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.
When I first acquired a Mercedes-Benz silver star I thought that there was no point in getting a second example, since M-B has used the same symbol as long as I can remember. The tri-star encircled by a laurel wreath had its origins in the 1800s. Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler had each independently, applied an internal-combustion, gasoline engine to a wheeled vehicle in the summer of 1886, thus each inventing the automobile simultaneously. Initially they operated businesses independently from each other. Daimler used a ringed, three-point star as his company logo and Benz used a laurel-wreath circle, Each had registered their separate company logos in 1909. When the two entrepreneurs merged in 1926, they registered a tri-star in a wreathed circle as the Mercedes-Benz** official logo.
That first ornament that I obtained from eBay was a standing silver star on a plain base without a wreath. Over the next few years I came to realize the subtle variations that had been developed by M-B for display of their circled star. So I decided to acquire a flush-mount logo as shown in the upper right photo. Then I noticed that the star had been mounted to an imitation radiator cap in the late '50s-early '60s, so I needed one of those. At that time my wife and I owned a Mercedes CLK 350 which had a flush=mount badge on the front, so I obtained an example of that.
Sadly, I sold the first one (far right) at a craft fair. But I also had noticed that between the faux radiator cap and the smooth base there was an ornament with the laurel wreath and manufacturer's name, so I sought and won one of those. Then recently I was surprised to see a M-B standing star on eBay that was affixed to an actual radiator cap, complete with threads. The chrome finish was all but completely worn off, exposing most of the base metal. I was surprised to see that the star portion was cast in bronze. The year vehicle it came from was not listed. As is sometimes the case, it was listed by an antiques or "collectibles" dealer who did not recognize its significance and the listing was quite generic. Apparently, another automobilia collector did not see it and I got it for the starting price. I sort of held my breath until it arrived, fearful that it was something other than what I was expecting - but it was not. And is not. I need to contact someone who knows old Benz's and find out what years it is from - probably early 1930s or '20s. Maybe even a pre-M-B Daimler! Probably not.
**You may have wondered why the jointly produced automobile of Daimler and Benz is not called "Daimler-Benz." Before the merger, Mr. Benz had produced a successful racing car which he had named after the daughter of the car's patron, Mercedes. Following his racing success, he wisely built on the car's fame and transferred the name to the cars he was producing. It was the name of the cars that was used in the new company, along with Daimler's eponymous brand name, (That is the rest of the story)
Yesterday was the annual Arts and Autos event at the Historic Courthouse Square. I have exhibited my wares there two or three times past and was signed up for last year, but the day dawned to rain and it continued sprinkling all day. Since it is outdoors, I would get all my wax-finished woodwork wet and would have to re-wax every item, so I stayed away. This year was sunny with, a few fluffy white clouds and the high approached 100, as it has for several weeks. Great for Texans. Much harder on Oregonians.
Gates opened at 6:45. We arrived at 6:40. The sun popped above the horizon right around 7:00. The event itself was 9 AM to 3 PM. We were set up by 8:30.. The public began to arrive on schedule at nine. The band (the Lug Nuts) started playing at ten and went all the way to three, with a few short breaks. They look something like the Beatles with a female drummer. They played pretty much nothing but R&R classics and oldies, so I was well pleased.
This year I made a number of new projects unrelated to the automobile and I assigned about a quarter of my table space to them. Boxes, cutting boards and a chopping block. You can see them on the right in the top picture. I was not able to set out all the automotive pieces that I had with me. Evidently, the ones that I left in the boxes were the ones that people wanted because I did not sell anything. But as usual, I had a number of nice conversations with interested people and gave out quite a few business cards, so perhaps something will develop from the event later.
