Category Archives: nostalgia

A Big Bear and a Scottie Dog

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Going through some old things I found my keys to my parents’ house in Worthington, and on the ring are two among the first keychain swipe cards I ever owned — a coffee club card for Scottie MacBean Roastery and Bakery and a Savings Club Wild Card for Big Bear, which was once one the larger supermarket chains in the area. If you lived in Columbus you undoubtedly remember the latter and the former is likely to ring a bell.

Kids outside of Scottie MacBean's courtesy of Robert Zimmerman.

Kids outside of Scottie MacBean’s courtesy of Robert Zimmerman.

Scottie’s, as it was fondly known by locals, was a Scottish terrier-themed (remember that trend?) coffee shop located on N. High Street in Olde Worthington, just a short walk from Thomas Worthington High School, which, often to the dismay of the owners, made it a prime hangout spot for droves of teenagers who would scrounge together a dollar a piece for a bottomless cup of coffee and then hang out for hours drinking mug after mug of Highlander Grogg. In the early 2000s the business changed management and the name officially changed to Scottie’s Coffee and Tea House. After a few different iterations, the coffee shop closed for good a couple years ago, but it will certainly live on in the memories of many area residents, and a great many former Worthington Schools students from the 90s.

Big Bear went out of business in 2004. Some of their locations were taken over by Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, including the Clintonville store on N. High Street where I used to shop in my early twenties. My sister and her husband, musicians in Columbus, wrote a song about the chain’s demise entitled “Giant Eagle Ate the Big Bear.” If you’d like to hear it your best bet is probably to request a live rendition at one of their shows, but you can try sending their band, The Dag Nammits, a Facebook message and maybe they’ll record it one day!

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In December dELiA*s filed for bankruptcy, but what would 90s revival be without the quintessential teen girls’ alternative clothing company? Last month the brand announced it will relaunch this August under new ownership!

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Perched on a rock wearing my Delia’s bomber jacket with men’s work pants from Volunteers of America.

As a teenager I loved getting their catalogs in the mail and I (and my little sister AND my high school boyfriend) wore my green corduroy bomber jacket (possibly the only item I ever actually purchased from dELiA*s) until the trim was matted and brown.

The first week I wore it to school one of my classmates was incensed because she had planned to order the same jacket and now she couldn’t!

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Cameron wearing my Delia’s jacket while drawing pictures with my sister 

 

 

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Hanging out at Dublin AMC movie theatre in my Delia’s jacket and a striped sweater from Volunteers of America.

Even though I didn’t spend much money with them (I got most of my clothes at various Volunteers of America thrift stores), I spent hours flipping through the pages of the catalogs, admiring the models’ grungy thrift store chic style. I must have cut out hundreds of images of girls in slip dresses, baby barrettes, pastel nail polish, and Mary Janes for collages.

Remember When Recycling Was New?

Happy Earth Day!

It’s sometimes difficult to imagine (especially for someone like myself, living in Portland) a time when literally everything we disposed of went into a landfill and we didn’t give it a second thought, but I remember receiving this pinback button when my elementary school first began recycling paper products when I was in 4th or 5th grade. Of course recycling existed long before the 90s, but it was not in common practice in most places, least of all Ohio.

Pinback button from Worthington Estates Elementary School's recycling campaign in the early 90s.

Pinback button from Worthington Estates Elementary School’s recycling campaign in the early 90s.

I’m Making You a Mix Tape

Except for the occasional vacation, I spent the entirety of the 90s living in Worthington, Ohio, about ten miles north of Columbus. My family moved there from Pittsburgh in 1989 when my dad got a job at Ohio State University. For me, that’s when the 90s began.

I always loved photography. My parents had a Canon AE1 that they let me use occasionally, but they got me my own point-and-shoot for Christmas when I was about ten. I shot tirelessly and my parents were kind enough to mail all the roles of film to Clark. I remember the excitement I felt when I heard the heavy packages of double prints hit the floor below the mail slot. In high school I signed up for my first darkroom photography class and got a Canon AE1 of my own, which I used until the early 2000s

I still have photo albums and boxes full of prints from this period, along with some other memorabilia. I love going through my old stuff and showing  it to my friends, but now that we’re entering the era of 90s nostalgia, I’m realizing it may be of interest to a larger audience.

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A few months ago I posted a photo to my Instagram account for Throwback Thursday. It’s a black and white shot of a couple friends of mine in huge pants sitting on a front stoop around 1998. I thought it might get some likes from my friends who know the guys in the picture and some other people my age who stumbled upon it, which is what happened, initially. Then a friend alerted me that my photo had been featured in a Buzzfeed piece about JNCOs, which are apparently making a comeback or something.

People seem to be hungry for this stuff. And while I don’t plan to start wearing 40″ cuffs again, I am, too. It’s something more than just childhood nostalgia. I get a kick out of seeing 80s toys, but I have a particular fondness for the 90s, especially the Clinton years. This was the time before the Bush presidency, before 911, before abstinence-only sex ed.

It was the dawn of reality television, when that was a risky idea and the stars were less glamorous. Say what you will about it, but I saw two men (Pedro Zamora and his boyfriend) kiss for the first time during Season 2. I remember being a little shocked and then wondering why I felt that way. This was new and it changed our culture. My generation votes differently because we grew up with this.

This was the age of riot grrrl culture. Thousands of miles from the West Coast, I was buying Bikini Kill CDs at the Ohio State campus record shops and putting their songs on mix tapes for all my girl friends. I never got to see them live, but I did get to see Kathleen Hanna‘s new band, Le Tigre, at the Wexner Center for the Arts on their first tour in 2000.

That, of course, came shortly after Y2K, my first memory of mass hysteria.

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That same year I voted for Ralph Nader in my first presidential election. In my defense, Ohio was not a swing state that year–Gore didn’t have a chance. But that idealism, crushed less than a year later, is what marks the close of the decade for me.

Now, in my thirties, I live in Kathleen Hanna’s hometown of Portland. I’m seeing her speak about riot grrrl in a couple months with one of my high school friends for whom I used to put Bikini Kill on mix tapes. Carrie Brownstein’s TV show pokes fun at the city’s 90s idealism and slackerdom and her band just released their first album in a decade. I don’t think riot grrrl ever fully died here, but it’s not the 90s. Portland is a bubble in some ways, but it was not left untouched by the recession or national politics. Just in the ten years I’ve lived here I’ve seen the passage of a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in the state in 2004, followed by the legalization of Domestic Partnership in 2007, and finally the legalization of same sex marriage in 2014! We’re better off now in some ways and worse off in others.

As much as I enjoyed adolescent life during the Clinton years and appreciate the ways in which he and his administration were progressive, I don’t really want to go back to that time. It was Clinton, after all, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law (though he would later support its repeal).

I do, however, think revisiting past decades can provide both profound insight and great entertainment, and so here I will share with you snippets from the 90s as I experienced them. Rather than attempting to put things in chronological order, I will post images and memories as I’m inspired to share them. Think of it as a sort of mix tape.