My Suitcase and the Screaming Sixties

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luggage

A post by writer Doreen Frick:

Cleaning out boxes last month netted me some old memories: stashed away photos from my childhood. Me in short bangs and sun suits. Mom pregnant, again trying to hide the whole thing from the camera with a big birthday cake or baby still in diapers. The stuff of my youth.

But what I was really looking for, the one thing I really miss from back then and don’t know what happened to, was my old luggage. The mod orange and black and green fabric with a wildness that screamed a fun trip was coming. The zipper on the side pocket angled just right for candy, gum, pens, diaries.

And then I remembered my sturdy pink train case with mirror and frilly elastic to hold my special beauty products, (like a brush), a case so perfect that when the push button popped it open, the soft insides smelled like talcum and lady-like things.

pink-case

Armed with my baseball card and comic book collection, my patent leather Sunday shoes, and my trusty Keds, there was nothing I couldn’t squeeze into those two travel cases. Mom always let me pack myself, God love her. One unforgettable week at camp I left home without any fresh underwear. Never again would I make that mistake! Mom showed up the next afternoon with a week’s supply and a hearty second hug goodbye.

Those were the days of September school bags with straps and buckles. We carried them like a briefcase, hauling home a desk full of books and assignments. They were always brown, like the paper bags we cut and taped and covered our school books in and though we always got new clothes, new ankle socks, and a new pencil case, seems we always carried the same worn-out school bag with no personality. A sorry-looking bag filled with paper-sack covered science and history and math books.

math

When I was fifteen my dad let my sister and I redecorate our bedroom. I chose the same motif I’d picked for my luggage, my beloved luggage. The headboard of my bed was fit for a queen, contoured in plush deep pink velvet; our walls, Dad papered psychedelic with a new slick vinyl feel to them.

wallpaper

My sister says our windowsills were the only calm thing in the room. Maybe we ran out of colors, because we painted them a powder blue. In one short summer I’d stepped out of my Mary Janes and into moccasins. And love beads. And the Moody Blues.

moody-blues

And when we returned to school, Dad took us to a stationery store where we picked out book covers that were colorful and striped and flower-printed. We were happy, so so happy to be stepping into a new era. Even my mother got into the act and re-did her kitchen, the living room, in fact the whole house grew more colorful.

Gone were the dark depressing brown walls and practical gray carpets. One day we woke to a pink fireplace (yes pink!) and deep purple rugs. The sixties were screaming into our little house in Huntingdon Valley, and I think it all started with my crazy luggage.

doreen-as-a-child

Doreen Frick is very happy to re-live her sixties. She loved the peasant blouses and the bell bottoms, and the cars her brother used to drive (GTO’s), and the simple things like everybody enjoying the same television show and watching together after dinner. . .

doreen

19 responses »

    • Oh you got it girl! Our hallway carpets were re-done in
      orange shag! and I think our bedroom was shag, which
      really was a mess with two girls with long hair, but hey, who cared?
      I’ll have to ask my sister what color our bedroom carpet was….yikes
      it’s escaped me now!

    • Purple was my mom’s fav color. Good to have those color memories. Powerful!
      Thanks for your encouragement on tv, I did so love (even the shows I didn’t
      like as much as my parents), it was nice to have the family together)

  1. Oh Doreen, I love your post. It takes me back to my teens. I also had a fab suitcase, multi colored, very bright, so similar to yours – I adored it!!!!
    We had purple shag carpet in one room as well. So much fun to look back on, thanks for giving me this reflection.

  2. Thank you Diane! It’s funny to go back and want something like my old moccasins, or love beads, both of which I’ve since bought new, but still wishing I’d saved something from back then.
    And then there’s Barbara, who gives us a picture of our past on this wonderful site.

    Bless you.

  3. I was born in ’63 so most of the sixties styles and music probably have been lost to my memory. I do remember the early to mid-70s and getting our first color TV. Up until then it was a huge B/W console TV. I vividly remember watching Gene London on Saturday mornings and recall the 1972 Munich Olympic Hostage event. Funny how some events stick with you

  4. I watched Gene London, now that you mention it. And thanks for remembering those days of our youth Mark! I’d listen to my dad talk about the radio programs they listened to, and think those were the dark ages. How little I knew back then!

  5. Your post sure brings back memories! Did your Mom redo the kitchen appliances in avocado green? I also had a small luggage case like yours, but instead of a “train case,” I had remembered it called a “cosmetic case.” It matched the rest of my luggage set that was also hard luggage (we called them “suitcases” back then) in pink! I loved that luggage set, and planned to visit many countries with it! Never did, though; went off to college instead. In the early 60’s, the family-watched show was “Ed Sullivan” and the Beatles debut in (was it ’63 or was it ’64) I will never forget! Also went to see the Beatles in ’64 in Detroit. Back in about 1967 or 1968 the leather fringed moccasins became popular, and a friend of mine had the courage to wear them to school instead of regular shoes! Moody Blues music popular then, too, as I prepared to go off to college. Knights in White Satin, Never Reaching the End, Letters I’ve written. . . .

  6. Avocado green. I still love that. Mom’s appliances were that color, thanks for that memory!
    And Amen on Knights!
    And Beatles.
    and fringed moccasins.
    All the good times, we’re still making them I hope! And Chicago singing: “Color My World”

  7. When I chose a new suitcase the color of your train case my practical mother rolled her eyes. The color was called “strawberry” and it was so easy to spot at baggage claim. In all my travels I never saw another one. Train cases were so handy as a carryon or for lots of cosmetics. These days luggage fees and restrictions have made the train case obsolete for air travel.

  8. Great color! My mom always attached a bright pink fluffy ball to her suitcase handle so she could spot it easily in baggage claim. My husband made me a train case out of leather and I carried it on the plane on my last journey and I got sooo many compliments from older women (we remember the lovely cases of old!) Thank you for the great response. Bless you.

  9. Color, color, Everywhere! Our dad painted our room electric blue, but he said it shocked him every time he passed by in the hallway, so we agreed to repaint it lime green. Our bathroom featured a purple tub, toilet and sinks. Every other tile was purple and the countertop was a seashell resin-wow, and now it’s all about a shade of grey. Thank you for these colorful 60’s memories!

  10. Great story mom! 👍 I love those suitcases…I am sure I was born 50 years later than I was meant to be! Hehe! I always enjoy learning more about you through your stories from when you were younger!! 💜 Keep it up! 😁

  11. Thanks angel! Your dad always says he was born 100 years too late.
    Not me, I was born just right (like Goldilocks!)
    You need to do some blogging toots!

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