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James Kraus

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Be sure to tune in! All-transistor push-button AM radio, 1963 Studebaker Lark Regal

Yours truly visited sunny Palm Springs, California for Modernism Week, a ten-day celebration of Mid-Century Jet Age architecture and design, and recapped the trip for listeners of Cocktail Nation. We discussed a variety of topics.  

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A 1959 Hugh M. Kaptur home in Ranch Club Estates. Hugh Kaptur worked at the General Motors Styling Center before becoming an architect. He later designed a home for Steve McQueen.

Palm Springs is a hotbed of 1950s and 1960s architecture with many specimens unmolested and either in well-preserved original condition or faithfully restored.


1960 Magnavox Console Hi-Fi

I visited a number of homes, some of which had functioning period audio gear in use.


Mad Men discussion with Set Decorator Claudette Didul and Property Master Ellen Freund

There were a few Mad Men seminars discussing the behind-the-scenes work that went into creating the meticulously accurate look of the 1960s.


Claudette Didul

Later that evening around the swimming pool I was able to have a long chat with Claudette Didul, set decorator for Mad Men seasons 4-7, at the Mad Men Cocktail Party. The owner of the home hosting the event had a wonderful collection of sixties machinery in his garage including a Volvo P1800S, a ‘65 VW Beetle, a ‘63 Buick Riviera and a Mercedes-Benz 230 SL.

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Mad Men set decorations and props

Modernism Week base camp had a Mad Men display with several production items, including 1960s liquor bottles, cocktail glasses, shakers and ice buckets. At the top, a mocked-up signed photo dedicated to Harry Crane from Buddy Ebsen (as Jed Clampett).

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GAZ Volga

Finally, while I failed to get a photo of the rare 1953 Kaiser Dragon mentioned on the broadcast, I did succeed in capturing a 1962 Volga M21 lurking inside a parking structure.

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Note the transparent see-through speedometer pod à la Ford’s Astra-Dial Control Panel of 1954-1955.

This Volga is a couple years newer than the M21 that Vladimir Putin keeps under guard in the Kremlin garage.

Listen to the discussion on Cocktail Nation Episode 395 – the Modernism Week segment starts at 07:40.