Happy December! It’s the most wonderful time of the year. According to a song, which is not usually regarded as the final authority on these things.

Wednesday nights are always busy, what with karate and column writing and other things that mark the middle of the week. So it’s pictures. As part of an assignment, I did something I would have done anyway: went to Hunt & Gather for Christmas Kitsch. Much of the stuff will end up here next month, bringing back the Bleat’s parade of “retro,” or “vintage” Christmas stuff - for some reason, I stopped doing that when I went to Wordpress. Stopping doing a lot of things when I went to Wordpress. It’s as if it generated a seasonal-dampening field. Everything just looked frozen in the Style of the Time, which I’ve seen infect websites all over. It’s been a while since I saw a website that made me think: ahh, the next thing. And it’s been about sixteen minutes since I saw one that made me think: ahhh, an ugly crufty mess so spattered with ads it makes me wonder if the web will ever integrate ads with the same skill as old magazines.

Here’s an ad from a sidebar from a 1939 farmer’s mag:


It takes up one quarter of the page. I’d be willing to look at larger ads on websites if they were interesting. I’m not saying this is the best example of the genre, but I guarantee the words “2 1/2 million bloody coccidiosis germs” got the attention of the audience.


The previous page had an ad for the best sort of tombstone you could buy for a spinster aunt who lost her only love in the Great War. Somehow the fortieth ad I see today with a frizzy-haired hipster with black glasses making a face of exaggerated surprise over a cable offer / new brand of herbal tea / pre-distressed jeans doesn’t match up. Also: you know what makes me never want to sign up for anything? A pop-up window that asks if I want to sign up for something, and has to be dismissed to continue reading. It’s like designing a newspaper that blows confetti in your face when you open it up.

Yes, I put the daily ad here to make a point. I have no idea what the ad will be.



Anyway. The non-seasonal pictures. A thing we’ve lost: the art of typewriter ribbon containers.

The Underwoods were a family company; they made ribbons and carbon paper, then went into typewriters. (See also, printers, ink for) They switched to making guns in WW2 , but who didn’t? Olivetti bought the company in the late fifties. This New York Times article describes how the city took the One Park Avenue address away from a lady who lived in a house at, well, One Park Avenue, and gave it to the new office tower where Underwood would set up shop. The building still exists; the old lady’s long gone.

A fragment of a big print ad hanging on the wall:


Who was she? What was she selling? Did she get a copy? Did she have a good life? The more I look at it, the more vampirism seems to be evident.


While I was exploring the basement I ran into one of the booth operators, and she was pleased as punch to meet the people who shop in her part of the store. She’d come back from a trip to Texas, where she goes to find mid-century antiques. The state abounds with them: small-town estate sales. This item touted the Independence Theaters. She didn’t know where it was from. A little iPhone googling suggests that the Belford was located in San Antonio, but I was wrong. Independence as in Independence Kansas, which also had a Booth theater and a Sunset Drive-in, so I’m pretty sure that’s the right town.


The Booth has a Facebook page! An article on its restoration, here. I’m going to call them tomorrow and let them know this thing exists. I’d love to see it get back home. That would make me happy. How happy? This happy:


Some coffees:


Rather generic. Don’t quite get the associations here . . .


. . . but how I’d love to offer a friend some Old Judge Irradiated Coffee.

See you tomorrow.




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