Thursday, May 1, 2014

History Through Thrifting

Thrifting has lots to recommend it.  The items are cheap; the selection is unpredictable; and the impact on our environment is positive.  Giving another use to something headed for consumerism's huge landfill is socially laudable.

To this list add another benefit -- brushes with history.  I had that today when I browsed my local thrift-store and found two treasures.  A Jerry Garcia necktie and the original cast recording of "A Chorus Line" on vinyl.

Jerry Garcia was the lead musician of the Grateful Dead, a Sixties band celebrating hallucinogenic drugs, tie-dyed clothes and endless music.  They toured for years and had a loyal fan-base (DeadHeads).  You still see their emblems on cars. 

It was mind-blowingly odd when this countercultural icon started designing neckties.  Ties?!  Only squares wear ties!  But Jerry was a true iconoclast.  His designs were funky and cool.  The ties adorning them look great.  I own several.

Jerry Garcia neckties are expensive ($40), so when I saw one for $3 in my thrift-store, I lunged at it.  Here's a picture.

Jerry started painting and designing ties in the late-1980's.  Sadly he died in 1995 from complications caused by his lifetime of drug-use.

My thrift-store now carries vinyl records in addition to clothes, so I browsed its wares.  I found an original cast recording of "A Chorus Line" from 1975.  Every generation has its musical ("My Fair Lady," "Grease"; "Chicago"; "Kinky Boots").  "A Chorus Line" was huge during the Seventies.

My favorite trivia about the show concerns original cast member Carole "Kelly" Bishop who won a Tony award for her performance.  Three decades later, Kelly Bishop played Emily Gilmore (Lorelei's mother) on "The Gilmore Girls."  Her character on the TV show is starchly conservative, so it's fun to imagine her dancing in a leotard as a nubbin.



  1. LOVE A Chorus Line! My favorite by far!

    But I never really was into the Grateful Dead...not sure how I was able to miss this one (and Star Wars too.) But hey, the tie is very cool, great thrift find!

  2. I had no idea Jerry Garcia had designed ties. How cool! I guess I'm the Grease generation-lol. Although I came to it late, my favourite musical is Hair. I saw the movie version with Treat Williams. I loved musicals growing up and watched lots of the cheesy fifties musicals on tv. I wanted to be in a musical, both as an actress but really I just wanted my life to be one. I wanted to break out into song and/or dance at crucial moments. I suppose if I did that they might cart me off to a padded room.

    1. We all want our lives to be musicals! The Fifties were the heyday of the form.

  3. we don't have many thrift stores here other than goodwills and salvation armys, but i agree that's what makes it exciting - you never know what you're going to find. it's amazing to see things turn up after all these years when someone finally decides to let it go :)

    1. I love the serendipity of it. It's like getting unexpected blasts from the past. And I remember the past!

  4. What a fabulous tie! I love the colours!

  5. Yes!! This is why I love thrifting - the environmental impact, the brushes with history and the low cost.
    You're tie is really great! I love the background information you've given on it - that's what makes this tie truly special. :)


  6. You always find such great items. I love reading your write-up's. Very cool tie.
    I just did the 'pink boxing glove' post!:

    Email me please who I send them to? I think you had told me but I couldn't find that email.
    Thank you.

  7. Wow! That tie is going to make a heck of a statement the next time you're in court ; )


  8. Your tie is a great find! My dad had several of those ties and I used to tease him about it because they're a little more wild than his usual conservative looks - I told him they must be his "Friday" ties. :)

  9. Oh I just love a Chorus Line and vintage ties! What great finds. I can never walk by a thrift store without walking in!

  10. I know firsthand how lovely your tie collection is! What a gorgeous addition. I haven't had time to craft since starting the new job, but I did go look at the ties today in the thrift store. Alas, someone else out there must be buying up all the good ties because they were all poly and outdated.