Monday, August 30, 2010

harvest gold will not fade away

a Googled image that isn't my kitchen

I'm in the process of renovating our kitchen - on a shoe string budge.  Our house was built in the early to mid 1970's.  The kitchen is the only room left that screams out 1970's.  Yesterday my pal Jose' came over and helped me rip out the chipping the harvest gold tile and the failed particle board subfloor.

We have plans to repaint, re-tile, and re-counter this old kitchen. When the sawdust settles, we hope to have a more traditional kitchen.  Unfortunately, the harvest gold range-top, range hood, and double oven will have to remain.  It would cost a good bit to replace these ugly old appliances.  They are in perfect working order, and can not find justification in discarding them just because of their dated color.

I didn't like avocado green or harvest gold even when I was living through the seventies.  The faddish colors and sought after appliance colors quickly became dated.  

Gina and I moved into our home a little over fourteen years ago.  We have been replacing appliances as they die.  Frankly, I don't think our oven or range-top will die in the near future.  Any appliance repairman can tell you that the old stuff is the good stuff.  Most of the new stuff isn't made to be the decade to decade time machines like those our mom's used when we were growing up.  If you buy a fridge, you hope and pray it will give you ten years of service. 

Over the years we've replaced the harvest gold fridge, trash compactor, sink, and dish washer.  Now that the ugly gold tile is gone, we have only three items left from our kitchen's original harvest gold glory.  It's a catch 22.  I would like to see these appliances go away, but I can not afford to replace them.  The color repulses me, but I need them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

waiting on a sign

One of my favorite signs, I can't explain why, is the old Pure Oil sign.  My favorite is the Pure sign with the red arrow behind it (as shown above).  The most common version is the Pure sign sans arrow.

Years ago, when Jim Thompson and I were working on the Christian Brothers 'Skylight' stage, I had my eye out for a Pure sign.  It was a small wood planked stage that Jim and I were trying to transform into the faux front of a general store/gas station.  I had in mind having the sign hanging over the front of a stage as if performers were playing on a front porch.  Because it was a Christian coffeehouse, I thought the Pure gave spiritual significance. 

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." - Philippians 4:8

I never did get that stage quite the way I wanted it - mainly because I was waiting on a sign.  Even twenty two years ago, the signs were rarely seen in our neck of the woods.
As a graphic designer, I've developed a good many logos down through the decades.   So not only do I appreciate the Pure logo for nostalgic reasons, but for the simple, powerful aesthetics of this piece of old school corporate branding.  To me, it's a beautiful thing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

the sound of comfort

I have three vintage oscillating fans.  I have a beautiful black GE fan in my basement.  I use it all the time in the Summer.  I have a small one in the garage, mostly for looks because it doesn't put out that much.  Yesterday while working in the garage, Gina pulled out my huge Westinghouse fan from the corner.  It hadn't worked since I got it three or four years ago.  She plugged it in, but it didn't work for her.  The cord was in terrible shape, having been gnawed to pieces by an animal.  I am surprised that Gina didn't hurt herself fooling with it.

Later in the evening, Gina and I were having a 24 (Season 2) marathon together.  There was a scene where Jack Bauer was being tortured with a saudering iron.  It made me think about the fan, that all it probably needed to work was a new cord and a little saudering.  I went out to the garage after Gina went to bed.  I unscrewed the bottom of the fan base and got busy with it.

It was very hot out there last night.  Sweat rolled off my bald dome and fell into my glasses.  It wasn't long before my clothes were drenched.  I got the new cord on, but had problems finding a good plug.  I had to sauder the end three or four times to get it right.  I am so not a handiman.

It was not a complicated task, but took me several attempts to do the job right. I turned the switch on and I heard a faint hum.  There's finally electricity - but no go.  I turned it off and decided that maybe it needed a little oil.  There's no telling how many decades it had not been in use.  A little oil here and a little there - like the Tin Woodsman - came to life

I love the sound of these old fans.  This one had a solid sound like an engine of a B-17 bomber. My mind was immediately taken back to our family trips to Columbia, SC.  Most of dad's siblings lived there and the Finlayson kids would have to scatter a little for a borrowed bed to sleep.  No matter who's house we ended up, there was always an old oscillating fan on a dresser, comforting us with a cool breeze on a hot night -  helping us to drift to sleep to the steady rhythmic sound that only an old oscillating fan motor could make.

When the fan finally mind went immediately back to uncle Murdock's house on Duncan Street in Columbia.  I remember lying in a musty smelling room on one of his twin beds in his spare room.  The shadows and sounds of Murdock's house  were different than that of my bedroom home.  I remember focusing my attention on the fan - feeling the breeze brush against the sheets - and listening to it's soothing mechanized voice.  I listened until I fell asleep.

Last night I stood motionless in the garage enjoying the immediate fruit of my labor - the coolness and the soft hum of the old Westinghouse.  This is the sound of comfort.  My cool heaven.

Friday, August 20, 2010

fun and falls

I used to have a pair of these bad boys.  The ones I had looked worn out like these because I lived in a hand-me-down household.  I don't really have any stories to tell about rollerskating.  They just came to mind.  Do they still make them - the kind with the key?  They were fun, but I don't recommend you clamping them onto your sandals.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

birthday memory

My mind has been going back this week to a particular birthday when I was a kid.  August 19th, school had already started.  Dad let me go in late that day so he could take me to Toddle House that was on Forrest Avenue (next door to Laverty Music Company).  I remember that morning clearly.  Dad had to park the car in the back of the building and walk around to the front.  The back lot was gravel, not easy to maneuver on two crutches.

So we get out of the car and I walk with my dad around the building to the front door.  Once in, he works his way, not into a booth, but onto a round stool to order and eat from the counter next to his son.  Sometime during the week Dad had asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  I told him that  I wanted him to take me to get a waffle for breakfast.  Having five siblings, I just wanted it to be just him and me.

Looking back, it was a simple thing to ask, but perhaps a difficult task for a man with polio on crutches to deliver.  It's a good memory, but I guess it's taken me over forty years to really appreciate a father's small gift to the fullest.  "Son, I love you.  I'll negotiate gravel on crutches for you - risk falling down for you.  I'll sit perched atop a tall bar stool, and balance myself while I have breakfast with you.  I've got work at the office to do, but I love you, I'll be late just so you can have a waffle with your dad."

I know I'm a little bit late in doing so - but thanks for the birthday dad.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

creamed goodness!

Nobody made a devil's food snack cake like Merita Bakery's Mickey Cake.  The Mickey Cake was round, about the diameter of a Chattanooga Moon Pie and about 1.75" high.  Merita now carries the Hostess brand - but last time I had their Hostess brand devils food - it did not compare to the original Mickey Cake.  The Hostess brand was dry.  The Mickey Cake devils food cake was heavenly in texture and taste.
I don't remember what company sold the Banana Flip, but that used to be another favorite of mine.  Nothing like a thin cake folded over on creamy artificial banana goodness.  It resembled a taco in the way the caked wrapped around the cream.  There was a time when I could buy a devils food cake was sold in the flip/taco manner.  They were quite good too.

I was in a convenient store yesterday looking at the selection of snack cakes being offered these days.  The choice seemed so limited.   I saw some Twinkies and some Little Debbie's and a stale looking honey bun.  I guess I was looking for something that was no longer being made.  I know it's not healthy eating any of those things.  For health's sake I've avoided the dusty pastry endcaps for decades.  I do miss Mickey Cakes - I do miss Banana Flips.

I just don't buy snack cakes anymore.  I used to eat them all the time when I was growing up in the sixties.  I wish that they had not faded into snack food obscurity.