Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'm Nuts, You're Nuts, We're All Nuts for Peanuts

I mentioned in my last post I had gone to an estate sale last Saturday morning looking for several key items. One of them was a set of early Peanuts figures I had seen on estatesales.net. The figures were Charlie Brown, Sally, Lucy and Linus. I knew they were early because Sally was still a baby. The sale actually started on Friday, so I wasn't hopeful they would still be there. I showed up about 15 minutes before the doors opened and was 11th in line. When the doors opened, I was able to get in and immediately proceeded to canvas the house, not knowing exactly where they might be. After pausing for some character glasses (more on those in a later post), I found the figures. Unfortunately, someone had bought the Lucy. Just the Lucy. Who does that? You can't break up the Peanuts gang! I grabbed the 3 remaining figures which turned out to be made of plaster. They appeared to something you might buy at a pottery shop, paint and have fired, so not a commercially released item, but still nicely done.





This person was obviously a Peanuts fanatic. There were Peanuts-related paraphenalia everywhere. I mentioned in a past post the lack of Peanuts merchandise I come across at garage sales. This sale more than made up for that. In additon to the plaster figures, I found these bottle caps. They are from Mexican-bottled Pepsi.


I also bought these vintage Avon bathroom accessories.

Snoopy Soapdish

Linus washcloth holder

I also bought this Snoopy electric toothbrush, minus the actual toothbrush. Also missing was the dog house base.

And finally, this Made in Japan stuffed Snoopy as The World Famous WWI Flying Ace.

I believe he's missing his aviators cap.
There were bedsheets, comforters, awards, a Peanuts board game overpriced at $20, and LOTS of McDonald's toys. I passed on the remaining items as funds were limited and I had found other things more interesting.





Sunday, March 25, 2012

Estate Sale Archeology

No, it's not the name of a new reality trash to treasure show on the History Channel.  I was at an estate sale off of Milburn Road in Oakville Saturday morning with the specific intention of buying a few key items (more on that later).  This house was packed from top to bottom.  I wouldn't call the previous owner a hoarder, but they certainly had tendencies toward that.  The basement in particular was a scattered mess of items, many laying on the floor covered in dirt and dust.  There were so many items, I must have gone through each room of the house at least 3 times.  On the last pass through the basement, I noticed a box of what appeared to be rocks laying on a shelf.  They turned out to be arrow points, mostly pieces.  The box was marked $2, but it was 50% on Saturday, so a dollar brought it home.



Like I said, most are pieces and not full points, but here a few of the nicer pieces:






And the best piece in the entire box, was almost overlooked, being so small.  A stone bead.  I have no idea how you would drill a star-shaped hole through a rock.  I suspect with great patience and diligence:


When I was a kid, I would often search my father's garden after the spring plowing looking for arrowheads.  By the time I came along, most choice points had already been found by my older siblings, but I still managed to find one here and there.  My father initially thought these had been left by Native Americans passing through on the Trail of Tears.  I now know these are artifacts from the Mississipian Culture, commonly know as the Mound Builders, that lived throughout the Midwest from 800 to 1500 AD.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Erin Forever

Happy St. Patrick's Day.  In honor, I present a postcard I found among those I bought at an estate sale last Fall.  I previously profiled the Christmas portion of the cards here.

This is the only St. Patrick's Day postcard I've ever come across, given from one sister to another on March 17th, 1909, 103 years ago.  It was apparently also the receiving sister's eighteenth birthday making her actual day of birth March 17th, 1891.

Each leaf of the shamrock has been annotated with "six years" for a total of 18 years.  The text in the pipe reads, "CHEER UP.  eighteen years ago you where (sic) the cause of great happiness to your mother do you remember anything about this."


On the back, "St. Louis MO March 17th 09.  For my Irish sister."  I'm unsure of the initials.  OOG?  ODG?

The card was made by the Ullman Manufacturing Company of New York.  Not much information can be found on the company on the internet, although what little I did find suggests they operated from around 1888 to 1946 and were run be brothers Nathan, Max, Louis and Isidor Ullman.  Their peak years were between 1900 and 1915 where this postcard falls in.

