Tuesday, December 18, 2007

holiday book exchange (and I connect with Googie)

It's the holiday season, and for the last several years, that has included an annual holiday book exchange at my place of employment. To be truthful, I "got out of" the book exchange the first two years I was at the Library, but this year, there was no excuse.

After literally feeling several wrapped books and thinking about my choice for about 60 seconds longer than appropriate (I lingered at that table), I committed to a package from the pile of offerings. I lucked out with a fantastic treasure, Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture by Alan Hess!

Ah, Googie architecture! I've heard the term before but forgot it. Now, after spending a bit of time scanning Hess' book and searching online, "Googie architecture" (aka "doo wop" architecture) is part of my vocabulary.

Googie Redux, originally published in 1985 and re-published in an expanded version in 2004, focuses on the western United States (California, Nevada), but Wildwood, New Jersey is also a well-known Googie town. In the 1970s, my grandparents took my brother and I out to Wildwood every summer. We stayed at The Mariner, which I believe recently closed. Scanning Hess' book and seeing the icy sidewalks outside my window this evening, I'm drawn to the idea of a doo wop long weekend in Wildwood. It'll be interesting to find out about the architectural philosophy behind these expressionist, futurist buildings from the 1940s and 50s.

Since I worked as a waitress at various Denny's locations during college, I've also spent hours in a uniform and apron, behind the counter in Googie buildings. (It wasn't pretty, but it was life.) This last summer, I also photographed various Googie sites in Chicago ghettos.

[Photo by Brian Indrelunas and found on Flickr.]

I lived within a five-minute motorcycle ride from this Googie building for almost 10 years. It wasn't an Arizona State University Information Center back then; it was still a Valley National Bank branch.

More information about the former Valley National Bank building at Apache and Rural:

-- from The Tempe Historical Society's website
-- ModernPhoenix.net went inside the building.
-- Even better, ModernPhoenix.net documents the demolition of the building.

I'm going to make sure I drive by the intersection next week, in remembrance of the building...and also to see what monstrosity is being built there in its place.


Troy said...

Hey, Gayle!
Glad to see you're getting in touch with "doo wop"! Thanks for the book tip.
The Mariner Motel is indeed gone, but there's still plenty to see on your long weekend in Wildwood. Stop in and see Kirk Hastings at the Wildwood Crest Historical Society.

The City Desk said...

Yeah, when I first moved to Philadelphia, I'd hear people refer to buildings like that in Jersey as "doo wop" and I'd say, wait, no- it's "googie." Blank looks all around, they'd never heard of it. Just an odd regional choice of phrase, I guess.