Monday, May 21, 2012

I Am Not the Only Googie

A little over a year ago, when I was contemplating a name for my new grandparent blog, I went online to see if anyone anywhere was already using the name "Googie's Attic."  For my blog title, "Googie" was a must, since that is what my grandkids call me. Further, I liked the connotation of the word "attic," because it suggests a place to store things--in my case, word pictures of the perspectives and experiences that were coming fast and furiously with my relatively new promotion to grandparenthood.

At the time, I took quick note of a place on New York City's lower east side named "Googie's Lounge."  Since there was no "Googie's Attic," I took that as a green light to proceed as planned with the blog and didn't give the matter much more thought until recently.  The other day, just for fun, I decided to check the web for more information about Googie's Lounge and any other uses of the name "Googie."  In so doing, I ran into some interesting information that you too might get a kick out of.

First, Googie's Lounge opened in 2006 in the upstairs space above a singer-songwriter venue called "The Living Room."  According to the website, it provides new artists a place "to perform, perfect, and practice their craft."  With its calendar fairly solidly booked through June, Googie's opens every night to host a variety of performers in mostly one- to two-hour sets.  Put Googie's on my bucket list; any visit I make to the Big Apple definitely calls for an evening whiled away in this intimate, folksy atmosphere.  Googie at Googie's:  now that has a ring to it.

However, if I thought "Googie" referred only to a small musicians' venue in New York City, I thought way too small.  To my surprise, I learned that the word is used to refer to a whole school of architecture.  I could not believe this.  Originally the design of a now nonexistent coffee shop in West Hollywood, Googie style embodies a futuristic look that includes upswept curves, lots of windows, and bold neon signage.

Popular from the '40s to the '60s, Googie architecture was so dubbed because it was the nickname of the coffee shop owner's wife.  The name stuck when a journalist picked up on it in a popular architectural magazine in the 1950s.  Googie style was most evident in Southern California motels, coffee houses, and filling stations, but other examples include the Seattle Space Needle and the original McDonald's.

Just when I thought I had about exhausted all the web references to the word I was researching, lo and behold, I ran into a British actress named Googie Withers.  Georgette Lizette Withers, or "Googie," as was her preferred (and less complicated) nickname, amassed quite a list of stage and screen credentials before she died last July at age 94. notes that Googie had six grandchildren (I will have five, come July), and that her  nickname, bestowed on her by her Hindi nurse, translates into English as "dove," or, alternately, "crazy."  I think we will stick with "dove" here, as the other may hit a little too close to home.  If your curiosity about Googie has been piqued, Dennis Barker published a thorough obituary listing her many impressive accomplishments in the 15 July 2011 edition of  The Guardian, accessible online.

So what am I to make of all this?  Well, for one thing, I guess I need to acknowledge that I am not, after all, the first or only Googie, and that the word itself was coined in the decade before I was born.   I can only conclude, then, that I am in good company, with "Googie" representing a plethora of artistic talent embracing stage and screen, architecture, and musicianship alike. 

These are hard acts to measure up to for a comparatively insignificant little grandma blogger from the Midwest.  But since I have taken on the name, I guess I will have to try.  Muse, don't fail me now.  I need all the help I can get.            


  1. Well, I don't know any other Googies, glad I know you :)

  2. Just recently learned about Googie architecture. Apparently there are some prime examples in Houston, but nothing, I'm sure, that can compare with you for pure Googie-ness.