Thursday, 8 November 2018

REMEMBERING OUR SIXTIES FURNITURE [NO SPACE TOYS]

Shamelessly unrelated to space toys, of which there have been quite a few this week, this is one of my occasional posts about nostalgia, which I enjoy writing and hopefully some of you enjoy reading.

As I said the other day I remember the 'stuff' from my past clearly. Just not the people moving around it.

One area I recall vividly is the stuff my Folks had in the house and here are a few random recollections:

The Bureau - this was a strange bit of furniture. Sloped at the front like a roof with a chest of drawers underneath. Like half a wooden house. The neat thing was that the sloped front opened out to create a flat desk. Inside the space behind it were slots and mini-drawers filled with everything my Parents needed to write a letter. Pens [Parker], paper [Basildon Bond], paper clips, stapler, envelopes, blue airmail pad [Lion brand], blotting paper, indian ink, stamps, stamp wetter, green shield stamps and lots of old mail stuffed into slits and slots. To use the desk you pulled up a chair and sat down. I don't think I ever wrote a letter on it but the whole thing fascinated me. I was always intrigued by the fact its name also cropped up in the full name of the FBI!

Monk's Seat: this was another peculiar bit of wooden furniture. It was made of something like mahogany I think. It was very dark wood and it was polished a lot. The odd thing was that the top could be slid down the back to reveal a bench like seat below. This was also a handy storage container for more stuff. I never saw anyone sat in the seat, certainly not a monk thank God. The top was always in position and that's where my parent's kept the GPO dial telephone. The one I recall was beige and I completely adored the motion and sound of dialling. Next to the phone was a money box on which my Dad had written in capitals 'Pay Up or Shut Up!'. I think this was aimed at my chatty older siblings since I didn't have any money of my own!

Deeply carved What Not: I don't know what else to call this. Its one of the very few things I have from my Parent's house and its in my own room now. Its basically a wooden cube with ornately carved half-sides and a similarly carved top. On the top centre is a flat circle on which something could be stood. The half-sides allow something to be displayed in the 'cube'. Maybe plants or maybe books? It stands on a column ending in three small legs. Very gothic-looking indeed and straight out of a Hammer Horror.

Flintlock lighter: there were tons of fancy table fag lighters and upright ashtrays in the house. Smoking was culturally sound back then and everyone over the age of 10 seemed to puff on something. I wanted a pipe but I never got one. The flintlock lighter was a pirate's pistol stood on its own wooden stand. When taken up and the trigger pulled it would emit a flame for lighting a woodbine. It was an authentic bit of kit and I adored hefting it and pulling the trigger. A catalogue classic it was the first thing you saw on the small table in what was called the Breakfast Room. Not sure why. I don't recall having brekkers in there. It was next to the galley kitchen.

Knight in Armour Fire Dogs: not sure if that's the right name but I'm talking about those iron tools which were used for poking fires and picking up coal. There were several around the place as a few rooms had open fires or enclosed ones behind glass doors - rayburns?. The fire tools stood upright behind a large iridescent metal Knight who guarded the hearth. It weighed a ton that thing and  was typical of how Knights of old were part of the average household back then: on the walls, on the fireplace and on the telly.

Coat hooks or cloakroom: lets say coat hooks as it wasn't a room as such. The family's coats were all hung up on a line of about 10 hooks. These were on the wall in a recess in the hallway under the stairs. A half open stairwell, where many things got dumped beneath the coats - motorbike helmets, brollies, shoes and so on. I think the bureau ended up there too. One side of the recess was the door to the cellar. There were so many coats hung up - there were six people after all - that you could easily disappear just by standing behind them, which I often did during the frequent battles I had with my two older brothers. A neat trick was to stand behind a long coat and put your arms into the sleeves. In this way you could launch a sudden attack should one of the enemy be stood facing you!

That's it for now. More furniture tales to come ... if you want!

What do you remember?

