My last report on the storage shed at the cabin showed wall framing and siding. Since then we have been back down a couple of times and we now have the roof decked, shingled and the barn-style doors hung.
I still have to install the cedar trim on the four corners, then prime and paint it. Nearly there. Meanwhile, I have been working on a coffee table consisting of a 1-1/2 inch thick one-piece walnut slab with the original bark along one edge, which sits on a geometric base of 2"x 3" solid white oak beams.
This last week I acquired two Dodge ram hood ornaments from eBay. Different vendors, separate transactions. I have not obtained a new Dodge (or Plymouth or Chrysler) hood ornament in over a year. This doubled my pre-war Dodge examples, those being the harder to find and more expensive to purchase.
The first of these two purchases was a radiator cap ornament. Exposed radiator caps were ubiquitous in the 1920s, became more ornate in the early thirties and before the end of that decade were enclosed under an engine cover and replaced by the hood ornaments that ruled the road in the forties and fifties. My research indicates that this design was used on 1931 through'34 Dodge automobiles. I believe that this example was Dodge's first use of the ram logo to represent the toughness and dependability of their automobiles. The point of one horn is broken off, but otherwise this guy is in really good shape. Corrosion is minimal, but it is clear that this is the genuine article. The base still had the locking mechanism that held it onto the fill-spout of the radiator.
This one arrived this morning and appears to be a 1935 Dodge hood ornament, but it is made of solid brass. The brass era of automobiles ended with the 1920s. Hood ornaments in the thirties were made of pot-metal, a non-ferrous amalgam of lighter weight metal that would not rust. Also, the indentations on this example appear to be hand tooled. So I suspect that this is a reproduction, but an early reproduction because it shows evidence of use and weathering. Whatever the case, I am very glad to have it.
[Left} As the '30s ended, Dodge decided to move their product up market by bringing out a more luxurious model, the Luxury Liner. Notice that the ram ornament above is slightly more stylized than its predecessors. The horns no longer curl out into the air, but are tight against the head - with horizontal lines inside the curl (??). And the rear legs are more stylized with no tail or hooves as in earlier examples.
[Right} With the new decade there was almost a quantum leap into stylization. If you were not familiar with Dodge's past ornaments, I am not sure most people would recognize this as a ram. This design came in two versions: all-metal chrome-plated and one with a clear acrylic fin down the top. This example had a typically scarred and chipped Lucite fin, so I reproduced it in wood. When private cars went back into production in 1946, there were no more sculptures of realistic rams - stylization was in. Other manufacturers would use stylized ships, trains and airplanes through the 1950s. (Not to mention nude women)
After WWII, Nash automobiles contracted with an artist who had made a reputation drawing popular "pin-up girls" (women), some of which were reproduced on the fuselage of military airplanes. This artist's name was George Petty, born 1894 – died 1975. (No relation to Tom Petty as far as I know) Some may be familiar with the pin-up art of Alberto Vargas, 1896-1982, a contemporary of Petty. Both artists were widely known during the 1940s and '50s.
Many car manufacturers had been using the female figure as hood ornament designs for a couple decades. Occasionally a male figure, as with the Pontiac Indian chief. Apparently Nash decided that it could capitalize on the reputation of George Petty, which had been enhanced by the use of his art on WWII airplanes. Several female figures were used on Nash hoods in the late '40s through 1955. At least two were marked with the highly recognized Petty signature (see below).
I have not yet acquired the female ornaments of the late '40s. I was able to obtain the upper half of a 1952 Nash hood ornament. These female figures were so complex, they were generally made up of two or three parts. Since I was only able to obtain the top half, I had to carve a reproduction of the lower body out of wood. I chose wenge, a uniformly dark hardwood from the African Congo.
After a decade of female figures adorning the hoods of Nash automobiles, Nash moved on to the more up-to-date style of non-anthropomorphic designs. Somewhat belatedly, perhaps, as hood ornamentation was soon to come to an end. Below is Nash's 1956 design. Again, I obtained an incomplete example and had to reproduce the pair of spears in wood. This time I used mesquite.
Here are all four of the Nash ornaments that I have acquired so far, lined up side by side. This gives some idea of relative size
We have made two more trips to the cabin since the last blog post. The previous trip I framed the walls. This past week I installed T1-11 siding and set the rafters. Next trip I plan to paint the siding and do the roofing.
We often have visitors to the yard in the morning and evening. This doe stopped by with her faun, but the baby was camera shy and moved off when I came to the door to take pictures, It is against HOA regulations to feed deer (or shoot them). Suzanne throws vegetable trimmings out on the lawn to help fertilize it, but the deer usually eat them.
