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Ann Stardy and Tom Brown, drinking and smoking in the Pfister Hotel barber shop, from a 35mm color slide, 1957.
Give Grandma a jelly-jar glass of Miller High-Life, and she might start to get a bit tipsy, don’t you know. Sometime in the 50s in Wisconsin, there was a party — I’ve got more pictures to upload — that prove there’s a big gap in what partying means today. In the 21st century, partying is what kids do. People get wasted on their 21st birthday, get their first job and drink every Friday and Saturday in bars with loud, untalented rock bands screaming into microphones, and sleep the bender off every Sunday. By the time they’re thirty, those childish ways are behind them and partying now means a $12 martini with a $20 steak and a jazz trio in the corner. The fifties were less age-centric in their parties: Kids did their partying when they had the money and time to do so, but grown-ups didn’t see getting plastered as a childish activity. If you’re in your thirties, ask your parents for stories about your grandparents: unless they were teetotalers, they probably had raucous parties…which, for the time period, meant listening to mildly naughty comedy records, playing cards, air so smoky it turned blue, drinking so much that someone had to be carried home, and driving all over town without fear of being stopped by the cops unless you actually hit something (then sitting bleary-eyed through church the next day). No wet t-shirt contests, no noise ordinance violations, no stepping over people sleeping on the floor at 11am who were too drunk to drive, no vomit on the front porch — fifty years makes all the difference.
Especially the wallpaper and drapes. The modernism of the sixties and seventies have ruined our decor. In the fifties, you could install flocked wallpaper without any sort of irony. Today, we might think that they had to be drunk to buy that wallpaper back then…they probably were, but it had nothing to do with the decor.