Friday, April 1, 2016

Working Girl: Bay Area Workplace Fun in the 1960's and 1970s

It's officially International Fun at Work Day! I found out when my boss handed me a floppy plastic paddle ball, and said I could feel free to go nuts on it as long as it didn't affect my productivity. Yes, that's right—I'm a private detective, and a temp in a light-industrial warehouse shipping gourmet chocolate to fancy people all day. Speaking of, feel free to go nuts on this six-piece classic assortment of honey drizzled snapshots from the late 1960's/early 1970's that celebrate fun in the workplace.

Lena Vasilev works the chow line at a Holy Trinity Sisterhood function at the Richmond District YMCA in the 1960's.

Volunteering is work, too. In this photo, the youngest of the Seoul Sisters, Lena, enthusiastically works the cake table chow line at what I think was a Holy Trinity Sisterhood function at the Richmond District YMCA in San Francisco. A little stamp on the back says the photo was developed in October 1967.

Kodacolor Print, made by Kodak, October 1967
Russian Orthodox gathering held at the Richmond District YMCA in the 1960's.

Here's another one from the YMCA where she appears to be working the punchbowl. I wonder if that guy to her left was named Higgins. He looks like one. Or a Jeffrey spelled G-e-o-ffrey. A Joffrey, if you will.

Photo taken of Sisterhood women, along with Nina Merzlyakova and Marie Rhea Thomson of Pacifica, California

More Sisterhood gals. I believe this photo was taken in the kitchen at the Christ the Saviour, a Russian Orthodox church at 2040 Anza Street in San Francisco. The youngest member (center, bottom) is one of the first-generation American daughters born to the oldest Seoul Sister, Svetlana. She's clearly having fun at work.

Mystery photo of vintage skin cream advertisement, 1960's or 1970's

Lena also did some modeling for a bit—as most big-city 1960's women with Lithuanian/Ukrainian cheekbones were wont to do. Thank you, From Russian With Love, Natalie Wood, et al. I found this portrait that was possibly used in a skin cream ad, although I don't know what skin cream, or when. If you know anything about this photo, drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you! :)

DiGiorno annual report cover photo from the 1970's. Godfrey Mezirka.

This photo was used for the cover of the DiGiorgio annual report (year unknown). I love it; it's so The Ice Storm (1997). I'd have fun at work, too, if I were surrounded by wine and processed meat products. Maybe I should temp for DiGiornio .... Maybe I should set my sights higher? Life is full of mysteries.

Arthur Gough, photographer, and Peter Neufeld, artist, in the Brightside, Sunday supplement to the Fremont Argus, 1974
Speaking of mysteries, here's a cool one. I found this newspaper clipping tucked away in my photo collection. It boasts an authentic, vintage coffee ring, and was originally published on August 4, 1974 in the Brightside, which—according to my research—may have been a supplement for the Sunday edition of The Argus, a paper originating out of Fremont, California.

Arthur Gough, photographer, and Peter Neufeld, artist, in the Brightside, Sunday supplement to the Fremont Argus, 1974

The accompanying photo (taken by Arthur Gough) features Seoul Sister Lena—savagely decked out in forks and flattened spoons—marching past a construction worker. The jewelry was designed and created by artist Peter Neufeld, who—along with his wife, noted photographer (and eccentric) Patricia Oberhaus, were part of the art scene in Berkeley, California in the 1970's. You can read more about them here and here.

American dorm room poster celebrating feminism in the 1970's

The article says Peter Neufeld's pseudo-tribal adornments are for "the new woman. It is her. A leader not a follower, unafraid of change and above all individual, she is the modern aborigine for whom Peter with all the skill and cunning of an Indian is working. And she is proud of it."

According to legend, photographer Arthur Gough later sold this snapshot to a poster company, and it was successfully marketed as a wall-covering for Women's Studies majors across the country. If you, or your feminist dorm mate, tacked this poster up about 30 years ago, please let us know.

We'd love to hear from you! :)

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