Friday, October 26, 2012

40 Days of Birthday: Day Thirty-Three {Looks Like We Made It: Costume Time Capsule}



As several of my Birth-Days, today did not go according to plan. It was meant that I was to attend one of the PhD colloquiums tonight that I’d learned about yesterday. I spent most of the day assuming I would, but when Lennon got home from Kita, what we thought were nighttime sniffles had turned into a cold. Staying home to help with bedtime was the best choice.

Earlier in the day, I’d pulled out an old Halloween costume, handmade by my mother, that I wore the Halloween just after my first birthday. As you might have read here, I’ve made Lennon a Jenks the Beagle costume to wear for Halloween, but I’m planning on conducting a photo shoot with Lennon wearing the same costume I did at the same age. I pulled it from storage today because, not only does it need mending for him to wear it, I wanted to take a photo of him in just the hat. The costume is of a tiger. There is a baseball team you may know of called the Tigers of Detroit city and they are about to play in the World Series baseball competition against my beloved team the San Francisco Giants. My husband happens to be a Tigers fan. I wanted to give both teams props by taking a picture of Lennon in his Giants T-shirt and one of him dressed as a Tiger, at least his head anyway. The results of the shoot can be found here.


There were many things that needed mending on the tiger costume—you know how old it is! About ten years ago, I found the costume in my parent’s attic and, not being as resourceful as I am now, I had it dry cleaned. It’s been neatly folded in a box since. The spring before Lennon was born, I brought it to Berlin. It has sloppily charming hand stitches in white thread. I mended a few of them by hand in the hat and on the tiger chest detail using the same thread. There is a part of me that wanted to take it to the machine and make it polished looking, but I resisted. The tiger tail had been stuffed in a few places and a wire coat hanger, unfolded, and inserted to give the tail some life when I walked. When the costume was dry cleaned, the hanger was removed and only a few bits of stuffing remained.


I decided I wouldn’t include the hanger again but would restuff the tail. I pulled out the bits of stiff stuffing and found that they were balls of crumpled newspaper, circa 1973. The date wasn’t actually visible on the pages but one can assume it would be no later than the Halloween after my first birthday. The crumpled bits were from the classified ads. One side held House for Sale advertisements and the other autos. The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States and I think it’s always disheartening to see what prices for homes used to be, not so long ago. The average home seemed to be just under $50,000. Today, the average two bedroom home in an average neighborhood is a steal at $500,000—and these can be rare. There were some luxury homes listed that went for $100,000 - $200,000. The descriptions had some real time capsule gems in them:

One average family home boasted a “paneled family room, all electric kitchen, carpeted and draped throughout.” All electric kitchens seemed to be the height of convenience and luxury in 1973. Drapes were also a bonus worth noting.

One of the more expensive homes included “two maids rooms, swimming pool, and an enclosed Jacuzzi” all for $228,000.

Another wanted you to know that it was on a center lot with “expensive trees.”

I loved the house that had “a miniature garden with little bridge to enhance deck and pool” and was “truly a house geared for today’s living!”

I was slightly confused by the home that had been “remodeled and redecorated and re-modeled.” Is the hyphen in re-modeled a distinction I would have understood if I’d been born thirty years earlier?

And I thought how could you go wrong if your home included a “cordial formal dining room.” I believe the opposite would be a hostile formal dining room. 


Before the tail gets filled with eco-friendly bamboo stuffing, the newspaper pieces will be crumpled up and returned to the proper place for Lennon to find one day and marvel.

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