Happy 121st Birthday Irish sister, and Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone else.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Tale of Four Projectors

I'm an admitted AV Geek Wannabe.  Is there anything lower than that?  I never belonged to the AV club in high school and never got to wheel around or operate the 16mm projectors that would grant brief respite from the daily school lesson in favor of a film.  Any film was better than a lecture.  While I had a fascination with the films in school, it wasn't until many years later that I developed an interest in the equipment.  Over the years I've acquired a number of 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8 projectors and a variety of film.  This is the story of four garage sale finds.

First up is the Kodak MovieDeck 455.  This is kind of an odd duck.  As opposed to the traditional projectors where the film reels are upright, this one has the film reel laying flat with the film winding an obstacle course of glides into the belly of the beast and winding on a pickup reel laying flat in the bottom.  I bought this at a garage sale Summer of 2010 thinking it was a slide projector.  The projector and screen were $7.  This projector is a dual 8 projector, handling both Standard 8mm and Super 8mm film with the flip of a switch.  For those not in the know, the difference between 8mm and Super 8mm film, from a projection standpoint, is the size of spacing of the sprocket holes on the film. 








 The cool feature of this projector is the self-contained projection screen. You can project onto a traditional screen, or with the flip of the lens, redirect the image onto a small display.

The downside of the Kodak MovieDeck is its reputation for scratching films.  Since the film glides around guides and not rollers, it's constantly rubbing the film against a surface that while smooth could contain dust and other abrasives.

Next is another Kodak projector, the Ektasound 245B.  This Super 8 sound projector is another odd design. When I first saw it at an estate sale last September, I initially thought it was a reel to reel tape recorder.  I bought it for $6.



The projection lens on this model also flips to allow you to either project out the front or rear of the case.




I sold both of these projectors on eBay since I already had a pretty decent Elmo ST-600M Super 8 projector and I had no Standard 8mm films.  About a week after I sold the dual 8 Kodak MovieDeck, I found a case of standard 8mm home movies at an estate sale.  

So the hunt began for another Standard 8mm projector.  It was a long hunt.  I finally found one at an estate sale a couple weeks back.  This is a Bell and Howell model 256AB.  Bell and Howells are the workhorse of the projector world and are a dime a dozen.  I had already bought one of these years back before I knew what to look for.  The bulbs for these are outrageously expensive (actually, most projector bulbs are) coming in at anywhere from $35 to $50.  But the bulb in this projector worked, so I bought it.  It was $6 (okay, not quite a dime a dozen). 




When I got it home and tested it, it seemed to work fine, if a little noisy,  until I loaded a film.  Once the pickup reel was under tension, the reel began slipping and allowed the film to go slack.  I did some research online and determined that it was most likely due to a worn out belt.  I took the projector apart, greased and oiled all of the gears and removed the old belt.  A new belt on eBay was $5 with shipping.  Once that arrived, I replaced the old belt and loaded up the first film.  It ran like a charm.  However, on the second film, the pickup reel began slipping again.  Looking closer, I found that the pickup spindle itself was now slipping.  Taking that apart, I found a complex system of gears and slip washers that allow the pickup reel to give when needed as the speed required to pick up the film varies as the film on the spool grows.  The gear that is sandwiched between the slip washers was slipping too easily.  I tried placing sandpaper between the washers and the gear thinking this might aid in grabbing, but that didn't work.  Next I tried tightening the screw that held the spindle to the reel arm.  I ended up snapping the head off.  (Insert sad trombone music). 

But, as I've noted in the past, in the garage sale world, it always seems like it never rains, but pours.  At an estate sale in Oakville yesterday, I found this Keystone model 2500 dual 8 projector for $2.50.  It came with the adaptors for running Super 8 film and the original instructions.





