Baron Von Redberry and Sir Grapefellow Cereals, 1974
Baron Von Redberry and Sir Grapefellow Cereals, 1974
Dakota Johnson attending El Royale LA premiere wearing Gucci (2018)
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insta @ shrxe
insta @ shrxe
Metallica: Ride the Lightning (1984).
Finding or making a spot for yourself in today’s mixed up world sure isn’t easy. It’s especially not easy when you grow up in a community that segregates itself from the outside world. Therefore, it was no surprise, that growing up I was a total psychological mess. The message from my family and friends was steeped in tradition, teaching me to be chaste and humble; while the outside world beckoned me with exciting music, vibrant colors and unimaginable liberties, including permission to“open my legs” so that I could experience life to the fullest.
But being a “door knob girl” (everyone got a turn) only made me feel like a loser. My beginnings in the outside world were humble enough. I had started a dressmaking business with my best friend since childhood. Although my designs and talent are far superior to hers, she brought in most of the clients, from our close-knit community, of which I was no longer really a participating member. And somehow when I did bring in clients, they mostly skipped out on paying us. Fair-weather friends who promised, they just needed a little time to pay but none of them ever did. Eventually, when my partner left to get married I had to face the fact that I was just a doormat.
Things changed when I moved back into my parent’s home. My mother imposed very simple rules on me; home by 8pm, no hanging around men or “the freaks” as she called them, and I had to become religiously observant even if that meant I was faking it. Since my only other option was to become the lover of a 55 year old woman with Gonorrhea that permanently smells like pot; I was happy to take a clean bed and home cooked meals over a life of antibiotics. - Beggars can’t be choosers.
About a month into my parental imposed and supervised rehab I met a man at scripture study. He was absolutely nothing like any of the men within my segregated community. My guy was very tall; towering over all the other men in the room and he was physically fit with giant biceps and chest that looked like it was made of steel. His appearance alone had me stammering and stuttering whenever I spoke, but what cinched the deal was I watched him drive off on large and souped-up vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle. My heart was skipping beats because I would have never imagined a man that looked like battle forged gladiator would be at a bible study. I was literally drooling and my thoughts were so obvious that I got smacked in the back of my head from my father. He said nothing to me and instead just walked past me with a subtle beckoning of his hand for me to follow. Obviously, I was only home in the physical sense while in my head I was still running around.
When I got home I risked speaking to my mother about the Roman warrior and for the first minute or so she rewarded me with a scowl. “You need to get your life in order and letting the wind whistle between your legs won’t help you,” she said. Of course my mom was right, I’m not a drug addict, alcoholic or criminal but I did return home with my proverbial tail tucked between my legs.
Financially I was in no position to take a stand against my parents with a selfish argument about being an adult. It was their home and therefore their rules. My bed was soft, the food was great and our community was offering me work. It was in my best interests to keep my desires under control but the following week I was back at the scripture study and secretly staring at my beautiful man.
12 weeks passed and I ceased on every opportunity to be where the Gladiator was. Unfortunately it wasn’t always easy because in my faith there tends to be a fair amount of segregation between the sexes. Just the same, everyone around me was starting to remark about how observant I was becoming. I didn’t want to admit it but because being religiousness was so important to my crush, I was starting to become pious too.
As it turns out his name is Roman. The things he likes include body building, boxing, drag racing and classic cars. Rock and roll, comic books and bubble gum are how I would describe his personality. On the other hand his attitude could only be summed up as “won’t take shit from anyone” and as I found out by overtly flirting, that included me. He had zero interest in loose women.
Over time I had gone from fantasies of ripping his shirt off and having him physically take me to dreaming about having children with him. I used to scream that my mother and those around me were fools and that I would never submit to man. Instead I was going to do whatever I wanted and I proved it by being just as annoying as any man hell bent on self-destruction.
My break with Roman finally came when he asked me if I would clean his garage. I can’t imagine anything more vile than having to clean a mechanic’s backroom toilet. He and his partner made half-hearten attempts at keeping the customer’s bathroom clean. On the other hand their bathroom made me gag from the stench of the urine and overflowing garbage can. But I held my breath and did the job without complaint. He inspected my work before rewarding me with $100 for my efforts and instruction to tell my father that he accepted his dinner invitation.
My thoughts were the typical woman versus man about keeping things clean. I wondered how they could do any business when everything except the repair bays were a disaster. Then I looked around and it occurred to me that this wasn’t an ordinary repair garage and they were doing something else instead. Classic cars were what they handled and I understood that they didn’t normally deal with the public, at least not in the sense like other garages, where anyone with any car gets towed or drives to the closest shop to have something repaired or tuned-up.