My feature item at top dead center of the U-shaped display was the 409 valve cover desk lamp. It got some attention from several visitors, but no offer to purchase. To its immediate left was a similar desk lamp with a finned aluminum aftermarket valve cover for an air cooled VW engine. (I had to purchase two of those, but for a good price, so I have two of those made now.). Also to the left is an MGB clock in a solid block of bodark. I like it a lot, but MG fans are not numerous in Texas. The Datsun plaque was made because I have had inquiries for Datsun - I think I will add a clock to it . . .make it more useful. To the right is another item I am proud of - a 1958-9 Corvette headlamp door (bezel) with a clock and thermometer in it (Note the temp on it - it was quite warm under the canopy, so we sat behind under a tree). One visitor suggested that it would be better with a slightly larger wood base beneath it - I think I will give that serious consideration.
There were a lot of really nice cars on display. Good music, as I mentioned. I learned a bit about Denton history and residents from home boys. But with it ending at 3 PM we had to pack up and load out in the heat of the afternoon. Took us two hours and seven minutes. We were both about ready to expire. We had each taken a couple short breaks in the shade to recover before we were finished. There seemed to be a consensus that we don't want to go through this again next year. We had decided a couple years ago not to do outdoor shows, This had been the exception. I am afraid that it is no longer an exception to that rule.
.Since my previous blog of March, I have been able to acquire an even more desirable Nash hood ornament, a 1950-51 flying lady with the signature of the designer imprinted in the cast metal. George Petty was an illustrator of the early 1900s in the vein of Norman Rockwell and Alberto Vargas. Of course, while Rockwell did homey, wholesome art for Saturday Evening Post, Petty and Vargas became famous for their sexy pin-up girls. Petty’s fame grew in the 1930s with his illustrations in the newly created Esquire magazine. In the ’40s his fame as pin-up artist spread as his art was copied onto the nose of military aircraft. The leggy gal on the plane below was perhaps the most famous of many. Notice that her legs are more than half of her total height. While Petty did not invent women’s legs, you might say he reinvented them by stretching them out in his art. (In Playboy magazine, Hugh Hefner did somewhat the same with breasts. His centerfolds of the ‘50s and 60s all featured women with much larger than average bosoms.
Crew of the Memphis Belle with the Petty Girl nose art
Nash Motors was founded in 1916 by former General Motors president Charles W. Nash who acquired the Thomas B. Jeffery Company. Jeffery's best-known automobile was the Rambler whose mass production from a plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin began in 1902. Curiously, the Rambler model name outlasted two manufacturers (Jeffries and Nash) and soldiered on into the 1960s with American Motors. AMC was created in 1954 by the merger of Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motor Car Co.
Evidently. Post-war Nash decided that hood ornaments, which often featured animals and made a particular brand or model more distinctive, would be a good marketing strategy for them. Before the war there had been a few Art Deco hood ornaments featuring highly stylized women’s forms, but Nash took this to the next level by commissioning realistic figures bereft of clothing. And who better to design such ornaments than George Petty, creator of the Petty Girl of Esquire and WWII airplane nose art fame? Returning soldiers were generally all familiar with his art work. Nash was clever enough to not only commission several designs by Petty, but also to use his widely recognized signature on the ornaments themselves.
Following the war, Nash automobiles offered optional hood ornaments that featured a female figure posed as if flying down the road with the wind blowing her hair with cape flowing behind her. I have so far acquired only one of these ornaments. Depicted below are a 1950-51 Nash hood ornament and two examples of Petty pin-up art. More hood ornament pictures are available for viewing under the “automobilia” tab of this website.
For more detailed information on George Petty & Nash go to the following websites:
Overview of Petty’s hood ornament work:
New York Times article on George Petty’s pin-up art:
Photo history of the Nash automobile:
If you haven’t heard or noticed, since obtaining my own website address outside the Weebly network I have shortened it to “byBuck.com.” If you are looking for classic car related items, you can enter www.byBuck.com/automobilia. If you wish to go directly to this blog: www.byBuck.com/bucks-blog. And so forth for each site page.
