60s fashion

April 30, 2005

April 30, 2005

Jack and Mary deNove, my sister Janet, me and John
Jack and Mary Denove, my sister Janet, me and John

I met Mary Bennett my first quarter at UCLA, when we both snuck into an encounter group for depressed Sproul Hall residents. (Neither of us were depressed enough, according to their survey – we must have hidden it well.)

Mary Bennett, Cowgirl. in the Sand, circa 1969
Mary Bennett, Cowgirl. in the Sand, circa 1969

Ten minutes into group, we cured our depression by deciding to be roommates. I did take the precaution of checking out her LP collection first. When I discovered that – like me – she owned Mason Williams’ obscure first album, it was a done deal. I’ve never regretted it.

Mary (bridesmaid) and Jack at my wedding in 1975
Mary (bridesmaid) and Jack at my wedding in 1975

Mary met future husband Jack Denove before I met John but they married five years later. Apparently they weren’t quite as impulsive. Since Mary and Jack went to Loyola Law School and J was in law school at USC, they were one of the first couples we socialized with. Mary and I served as bridesmaids in each other’s weddings and John eventually joined their law firm – now Bennett, Cheong, Denove and Rowell.

Jack & Mary

I didn’t know Karen Stuart well but I liked her. John worked for her husband, Tony Stuart, before joining Mary and Jack. In this instance, my first instinct was correct. I shouldn’t have let Karen read my book without doing a rewrite. Since writers generally get only one shot – one read – I should have made sure it was as good as it could be. This is Not My Beautiful Wife, the novel in question (title taken from the Talking Heads song Once in a Lifetime)  wasn’t ready.  Karen was kind and gave me  useful notes, but this once in a lifetime opportunity was over.

John, Jack, Mary, Becky Miller Cheong (Wilkie Cheong's wife - Wilkie must be behind the camera - me)
John, Jack, Mary, Becky Miller Cheong (Wilkie Cheong’s wife – Wilkie must be behind the camera – me)

Maybe one of these days I’ll pick it up and try again.

April 28, 1968


April 28, 1968

My nuclear family circa 1968
My nuclear family circa 1968

It’s difficult if not impossible to convey what life was really like in 1968 to people who weren’t even born then. IMHO, most films set in the sixties are cliched embarrassments. The best was “The Big Chill” but even that was nothing like my reality.

I never considered running away. My father made a concerted effort to stay close. He would sit beside me and listen attentively to both sides of a new Beatles album – not to censor my music but to stay connected to my world. He took me – my opinions, my passions – seriously. Since I was still a self-involved child, it never occurred to me to exhibit similar interest in his music. My loss.

My father and I on my Confirmation Day.
My father and I on my Confirmation Day.

Baby boomers like me – teenagers in the late sixties – weren’t all about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll although “revolution” was in the air. My friend JoAnn, an aspiring model, had been obsessed with appearances – her personal revolution was reflected in a new craving for more authentic relationships.

My friend JoAnn
My friend JoAnn

The times exerted a powerful effect on Tal Pomeroy, who drew a high number in the draft lottery. One of the smartest boys at Wilcox, he was successfully challenged in his efforts to help me grasp the periodic table of the elements.  He didn’t take a traditional route to his eventual M.D. like he might’ve in the fifties. Instead, he criss-crossed the US, worked all manner of jobs and got to know all kinds of people. Along the way, he handwrote long beautiful letters which could never be condensed to a text or tweet.

Tal Pomeroy
Tal Pomeroy

I’m grateful I came of age in the sixties. Were they better or worse than other times? I don’t know – but I doubt any other era could be as interesting.

Coming of age in the sixties

April 24, 1966

APril 24, 1966

Santa Cruz Beach postcard
Santa Cruz Beach postcard

This is another one of those splendid spring days Sandy and I shared, when not a whole lot happened. I  probably wouldn’t recall it at all, if I hadn’t written it down (and I think the beach photos posted here might’ve been taken today). I can’t imagine what we found so hilarious about “Rockin’ Robin” – we were probably punchy after a day in the sun and surf with our best friend. As usual, my perennial fear made it into the mix – “I bored her” – but Sandy’s mother was sweet and reassuring.  We were both barely fifteen years old. It was a good time to be young in a city like Santa Cruz.

