Things I have that are interesting

I have a huge number of cufflinks.  I hesitate to refer to them as a collection, because I just bought them over the years because I like cufflinks.  Although, its getting increasingly difficult to find shirts with French cuffs.  So, since I rarely actually wear them anymore.  (They serve little purpose at the B&B) I thought I would share some of the more interesting ones.  Obviously, these are little abacu.....crap, what's the plural of abacus? 

These are in my top five favorites.  They are Waltham watches made into cufflinks.  I wouldn't say I collect watches, but I have accumulated a few and I do like working on them.  I have no idea why someone with hands as big as mine is so drawn to working on almost microscopic avocations.  Eventually, I'll get around to putting up photos of some of the stuff I did when I was doing museum exhibits and you'll understand what I am referring to.

After what I said in the last post, I thought I would go gather a few watches.  The thing is sad is that these are just a few that I gathered up on the spot while I'm writing here at the Downey house.  Most of my watches are at the Yosemite house.  And, these aren't just old broken watches that I never bothered to throw out.  They all work (though, I've fixed a few of them) and I wear or carry them.  I still have several of my old diving watches, but I never got around to buying the tools I would need to work on them.

These were my dad's.  I wish I knew where they came from.  I think his partner, Dr. Isaac Sanders  had them made, but I really don't know.  I just think the design is so cool, with the little caduceus or aesculapius  depending upon whether you prefer Latin or Greek.

These are my favorite.  I remember my parents spending a weekend on Catalina.  My dad brought these home and I always thought they we just the coolest things ever.

This is my favorite tie bar.  Whoever designed this was a genius.  I really don't know how old it is as I think it belonged to my grandfather originally.  Thus, I have displayed it on one of his ties.

Not sure how these came to be.  If you can't read them, they are little facsimiles of my dad's business cards in cufflink form.  I know he wouldn't have had these made, but I don't know who did.

Bears...When I saw these Black Hills Gold bears, I felt that I needed them.  Ever since we built the Yosemite place, bears are a big part of my life

One of my favorite wedding rings.  We were on a trip with my sister Jan, and we saw these. (Obviously, Gail has one just like it).  We were kind of hesitating because they were handmade by a Navajo silversmith from the Begay family and kind of expensive.  So, Jan bought them for us, making them an especially good memory.

This was my dad's tie rack.  I had hoped it would show up better in the photograph.  I remember just staring it this thing when I was a kid.  It has all kinds of fishing and sporting scenes on it from the 40s, in that transitional phase out of Art Deco into the Post WWII artistic movements.  I don't know how this survived.  It disappeared for years and I just figured it was gone.  My dad stopped using it decades ago and I figured it had been trashed.  Even though it was gone, I still remembered it and actually spent time trying to find one like it.  Then, one day, going through some old boxes, I found it!

As you may have surmised by now, I have a thing for ties.  To me, they are art.  It seems strange not to have a regular occasion to wear one anymore.  I think it was so cool back in the 30s and 40s when the guy who pumped gas and the guy that delivered milk wore ties.  It's my belief that the casual expectations of dressing is a key factor is the fragmenting of society.  I am still shocked at the people who show up to Church, weddings and funerals in clothes I might wear to change the hydraulic fluid in my backhoe.  I don't know if the expectation of proper dressing was a causal factor or a result of much larger concepts or if it all just kind of happened simultaneously, but it doesn't really matter, doe it?

When I was a little kid we used to go on a lot of driving vacations.  These cast iron and brass cannons used to be popular at all the Civil War and Revolutionary War battle sites.  I never meant to get a collection going, I just had to have one every time I saw one.  My dad didn't help because he taught me how to make my own black powder when I was about 8.  These cannons...I don't think the people that made them intended them to be fired.  But the bores were drilled out all the way back to the touch hole.  So, fire they did.

This is actually my favorite one.  I got it at Bunker Hill when I was 7.  Then, back at home, I was playing with it in the dirt in our backyard.  Suddenly, amid the moats and parapets I had built out of dirt, my castle collapsed and no matter how much or where I dug, my cannon was gone.  I'll never understand how it got so lost.  I mean...I looked, and looked.  Finally, I had to give up.  One day, several years later, my dad was out in the back with a rototiller, getting ready to plant a garden.  Then, I heard him at the back door, talking to my mom.  He said, "Guess what I just found?"  I came running into the room, hopefully questioning, "My cannon?"  Several years in the ground had done its work, but I think it actually looks more cool.


You know, I'd probably collect these if I had ever seen another one.  I've seen some other Charlie Tuna Radios, but they are much different.  They're rectangular with Charlie's image on them.  This is the only one I've ever seen like this.  Lord knows why, but we went on a field trip to the StarKist canning factory when I was in the first grade.  It was sooo disgusting.  Why someone thought a bunch of first graders would want to be traumatized by walking through a fish slaughter house.  But then, I kind of do understand.  Most of my early grade school teachers were octogenarians (they were probably really in their 30s, but seemed like they were ready croak at any time) and I swear, they were sadists.  But, I scored this transistor radio in the gift shop (why does a canning factory need a gift shop?)...and the anthropomorphizing of those poor fish with Charlie, the reject, seemed to make it all a bit less traumatic.  For those of you who don't remember the commercials, Charlie was like a beatnik Tuna and was morally unsuited to be caught and turned into tuna salad.  Their slogan was "Sorry Charlie"...which also smacked of anti-Japanese racism to me...but I was a weird kid and probably the only one who picked up on it.

These guys got me interested in pocket watches, especially railroad watches.  Both of these belonged to my Grandfather.  He was a brakeman and a conductor working on the railroad out of the Barstow Station.  Had he not somehow ended up out in the middle of nowhere (I mean, can you imagine Barstow in 1910-1919?), I wouldn't be here writing this, or doing anything else.  You see, my grandmother was a very devout woman.  So devout that she was going to become a nun.  But, she decided to take a year off to think about it and ended up working as a Harvey Girl in Barstow.  Happily for the Braun family, Edmond Braun was also working there.  I know little of their courtship other than Edmond swooped and Anna bailed on the convent idea.

I just realized that 99.999% of you probably have no idea what a Harvey Girl was.  Back in those days, they didn't have dining cars on the railroad.  So, they had gigantic cafeteria type restaurants at certain major stops.  There was one in Barstow because people would then arrived in Los Angeles and not have to worry about being famished.  So, they had to staff these places.  From what I know of them, they were pretty strict.  My grandmother was from Chicago and she was actually recruited there, if I remember the family story correctly.  Then, once they were at their destination, the Harvey Girls had to live in dormitory like buildings under some pretty strict rules.  But, that's when my grandparents met and I'm here writing about it, so, obviously there was some wiggle room.