19 comments:

  1. We had a bureau, but nobody ever seemed to use it! Teak furniture filled our house, my Mum was fond of it! I've still got a couple of her teak animal ornaments on display!

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    1. ha ha, the unused bureaus! I wonder if anyone wrote anything on them ever Kev. I know those teak animals too. I can clearly see a gazelle made of wood in our house!

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  2. I've lasting memories of a specific household appliance, Woodsy. It was our Hoovermatic Twin Tub. As a nipper I was captivated but its metallic blue hatch, which in my mind, looked like it could be the hatch to a spacecraft, or even a launch facility hatch for Thunderbird 1. I was a fan of this curious rumbling space age box, not to mention the calming smell of fresh laundry that always accompanied it :)

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    1. I love that Tone. Great memory. Yes. An apollo hatch! Ha ha. My folks wasing machine had a plastic programme 'card' that determined what cycle it did. I loved slotting that card in!

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  3. I think my dresser is from the late 60s or early 70s. I remember our humidifier I had as a youngster, beige top unit, brown water tub, nozzle that sat on top to direct the mist. I remember the dehumidifier we had that sat not too far from the giant Zenith console TV with pull out controls hidden. The dehumidifier was faux wood grain plastic and had this huge slow rotating belt, like a scotch scrubber pad, that soaked up the water and pulled it past the fan to moisturize the air. Both of those are long gone. I do have 1 of the 2 plastic chairs we had, sadly my parents tossed the orange one years back without telling me. The Mrs has latched onto the blue/turquoise one. It is definitely from the 60s, well used and as good as it was new. This is the shade http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-CQo27fjmgek/T_yaMg5bmxI/AAAAAAAAACA/Zj-2hi77ji0/s1600/tumblr_m5ybqkFp2S1rz9px8o1_500.jpg but the legs on ours are just 2 U shaped pieces that cross and are secured overlapping in the middle. Tough chair as it can hold my weight still and I'm 230lbs but 6'2" so I don't look it. I can send pic of my actual one if you want.

    The orange was this shade https://static.wixstatic.com/media/4c9b57_3d6f944a501741568c9789426997854d~mv2_d_3024_4032_s_4_2.jpg/v1/fill/w_500,h_500,al_c,q_90/file.jpg

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    1. Very 2001 that chair Lance! Yep send a piccy please. I love the fact you had both a humidifier and dehumidifier at home! Didn't they compete?

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  4. I've still got quite few items of furniture from when I was a child. A sideboard, which my parents GAVE to a relative back around 1981, but which I BOUGHT back from him in 1993; a chair from my bedroom, two dining room chairs, a wardrobe, a bamboo table, a wicker chair and matching mini-ottoman (I suppose you'd call it), a display cabinet, a wooden wall shelf thingie, quite a number of pictures and ornaments, and - wait for it - one of those very writing bureaus you mention. I remember it being delivered in the early '60s, and it served in the living-rooms of four houses before being moved to my bedroom in the early '80s. I consider them all members of the family.

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    1. Great memories Kid. Do you still use that bureau? You did well getting that sideboard back even if money changed hands. Hopefully not much. Reminds me of how the National Trust getting back items for the homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I wonder if they got everything.

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    2. Offered him £30 for it. As he got it for nothing, he wasn't going to knock it back. The writing bureau is in constant use, but not for writing. It's beside my bed with the lid down, upon which I place my cups of tea and books, etc. I keep comics in the drawer, and in the 'cupboard' under the drawer.

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    3. That sounds like a great match, a bureau and comics Kid!

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  5. Good to read this great missal Paul, and it got me thinking about the furniture in my home.

    For example, The Bureau – As a child we all lived in my Grandmother’s house, and there was a Bureau there. Like some of the earlier replies above, this had served in at least three previous houses. When we moved to our late parents’ home, Grandmother and the bureau came with us! It is how happily serving at my bothers home. When we moved to our current home, we needed something like a bureau for our own stuff. So Sharon and I managed to buy a new one… And it definitely exudes that 60’s home vibe!