Sandy on the beach
Sandy on the beach

For whatever reason, my family didn’t go to the beach a lot, at least not that I remember. Our family outings – rare on Sundays, a working day for my Lutheran pastor father – more often than not took us to Mt. Cross (a Lutheran Bible camp in the mountains) or a local tour of model homes. We weren’t looking to buy – we lived in the parsonage, which was owned by the church – but we loved to pretend we were moving into our own house. My sisters and I competed over who got the best imaginary bedroom.

Me circa 1966
Me circa 1966

I haven’t been to Santa Cruz in decades but I’m sure – like the rest of the Silicon Valley – it’s nothing like the Santa Cruz I remember. I invite anyone who reads this and has been there recently to share their impressions about how it’s changed – what it’s like today.

Sandy and me on the beach.
Sandy and me on the beach.

Is the boardwalk still there?

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

The roller coaster?

Roller Coaster

March 7, 1980


March 7, 1980

My favorite bridesmaid dress - for the Mary Bennett/Jack de Nove nuptials in 1980
My favorite bridesmaid dress – for the Mary Bennett/Jack Denove nuptials in 1980

I served as a bridesmaid six times – all after being a bride myself – and this was by far the best dress. I was far crueler to the five women who participated in my wedding (below). The lace overlay, garden party hats, puffed sleeves – any one of these might be an unpardonable fashion sin – put them all together and this is what you get.

The dresses I forced my bridesmaids to wear (l to r - Joyce Knutsen Salter, Sandy Walker Hegwood, Janet Knusten McCann, Mary Bennett deNove, Denise Gail Williams) Picture on the left
The dresses I forced my bridesmaids to wear (l to r – Joyce Knutsen Salter, Sandy Walker Hegwood, Janet Knusten McCann, Mary Bennett Denove, Denise Gail Williams) Picture on the left

In my defense, the year was 1975 and I’d go with five different colors again today. I doubt my bridesmaids wore their dresses again aside from the occasional costume party.

Me as bridesmaid, Sam as flower girl, in emerald-green themed dresses.
Me as bridesmaid, Sam as flower girl, in themed dresses.

While it’s an honor to be asked to serve as a bridesmaid – and I don’t mind admitting I was miffed on a few occasions when I thought I’d be an integral part of the wedding party only to find myself seated on the brides’s side with the rest of her friends who didn’t rate – it’s not all fun and games.

Wedding

Engaging with the bride
Engaging with the bride
My sister Joyce put me in this dress for her 1980 wedding (with Denise Gail Williams)
My sister Joyce put me in this dress for her 1980 wedding (with Denise Gail Williams)

Standing up for your friend as she/he exchanges vows with the person they plan to spend their lives with becomes uncomfortable when you’ve got a strong intuition this union won’t survive the sniffles, forget until death do us part. I’ve been there and I’m usually right.

Other pictures of me in Mary Bennett's bridesmaid dress
Other pictures of me in Mary Bennett’s bridesmaid dress

Not always, though. No outsider can fully grasp another couple’s relationship because we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. One of my cynical writing professors told me not to bother justifying why two mismatched people stay together in misery all their lives. “The same reason most relationships stick together. Inertia and fear of change.” Dramatically, he’s probably right. Realistically, he’s probably right about a lot of couples – but not all. I’ll never give up on the romantic ideal of people who promise “till death do us part” and mean it with their whole heart.

February 14, 1981

February 14, 1981

 Prom Party Invitation

John and I in Mexico-themed photo booth with Co-hostess Anne Kurrasch
John and I in Mexico-themed photo booth with Co-hostess Anne Kurrasch

The invitation for this party (reproduced above) explains it all.  I wore the dress I actually wore to real proms in the sixties when I thought it was the most beautiful gown I’d ever seen. The style failed to age as well as I hoped – the dresses worn by most of the other female guests fared better (but I still got to be Prom Queen, an opportunity denied me in real life)

Kirk Hulstrom and Arthur Everett in character.
Kirk Hulstrom and Arthur Everett in character.

In this case, the photos are worth a thousand words so here are some of my favorites.

