Blog

Head-Shops

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

My youth was the post-hippie era. I like to think I spent my youth as what I refer to as a fringe hippie. The culture was definitely changing when I left high school in the early 70s to make my way in the world.

Bell bottoms were still in style as were peasant blouses. My hair was long and straight, parted in the middle, often clipped to keep my hair out of my face. It was medium brown in color, a far cry from current white mane. Paisley prints were starting to drift out of style.

Album covers were less psychedelic/flower child and more artist-centric. There seemed to be less emphasis on psychedelic drugs but marijuana was still extremely prevalent and so were the head-shops.

What’s a head-shop, you say? Well, the answer might be very different coming from someone else. I never experimented with drugs. I never smoked pot, although many people around me did. It always made me uncomfortable and went against all that I had been raised to believe. Somehow, I managed to navigate the times without it. But back to head-shops.

Head-shops sold drug paraphernalia of course. They were central to the holdover from the counter culture of the 60s. I loved walking into a good head shop. It was like entering an entirely different world.

Lighting was purposely dim, with black-lights illuminating the space, allowing ‘velvet posters’ printed with fluorescent inks to take on a life of their own. If your clothing had any white in the fabric, the black lights would illuminate the white. The woody scent of incense would permeate your hair, clothes, and nose.

Here you could buy black light bulbs, posters, incense burners and incense, bongs, books, perfume, oils, lava lamps, strobe lights, and of course all things pot-related. I am sure you could buy things I was much too naive to realize.

My Air Force dorm room was filled with purchases from local head-shops. I had a huge brandy glass shaped terrarium, blacklight posters and of course black lights to illuminate them. I had carved soapstone trinket boxes, a lava lamp and incense wafted through the air.

My chosen fragrance was musk oil. I am trying to remember the scent that was once the only fragrance I wore, but it escapes me now. But somehow I still remember the dancing Snoopy “Feeling Groovy” poster that hung on my door. Funny how our memory works.

Blog

Winsome Wednesday: Retro Toys of My Youth

Courtesy of Pixabay

Day 203

I am working on clearing more clutter and my mental clutter took me on a tour of the retro toys I used to enjoy. Those thoughts, of course, made me wonder if any of them still existed.

The first thing that popped up was a product called Dip It Fantasy Film. The product came with wire, instructions, and cans of colorful liquid plastic. I made a lot of plastic flower arrangements with this gooey gunk. It was great fun. The only problem was that they were dust collectors. Also, after a while, because the wire was so malleable, the flowers could loose the tension a bit. I was quite surprised this was still available for purchase. (I also seem to remember it having some fumes associated with it.)

Then, who can forget Super Elastic Bubble Plastic? It came in a metal tube. You squeezed the plastic (a misnomer) on to your hand, inserted a straw and proceeded to blow large plastic bubbles. This product was taken off the market because it contained toxic materials. I think the product has been re-engineered and is again for sale, but maybe not with the same noxious fumes?

One of the toys I enjoyed the most was actually my brother’s. The Girder and Panel Building set allowed for the use of girders to build tall buildings. The kit contained snap on panels that looked like windows or doors. I loved building with it. My brother’s idea for fun was of course different. After building a sky scraper, he would take a model airplane with a detachable nose, fill it with marbles and then ‘bomb’ the building.

Then there was the Christmas our dad bought a family (questionable) game to play. It was an electric football game. The game was large, shaped like a football field with two opposing football teams. The football was a wad of tightly woven cotton. The players ran the field by vibration. The base was plugged in, causing the field to operate and the players to run and tackle simply by running into each other. Of course, there was nothing to keep them from turning and running backwards.

My last retro toy is of course my favorite — Chatty Cathy. I remember mine like it was yesterday. She wore a dress with a red velvet top and a white eyelet skirt, white socks and red shoes. She had freckles and her auburn (not red) hair was in ponytails. That was the first time I had ever heard the word ‘auburn’. The doll had a string at the back of her neck and when pulled, Chatty Cathy would talk. I remember very well every phrase and every inflection of her voice. The fabulous June Foray was the voice of Chatty Cathy. A few years back, my daughters bought me a vintage working Chatty Cathy and I also have a miniature Chatty Cathy talking Christmas tree ornament. And because she is my favorite toy, I am attaching a short documentary on the creation and history of my beloved doll. If you loved a Chatty Cathy doll, you will enjoy it.

That’s it for today’s trip down memory lane. What vintage toys did you enjoy as a child? Were they dangerous?