Monday, February 17, 2014

Those Aren't Sequins! Remembering Our 70's Nomads

Because, some craft ideas are too good not to share... 

It was California in the 1970s, and we had what seemed like a revolving door of young, aimless people who would "flop" at our house for more or less unlimited amounts of time, from the time I was 4 until I was about 16.  Mainly I remember three young people in their early 20s in particular who were "regulars" throughout those years--a brother/sister pair named Patrick and Kitty, and their friend Diana (who was seriously odd, which is another story).
The only picture of all four of us--I was about 5.  Nice decor, huh?
I loved them. They were my babysitters.  They were my roommates.  To my 5-year-old self, they were the older siblings I never had.  They were fun and funny, and they made us laugh.  Patrick was great at tickling us til we kicked and screamed and begged for mercy.  Having him around was like living with Peter Pan.  He was never serious.  He was also great at pillow fights--the real kind, where someone's pillow is definitely going to lose some feathers.  He showed me a "crack an egg" trick, where he would have me close my eyes and konk me on the head with his knuckles (to imitate the cracking-the-egg part), then evvver so lightly drag his fingers downward, and it felt exactly like an egg being cracked and dripping down your head.

He also taught me the word "Zargamo", and that you must never, ever say it three times in a row. Never. So, of course, I loved to scream "Zargamo, ZARGAMO, ZARGAMO!" whenever he brought it up.

Yeah.  Nothing ever happened.  But when you're five, it's hilarious...

To the 5-year-old me, it was like magic.  They would just appear one evening, and stay indefinitely.  You'd hear a knock at the door, and voila--there they'd be.  Then one day I'd wake up, and they would have moved on.  Like Mary Poppins, but with no housekeeping skills. I have no idea where they went, when they weren't with us, but they were like part of our extended family for years.

The last time we had a surprise visit from one of them was when I was probably a junior in high school. I got a phone call from a man saying that we'd won a contest of some kind, and that he needed our address to deliver our prize.  It was the 80s, so of course I gave this total stranger on the phone our home address.  And driving directions.  It turned out to be Patrick, who we hadn't seen in probably 4-5 years, and he showed up bearing pizza, completely out of the blue.  I think he stayed a couple of days, (he was in town working as a JC Penney photographer)...and then we never saw him again.

 After that the three of them faded from our lives.  Only one of their individual stories ended well, so I will leave those out for now.

What popped into my head, though, while flipping through old photo albums, though, was a memory of me and Diane, sitting in a tiny room somewhere in about 1976.  She always had long fingernails, and I remember she must have been clipping them or something, but I guess she must have been saving them, because what I remember was her explaining to me how she was going to use them as some kind of art.  Like sequins.  Remember sequined...everything...from the 70s?
Yeah.  Like this, only with fingernails.  I don't even--
My 5-year-old self was super impressed by her psychedelic crafty-ness at the time, but now the idea of a fingernail-sequined wall hanging sends my Martha Stewart antennae into kind of a craft-police meltdown.  Ew.

Funny how what was probably a five-minute conversation on a random day almost 40 years ago is still in my memory bank, but I can't remember what I got for Christmas that year.  Five-year-old me must have been really impressed.


  1. You weren't kidding-- this is pretty wild. I want to hear more about them! Though the fingernail art made me a bit gaggy...

    1. I know. Can you imagine?!? She was SERiously odd, though, and she wasn't kidding at the time...there are more stories with her.

      Photo albums are such wonderful memory triggers! I will keep adding stories as I find pictures, and I will try hard to keep them short.

  2. I want to know what happened with them now.

    We had a similar guest for a Summer, but it was my Uncle. My favorite uncle. He is my mother's younger brother. He left to hitchhike across the USA and I was heartbroken.

    This is s a great story, sister.

    1. I think everyone hitchhiked everywhere then, didn't they? I will write more about them and the others I remember. Peter moved from California to Idaho with us, with the goat in the back of the van, and we all lived in a tent for awhile, so there's THAT story still, too...

  3. Fingernails as art. I'm all about repurposing and being crafty I was so sure you were going to say she was saving them for some type of voodoo ritual.

    1. Wouldn't have surprised me either, lol.