Ceiling stars and disco ball were more effective live than they appear in photos - I guess you had to be there.
Ceiling stars and disco ball were more effective live than they appear in photos – I guess you had to be there.
Joyce and John Salter (one of few people who look young enough to actually be in high school)
Joyce and John Salter (one of few people who look young enough to actually be in high school)
Bennett Traub with JJ Johnson - Danny and JoAnn Hill
Bennett Traub with JJ Johnson – JoAnn Hill and Danny
Kim Mistretta and Karen Hermann, the future Mrs. Art Everett (this was the night they met) & Ken Millikian and Steffani Graham
Kim Mistretta and Karen Hermann, the future Mrs. Art Everett (this was the night they met) & Ken Millikian and Steffani Graham
Some girls campaigned shamelessly to be elected Prom Queen (Anne Kurrasch and Bill Connell)
Some girls campaigned shamelessly to be elected Prom Queen (Anne Kurrasch and Bill Connell)
Don't judge Mr. Hulstrom too harshly. You'd be drinking too if you had to chaperone this thing. The photographer gets frisky with Joyce Salter and Denise Gail Williams.
Don’t judge Mr. Hulstrom too harshly. You’d be drinking too if you had to chaperone this thing. The photographer gets frisky with Joyce Salter and Denise Gail Williams.
You didn't hear it from me, but something's fishy with the Queen of the Prom ballots! (Diane Larson, Joyce Salter, Steffani Graham)
You didn’t hear it from me, but something’s fishy with the Queen of the Prom ballots! (Diane Larson, Joyce Salter, Steffani Graham)
Somebody dropped something! (Kathy Williamson, Kirk Hulstrom, Sharon and Russ Carpenter )
Somebody dropped something! (Kathy Williamson, Kirk Hulstrom, Sharon and Russ Carpenter )
Karen Hermann, Russ Carpenter, ??, Vicki Hill - Waiting to learn who will be crowned Prom Queen (me, Michael Wasserman, Melanie Sayler, Diane Larson plus people I can't identify)
Karen Hermann, Russ Carpenter, ??, Vicki Hill – Waiting to learn who will be crowned Prom Queen (me, Michael Wasserman, Melanie Sayler, Diane Larson plus people I can’t identify)
I was as surprised as everyone else when Mr. Hulstrom announced I was Prom Queen.
I was as surprised as everyone else when Mr. Hulstrom announced I was Prom Queen.
When you're a winner, you have to deal with the envy of others. (Sharon Grish, Father Dan) - Denise Trette, Gail Williams - a good time was had by all Joyce Salter, Michael Wasserman
When you’re a winner, you have to deal with the envy of others. (Sharon Grish, Father Dan) – Denise Trette, Gail Williams – a good time was had by all Joyce Salter, Michael Wasserman
Goodnight, John. Goodnight, Kathleen.
Goodnight, John. Goodnight, Kathleen.

February 8, 1969

February 8, 1969

Super Model

 This event was an anomaly, the farthest thing from a typical day in my life. My prior attempt to model a dress I made in 7th grade home economics came to a humiliating halt when I discovered I neglected to leave arm and neck holes in my garment. (How did this happen? When I failed to spot where I’d made a mistake, my teacher smirked and urged me to “model it for the class.” It was a lesson I never forgot.)

Super Model 2

How did I come to model chinchilla coats and wraps?  JoAnn aspired to be a model and her father raised chinchillas. In 1969 it was not politically incorrect to wear fur or raise animals to become fur. Almost six feet tall and gorgeous, JoAnn was the show-stopper. I tagged along because at 5’9” I was one of her taller friends.

Super Model 3

Somebody else did my make-up and hair. Never – not before or since – has my hair looked anything like it did that night.  Given my life has been one long bad hair day, I’ve got no right to complain – but still. Let’s just say my up-do hasn’t stood the test of time.

Super Model 4_edited-1

Much like my other insane early aspirations – trapeze artist, ballerina and cowgirl spring to mind – I daydreamed about a thrilling career as a model. I suspect a lot of girls did the same because superstars like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton made it look so gosh-darn cool.  My one night modeling furs at the Hyatt House was as close as I ever came.

