08 July 2009

House and Home

Remember me? My apologies to those of you who have faithfully checked up on me these last few weeks. I've fallen into the habit of falling asleep on the couch while watching Alfred Hitchcock or reruns of Law & Order...lame... Anyway, while I see nothing wrong with any of us taking a much needed break from time to time, a word of "check back later" might have been in order on my part. Tonight Mrs. G. casually said "I can't believe you've given up on your readers". Ouch. I'll try to get back on the stick, and I thank each of you who have been checking in despite my absence.

Part of the reason for my dropping off the face of the Earth was this: without a job or school to attend, I find myself slipping into a uniform of khakis and tennis shirt, the perfect playground attire. As such I haven't been picking up many thrifty clothes lately. But clothes aren't the only things to be found cheap. Subtilte this post "Orange, part 2" (see "Orange").

The following items were all "scored" in one afternoon.

First, a wonderfully comfortable if slightly formal chair:
In a color listed as "Cameron Gold". The wife and I have a penchant for a selective version of the 1970's when it comes to home furnishings, and as such we have a lot of brown and orange. "Cameron Gold" makes a nice accent color.originally hailing from the long gone Jordan Marsh department store. I have only the vaguest memory of actual department stores, where you could buy furniture, suits, perfume, kitchenwares and appliances under the same roof, all with store brand name. (The madras plaid sport coat in the previous post "Buttons" is also from Jordan Marsh.)

I found this at a big thrift on the highway that I don't get to often. It was raining like hell, and the kids were both especially fussy ( and loud). I went to pay for it, and the fellow at the desk said I needed to go get the tag and bring it up front. As I returned to the chair, a woman and her young daughter were considering it for the girls new college apartment. "Sorry, too late, I'm just buying it." I said. To which mom replied "technically we have posession of it." I said "I've got two fussy young kids with me. If you're gonna be that way about it, you can have the damn chair." The daughter, mortified, melted into the ground. As I walked away, mom stopped me and said "go ahead, take it." Shocking, I thought I lost that one. $15 later and it was mine.

Then we have this mystery cookware:

enamelled cast iron, matching trivet plate. A splurge at $5. I'm still not sure if you're supposed to cook in this thing or if its just a serving piece. No matter, it looks good.

And the leftovers go in this $0.99 (my keyboard doesn't have a 'cent' key...my typewriter has fraction keys) Tupperware container:I remember we had a whole set of this exact stuff when I was a kid.

And after supper, coffee is served in these new but matching cups, $0.99 each:And lastly, this AM transistor radio by Channel Master, $ 3:Perfect for listening to Red Sox games on the front porch or at the beach, which is exactly what I intend to do with it. I'm not one of these types who buys old stuff so I can look at it. If I can't use something, what good is it to me?

When asked to think of home design in the late 1960's and early 1970's, most people think of ugly brown and orange and yellow stuff. It's true that a lot of what passed for taste at that time was downright awful. But there was a lot of stuff that was extremely well built and wonderfully designed. Taken selectively and mixed in with a modern sensibility, I bet a lot of these things look better now than they did then. Succesfull thrifting is really all about seeing new potential in old stuff, rather than settling for junk only because its new.


I found this next to a dumpster behind a university dorm:that's right, its a vendor tricycle...very European. It's dirty and it needs work, but I can fix it up. The box is rotten, but with the help of carpenter friend Pasquale I plan to build it into an Italian sandwich and fruit cart. Not a bad Summer business if I can get it going. And yes, I am crazy.

I know I married the right girl. Mrs. G. loves this thing.


Unknown said...

FWIW, the orange pot looks like 1/2 of a fondue set--my parents have an almost identical model in yellow, with a matching black base that holds a sterno cannister to keep the cheese hot.

Mrs. G said...

see even I check in every day to see if you post.

good on ya.

Pigtown*Design said...

I love that bike. I saw someone in london riding one with her two children in the front. it had been kitted out as a little bench. i know you wouldn't do that with your two children in boston traffic, but it did look fab!

welcome back. we missed you.

Some Assembly Required said...

Are you perhaps referring to the big Salvation Army store on route 1?

That radio is super-cool.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see your'e back. Not really seeing how the bike turns tho.

Giuseppe said...


I was thinkig fondue set myself. Maybe I can turn up a base for it somewhere. Otherwise, it makes a nice serving piece for hot soup.

Mrs. G.,

You desrve the credit for pushing me back into this. Thanks.


I was actually thinking of fitting the bike out with two seats and a compartment for groceries. Maybe not suited for Boston traffic, but I'd sure as hell be the belle of the local farmer's market in such a thing.


shhh....succesful thrifting also involves some amount of secrecy and subterfuge.

Giuseppe said...

