A&P Coffee Can

Coffee fuels my preservation thoughts. I love coffee. And yet, hopefully I’m not the only one who did not know that coffee used to come in a can that required a key to open said can. Am I (aside from my youngest sister)? Hmm. What kind of self respecting coffee addict aficionado am I? I must study. When my mother sent me the image below, I wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about. Behold, the unopened coffee can with a key.

Drip Grind A&P Coffee.

The top of the coffee can. It

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The bottom of the coffee can. That key comes with the can and it fits in the metal tab on the side.

The side of the coffee can. The key fits into the black spot. Once opened, you have a reusable lid.

Aside from the fun retro factor, my mom is wondering a few things about this coffee can.

(1) When did companies stop making such cans?

(2) How much would something like this be worth?

(3) Does anyone have any information about such cans?

(4) Do you think the coffee is still good?

Ha! Just kidding on that last one; Mom will keep this for fun in her kitchen. She remembers them in the 1950s and 1960s, but not after that. If you could help us out – if you happen to a true coffee aficionado, please fill us in. (These photos are from a cell phone, but if you’d like better quality images, let me know.)

We like to know the stories of our belongings. Who has a good theory as to why this was never opened?

Enjoy! And thanks!

Preservation Photos #108

A striking house in the center of Brownsville, VT. September 2011. Click and zoom for greater detail.

By my own observations, brick buildings are much more common in southern Vermont than in northern Vermont. However, this is unique. The frame wing is attached to the brick structure.

The Muppets (2011)

The Muppets are no strangers to historic preservation related themes. If you think back to the original Muppet Movie (1979), you’ll recall the idea of rehabilitation of a church into the Electric Mayhem’s Coffee House. Kermit and friends travel across America seeing all sorts of roadside Americana (e.g. the giant literal fork in the road). Doc Hopper is attempting to create a chain of frog legs. The Muppets convene in a ghost town. The movie is full of preservation tangents.

As for the new Muppet movie, The Muppets: preservation abounds again. First off, if you are a Muppet fan, it will delight you with its classic Muppet humor (except for a song or two – some are strange). I saw the movie with 10 diehard Muppet fans and everyone loved it. It felt much more Muppet like than the previous few movies (A Very Merry Muppet Christmas or Muppet Wizard of Oz to name a couple). If you are not a Muppet fan (insanity!), perhaps you should give it a try.

I’d been looking forward to this movie for years (my family and my in-laws all adore the Muppets), with an added flair of anticipation because there was news that it featured preservation themes. You can read a synopsis of The Muppets, but if I were you – I’d see it for yourself. Rather than tell you the story, perhaps you would like to know what a flamingo obsessed preservationist thinks about while watching The Muppets? I guarantee that I’m not the only one. (Warning: possible spoilers here!)

• The rehabilitation of the old Muppet Theater and studio lot is strikingly preservation related. It’s dilapidated and sad and left for ruin when the movie begins, mostly because the Muppets are no longer together. An oil baron claims to have plans to turn it into a museum, however, Walter (the newest Muppet) hears him say that the plan is to buy it, tear it down and drill for oil. The Muppets can only have the theater back if they raise $10 million dollars.

• Walter shows the audience that everyone can make a difference; he is the Muppets’ biggest fan and wanted nothing more than to visit the studio and to meet Kermit the Frog. Upon learning of the fate of the Muppet Theater he set out to search for Kermit. He inspired everyone to save the theater. It makes me think of the Margaret Mead quote, “”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

• In order to get ready for the fundraising telethon, the Muppets work together to clean up the theater and to make it look as good as new.

• The community is needed to make preservation work. The Muppets pooled their resources and believed in themselves. While skeptical at first, the audience started coming in to watch. The Muppets wouldn’t have survived with financial support and then overwhelming, surprising crowds of fans after the telethon.

• As always the Muppets have an awesome road trip adventure. While they didn’t pull out the classic, “We picked up a weirdo,” line, one of my new favorites is “Travel by map.” Can I do that too?

