Sunday, May 22, 2005

1610 Marine To-day

(above: Google streetview, May 2011. Nathan's original photo has been lost to a Flickr storage bug)

In their size and shape and arrangement, the houses along Marine all oozed prewar. But then, they all looked new as well. I chatted up a neighbor. Yes, her house was built in the thirties, the whole street was. Really, I said. There have been some…changes. Oh yes, she replied, we did ours in ’86. The people across the street there just did theirs.

So. Stucco and plastic windows are something you “do.” You just call someone up and say “I’d like to do my house,” and they’ll know exactly what you mean. They’ll come over and your house will get “did.” Nearly every visible trace of 30s Wilmington, borne of the 1932-discovered 2.5 billion barrel Wilmington Field (third largest in America), has been wiped from the landscape.

As to what Betty’s outfit signifies we can only conjecture; what types of costume (and their import) hung in the closets of 1610 is a matter of further fantasy. How had Mrs. Foley puzzled out her daughter’s dangerous games? Dear Myrtle must have filled her head with ignis fatuus to dispel any disquieting truths. Perhaps we can channel her spirit (which like said pale light hovers over the marshy oil fields) and pry some secreted tale from her misty midst.


Larry said...

There's actually nothing that unusual about the wardrobe of the unfortunate Betty Starkey.

A play suit in 1947 was a typical piece of women's summer apparel (it was late May, after all, with a high of 64 in Los Angeles and 65 in Long Beach), something along the lines of shorts and a short-sleeve or halter top with a possible skirt combo. Probably chilly up in the mountains, hence the fur coat. Play suits were sold at I. Magnin and Saks. See L.A. Times May 16, 1947, Page 5, and July 10, 1947, Page 6, for illustrations.

Nathan said...

Larry -- thanks for the astute comment! You are an invaluable asset here at 47. I'll admit, I was making a "play" on words in the interest of some rather hyperbolic expression. In fact, I sold vintage clothes for some years and am well aquainted with play suits of every stripe. It's a leap to make assertions on the relationship between "playtime" and murder, but I was feeling playful so I made it. When Betty gives me a hard slap in the afterlife for having besmirched her name, I will deserve it.