vintage, nostalgia and memories

December 11, 2017

Top Christmas Gifts: See How Popular These 1948 Best-Selling Christmas Gifts Were

Take a look at Macy’s best-selling holiday gifts of 1948—which LIFE compiled, along with the number of each item sold and at what price—and it's immediately apparent that things have changed since then.

For starters, the gifts then skewed more toward the practical. Such everyday items as a pair of nylons or a ballpoint pen, the department store’s third- and fourth-highest-selling items that season, may ignite little excitement in today’s gift receiver, who has been conditioned to want little more than the latest Apple product. Second, there is a conspicuous absence of anything technological, whereas nearly seven decades later, more than two thirds of holiday shoppers plan to purchase electronics for their loved ones.

Then again, the rise of personal technology was still decades away, as these were the days when fewer than 10% of households even had a TV set. Rather than instruments of entertainment, gift-givers wrapped up objects that were wearable or edible, and immediately usable: a pair of pajamas, a bottle of scotch or that perennial favorite, some sturdy slippers. Basic, to be sure—but sure to be put to frequent use.

Handkerchief, 300,000, 33 cents apiece.

Christmas card sets, 100,000, 47 cents a set.

Nylons, 15 Denier, 77,000, $1.38 a pair.

Ball-point pen, 60,000, 92 cents a pen.

Men's blue shorts, 50,000, 69 cents a pair.

December 10, 2017

Chicago in 1941 Through John Vachon's Lens

In the depths of the Great Depression, the United States government created the Resettlement Administration to help provide relief for drought-stricken and impoverished farmers. The RA was restructured and renamed the Farm Security Administration in 1937.

One of the FSA’s most notable efforts was its small team of documentary photographers, who traveled the country recording the living conditions of Americans. Directed by Roy Stryker, the photographers included now-legendary documentarians Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks and Russell Lee, among others.

In 1936, 21-year-old Minnesotan John Felix Vachon got a job with the FSA as an assistant messenger while attending the Catholic University of America. He had no previous interest in photography, but his constant immersion in the work of the FSA photographers motivated him to try his own hand at shooting.

He started out by wandering around Washington with a Leica camera, and soon received training, equipment and encouragement from Stryker, Evans and other FSA photographers. By 1938, he was shooting solo assignments.

Here, the still-green photographer explores the streets of Chicago in 1941, capturing images of city life in photos that are sometimes distant and unobtrusive, but often sharply observant and quietly funny.

Love in Photography: 16 Sweet Photos That Show 'the Kisses of Robert Doisneau'

French photographer Robert Doisneau (1912-1994) made photographs on the streets of Paris in the 1930s. He was a champion of humanist photography and with Henri Cartier-Bresson a pioneer of photojournalism.

Doisneau is renowned for his 1950 image Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Town Hall), a photograph of a couple kissing on a busy Parisian street.

But it's not his only picture of kissing, check out these sweet photos to see more of his work.

The liberation of Paris, August 1944

Lovers, Paris, 1945

Baiser Passage Versailles, 1950

Bois de Boulogne, Paris, circa 1950

Bouquet of jonquils, 1950

December 9, 2017

53 Stunning Color Photos of Sandra Dee From Between the 1950s and 1960s

Born Alexandra Zuck in 1942 in Bayonne, New Jerse, American actress Sandra Dee began her career as a child model, working in commercials before transitioning to film in her teenage years.

Best known for her portrayal of ingénues, Dee earned a Golden Globe Award as one of the year's most promising newcomers for her performance in Robert Wise's Until They Sail (1958). She became a teenage star for her subsequent performances in Imitation of Life and Gidget (both 1959), which made her a household name.

By the late 1960s, her career had started to decline. She rarely acted after this time, and her final years were marred by illness. She died in 2005 at age 62 of complications from kidney disease, brought on by a lifelong struggle with anorexia nervosa.

Take a look at these photos to see her innocent beauty from the 1950s to 1960s.


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