Sunday, May 28, 2023

A Whole Tray o' Platz

 Ok, I'll admit it; I just wanted to use the word "platz" in the title. This week we have an item that I found at an antique mall years ago. It's not valuable, but I think it's fun. Here it is!

It's a small (six inches across) tin tray from Epcot's first year! Or, I guess I should say EPCOT Center's first year, since that's what it was called then. It represents Germany, one of the first nations in the World Showcase. The artwork is clearly based on planning drawings, since although it's very close to what ended up being there, it certainly isn't exact (especially the buildings on the left). Here is an actual photo...

This is the back:

The "patina" is pretty bad, so here's what it says, 

GERMANY IN THE WORLD SHOWCASE Fairytale charm and octoberfest revelry are captured in the platz and the biergarten of the Germany pavillion.

And yes, they forgot to capitalize "Octoberfest." 
It's dated 1982, Walt Disney Productions and was made in the good ol' U.S. of A. 

This was one of several matching tins. I've seen examples for America, Japan, and France, so I assume all nine opening day nations had one. Whatever they are made of really ages poorly, and my example is pretty normal condition. 

As I said, they don't hold a lot of value (about a buck each, which is what I paid for mine). However, since I found it "in the wild," that makes it more special. Also, Germany is probably our favorite pavillion (my wife is German on both sides of her family, and we always get a Christmas ornament there when we go) so thay makes it special too. 

So, it's a fun thing to have around! 

Until next time, keep searching for treasure!

Monday, May 22, 2023

A Plate of History

 My hometown is Denison, Tx. Now, to be clear, I wasn't born there (I was born in Garland, Tx and lived in both Dallas and Tyler Tx before we moved to Denison), but since we moved there when I was three, all of my formative memories come from Denison. It's a lot like how Walt Disney claimed Marceline, Mo as his home town even though he was born in Chicago. 

Just like Marceline, Denison was a railroad town. It was literally built to accomodate the employees of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad as the line pushed west. In fact, "Denison" was George Denison, Katy vice president. 

Denison was a pretty typical "wild west" town. Doc Holliday had offices there in 1875. At one time there were far more saloons and " establishments of negotiated relationships" than any other businesses in town. 

1972 was Denison's Centennial, and there was a months long celebration. I remember men were encouraged to grow beards (the longer the better) and there were all manor of fairs and parades. There were also these plates:

Now, these aren't exactly fine china, but they are china. Let's look at what they chose to highlight.

1. Eisenhower born there. Ironically, although this is true, he alwas considered his home town to be in Kansas since he moved when he was young. There seems to be a lot of that.

2. M.K.T. Railroad first from North to Texas. Yep, that's why the town was formed to begin with!

3. First ice cream soda. Apparently so! In 1875 Joseph A. Euper came up with the soda water and ice cream and fruit flavoring to try to compete with local saloons. It didn't really work, and he closed his shop in 1906 and moved to California to sell real estate. Still, his place in history was established!

4. Marx Brothers first comedy act. Well, their first completely intended comedy act, anyway. The story goes that while in Nacogdoches, Tx a mule got loose during the Four Nightingales (their pre-Marx Brothers name) act, and the crowd emptied the theater to chase it. The boys started insulting the crowd with their witty sarcasm and quickly found that folks that didn't want to hear their singing were delighted to laugh at their barbs. They immediately ditched the singing and name and went to comedy. Their next engagement in Denison was a huge success. 

5. First free public school in Texas. Yep. Sorry, I can't think of anything really interesting to say about that one.

6. First refrigerated shipment of bee*. Ok, I really hoped this was beer (the printing on the plate is smudged), but it's actually beef, which makes a lot more sense in Texas. Train car refrigeration was pioneered in Denison, which allowed folks up north to have a tasty steak much easier (and cheaper) than previously. 

There were, of course, many more Denison firsts, but china plates are a limiting media (or is it medium?). I keep this one in my china cabinet to remind me of my childhood in a great city with a great history.

Until next time, keep searching for treasure!

Sunday, May 14, 2023


 In 1968 Mattel released Hot Wheels. The little die cast cars got their name from the wheel system that used piano wire and special ridged wheels to cut down on friction. Less friction = faster car. So much faster, in fact, that the rest of the toy car industry was left in the dust. Sales went through the roof!

