It was like a nostalgic trip down memory lane when we savored the hamburger sandwich at Mama Chit’s, an unassuming eatery on J. P. Rizal in Marikina. Starting as The Coffee House in the late 1960s, Felicitas de Guzman Dee opened a cafe and sandwich shop in rustic San Roque, catering mostly to local residents. After closing down due to financial setbacks, her son Johny Wilkie, who also runs a popular bike shop, re-opened the restaurant as Mama Chit’s some 6 years ago.
Other than the outstanding hamburgers, the cafe is a veritable museum of 1950s and 1960s memorabilia, and it’s almost as if one is momentarily stuck in a time warp, gazing at the mementos of an era gone by. Remember these throwbacks from the halcyon days of our childhood?
DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES – The analog rotary-dial phones of the 1960s came with a mortal enemy – your party line. If you were having a lover’s quarrel and your party line was hogging the phone, you were in trouble.
THE BIG-TIME HITS – What better way in 1962 to listen to top hits than to turn the knobs of a Blaupunkt Verona 2608 tabletop radio?
A LEGEND IN ONE’S LUNCHTIME – Hot meals for noontime during Grade School were placed in an aluminum multi-layer pimbrera (from the Spanish “fiambrera,” or “lunchbox”), often with rice at the bottom, viands in the middle pail, and soup at the top.
AS TIME GOES BY – Time stands still as a cafe guest chills.
TIME HEALS – Cafiaspirina competed with Cortal as a pain medication tablet in the 1950s. Cafiaspirina was a portmanteau of “caffeine” and “aspirin,” and like many medicines, was promoted in pharmacies and boticas through personalized enamel signboards. (Source: A Fly, A Flea, A Find, October 23, 2013, by Alex R. Castro). Antonio Velasquez, acknowledged Father of Philippine Comics, created the cartoon character Nars Cafi to personify Cafiaspirina.
HAVE A GOOD TIME – Men dabbed their hair with Robin Hood Pomade in the 1950s, achieving the celebrity look of Elvis Presley and James Dean. Made by Beauty Chemical Lab, the extra-heavy brilliantine made sure that one’s pompadour was unaffected by wind, or by a lover’s caress. (Source: A Fly, A Flea, A Find, December 1, 2013, by Alex R. Castro)
HITTING THE BIG TIME (2) – Warner Bros. Records released “The Very Best of the Everly Brothers” in 1964 as well, which included the hits “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie” and “Devoted To You.”
HOW TIME FLIES – The 1937 international terminal at Nielsen Airport was actually preceded by the 1935 Grace Park Airfield in Caloocan as the country’s first commercial airport.
CRUNCH TIME – A halo-halo merienda in 1954 was best taken with ice crushed from a hand-cranked ice-shaving contraption.
HITTING THE BIG TIME (1) – Sergio Leone directed a then unknown Clint Eastwood in 1964’s “A Fistful of Dollars,” and would go on to popularize the spaghetti western film genre.
WINDS OF TIME – If you were feeling warm in the 1950s, you turned on your classic two-speed Westinghouse electric fan with the black grill and the shiny silver blades.
RACING AGAINST TIME – A young Mama Chit poses astride a what looks like a 1951 Buick Roadmaster.
SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL – Plaza Moraga rests at the foot of Jones Bridge, connecting Ermita with Binondo on Calle Rosario (now Quintin Paredes). Originally constructed as Puente de España upriver, it was rebuilt in 1916 as Jones Bridge, named after Phil. Autonomy Act author US Rep. William Atkinson Jones. Following the bombing of Manila in WW2, it was again reconstructed in 1945. The Toyota Corona and Ford Fairlane in the foreground suggest that this photo could have been taken in the late 1960s.
AHEAD OF ITS TIME – American pop artist Andy Warhol created the Marilyn Monroe silkscreen painting in 1962. In recent years, it has been named the third most influential piece of modern art.
PRESSED FOR TIME? – Iron your shirt with a vintage cast iron coal-fired iron. Also called sad irons (“sad” is an Old English word for “solid”), the local ones were made by Philippine Iron Mfg. Co., and exclusively distributed by Swiss trading house F. E. Zuellig, Inc.
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