Let Yourself Go!


Booty from my latest thrift shop expedition:

Long have I wished that I had not cut up a certain snazzy vintage LP cover  to make a crappy collage in 1996. I’ve regretted that I hacked up the hipster-ish lettering,  and that I can no longer enjoy the sight of a guy who looks like a golf pro at some municipal course in Philadelphia WEARING A SPORTS COAT in a swingin’ romp with a doll in a beehive hairdo. That kind of cultural cluelessness is so authentic; I should never have desecrated it with a pair of scissors.

And then, last Thursday, I was browsing through the old records in a Westchester thrift shop and I found ANOTHER copy of the LP! “Let Yourself Go!”  is a “Limited Collector’s Album” of various Columbia artists (Julie Andrews, Jerry Vale, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, Johnny Mathis, etc.) created exclusively for American Express. American Express: remember how they used to OWN the traveler’s check biz? How they were synonymous with “jet setting” (sort of)?  Hence, “Let Yourself Go!”

I made that high-pitched squealing sound that you make when you go to a thrift shop and find something brain-freezing multi-delicioso (I know you know what I’m talking about) and I might have danced a little bit. I wondered if I’d ever be able to communicate to Top Cat exactly how wondrousand brain-freezingly multi-delicioso it is to have bought this record twice in my life. (When I got home, I tried: but I don’t think he understands my worshipful feelings when it comes to thrift shops.) I plan to spend many years gazing fondly at this artifact of the “trying to be hip un-hip mid-1960s“, a time and esthestic that I have very complicated and unresolved feelings for.

(Where were YOU in 1965? I was in 4th grade, madly in love with George Harrison —  I was sure I’d grow up to be a hip beehived jet setter; sadly, I’ve never had “big” hair, I didn’t marry a Beatle or anyone with an English accent,  I never got to wear Go-Go boots and, even sadder, IT WILL NEVER BE THE 1960s AGAIN.)

I also bought an old book about D-Day because it’s a good book on a topic I am quite interested in, and because there was an old bookmark left inside it:

go1 003

This is Mr. Saunders’ boarding pass for a flight from London to Rome on April 9th, year unspecified. I find this a rather poetic bit of ephemera. (My standards aren’t very high.)

Next, I went through all the old cookbooks — fanned the pages and shook them — but nothing interesting fell out. I used to get a lot of good stuff by shaking old cookbooks (by “good stuff” I mean 30-year old theatre tickets, photographs of pet parrots, old Valentines…for some reason, in the olden days women used to tuck personal items in their favorite cook books) but excavating anything good from cook books these days is getting harder and harder.

Then I took my treasures up to the cash register and forked over my $2.00 to a very sweet young guy who is the first person under the age of 65 I’ve ever seen running the register in the 15 years I’ve been haunting this particular thrift shop. I was too bedazzled by my good fortune to think to stop and quiz him how he got my dream job: managing a Salvation Army Thrift Shop. (Why do I continue to miss opportunities for a story? Why?)

Anyhoo. It was a very good day at the thrift shop. And the best part was that they had put up Christmas decorations, and were playing a radio station that was doing wall-to-wall Christmas carols, and it all struck just the right chord of melancholy and optimismcheerfulness and pathos,  that any great thrift shop should achieve. Thus:


Nestled in  between the sorrow and the used shoes, the old fur coats and the second chances: I could LIVE here.

10 comments to Let Yourself Go!

  • Jacquelyn

    you’re so funny…..I want to send you my cookbooks to shake out.
    They ARE trippy….being from the 60′s….Peg Bracken to Steven Gaskin.

    Next to dryer sheets, supermarket shampoo, certain candle shops………the smell of thrift stores I could not live with.

  • Shelley

    In 1965 I was in the 7th grade, wearing mini-skirts, textured stockings (right on the cusp of panty hose!), Carnaby hats, white lipstick…and wishing for some Go-Go boots (which I sadly never got either).

    My heartthrobs were the Monkees (which one varied from day to day), Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere and the Raiders), Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits), Donovan, and David McCallum and Sean Connery (too old for me at 12 to really be madly in love, but James Bond was quite sexy and hip nonetheless). He’s aged like an extremely fine wine, and remains on my list today! An eclectic mix to be sure.

