• Sitting Down For The Road

    We don’t have many traditions in my family. We don’t sit around the Seder table asking questions; we don’t eat Chinese food on Christmas; we don’t have Taco Tuesdays or Gefilte Fish Fridays. We are pretty ordinary people in that sense. Or every sense.

    There is one tradition that I’d like to keep and pass along to my kid – sitting down for the road.

    A view of Congressman George H. Tinkham’s suitcase after his trip. © Time Inc. David E. Scherman

    Every time we were about to leave on a trip my Dad always said “Let’s sit down for the road” and we would set down our suitcases and sit quietly for a minute. It wasn’t my favorite thing to do – when you are a kid on the way to an exiting destination the last thing you want to do is to be stopped in your tracks and sit around even for a minute. But then again it’s a minute well-spent. You could realize you forgot something, or just look around one last time so a memory of your place will travel with you and eventually make you homesick. You could concentrate, finalize a plan, prepare for the departure, as a pilot might say revving up the engine. Many useful things you can do in a minute. Or you can just not do anything and wait for your Dad to signal that the sitting down for the road is over and open the door to something that awaits outside.

    I’ve done this ever since I can remember. I sat down in places I’ve never returned to; I sat down with people who I never got to see again; I sat down before the trips I remember and many forgotten ones. Now I get to tell my kid to sit down and I like the continuity of it. It’s a real tradition, beautiful in its simplicity and as meaningful as one wants it to be.

    For the road…

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  • Old Ads: Automotive

    I’ve been clipping copying these ads from the old Life magazines for a long time and, chances are, you might have seen some of them on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. The ads are just as neat and interesting as the actual content of the old magazines; nowadays some of them would be considered racist, sexist or both, but it doesn’t make them any less of a historic record of their epoch; they were perfectly acceptable at the time and they make the progress much more obvious. Makes, models, shapes, prices long forgotten; “amazing auto-pilots” and cars “for women drivers” – you won’t see ads like these in the magazines of today. I thought I’d share a few ads on this blog in a somewhat organized manner. The first installment will be about cars, but I am planning to follow up with food and other things. These ads are in no particular order since I was too lazy to make a not of the year and issue.

    I’ll start with this awesomely sexist ad:

    ©Time/Life

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  • Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships

    One weekend last year I was looking for something to do (for free) and noticed an announcement about the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships which coincidentally will be conducted this year on August 23-24 in Lawrence, KS. My appreciation of music is limited, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate someone’s superior skill and I have to say that the performers at last year’s championships were amazing. And I did like the music. The atmosphere was picnic-like, several stages, bring-your-own-chair-or-blanket-type seating, food vendors and souvenirs – the usual. Plus a good reason for a nice day trip to Lawrence. There are many various instruments fiddle, guitar, banjo, pretty much anything with the strings.  Weather permitting, I will be driving there on Sunday the 24th around 10-11 AM. Oh and did I say it was FREE?

    Here are some videos I took last year:

    I also took plenty of pictures (click to see the set):

    Fiddling and Picking Championships, Lawrence KS, August 2007

    But even if there was no picking or fiddling, or food, or people, my trip would have been fulfilling anyway because I saw this guy with a railroad tattoo on his face and a matching hat (click to see detail) :

    It was like seeing Jesus on a common household item but much, much better.

    See you in Lawrence!

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  • Different Toys – Different Lives

    Some toys end up at the mass grave at the Community Yard Sale:



    This is one morbid-looking doll:

    Sturdy Play Suit – made for hard play (if you know what I mean):

    A pin from a lot more innocent times:

    Naked golf balls no more:

    Other toys get to live in the museum:

    Jewel Secrets Ken – draw your own conclusions:

    In the hindsight it might have been inappropriate to write “my arms and legs are pauseable”, “ages 3 and up”, and “no batteries required” on a Pee-Wee Herman doll. If you own an Ernest talking doll, you might be a redneck:

    Some PEZ dispensers:



    Lastly, you may have seen these “urban toys” before:

    urbancurban-collectiblesI guess these peope got their inspiration from the “Bag O’ Glass”, “Bag O’ Vipers”, “Bag O’ Sulfuric Acid”, etc.

    Where would these end up in 20 years – the dump or in the museum? Time will tell.

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  • Celebrities…

    … I’ve met them

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