While a little dirty, it cleaned up nicely.  This project feels a little lightweight and, I'll be honest, cheap.  However, it is made in Japan and apparently is the same as a Chinon 2500.  It runs very quiet and smoothly, however, once the film is loaded, you're in for the long haul -- there's no easy way to remove the film once it has been threaded without playing the entire film.  It's also a bit of black box in that sense as you can't see the film inside and you run the risk of crimping the and accordioning the film inside without knowing it.

I ran a film through and it worked perfectly.  The exceptional feature of this projector is the variable speed adjustments.  Most projects run at fixed speeds of either 18 fps (frames per second) or 24 fps.  When you see the old films and everyone is moving around too quickly, it's because they're showing an 18 fps film at 24 fps.  What is nice about the variable frame rate is the film can be adjusted to match the frame rate of a video camera when transferring thus elminating the visible flicker on transfer.  Another nice thing about this projector is the bulbs are fairly inexpensive, running about $16 each.

Of course, this projector isn't without it flaws either.  It seems if it encounters a bad splice, it looses the loop (the slack piece of film before it passes into the projection gate (shutter).  Once this happens, the film chatters and no amount of pressing the loop former resolves the issue and you're stuck watching the stuttering film for the remainder.  Fortunately, I've only enountered that on a couple of the films I've been reviewing.  Also, the bulb while inexpensive is also fairly dim at 50 watts.  But I've also read this is a benefit when transferring films to videotape as the dimness prevents glare.

I'll be showcasing some of the films which document an annual trip to Florida for a young couple from 1963 to the 1970's at a later date.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Banner Year

A couple weeks back I went to an estate sale at an old farmhouse in Jefferson County.  I wasn't expecting much as rural folk tend to have fewer frivoulous items and this was not an exception.  However, while looking through some books, I came across a a couple yearbooks from the 1940's.  I'm always baffled how a family can let items like these go.  People ask me why I would want someone else's yearbook.  First of all, at a quarter, I don't have much to lose.  But also, I think I want them because somebody else didn't.    I become keeper of someone else's memories.  I just realized something.  My home has become the Island of Misfit Memories.   Memories cast off by others, gathered, sheltered and seeking a new home.  And I now have a new category for my posts!

The book I chose to profile is the 1945 edition.  The book is from Kulpmont High School in Kulpmont, Pennsylvania or more appropriately, the newly (in 1945) rechristened Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial High School.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Handy Connection

I made a Garage Salin' connection this morning.  While reading an regular feature called "A Look Back" in this morning's Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I came across a familiar name.  The article told the story of W. C. Handy and his most famous song St. Louis Blues: 

Handy was a successful band leader and composer on Beale Avenue (later Street) in Memphis when he published the "St. Louis Blues" in 1914. He said hard times in St. Louis inspired the lyrics.

But Hardy originally called it "Jogo Blues" and renamed it in honor of Russell Gardner, a wealthy buggy manufacturer from St. Louis. Gardner enjoyed Hardy's music and tipped him $20 whenever he visited Memphis.

"It became a great favorite of his," Handy said of the song and Gardner.

I recognized Russell Gardner as the owner of Banner Buggy Works, of which I have a silver spoon with an engraved image of the company logo and wrote about here.

I was surprised to learn how wealthy Russell Gardner was.  Apparently, he even owned his own steamboat, the Annie Russell.  From the Post-Dispatch article:

Look Back:  W.C. Handy, 1932



Look Back:  W.C. Handy, 1932
Russell Gardner on the desk of his steamboat, the Annie Russell. Gardner was successful and prominent in St. Louis and along the river. His brother, Fred Gardner, was Missouri governor from 1917 to 1921. Russell Gardner's buggy factory on the riverfront just south of downtown on Rutger Street.
It makes me wonder if the spoon was a souvenir spoon as I had thought, or could it have actually been used on the steamboat.  If you can afford your own steamboat, surely you can afford to have all of its silverware engraved with your company's logo.

One final connection to this morning's article: I'm also pretty sure we performed St. Louis Blues on the album I recorded with the Oakville High School Band I wrote about here.
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