Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Love a Good Setting, Part 2

We now travel from Storybook Land in Disneyland to Little Town, conveniently located at my house. Actually, Little Town is the creation of my husband Bill who likes miniatures and settings, too. Combine this interest with his love for trains and the result is the best little town setting anywhere.

Take a personal tour of Little Town by clicking on the image. Keep in touch because Bill is constructing a section devoted to the County Fair, coming in the fall.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Love a Good Setting, Part 1

If you click on the image here of Pinocchio’s village, you will discover my favorite Disneyland setting - Storybook Land.
You cannot imagine how many times I have ridden Casey Junior Railroad and the Disney canal boats in the last four years so that I can photograph every angle and tiny space. I had, however, never seen the Big Bad Wolf's lair until I saw my daughter Carlon's photos. I suppose there is much to discover in the settings of stories if you study them more closely.

Can you name the stories represented in the settings here?

HINT: “Storybook Land, inside Fantasyland, is one of Disneyland's finest examples of the Disney magic in artistry and the creation of unique and entertaining attractions. A kingdom in miniature, Storybook Land presents life-like re-creations of villages, castles, houses and other buildings from the pages of fabled stories-scene after scene of painstakingly detailed settings. If you've ever wanted to actually see from close up Gepetto's Village high in the snow covered Alps, Kensington Gardens from the story of Peter Pan, the straw, stick and brick houses of the Three Little Pigs and the Crazy Quilt Country from Wynken, Blinken and Nod, they're all there-along with many more-in Storybook Land. Gaily painted, picturesque European canal boats take visitors through the mouth of Monstro the Whale into this wonderful world” — Disneyland Holiday Magazine, Spring 1958

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy 50th Birthday, Barbie!

As a parent, I have observed that “age-appropriate” is a relative term; that is, relatives decide when a child gets a toy. The relative may be mom or dad, even grandparent, but especially the child herself. Yet for me, in the 1960s, the doll evolution determined the when and the age-appropriateness.

Christmas Day 1963, I had been twelve-years-old for one week. My present would be Barbie. Immediately I noticed that she had dark hair like my mother; Barbie was not the blonde doll I had requested. (I was blonde, but every baby doll I ever had were brunettes also.) No matter, Barbie had come to live with me.

My other gifts would be her attire. She arrived in an official box with her pearl earrings, black strappy heels, and that iconic black and white striped swimsuit. The rest of her wardrobe included a very sixties lounge outfit in a bold East Indian design, a fuzzy white coat, and a Dior-design dress with full skirt and little puffy sleeves. These out-of-the-box creations had been delicately hand-sewn.

Hand-sewn? That detail bonded me to my new friend. Her wardrobe would be no different than my own clothing. My mother, grandmother, and godmother made all my outfits (and would continue until I went to college). Each woman had a wonderful tailoring touch and eye for creative detail and color.

Besides, inside the Barbie box, was a booklet depicting her dream wardrobe. And dreamy were those drawings in bright drippy colors revealing the life adventures of a versatile, talented, independent, and creative young woman. All these visions captured what a twelve-year-old girl wants to know about her budding future as a woman.

Her hair, her make-up, her fabulous figure? These details never seemed to touch the reality of my life. Those clothes reflected life adventures and possibilities.

What I soon discovered, however, was that the $.25 to $.50 I was able to save each week would not be enough for the most amazing outfits and accessories. Even if I did manage to save $3.00 to $5.00, Woolworth’s had sold out what I planned to buy. Therefore I would have to go back to examples of versatility, talent, independence, and creativity of the women I knew in life.

In the early sixties, major sewing pattern companies – Advance, McCall’s, and Simplicity – created their own line of Mattel endorsed pattern designs. The cover art was as fun and clever as the “ready-to-wear” wardrobe booklets. Any smart and self-sufficient young woman could have all the designs she wanted for the initial investment of $.50 to $.75.

I wanted to be that kind of young woman; therefore, I learned to sew under the tutelage of my grandmother, along with the official Barbie sewing pamphlet included in the patterns.Even today, I find these directions to be a great primer for anyone wanting to learn the art of sewing. More than just instructions, these directions encouraged the young seamstress to have fun with cutting-up, a stitch-in-time, the hemming way, and getting-on-your-mark. And best of all, Barbie never complained about having handmade outfits, many of which coordinated with the fabrics worn by my mother and me.

And later the next year, when my Barbie met Ken, she found that he never lost interest in her either.

So here’s to you, Barbie! Happy 50th Birthday.

Despite all the protests and complaints about your possible mixed-messages to my unconscious, I remain your friend. The Barbie I knew helped teach an adolescent what real adventures in life we must take to grow-up amid any decade’s superficiality and conformity.