 

 

 

November 7, 1966

november-7-1966

 Judging by the amount of diary space allotted to the tragic break up with my first boyfriend compared to my conversation with Mrs. Seidenberg, it’s obvious where my priorities lay. By 1966, I had a burning desire to be a writer and encouragement from others fed that fire. Sometimes, though, I can’t help but wonder if praise from people ignited the fire in the first place. In other words, would I have wanted to be a writer if not for early positive feedback telling me I was good at it?

positive-feedback

In all honesty, writing wasn’t my first ambition. Far from it.  Long before I dreamed of seeing my name on the spine of a book, let alone a movie or TV screen, I wanted to be a trapeze artist. It didn’t occur to me acrophobia – fear of heights – might be a liability for a future trapeze artist.  Likewise, being born clumsy posed a serious challenge as did early evidence I’d be a 5’9” bruiser by the time I reached maturity making me a risky catch for all but the beefiest male aerial artist.

trapeze-artist

ballerina2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since flying through the air with the greatest of ease did not appear likely in my future, I aspired to a new dream – prima ballerina. Astute readers are probably ahead of me here. The same factors (with the possible exception of acrophobia) holding me back from swinging under the big-top demolished any chance I’d be dancing the lead in Swan Lake – not only did I move like a blind ox, relatively few guys – if any – could hoist me aloft and spin me for a romantic pas de duex. More likely he’d stagger under my weight and collapse, at which time I’d tumble after and crush us both.

Dead ballerina (if she was my weight) with dead partner she crushed.
Dead ballerina (if she was my weight) with dead partner she crushed.

On top of that, I’m positive both of the above professions require constant practice, consisting of strenuous workouts to stretch physical endurance to the max.  Prodigious sweat is probably involved. Not exactly my thing, once I remember who I am. So what attracted me to situations I was so ill-suited for?

Sam played a ballerina (well, the ghost of a DEAD ballerina, to be specific) in one of my TV movies. This is as close as I got to a career in ballet although I saw a ballet once (at least until it put me to sleep.) But I've still got to give it up for the costumes!
Sam played a ballerina (well, the ghost of a DEAD ballerina, to be specific) in one of my TV movies. This is as close as I got to a career in ballet although I saw a ballet once (at least until it put me to sleep.) But I’ve still got to give it up for the costumes!

The skimpy sequined outfits and tights, obviously. Lucky for me, I can wear the costume without the career. Since I write alone at home, I can wear anything I please. That said, I rarely indulge this professional perk. I can’t remember the last time I hit my computer keys dressed like this.

You never know, though. Maybe it’s just the inspiration I need.

ballerina-at-computer_edited-1

October 22, 1971

 

October 22, 1971

PROJECT ONE

 

Less than a month after I bought that splicer from Larry Kemp, he served as cinematographer for my award-winning Project One film. He also functioned as my AD, my confidante, driver, grip, sound technician and comic relief. He stepped up and played every role that I asked him to because he was the only guy who was there. That’s not a bad description of Larry and what he meant to me. He was the guy who was there.

LARRY KEMP, circa 71-72
LARRY KEMP, circa 71-72

He was the youngest of three boys and I was the oldest of three girls. He was from New Jersey, I’d been in California (by way of Iowa) most of my life. We both loved the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel (okay, not exactly crazy choices in those days, but I doubt we’d have gotten along so well if he’d been into country.)
action

 

Laughter was easy with Larry. On the day of my shoot, we were both in hysterics when Larry leaned on Josie’s couch, causing her to almost poke her customer’s eye out with a tweezers. (Maybe you had to be there.)

Larry - Filmmaker2

Of course, it couldn’t be a real friendship without an occasional conflict or two. Larry met my Inner Brat and witnessed my pettiness up close and personal but he didn’t lecture, judge or reject me. It was the kind of friendship I expected to last a lifetime but we took different paths and lost touch after college.

Kathy - The Filmmaker_edited-1

 

We haven’t seen or spoken to each other since the 70s. We are Facebook “friends” but almost never email or message.  In other words, our friendship today is nothing like what it was – but we’re not who we were forty years ago either. The knowledge those days are gone doesn’t diminish the friendship that once existed. I’m happy just to know he’s alive and living happily ever after in LA – one of relatively few people I went to film school with who actually wound up working in the film business.

Time and location set for October 22, 1971 at UCLA
DATE AND LOCATION SET FOR OCTOBER 22, 1971 AT UCLA

If a time machine dropped me back in 1971, I’d buy Larry’s splicer all over again. It was worth every penny. I got the deal of lifetime.

