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A Personal History With Rookie Mag

Nov 2, 2011

by msjamiekeiles handmade and vintage goods

Jamie Keiles is a writer for Rookie Mag, the most incredible teen magazine that you never had when you were growing up.  In her spare time, she stresses about things she can’t control, enthuses over condiments, and attends the University of Chicago. You can find her on the Internet on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Pictures from my mom’s childhood look like stills from a movie that was never made. Everyone is impeccably costumed. Messy hair looks weirdly premeditated. The images themselves have that delightfully soft, Sofia Coppola shade.

I’ve always sort of resented the kind of people that idealize the past. People who scrape all the difficult things off the timeline of history and look back on the “olden days” as some sort of pristine, sepia-toned diorama. I can see how it happens, though. People don’t really take photos at funerals and divorce proceedings, so when the only images of the past are holidays and birthdays, it can be hard not to flatten things out.

Nobody in my family was particularly adept at art, so when I leaf through plastic shoeboxes of family photographs, I’m continually surprised at how well each shot curves a narrative arc without words or sound. My old family photos tell stories, but not ones that are true or important. They capture happy moments in a vacuum. Exposition without plot. Though aesthetically wonderful, they don’t say anything with context to link them to consequences and people. In choosing objects from Etsy to feature, I tried to pick things that established a link between the visual appeal of the pictures and their meaning as they relate to my own personal history.

[Clockwise from left: Vintage 1960s pink shift dress from saintannevintage; Vintage Italian celluloid sunglasses from TheGreenPoet; Kodachrome Film Instructions from Rainy Day Supplies; Eastern Airlines souvenir wings from BearsFoundTreasures;  Bottega Veneta woven shoulder bag from SkinandWood]

My Uncle Norman owned a dress shop, so when my Mom-Mom liked a dress, she got it in every color. Everyone always said my great-great-Aunt Bea had a unique sense of style, but when I look at her in old photos, she only really seems as fashionable as everyone else.

My family was always dressing up and going places. Carrying bags filled with toiletries. Landing or taking off. This was all way back before 9/11, though, when they all got too scared to fly.

[Clockwise from top right: Yellow shoelaces on Etsy; 1970s Skippy jar from DebsCollectibles; Vintage 1960s Peignoir from olderthanyouareAntique roller skates with case from HousingAuthority;  Vintage metal roller skate key from VintageStarr]

My grandmother and her sister raised their families in identical houses along a shared driveway, the sort of arrangement made for sitcoms and sitcom antics like skating in the kitchen in your nightgown.

My grandmother met my grandpa on a street corner outside a skating rink. She made thousands of peanut butter sandwiches in this kitchen for my uncle, who didn’t eat an interesting food until he turned 30.

[Clockwise from top left: Vintage bagel platter from VeejaysVintage; Homemade challah bread from flowerpowercolorado; Vintage Manischewitz macaroon tin from needfuljunque; Bagel soaps from ajsweetsoap]

I’m not sure if anyone in my Mom’s family was ever formally religious, but all of my relatives worshipped at the temple of the well-manicured platter. Celebrations have always been accompanied by a fish platter from Ben and Irv’s Delicatessen on County Line Road. Bagels came with lox. Tuna came with tablespoons of mayo. I guess those wide collars were for catching all the crumbs.

[Clockwise from top left: Vintage 1970s Adidas shirt from YeYe; Vintage playing cards from sorrythankyou79; Vintage mid-century sunflower yellow chair from The Wired Goat; “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” book from Paumanok Collection; Track shorts from; Blue canvas shoes from VacationVintage]

My mom never played a sport in her life but dressed like a track star for a lot of the seventies; I suppose because she went to summer camp. When she talks about her childhood home, emphasis is always placed on the green and mustard color scheme and the fact that my Mom-Mom tamed the shag rug with a rake. She also kept a deck of cards in her nightstand drawer. Sometimes when I was a kid we’d stay up late and play Go Fish and watch the 11 o’clock news.

Food Soap - New York style bagel soap set - Fake Food Soap - Brunch Favor - Breakfast - FEATURED ON BUZZFEED!
Food Soap - New York style bagel soap set - Fake Food Soap - Brunch Favor - Breakfast - FEATURED ON BUZZFEED!
$11.75 USD
vintage canvas shoes 8.5  // 1980s deadstock vintage sneakers
vintage canvas shoes 8.5 // 1980s deadstock vintage sneakers


  • TheCottageCheese

    TheCottageCheese said 8 years ago

    Absolutely awesome! Makes me nostalgiac for my childhood :-)

  • Nikifashion

    Nikifashion said 8 years ago

    Great story!

  • funretro

    funretro said 8 years ago

    wow i loved reading this! thank you for sharing this. so well written.

  • weirdwolf Admin

    weirdwolf said 8 years ago

    Jamie wonderful photos! You look just like you track star-styled mom.

  • HiddenZipper

    HiddenZipper said 8 years ago

    I feel and love this article! In the Cathlic sense however...crazy style

  • VeraVague

    VeraVague said 8 years ago

    excellent post and pictures... ... we have that exact same red white and blue case!

  • 3sisterstreasures

    3sisterstreasures said 8 years ago

    Love this! Brings back my own childhood memories. Very well written and "illustrated".

  • SneakyPoodle

    SneakyPoodle said 8 years ago

    Great post - thanks for sharing the photo memories! ~SneakyPoodle

  • NecessiTees

    NecessiTees said 8 years ago

    That pink shift dress reminds me of a math teacher I had in high school. She had a whole wardrobe of shifts - much like the one in the picture - in every color of the rainbow - all sewn from the same pattern. She wore a different color every day, belted with a sash. She was stylin'!

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 8 years ago

    Love this post!!!

  • msjamiekeiles

    msjamiekeiles said 8 years ago

    thanks everyone!!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 8 years ago

    Love your story down Memory Lane! Great blog!

  • zwzzy

    zwzzy said 8 years ago

    Oh MAN you just made my heart flutter. Loved this!

  • birdie1

    birdie1 said 8 years ago

    So fun to read. And the photos and item curation was like a trip in a time machine - thanks!

  • bedouin

    bedouin said 8 years ago

    oh wow ~ gggg~ulp

  • yourauntiespanties

    yourauntiespanties said 8 years ago

    Great post! I adore the sunglasses in the first picture!

  • sonyarasi

    sonyarasi said 8 years ago

    Fun story!

  • thoughtfullyadorned

    thoughtfullyadorned said 8 years ago

    I really love first I just loved the pictures.....then I read the article. I love how you wrote it. Totally a surprise on your take....I bet you have an interesting family and perhaps....comical! Thanks!

  • clembondar

    clembondar said 8 years ago

    I wonder did they do the Fiesta Tango ?

  • BingoBox

    BingoBox said 8 years ago

    Well done - Spot on! You can just feel the 70's - cheers.

  • Flyingace

    Flyingace said 8 years ago

    What a fun post this is! Well done!

  • opendoorstudio

    opendoorstudio said 8 years ago

    feel like i lived this myself... off to find my white collared dark blue and green plaid shirt and my " crazy horse" turtle neck! pass the skate key!

  • owlgonow

    owlgonow said 8 years ago

    i have the same box for my roller skates!

  • VoleedeMoineaux

    VoleedeMoineaux said 8 years ago

    I have a pair of hot pants that would go great with those skates!

  • bonobono79

    bonobono79 said 8 years ago

    Interesting article!

  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop said 8 years ago

    Great! Just here hair alone made me feel nostalgic.

  • sorrythankyou79

    sorrythankyou79 said 8 years ago

    so excited my bicycle playing cards were featured here! some awesome finds here!

  • FunkyFriendsFactory

    FunkyFriendsFactory said 8 years ago

    Hi Jamie, Cool article - it was fun seeing all those old fashioned things from your childhood! Wish I had a magazine like this when I was young! : )

  • eleazarbalboa

    eleazarbalboa said 8 years ago

    I'm a Jamie fanboy, it's true. I love seeing smart, eloquent, confident young women in the fashion/blogging world and Jamie is one of the greats. Don,

  • HoneyThistle

    HoneyThistle said 8 years ago

    This is so interesting. I'm going to go pester my mum for more stories about her childhood...

  • everythingok

    everythingok said 8 years ago

    Track star chic and bagels - this is the best story ever. Thanks for sharing!

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana said 8 years ago

    Its so true about recalling only the happy moments in life. I guess I am one of those people who look back with fondness to the past.

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 8 years ago

    Cool items!

