Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Model Sale

Yesterday morning I headed out on a mission with a friend to acquire a Hyde Park radio.  Hyde Park beer was made here in St. Louis and from what I understand, this radio is a fairly rare promotional item:

My interest in the sale was an old arcade Shuffle Alley bowling game:

Of course, I knew I was dreaming about this.  I figured the price would be too high and where would I put it?  I was right about the price; marked at $800, it was far out of my range.  Alas, the radio was out of my friend's price range as well at $395.  I also believe it was bought by a person in line in front of him, and he was number 4 in line!

This sale reminded me of why I dislike estate sales -- the long lines, the overzealous shoppers, unmarked items, high prices, the rude salespeople.

At any rate, we looked around for quite a while.  My friend ended up taking home a bunch of Missouri license plates dating from 1967 to the 90's for $20.  I found a box of loose model parts.  They were a mixture that screamed 60's -- The Old West and the Space Age.  They had been complete at one time, but had fallen apart over the years.

One of my first garage sale purchases was a model, one of a Navy battleship. I never had the patience to complete a model; I couldn't stand waiting for glue to dry in order to proceed to the next piece. My models generally turned out like this Calvin and Hobbes strip.

 I took them home and reassembled them.  And after all these years, I'm still impatient waiting for glue to dry.

The stagecoach has another horse, but it's currently mending a broken leg.  In real life, they shot horses, in model life, you superglue them.

Friendship 7, piloted by John Glenn

One of the Gemini capsules.  There were 10 missions.  Two of the astronauts from the program, Ed White and Gus Grissom would later die on the Apollo 1 launchpad during a training excercise.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Pickin' and a Salin'

Many Summer holidays of my youth were spent at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.  If you're not familiar, this theme park is located in the Ozarks mountains of southern Missouri.  The park is themed in 1880's rural with a touch of hillbilly (okay, a heavy dose).  Bluegrass music plays throughout the park and bands perform it at various stages within the park.  For me, this music became associated with happy times, but I never listened to it outside of our trips there.  Years later, I developed a love of bluegrass and it's performers, from the classic Flat & Scruggs of the Foggy Mountain Boys to Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.  Yes, that Steve Martin.  Who, I might mention if you're a fan, has another bluegrass album coming out next week.  If you're unfamiliar and so inclined, you can download a free song from the new album at his website.  I also highly recommend his 2009 album, The Crow.  KDHX, 88.1 here in St. Louis plays the Bluegrass Breakdown show every Sunday at noon.

What does all of this have to do with garage sales?  Well, earlier this week I received my weekly email of upcoming estate sales from  This picture caught my eye:
The sale began this morning at 8:00, and having set out at 9:30, I wasn't optimistic, figuring I might have missed it, but I was nonetheless determined to not come home banjo-less.  I was not disappointed:

It's a Harmony, so it's by no means an expensive banjo, but it appears playable with no major defects, other than the fact that it needs new strings and a bridge.  I paid $25 for it.  It's a 4-string Tenor Banjo and from what I've read, this model was made from the 1940's to about 1970.  I thought the soundboard was plastic, but reading online has lead me to believe might be bakelite, although I'm not sure how late bakelite was used.  I'll have to test it the next time we have some 409 in the house (rubbing a q-tip sprayed with 409 will turn yellow on bakelite).

I spent the better part of the day digging around on the internet learning about the different types of banjos, different ways of tuning them, and different ways of playing them.  I even learned the official name for a pick -- a plectrum.  I learned more in that afternoon than I could have in a class.  While I realize the internet is ceratinly not the place to believe everything you read, I read enough from multiple websites to get the common concensus whereas in a class, you're limited to just one person's teachings. 

I played guitar in my younger days, so hopefully I can pick up the banjo with a little practice. Something about picking a banjo while I sit on my porch on a summer day appeals to me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Devil of a Sale

I was at an estate sale on the hunt for a banjo (more on that later), when I came across a box of Halloween decorations.  Most were fairly new, run of the mill pumpkin candles, etc, but this caught my eye:

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