Monday, May 11, 2009

Memory Monday: Fads and My Mom

My mother was not a person who followed every fad that came along, but neither was she a person who avoided fads. I guess you would say that she had particular types of fads to which she was susceptible. They all come under the category of home décor, moreover home décor which has come to be regarded as … how to put this … not surviving the (good) taste test after their 15 minutes of popularity passed. This is not to say that my mother had bad taste, because I don’t believe that was the case. She was a beautiful woman and I think she knew how to choose clothes to highlight that beauty; most of our home furnishings were tasteful or at least inoffensively nondescript (though I suppose there could be some debate on the “earth tones” home decoration era).

It was just that there were certain things that caught my mother’s eye and either tickled her whimsy or hit the “pretty – must have” button. I can only remember three sets of items that fall into this category. The first was our set of kitchen appliances, pots, and pans from the late 1960s: they represented the “autumn colors” fad of that time; our things were avocado (not sure why avocado was considered an “autumn color”). It wasn’t that bad, though when I recently pulled out Mom’s old hand mixer (pictured above; it only has one beater, but our Kitchen Aid is on the fritz, and I was desperate) and observed that moldy green, I had to wonder, “When was this ever considered a pretty color?” The answer is: probably never, because that which is “pretty” is not necessarily considered to be “tasteful.” Maybe that is why tastes change so rapidly; one era’s tasteful is the next era’s tacky.

Which brings us to the next item: a lava lamp. I think lava lamps should get a pass from the taste police, simply because they’re fun. And they’re so relaxing … who hasn’t felt calm and peaceful who has watched those milky globs drift slowly up and down?

The final set of fad items were three of Mom’s clocks: her cuckoo clock and her two cat clocks (one black and one white, the Felix clocks with moving tails and eyes). I do not recall the cuckoo clock, which dated to my grade school years in California, ever being in the house at the same time as the cat clocks, which dated to my high school years in Texas. The cuckoo clock must have been a casualty of one of our many moves during my junior high school years, when many of our family possessions were lost. The cat clocks made a peaceful “click-click” sound as the cats’ tails and eyes moved back and forth, but they were never synchronized with one another. One was in the kitchen and the other was in the living room, but in our little public housing apartment, that was only about 14 feet apart, and you could hear them anywhere in the apartment until you moved into the bedrooms down the hall. So between the “cl-click-cl-click” of the clocks and the soothing dance of the lava lamp globs, I guess you could say our home had a pretty peaceful atmosphere.

All in all, despite the jokes my family and I have made over the years, I do not think my mother’s clocks, lamps, pots, and pans amounted to a terribly egregious violation of the dictates of good taste. However, I’m definitely not going to buy any avocado-colored appliances for our house. Though I do love the color green. And Kitchen Aids come in a beautiful dark forest green. And I do need a new Kitchen Aid….


  1. I know I'm dating myself here....but avocado green and harvest gold were the colors when I was married. My fondue pot was avocado and I think I even had an avocado stove. I've come full circle, now, everything is white!

  2. Linda - I remember how my mother adored those colors. They actually looked pretty decent when they were new and in our kitchen, which was painted yellow. It's just when that avocado color starts to fade with age, it starts to look more like olive....