I chose my clothes very carefully and must have harassed my mother half a dozen times about how I should behave. She was cross at first because I had been raised to know these things. But she soon deduced that my fretting was caused by my infatuation with our coming guest, so she became bemused smirking while trying to be patient with me. I swear I was like a teenager desperately hoping to impress a boy in hopes that he might ask me out.
My dress was a simple A-line in baby blue with full sleeves and hung to my mid-calf. I accessorized it with matching stockings and strapless ballet slippers. Every instinct I had told me to go put on some serious vamp makeup but instead I only applied a light foundation. As I looked in the mirror I saw my mother’s face and for an instant it scared me. - Was I honestly becoming “one of them” just because of a man?
Roman came to the door and my father answered it while I was busy in the kitchen with my mother. The two men talked for about an hour while we got everything ready for the Friday evening dinner. When the men finally entered the room, my mom pointed at the candles and wine and told me to do the honors. It had been a few years since I had done the ritual, so I took a deep breath and somehow did a good job of it.
Sitting at the table I couldn’t take my eyes off of Roman. He was gorgeous and each time he bent his arms I could see the muscled curve of biceps pushing against his shirtsleeve like it would burst out at any moment. My mind raced with images of him wrapping them around me and I was doing a lousy job hiding my thoughts. Luckily mom was looking out for me, not only did she keep the conversations flowing, but she knew how to ask all the questions that I wanted to know.
Roman had been a bad boy; not the kind that went to jail for drugs or armed robbery; instead his crime was having a good time. He used to party on the beach, chase girls and in his own words he drank enough beer to bankrupt Budweiser. His life changed when his older cousin got drunk and killed himself in an illegal drag race; his funeral had a sealed casket.
So that’s what brought him here to the land of the boring people that devote their weekends to reading holy scriptures. He didn’t want the life that he had and yet, he admitted that he still loved drag racing, rock and roll. As for girls, he was content to only chase down the girl that he intended to marry. Unfortunately my father, who was in no hurry to see me with any man, had to chime in that he knew a matchmaker and as soon as Roman’s conversion was over he would see to it that he had a suitable wife.
When my father mentioned the matchmaker my heart skipped a joyful beat while my brain groaned in despair. A matchmaker meant that I would be considered but because my father would be involved it meant that he would make sure I wasn’t on the list. He had a high position within our community and I was a huge embarrassment to him and my family. As the dinner continued my mind argued with my heart and it was winning.
I was a loose woman, defiled by my own choice and unapologetic about all the things I had done. Worse, I had often flaunted my behavior in their faces; making it clear that I was free to do whatever I wanted to do. It was my life, my body and there was no stopping me. I had finally started to feel remorse and not just the kind of regret that comes from being broke with nowhere to go. I was starting to see myself from their perspective; I was taught to avoid the insanity of the secular world but instead like a deranged lunatic I openly embraced it. During dinner Roman was court, civil and very polite towards me. If he had any interest at all in me, he certainly wasn’t showing it.
The meal ended and the men retired to the living room to continue talking. I wanted to go to my room to be alone and I almost did exactly that. However I caught myself and went back into the kitchen to help my mother. I couldn’t talk, instead I just kept my head down and did as I was told. Blessed be good mothers because somehow my mom knew I was tormented and before we left the room she hugged me in a way that let me know she understood. I, of course, did go to my room and closed the door behind me immediately after we were done. Emotionally my attitude made absolutely no sense to me at all. I think that in total I must have had less than 10 minutes of conversation with Roman. We not only never dated but we barely spoke to each other.
Everything the modern era told me was that relationships had to be based on things like dating, shared interests and a compatible sex life. Based on that I think I could have dismissed my emotions as just infatuation and being horny. However there was the annoying factor of my parent’s arranged marriage. They literally only met once and talked for a total of 15 minutes before getting married within the month and 20 years later they’re still together. Plus this thing we call love could be strongly seen in their relationship.
At some point I fell asleep and didn’t move again until the wee hours of the morning. I was still in my dress and on top of the blankets so I got up to get undressed. A mad impulse took me and I grabbed my purse and got out my sex toy. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get into it. Roman was on my mind and no amount of imagining him naked was going to arouse me. At one point I abandoned thinking about him and filled my mind with all the perverse images of the things I had done; nothing but guilt came of them.
I got up and looked in my vanity’s mirror and ended up asking myself what was I doing? I answered myself with a deep breath and I did something I hadn’t truly done in a very long time and that was pray. It was short and simple, “I’m scared… please help.”
