Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Trailer Trad Grooming: A Great American Manufacturer You've Probably Never Heard Of

Trad Trad is all about appreciating quality in the little things. I've shown a lot of these things over the past five years; everything from vintage clothes to cool old cars. Products for the home can be these little things too.
J.R. Watkins is a 100 year old manufacturer based in Winona Minnesota. It's story is new to me but I do recall seeing old ads from 1940's Life magazines or old spice containers that advertised Watkins' products. Watkins is a fascinating company with a rich history. Its turn-of-the-century headquarters is stunning and is an important MidWest example of Prairie School architecture.

I like that Watkins household products have a great apothecary look to them and are great to have by the kitchen or bathroom sink. This is surely an intentional appeal to nostalgia because taking an old brand and playing up the hipster 'authenticity' of it has been done many, many times--usually with mixed results. 
However, If Watkins hand soap or dish soap cost $15 and you went through a bottle every two weeks, I wouldn't buy them. But I can wash my dishes and wash my hands using a really nice product for around $4 a bottle and they each bottle lasts for MONTHS. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Trailer Trad Living: I Graduated from MWC, Which Stands for "Many White Columns"

I went up to VA with Lil' Bean for my nephew's wedding. While there, I went by the alma mater to check it out. They have more new buildings than useful majors. The newest, the student center, is a palace. Shown below, it's clear that no expense was spared. To their credit, it's a beautiful building that fits in seamlessly with the other older, 1930s-era academic and dormitory buildings joining it on Ball Circle.
An old academic building (I can't remember which department was even housed in it) was leveled to make way for a new structure. They may have also wanted to take down the architecturally significant Seacobeck building located in a beautiful glade next door. Seacobeck, the student dining option spanning back to the 1930s, currently has a 1990s era renovation job that is so-so but back when I was in school, the dining hall was very elegant and every table had a linen tablecloth, china and silverware, as well as a fresh floral arrangement each day. Unfortunately, the food was also kind of old school Southern cafeteria and not quite as elegant although the fried chicken, shrimp, and steak nights were great!
The old campus is a quiet, almost monastic, enclave that really is the picture of Old Virginia--ancient hardwoods, weathered Georgian brick structures and rolling lawns.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Trailer Trad Collecting: Practical Picking--Stuff for the Abode

This house in my old Five Points neighborhood is actually cooler than it looks in the picture. The garage on the right is an actual carriage house original to the historic property. The owners held a tag sale a few weekends back. Most of the contents were from their house at the beach (this IS Raleigh, where everyone seemingly has a place at the beach).
I had fun picking that weekend because there was a good deal of action going on given the beautiful fall weather. I'll probably post on random picks later but I thought that I'd just point out a few finds that found their way into the house right away.
I may have mentioned the Bargain Box before in a previous post. It is the Raleigh Junior League (venerable institution) thrift store that has been in the same spot since the 1950s. I spotted the high quality couch and love seat pictured below a week or two ago and jumped on them. Some frat boys from NC State were eyeing them too. I yanked the price tag with the idea that an old, crotchety man like myself needed goose down pillows more than their frat house. They were disappointed. Oh well. I'll comp them a suitcase of PBR.
I picked up the pillows and the striped runners from the above-mentioned tag sale. These items had barely been used and I am enjoying them very much.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Trailer Trad Tunes: A Halloween Tradition

Like Vince Guaraldi at Christmas-time, there are some tunes that just need to be brought out at holidays. For Halloween, I haul out one little-known favorite--the great Matt Pond PA tune and video that I have shown before. The second is a new selection for TT and comes from Raleigh favorites The Rosebuds. Don't worry, it's not as scary as it looks! Credit for the find goes to P.O. Palustris.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Trailer Trad Attire: Are You Man Enough to Wear This Hat?

There is an old American manufacturer of hats that are worn by more bad-asses than you can count. Texas Rangers (not the baseball team) wear 10-gallon white versions. County Mounties (10-4 good buddy) wear the gray, wool felt versions. Freakin' Smokey the Bear swears by them.