• Bridges! The Muppets travel over a beautiful open spandrel concrete arch bridge and a truss bridge. Lovely.

• And there is some demolition, as Gonzo blew up his plumbing business. It’s a funny plot point, however. And although the age of the building is uncertain, I did like the sign.

What can we learn from the Muppets and their preservation endeavors? There is nothing wrong with using the pull of nostalgia to get you going. Believe in yourself. Follow your dreams. Have a sense of humor. Don’t let go of what you love.

The Muppets (2011). Excellent. We’ve missed you, Muppets!

Friday Thankfulness + Shop Small Business Saturday

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and here at Preservation in Pink, each day of the week will be dedicated to a different subject of preservation thankfulness.

Monday Thankfulness. Tuesday Thankfulness. Wednesday Thankfulness. Thanksgiving Thankfulness.

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Today, among the craziness of Black Friday, I am thankful for the small business owners and the people who understand the value and importance of shopping at locally owned business (whether in a downtown, village center or even those in a strip mall). Small businesses keep the money in their local economy and provide good jobs and a better connection to the places we live. Shopping small businesses makes a big difference.

This year, Saturday November 26, is Small Business Saturday, the second annual such day sponsored by American Express.

The 2nd annual Small Business Saturday® is a day dedicated to supporting small businesseson one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

On November 26, we’re asking millions of people to Shop Smallsm at their favorite local stores and help fuel the economy. When we all shop small, it will be huge.

Just one purchase – will you make that pledge? Big or small, it will be a huge difference. Check it out on Facebook, too.

Happy Shopping!

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and here at Preservation in Pink, each day of the week will be dedicated to a different subject of preservation thankfulness.

Monday Thankfulness. Tuesday Thankfulness. Wednesday Thankfulness.

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Thanksgiving makes me even more thankful for home. No matter where your home is or what you think of as home, I hope you had a lovely day celebrating family + friends + the feeling of home. Home gives us a foundation and a sense of belonging and history.

The real Miracle on 34th Street house in Port Washington, NY. The addition since the movie is the dormer on the roof. Click for source.

The Miracle on 34th Street movie features Susie, a young Natalie Wood, who dreams of the house above and she asks Kris Kringle for it for Christmas. It’s one of my favorite movies; my family watches it every year in our cozy living room. It’s a good tradition at home.

A scene from the movie. Click for source.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you are grateful and thankful for everything you have, all year long.

Wednesday Thankfulness

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and here at Preservation in Pink, each day of the week will be dedicated to a different subject of preservation thankfulness.

Monday Thankfulness. Tuesday Thankfulness.

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Today I am thankful for memories. Memories forge connections with places and those places become important to us. Good memories, nostalgic memories, make our hearts swell and give us a sense of peace. They give us a fond story to tell over and over and images to recall when passing through. Memories keep us grounded, remind us who we are and where we came from; they provide hope and comfort and guidance. Without our individual and collective memories, we would not know what was important to our ancestors or what might be important to our descendants.

Long Island, NY beaches hold some of my favorite memories.

The long leaf pines of the Sandhills Region in North Carolina.

Memories should always include a cute kitten. Here's a baby Izzy.

Take time to wax poetic on your memories and be grateful for them. They’ve made you who you are.

Tuesday Thankfulness

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and here at Preservation in Pink, each day of the week will be dedicated to a different subject of preservation thankfulness.

Monday Thankfulness.

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Today I am thankful for beautiful places and beautiful views that make us proud to live where we do and make us believe in all places.  Some of the places I love:

Route 17 in Addison, VT.

Scott's Bluff, NE.

Overhills, North Carolina.

Route 66, drive-ins, roadside America.

The Big Duck.

Concrete streets in Point Lookout, NY.

Carl's Ice Cream, Fredericksburg, VA.

Thousand Island Park, NY. Good flamingo memories.

Truss bridge in Bethel, VT. I love truss bridges.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Roads, landscapes, historic sites, buildings, roadside architecture, bridges – I love it all. I love the built environment.