I’m not sure if it was my praying or the crying that followed that made me feel better. Whichever it was it gave me the strength to haul my body back to bed and reassure myself that everything would be alright. Nevertheless, I didn’t sleep all that well; my dreams were mirroring my emotional state and by the time morning came, I was spent. I felt like my heart and mind were in a fist fight with each other and the battleground was my body. Fortunately, a very strong cup of coffee seemed to broker a temporary truce between them.
I sat at the kitchen table enjoying the aroma of the drink with the warmth of its mug pressed up against my lips. My mother walked into the kitchen and the look she gave me as she walked past left me with no doubt that she knew I had been crying last night. I felt embarrassed and because I’ve never been someone that got overly emotional about anything. Fortunately instead of raising the issue with me, my mom asked me to make oatmeal for everyone. Work is cathartic, it alleviates the stress of whatever ails you but in this case making a pot of breakfast oats wasn’t enough. However, I eyed the kitchen cupboards and decided that they were long overdue for a thorough cleaning.
I had spent the morning scrubbing the entire kitchen from top to bottom; which included both the fridge and the oven. Getting the years of built up greasy gorp behind the stove proved not only to be satisfying but also rewarding. Everything sparkled and my parents were sufficiently impressed with my efforts prompting me to remark, without thinking, that I would make someone a good wife one day to which my father only raised an eyebrow and walked out of the room.
If someone could be physically hurt by a look then my dad had knocked the wind out of me. My heart and mind went back to slugging it out with each other and I stormed out of the house. I needed fresh air and to get away from the recriminations of my family. For the next 2 hours I wandered around the streets before stumbling upon an old junk shop.
In the window there was an antique sewing machine that I guessed was probably from the 1910s, an obvious treadle converted to use an electric motor. Countless times I had driven past this store and never once had I ever noticed it that it was here. However today, I was not only curious about this place but I was also intrigued by the antique textile machine. So I pushed the heavy wooden door open and was rewarded by the sound of a brass bell dangling above the entrance and the smell of dust. As I stepped inside a well worn wooden floor creaked and I felt like I was taking a step backward in time.
The shopkeeper was an elderly gentleman, perhaps in his late 80s or early 90s, and he greeted me with a beaming smile. “It’s the twelfth of April 2019 and you’re right on time,” he said to me. Older people and salesmen often have strange greetings as a way of stimulating conversations and so I ended up making a mental note that the owner of this place was both. The shop had an almost magical quality about it and all the objects were scattered about like multiple time capsules from the different decades of the 20th century. I spotted an old couch and I couldn’t resist sitting down, not realizing that I had inadvertently invited the shopkeeper to come and talk my ears off. He was quite the chatty fellow and oddly he was able to make a connection with me.
Many of the treasures were things he parents had and he was excited to point out those things that his mother used. These were his memories and they obviously meant a great deal to him so I had to ask why he wanted to part with them. His response was pure logic and also pure salesmanship.
“I’m an old man and I would rather see my souvenirs being loved by others than thrown in the garbage”
He used to be a mechanic but 30 years ago he opened this junk store in order to sell the sewing machine in the window. With a comment like that, I came to the conclusion that his chattiness was more because he was a salesman looking for a sale and very little to do with him being a lonely old man. My cleaning work did furnish me with a small amount of money but most of what I earned went to pay my debts and I only had a total of 13 dollars left to my name. So even if I wanted to, I couldn’t buy the machine.
Being a dressmaker my reason for entering the store was my interest in the vintage sewer. Therefore I can’t explain my hesitation to go over and examine the machine and it took a little coaxing from Augustus, the store owner, to do so. Its stand was a hand polished natural maple wood with 5 drawers while the actual sewing machine jet black with a beautiful gold Egyptian relief painted on the neck. The motor bore a manufacturer stamp and it was added several decades later, my guess was the late 1940s or 1950s. My fingers danced across its surface, there was something about it that spoke to me.
“This machine had 2 previous owners,” he then cleared his throat and I braced myself for his sales pitch.
“The woman that owned it before my mother lost her fiancee when the Titanic sunk in 1912. He was on route for their marriage and from what I understand he had ordered and paid for this sewing machine before boarding. - I imagine it was a kind of wedding gift to his bride.”
I suppressed a grin, he had figured out perfectly my personality and was now about to give me what promised to be the best and most entertaining sales pitch I would ever hear in my life..
“From what I understand the poor woman didn’t take the bad news very well. She ended up creating a massive quilt that depicted the life she imagined she would have had. She made squares illustrating her wedding, children, home and all else that goes with a happy marriage. Unfortunately, she shut herself in her home and died in 1929. They said it took 2 men to fold and carry out the unfinished quilt.” He then pointed to the top left drawer and told me about an unfinished tile.