There was one problem with them (and their biggest rival, Matchbox cars), however. Although they had track for them, all roads lead down. In other words, to make the cars race along the track, they had to be pushed down a hill. Although they added jumps and loops as accessories, it was still a one way trip. 

Until the Supercharger.

Released in 1969, the Supercharger was brilliantly simple. It was a box that housed two foam wheels which spun horizontally; one clockwise and one anti-clockwise. Track could be attatched to both sides of the box and a car could enter one side, get gripped by the spinning wheels, and shot out the other side at pretty high velocities. The speed could even be adusted with a lever on the side. 

Now a race course could be constructed where a car could run forever! ...or at least until the two D cell batteries ran down.

There was a simple one and a double decker two booster version as well. I happen to have found a very clean, working single booster example at a toy show years ago. Here it is!

Here it is! A grabbed a few 1971 Hot Wheels to model with it...

On one side there are pictures of a really cool speed shop!

The end graphics...

On the other side there's a 60s diner!

A closeup of the wheels inside that shoot the car out...

...and the handle you can adjust the speed with.

Lastly, the compartment where the D cell batteries go. 

Amazingly, this unit works as well as it did when it was brand new! I don't fling any vintage cars with it, because I like the paint actually ON the car! I know, I'm just being picky.

So there you have it, a bit of late 60s toy tech that was a fun part of a lot of kid's childhood!

Until next time, keep searching for treasure!

Monday, May 8, 2023

An Old Friend...

 I was going to post something different this week, but I didn't like it. So, last night I called an audible and wenr in a completely different direction! I am retiring this upcoming December and devoting all of my time to playing music. So, this post is in celebration of that... in a round about way...

I realized a few weeks ago that I purchased my bass exactly 42 years ago! Here she is!

This is my 1978 Hofner 500/1 bass that I purchased new in 1981. It had been in the store for those three years waiting for me! We've been together ever since.

Of course I saw my first Hofner in a picture of a certain Mr. McCartney. I remember thinking it must be a custom made bass, although I soon found out that wasn't the case. I was surprised to see one in my local music store, and when I picked it up and played it, I loved how light it was and how easy the short neck was to play! I put it in lay-away and when I got my income tax refund, I got it out. My girlfriend at the time bought me the strap. I still have the strap, but not the girlfriend, lol! 

I've played it ever since, and although I have a couple of other Hofner basses, (a 1964 185 and a 2010 500/7 Verythin) the 500/1 is my "comfort bass." If it's an important gig, I'll be playing the 500/1. It's like an old friend. 

This is me on Saturday with it!

And this is me a year or so ago (you can see the bass better). 

I'm looking forward to this next chapter! This is what I would have done 40 years ago if I didn't have to worry about that whole "eating" thing. It's gonna be great!

Until next time, keep searching for treasure!

Monday, May 1, 2023

Popping the Top on a Mystery

 Years ago, I picked up a bottle opener shaped like a lady's boot from my home town of Denison, Texas. It has the name "Ike's Soda Water" on it, so I assumed I knew a few things about it. Oh, here it is, by the way...

First, obviously, "Ike" was President Eisenhower, who was born in Denison on October 14, 1890. Denison has always been very proud of that point, even though Ike grew up in Kansas. In fact, you can visit Eisenhower State Park to this day!

So, if Ike is Eisenhower, then the item is probably from his presidential years, 1953-61. It looks older than than, but I figured it was a "retro" item, made to look older than it was. Or, it could be from his WWII days.

I couldn't find a mention of "Ike's Soda Water" from this time, so I even thought that maybe it was a joke piece. So, a neat item, but a little quirky. I had it all figured out, though!

Except I didn't.

Jim Sears, a Denison historian shared something with me that proved everything I assumed to be true about the opener was wrong. Everything! Here's what he gave me...

Well, as it turns out, Ike had nothing to do with Eisenhower! This ad is from 1922- a good 30 years earlier than I thought!

So, there really was an "Ike's Soda Water" (in fruit flavors, apparently). Denison had a bottling plant that bottled several different brands, and this was one of them. 

So, my instincts that this item is older were correct...and everything else I assumed wasn't. 

It just goes to show you what happened when you "assume."

Until next time, keep searching for treasure!