Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trailer Trad Grooming: British Bargain

Few things are more trad than British-made goods. This, we can all agree on! However, there are far fewer British-made things that are trailer trad. I'd like to give you a wonderful example of something made in the U.K. that is and tell you why. Amy Winehouse is just trailer, by the way.

Christy of England primarily makes towels and linens. And this they do very well. According to its web site, "Christy was founded in 1851 and created the first manufactured terrycloth towel as we know it today. The story goes that founder Henry Christy visited the Palace of the Sultan in Constantinople and he bought back with him a sample of a hand made, loop pile fabric which was new to the western world. His brother, Richard Christy analysed how to mechanically reproduce the loop pile, and patented a machine to produce terry towelling on a large scale. When the founding Christy brothers showed the towel at the Great Exhibition almost 160 years ago, Queen Victoria immediately ordered more for her personal use. " Since then the Christy name has been synonymous with quality and luxury.
So far, this sounds similar to Barbour, Church's or any of the other great British brands. Great quality with a great history. True, but its the quality and reasonable price that makes Christy towels trailer trad. The term 'affordable luxury' is bandied about a lot but rarely is it anything more than a marketer's slogan. Christy towels and bath robes (as well as bed linens) are routinely found in the very, very best hotels and spas in the world. But how could a peon like you ever hope to afford them?

Does twenty dollars sound like a lot to pay for a thick Christy standard bath towel? It doesn't to me but that's what they commonly cost if you look around. Consider this. My family routinely use Christy towels day in, day out for a decade or more. That's right. They are as shaggy as a Golden Doodle and as tough as Michael Vick's pit bulls. And they are still made in England.

At Wimbledon in June, history was made when American John Isner and Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut battled it out in a titanic eleven hour marathon of a match. When the epic was over, it was perhaps symbolic that they buried their weary faces in Christy Wimbledon towels, the epitome of strength and quiet excellence over the very long haul.

Christy Towels at The Company Store

Christy Towel Outlet

Sale Page at Christy's Web Site

Friday, July 16, 2010

Trailer Trad Collecting: Sporting Antiques

Sporting antiques are one of the areas of collecting that appeal to guys. Other popular 'mantiques' are sports antiques, advertising antiques, antique tools (really), automobilia or petroliana (car and motorcycle stuff) and toys (guy toys like tin cars, toy soldiers, trains etc. primarily). Guys bring their aggressive 'hunting' natures and sense of competition to these areas of collecting. -So show up EARLY in the morning if you want to land a killer find with this stuff!

Antique decoys are perhaps the oldest and most established sporting collectible. Age, condition, variety of duck and provenance of the carver all influence the desirability of the decoy.

Any period advertising is very desirable now but rustic camp signs are even more desirable. The 'Maple Lodge Tourist' sign below was gotten straight from the source, a mile or two outside of my home town. It's likely from the 1930s. Travel became affordable to the middle-classes in the 1920s with the advent of the Ford Model-T and a craze in tourist travel ensued. Boarding houses and trailer courts served Depression-era and post-war families and often advertised using painted signs like those below.

Fishing collectibles have also been popular for many years. I like antique bobbers because of their weathered look and their great colors. They look great gathered as a collection and presented in antique hand blown-glass jars.

This painting really epitomizes what I like about sporting collectibles. The great, used condition of the painting sets the rustic mood set against the outdoors backdrop. Camaraderie and a good dog. What could be better?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Trailer Trad Collecting: June Picking

Summertime's here and the pickin's HOT! Eh, not really. But I have found a few decent things. Overall though, yard sales have been full of the usual kids clothes, toys and five year old home decor that probably looked cool at Target or Pier 1 but became tacky very quickly.

I bought a stack of these phonics pictures that were hung in classrooms during the 1950s. I thought the graphics were great and would be great matted, framed and hung in a child's bedroom.

I found this arts and crafts desk at a yard sale and snapped up for $15. The oak had some nice graining and the color was good. It had some problems but was still a good buy for me.

This find was especially good since it came in handy during the recent hot spell. This 1940's/1950's oscillating fan put me back one buck at a yard sale and works like a charm. Believe it or not, it makes summer air much cooler than new plastic versions.

