12/22/2010

item 1 >>> I mentioned that you can date WWII-era Christmas ornaments because they tend to be clear glass…the “silvering” to color them was unavailable due to wartime restrictions, and besides, the shiny bulbs had been imported mainly from Germany in the 1930s. By 1942, even the metal caps were gone, replaced by cardboard or stiff paper. Another accommodation made was with the department store Santa Clauses…due to the shortage of men, women Santas had to sometimes fill in.

item 2 >>> Then consider Christmas trees, which during WWII were in short supply. Plenty were being grown, but the problem was the lack of manpower to harvest them, and the scarcity of railroad space to transport them…wartime shipments took priority. Thus America experienced its first wave of artificial trees. These were made with “Visca,” a kind of straw-like rayon that resembled shredded paper. Visca trees tended to be small, tabletop mostly, but even then could become a family tradition, as the one seen here with bubble-lights, introduced after the War by the Noma Company. Another alternative was small Christmas trees made with feathers, which had been around since the early 1900s.

item 3 >>> BTW, if you’re at all interested in vintage Christmas lights of any and all kinds, the absolutely best web-site is  http://www.oldchristmastreelights.com. They cover all aspects of Christmas illumination in encyclopedic detail, with many pictures, diagrams and advertisements. Other aspects of Christmas decorating and traditions are touched on as well…and of course, there’s an exhaustive history of bubble lights, including a identification guide. Warning: set aside some time if you visit…if you’re like me, once you pop, you just can’t stop!

item 4 >>> Flocking a tree had always been popular…dabbing it with white to make it look like it had just snowed. Recipes called for mixing water with varying amounts of starch or soap flakes…Lux was a favorite…plus a bit of food coloring if you wanted a chromatic effect, usually pink or blue. The lack of shiny decorations during WWII lead to a resurgence in the popularity of flocking, to brighten up an otherwise drab tree. This really took off in the 1950s and 60s, with the invention of the aerosol can, pioneered by Reddi-wip, and later by the Sno-Flok kit which included a spray-gun you attached to your vacuum cleaner. The raging debate was whether you flocked your tree before or after hanging the ornaments. It was up to personal preference of course, but just in case, you could buy ornaments already flocked (or as we’d say today, “pre-flocked”…well, I wouldn’t, but don’t mind me.)  This ad is from 1962. See also today’s Wicked Ballsy

item 5 >>> Interesting things in the Hot Stove League…3 of my favorites players, Jayson Werth, Rick Ankiel, and ex-Red Sox Jonathan “Eveready” Van Every are now Washington Nationals, the Montreal Expos as was. No I haven’t forgotten…from that marvelous outfield of Dawson-Valentine-Cromartie to the urban legend of Boots Day Boots Day. Before they moved, the ‘spos were a popular team here in Upper Upstate NY,  certainly the closest. We went to a few games, and even carried their broadcasts on our radio station for a few years. I can still remember their opening theme, “Satin Soul” by Love Unlimited Orchestra. So yeah, I guess I’ll be watching…

item 6 >>> Christmas Myth #8…Ralphie Parker’s quest for a Red Ryder air rifle, as recounted in the movie A Christmas Story, takes place in the year — Wait! Stop right there! Anything you say will be wrong! Enquiring minds with more patience and attention to detail than mine have gone over the evidence meticulously….the cars, the fashions, the music, the products, the radio broadcasts, the contents of the newspapers, everything…and have concluded there is no correct answer. No matter what year you pick, something contradicts it, so the precise time frame has to be an imaginary one. Taking when author Jean Shepherd was actually born, and how old he would have been when….etc, etc,  only makes matters worse, trust me. Let’s just say it was before people had televisions, and let it go at that. BTW, every time I watch this flick, Melinda Dillon kills me, just slays me…but then as Gramps used to say: “If everybody liked the same thing, they’d all be after your Grandmother.”

item 7 >>> Christmas Muth #8…well, that would be Ellen Muth, from the wonderfully dark series Dead Like Me.


item 8 >>> Growing up in the Catholic Church, and being fascinated by colors, I liked following the seasonal changes of liturgical colors used for the priest’s vestments and the altar cloth. White, Red, Green, and Violet…and Black for funerals. Red is now used on Good Friday rather than the traditional Black you might remember. Plus the unusual Rose for the 4th Sunday of Lent, and the 3rd Sunday of Advent, to match the Advent Candles…Purple, Purple, Pink, Purple…well, I called it Rose…I was always a stickler. But I had heard about Blue, and wondered about it, having never seen it. Blue is not a liturgical color, but is permitted in 2 special cases. The first is the “Spanish privilege,” granted in 1864 for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and valid in Spain and its colonies…today this extends to Mexico, Central and South America, as well as Portugal, the Philippines, and of course Spain. The second special case is that of some of the shrines devoted to Mary, which may use Blue vestments on special occasions or habitually, depending on their individual decree.

item 9 >>> Apparently some Catholic priests, beginning in the 1980s, have taken to wearing blue or bluish-purple vestments during Advent, as contrasted with a reddish-purple for Lent. As far as I can determine, this is unsanctioned and the subject of some controversy. There may even be a little if-the Episcopals-and-Lutherns-can-use-Blue-for-Advent-why-can’t-we going on here, I dunno. On the other hand, all I’ve said so far applies only to the Latin Rite…the Byzantine correctly uses Blue for Feasts of Mary, and more often if the individual church is dedicated to Mary.

item 10 >>> And to wrap up our liturgical spectrum, much of this is of fairly recent origin. Traditionally there was a color called “Sarum Blue,” a dark blue-violet, commonly used when true Violet was unavailable, or prohibitively expensive. In the Latin Rite, Gold may on certain occasions substitute for White, Red or Green for added solemnity…if you remember “yellow” on Easter, that’s why. And the 2nd largest Christian Church in the world,  after the Roman Catholic, uses a unique Orange or Rust color for the Feast for Sts. Peter and Paul.…can you name the denomination? Answer tomorrow…

Wicked Ballsy

What the Flok?

shameless plugs nipping at your nose…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com and  https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi

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