Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stranger In A Strange School

We've all been there at some point in our lives: alone in a new environment with nary a familiar face in sight.

Stranger At School, or The Loneliest Girl In The World, is a Woman's Home Companion pictorial from October 1947. It was photographed by Eileen Darby at the New Rochelle High School in New York. Woman's Home Companion takes us through the first few anxious days in the life of the new girl at school. If you're hoping for a few nuggets of comfort and motherly wisdom of the 'be yourself' variety for making friends and impressing the profs, you might want to steer clear of this list of don'ts and YOU BETTER NOTS lest you should require anti-jitter remedies before the big day.

Remember, your new schoolmates are just as unsure about you as you are about them!

From here on in, the Stranger is known as Smart Teen, but only as long as she keeps herself sleep deprived and spruce. You want your new classmates to think you're a neat package...

But NOT a sloe-eyed siren. Know your limitations. You're only average in the looks department (if you're lucky!), so rather than dressing to impress, you just want to adopt a passable hygiene routine and stick to it.

Once you're on school property, there's no looking back. You're stuck, so you may as well head inside.

No one likes a brown noser. Talk to no one. You're better off being known as the new girl who walks around muttering to herself than someone who attempts to 'just make conversation' with new classmates and teachers.

There is only one thing worse than coming across as a cover girl or a teacher's pet, and that's being a stoopid pill popper. You'll need to sit up front in class during lectures so you can take good notes since you won't earn any cool points by asking questions.

Join activities but don't chummy up to any strangers. They don't like it, and they'll avoid you like the plague. Unless they're too polite to tell you that they're not interested in hearing your life story (with accompanying slide show) during the half hour lunch break.

Once school lets out, don't hang around campus like a stray puppy. Sure, the rest of the school will be cramming into soda fountains, but, remember, you have no friends. And, since it's advised that you talk to no one, you won't be making any anytime soon. Get used to spending your afternoons preparing for another lonely day at school.

Glutton for punishment? The only thing more awkward than Silent New Girl being photographed at school is Silent New Girl sitting alone at the soda fountain while a magazine documents her every move. Remember, you're not there to meet people or attract a boyfriend. Chug down your soda and get out of there and quick! Once you're home you can feel free to be yourself, but wait until that screen door slams shut behind you!

The major lesson to learn is that no one wants to get to know the real you. Not even if you're nice and pretty. But you don't want to be known as the resident handkerchief-head who takes stoopid pills. Leave plenty of time for homework!

The odd thing is Woman's Home Companion never explored the consequences that bringing a major magazine to cover one's first day at school had on this girl's popularity. Forget not bothering the teacher with extra questions or apple polishing; wouldn't it be a bit more annoying to have someone snapping photos over your shoulder all day? And are those resentful, judgmental students who look down their nose at the new girl really unfazed by the journalist following her around to document her every move? I'm sure if she really remained unpopular it would be because of this article!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fabergé's Follies

If you're like me, you have a refrigerator full of hard boiled eggs and you only want to pickle half of them. If that's the case, maybe you want to decorate the other half for Easter? The practice of dying Easter eggs goes back to Biblical times* when eggs were first anointed with spectacular hues derived from roots, peels, and mashed up plants to match Joseph's dream coat.. and, also, the various miracles of nature. Fabergé was the next artist to find inspiration in the blank canvas of the egg shell. However, he was not the last artist to work with these fragile baubles. That would most surely be Libbie Lovett, internationally renowned egg artisan. Some of Lovett's designs were featured in this article from Woman's Home Companion from March 1948, along with the works of some of her colleagues from the Oviform School of Arts and Crafts. Click on each individual image for a larger size. And, when you're done decorating your eggs, you can enjoy them in cheesy Velveeta bakes and sliced on top of hamburgers.

[* note: I don't know what I'm talking about]

Meet kindly Gran'ma Tippitoe whose head rests gently on one of those ketchup cups you can get from Wendy's. Give her bi-focals, just like your real Gran'ma, and give it to her as an Easter present on Sunday!

It never dawned on me that you can drain an egg before you decorate it. Is that what most people do rather than hard boil? Regardless, this page actually tells you how to 'blow an egg out' by puncturing the shell and letting the 'meat of egg' plop into a bowl.

This ovular menagerie is really quite impressive! Forget 3-D glasses. Drawn feathers and scales on the dyed shells give these critters a textured quality. If your holiday festivities have a patriotic or thrifty theme, try a hot air balloon or piggy bank design!

My favorite set of designs are on this final page. No one will wonder why you choose to pair a performing seal with a radish and a dirigible. They will cheer your meticulous decorative touches and ask you to do their eggs next year. If you're envious of those that can afford real Fabergés, all you need are a few paper doilies and some sequins, "jools," and good conduct stars. Your guests will never know they're not the real thing.

Happy Easter and Passover to all of my readers!