Retro Open House Crashers

By September 9, 2016…And Mayhem Ensued

Sometimes a mini adventure falls in your lap. Sometimes that mini adventure means you brave rush hour traffic for a chance to go to an open house of what is surely THE MOST AMAZING MID CENTURY MODERN HOUSE ON THE PLANET! That’s what happened when Landon saw a post on his favorite blog (Hey, no offense taken.), Retro Renovation. This particular post was about the 1954 “Smith House” on Pinocchio Street in Dallas. The world’s most amazing mid century modern house was going up for sale and there was going to be an open house. Well, hot diggity!

 

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Many moons ago, prior to being the host of my own imaginary talk show, I worked in Dallas, so I was already familiar with Pinocchio Street. I regularly took a “long cut” home through the charming neighborhood with street names like Cinderella, Snow White, Aladdin, Peter Pan, and Dwarfs Circle. I would gawk at the houses and picture myself bringing a tray of lemonade out to the person mowing my imaginary lawn. (Even in my imagination, I don’t like lawn work.) Once, my car broke down on Cinderella and, in those pre-cellphone days, some kind woman let me in her house to use her telephone. She even let me hang out until help arrived. So, you see, it was almost like going home.

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Because this was a special occasion, I donned my “pie baking skirt” and threw a scarf around my neck for good measure. (Disclaimer: I do not bake pies, but if I ever learn how to roll out crust that isn’t as tough as a boot, I have the perfect skirt for it.) Landon wore a t-shirt of one of his own Strange Little Onion designs and combed his mop of Buddy Holly hair. We were all set!

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We knew we had arrived when we saw the same pink Cadillac, which had graced the pages of Landon’s favorite blog. (Hey, not much offense taken.) We were prepared to be told to put the camera away and stop being obnoxious. But, Ed Murchison, the realtor who does the Lord’s work by specializing in mid century modern homes did not tell us to knock it off even though it was glaringly obvious we were just a couple of lookie loos. Other mini adventure seekers turned out for the event, all united in our love of mid century modern architecture and a touch of snoopiness. Honestly, I wish we had all exchanged contact info, because those are my people!  

Everything about the house was spec-TAC-u-lar. The 2,260 s.f., four bedroom, 3.1 bath home is listed at $665,000. That’s a steal!img_4007

This phone put the party in party line!

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Do you think I can sit on the pretty, pretty sofa?

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People don’t question you when you bring a big camera and wear a pie baking skirt!

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Genius! Someone made a photocopy of the fabric to put around the end table.

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The pink kitchen was scrummy!

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The orange dining room wasn’t too shabby, either! Check out those chairs! And the light fixture! And the…

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There’s an indoor barbecue grill! I could make ribs for my best friend, Meryl Streep!

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I am totally going to frame pictures of toilets for a bathroom!

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TURQUOISE BATHROOM!!!!

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Check it out! Two bathrooms share a shower!

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Look at the chair! No, look at the cool wall! No, look at the dishes! LOOOOOK!!!!

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There’s a cone fireplace. And it’s TURQUOISE!

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Everyone needs a metal patio umbrella!

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But, mainly, everyone needs a Bob’s Big Boy!

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Well, hello there, Big Boy!

To see more of the amazing Smith House, you can head over to Landon’s favorite blog, Retro Renovation. (Really. I’m hardly offended at all.)

 

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Sandy Kempton says:

    Fabulous!!!!! Thank you for writing this and now I’m subscribing because you made me giggle. 🙂

  • John Quirk aka AtomicHipster says:

    Hi Sandy, I discovered this house over on Retrorenovation as well. Wouldn’t you know I’m in Massachusetts soooooo I can’t see it in person. Thanks for the great pics and the silly commentary, you made my morning. I can’t believe it’s going so cheaply, I would have thought it would have at least a million dollar price tag. Did they say if the furniture was included?

    • Christi Pelt says:

      Hi, John! Thanks for spending some time with My Imaginary Talk Show! It is an amazing price for that house. Fortunately, Dallas is still an economical city.

      Here’s a list of exclusions:
      All Furniture and Art
      Big Boy Statue
      Turquoise Outdoor Fireplace
      Lighted Globes in Backyard
      Metal Umbrella
      Red, Yellow, and Blue Planter at Front Entry
      All Outdoor Potted Plants
      3 Hanging George Nelson Bubble Lamps in Living Room

      I’m told the owners are moving to a mid century modern Mecca, so I’m sure their furnishing and Big Boy will feel right at home!

  • John Quirk aka AtomicHipster says:

    Sorry Christi, I got your name mixed up with Sandy. It’s early and I’m just having my morning coffee.