    I leaned more toward shag haircuts and Twiggy painted-on eyelashes than “big hair”, and loved the hip 60′s and could not wait to grow up to really enjoy them…of course by then the hipness was gone, the hippies had arrived…and I was still too young for Woodstock too!

  • I was Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed! Wanted to look like Jean Shrimpton not Twiggy. I wanted a black wall in my bedroom so I could make it into a collage, ‘No… it’ll make you depressed.’
    Whattt….you mean more than depressed than I already was? The Beatles lived and sang in the very next town to me, yet I hadn’t the cash to get there! In love with Paul McCartney, I wore black polo-necked jumpers, mini skirts, ballet-flats, straightened my hair on the ironing board! I did manage to go backstage to see Gerry and the Pacemakers and kissed Gerry without having to stand on tip-toe…no…I wasn’t so tall, he was so short! We sang ‘Ferry across the Mersey’ all the way home.

  • Suzanne B

    I was in kindergarten then. I remember go go boots, in fact I got my own pair for Christmas.
    Loved those – wore them to death.

    I haven’t had a good thrift store score recently, I’m overdue for that feeling.

  • I was in 4th grade too.. just moved back to the U.S. from West Africa. Did not know who the Beatles were, wore short dresses but they were not cool yet at my elementary school. Within two years I was wearing fishnet stockings and short leather skirts like the rest of my classmates. We must have looked like a bunch of tiny hookers on the playground..Holly Chernin, the meanest girl at the bus stop wore white lipstick. I can still remember her thin evil lips.

  • I was 9 in 1965 and had a beloved pair of canvas Keds with the Beatles faces and signatures on them.
    Anyone else have a pair?

  • I was twelve and in seventh grade. I think I was not present. I mean, I didn’t care about the fashions, didn’t care about the BEATLES! I loved their music; I just didn’t know who, what, where, when, or how about anything. I lived in a fog. I just wanted to be in my own world. Hmm, I’m pretty much still that way.

  • Maryann

    Sigh. I was almost the exact same age as you, Vivian, but, as Timaree so poetically put it, I was not present. (And not because I wanted to be in my own world, hence the “sigh”.) You were so much more aware of your world (you still are) and I really wish I had been/was that way! I am wistful for everything that I missed out on noticing in my own life… The good news is, I get to re-experience it in a way every time you talk about your life. I am grateful for that! :) As for thrift stores, I believe I know *exactly* how you felt when you found that LP, and I long to make similar discoveries every time I go to the thrift stores by me. Alas, it has been quite some time since I have made what I call a “heart racing” find. Still, your blog gives me hope, and inspires me to go back out there and try again!

  • mo

    1965? wow, so very long ago. well, i was either completing my freshman year of college or beginning my sophomore year, depending on the time of the year. i was already keeping track of the Beatles hits on top ten radio by jotting them down almost daily in my diary. i only discovered this fact within the last couple of years when i was pulling all my old journals together into one place. hadn’t remembered that i’d kept a diary or journal that far back. i was definitely in love with George, but Ringo was a close 2nd. i had also just finished wearing my milwaukee back brace (for multiple scoliosis) after wearing it for 3 years in high school and into my first year of college. i was in and out of love, and that fall or possibly the next i joined the USO to entertain servicemen from Great Lakes Naval Base who came up to Milwaukee on leave. yes, i remember those days quite well ;)

    i had long straight hair, wore miniskirts, but never did wear go-go boots. also wore heavy black eyeliner, de rigueur for those days, lol.

  • Els

    Place: Carmel, California
    Age: 13
    Go-go boots, check.
    White lipstick, check.
    Mini-skirts (Mary Quant, please), check.
    Beatlemania in full swing, absolutely…their newest album, Help, was on my hi-fi every day.
    Shindig on television every afternoon after school, you BET.
    John was my choice, followed closely by George. Never could stand Paul…still can’t. :-)
    Two years later, I was filmed as part of the crowd at the Monterey Pop Festival. Teeniebopper days were behind me, I was building a head of steam and moving rapidly into full hippie mode.
    No one ever really managed to capture the feel of that era on film, though Monterey Pop and Woodstock came close, allowing us glimpses of what it was like to be full of hope and our own immortality. But 1969 kicked all that in the head, changing the direction of hearts and minds for decades. Oh, don’t get me started (too late!)

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