Sunday, March 29, 2015

"I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools.

Let's start with typewriters.”  
~David Gerrold

That quote is from a 1989 novel A Matter for Men, but now one would have to include smart phones(always chuckle at that - smart phones not smart people) and computers.  Think social media...tweet...tweet.

Anyway, the Gregg Shorthand magazines that I talked about last week have some wonderful ads in them.  The typewriter ads are especially appealing.  As Mad Men enters its final season, the vintage world of secretaries on HDTV goes to the rerun world.
Did you know a machine to "impress" letters on paper dates to 1575?  An Italian printmaker Francesco Rampazzetto invented the 'scrittura tattile'.  In 1714, a British inventor obtained a patent for a machine that "for impressing or transcribing of letters, one after another, as in writing, whereby all writing whatsoever may be engrossed in paper or parchment so neat and exact as not to be distinguished from print; that the said machine or method may be of great use in settlements and public records, the impression being deeper and more lasting than any other writing, and not to be erased or counterfeited without manifest discovery."

The Italians continued to work on the typewriter designs.  In 1802 Agostino Fantoni created a design for his blind siter, and in 1808 Pellegrino Turri produced carbon paper for his typewriter.  By 1823, Pietro Conti di Cilavegna invented another model.  What is funny in researching this is that so many sites ignore the European influences.

It was not until 1867 that the American inventor Christopher Sholes marketed the typewriter that we know today.  He sold his design off to Remington, and it took some time for him to find a market.  In the 1870s the economy was sluggish (see...nothing changes), and people thought they could write faster than type.  The 1880s brought the Industrial Revolution, and business needed to turn to "technology" to be more efficient.
Here is a typewriter from the the color...and i-pads and i-phones thought they were fashionable.
Here are some of the ads...

 The older typewriters are still out there.  I love the repurposing of the keys where the mechanisms have been degraded by space and time.  I had an artisan create watches and bracelets for me.

And I will leave with an anonymous line that the Baby Boomers will appreciate...
" I heard that if you locked William Shakespeare in a room with a typewriter for long enough, he's eventually write all the songs by the Monkeys."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"History doesn't repeat itself,

but it does rhyme."
    ~ Mark Twain

History has always fascinated me, and I think many in the antique/vintage world feel the same way. It is always fun to come across something at a flea market and be amazed at how much has changed...or stayed the same...since the date on your find.  For example, I was able to go to the flea market this week since I was on spring break and the weather co-operated.  One of my pickers pulled out a stash of paper goods, and in the pile were these:
I remember taking "notehand" in high school as an elective so that I could take faster notes in college, and now, when you think of it, students can just point and click at notes on the board.  I wondered if anyone uses shorthand, and so I did a little research.
John Gregg, was an Irish American tycoon in the early 20th century, and, when he died in 1949, his Gregg Publishing empire on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan reached into almost every school, business, and courthouse in the country.  The company published textbooks, dictionaries, study guides, magazines, and shorthand versions of classical literature.  He designed an infrastructure of certification agencies and business schools.   Executive secretaries with a Gregg certificate that you could take dictation at 150 words per minute were in demand, and court reporters had to demonstrate 225 words per minute at 98% accuracy.

In the 1970s high schools still taught the Gregg system, and business schools and colleges offered shorthand courses...there was a college catalog with the Gregg magazines...this college features Pittman, but I had to chuckle that they also require English!

The Gregg magazines have a variety of articles, puzzles, and ads.  I like the crossword puzzle done in shorthand.
There is a short story in each also.
I have noticed that so many early USA companies have folded when the owner dies, and Gregg enterprises followed that pattern.  When Gregg died, McGraw Hill bought the company, and then the rise of stenography machines in the 1940s and 1950s continued to put shorthand out of commission, followed by the Dictaphone and recording devices that made notetaking even less important.  
As the women's movement gained support, by the 1960s and 1970s women were leaving the "mad men" world for medicine, law, and non-secretarial positions.  The gifted stenographers were no longer in the offices, and, fortunately, the 1980s brought computers to everyone.  The shorthand world is not totally extinct as court reporters still use a system that is a variation of modified dictation.
In a way, texting has become a form of tech shorthand with u for you and ur for your, but I tend to agree with Albert Einstein...
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

Sunday, March 15, 2015

“I'm a greater believer in luck,

and I find the harder I work the more I have of it” 
 ~ Thomas Jefferson

Those of us who are "self-employed" are often envied by those who work for "the man" so to speak. If you own a small shop, you will often hear, "Oh, I would love to do this!"  What they do not see are the hours that go into making a small store work well especially if the owner (or owners) is manager, employee, auditor, merchandiser, etc etc etc!

We are lucky though to be able to follow a dream, and so this week I introduce you to another neighbor - Swainton's Corner - at the corner (get it?) of Goshen Swainton Road and Route 9.
 It is run by Susan (Suzee) and Bill (Billio) Olaschinez!  They are following their dream after being in co-ops and collecting for years.  You can see how happy they look after a whirlwind month of redoing this building for their "corner" - literally and figuratively - of "Route 9 Retail"!
 They opened last cookies...custom made by a friend of Suzee's.
and there is always free coffee - Keurig style - right inside the door!
Since they just opened last weekend, they are still looking for others who would like to join their entrepreneurial dream.  There are 4 who are part of the "Corner", and at $2 sq.ft. and 5%, that is a good way to see if you want to dream along.  I think this room would be a dynamic spot! There are also showcases and wall sections with adjustable shelves if you just want to try out the retail world.
Wandering around you will find a mixture of treats and treasures...

