Wastelands of Suburbia

A place where the cast-off ephemera of the last four generations comes to rest, and is discussed fondly....Like junk, or the injection-molded minutiae of history? Welcome home...Junkyards, yard sales, roadside oddities, thrift stores and more-your memories are deep inside the box, so keep shaking.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I've become a bit of a Pinterest fan-I hate the name, as it sounds girly. Much of the content is girly as well, however, there's plenty of guy stuff. Moreover, there's plenty of Suburban Junkyard-style stuff to behold. Like this gem-a homebuilt motor home, from the days when such a thing was possible with the right kit or plans or both. This one appears to have been made with Pontiac parts, probably the drivetrain and a few other bits like the grille. It would likely be a 400 or 455(?) engine to pull such yummy stuff. I want to drive this thing to the Grand Canyon, then off the sheer precipice, so I can die happy and fulfilled, and smelling of gasoline and urine.

Friday, January 03, 2014

At one stage, this Frankenstein creation of tractor and car carried the mail in the midwest across the frozen plains of Minnesota. We need to return to this type of pioneering spirit or we are screwed. I don't oppose technology-I embrace it in moderation and in fair use-but we need less Amazon.com drones and more of this.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Glowing Little Memories.

Countless late-night whiz calls, sick tummies, monsters under the bed and sleepless teenage nights were made easier to bear by this little night light right here. Found at my brother's yard sale, forgotten by me until I saw it. Had to have it. Advertising one of our local coal companies (back when there was more than one, it proudly announces Peoples's primary products. I didn't know coal even had brands. Ironically we didn't buy either, with electric heat-no doubt this was given to us by my grandmother, who probably got a half dozen from someone she knew that worked there in exchange for a half dozen automotive meshback Gimme Hats from where she worked, Lawson Automotive. I still think of her every time I see a vintage yellow Pennzoil hat. How many of these were purchased by Peoples to spread the word? A thousand? Five Thousand? How many survive? Doesn't matter-this one is mine-and is now keeping me company once again in my adult home.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Never Grow Up.

Stuff like this will just never stop being cool to me.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Slowly Closing The Circle.

(Yeah. You know what I'm thinking.)

I have said many times that eventually, everything I desire pops up at the flea market, or at a yard sale, or even at the thrift store, at a price I'm willing to pay. Today was no exception. If you follow my blog (at times I wonder if anyone does, really), you'll know that I posted about coolers a while back, waxing nostalgic about how this simple artifact brings back tear-jerking memories for me. This particular one is likely a later model, due to the forming of the sheetmetal around the latch assembly. It's far from perfect, with the usual scratches and dings, and there's a bit of something that appears to be asphalt sealer dripped on the back. The important thing is the latch works, there's very little rust on the chrome parts, and it includes-wait for it-the always-missing upper tray to keep your sandwiches out of the icy water.

I opened it up-to inspect and to establish interest-and noticed some brown funk water inside. Asking the vendor the price, he informed me a paltry $5, and offered to throw the brown water in for free. This was my kind of guy. Not even blinking I paid him, no haggling-anything this good at this price, and you can't really split hairs-you can't buy a new cooler for that, let alone this kind of treasure. I'm going to load this up with Rolling Rocks in honor of Granddad and listen to The Cure and Black Flag all day.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Vintage Craftiness at Flea Market Prices.

(I can see some middle-aged guy, pipe clenched in teeth, Borkum Riff tobacco clouds around him, carefully fitting this thing together in his basement shop, circa 1967.)

Found this neat little score for $10 at the flea market last week-a handmade hobby/tool box. The vendor had two, one with a set of repurposed aluminum folding legs and vintage R/C aircraft decals on it, and this one. While the one with the legs was cool, I had some ideas of my own as to what I wanted to do, so I got the plain Jane instead.

There was a time, when we were far more resourceful (and consequently less wasteful) than we are now. Using plans from Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated or similar publications, a person needing a case would custom-build something like this to his own specs, resulting in a purpose-built, one-off design. Someone spent a fair amount of time putting this together, and while it's not dovetailed or possessing any other hallmarks of a master builder, its utility is what attracted me to it.

I thought about the thousands of cases, perhaps, built in the 1950s and 60s, maybe even into as far as the early 80s, like this. At some point, the cheapness of cases from power tools, etc. in that time period (due, likely, to the low cost of blow-molding, injection molding, etc., not to mention the cheap tools found within) made it easy to score a tool case from the dumpster at work and repurpose it for your needs. I personally have probably a dozen of these sitting around bearing the name DeWalt, Rigid, Milwaukee, Ruger, SigArms, etc. The electric motor repair shop up the street from my house leaves them out with their used pallets for the taking on a regular basis. I could at any time use one of these, but I just thought this thing was so damned cool.

(Dividers are removable, handle swings over to allow lids to open.)

So, to customize. What to do? I don't want to paint it-even thought the wood is basically Luan and nothing fancy. What has crossed my mind is a few water slide decals-you know, the ones that used to adorn the rear windows of station wagons trumpeting the states the family within had been to, the beaches, the tourist traps. Or the windows of hot rods and schlock rods, advertising the products deep within the engine's bowels (or sometimes not).

I'm thinking perhaps a few vintage Rat Fink decals, along with the "Powered by Chevy" vintage tire decal, maybe some flowers, checkered flags, that kind of thing. Something a kid would have done. A sailfish would be the ultimate. Maybe my name in those slanted, gold-toned mailbox letters. Or perhaps some monogramming with a vintage woodburning set, or some of the old-school DYMO label tape I still have laying around in three or four colors.

(This guy has EXACTLY the idea I'm talking about! Note Dymo labels on top, "Powered by Money" tire (heh), and the Stars and Bars. This one holds slot cars-one of the things I forgot about that made the 60's rock. I like the idea of the corners too.)

What's funny is vintage water slide decals will easily cost me more than the box did, but I don't care. These are the recognizable things that will all be there to make my transition to Heaven or the next dimension easier to bear. Stay Tuned.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Where Cool Things End Up, Volume I.

If you know me, you know this is the kind of stuff I live for. Found in the backyard of my girlfriend's uncle, a late 80s/early 90s Mustang billboard decoration, constructed from a fender, door skin and rear quarter, along with wheels, mounted to a steel frame behind. This most likely adorned some Ford dealer's billboard for a few months, before being removed and, somehow, ending up in Uncle Harvey's backyard. All my girlfriend said was it "must be one of the boys's"-meaning Uncle Harvey's grandsons. I don't ask questions like "what are they going to do with it?" because I don't like those questions asked of me, and no answer would suffice to the un-illuminated anyway. But someday, when someone asks me "where can I find a quarter slice of a vintage Mustang?" I'll have the answer.