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Archive for the ‘nostalgia’ Category

Some Pig


Garth Williams’ illustrations for “Charlotte’s Web” are as much a part of the book as the words, bringing the animals to life with personality and gentle humor. Williams’ daughter Fiona was the model for Fern. His family put up 42 of his drawings for “Charlotte’s Web” for auction in October. The results exceeded estimates. The familiar cover drawing of Fern holding Wilbur under the web-draped title sold for $155,350 and the illustration of the web “Terrific” went for $95,600.

Posted in craft,nostalgia

Mean Pinball


Everything was going wonderfully at the Retro Arcade Museum in Beacon, New York.  Tourists came to see the vintage pinball machines and classic arcade games. Locals booked private parties to relive the old days in front of Atari’s Pong and Breakout. Then the local city council took notice and shut the place down, citing an ordinance that bans arcades. Owner Fred Bobrow has decided to liquidate the place instead of waiting to be licensed under a new law that allows arcades under certain circumstances.

Still Repairing Typewriters


Usually my typewriter repairman posts are about a shop closing up, but this one is not!  The Yale Daily News reports that Mr. Manson H. Whitlock is still going strong at age 93, servicing typewriters at his New Haven shop. The N.Y. Times wrote of his “longevity, lore and collection of irony” last year, noting that he has outlived some of the newspapers that chronicled his “dying field.”  He’s aware that some people are willing to pay over $400 to buy a typewriter “on the computer” (the same typewriter he may sell in his shop for only $25) but he doesn’t own a computer himself.  An earlier Yale Daily article notes that one of Whitlock’s former assistants now repairs computers, leading me to wonder when we’ll be profiling the dying breed of computer repair shop owners.

“20 Minutes into the Future”


“Max Headroom” the 1987-1988 TV series is being released on DVD and The New York Times takes the opportunity to review it from the perspective of 2010, including a pithy quote from William Gibson.  Movie theaters were a thing of the past in the Headroom future and television was the ruling media, with no World Wide Web in sight.  The 1987 Times review of the first episode seems rather jaded, perhaps tired already of the commercialization of television that the episode itself blatantly skewers with the 3 second “blipverts” that have the unfortunate side effect of killing some people. There’s no mention of cyberpunk or references to “Bladerunner” back then. An earlier 1985 review of the Cinemax series where Max Headroom served as host of an interview show takes note of the video effects but not much else. A 1986 review mentions “Bladerunner” because Rutger Hauer is a guest, but, again, the only innovation mention is that of the Max effects. New Coke anyone?

Posted in culture,nostalgia

Holding Down the Past


Seasoned New Yorkers may overlook the uniqueness of the objects holding down the top papers at newstands, but for Harley Spiller those paperweights are a family affair. His parents operated the Mortimer Spiller Company in Buffalo, manufacturers of cast-iron paperweights.  And he wrote his MA thesis, all 25,000 words of it, on these functional objects.  The New York Times published a slide show of a few of the many paperweights Spiller’s father collected over the years. Like many mundane, everyday items, they are an overlooked chronicle of cultural change and industrial design. Harley Spiller is a collector himself of many things. I mentioned his Chinese restaurant menu collection here back in 2005 and I’m sure he’ll show up here again one day.

Written by ltao

August 9th, 2010 at 1:58 am

Posted in culture,nostalgia

King Street Station Revealed


The historic ceilings are uncovered
When I picked up my friend Jen (hi Jen!) at Seattle’s King Street Station in early July, there was a tantalizing square opening in the dropped ceiling that revealed a portion of the ornate plasterwork far above us.  I didn’t have long to wait to see the full results. A week later the 1,600 ceiling tiles were removed and photos published of  the results.  I can only imagine the reactions in 1963 when the original ornaments and lighting were removed and covered. Did most people pronounce the new drop tiles, flourescent lighting and plastic laminate modern and lovely?

Drive-In Movies


In summertime, in the height of the movie season, the thoughts of nostalgic types at certain news outlets turn to the drive-in theater, a venue type that still hangs on, barely, in our HDTV, IMAX 3-D world.  The Seattle Times ran a piece on the remaining seven drive-in theaters in Washington.  In Pennsylvania the Palace Gardens Drive-In is celebrating its 60th anniversary.  Long ago they used to run “all-nighters” with movies until dawn.  The local paper in Milford, Massachusetts interviewed residents who remember fun nights watching from the car with dates or with the kids.  At the one remaining drive-in in New Jersey, the owner has just instituted a “trunk check” policy after noticing that parents have been hiding their kids in the back (seems to me this practice has been around long enough for this new rule to be prompted by the economy rather than safety as the owner claims, but perhaps the parents are also being more economical these days).  Some drive-in related websites: United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association (they list places for sale if you’re interested), Drive-In Theater, and

Written by ltao

June 21st, 2010 at 1:11 am

Posted in culture,nostalgia

Massachusetts Campgrounds


With Massachusetts campground bookings running 16% ahead this year and 450,000 people visiting, lack of popularity isn’t the problem for family run campgrounds.  But taxes, septic and health regulations are making the campground business more difficult and a few have closed over the years.  There are families who have been returning to the same camps each summer for over twenty years. Campground owners are hoping a pending state bill will help ease the Department of Environmental Protection’s regulations.

Written by ltao

June 2nd, 2010 at 1:58 am

Posted in nostalgia

Air to Ground


Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection of World War II combat aircraft are getting some ground reinforcements. A German Jagdpanzer 38(t) tank destroyer and Soviet T-34 tank have joined the collection. On Memorial Day the public can watch them being driven and fired.

Written by ltao

May 28th, 2010 at 1:47 am

Posted in nostalgia

Tower Court East 223


The N.Y. Times City Room blog takes a look at former college dorm rooms of the famous. This being the Times, the elite abodes at Yale, Princeton, and Harvard are examined, with campus maps for the first two.  Notable students from recent celebrity (Michelle Obama, Elena Kagan) to truly historic figures (FDR, JFK) are called out.  More interesting are the many comments which bring out that ol’ college lore, passed down from student to student.  From my alma mater, the tale of the Mayling Soong room in Tower Court, and from Smith, the residences of Sylvia Plath.  (Yes, I did have to look up my Wellesley dorm room number; but I can still rattle off my student ID#.)

Written by ltao

May 28th, 2010 at 1:32 am

Posted in education,nostalgia