Friday, June 2, 2017

Soda Fountain Stories


He is clearly smitten with her as she sips from his soda glass.  I love her tartan dress which I imagine to be blue and I'll bet the bow wrapped around her ponytail is black velvet. The moody glow from the lanterns, the tile floor, the leather seat covers make this a charming photo of a 1950's couple on what looks like an innocent first date.  Mom and Pop are most certainly at home in front of the picture window, waiting for their young miss to return by 11 o'clock.  I'm sure she will...

In spring, I like to revisit some of my favorite teenage novels - nearly all set in the 1950's.  I call them Soda Fountain Stories because soda fountains figure so prominently in them.  I can't say it's a trip down Memory Lane because I only know the 50's from pictures, my mother's anecdotes, and novels.  But the heroines' travails seem universal and somehow familiar to the struggles of every decade:  there's the fast crowd who refuses to welcome newcomers, the benevolent and understanding teacher, and of course, a shy bookish late bloomer who doesn't know someone in the wings thinks she's fine.

My books are a comforting trip back in time when good manners were valued and expectations for behavior were cut like glass.  Most important to me though, were the stories' emphasis on home and family.  Nearly every novel has a loving mother who volunteers at church and school, sees that her children and husband eat a good breakfast, and still bakes brownies from scratch...or gingerbread, as one of my favorites tells.  Dad works at the office in the city and comes home tired and put-out but shakes it all down with the help of Mother and her pineapple upside-down cake.  The family dog and kid brother help too.  Oh, if only...

Still, as far removed as 2017 is from the Atomic Age (and all those bomb shelters that were never used), we have it pretty good now too.  Medical care is at nearly science fiction-level, we have the internet and cell phones, movies and books on-demand, and many other magnificent things.  I'm not completely idealizing the purity of the 1950's - I'm just saying that it's some kind of wonderful to escape to a simpler time every now and then when the biggest problem in life is whether the prom dress you made will be as pretty as the illustration on the pattern cover.

Come with me to the suburban 1950's.  Your reboot is ensured.

~

Some favorites:

Wait for Marcy by Rosamund du Jardin -  (Marcy is known as "Squirt", a nickname she detests.)

Sister of the Bride by Beverly Clearly - (Oh how you'll cry!)

Almost April by Zoa Sherburne - (A sudden tragedy which surprisingly aligns with the 21st century too.)

~

And, there is one elusive novel that I have never been able to locate after reading it once in the 8th grade.  It must have been dear to me as the story line has never left me.  A girl's mother is institutionalized and while she is gone from home a beneficent housekeeper takes her place.  But when Mother is well enough to return, our heroine is torn between the warm replacement and the mother she all but forgot.  Does this outline ring a bell with anyone?

Finally, do you have a tender 1950's teenage novel that has remained steadfast in your heart?

9 comments:

  1. Hi there, I don't recognize the book, but I would HIGHLY recommend you submit a query to the following bookseller - http://www.loganberrybooks.com/stumpthebookseller/
    I have submitted five queries over the past few years and they've hit the nail on the head each time.
    My own "soda fountain" book was "Candy Stripers" by Lee Wyndham, published in 1959. Much the same story line as the one you mentioned. I'll have to get a copy from Amazon!

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    1. Thank you Amy! What a wonderful site and a wonderful service! I will certainly test them out and let you know. Merci! And thank you for your comments - they mean so much to me.

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  2. Maybe of interest to you and your readers? Library Journal has new reviews of fashion books: http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/2017/06/books/nonfic/arts-humanities/well-turned-out-art-and-fashion-titles-walk-the-runway/

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  3. I had forgotten about Rosamond du Jardin. I thought that her name was so romantic when I was young.

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    1. It IS romantic! I loved it too and back then since there was no internet, there was little ways to research her. Thank you for your comment. They mean so much to me.

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  4. Have you read Seventeenth Summer?

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    1. Yes I have...just a few years ago though and it was great. Thank you Annette!

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  5. Oh, be still my heart-- I'm a huge fan of the malt shoppe books. :) I attended high school in the 70's, but I still read those vintage books from the library. I've collected them for 30 years and especially love Rosamond du Jardin (especially the Tobey and Midge series) and Betty Cavanna, Anne Emery, Lenora Mattingly Weber, Janet Lambert and others. Are you familiar with Image Cascade Publishing? They've reissued so many of these in paperback, which is great for modern readers who'd otherwise not have found these wonderful, sweet books. I hope you'll find the book which you remember! Blessings, Debra

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  6. You know I'm on board with these, Donna, and my favorites were Betty Cavanna and Rosamund DJ, too...but I nearly wore out the Anne Emery books in my Junior High library...the poor librarian would just shake her head "no" when I came in, begging her for a "new" one. LOL! I ordered these books thru Scholastic Book Club in those wonderful days when they sent us home with an order leaflet and we came back, clutching the filled out forms and some wrinkly dollar bills. When the day came when "the books are in!", my pile of rubber-banded books was almost always the biggest in the class! Love this trip down Memory Lane! Hugs, K

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