    • Christi Pelt says:

      No problem! I assumed it was because of my uncanny resemblance to young Olivia Newton John in “Grease”! (I crack myself up!)

  • Julia King says:

    If I had known about the open house, I would have so been there. What a fabulous house and I loved your article, so funny, I felt like I was there! I would so love a Bob’s Big Boy!!!

  • jani says:

    What a fun house!
    A phone in the bathroom!
    The knife holder!
    Growing up we actually had one of those fireplaces (not outside), but ours was orange.

    • Christi Pelt says:

      Isn’t it fun?! That knife holder is pure greatness! I’m envious of you for having a childhood that included an orange cone fireplace!

  • Shari Davenport says:

    Hello! I just completed writing you a rather detailed, and i must admit, somewhat lengthy, post here, and was in the process of doing my usual proofreading, when my “dumbphone” decided for no apparent reason to shut itself down and restart!!! 😱😡😭 I can’t tell you how maddening that is!! I will try and reconstruct what I can!
    I came here to write for a couple of reasons, from your link on that “other blog 😏” not the least of which is to tell you how much I enjoyed your additional photos and different angles, and inclusion of you and Landon! Adds just the right touch of “Yes, folks, we really were there!” to the shots!
    I love the inclusion of a couple of more up-close-and-personal shots of the Bob’s Big Boy character down by the pool on his own personal concrete pad! We had Big Boy restaurants in Virginia – in fact there were at least three in the area in which I lived, but they weren’t Bob’s Big Boy – they were Shoney’s Big Boy restaurants. Same everything else – the Statue, the menu, the décor, the carhop operated drive-in, just that one name was different.
    Ooh the Memories!!! The drive in part of course was major cruising territory after movies ended at the drive-in theater right down the road! We could go out, see a movie, go out to eat after, and never leave the car! (Of course, their outside Ladies Room was a VERY busy place when the movies had just let out, and the cars started streaming in! So, that was usually the only exception.)
    I waited tables and hostessed in the biggest one of them (in terms of sales, because of its proximity to two or three large city high schools, a major business corridor, and a couple of well traveled “main drags” through town) when I was just out of high school. It was my first table waiting experience, and they taught us well! We had actual classes for a week, before they turned us loose on the floor. It took that long to get our uniforms anyway, so it worked out!! One of our responsibilities was to construct the wonderful trademark Strawberry Pies! It was simple, and so messily good!! The kitchen baked and cooled the crusts and turned them over to us, to fill with our fresh cut berries and cover in strawberry glaze, and chill. Then, just before serving, we covered the top of each slice in a big “S shaped” swirl of whipped cream! Nummy!!! They had a specially made cutting guides that helped to cut the pie into seven equal slices! Seven! The rationale being six would make the slices too big to make a decent profit and still not charge so much they wouldn’t sell, (if that were possible!) and eights would be too small to look like a generous portion on the plate. So, seven worked out perfectly, but NOBODY could cut seven evenly sized slices of pie! Sorry – this just brought back that old memory of 40+ years ago! So sorry to get so sidetracked!!
    Now, back to the house!!
    That’s a marvelous Time Capsule for the quintessential American Fifties Time Traveler!! I would hazard a guess that when it was new, it probably wasn’t quite so kitschy, being just contemporary for the period, but to our eyes now, it certainly does represent a major step back in time!! I do love that gorgeous turquoise bathroom (and the beautifully done tile work in all of them!) as well as that lovely blue living room. Such calm, restful colors, and the genius it took to duplicate the upholstery pattern on the bottom edge of the adjoining table is absolutely inspired!!
    The kitchen of course, with its so-50’s traditional pink color scheme is wonderful! Is that a truly to-the-period refrigerator, or a contemporary model turned 50’s in appearance? I didn’t know they made them quite so tall back then! Was there a laundry room? Was it likewise a themed room, or contemporary to suit current efficient appliances? I’m not, I must admit, a huge fan of the orange dining room, but then I’m not a huge fan of much else in that color either, except as juice, maybe! Or small accents to something else, but orange just isn’t my thing. Its nicely done, to be sure, with the totally awesome furniture pieces.
    That shared shower between two bathrooms is certainly unique! And one that might certainly be employed today! I’ve seen double-sided bathrooms like that in floor plans which shared a common tub room between them, but never just a shower. That backyard in and of itself is just dreamy! I would have a very difficult time deciding whether to stay inside or go outdoors! And then, not wish I was in the other area!

