed and elbowed me in my fleshy rib cage. She joked that I didn't even know what a feminine product was and suggested I stick with Tiger Beat.  It was Dawn who had her big sister Debbie, explain the truth about the birds and bees. Though I don't recall Debbie talking about pollen, she broke the news as delicately as possible and answered all questions very diplomatically. She often watched us when my parents ran an errand or two. 

She once told me about her mother and how she "had problems." To this day, I'm not quite sure what those problems were. I met her mom once. She didn't seem motherly. She seemed troubled and distant. I couldn't imagine her mom fixing a younger Dawn a turkey sandwiched topped with a smiley face made of veggies to trick her daughter into eating healthier. I couldn't imagine Dawn and her mom shopping for back-to-school shoes, clothes and school supplies in late August. I tried to imagine Dawn's mom sitting on the edge of her bed, handing her tissues and an inhaler on a hot summer's night in the Catskills because her daughter's allergies and asthma clashed with the wooded area. I couldn't imagine her mom dragging her to Jazzercise and treating her to a fast food salad afterward. 

It all made sense after that quick visit with Dawn's mom. I looked at my pal in an entirely new light. It's funny how as kids we think we know it all, but really don't know anything. I guess even as adults we think someone's life is flawless, but the reality could be very different. 

I'm not sure where Dawn is today. One random Mother's Day in the mid 1990s, Dawn stopped by with a small gift for my mom. I wasn't home at the time. She handed Mom a glass figure of a cat wearing a pink ribbon. She thanked my mother for always being so kind to her as a child when other mother's viewed her as a bad seed. She thanked my mom for being fair, warm and welcoming her into our home any day or night. 

The last time I saw Dawn, she had relocated from another Long Island town back to my hometown. She moved around a bit and we lost touch over the years. The last time I saw her, she was married and had two small children. I remember thinking she seemed so young to have a husband and babies. I was still trying to complete my BA at the time. I remember her husband was working on their house. She had a beautiful pool, deck and told me her husband was having a security gate built around the entire house. I hope things are still going well for her. Although things looked great from the outside, I felt like something was still not quite right. Wherever you are Dawn, I hope you're well and I'm sure you're an awesome mom.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Just One of The Guys and Ralph Macchio

1985 produced an abundance of awesome teen flicks from Back to the Future to The Goonies. Still on my Karate Kid kick from the previous year, I was madly obsessed with Ralph Macchio. Side note, Ralph and I were both Italian Americans from Long Island born on November 4 - top that ladies! Sure he was much older than me, but we had mad sh*t in common. 

In the Spring of 1985, my BFF and I (her folks banned her from hanging out with me once we graduated 8th grade, more on that another day) ventured over to Sunrise Cinemas on Sunrise Highway to catch the latest teen flick, Just One of The Guys. This movie was typical '80s cheese. I loved it. Filled with great styles, fun music, silly dirty jokes, innuendos and attractive young actors with names I've since forgotten, other than Billy Jane aka Billy Jacoby. 

Two things I loved about this film -- in addition to the romantic twist ...  The lead character was a writer, I've always loved writing and wanted to have my own magazine and at the time was a kid reporter for Long Island / New York Newsday. I also thought it was very odd that the lead actress (Joyce Hyser) who played Terri Griffith was made to look very similar to my Ralph Macchio. Anyone else catch this? 

Joyce Hyser as Terri Griffith 

Ralph Macchio in shades.

Ralph Macchio in Karate Kid.

View the trailer for Just  One Of The Guys

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Love You More Today Than Yesterday

iStock image

When you were a kid, did your mom, dad, aunt, uncle or grandparent sing to you? As a mom, dad, aunt, uncle or grandparent, do you sing to your favorite kids? If so, what song? 

When I was a toddler, I can remember my mother singing, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray." For those who don't know this song, see below. It's Carly Simon's slow-ass version, but you'll recognize it just the same.

Sure "You Are My Sunshine" was a sweet song, but not as sweet as "More Today Than Yesterday" by Spiral Starecase -- sometimes misspelled Spiral Staircase. Spiral Starecase was obviously one of those 1960s one-hit-wonders. Many artists covered this song including Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder

This morning, I woke up mentally singing, "I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as toooo-morrrrrrow" and thought of my mother. Mom would rock me in her arms and dance with me around our small ranch house in Oakdale, New York (a quaint town in Suffolk County on Long Island). All would be right with the world when Mom would sing to me. Things were gonna be okay.  

"More Today Than Yesterday" lyrics are as follows:

I don’t remember what day it was
I didn’t notice what time it was
All I know is that I fell in love with you
And if all my dreams come true
I’ll be spending time with you

Every day’s a new day in love with you
With each day comes a new way of loving you
Every time I kiss your lips my mind starts to wander
And if all my dreams come true
I’ll be spending time with you

Oh, I love you more today than yesterday
But not as much as tomorrow
I love you more today than yesterday
But, darling, not as much as tomorrow

Tomorrow’s date means springtime’s just a day away
Cupid, we don’t need ya now, be on your way
I thank the lord for love like ours that grows ever stronger
And I always will be true
I know you feel the same way too

Oh, I love you more today than yesterday
But not as much as tomorrow
I love you more today than yesterday
But only half as much as tomorrow

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The NeverEnding Story | Barret Oliver & Noah Hathaway

Noah Hathaway and Barret Oliver, NeverEnding Story cuties

Ahhh ... 1984 was an awesome year. Okay, maybe not as great as 1982, but still a very awesome year.

Today a friend slapped an image of Falkor the luckdragon on my Facebook page. For those of you too young or old to remember -- Falkor was the dog-like creature from the 1984 classic children's movie, The NeverEnding Story. The film is based on a German epic fantasy tale. Sadly, the only thing I can remember about seeing it back in July of 1984, are the two main characters, Bastian (Barret Oliver) and Atreyu (Noah Hathaway). Why? Because they were smokin' hot to an 11-year-old me.
That summer, I was all about these two cuties and Ralph Macchio from Karate Kidof course. I think it was somewhat comforting knowing Barret and Noah were closer to my own age, though Ralph ruled the walls of my bedroom. Put it this way ..  if a Tiger Beat pin-up featured Ralph Macchio on one-side and Noah Hathaway on the other, I'm quite sure Macchio would win. 

Watch The NeverEnding Story Trailer

Barret Oliver & Noah Hathaway Today

Barret Oliver in the late '80s
Today Barret Oliver (D.A.R.Y.L. and Cocoon) teaches photography in LA and wrote a book, A History of Woodburytype, about a special 19th Century photo mechanical process or something. Unfortunately, I'm unable to Google image a recent photo of him other than from the late 1980s.  

Noah Hathaway today
Noah Hathaway (Battlestar Galactica) still acts and has done several indie films. Here's what he looks like today. For a while, I was convinced he was actually Noah Wyle from ER. I figured maybe he changed his name. I was wrong, of course, though they are about the same age and do look a bit alike.

Anyone else remember The NeverEnding Story?


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