Very low fixed gear with some kind of insane foot operated rod brake...frightening.

Tara said...

LOVE the chair!

Toad said...

Welcome back mon ami.

Armilyn and David said...

I'd say that chair is more of a "Morning Harvest" than a Cameron Gold, but to each their own.

I could see you selling sandwiches and taking the kids out at the same time on that bike.

Glad you're back.


Young Fogey said...

1. Welcome back! We missed you, and were starting to get worried about you, too.

2. While I'm not fond of 70s earthtones, I am fond of 70s quality. Most products were still made in America with pride, and it is a testament to American businesses and the American worker that so many older items are still in good, usable condition.

3. The mystery cookware is, as other have noted, probably a fondue pot. Fondue pots were the most popular wedding gift for a while, and no couple could tie the knot without receiving a half-a-dozen of the things, which is why so many are in such good shape.

A fondue pot is, of course, no more than a specialized chafing dish. In addition to fondue, I use them for keeping hot food warm during parties. Indispensable for entertaining. You should be able to get a Sterno holder at a thrift store someplace.

3. You can (supposedly) get the cent symbol by typing "0162" while holding down the Alt key in Windows, but I can't get it to work for me now. I can always get it on my Mac by typing Option 4. In HTML, it's &cent.

4. Great next-to-the-dumpster find! I saw trikes of that basic design all over Copenhagen. Good luck on getting it up and running! Just remember to submit reams and reams of forms for your business before you try selling anything, or John Law is gonna throw you in the hoosegow.

dandy nihilism said...

Good to see you back in the vintage saddle.

Anonymous said...

My family, too, had that same Tupperware when I was a kid. Amazing stuff...

- Dick

Pitboss12 said...

Glad you're back. That radio is fantastic! The next time you're on extended leave we'll all know that you're out selling hot dogs on your bike.

ACQUIRE said...

That cart is AMAZING. I keep telling people that someone should do a traveling espresso/biscotti cart in the North End. Summer tourists would eat it up.

Giuseppe said...

Great idea, but an espresso machine is a bit of a stretch for a beginner.

I was thinking more prosciutto sandwiches, cold fritatta, apricots and San Pellegrino in the park.

Paul said...

Gelato is a hot item these days - with a nice pair of white ducks, white short sleeve shirt, and a cook plaid bowtie - you'll sell out of gelato in no time and bolster the the kid's college fund. Good luck!

Pasquale said...

What about curated vintage clothing out of the cart. You roll up onto Newbury St. and just start selling old college sweaters or pennyloafers but each week the cart is full of a curated look, be it vintage skin head or rockabilly or classic preppy. Give the people on the streets a chance to acquire some taste.

Dhr. DeLuxe said...

Hi, good to see you back.

The orange pot is indeed a part of a fondue set, but NOT cheese fondue. For cheese fondue one needs a crockery or earthenware pot, to prevent the cheese from sticking to the bottom and burning.

In these, you put hot oil, to deep frie pieces of meat, fish, et cetera.
There should be some sort of stove, with an alcohol burner, and a set of special forks, each with a different coloured top, to be able to see which belongs to you. When these were popular, mid 1970's, you had special 'tv-dinner style' plates, to be able to have different sauces on ones plate. It was a whole ritual and your house and clothes smelled like grease for days...

Your pot:

Plates and forks: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/htYPjM6kuiyfEmAZfrceEA

Oh, and this cargo bike definitely looks Euro: it's probably a Dutch 'bakfiets'.

Here's a list with translations of common 'bakfiets' terms: http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2007/09/04/bakfiets-bakkersfiets-etymology/

Oh, let me give you one advice, speaking from experience: when you build a new box, it should't be STURDY, but LIGHT! (You won't crash into things riding it, believe me.)
I've seen unridable bikes, with boxes so heavy that the hind wheel came off the ground when there wasn't anybody sitting on it. The lighter the bike, the easier to ride it. Think a 1"x1" hardwood frame (or aluminium L-beams) with thin, waterproof plywood. And instead of a lid, I'd put a tarp on top!
Good luck!

PS In Holland there are a lot of Italian Ice Cream vendors using a special, insulated box, coolded by blocks of ice:

Jean Martha said...

Awesome scores! Love the chair, love the fondue pot...love the tupperware. I have not bought any tupperware while rummaging...yet. I can't help but feel nostalgic when I see it. Last week I nearly picked up a set of the drinking glasses complete with the little tops (in case you wanted to finish your drink...later).

Gregorius Mercator said...

(Sorry I've been commenting on all of these old posts... I've been going through the blog chronologically). I have to say, the idea of starting your own Italian sandwich and fruit stand dovetails perfectly with your old school sense of style - nothing says classic America quite like not being able to find a job and then deciding to make one for yourself.