    Ooh yes, as to your pie crust dilemma – I can certainly empathize with you on that one!! I cannot make a decent flaky pie crust either, no matter what I do to it, or DON’T do to it! 😬 So, I decided to just concentrate on making awesome fillings, and let the crust part go. And I mean by using frozen crusts at first, but when Pillsbury came out with their Red Box “fresh” pie crust all you do with is unfold and pat down in the pan, I was SAVED!🙌
    But, it was rather embarrassing to have to admit to my (then) new husband’s Farmer’s Wife Grandmother when we first got on the topic of cooking – her’s at first – that I could not construct a decent pie crust to save me! She giggled and said she couldn’t either when she first started keeping house for HER new husband, who of course was raised on a farm, and by the woman who would teach his own young wife how to cook! She had also been a farmer’s daughter, married at 16 in an Indiana farm country Catholic Church, and raised her own family, living the rest of her life on that same Indiana farm, miles and miles from “civilization” beyond the grain elevator and Co-op and little country store about two miles away. And she never did learn to drive. The “kitchen garden” right outside her kitchen window, plowed up and planted by Grandpa, but maintained and picked by Grandma, provided all the produce that was eaten fresh in season, and canned for out of season, with the wood stove, pump at the sink, spigot at the well for laundry, and ice box, until they got real indoor plumbing and electricity years later. Meat came from the local butcher, and some preserved by being stored at a “locker plant” where people rented little (or big) spaces inside a commercially run freezer plant. They had individual freezers with lockable doors inside a giant freezer room that was chilled by commercial equipment, since home freezers of that sort of size had yet to be made commercially available. Grandpa (when I met him) would go down every so often and bring home some of the meat for Grandma to thaw and cook. Leftovers were never wasted, ever. They had dairy cows for a while, and enough chickens, so they had their own milk, butter and eggs, and the occasional Sunday roast or fried chicken. ANYWAY. Grandma learned from her mother-in-law, who they lived with for several years, and she taught Grandma well her ways around the kitchen! But, it was back when cooking was done by the “punch of this, dash of that, a coffee cup full of the other, mix/stir/beat by hand until it feels/looks/tastes/smells right” method! So, measuring was a very inexact nonscience method, and a little difficult to teach outright! But, she was pleased to find out that her new 19 year old granddaughter and wife of the eldest grandson (and grandchild in general) was not the kind of cook who only knew how to make a can-opener work! I had learned how to scratch cook as well, and wasn’t too bad at it, even at that age. I could bake, as long as it was cakes, cookies, or even fresh baked bread, and cook Southern style, since that’s where I came from. But, until I had fresh asparagus out of their own asparagus rows, I hated the stuff! But MAN O MAN I never had asparagus like that before! The first Easter dinner we had there together, she served it with everything else she had made, and others had brought, and I took a few small pieces just to please her. I gingerly tried a bite, and my eyebrows went straight up in the air, and I asked for that dish back again! Then I took a great BIG spoonful!! And never ever bought canned asparagus! Only fresh in my house.
    Ah, but pie crusts. She tried her best to teach me one weekend we stayed there in the early summer, but it just doesn’t work for me! That’s ok though. She said that everyone has their strong points and weak points, and pie crusts is a minor detail anymore. I was pleased with that, and I stick with my Red Box fold out crusts! Oh, but for quiche – crescent roll dough from the can works beautifully! I think you can get it just for baking purposes like that, where it’s not perforated into the little triangles you normally make the rolls from. But, I use both, whichever I can find. Either way works, as long as you pinch the little cuts together!
    Anyway, so much for Kitchen Talk!
    It looks like the two of you had quite a wonderful day of it! Thanks so much for sharing!!
    Shari D.

    • Christi Pelt says:

      Shari, thanks for taking the time to comment. Twice! Yes, I do hate when I lose a comment and have to start from scratch! Personally, I think you should be writing a book because you are a delight.

      To answer your refrigerator question… The door on the refrigerator is vintage, but it is on a more modern fridge. Cool, huh? I don’t know how they ever found a fridge to fit the door, but we checked it out thoroughly and that’s what they did.

      Yes, the house was wonderful. Since it was a model home, it was extra spiffy, even in 1954. I didn’t see the laundry room, so I’m guessing the washer/dryer are in the garage. I would beat my clothes on a rock to clean them if it meant living in that house!

      I loved reading all about your experiences at Shoney’s and the rest of the town. How fun! I wrote “Bob’s Big Boy” in the article, but, in Dallas, it was actually Kip’s Big Boy. What I remember most about them is their hot fudge sundaes. Mmmm… They would leave the whole little pitcher of fudge sauce with you to pour over the ice cream. Deeeeeevine!

      Landon is my personal pie crust baker, but if I didn’t have him I would definitely be buying the Pillsbury kind. Thanks for sharing all about your cooking adventures. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Please don’t be a stranger!

  • Natalie B says:

    Oh, what fun!! Loved your pictures and seeing both of you.

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