Friday, May 27, 2016

Beach Blanket Bingo: Three Generations at the Shore

To honor Sun Screen Day—as well as the random, little-known Memorial Day weekend—I thought I'd post this eclectic collection of beach-oriented snapshots I found, documenting 30 years of the Vasilev family hanging out in the sand. Clearly, they were very into the sun.

Bill Schwartz, Natalie Vasilev, and her daughters Lena and Tatiana hang out on the beach near Kamakura, Japan in 1951.
Natalie Vasilev, and her daughters Lena and Tatiana hang out on the beach near Kamakura, Japan in 1951.
Natalie Vasilev and her daughter Tatiana (aka Tanya Sarsfield) hang out on the beach near Kamakura, Japan in 1951.

It all began in Japan. These preceding pics are about 64 years old. They feature the Vasilev matriarch Natalie Vasilev and her daughters—the Seoul Sisters—at a beach near Kamakura, sometime around 1951. From what I'm told, the Vasilevs (or Vassilieffs, or Vasileyevs, depending on the source) weren't big on sunscreen.

Tatiana Vasilev—aka Tanya Sarsfield—enjoying a leisurely swim at the Meguro Pool in Tokyo in 1951

This is Seoul Sister Tatiana—aka Tanya Sarsfield—swimming in the Meguro Pool in Tokyo. According to the internet, the Meguro Citizens Center Gymnasium Pool has, basically, been around forever, and continues to be a favorite.

Svetlana Vasilev—aka Lana K Thomson—and her sister, Lena, chilling at the Russian River in the late 1950's.
Tatiana Vasilev — aka Tanya Sarsfield — chilling with her sister, Lena, at the Russian River in the late 1950's.

After immigrating to the United States in 1953, their love affair with the beach continued. In the mid-1950's, Natalie Vasilev began renting a cabin by Russian River for three weeks every July, so her daughters (and, eventually, their children) could enjoy life by the water.

Frank Storti, Lena Vasilev, Margo Storti, Lana Thomson, Olga Mejia, and Natalie Vasilev chillin' on the beach at the Russian River sometime in 1970 or 1971.
Lana Thomson, Olga Mejia, Natalie Vasilev, Sean Sarsfield, Frank Storti, Lena Vasilev, Margo Storti, Lisa Storti, and Marie "Rhea" Thomson at the Russian River in 1970 or 1971.

I believe these pictures were taken about 15 years later, in the Summer of 1970 or 1971. They feature Lena Vasilev and her husband, Frank Storti. You can see pictures of their wedding here. Also pictured are Frank's daughters Margo and Lisa Storti, as well as second-generation Vasilevs Sean Sarsfield (far left) and Marie Thomson (far right).

Natalie D. Moore (aka Tasha Thomson) and her sister, Marie (aka Rhea) of Pacifica, California hanging loose in the early 1980's at 10185 River Drive in Forestville, California

And this must be the early 1980's. I'm thinking the Dire Straits, Blondie, Rick Springfield era. These two feathered-haired girls were Seoul Sister Svetlana's daughters, Natalie and Marie Thomson (aka "Tasha" and "Rhea"). They were fixtures at the Russian River every summer for years, and—by the look of it—the party-est of animals.

Marie Thomson aka "Rhea" getting her tan on at the Russian River in the early 1980's.

It's important to remember sunscreen—even if you're just sitting in ankle-deep water, reading National Geographic.

Natalie F. Vasilev chillin at the Russian River in the very early 1980's.

And we conclude with this snapshot of Natalie Vasilev from the very early 1980's. After 30 years at the beach, she still looked good. Must've been the sunscreen.

Friday, May 20, 2016

If It's Europe, It Must Be Friday: EuroTrip in 1965

Today is Be a Millionaire Day! If I were a millionaire, I'd head to Europe. Yeah it's older, and grungier, and grouchier than the United States—but, like, they get a month off from work. And they drink wine at lunch. Or, at least, the Mediterraneans do.

Speaking of Europe, check out this tiny collection of 51 year-old snapshots I found, documenting a trip to the The Continent in 1965. They belonged to Lena, the youngest of the Seoul Sisters.

Photo of Danish host family in Copenhagen in 1965, entertaining American tourists.

I was told this picture was taken in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1965. I have absolutely no trouble believing that.

Lena in front of Schönbrunn Palace in 1965

This one, I'm not sure. What is this mystery building in the background? It could be anywhere in Western Europe. If you know, drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you! :) **UPDATE 05/24/16** Many thanks to reader JW for identifying the building as Schonbrunn Palace.

Photo of Lena and Carole in Europe in 1965, chilling in the dorms at the University of Bordeaux with some nice Vietnamese boys.

This one, I'm told, was taken in the dorms at the University of Bordeaux in 1965.

Photo taken in swingin' 1965 London (or thereabouts) featuring Lena and Bill McGeer, from Rhodesia.

This is a photo of Lena with her Euro-trip boyfriend, Bill McGeer. All I know about Bill is, he was originally from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Actually, he was from Southern Rhodesia, to be exact—which only officially started calling itself Rhodesia when Northern Rhodesia became Zambia. Yes, African history is confusing—but check out the Wolseley!

Employee note-to-self from 1965. Lena worked at the Emporium in San Francisco, and apparently the smocks were so shoddy, finding some without holes in the pockets required extra effort.