Since the Craft Fair in March, I have completed a couple of ornaments that I am particularly pleased with the way they turned out. Both required the use of a lathe for the recreation of original components of an ornament that were missing on the pieces that I obtained. For both I used native Texas mesquite because it is tight-grained, hard and finishes well
The first is something that an attendee at the fair had specifically asked about: a late 1940s Lincoln hood ornament. This 1946 Lincoln ornament required the turning of a perfectly spherical 2” ball, then the carving of the ball to mate with the ornament. Also needed was a short, thin, vertical piece to act as the leading edge of the wedge-shaped chrome wings which form a sort of vee. above the ball And then a long, thin base to sit on – for this I used bodark wood for contrast. All of that set onto a plinth of oak
The second is an ornament I have long admired by Nash. In the late 1950s Nash merged with Rambler and together they rambled on together for another decade and finally folded in the mid-60s. The 1956 Nash Rambler ornament is a wide chrome oval with a pair of spears that pierce the oval, both supporting it while each is mounted to the hood. Again, I was able to obtain only the oval and had to turn matching spears, flatten them slightly top & bottom and mount them to a plinth. All these pieces I made of mesquite
Here it is nearing the end of the first quarter of 2019 and we're back at Will Rogers Memorial complex in Fort Worth for the Spring Funky Finds. This time was not so financially productive for us as past F.F.events. Sold two small items and did not cover even half the cost of admission. But had lots of pleasant conversations and possibly picked up a couple commissions. Sometimes the post-event sales are better than those made at the show itself.
These general craft fairs are not ideal for my specialized niche creations. This year I am doing three new things to address this. I have already added a store front to this website under the Automobilia tab. I am going to seek classic car events that include vendor spaces for my live shows. And I am going to add non-automotive craft items for future general shows like Funky Finds.
It's hard for me to believe that my last post , in November, was about the Fall Funky Finds show and now their spring event is just three weeks away.. Suzanne, the dogs and I made a five-week trailer trip to the West Coast for Christmas and New Years. Over four thousand miles. The '04 Ford Expedition did a marvelous job with no troubles at all. It is now pushing 190K miles. The nine year old trailer had numerous issues. Fortunately, my tool kit was adequate for all repairs and replacements. We sold it about ten days after we returned home. After twenty years of trailering, for business and pleasure, we are through with trailer parks and roadside overnighting.
Besides seeing a lot of highway, we stopped for three nights at Placerville, CA, then spent several pleasant days over Christmas with Suzanne's brother at his home on acreage outside Medford, OR. Then back down I-5 to the SF Bay Area for a week with family there. on to Pismo Beach to meet up with a fellow H.S. classmate of Suzanne's and finally on to L.A. for eight days to visit family and another bridge friend of Suzanne's. Then we retraced our path east on I-10, I-20 and finally I-30 home.
After disposing of the travel trailer, we bought a new (to us) Ford Escape (2016 model) since we will not be pulling the trailer any more. Then we decided we don't want to part with the Expedition, so now we are planning to sell the Mercedes Cabriolet.
Also (here comes the big news), I recently converted my Weebly-based website to my own personal URL and have added an online store front to my Automobilia tab. "gemstonesandwoodworkbybuck.weebly,com" is gone. My new URL is "automobiliabybuck.com." Please visit often. I try to add content every week. Comments and suggestions are welcome.
I had planned for six craft fairs this year - one more than last year. But one was cancelled, one rained out and one never confirmed my registration. Two of the three that I attended were Funky Finds, Spring & Fall, at the Will Rogers Event Center in Fort Worth. I like it because it is indoors, two days long (not three) and you can set up the day before the weekend event.
I sold a total of four items; two each day. This was a wrap for this year. Next year I am going to focus on selling on the internet instead of packing all this stuff off to shows. I don't think it will be less time consuming, but I can do the work sitting at the computer instead of loading and unloading everything into the Ford and travelling to venues.
I returned to the cabin last week with Bella to finish the tile backsplash above the new countertops that were installed (by others) last month. I had set about half the mosaic tiles on our previous visit, so I had the remaining tiles to set, then grout it all and install the electrical plates on the outlets and switches. What had not occurred to me until the final day of this last work was that the last four tile installations I have done were not in kitchens. I did a tile shower in East Texas, then two showers and a front porch floor here in Denton. The last kitchen I tiled was in Placerville, CA. I found that leaning across a two foot counter and ducking under upper cabinets is a lot more of a strain on a 72 year old than on a 50+ year old. Progress was slow, but steady.
