Quoth I, Vickie Lester, in days of yore we knew not sunblock…

vickielester.comWhich yore? Judging from the attire and upturned color I’d say it was the early 1980s. I’m pretending to be my glamorous fashionista aunt, no doubt, chin up, hips turned slightly for the camera. Too bad I wasn’t dressed in a 1950s Dior, but then I never would have made it to that rock happy and unscathed and grinning in Palm Canyon, in my beloved Palm Springs.

The cascading shag (not the stuff hanging from the trees) had been clipped into my unruly curls by John, a Manhattan hair stylist who flew to Palm Springs to cut my aunt’s and several other ladies hair when his home was under six inches of snow. He was urbane, funny, and cooed over me for having a “virgin mane” that cut easily and wasn’t brittle with dye. Come to think of it, those ladies I admired so then, would have been just about my age now… Let’s just say my mane is no longer “virgin” and leave it at that.

My aunt, the tall and willowy, seemed to exist on salads and iced tea. Whenever I came to visit she would give me a quick appraisal, a little moue on her bright red lips, her long elegant hands darting out to readjust my clothing. “The clavicle is such a beautiful part of the anatomy. Show it off while you’re young,” she would pronounce as she opened the neck of my dismally dark and prudishly buttoned cardigan.

Dovima (not my aunt) the super model of the 1950s —some clavicle!

Dovima (not my aunt) the super model of the 1950s —some clavicle!

“That’s better,” then would come another frown and she would take my hand and lead me into her walk-in closet and dressing room, where she would rummage through drawers until she found the perfect sky-blue cashmere sweater with oyster shell buttons and present it to me. “I wore this in high school, take good care of it and it should last another thirty years.” If I had listened to her I might still have it but, I had a bad habit of taking my sweaters off and looping them through the strap of my college backpack as I walked around campus and I would drop them everywhere and never find them.

I’m talking a lot about Palm Springs these days because that’s where my novel about Hollywood opens, I can’t stop thinking about it, and the people who lived there. In fact, I’ll be there in a couple weeks to recharge, hike the canyons, swim, and (most definitely) slather on sunblock. And to my aunt in heaven, “Hear that? I’m finally listening to you!”

Be well, babies. V

25 comments

    • Ah, the clavicle. A bone I never noticed until the 5th grade when I broke one. Tumbling off a bike after riding into a basketball during a moment of I inattention. It would make a good story to say I was ogling some 5th grade girl’s clavicle, but the truth is, I was just spacing. None of my aunts ever advised me it could be a fashion accessory…

  1. Heather in Arles

    How many times do I have to write: “they just don’t make ’em like they used to”? You are going to get tired of that skipping record!
    I do, however, love both of these photos.
    Sending the “be well” wishes right back at ya, lovely…plus a bonus basket of bisous. 🙂

  2. Dear bearer of bisous baskets,
    I have a feeling some young relation of yours, in years to come, will be telling quite thrilling stories of Aunt H. in Arles… Please do misbehave. Love, V

  3. George Kaplan

    Adorable. And, no, I don’t mean Dovima! I do believe that a woman’s clavicle is one of Life’s Wonders, tho’ not comparable, of course, to Women themselves. (Put the sickbag down!) Oh, Palm Springs looks paradisal.

  4. you look fabulous!

    and like you’re about to go on a road trip with Christine Lahti at any second and stop off at a roadside bar and (oh wait, that’s the one with Susan Sarandon) well – you just look fabulous and 80s and divinely-denim.

  5. Oh dear, it’s far too late for my clavicle to be displayed. I wish I had known earlier. But my hair is still virgin; the hairdressers are always amazed (secretly annoyed, more likely, by its weight and unruly behaviour) by my mane. 😉 I am sure you would look equally gorgeous now, posed at that very same spot, as you did in the 80s. Any chance of a retake?

  6. This post is a two-fer – I get to see what you look like, and I learn a new word: “moue”
    Moue is my new word-du-jour – now all I have to find an excuse to say “moue” IN Palm Springs.

  7. I am an unashamed self-colorist. My secret is using a kitchen garbage bag as a “shirt” (poke holes for arms and head, pull on) and after color is applied, pull the bag up and twist it into a knot on the top of my head, and voila! A head-heated developing cap! Catches any drips while coloring, and keeps all hair strands up and out of the way while color develops. Added pleasure – laughing hysterically at the way my boobs look trapped under tight plastic. Sorta reminds me of Marty Feldman…

    • I’ve done the garbage-bag poncho! But I still splatter indelible dye wherever I waddle, best for me to leave it to the professionals, and then I don’t have to paint my bathroom over and over again 😉 !

  8. g.

    I’ll add my compliments to the rest. You remind me of pictures of my sister in the 80s–so on trend.
    I had a couple of aunts with great style, though neither seemed terribly interested in coaching me. I was, however, the kind of kid to pay attention to that sort of thing. One of these ladies was a tall and slender flight attendant with a pixie cut she *dyed* silver-grey. The other had an endless supply of perfectly-tailored wool trousers and cashmere turtlenecks, and looked like Jackie O. Here’s to stylish aunties!
    g.

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