Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What Winter Once Was: Winter X Games 1940

Photo Credit: Library of Congress. Farm Credit Administration, Office of War Information Collection

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Winter Once Was: Vermont Maple Syrup Season, 1940

Photo credit: Library of Congress Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Trailer Trad Institution: The Neighborhood Hardware Store

The neighborhood hardware store along with the barbershop and traditional men's clothing store are bastions of traditional men's culture. The best of these have deep roots in their communities and reflect steadfast commitment to offering the highest quality goods and services to their loyal customers.
Clarke Hardware store in my Virginia hometown is an excellent example of this. There once were three competing hardware stores on the corner where Clarke resides but now Clarke is the lone holdout. Happily, it seems to do well offering pretty much what it has always offered with a few nods to modernity. However, like most great examples, it neither is a fossized time capsule offering poor service and dusty merchandise nor an overly nostalgic version peddling in ironic, hipster Americana.  
When's the last time that you found a West Bend coffee maker section at Target?
The neighborhood hardware store satisfies a need in the community. People in an area like my home town continue to buy things like canning supplies and seed spreaders. They often live in older homes and use older tools and equipment which are things that you can actually repair instead of throw away and replace. A self-reliant sort, rural men often try to make these repairs themselves and so must go buy the necessary supplies. A hardware store like Clarke's often is staffed with knowledgable, approachable people (perhaps the owner) who have fielded every question imagionable and will steer customers to the right item or order it if they don't have it. It's surprising how often tradesmen will also go to the neighborhood source instead of the big box stores for this reason. They know and have dealt with the owner for many years and often have built a trusted relationship between vendor and customer. -Increasingly rare today.
 This dependence on long term customer relationships often results in expert knowledge of their product lines. They know what customers need, season in, season out. For this reason, they don't load up on rivers of seasonal merchandise of dubious quality only to deeply discount it later (although they've been known to have plenty of Flexible Flyer sleds and Red Ryder BB guns at Christmas!). For this reason, the neighborhood hardware store rarely puts items on sale. However, some stock stays on the shelves for so long that inflation creates its own discount.
Although the owner is not named Clarke, he has been the owner for as long as I can remember and pretty much looks the same too. One of his daughters and Stretch (my brother) were sweethearts for a while in highschool. Gayhearts Drugstore, Knackel's Bakery, Baby Jim's Snack Bar and Clarke Hardware served as anchors bridging the past to the present. Some are here. Some are gone. Other great businesses like It's About Thyme have stepped in to maintain and build on the character of my hometown downtown.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Women of Brit Pop

Ever since Petula Clark and and the women of the 'Northern Soul' movement of the 1960s, British pop music has featured many charming lady lead singers and today's British alternative music scene is no acception.
Here are a few good ones and I hope you like'em. Do you have a favorite? 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trailer Trad: The Rugby Years

I'm a rugby player. While it's true that I haven't actually played in many years (I do want to be able to walk into work on Monday mornings, after all) once a rugger, always a rugger. The importance of camaraderie, fitness and teamwork that were instilled those days on the pitch you don't shake very easily. Nor should you.
That's me in the official Mothers Rugby kit during the club's second or third season. We had solid navy jerseys first then we made the big move to 'reverse quarters' jerseys. Later that season, I designed the shield design that still is worn today by both men's and women's teams. -Looking back, it was probably my biggest contribution to the club.

I was never that good really. But, somehow, I managed to play and contribute in my fashion. The players and Dave the coach were good to me and I gradually improved enough to where I think that I was almost an average player on a very good team.
How did I get involved with rugby? How do guys get involved in the French Foreign Legion? Girl trouble. Being pissed. I was in such a mood one day walking through campus when I happened to see a bunch of rag tag guys playing what looked like 'smear the guy with the ball' (or something to that effect). Turns out that was one of the rugby club's first practices. Pob Rike was an equipment dealer who always had a bag of mismatched leftover jerseys in his trunk. Most guys didn't have any proper ones so we all bought those. They were thick cotton oldschool Maxmore jerseys made in South Africa. Greens, yellows, stripes, solids, hoop patterns on the sleeve. Some were torn to bits. Most were filthy. Yet, even though we had no uniform during those first practices, I knew that we were already a team.
About half way through that first practice, 'fun time' was over. We were then introduced to what rugby practice was all about; fitness. I was not very fit or very strong. I really never was because I was a tennis player and even though I was on the college varsity tennis team, fitness was never emphasized back then. Rugby was different and we were introduced to that during those first few practices. Line up for wind sprints. Line up for passing drills. We ended up the practice with having to carry a fellow player in our arms in relay races. I was left with a barrel of a guy who become our hooker. He was a big hooker and weighed like he was made of concrete. As a lay on the ground praying to vomit, I knew that I would quit the tennis team immediately.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Trailer Trad Time Travel: Hurley Oyster Packers, Urbanna Virginia

This painting came about when I found an old billhead for an oyster packing facility. I love the one hundred year old advertisement's detailed depiction of waterfront activity on The Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013