The quilt square was slightly larger than my hand and absolutely beautiful. A small farmhouse with a white picket fence and an animal that resembled a goat. A small needlepoint inscription read, “Come live in a simpler time.” Regardless if Augustus’ story was real or not, I was becoming emotionally invested in this machine.
The pocket itself was simple cotton but I recognized the depiction fabric as being mostly taffeta and it then occurred to me that perhaps she had used part of her wedding dress. How very sad but in light of my recent stresses I understood that arguing with your heart can be absolutely futile. If it’s decided it loves someone then it will win over logic and common sense every time. It was this moment that I blurted out, how much for the sewing machine?
He replied “13 dollars and it’ll be delivered to your home within an hour.”
I laughed thinking he had made a joke perhaps someone had even set him up to do it but he assured me that it was indeed the price. He also said he would have given it to me for free but his mother often lectured him about how no one ever respected anything they didn’t have to pay for. It seemed important to him to let me know that his parents raised him well and he’s done alright for himself.
He truly left me with only one choice and that was to buy this textile machine and sure enough 15 minutes after I got home two delivery men came to the door. The only thing I found odd was when I mentioned how fast their service was, one of the movers responded that this delivery had been booked 2 weeks ago.
Although I had some concerns about the suspicious way I got my sewing machine, such thoughts were quickly brushed aside as I became absorbed in using it. All my money spent, I had forgotten about needing fabric and notions. Not wanting to waste any more time, I tore the sheets from the bed and proceeded to make myself a dress. There were ample tread and needles in the machine’s drawers and I skipped the need for buttons and zippers by using ties at the collar, wrists and a sash belt to draw in the waist. Four hours later I had a modest dress covering everything from my wrists down to my ankles and beautifully inspired by 1940s fashions. I was walking a fine line between creativity and the rules of my religion; but when I tried it on in the mirror, I knew my father couldn’t complain.
A light blue shirtwaist dress with gathers at the shoulder and waist helped accentuate my bust while pin-tucks across the front made the bodice look interesting. It was the first time in a long time that I felt good about how I looked.
I remembered the last time I tried dressing up to impress other people, and shivered. Their interests in in me were devoid of fashion sense. Their objective was to see me naked. My beautiful clothes stripped from me, and cast aside like a condom wrapper, thrown to the floor to be trampled on like the remnants of my dignity. For them I was but a means to satisfy selfish desires, my value determined by how wide, I could spread my legs or how much money I would pass their way. Estranged from family, at first I convinced myself I was a rebel expressing my own will, later I simply clung to the dissidence that on some level I was wanted and needed. But living such a pathetic existence, so empty and unfulfilling only drained my resolve until even facing my father’s scorn was better than living the lie.
Stepping away from the mirror, I excitedly waited for my family to come home. I could already hear mom laugh at my use of her bedroom linen, while I was certain my dad would inspect me to make sure that my only uncovered skin were my face and hands. I felt like a 4 year old child that wanted to show them my newest finger painting and have them make a fuss over it. Then,and only then, it occurred to me that they must have been in on me getting the sewing machine. How else to explain it’s weird acquisition ? It was worth much more than $13 and the delivery had been had been booked two weeks in advance.
Today had began really rough for me but I felt so much better as I prepared dinner and set the table. I practically skipped to the living-room as I heard the key in the front door. Striking a pose I stood poised for my praise but was shot in rapid succession to the head and through the heart. My mouth gaped open in shock and my head spun. It wasn’t the work of a skilled cat-burglar but a brutal assault was from my loving parents. First my father berated me for the unwelcome arrival of an old acquaintance who had been asking around the house for me. Then he noticed the new dress in his heated tirade and jumped to the conclusion that it was payment for turning a trick in his home. I couldn’t believe my ears, I was being tossed out and looking to my mother for some sort of understanding I felt the searing pain in my heart as she shook her head asking, “why do you do the things you do.”
Well I was never going to stay where I wasn’t wanted so I headed to my room to pack. My options were extremely limited as I was flat broke. Those same losers who were now looking for me, would surely take me in. But my only real hope was a shelter. As I grabbed a suitcase from the front closet my father yelled that it wasn’t mine.
“Then keep my damn sewing machine!” The words flew out of my mouth like viper spitting venom.
As I gathered my meager belongings, my room took on a surreal feeling. The pink walls seemed to stretch on forever and the white ticking on my mattress kind of billowed out like a cloud. I was an emotional wreck and had lost my grip on reality. Every article of clothing I still owned I slammed into the suitcase and then I tore off the one I made and threw it at my parents who were standing in the doorway of my former room. If they didn’t want me, then I wanted nothing to do with them.