If you said Stetson, it would be a laudable guess but you'd be wrong. Family-owned Stratton has manufactured hats to the go on the heads of countless men and women that have sworn to protect and serve us with valor since before I was born.
I have to admit that I would feel unworthy wearing any hat regularly associated with law enforcement but, I gotta tell ya, the tan straw version of the forest ranger hat could really fit the bill, if you'll pardon the hat pun. I'm so fair-skinned that I get sunburned from the moon. It may be time to invest in serious sun protection that has some real stature. Let's face it, baseball caps are the corporate logo polo shirts of manly style. I've planted the hearty, oaken seed of headware desire in you. While on your next hiking or dry-fly fishing expedition, what would look manlier yet jauntier than this lid? You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Trailer Trad Tunes: Tycho

Tycho is an ambient group that started out as a one-man art project but grew into a band in 2009. The vision of Scott Hansen, he also creates the group's album covers and videos. His blog ISO50 showcases his art, t shirts, etc. I like this live performance at KEXP's studio in Seattle because it is almost identical in sound quality to their albums.

 An NPR station in a West coast epicenter of hipsterdom, KEXP has a way of showcasing bands that I really like. Very beard and skinny jeans/scarf intensive, many of the artists have that Brooklyn hipster-esque cred that the folks that compile the Muzak for Starbucks, etc. salivate over. Many of the following are not very current but  I still like them for more chill listening. Matt Pond PA is really underrated as is NC and Trailer Trad favorite Future Islands. Speaking of underrated, Dinosaur Junior, it seems to me, is one of the last of what I would consider to be grundge bands from the 1990s. Do you think that they will get their due in that regard?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Trailer Trad Attire: Shenandoah Shopping Surprise

On a recent trip through the Virginia countryside, my sister took us to a very special place. She, my mom, and many others have complained (justifiably) that there are no places that simply sell classic, ladylike clothes anymore. If they do, they are in little boutiques with big prices. The malls offer rivers of cheap, disposable fashions meant for very young women (or those awkwardly trying to pass for very young women).

Rather than a boutique, The Fashion Gallery is really a small department store housed in an old horse auction gallery in the middle of NOWHERE (Verona Virginia, near Staunton). But, walk in the door and you'll be amazed at the presentation, inventory, and amount of women's clothing. They also do a great job with home decor and children's clothing. 

This is the view from the Verona VA corner where Fashion Gallery is located. What's inside the store is a little nicer...

This large, large boutique meanders back through a number of well-lit rooms. Around a half dozen nice ladies stand at attention to greet visitors or straighten up the racks. The owner, Linda Holden, was not in the store when we visited. From what I understand, she retired from teaching around 30 years ago to open the store. Ever since, one can easily see that see has kept a keen eye on her store though she's often in New York on buying trips. I find the image of a lady from the Shenandoah Valley patrolling the Garment District and NY runway shows and shipping $$$ of clothing back to little, tiny Verona wonderful.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Trailer Trad Collecting: An Orginal Art Score from a 20th Century French Graphic Artist

It's always nice to pick up original artwork but it's usually a rich man's game. That's why you have to be selective and get it when you find it. At a recent estate sale, most of the pickers were looking for old toys and stuff like that. Not much art. However, there was one nice piece that hung over the basement fireplace in a place of honor. At $40, it was WAY too pricey for that crowd and hung there for maybe two hours after the sale opened.  Some guys get up at four in the morning to be first in line inside at these sales. But I'm sometimes amused at what's left by the time I roll in way later in some cases.

This is a mid-20th Century watercolor by Jacques Blein. He was a French graphic artist active in the 1930s to 1950s who produced some pretty nice travel posters for France as well as drawing great graphics for Essolube for its classic 1930s french magazine ad campaign. The watercolor is very nice with bright colors, nice condition and interesting industrial/nautical subject matter of a shipyard.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Recent Junking Finds

Here are a few recent junking purchases acquired at local estate and yard sales. This mint little badge was attached to 1930s/1940s automobiles to signify that they carried State Farm insurance-I think.
I love vintage clothes but they are SO hard to find because men simply wear out everything that they buy. Exceptions are special items that they hold onto, like this wool baseball cap from around 1960. Very nice, soft condition but too small for my size 7 and 24/8ths head.
These 70s plastic chairs probably aren't worth that much because I don't know the manufacturer or designer but I do know that that they look really cool and that they were bought by the owners out of the window of Raleigh's best Mid-Century furniture store Father and Son Antiques.
This a cute little whale. It's a 1940's bedside change stand that a guy would use to hold his pipe, wallet, change etc. Very charming and functional.
Judging by the tall ship rigging, I'd guess this framed photo is from the 1940s or so, maybe earlier. Nice, large image with cool subject matter.
These french signs are from the 1950s or 1960s and went in restrooms, etc. 'Salle de bains' means restroom while 'defense de cracher' means no spitting. -Seriously.