Monday Thankfulness

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and here at Preservation in Pink, each day of the week will be dedicated to a different subject of preservation thankfulness.

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I am thankful for everyone who recognizes the value of historic buildings (or even regular old buildings). To those who love their old buildings and the hardwood floors, wood clapboard, slate roofs, wood windows, leaded glass, original hardware and their long, intertwined histories. To those who trust and believe in the strength and potential of these old buildings: you are the reason that our communities live on with connections to the past.

The Village of Jamaica, VT has a beautiful historic district along Main Street.

I am thankful for moments that I spend with friends and family and can catch them speaking preservation, if you will. They do not necessarily recognize it as preservation, but it certainly is. My sister Sarah was visiting and we walked around town commenting on the beautiful houses, talking about the ages and what we liked best about each building. A friend visited this weekend and he talked about how much he liked Montpelier for its openness and welcome feeling, as well as the fact that you could shop in the entire city for things you need without patronizing chain stores (give or take a few small ones).

A covered bridge on its side, in the process of being rehabilitated.

I am thankful for people across the state who are taking care of their homes and buildings and bridges in the aftermath of the August flooding. (And thankful that they are able to rebuild their lives in their homes.) These people show the strength of the communities and the attachment people feel to the buildings that shelter them and play important roles in their lives.

Windows on a church in Fairfax, VT.

People are the reason preservation works. Thank you.

A Field of Saying No?

Lately, one of the buzz conversations among many in the preservation field includes the idea that historic preservation is too often in the practice of saying no to something, rather than saying yes. This conversation was discussed at the National Trust Conference and in many related blog posts after the fact. One particular blog post is from Time Tells by Vince Michael; a quote he referenced stuck with me and I’ve been wanting to talk about it.

While I am taking this quote out of context here, I think the idea is still important to discuss. If you are interested, read the post for the entire context.

“Y’all won. Most people accept the conservation of important buildings and districts as a community and civic value. Why do we continue to act like victims? Why are we still defensive?”

When I read that quote, I was insulted. I have never felt that I am in such a position. As a preservationist, do you really feel like you are always saying no? Do you think our standard operation procedures are negative and defensive? While there are laws to “say no” for us, which regulators are charged with enforcing, that doesn’t mean preservation means no and it doesn’t mean that laws are only for prevention. It seems like a backwards way of thinking, if you ask me.

Preservation is about compromise, suggestions, guidance and working with other fields in order to protect and channel our best and most valuable resources. Sure, the battles are highlighted in the media. But, what about the accomplishments and the rest of what the field represents? Economic development, successful planning, neighborhood revitalization, cultural appreciation – all of this has nothing to do with saying no. Preservation is about creative solutions and thinking, just like everything else. Every field, academic and professional, from banking to environmentalism to architecture has ethics, standards and laws that govern how it operates.  At some point, everyone will say no, but that is not mean that’s the purpose of the profession.

Of course, every field, just like every person, can benefit from periods of reevaluation and thoughtful improvements. However, I will say, if you are thinking that historic preservation is a bunch of people saying no – even in the 21st century – then you are thinking about preservation in the wrong way.

What do you think, readers? Is this an issue of semantics? Do you see preservation as a field of victims and saying no?

Abandoned Vermont: Rockingham House

Seen in the greater town of Rockingham, Vermont: an absolutely beautiful, seemingly abandoned house. I don’t know anything about this house, but I couldn’t stop staring at it, even from a distance. It’s breathtaking.

Beautifully isolated. The windows are right under the cornice, which dates the house back about 200 years. Amazing.

The front door.

Front door knob.

Note the wood storm windows still hanging, missing the glass panes.

Storm window, wood clapboards, brick foundation.

Rusted farm equipment surrounding the house.

Side of the house, with a view of the rear wing.

A rear window is 12/12, whereas most of the others are 6/6.

View from the rear of the house.

A view into the house through a window; someone cared enough to work on it fairly recently.

This is one of the houses that I truly love for its beauty and intrigue. It ranks as one of my favorites.