We spent the last week at the cabin. Karl had mowed the grass prior to our arrival. We had decided that we need another shed in back so that I can have a small shop plus a storage shed. So we picked up some pier blocks, 4x4s and 2x6 joists and put together a 10x8 platform. Next trip we will frame up the walls. Suzanne began spray-painting some old plastic chairs while I was finishing up the floor joists.
This morning I burned a small pile of sticks and yard debris in our little fire pit. We are not allowed to burn brush on our property here, but fire pits are OK. The shed will be built in a number of phases. I can only do so much during a week. Perhaps the title of this blog should be, "Weak at the Cabin."
The first car my dad bought new (may have been the first car he owned) was a 1941 Buick Special 2-door coupe. It was likely the car I came home from the hospital in. He owned it for ten years, three of which it sat up on blocks in a Portland neighbor's garage while Dad was involved with defending New Guinea during WWII. He replaced it with a new 1951 Buick Special 2-door hardtop in 1949, before I started first grade (kindergarten was not mandatory back then). I don't remember the '41 Buick, but I do have a photo of it,
Below are two '41 Buick hood ornaments that I have cleaned up and mounted for display. Click on each photo for a better view and captions.
I have mounted clocks and weather instruments in a headlight ring and a taillight trim piece. See photo captions for details.
Finally, I have mounted front and rear shields for display. I am looking for an example of the full trunk emblem with the red spears and letters "BUICK EIGHT."
In the 1930s Cadillac had used a goddess hood ornament, but the '30s goddess was a full-figured gal in that she was depicted from head to toes. Post-war production updated the lady to a head with horizontal flowing hair or arm/wings - there was no body throughout the rest of her run into 1956. I have been able to acquire an immediate post-war example used from 1946 through '48. This initial design doubled as a hood release.
When I had the display completed and took it into the Senior Center Woodshop to show it off, the first thing Tom said was, "Where's the light?" Which I immediately realized was indeed needed. It has taken me longer to design and install LED lighting than it took to build the stand. Plus I had to add another board to the bottom (plinth) to give room for the light switch.
About a year ago I had obtained a similar Pontiac Chief hood ornament/release. I had mounted it onto a solid block of mesquite with the latch mechanism running down through a slot in the wood block. Pontiac and Cadillac both being divisions of General Motors it is not surprising that this hood-release design was shared. Pontiac's design was much lighter in weight.
And finally the two side-by-side.
Buick is probably my favorite car brand. My dad’s first (new) car was a 1941 Buick. I am certain that I rode home from the hospital in it. A decade later he replaced it with a 1951 Buick Special hardtop. I learned to drive in that car and passed my Oregon drivers test in it. No doubt the most recognized Buck symbol is the “gunsight” hood ornament that was used on the 1946 to 1954 models. The focus of my collection is on pre-1960 hood ornaments of any make, but I particularly focus on Buick. I have now acquired examples of all of these post-war years. They are shown, year by year, under my Automotive tab, but below is a group photo of what I have at this time.
Some of the examples I have been able to obtain were incomplete, typically lacking the ring that surrounds the “torpedo” or “spear” center. I have enjoyed reproducing the ring in hardwood. I have also been able to acquire some early hood ornaments and radiator caps, one that was produced when my dad was still in high school. I will still seek those rare early ones and I am yet lacking an example from 1956, but I persist.
I add items to my display of Woodwork and Automobilia most every week. But I have so much stuff there that it is hard for the visitor to know what is new. I have revised my Woodwork page into three columns similar to the Automobilia page. Where the Auto page is organized by alphabet and date of manufacture of the ornaments and emblems, under Woodwork I am simply adding the most recently produced pieces at the top of the columns. Thus it is easy to see my most recent wood works.
Since I continue to believe that most of those who may have an interest in my car hood ornaments and emblems would have an interest in certain brands and years, I will continue to organize the Automobilia page accordingly. Therefore I will point out some of my more recent productions that I find most interesting. In the early 1900s there was a car manufacturer on every block of the large cities. World War II pretty well cut out the small guys and built up the bigger car and truck companies by paying them (and requiring them) to produce war machinery. Some continued on after the war to great success and longevity. Others did not read the market well and fell off the table. One exception was Kaiser-Frazer. Henry J. Kaiser of Kaiser steel did well during the war, since all the vehicles, ships and planes used a lot of steel. Joseph W. Frazer had been an officer and finally president of the defunct Graham-Paige automobile manufacturer. The two figured that with Kaiser's steel resources and Frazer's car manufacturing skills they could enter the US automotive production scene and do well. They started up as Kaiser-Frazer Corp immediately after the war and put out new 1947 models. All the established manufacturers had to retool from war production and start designing again.. Most post-war cars were warmed over 1942 models. It was 1949 before most of the big boys brought a truly new product to market. Kaiser-Frazer did well in 1947 and '48 with their freshly designed cars
Kaiser cars were the bread-and-butter for Kaiser-Frazer and Frazer cars were the premium brand, designed to compete with Cadillac and Packard. Kaisers sold well. I personally recall seeing Kaiser cars in Salem, OR where I grew up. They were easily recognizable by the widow's peak windshield that only they had. Frazers I do not remember. Kaiser and Frazer both had a Manhattan model I suspect that automotive marketing was still in its infancy. The two were competing against each other. Frazer just did not do well, so in 1950 K-F decided to drop the Frazer brand and focus on Kaiser. Frazer came out with a 1951 model as its swan-song, but it was just a 1950 model with redesigned trim.
