Thursday, March 22, 2012

F. Earl Christy

Take a Big Spring Swing

As a college girl who hated sports, I took golf to appease the powers that be who insisted I should have physical education credits to graduate as an art major.

Somewhere there exists a video of me in a self-sewn, super-short miniskirt (with built in modesty bloomers) taking swing after swing at a poor little golf ball, but only chopping grass and flinging dirt. In between divots I am seen discretely trying to bob down and replace the golf ball on the tee without exposing my ridiculous bloomers.

I question my sanity in wearing such a get-up to golf class, but what I question more is the teacher’s idea that the entire class watching our “swing” could at all enhance any of our lives. I cringe to think where that video ended up.

At least I had freedom of movement. Can you imagine trying to take a swing with a driver in the outfit pictured on this 1905 postcard? The illustrator, F. Earl Christy, specialized in depicting stylish college girls. I may have looked ridiculous, but this college girl springing around in her high-collared blouse, tight fitting jacket, long skirt and heeled shoes looks like a recipe for a broken foot, or at least a fatal seam split. No wonder it looks like she’s waving a putter. They probably didn’t allow her to use a driver.

It’s hard to tell if she’s on the first hole or the 12th hole from the marker. But I’m betting she was always as glad as I was to finally arrive at the club house.

On the reverse side of the card, which was mailed from Waupun, Wisconsin, in 1908, H.O. relates in a firm girlish script that she is, “fine and dandy.” She wonders why she has not had a message from her friend and has placed her 1 cent green Ben Franklin stamp upside down and angled a bit to the right, meaning in stamp language, “Why have I not heard from you?”

My guess is that her friend, Theodore, was so overwhelmed by her ungainly golf attire that she twisted an ankle and fell into a sand trap. Of course that’s only a theory. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Glasses I Plan To Secretly Break in the Near Future

When I moved to Germany I naturally examined the glasses I “inherited” with a critical eye. 

Few were acceptable. Fortunately I was enamored with a set of 19 French amber glasses with clear bases, possibly from the 1960s, that are so badly made that some of them lean at a 20-degree angle. They range in size from mouth-full to fruit cup, and they are now characters in my everyday life.

But the majority of their cabinet mates had to go. In America I would just deliver them to the Salvation Army. Here my only possible choice is sadly the garbage toter. Thus, they have to be broken. A friend who tells me he breaks glasses easily has been invited on multiple occasions to visit and wield his skill, but he always politely declines. So I have stashed the offenders away, planning to secretly break a few glasses every month until they are gone.

Meanwhile I found a lovely set of green wine glasses at the second hand shop around the corner. Ten cut crystal beauties for 15 Euro – a bargain made even sweeter when an antiques dealer who was also browsing asked the shop owner “How-much-ya-want for those Römers?,”and she had to say, “Sorry, they are being bought by the young lady.”

I skipped home feeling young and happy, which is just the way a person should feel after scoring a deal on a fine antique.
I think the dealer was using the term Römer very loosely, as a traditional Römer has a ribbed base and a thick stem sometimes decorated with raised glass berries. You often see these pale green glasses tipped casually over in Dutch still life paintings from the 16th and 17th century.

My glasses are of a petite scale and the bowl, which is cut with a basket-like pattern, is mica thin. The four-faceted stems reflect light like chandelier prisms. If I am very lucky my new treasures date back to 1900 or possibly a little earlier. They could have been made in Germany, but I am so close to the Czech Republic it is possible they come from Bohemia. A recent glance in a shop window in Karlsbad tells me the Czechs are still busy making similar patterns today, in every color and for much higher prices.

I stand by my plan of covert ugly glass destruction, but I now have a new problem. When I cradle one of these green beauties in my hand, they just seem too fragile and pretty to use. Since I don’t want to be the one to drop them in the sink and shatter their long history, I’ve been admiring their sparking beauty from the safety of my china cabinet. It could take years, and a very special occasion, but maybe someday I’ll work up the courage to raise one in good cheer. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rip Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle, Reinterpreted

Who could resist Rip Van Winkle? And how did his knees stay so young after sleeping for 20 years?

 Rip Van Winkle is a favorite story of mine. Written by Washington Irving in 1819, it is set in the Catskill Mountains of Dirty Dancing fame. I can’t imagine respectable Rip dancing like that, although Irving did relate that Rip was a shiftless sort, who got to drinking with a Dutch bowling team and actually slept through the Revolutionary War.

I was excited when I first saw this postcard, but apparently slept through the online auction and missed the bidding process. Fortunately I got a second chance, and now Rip is mine, mine, mine! He just arrived in the mail today (which is always funny when people send postcards in envelopes), but turns out that’s because he was already sent by a lady from Hunter, N.Y., to a lady in Binghamton, N.Y., in 1908.

On the front of the card, a wistful Rip clasps his hands over his overgrown beard and casts a bewildered look around as if to say, “But what happened to the party?” Serves him right for helping that little Dutchman carry a vodka-filled watermelon up the mountain. We can only speculate that Rip’s pants were chewed off at the knee by wild dogs. And what’s up with those leather gaiters? They look suspiciously new. Did someone put those on him as a joke while he was sleeping?

On the back side of the postcard, along with a nice, green Ben Franklin one-cent stamp and an eagle-and-shield logo, there is a witty message penciled in at a jaunty angle:
“I see this feller quite often here.”

It is signed, “Lottie,” which is great because it sounds like something my Great Aunt Lottie would have said. Especially the “feller” part. We can only guess at what other private jokes these two women had. But I’m sure they never let poor Rip in on them – looking the way he did.

At the end of Washington Irving’s story, Rip’s adult daughter takes pity on him and lets him live in her house. But I’d like to think he’s still wandering around Hunter, NY, looking for a place where he can really Mambo.