The main accomplishment the last weekend was finishing the Grand Unified Archive, which breaks down everything pertinent photo, video, clip, and piece of writing I have into one folder, divided by years, with consistent nomenclature. Everything I have done totals 132 GB. (Not including the work I've yet to scan or a few loose videos, but that'll be 140GB tops.) This is a manageable sized opus and I am pleased. But because there is no end to the work, ever, I swung by Hunt and Gather, and yes, it's time for one of those.

Before I'd been at Menard's, where you can save big money. I needed bulbs for the outside lighting. The annual spring ritual. This year I'm replacing all the bulbs with LEDs, which are twice the cost but don't burn out because you touched them. The instructions caution you against touching the Halogen bulbs, because the oils on your finger make the glass expand unevenly, and this affects the filaments, and like Veal Prince Orloff left too long in the oven, they die. (Comments challenge: who said that? Why? And who was sitting at the small table?) Note: it is impossible not to touch the bulbs. I suppose I could scour my fingertips with 10-0-6, but there's never any around.

When I walked into Menard's I had no strategy, which is dangerous - a few minutes later I had a DVD of public-domain war movies, a 10-ounce bag of coffee, and jerky in my basket. There was a sale on pouches of moist dog food, and you know your dog wants it moist. True to the idea that dogs are kinda like people or would be if you gave them a cerebral upgrade and downloaded your preferences, the moisty flavor was bacon and eggs, and it was pitched as a breakfast meal for dogs. AS IF. THEY CARE.

They like moist because moist reminds them of guts.

It's stupid. But I bought it. Drove west, thinking I might need something at Target, but reminded myself that I do not need anything at Target. Went to Hunt & Gather, and found something that doesn't exist on the web: the children's version of The Delineator magazine. It's called The Little Delineator. Perfect condition, not yellowed, not fragile - another sign that grandma lived a long, long time and held on to these for reasons you can only guess. (Bought them - up in the 20s section later this year.)

On another shelf was a sign that someone who did a good deal of traveling in the 60s and 70s had shuffled off the mortal caul and the heirs had dumped his or her collection of travel brochures into the great stream of ephemera; I bought two 60s Sheraton brochures. Fantastic art and photos. That'll be up in the 60s section next week. Hello: matchbooks. I sorted through the pile, realizing I'd been through this bin before. No matter; good additions. I don't have the greatest matchbook collection in the world but I'm pretty sure I have the best matchbook website.

Which is why it's always funny when someone discovers that people put matchbooks up on the web.

While walking through the basement I saw a young fellow, nattily dressed, looking through some other matchbooks. I told him there was a better selection in a bin near the floor on the other end of the place, and he seemed intrigued.

"The last time I was here," he said, "I bought some buttons."

Well, don't judge. I'm sure there's aesthetic pleasures to be found in the humblest of shirt fasteners.

"One was Nixon," he said. "The other was Reagan."

Ah. He spoke of them as though they were relics from the era of Constantine, but I understand - there's a division of a few decades that imbues these commonplace items with mystery and intrigue. Intrinsic worth has nothing to do with it. People dig up chests of Roman coins in English fields, and figure they're worth millions. They're not. But they're impossibly wonderful to have and to hold. Not to keep, of course.

No one keeps anything.

Some items observed at the great museum they call an antique store:

It's permanized, ladies.

These lasses have a certain French self-possession, unlike the six-cups-of-coffee bobbie-pin duo below:

The same shelf had several sets of 40s and 50s women's hair fasteners. No idea whether grandma just had them in their drawer, or a collector tired of them. I think the former, because the Little Delineators would be the magazines she had as a child.


Well, there's Blending, and then there's this. Looks like she's smuggling chopsticks. But look at the script on Blend-Rite - those capital letters are incredible.

Google "sta-rite blend-rite" and you'll get plenty of bobby-pin card art.

Have some Gamble Grease:

Thanks to "House of Cards," I think I found the last Gamble's in America. At least the last with the original sign.

As Billy Joel once sang, don't go googling, to find where it is. You'll only ruin something that happens later this week. (I hope.)

Back to the store. Internet, here you go. Use it wisely.

What a beautiful logo plate:

Waterman Waterbury made heaters and ventilation systems; rural schools were one of their target markets, but they also sold to homes as well. The COMFORTROL system has a brochure up at

Nice work, but that's a clumsy name. Comfortrol. Comfort and Control together, I get it, I get it. Still.

It's the last week in the old building - and by old, I mean it. The walls of the garage, where the trucks once left to spread the news:


You can understand why we're keen to go, perhaps.



I'll bet if you polled a thousand people, 999 wouldn't know who either of these guys is. A thousand random people, that is. The audience here is different.

The army knows a trick or two to keep our boys in trim! So to speak. So bean up, lads, and waste some Jerries. Paulette is on your side, of course, and I like the bit about her cheering up with joe - "especially in the evening." Which suggests she's not an early-to-bed type, but you knew that.

Also, this just in: musicians are coffee drinkers.

Let's be plain. Americans are coffee drinkers. And by "coffee" we mean the stuff that's brewed in 50-gallon increments.

This was the house brand when I was growing up. Cracker Barrel. When you think about it, doesn't that guarantee a lot of busted crackers?

I hated the "Sharp" variety. Now I like it so sharp it can pierce battleship armor.

Nice enough packaging, but I wonder why the attribute is tilted. Just to catch your eye, perhaps. It's a way of asserting an attribute.


With a name like this, you know it's poison:

Saying "new colors" doesn't help when you're running a black and white ad. The Internet Archive has an early 20th century sample book, and this cover illustration. Just to show how things changed over 50 years.


If you're curious - and I hope you are, because it means I'm not wasting my time here utterly - you might wonder if there was an Emil Angelon, as you see on the letter of recommendation. Yes, there was. He owned a painting and decorating company in New York City, and merged with the Alfred Joy company in 1921 - according to National Painters Magazine.

Would his name have remained ungoogled forever if not for this little note on a paint sample?

The old "warm milk before bed" idea is updated for the modern abstract age, but still hews to the archaic idea of the literal nightcap:



I'm so glad this went out of fashion. Or no longer became necessary, what with modern heating. How did it stay on all night? Couldn't. You'd get up and put your cap back on, provided you could find it in the sheets, or see if on the floor.


A New Yorker ad for the notorious French cigarettes. Yes, emphatic taste is one way of putting it.

I tried one once. I couldn't finish it. It was like getting all your day's smoking in all at once. It is inconceivable that the country that makes these also has the Tour de France. They are irreconcilable concepts.



Also from the sidebar of the New Yorker back pages, something my mom always had:

That was the very bottle that sat in the bathroom. Brown. It wasn't lotion in the sense that it was goop you put on your hands to prevent or cure chapped epidermis; it was more like some kind of girl-gasoline you put on cotton balls and rubbed on your face to remove oil. I think I tried it on pimples later. Didn't work. Nothing did, really. You just had to let them arrive and pass on their own wretched schedule.

She's entranced, but she's had a few:

Gleaming plastic! There was a vogue for see-through lighters in the 60s, which I'd completely forgot until now. I think my uncles had ones with plastic pieces denoting some pasttime - dice, or a fisherman's fly. They floated in the tank.

Details like that nail an era. We will never again have transparent lighters with floating parts that symbolize the hobby you're probably enjoying as you light up.


The end of Classic Covers today. That's all I have. Shed a brief tear, then ask yourself with barely-contained excitement what might be coming next!

See you around. Oh - haven't had enough packaging, and want more on that Waterbury company? With a surprise ending? That's the noontime blog.



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