Furniture, finds, and fun stuff...

A touch of holiday, a seat of friends, a wall of treasures...

And...a desk for contemplating...and handcrafted cards for mailing by local artist Jane Beebe...

So, this week we celebrate luck not just with corned beef and cabbage or green beer, but with the spirit of those who have been lucky enough to follow a dream!  Welcome to Route 9, Suzee and Bill!

"I've found that what most people call luck is often little more than raw talent combined with the ability to make the most of opportunities."
 ~ Timothy Zahn in Heir to the Empire

Sunday, March 8, 2015

“ morning, I'm unruffled -

 I'll sit with my tea and Muse Cat beside me and listen to the soft chime of the grandfather clock...” 
~John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

I can now appreciate the soft chimes of this clock.
When my father bought my mother this grandfather clock, it became her prized possession.  I could not put it in her small apartment in her assisted living world so it is now in my home.  The movers packed all the weights and pendulum in layers of cardboard, but they forgot about the chains that hold those weights, and they tangled unmercifully.  So, then it was a matter of finding a clock repair person.  While google failed me, Facebook did not!  Enter...Rocky...
who makes house calls!  So, on Wednesday, he came with briefcase full of magical tools to give our ailing clock a diagnosis!  I watched as he dismantled the clock, and I wondered about the future of these heirlooms.  Who will be able to fix clocks in 50 years?  Rocky told me he and his father-in-law studied with a master every week for a year.  Within a little over an hour, the chains were free...and magically one chain that could have brought the clock to its final tock was able to be freed.  Think my Daddy's spirit traveled with the clock from Pennsylvania.  
Now as I hear it chime, I am 16 again...lying in bed counting the "bongs", but it also got me thinking about why grandfather's clock...not grandmother's?  It is actually a fascinating tale!  As I researched, I thought this site was funny...and I quote:

At first glance, the answer seems obvious. Think about it- when was the last time you saw a grandfather clock in the house of anyone under the age of 70?  Grandfather clocks- with their long cases, pendulums, echoing chimes, and Roman numerals- seem to belong to the world of courting parlors, Model-T Fords, silent movies,  and going out on a date for an ice cream soda. In short, the world of grandparents.  
Originally, this style was called a longcase clock.   An invention of a shorter pendulum mechanism enabled the pendulum to be contained within a case.  An English clockmaker, William Clement, is credited with this discovery in 1670.

In the early 20th century, quarter-hour chime sequences were added to longcase clocks. At the top of each hour, the full chime sequence sounds, immediately followed by the hour strike. At 15 minutes after each hour, 1/4 of the chime sequence plays, at the bottom of each hour, half of the chime sequence plays, and at 15 minutes before each hour, 3/4 of the chime sequence plays. The chime tune used in almost all longcase clocks is Westminster Quarters.  As a result of adding chime sequences, all modern mechanical longcase clocks have three weights instead of just two. The left weight provides power for the hour strike, the middle weight provides power for the clock's pendulum and general timekeeping functions, while the right weight provides power for the quarter-hour chime sequences.
The Oxford English Dictionary credits a song written in 1876, “My Grandfather’s Clock,” by Henry Clay Work, responsible for renaming the longcase clocks as grandfather clocks.
Originally these floor clocks did not keep accurate time. The clock in the song was found in North Yorkshire, England, at the George Hotel, where it still stands today. It was known to be exceptional. It kept accurate time. As the story goes the hotel owners were a pair of bachelors, the Jenkins brothers.
One of the brothers died and the clock curiously began losing time. Attempts to repair the clock failed, and the story culminates when at the remaining brother’s death, the clock ceased running altogether. Work was a guest at The George Hotel in 1875, and he heard the story of the clock, hence the song “My Grandfather’s Clock.”  The song, told from a grandson's point of view, is about his grandfather's clock.

The clock is purchased on the morning of his grandfather's birth and works perfectly for ninety years, requiring only that it be wound at the end of each week.

 My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short — never to go again —
When the old man died.

The clock rings 24 chimes when the grandfather brings his bride into his house; and before the grandfather dies, it rings an eerie alarm; the family recognizes that the grandfather is near death and gathers by his bed. When the grandfather dies, the clock suddenly stops, and never works again.
Work published a sequel to the song two years after, and again the grandson acts as the narrator. The grandson laments the fate of the no-longer-functioning grandfather clock – it was sold to a junk dealer, who sold its parts for scrap and its case for kindling. In the grandfather's house, the clock was replaced by a wall clock, which the grandson disdains (referring to it as "that vain, stuck-up thing on the wall").

The song was a favorite in Britain on Children’s Favourites, a BBC radio program in the 1950s. In the US,  Radio Revellers, Johnny Cash, and The Four Lads recorded versions.  A 1963 Twilight Zone episode, “Ninety Years without Slumbering” connected to the song.

So, once again the past winds its way into the present, and, I hope, the future.  As I said to Rocky, who will fix these clocks in the coming years…or maybe they will go the way of the clock in the George Hotel…standing there as a monument to what was.

Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart's desire.
~John Dewey