Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pop Culture and Pop Beads

I am not a follower of fashion trends. They come and go and you end up with a closet full of 70's bellbottoms and leather vests with yard long fringe or 80's dresses and blouses with shoulder pads that made women look like the Incredible Hulk and guys with leisure suits made of some kind of permanent press material that was shiny that made men feel they were trussed up in plastic wrap.
And then back when the Earth's crust was still cooling, there were POP BEADS.

What? You don't remember what pop beads were? Well, let me educate you. Pop beads were round, plastic beads with a little knob on one side and a tiny hole on the other so that one bead could fit into the other until they could be popped together into a circle to make bracelets and necklaces.
Of course, back in the 50's no one thought about choking hazards for kids let alone fire retardant sleepwear which in recent times has been condemned for its cancer enhancing chemicals. So, for a short time, pop beads were quite the rage. After a short period of adoration, they became considered gauche and tasteless and lost their prestige.

This is the only picture I have of Mom in her fashionable attire with those charming pop beads around her neck. Shortly after this picture, Mom added her pop beads to my "dress-up bin" of castoff grownup clothes to wear for play.

So ends the tale of pop beads in cultural history.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mercy Hospital's Christmas Competition 1980's

Charlotte in Gingerbread

Way back in the 1980’s when I worked in Coronary Care at Mercy Hospital before Carolinas Medical Center bought out the Sisters of Mercy, we used to have an annual contest for the unit that had the best Christmas display. (We were allowed to call it “Christmas”, not winter holiday or some such politically correct name.) The prize was usually free lunch brought to the unit for the nurses on all shifts to enjoy and a huge platter of Christmas cookies.

We decided to do something extraordinary for our display, something grand that would win that prize. I remembered the gingerbread houses my parents used to make. They were not only beautiful, but very yummy, too. They even brought a gingerbread house to my unit a couple times and I loved that they did that. So my coworkers and I decided to make gingerbread houses for our display. But we didn’t just want regular gingerbread houses, we wanted to make downtown Charlotte like a whole city of gingerbread buildings. (Actually, we made the base of the buildings from cardboard to prevent any catastrophic collapse.)

We worked and worked on that city until the entire unite smelled like vanilla icing and candy. While I was looking at some old pictures, I found a picture of our gingerbread city all decorated for Christmas. We won! We all got to share in the sandwiches and cookies and, of course, a mention in the hospital newsletter that made us all rather proud. It was also my way of honoring the memory of my parents who loved making gingerbread houses out of real gingerbread each year for Christmas. It’s one of my best memories of Mom and Pop.  I still miss them.

Sarah J. McNeal
Author of paranormal, time travel and western romance