This root beer mug set me back a sawbuck at the flea market and I was thrilled to get it. It was probably made in the early 20th century. Buckeye Root Beer was dispensed as syrup from a pump ceramic dispenser at soda fountains. -I wish that I'd come across the dispenser because they're worth thousands of dollars!

I found this seltzer bottle at an estate sale. I thought that this one had quite a bit going for it. The emerald green glass and etched label is very sharp and it is from an American company. European ones and those made with clear glass are much more common. It is also in very good working condition.
At a different estate sale, I ran across some nice 1960s posters that were hung on a basement bedroom wall. This one is of a racing boat. Notice the great Pepsi advertising and the awesome trio of (Mercury?) outboards on the back!

Cowabunga! This surfing poster is in very good condition considering its age. The vintage long board is great and it's dated at the top.

I gave this signed Enid Collins purse/jewelry box to Lil' Bean. It doesn't photograph that well but the big rhinestone owl eyes are great. Enid Collins painted these in the 50s and 60s and they are pretty popular with vintage collectors.

I was very happy to pick this old service station sign up at the estate sale this morning. I don't know its history but I'd guess that it is from the 1940s, give or take. Fifteen dollars for a genuine rustic wood sign is a good pickup for me.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Trailer Trad Living: North Carolina Beach Seafood (reshown)

Remember when going to that favorite restaurant at the beach during the summmer was almost as memorable as the beach itself? I said almost because, years ago, the attraction was solely the beach because there was not a whole lot else. Not the ten mile strip of restaurants, outlet malls, putt-putt golf, movie theaters, etc. that distract visitors today. -Back then, if the restaurant had a powerful air conditioner and plenty of fried shrimp, that was enough.
There's been great seafood up and down the Carolina Coast for many years. Having lived in both Virginia and North Carolina, I've found there are two basic destinations in North Carolina when going to the coast; the northern part is comprised of the Outer Banks (OBX) and Southern Outer Banks (SBX). OBX and SBX span from Currituck to Hatteras Seashore and Occracoke. The southern part is known as The Crystal Coast and comprises towns like Oriental, Morehead City, Wrightsville Beach, and Atlantic Beach down towards Myrtle Beach across the border. Tarheels either go to the northern part or the southern part but it is surprising how few visit both. Both areas of the North Carolina Coast have great restaurants and I'd like to tell you about a few.

Owens Restaurant, Nags Head
For years, both areas have had many family favorites for seafood but for Outer Banks fans, Owens in Nags Head was and remains THE destination for that special meal while vacationing at the beach. It started as an isolated destination sixty years ago in Nags Head. Back when Nags Head was comprised of the shingled, ocean front Grand Ladies of the Outer Banks, smaller fisherman's cottages and little else. Since then, Owens has grown in size and stature while keeping to its Owens family roots; fresh seafood, great sides and surprisingly good steaks. Dining there is low key and old school (they still serve those crocks of cheese spread with the Lance cracker assortment basket!) but with a constant focus on quality and generous portions. -The seafood mixed grill of shrimp, tuna steak, scallops, and beef steak is probably my favorite meal. Period.
Santitary Seafood Restaurant, Morehead City
When you mention Morehead City, almost everyone will immediately smile and suggest Sanitary Seafood, an ancient restaurant on the waterfront. On February 10, 1938, two partners, Tony Seamon and Ted Garner, opened a fresh seafood market on the Morehead City waterfront. A small building had been rented from Charles S. Wallace for $5.50 per week with the understanding that no beer or wine would be sold and that the premises be kept clean and neat. The name "Sanitary Fish Market" was chosen by the partners to project their compliance.

Everyone's been to Sanitary and everyone has a t-shirt. In fact, I'll bet you that you cannot go out on a Saturday in Raleigh during the summer and not spot a few -usually in day-glo colors worn by highschool students. My Daughter attends summer camp near there and it's a tradition to eat at Sanitary on their trip to Morehead City. Her favorite is butterfly shrimp. They follow this up with a stop at Dairy Queen. Nice camp.

