A Coca Cola Surprise

Yesterday was a meandering day. I’ll share some of those pictures this week but here’s something small for now. You can be sure I slammed on the brakes when I spotted this Coca Cola advertisement in Greenfield, Ohio.

It’s a narrow space between the buildings and you just see a sliver until you’re right up on it.

The brick is amazing.

Things like this keep me on the road, meandering across rural America and through small towns, seeking the old and unique things that make these places special.

I hope I never lose that sense of curiosity and awe about the world around me.

Seeing Red

The color red draws me in like a moth to flame. This is never more apparent than when scrolling through my camera roll after an antiquing trip.

The day I found the lunchboxes, I also found this adorable kiddie tractor.

Nifty wall art, reproduction but cute for a kitchen.

This fabulous red typewriter that I badly wanted. It’s the sort of typewriter that great novels should be written on!

A great Coca Cola cooler.

And an even better Coke machine.

Of course, I bought none of these things but they made for great study during my little field trip.

Is there a color or a type of object that catches your eye?

My Lunch Box Is Vintage?

I ventured into some antique stores on Saturday. This display of vintage lunchboxes caught my eye so I stopped to study a few. Most I had seen before but there were a few surprises.

Remember how fun it was to pick out a new lunch box for school?

From Disney to your favorite tv show or band, your lunch box was an opportunity to celebrate something that you really liked and wanted the world (other kids at least) to know about.

When I first started school, they were all still metal. The transition to plastic models occurred during my elementary years and I recall having a couple that were plastic but it seems like they didn’t hold up very well.

Imagine my mixture of glee and despair when I realized that my own childhood lunchbox was mixed in with all these “vintage” pieces!

Yes, my childhood possessions now appear in antique stores. And they’re not cheap! Strawberry Shortcake here was $38.00!

One of the beautiful things about antiquing is that you can find pop culture references, pieces of history, works of art and occasionally, things that that are just strange.

Real People, Real Stories

Rosie the Riveter courtesy of theAtlantic.com.

A trip to the doctor for a sinus infection this week left me sitting in a waiting room filled with strangers. Nearly all of them were like me or like people I know – white, middle aged or elderly. The one person in the room who was different was an elderly Amish woman.

If I had been asked to start a conversation with someone in that room, she’s the one I was most curious about. And it occurs to me that I am naturally drawn to people who are different than me.

I’m interested in where they’re from and how our paths crossed. What’s their world view? What do they enjoy? What do they wish people knew about them? I often am surprised at what I learn from talking to those who have a worldview different than my own.

Maybe that’s why it’s such a shock to me when people dismiss those who are different or, worse yet, bully and discriminate against them.

I like human stories and sometimes share them on Facebook – the Louisiana brothers who survived D-Day and who lived to be old men; the elderly woman who smuggled hundreds of Jewish children out of Germany; and the many strong women who we call Rosie the Riveter have all appeared on my Facebook page. I often give attention to those who can no longer speak for themselves or who don’t make it into the history books. Sometimes I share stories of people who do have a voice but who often are ignored.

More recently, I’ve been sharing the stories of people of color. Maybe no one is reading or watching the videos but I like to at least give them a platform. It’s healthy to hear the human side of the story as opposed to the headline version of what’s happening in the world.

I’m convinced of two things:

1. It’s easy to hate people you don’t know.

2. People who think they hate history believe that it’s all about memorizing dates, places and names of people long dead. And that’s not what matters most when studying history.

If you think about it, we are living history right now. That Amish woman has a story to tell that will be a valuable thread in the fabric of our history someday just as the female biracial pilot who told her story on YouTube does. Just as you and I do.

Someday, historians and kids in schools across the nation will study 2020 American history. Wouldn’t you like them to know how you lived and contributed? What you think of our world today?

Go look for the people and the stories that don’t make the history books. You never know what you might find.

Big Muskie

A recent weekend took me to a roadside attraction in Morgan County – the remnants of the Big Muskie.

The Big Muskie was an enormous piece of machinery used in coal mining. As big as a sky rise, this was the largest dragline ever built.

Dedicated in 1969, this machine could move millions of pounds of earth and rock every hour. It operated until 1991 and sat quiet as a tourist attraction for several years. In the late nineties, the Surface Mining Reclamation Act required its removal. However, one piece remains – the bucket which landowner American Electric Power turned into the centerpiece of a park with interpretive signage, picnic tables and restrooms.

The bucket is enormous and the chains attached to the bucket are unimaginably large.

Have you ever seen a chain so large? Can you imagine the piece of equipment necessary to lift all this? You don’t have to. Here’s an image courtesy of The Herald Star. Look how small the bucket is compared to the machine. Now scroll back up and look at how small the people are compared to the bucket.

This is one of those roadside attractions that’s worth a stop if you’re in the area. I wouldn’t build a road trip around it but there are other things to see and do in the area. The Morgan County Bicentennial Barn is just down the road, there are covered bridges in the area, and The Wilds is about twenty minutes north. Downtown McConnelsville has small town charm complete with some cute small businesses, the Ohio Valley Opry and a fantastic square with a statue and county courthouse.

G.C. Murphy

Do you remember G.C. Murphy? The five and dime chain was founded in Pittsburgh in 1906 and acquired by the Ames department store chain in the mid eighties.

The stores typically had a popular lunch counter and are sometimes confused with Woolworth stores. They met their demise in 2002.

Downtown Gallipolis has some interesting features including this old GC Murphy storefront which faces the city park. It’s an antique/craft mall now.

There are a handful of antique stores in Gallipolis and Point Pleasant, West Virginia just across the Ohio River. The city park is a nice place to picnic and there are some good restaurants there too. Go during the holidays for a beautiful display of Christmas lights.