While my father averted his eyes to avoid seeing me in a state of undress, my mother began to notice the changes in the room. Not only the sewing machine but also that I had stripped off my bed linen. She stooped to pick up the dress at their feet and dumbfound, pushed it in my father’s face moving his hand away from his eyes. “Look, look at the sewing machine” she said and my dad gave an aggressive glance in my direction as I wiggled into a skirt. His only words were to demand how long it would have taken to make the dress and where did I get the machine.
My family didn’t trust me and their trust wasn’t going to come easy. Once again my past behavior had come back to embarrass them and there was nothing I could do about. I couldn’t hide or erase the things I had done. Nor the sense of betrayal that they felt towards me. It’s a messed up world that can wear down even the strongest with its daily brainwashing attack. Fortunately love is loyalty and it was their love of me that agreed to give me a second chance. Still their fear of my betrayal lingered, we can forgive but forgetting is another story.
My parents denied having any involvement in how I got the sewing machine. So I had indeed gotten it for $13 but certainly the deliverymen must have been mistaken about the early booking. My father had managed to save face in our community by proudly saying that when temptation showed up looking for me, I was safely at home sewing like a good woman. The community showed their support by donating bed sheets and fabrics. Within three weeks I was making, fixing and altering clothes for a fair number of people, in addition to my ongoing cleaning at the garage. I had no free time left for any possible trouble, which made everyone happy, including me.
Roman became a weekly dinner guest as part of his religious conversion. Dad wanted to make certain he was fully prepared for life in our community. To this effect, despite my almost always being busy in the kitchen, I kept my ears open to what was being discussed. I had discovered, when I was cleaning his garage, if I kept my conversation on scripture that he was an avid talker. His favorite topic was how our faith could provide wisdom on how to live in this mixed up world.
It seemed that as long as I kept my head down and behaved myself, most people were willing to be nice to me. But it was only lip service for some, loose lips, prone to gossip. For outsiders it’s impossible to imagine that a job making 1950s style bowling shirts for Roman’s mechanics could be so controversial. But among the pious, the only thing they could see was me fitting shirtless men.
Oh how my rebellious nature wanted to lash out at them. Thankfully my mother had a simple solution to the problem. It didn’t totally stop the talking behind my back, but it did take away the titillation of the subject. My sewing machine was brought to our place of worship, where I given a small place in the basement in which to conduct my business. Women could drop in anytime to see me, but men were strictly by appointment only. And gentlemen would have to wear at least undershirts. But as a good seamstress I never needed them to take off any of their clothes. Furthermore, I was always going to be chaperoned by either my mother or by one of the spiritual leaders in our congregation.
Their shirts weren’t for bowling but were actually Rockabilly costumes for a themed car meet. The garage was going to showcase a 1950s car that they had rebuilt and the shirts fit both the need to stand out and provided advertisement like a sponsor for a bowling league. When they showed up for their measuring, the 2 biggest gossips in my neighborhood also showed. Perhaps I needed help settling in. Again mom came to the rescue, she showed them where I kept my fabrics and had them organize everything. It was a far cry from their belief that they would just stand around and watch or worse have me serve them coffee as they barraged me with inane personal questions.
Cab Calloway (1907-1994)
Marilyn Monroe with Joe DiMaggio during their stay in Florida (1961). Marilyn is sporting her very casual self. She often wore a headscarf with dark sunglasses. She is wearing a light plum color (possibly Pucci top) with a jersey, lined with silk. She has a makeup-free face, with likely only Vaseline on.
Elsie Tarron (1903-1990)
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A slow decay. Former pride of the Milwaukee Road railroad system in Juda, WI; this once high traffic depot (for its time) held Passenger rooms, an Agent office, Baggage room and a twin outhouse.
Some years back, when I first came across Juda and this depot, I got photos of this depot on a Sunday when walking around would not cause issues. I came across the dual outhouse, still with some of the Milwaukee Road Orange color on the old fading wood.
When this photo was taken, I had been trying to gather some drone shots and first learned of the “gimbal overload error” and thus snapped some images to document it’s aging. The roof is suffering great loss, mostly over eaves and still shows a study chimney for the old wood stove I now presume gone.
A great showing of the building craft of the day as this building once saw traffic of diesel, & steam - Customers from far and wide via motorcar, horse, and stage coach. The structure standing mostly from the late 1800 certainly until current time. Albeit with many notable changes in it’s time to “ modernize” from a booming space to a passing outbuilding of a rural lumber yard.