Why did I go through all this inconsequential background? Because I recently came across a 1951 Frazer hood ornament on eBay. It was missing a component, so the price was attractive. And the design I found to be intriguing. A chrome knight competing in a jousting event with a lance point protruding several inches in front of himself. Imagine putting anything like that on a car hood these days?!? The missing component was the lance point. I own a lathe, so I figured that I could certainly turn a replica lance point. I bid and won the piece.
I had previously seen pictures of this hood ornament on the 'net, at prices well above what I was willing to pay. When my purchase arrived I discovered that the front attachment for the lance point was a threaded hole and still had the remnants of a broken Lucite (plexiglass) tip. So I figured that an acrylic point would be as good as a hardwood one. I ordered a 1-1/8 inch acrylic rod from a supplier in San Jose, CA. I also found a scrap of native Texas mesquite and turned a replacement point of wood. When the acrylic rod arrived, I did the same with it. The catch was that the attachment was via a threaded 5/8" extension of the point. So I did a search on-line for a 5/8" die that would cut the threads I needed to make the attachment. Ultimately it all came together. In fact the icing was that I was even able to illuminate the acrylic tip with three LED bulbs set inside the ornament.
Check back, I have more to show.
In 1971 I was recently graduated from the University of San Francisco (1968) as an English major, had completed another year there for a Calif. Secondary Teaching Credential (1969) and was currently taking classes at San Jose State (then College) in Industrial Arts. I was driving a butter & egg delivery truck by day and taking evening classes at SJSC. My delivery rounds took me from South S.F. into San Francisco, across the Bay Bridge, through Walnut Creek, over the East Bay hills to San Ramon and back across to Hayward, back across the Bay on the San Mateo bridge and up to South City again. Then I would drive my rust-primered VW Karmann Ghia coupe down to San Jose. for class. Finally, back to Mt. View where I had started the day. This was long before anyone had heard the terms "Silicon Valley" or "Google."
At this point in my life I was married four years, had two children, girl and boy, ages three and one about 6-8 months old. None in school yet. On one afternoon when I was in San Fran and had completed my local (City) deliveries, I was driving the bob-tailed delivery truck through City streets to highway 101. As I passed near the Civic Center area I observed a two-story building with a dump-chute extending from a second-story window into a curbside dump bin. As I passed the bin I could not but notice that it was nearly full of nothing but vintage school desks, virtually identical to those I had sat in through grades one through four...or maybe it was six. So I circled the block, found a place to park near the dump bin and climbed in. I suddenly had fantasies of my darling little girl and boy sitting in the desks, coloring and soon doing homework in the same antique desks I had sat in in grade school.
I located three desk units that were not yet broken. Not an easy task, given that they had been thrown down the chute and were destined for a landfill. Not all three were of identical design, but beggars can't be choosers. Besides, not all the individual desks in my own classroom were identical either. I loaded them into my bobtailed truck that was largely empty by that point in the afternoon and took them back to the warehouse in South City.. I had to explain to the mom & pop (literally - Mr. & Mrs. Jim Andronico) proprietors of the wholesale outfit I worked for what the desks were doing in their truck, then cram them into my Karmann Ghia. The desks travelled to San Jose State, then Mtn. View and were unloaded into the covered carport on Rock St.
I could drag this story out over the next 48 years, but suffice it to say that my two kids became five, they all graduated high school and several had kids of their own who are all now out of high school. Two weeks ago I took the components of the three desks out of the cardboard box they have been in since the above-described events, spent two days figuring how to reassemble them and sanded and refinished them. My eldest child is now fifty., her brother is retired from a career in the Coast Guard, and their kids are all graduated from high school. So, the City & County of San Francisco vintage school desks are finally ready for use and I have no great-grandkids!
So I apologize to Kristin, Karl, Erik, Amy and David that none of them ever got to sit in these historic desks that are now about a hundred years old. Truly and technically antiques. They sit in my garage in Denton, TX awaiting my next craft show. Perhaps some other young family will have children who will enjoy an experience in vintage 1920s school desks. I cannot express how quickly time flies. I was often told this by older neighbors and relatives, but the reality of it only comes with time.
I am still trying new show venues to find those that provide the most effective exposure for my works.