The Oceanic, Wrightsville Beach
Built upon an old fishing pier, The Oceanic boasts two main attributes that make it a must when visiting Wrightsville or the other surrounding beachs. The food is excellent and, like Owens in Nags Head, their steaks are surprisingly good. The other thing is the view. Sitting perched out on the end of the pier eating a fine meal at sunset is about as good as it gets. In addition, there is usually live music at the very end of the pier. Because the experience is so good, it gets really crowded, especially during the height of vacation season. -Seemingly half of Raleigh is in Wrightsville on summer weekends!
Dockside Seafood Restaurant, Wrightsville Beach
As much of a fixture as The Oceanic is at night, Dockside is at lunch. Located in a marina, the scene is Carolina Beautiful - relaxing, beautiful scenery and laid-back, beautiful people. And the food ain't bad either. Grad a crabcake sandwich or catch of the day for a great inexpensive lunch and lounge around outside on the deck for hours.

Nags Head Pier, Nags Head Restaurant
While all of the afore-mentioned restaurants are excellent, none could really be described as a 'secret' or a 'dive.' The Nags Head Pier Restaurant is both. And I really, really love it. I discovered it while fishing off of the pier with my brother Stretch years ago. Actually, my Brother was fishing while I was busy de-tangling my fishing line. Taking a break from the action, I noticed a small diner tucked in behind the tackle shop.

Turns out, the little restaurant has an outstanding view and specializes in breakfast. Country ham n' two eggs over hard while the sun comes up is a great way to start the day.
Look for my upcoming blog on bygone dives at the beach or on the way to the beach in my upcoming post Bygone Beach.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Trailer Trad Collecting: Vintage Travel Souvenirs

Travel Souvenirs
Piling into the family car to see new things is very American. Road trips to new places, especially when you’re a kid, stick out in your mind. -Ever watch old black and white super-8 movies of trips when you and your brothers and sisters were really little kids? Trips to Florida. Trips to The Great Smokey Mountains. Even that trip to The Grand Canyon.

Back then, we usually traveled in a 1965 Pontiac Grand Prix with a back seat the size of a king-size bed. Booster seats? Seat belts? Are you kidding? There were four kids in the back seat. Four bladders. A lot of intestinal fortitude was built up on those trips. Somehow, my Dad felt that stopping at a roadside place with a restroom would incur some kind of cost to him. Smart man. Each stop had its own priceless objects of desire. Its own candy for sale to desert-weary travellers. Its own soda pop to necessitate additional rest stops down the road. Nope. My Dad would have none of that. He really missed his calling as a long-haul trucker. He could drive. For. Ever.
Did I mention the chilly air-conditioning that we enjoyed on our summer trips through places like Arizona and Florida? I didn’t because there was none. We did, however, get to travel with our good friend Prince Albert. My Dad rarely smoked but, for some reason, he chose to enjoy cigars on long trips in the car. With us. Would you believe me if I told you that we sometimes traveled in the same fashion in a tiny VW Bug? We did. It was jet black, all the better to absorb that cozy-warm solar heat. You know that little cubby hole in the back of the old Bugs that held, like, a bag or two of groceries? That was Monsieur Legume’s spot. Its upholstery was of fine, Corinthian Brillo-Pad. That particular model will always bring back memories to me because there is something about the smell of Mid-60’s German pleather bucket seats that stays with you. Hotels were places reserved for people like the Waldorfs and the Astorias. We usually camped in a big WWII surplus tent (which was great) but there were a few times when we stayed in a motel. One rainy night in the Ozarks, my Dad was so exhausted that he gave in and stopped at a real Norman Bates Special. I think that even he was grossed out. I was five or six and I distinctly remember making my first sarcastic joke. We walk into our room and my Mom asked how we liked it. “The only modern thing in it is the towel rack”, I remember saying.
That bumper sticker of the campground or that souvenir glass from some foreign country like Arkansas not only brought back, hopefully, fond memories of the trip but proof to others that, yes, we were travelers. We went on adventures. In fact, the Grand Canyon was so exotic that they still had arrows and head dresses for sale on the side of the road. The fact that the arrows were rubber and the feathered head dresses were paper didn’t matter.