Saturday, August 28, 2010

It was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Actually, it was a bright and sunny morning when I left for garage saling today. The horrible 2-month heat wave has broken (although it hinted at it again this afternoon). It was in the 60's when I headed out.

As previously detailed, I came across a stash of 50's pulp detective novels at a garage sale today. I've never been a mystery fan (unless you count Scooby Doo), but I do love the covers and titles of these books.

There was Ellery Queen:

Garage sales are like a box of chocolates...

Not to misquote Forest Gump (but I will): you never know what you're going to find.

While saling this morning, I stopped at a house off of Stanhope (which in turn is off of Mattis Road) in South St. Louis County. What first caught my eye was the stacks and stacks of 50's pulp detective novels (but that's another blog, and sorry Frank, no Robert O. Saber's).

After picking out the books I wanted, I saw a small disarray of record albums. While browsing through them, I saw an album that looked familiar, and not a commercial one. It looked very much like the album our high school band recorded in 1984.

Let me explain -- I played clarinet from 7th through 12th grade. BUT I PLAYED IT IN THE MANLIEST POSSIBLE MANNER! Why clarinet? Because my sister played before me and we already had the instrument. My parents weren't about to risk money on an instrument I was likely to up and quit.

Anyway, so here's the album looking very much like the one we recorded in high school. Looking closer, it was indeed that same album. I flipped it over, and there I am sitting on the bleachers of Oakville High School's gym, proudly outfitted in my marching attire, nestled among numerous girls as I always was:

Not that I was such a big man on campus the girls swarmed me, I just intentionally positioned myself in these situations. That plus the majority of clarinet players were girls, but again...I PLAYED IT IN THE MANLIEST POSSIBLE MANNER!

So I held up the album and said to the host, "I'm on this album." After talking to her, I found that her son was in the Oakville band. I do remember him, the year this album was recorded, he was a Freshman and I was a Junior. He's a forest ranger now, working at Crater Lake in Oregon. She had been a band parent and attended the various trips the band had taken. We talked about the band director, Aurelia Hartenberger who is now the Associate Professor of Music at University of Missouri - St. Louis. I say this like I knew this. No, I just googled her. Her father flew with Jimmy Stewart in World War II. He came to visit her once while I was her student and the significance of that was lost on me at the time. Jimmy Stewart? Oh yeah, old movie star: J-J-J-Jimmy Stewart.

Back to the garage sale. The host mentioned she played the organ at Queen of All Saints in Oakville, which is the church I attended growing up. I asked if she knew Carol Brown, who was our organist, and she said she knew her well. She was actually filling in for Carol who had fallen and broken her shoulder. I knew Carol's son David since kindergarten, but lost track of him after junior high. He had the misfortune of being overweight back when most kids weren't and had the unfortunate nickname, Fat Albert, kids being what they are -- cruel, heartless hellions. The last time I saw him in high school, he had shed all of his weight and was quite lanky.
I bought the pulp novels, but not the album -- I still have mine.

After exchanging "say hello to's" and "goodbye's", I was back on the road headed for the next sale.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bo' Ling for A Happy Marriage

One of my favorite movies is "A Christmas Story." I won't go into an overview of the movie, I think everyone has seen this one. It's on for 24 hours on TBS every Christmas Day.

The year is never actually established, however, the Radio Orphan Annie Decoder Ralphie receives is the 1940 model. Because of the era, I've always obsessed about the objects they have in the house, particuarly, their radio. The radio is a 1940 Westinghouse model 780-x. The majority of scenes from the movie were shot in Toronto, and this is actually an exclusively Candian model.

Even without the movies influences, I've always wanted an old console radio, but couldn't justify the cost of most I saw at antique malls. Several years ago, I finally came across an affordably-priced 1941 model Philco at the (now sadly closed) Arnold Antique Mall for $40. When I got it home, I found the only thing wrong with it was the speaker had become disconnected. After a 20 second warmup, it hummed to life bringing in AM stations along with shortwave broadcasts from around the world, not to mention a mysterious broadcast that simply counted off the time, second by second.

While my radio wasn't a match for Ralphie's, I still wanted to complete the look. I had long wondered what that metallic orb was that sat on top. An antenna of some sort?

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Hates Those Meeses to Pieces!

I saw this leaning up against another table at a garage sale off of Kerth Road in St. Louis County. There was no price on it. I asked the seller (an older lady) how much and she said $1. Sold. It has the original legs, but what's odd is it doesn't fold up in typical tray table style. You have to take the tray off, fold the legs, and reattach the tray. Another interesting observation is it lists Quick Draw McGraw on the bottom of the tray, along with Huckleberry Hound and Yogi. Quick Draw is nowhere to be seen. Not even his alter ego El Kabong. However, Mr. Jinx and his antagonists, Pixie and Dixie are there. "I hates those meeses to pieces!"
I set it next to our couch in the living room (my wife just loves me) and use it to hold my coffee cup in the evening. Of course, it folds up nicely when we have dignified company. Are you dignified? Come for a visit and find out!


One Saturday of every month in the late '70's, my mom, sisters and I would head out to a local retail center called Franview Plaza here in south St. Louis County. It housed a Rexall Drugstore, where I bought comics, a Ben Franklin, where I bought my candy, a barbershop, where I would receive the occasional haircut, a P. N. Hirsch department store, where my mother bought my awful yet unstylish clothes, and finally, perhaps most importantly, a Burger Chef.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dear Honey Loves...

Another batch of postcards from the previous post were sent by Gary's and Bob(bie)'s mom on a solo trip to Florida. Reading sequential letters or postcards always gives you a partial glimpse of who these people were and it's always fun to try to guess the rest. My best guess is these cards took place between approximately June 18th and 28th, 1966. A lot of postmarks are illegible, so I've tried to order the cards as best as I could based on content of both the message and the card itself.

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