By Christopher Cuttone
Hollywood Library assistant
Did you wear extremely high-waisted pants while visiting Hollywood Library as a child? Do you know which year Volkswagen changed the decklid vents on the Beetle Cabriolet? Are you an amateur fashion historian or longtime local news watcher? The Hollywood Library wants your help!
A black-and-white video found in the Multnomah County archives shows children visiting Hollywood branch. We don’t know when it was filmed, who made it or why, and there’s no sound. We’re asking the neighborhood for help identifying the origins of the clip.
You can view the five-minute video online at www.multcolib.org. The gallery is the part of library’s website that features photographs, documents, audio and video for you to explore Multnomah County’s rich and vibrant cultural heritage.
The building shown in the clip opened in 1959 at 3930 NE Hancock St. as the Hollywood Library, replacing the older Rose City Park Library that had stood there since 1926. The first two minutes of the video highlight architectural features, even showing a hand caressing mosaic tiles near the entrance, so you might just assume the film commemorates the opening of the new building. We’re librarians, though, and we want more than circumstantial evidence.
We’ve combed through the library branch’s old monthly, quarterly and annual reports, and the only mention of filming at the library is in 1971, when someone recorded students from Boise Elementary School at the library. The people you’ll see in this video, however, are wearing clothes indicative of the 1950s, with early hints of emerging 1960s trends.
Can you spot a specific style – a collar or cuff, shoe or accessory – that helps narrow the possible timeframe? (Some of us are particularly smitten with the little girl seen at the three minute mark wearing very, very high-waisted pants; if that’s you, we applaud your bold fashion statement!)
Another enticing clue is the Volkswagen Beetle visible from 0:32 to 0:45. The VW Bug was available as a convertible starting in 1950, but the incremental changes to the car’s design might limit the time frame as well. Do you see a bumper or tire detail, side mirror or other element that debuted in a specific year?
Are you one of the people in this video? Do you know someone who’s in this video? Do you remember seeing this clip on the television news? Did you work on a local news crew in the late 1950s? Heck, maybe you even worked at the Hollywood Library in 1959. While we’d love to have printed documentation about this film clip, we welcome any additional information or context in the form of historical knowledge or lived experience.
To learn more about fashion trends or VW Beetles, take a look at this list online.