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, August 24, 2006

Full disclosure on the Big Pile of Stuff...

In my previous post, I mentioned the Big Pile of Stuff-I then realized I'm the only guy privy to what the Hell it is.

When my grandfather passed away a few years ago, he did not have much to leave us save for his tools, acquired over his eighty-some years on this rock. For whatever reason, they were kept at my grandmother's new house until she passed away this year. Since my brother should not hold tools for the same reason he should not hold a gun or drive a car (but does anyway), my cousin Matt, an engineer (the dirty-hands kind, best there is) and I divvied up the stuff.

Having worked estate auctions as a kid, it's interesting to view the progression of time as it pertains to a man's tools. You see the progression of tool technology, a man's need for things as his life progresses, and marketer's ideas of "good ideas" that never quite made it.

What do I mean? Well, Pap was a boilermaker-tough as nails. All his older stuff is rough-hewn, rusty, and some of it handmade. He had more time than money at first, so he would make the wrenches and jigs he needed as needed. As time goes on, you see he was able to afford better stuff, and The Pile reflects that. Even newer was the stuff like the Screwball, one of those ratcheting screwdrivers that you use by twisting the plastic sphere. I mention it because he had surgery on his right arm twenty years ago, and the tool was to help him keep at working despite a loss of supination strength in his wrist.

It's truly a timeline of a man's life to look at his tools...I think I'll post some of the finds, there's some pretty neat shit here.

Tool box progress...

Well, Craftsman Toolbox v.2.0 is progressing-I have laid a few coats of paint down, painted most of the hardware, and have picked out my entire color scheme. I was going to go for more of the same-a silver or pewter hammer tone, and merely cleaning up the hardware a bit. Then it hit me-that would not be me..so I opted for Gold hammer tone, and I will be adding some black and orange striping to accent everything. My inspiration was a Hurst decal I came across in the Big Pile of Stuff. It should look a little like the Hemi Under Glass when I am done with it. No pics yet, not 'til I'm done.

Monday, August 21, 2006

One-Dollar Toolbox!

A recent estate auction netted me this sweet Craftsman toolbox for a buck-I really shouldn't even say that-I got the toolbox, a set of metal car ramps, and a big bone saw for a buck (deer season approaches). It amazes me what people will and won't bid on. The deceased was a collector of these neo-Native American handicrafts and figures (horrid!), and people were snapping those up. They could barely give away the tools and other "good stuff". I have another find I'll be posting soon, hate to keep it a secret but it's worth the wait, trust me.

The toolbox is in the process of being sanded down for a coat of Hammerite paint and most likely Plasti-Dipping or painting of the handles and clasps. I'll post a photo when I get it done.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Secret Agent Garbage...

Sometimes it just pays to go around the block-As I was pulling into my driveway Tuesday, I noticed a table set up in my neighbor's yard. On it was a pile of treasure, at least to me, with a sign that said "FREE-Help Yourself! I had pulled the car up to the table since I still can't walk that far with my back injury. So, I simply popped the trunk and carefully loaded up the light stuff. It was mostly vintage camera gear, which was cool enough, but the absolute coolest find was this like new, still in the box with papers Aiwa handheld reel-to-reel tape recorder! This thing looks like it is right out of Mission:Impossible! Everything is there, including the original cloth bag of dessicant. I'm going to drop some fresh batteries in and see what may be on the tape, maybe some Cold War-era spy messages-but more than likely, somebody's Birthday or Dictation notes...Still, very cool, hard to find, and FREE.

UPDATE: I sold this guy on Ebay for 30 bucks! Gotta love it....

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Das Awksch Fest!

Ahhh, August-searing heat, unpredictable precipitation, and fair and festival season. I spent the day at Das Awksch Fest (The August Festival) in Macungie, PA. The opressive hot weather of the past week mercifully subsided, and we were able to walk the fest in relative comfort.

For the uninitiated, Awksch Fest is a combination antique toy and car show, as well as car parts flea market-everything any worthwhile suburban junkyard needs. I have been unable to attend the show the last few years, and the last time I was there, I had no money anyway. This year I took the folks-The Old Man is currently blowing our inheritance on cast metal toys. (More power to him, it's not about money with me anyway). My brother, who knows about as much about cars as the average Mall Queen, also decided to roll along. Yes, I am able to enjoy a day with my family, who knew...

Just a sampling of the antique goodies available at one of dozens of tables at the show.

I was at least a little disappointed in one aspect-finally flush with a respectable amount of cash, I did not see many of the 80s toys I had lusted after from the last show-Micronauts, GI Joe, Mobile Action Command and the like-we tried to determine why this may have been. Mom suggested maybe the increasing popularity of Ebay. I added that maybe the actual or perceived affluence of my generation had taken many once available toys off the market, in one fell swoop of adult overcompensation. Nonetheless, there were plenty of opportunities to smile and say to anyone within earshot "I had that!" when a familiar toy emerged from the enless tangle of goodies.

I was in search of some vintage racing photos-I am currently covering the gross green paint job in my bathroom with framed photos until I am physically able to paint again. I am a photography enthusiast anyway, and I figured a neat collection of diverse photos would give the average bathroom visitor some, ah, inspiration...Plus it would look like Ruby Tuesday or Cracker Barrel would, if theft weren't an issue. I managed to find one nice dirt track photo, plus the unexpected-SIX copies of insurance claim photos from New Jersey Bell, dating to the Sixties! Let me explain my excitement. I am currently an employee (albeit injured and on comp) of a major telecommunications company. As a result, one of my favorite collectible photo genres is phone company vehicles, particularly of the old Bell System variety. These photos can be tricky to find, but to find shots of trucks and vans wrecked in the line of duty is nearly the Holy Grail for me. I got six for thirty bucks, which I split with The Old Man (he's a Bell retiree and collector of memorabilia as well). I'll put some up when I get them scanned.

Two guys I couldn't get to move check out a vintage Pontiac that looked as if it had been dipped in ink...gorgeous...

The car show had the usual suspects-plenty of vintage Chevys and Fords, as well as a few choice Mopars and the errant oddball marque. What's nice about Macungie is you get a wide sampling-everything from Stanley Steamers to vintage work trucks are represented, and everything in between. I got some nice Mopar pics for Brain, who is a diamond-star freak. WAY TO TELL YOU ARE AGING, ITEM 1-your high school ride is entered in the show and is NOT considered a classic. Some nut had entered his shit brown, 1981 Ford Fairmont in the show. I had one of these in high school-it was affectionately known as The Turd. Brown with matching brown vinyl top, she could carry ten offensive linemen in a pinch and two half-kegs of beer with the trunk closed. She had an indestructable Pinto motor and racy buckets out of a Mustang. I had my first girl in my Turd, and I look back at her fondly-the car, I mean.

A neat vintage rod.

Fuel Injected Chevies in 1957? The guys milling around said it was true, and the old man said it was notoriously unreliable.

As the day wore on, we got sunburned and my back began to bark, but I had recieved my annual fill of cool toys, cooler junk, and old car smell. Despite this, I can't wait until next year.