    The Knight in Armour Fire Companion Set – in 1967, our old companion set [from the 1930’s I think] finally fell apart. So my parents decided to get one from a mail order catalogue, it was either from “Kays” or the “Brian Mills” companies. I remember sitting on the sofa with my family all pondering over which one to get, and I suggested we got the Knight. Everyone seemed to like this choice, so the Knight it was. After spending many years out of sight, not used, sad and neglected, he now lives in my home. Polished to as new condition, and very much on display, he guards one of my loudspeakers, and is very happy in his new job.

    Coat hooks or cloakroom – This is something that was built into our home, which was constructed in 1990! – Like with the Bureau, it gives off that 60’s vibe. And to be honest, it’s very useful too. No home should be without one…

    Lastly, the Cocktail Cabinet – in 1964, my parents saved up for a beautiful Cocktail Cabinet. When you open it, the top part is similar a wind-up jewellery box, revealing mirrors, and through clever use of leavers the whole top and front, deploys up like something out of Thunderbirds. After our Mother passed away, this was also one of the pieces of furniture that has stayed in the family, and now lives in my dining room. It also came complete with a full set of contents… None of us, including me, drink much alcohol, but I can appreciate a 40-year-old Whisky, or Navy Rum and a few other vintage liqueurs on a Christmas or other special occasion.

    Casting an eye over my home, I’d like to think that its tastefully furnished, contemporary, and practically laid out. But I’ve also tried to put in little hints that hark back to that wonderful time when we were children of the 60’s and Neil Armstrong was yet to land on the Moon.

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    1. My sideboard has a cocktail cabinet, which works in the same way as you describe. There's the cocktail cabinet, three drawers underneath, and a cupboard on either side. No doubt it's older than me. There's a photo of it on my blog somewhere. Just type 'sideboard' or 'Neil Armstrong' into the search box and the relevant post should pop up.

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    2. Beautiful memories Bill. You have a knight too! A true fire guard! And you still have a bureau. There should be an owners club for them! Don't recall a cocktail cabinet at my parent's house in the Sixties. Alcohol was part of daily life and my Dad had a bar built for the TV room. Like you it would not have been important for me but my Dad loved a drink and behind that bar was his personal space. He'd serve me Canada dry and Mum a snowball. My big brother's had Heineken and Newky Brown I think. No idea what happened to that bar. It was big!

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    3. I loved your post on the sideboard Kid. I left a comment but my internet cuts out when its windy at the mo. It was windy so the comment vanished. I love the display you have , a mego batmobile and Vampirella! Yay!

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  6. Before we were married, back in the early 70's my girlfriend and I went on a trip from London to Brussels. At a flea market we bought two cane backed, English made chairs from around 1900. We carried them to the railway station and a porter found on old fridge cardboard carton to put them in and they traveled back to London with us as checked luggage. They stayed in my parents house when we left for the US to get married and were used by my parents until they passed in 2008. The chairs were then shipped to the USA along with the rest of my things and have been used as the head of the dining room table since.

    Just this morning as I baby sit my 4 1/2 month old grandson he rolled off his play mat and looked up at one of the chairs. As I held him he reached up to touch the leg, then the cane back before I sat him on the chair where he reached to touch the wood of the table.

    For the first time the fourth generation of my family has sat in this chair. Aside from many vases, curios and knick-knacks these chairs are the only furniture associations I have with my parents home where I grew up.

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    1. Lovely story Terran. Four generations eh. Now your Grandson. Superb. Those chairs are special. Will you be sat in them for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner?

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    2. We are guests else where for Thanksgiving and Christmas may be in Connecticut, weather permitting.

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    3. Christmas in Connecticut! I'm sure that's a movie!

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    4. Come to think of it Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in white Christmas the remake of Holiday Inn could be it.

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