On the back of the Bill McGeer/Wolseley snapshot, I found this hand-scribbled to-do note:
Miss Epeneter —Make up break + lunch schedule for morning. Miss Pollack will do afternoon ones. Look at yellows. Get smock. 2 arms medium. No holes in pockets. Long sleeves.
I'm told this may be in reference to Lena's seasonal college job at The Emporium in San Francisco. "Yellows" were control copies of sales transactions. "White for the customer, pink for the credit department if it was charged on an Emporium charge card, blue for UPS if it had to be delivered, and yellow for the department." Also, they wore smocks to do inventory because it was "dusty in the warehouse."

Friday, May 13, 2016

Y Tu Mamá Clara También: The Mejias in 1976

Have you guys ever seen Friday the 13th: The Orphan—that weird, Alice Sweet Alice-ish horror movie from the 1970's about the murderous drag queen kid who kills everyone? And, like, Janis Ian sings the theme song?

Well, these snapshots have nothing to do with that movie, but it's Friday the 13th! This collection I found appears to have been taken in late 1976, at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California—and this first picture is kinda spooky.

Clara Aceituno and her grand-daughter, Maria Olga—aka Milan Mejia-Prieto—in 1976 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California.

This was Clara Aceituno, aka Mama Clara. She was about 62 years old in this photo. She was born on August 14th, 1914 in Mataquescuintla, Guatemala. The terrified girl in the background is her grand-daughter, Maria Olga. Not sure what she's scared of. Or why she's wearing scrubs.

Clara Aceituno—aka "Mama Clara"—in 1976 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California, nursing some random white baby with Almaden wine.
Clara Aceituno—aka "Mama Clara"—in 1976 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California, hanging out with some random white baby.

These photos aren't very scary. They're of Mama Clara cradling some random white baby. Mama Clara passed away on November 7th, 1990. By all accounts, she was a terrific woman.

Julio Enrique Mejia of South San Francisco hangs out with his mother-in-law, Clara Aceituno in 1976 at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California.
Julio Enrique Mejia relaxing with a white baby and some Almaden wine.

This was Julio Enrique Mejia, el yerno de Mama Clara. Julio was born on August 21, 1937 in Guatemala, and emigrated to the United States via New Orleans at some point in the 1960's. I wish I could tell you more—but, um, my secretary accidentally forgot to pay for Ancestry dot com this month.

Anyway, my thoughts on the Mise-en-scène in this collection: love the chair, love the books, love the plant, love the rug, love the shirt, love the wine. Honorable mentions to the linoleum, wood paneling, and Mama Clara's awesome vintage outfit—that appears to be made from Frieze?

And can anyone identify those wine bottles? I'm thinking Almaden?

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother and Daughter: Japan in 1951

It's Mother's Day: that glorious one day a year when mothers make unreasonable demands and eat for free. That used to be called every day, but luckily things change. Anyway, to honor this holiest of modern constructs, I thought I'd showcase some 65-ish year-old snapshots of a mother and daughter.

Lena and her mother, Natalie F. Vasilev in Shinagawa, Tokyo, sometime around 1951.

This is the Vasilev Matriarch, Natalie Feodosievna Vasilev née Mitrofanenko, being mother-like with her youngest daughter, Lena. And yes, Natalie (or Natalia) was one tough broad.

Natalia F. Vasilev in Shinagawa, Tokyo, sometime around 1951.

Natalia was born on September 3, 1915 in Ust-Karsk, Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia (Усть-карск Забайкальск) to Ukrainian parents (you can read about them here). Flash forward 35 years, and the now-widowed Natalia is raising her three daughters in Seoul when they're forced to flee at the outset of the Korean War. They land in Japan, where these photos were taken (sometime between July 1950 and January 1953).

Lena and her mother, Natalie F. Vasilev in Shinagawa, Tokyo, sometime around 1951.

From what I know, Natalia and the Seoul Sisters lived in Shinagawa, Tokyo, on "a little lane off Sarumachi (Monkey Street), a short walk from Gotanda Station." Also, their house was "across the street from a large high school for girls" and there was "a small monkey shrine nearby." I tried to find the location online, but you don't wanna know what happens when I google large Japanese high school girls and monkey shrine.

Natalie Vasilev and her daughter, Lena, visiting the Great Buddha of Kamakura (大仏 Daibutsu) of Kōtoku-in 高徳院 sometime around 1951.
Natalie Vasilev and her daughter, Lena, visiting the Great Buddha of Kamakura (大仏 Daibutsu) of Kōtoku-in 高徳院 sometime around 1951.

These photos must've been to commemorate a day trip to see the Great Buddha of Kamakura (大仏 Daibutsu) of Kōtoku-in 高徳院. Rudyard Kipling called the statue The Buddha at Kamakura in several verses that preface the initial chapters of his novel, Kim. They're taken from a poem he wrote after visiting Kamakura in 1892.

Natalie Vasilev and her daughter, Lena, in Japan around 1951.

This snapshot may also have been taken in Kamakura. It looks like they're wearing beachwear, and Kamakura is known for its beach.

Natalie F. Vasilev and her daughter, Lena, in front of the Civic Center in San Francisco in 1960.

And now we flash forward about eight years. This is Natalia and Lena in San Francisco, somewhere in the Civic Center. It looks like jury duty, or citizenship papers—but it's actually the 1960 Lowell High School graduation which was held at the Opera House.

Anyway, Happy Mother's Day to you and yours!