 

 

August 28, 1967


August 28, 1967

 

MY FAMILY IN 1967
MY FAMILY IN 1967
CLOWNING WITH THE FAMILY AT DISNEYLAND
CLOWNING WITH THE FAMILY AT DISNEYLAND

I’d definitely pay to see that snippet of television tape one more time. In the summer of 1967, our family vacation was in Los Angeles – Disneyland and studio tours. We were able to get tickets to a taping of Let’s Make a Deal and were seated near the front so the cameras caught the entire family in the audience.1967 K Girls

What I remember most about the experience is being fascinated by a tall slender brunette girl in a black and white suit working behind the scenes. I had no idea then – nor do I now – what her job was. She could’ve been an intern PA, a script girl, or a producer. All I know is that she epitomized excitement to me – I couldn’t imagine a more thrilling career than working for a television show. This pre-dates my decision to be a film major at UCLA by a good two years – and I wasn’t thinking of writing at the time – but I think the show business bug bit me on the set of Let’s Make a Deal.

The rest of the entry is typical teen angst. I was in the throes of unrequited love, having been dumped by my boyfriend John earlier that year. (This is a different John than my husband John.) My goal,when he called, was to act cold but I could never pull it off.

ME AND MY ANGST AROUND 1967
ME AND MY ANGST AROUND 1967

I wish I’d been mature enough to put teen heartbreak in perspective but every song a woman sang on the radio glorified shattered hearts and faithless love. (Vicki Carr’s “It Must Be Him” set the bar in ’67. The Supremes stayed on theme – “The Happening”, “Love is Here and Now You’re Gone”, “Where Did Our Love Go”, “You Keep Me Hanging On”. With the notable exception of “Respect”, Aretha Franklin mostly sang about unrequited love. Even Grace Slick got into the act – “Don’t you want somebody to love?”)

It’s impossible to explain, let alone justify, such willing victimology in today’s feminist, politically correct world but – take my word for it – as late as 1967, far too many girls chose the wronged lovesick girl as their role model. Like Janis wailed, “Love is like a ball and chain.”  Or an anchor.

Anchor and Chain

I’m not suggesting this was  psychologically sound or healthy – quite the contrary. But that’s the way it used to be for me.

June 20, 1964

 

June 20, 1964

Cousin Connie at Janet's left w/her two little sisters and my Grandma O
Cousin Connie at Janet’s left w/her two little sisters and my Grandma O

Here’s a tip for anyone asked to read a piece of creative writing by anyone else – a relative, friend, co-worker, neighbor. No matter how savagely the writer deprecates their own work, in their secret heart they believe it is a masterpiece. They don’t want your nit-picking notes, your criticism or your suggestions for cuts and improvements. As they see it, no improvement is possible. Every word is perfection precisely as placed. So why did they give it to you to read and ask for your “honest opinion?”

Unconditional Love

Thumbs Up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What they’re looking for is love, unconditional love and approval for their very existence. Anything less than a flood of admiration will, at best, fail to satisfy. You don’t want to be responsible for “daunting a dream,” do you? It was more than a little galling to be so cavalierly dismissed by a cousin at least two years younger.

Perhaps the need for validation is more pressing for amateur (unpublished or unproduced) writers. Professionals like myself have learned to suck it up, absorb a torrent of “notes” from well-meaning but clueless production executives and remain standing.  No one survives in this business without a thick skin.

Who’s kidding who? Professionals yearn for love and approval every bit as intensely as my 6th grade self craved it from my cousin Connie. A little love and approval goes a long way.

My family with Connie's family except - where's Kathy? Hiding and crying her eyes out, that's where. Is it my imagination or does Connie sport a self-satisfied smirk?
My family with Connie’s family except – where’s Kathy? Hiding and crying her eyes out, that’s where. Is it my imagination or does Connie sport a self-satisfied smirk?

Case in point. I did my best work – above and beyond the call of duty – for a producer who started every conversation with five minutes gushing about the brilliance of my last draft before easing into that minor matter of a few “tiny” fixes. His praise was so addictive, so intoxicating – and, at least for me, so unusual – I’d hurl myself into yet another unpaid rewrite just for another taste of the sweet stuff.

Just to be clear, I do not advocate manipulating writers. But Thumper’s mother got it right in Bambi – especially when dealing with the tender heart of an amateur. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

animated-bambi-image-0009


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