We had purchased the tiles at Lowe's. (Also where we procured the cabinets and counter top) They are travertine marble - a natural stone - cut into 2"x4" rectangles and set onto 12"x12" mats for ease of installation. This was all fine except when it came to trimming to fit at the upper cabinets. Travertine is full of small voids and fissures which lead to the small pieces breaking apart when cut into narrower strips. But grout covers a multitude of sins, so the final result is quite satisfactory.
The other wrinkle was the electrical. At one point there is a stud right in the middle of the point where I wanted a three-gang box and at another point (photo on left above) I needed to place a transformer for the undercabinet lights inside the electrical box. So to accommodate these situations I had to use build-it-yourself cover plates so that there could be a blank section at the stud and at the transformer locations. The only color switches and outlets that the local Home Depot carried in this configuration was pure white. I would have chosen beige, but it turned out quite well.
The new kitchen counter was installed earlier this month at the cabin and I was able to put in about 2/3's of the mosaic tile backsplash before we had to return home. The object is to have it completed before Thanksgiving. (Photos next month) Meanwhile, I have had some time in Denton to finish several shop projects that have been in process for a number of months.
Foremost among them is the desk lamp. Last Spring I had picked up a derelict desk lamp at an antique shop near Canyon Lake because I have been thinking of making a lamp with an automobile valve cover as the lamp shade. I did not have a valve cover and really had no firm idea how I would install a tube light inside it. But when I found this lamp with the electric plug cut off, priced at $19.95, I offered the fellow $10 and he bit. Then the hunt was on for a valve cover, an LED tube light and the means of putting it all together.
Unfortunately I did not think to take pix of the lamp in its as-found condition. Above are photos of two identical lamps that I located on the internet, both for sale. These are both in better condition than the one that I acquired, but the brown colors are similar and the base, neck and shade are identical. They have double, 18" fluorescent tubes with old-school, wire-wrapped transformers (2) in the base. On/off is via the two red and black buttons on top of the shade.
My first step was to remove the shade and all the electrical materials, except the cord to the wall outlet. Next I stripped the paint from the base and neck. I was surprised to find that the base is apparently of aluminum and that the neck is still fully flexible and in good operating order. Then to the internet (eBay) in search of a suitable valve cover. I was open to any brand-embossed cover that would accept an 18" tube light. After a few weeks and a number of separate searches I came across a vintage "buy-it-now" aluminum Corvette cover for $50. Most valve covers are in pairs. Vintage 'Vette covers are being offered for $300-$500. The one I found appeared to be clean and undamaged. I grabbed it. While I waited for its arrival I began looking for a suitable LED tube.
Turns out that with the LED explosion of lighting applications, there are now LED tube lights of many descriptions. And the best part is that the old ballasts and transformers are not needed with LED tube lights. So I ordered a single, 18" LED tube-bulb plus the appropriate socket....that's all that is needed. When the 'Vette valve cover arrived it was indeed clean enough to eat out of. I buffed the outside to a polish and did the same with the aluminum base and flex-neck of the old desk lamp. Then I drilled holes in the bracket and cover so I could bolt them together and installed the light sockets with HD double-sided tape. I ran a new, small-gauge wire down the neck, installed a rocker switch (from my misc. electrical parts bin) in the front of the base and voila, I have a desk lamp. I had in mind to paint the base, neck and background around the Corvette script and fins, but I think I like the polished aluminum as is. In fact, after putting it on my desk (just to take photos) I like it so much that I now am thinking of keeping it for myself, rather than offering it for sale as I had originally intended!
Other Items that I finished this last week include two Packard hood ornaments, a pre-war Chevrolet hood ornament and an early post-war Hudson ornament. as shown below.
I am still trying new show venues to find those that provide the most effective exposure for my works.