Thursday, January 19, 2012

It was a ball at the Peter Pan

We’ve got a new gizmo at our place – something that converts old 35mm slides and negatives to digital format.
Genius! For years I’ve kept looking at dusty boxes of slides lurking in wardrobes and told myself to throw them out. Keeping them was pointless because who has a clunky slide projector any more?
But we never did chuck them.
I’m glad now because I’ve been having such fun finding treasure. Sure, 80% of the shots do need to be dumped – all those many nameless lakes and mountains and party scenes full of people you can barely remember. Out they go.
But there are delicious images as well. I’ve found ancient holiday snaps that bring back so many memories. And shots of my now grown-up daughters that remind me of their baby years.
And pictures of me, too, that reveal an utterly different time. Take this one. I’m the girl in the middle, looking a bit tipsy in my black lace. I’m 18 or 19. I’ve gone mad for scarlet lipstick. The black eye-liner was the sort that went on shiny and could be peeled off in a tissue-thin strip. My hair: roller-set and sprayed stiff with lacquer.
I marvel now that I was once so good at sewing I could whip up this tricky ball gown with ease. It’s backless, as I recall, and has a long, white, bell-shaped skirt of something silky, possibly a fabric called sharkskin.
I may have gone shopping in the ground-floor fabric department at Smith and Caughey’s. It had everything from chunky tweeds to fine satins and there was a long wooden bench where you could perch on stools to graze the pattern books from Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity and McCall’s. I once had boxes full of paper patterns.
We’re at the Peter Pan Cabaret at the top of Queen Street, Auckland. It has a big dance floor. There’s a live band, with blokes in tuxedos playing saxophones.
I have a small glass of something sweet. Gin and lemonade? Can’t remember. Possibly Pimm’s. Light shines on the neck of a tall brown beer bottle in the foreground. Booze packaging is pretty basic in the early 1960s.
That’s my friend Sue. Note her long kid gloves, unbuttoned at the wrists, the fingers tucked away to expose her hands. That’s how girls do it, all the better to hold your cigarette. Almost everyone smokes.
Sue and I are junior reporters at the Auckland Star, the city’s daily afternoon newspaper. Handsome Bill (nice guy, but we’re just friends) works in sales for BOAC – short for British Overseas Airways Corporation.
The Peter Pan, the Star and BOAC are long gone from Auckland’s business scene, though the airline lives on as British Airways.
Do you have old slides? Rescue the fun ones. Digitise them. Print them. And, most importantly, caption them.
As future mementos they’ll only work if people know the context – and get to understand there was a long-ago time when young women wore gloves almost to their armpits, thought that smoking did no harm, and could make just about everything in their wardrobes.

* Lindsey hosts Let’s Talk on Triangle TV in Auckland, airing 7pm Fridays. This year’s season kicks off on Jan 27 and focuses on books, media and arts - all about what's hot on paper and on screen.

No comments: