Saturday, March 9, 2013

Not all Bungalow are ours

Back to Bungalows

November.  Not the right season for roses.
The literature on bungalows is huge, but ours are of the latest and, mostly, of the smallest.  Bungalows as a type do not really outlast the Great Depression (recent houses designed to evoke them only do so in the same way as mixed neo-classical ones do our Federal houses).
But, my own memory not going much beyond my childhood in the '30s, I did not realize how early the bungalow as a small family home, or a "starter home" really was.  Nor did I understand that California was one of the cradles of the type(s).
The stereotype of the small bungalow was enshrined not only in the earliest Kit catalogues but encapsulated on a Victor Black Seal 10" shellac 78rpm record that I got from someone's attic and have owned since the 1960s.  The refrain goes:
I want a little bungalow
Where the red, red roses grow
A tiny little home so cozy
Just room enough for me and Rosie;
Away from all the ice and snow
Where the warm, love breezes blow
We will live on love and kisses
Cupid he will wash the dishes
In our bungalow where the red, red roses grow.
Since the sound is pretty good,  I guessed it dated from the early 20s and I dug it out when I started studying the Roseland Terrace bungalows.  I was going to lay the disk on the scanner and post the label here, but now the Library of Congress has created the National Jukebox and provided matrix, date, etc., everything for us, including the photo and the sound
Just listen: it really does say that Cupid will wash the dishes!
And it was recorded on June 6, 1913, in Camden, NJ.

Sears had a Kit house almost identical to mine, which was built in 1928, in its 1916 catalogue, and a similar plan appears in the 1910 edition of Henry L. Wilson's Bungalow Book.  That's California, and 1910 was the 4th edition.  Stickley, in The Craftsman,  published a number of wonderful bungalows, not cheap, by California architects and/or designed for California patrons.
My point in giving you here the whole refrain of Where the Red, Red Roses Grow is to show it as a stereotype of young salaried newlyweds.  The houses Stickley admired might be fairly small, or almost the size of Pasadena's Gamble house, but they oozed taste and, in a word, craftsmanship.  Like the knock-offs of designer dresses and furniture (not least Craftsman style) sold at Sears, et al., and in the furniture stores on small-town main streets, the 1920s bungalows built in response to the new refinery and the new university campus, in the decade of Boots and her Buddies, when Baton Rouge needed lots of family housing, and fast, are pared-down editions of the pre-World War I bungalows, for the most part.  Sears even sold pared-down whole craftsman interiors and furniture, and I cite only Sears because of their catalogues.

I was thinking: When I was in the 1st and 2nd grades I would curl up in an overstuffed chair and read the Sears and Montgomery Wards catalogues.  In particular, I was fascinated by things such as snowsuits and adult undergarments and varieties of cooking stoves and washing machines and horse saddles and stirrups, and I wonder how much reading vocabulary we actually got from those, relative to Dick and Jane or Sally and Jerry at school.

We do have some big bungalows here, and I'll try to photograph several when DST comes, tomorrow.  Anyway, now I'll get back to my core idea: how one needs to take all things together, not because they will be alike but because they are, when contemporary and in the same town or region,  part of one composite whole.