  • RossLab

    RossLab said 8 years ago

    These pics and items are so cool! Thanks for sharing:)

  • somsstudiosupplies

    somsstudiosupplies said 8 years ago

    Wow!! Fantastic article!

  • PolClary

    PolClary said 8 years ago

    What a lovely collection. It's so true, about how the past seems so great because people don't document most of the bad stfuff. (Except of course the really bad stuff, like wars.) My daughter loves Rookie Mag!

  • TeaAtHomeWithOlivia

    TeaAtHomeWithOlivia said 8 years ago

    Love this!

  • blueflowervintage

    blueflowervintage said 8 years ago

    This is so much fun!

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 8 years ago

    Too cute..I have that skate key...and pictures with that hair style...LOL! Aloha

  • mystichintime

    mystichintime said 8 years ago

    Love all the vintage goodies :)

  • RoyalMint

    RoyalMint said 8 years ago

    love rookie mag. Tavi 4evr

  • chucklingchickadee

    chucklingchickadee said 8 years ago

    This post is so dang good in so many ways.Photo's-they don't get any better than this.Topic-most of us I'm willing to bet have had the exact same thoughts when we're looking through old family photos.Writing-you are a great writer-you have that unique ability to express yourself & ideas in a rich yet simple way.If your goal is to someday become a writer,then you are well on your way-and a great one to boot!

  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 8 years ago

    Love it!

  • amysfunkyfibers

    amysfunkyfibers said 8 years ago

    I think I had a pair of those green shorts.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 8 years ago

    I love looking at old photos, I wonder if we'll be as fond with digital photos as real ones?

  • Suzyprecious

    Suzyprecious said 8 years ago

    It looks like my family too! The classic sixties and sevnties styles are just as I remember. After the restrictive dress of the fifties the comfort and clean lines make this a favorite fashion era for me! Loved it!

  • threepeats

    threepeats said 8 years ago

    OMG...skate keys...I lost SOOO many skate keys! I refused to wear them on a string around my neck.

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 8 years ago

    Haha! Great curation, really enjoyed this one :)

  • Beadz2Pleaz

    Beadz2Pleaz said 8 years ago

    Takes one back. Loved reading this article.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 8 years ago

    Eeeew... the 70's, the decade that style forgot! LOL

  • redhardwick

    redhardwick said 8 years ago

    Great photos! Takes me back! :)

  • fondueavenue

    fondueavenue said 8 years ago

    Flashbacks! I loved my quad skates, had a pair like those. Recently got myself back to the ol' skate rink and they still play Village People YMCA, haha! Thanks for all the memories great photos!

  • redyellowandblueink

    redyellowandblueink said 8 years ago

    This is so great. I was born in '71. the photo in the kitchen, the blue and yellow shoes are cut off but they look just like a pair of roller skates I had when i was a kid, they were the coolest! Now i have a pair of sneakers with grass green color shoelaces. fun post!

  • mythunderstood

    mythunderstood said 8 years ago

    Old photos like this are so fun to look thru, no matter who they are. Very fun!

  • JenMcLamb

    JenMcLamb said 8 years ago

    Love this - I swear my Aunt Jane had that orange polka dotted dress with the white collar - I had to do a double-take. And I love the roller skates and track shorts, though my roller skates had collected about a half dozen pom poms before they were retired! Great collection and fun photos!

  • lulisplanet

    lulisplanet said 8 years ago

    I had the same pants in red they were so fashionable in that time.

  • grandmamarievintage

    grandmamarievintage said 8 years ago

    Oh my, those sunglasses are glorious!

  • LilyThings

    LilyThings said 8 years ago

    I'm in love with that Chair!

  • siennaorlando

    siennaorlando said 8 years ago

    I Heart Rookie Mag!

  • ajsweetsoap

    ajsweetsoap said 8 years ago

    Very well written; thanks for including my bagel soaps!

  • SeaGlassFromHawaii

    SeaGlassFromHawaii said 8 years ago


  • bohemianchicken

    bohemianchicken said 8 years ago

    Hey, I think I know those people! ;)

  • PinwheelStudio

    PinwheelStudio said 8 years ago

    Enjoyed the article - an engaging take on family histories and photos - isn't it funny how family memories and oral histories are constructed through photos such as these. Thanks for sharing the stories and item picks too.

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