Preservation Photos #201


Jane’s Carousel at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, overlooking the Manhattan Bridge.

Originally built in 1922 for Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio, the carousel was purchased in 1984 for restoration. It opened in Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2011. On most days, you can ride the carousel for $2. It was closed on my visit, so it’s on my list for my next New York City visit. What a view!


Library of Universal Knowledge

What if you could hold in your hand and have at your fingertips more information than you ever thought possible? Oh wait, that sounds a lot like the internet, doesn’t it? Okay, how about accurate information on more subjects than you could name? Did your family have a set of encyclopedias? Mine, didn’t, but thankfully the school libraries had plenty. Most of us probably learned our early research and citations skills by using the World Book encyclopedias, right?

What I have found among family heirlooms is The Library of Universal Knowledge. It belonged to my grandparents, though in my memory it just sat with a bunch of books on Grandma’s shelf beside the fireplace.


This is a book that contains information about everything; dictionaries of all kinds, illustrations, color maps, all sorted by subject and index tabs. As the title page says: it is a practical self educator. (And it is endlessly entertaining.) Take a look.








The index tabs include: Webster’s Dictionary, Student & Writer’s Guide, Business Law Dictionary, Synonyms & Antonyms, Pictorial Self Educator, Cyclopedia of Nature, Manual of Photography, Atlas & Gazetteer, Dictionary of Biography, General Information, Medical Dictionary, Encyclopedia of Gardening, and Business & Finance.

Wow, that would be a lot to learn and absorb. Good luck readers!

Have you ever seen such a thing? Does your family have a literary treasure just sitting around your house? And do you remember the days of encyclopedias as the first phase of your research? It wasn’t all that long ago

Vintage Fun: Balla-Rolla

Happy Labor Day! Barbecues, backyard parties, friends, family and some games are probably on the agenda for many. Today’s games are often ladder golf, corn hole (or some beanbag toss), bocce, badminton; but what about some of the more classic games like croquet? And as a kid who else loved hula hoops (or still loves hula hoops)? Pogo sticks? Skip-it? How about this one: a Balla-Rolla.

A Balla-Rolla. Stand on this board, atop a cylinder and balance.

The Balla-Rolla was made by Carrom Industries, Inc. in the 1950s and 1960s.  (See this blog post by Rue 21 for additional photos and information.) The Carrom Company began in 1889 and continued to make board games and other amusements throughout the 20th century. Here’s a decade by decade history.

Close up of the logo. The drawing depicts how to use this toy.

The instructions say: “Roller is set at center in frame under platform. Place one foot on low end of board, other foot on high end and then start balancing.” Simple enough, right? Well the concept is simple, but the balancing takes a lot of practice. Just ask my sisters and my cousins.

The board has a textured surface to help you with your balancing act.

For those interested in the underside: the cylinder rolled back and forth in the frame.

We had a lot of fun using this toy over the years. For as long as I can remember, my sisters and I would play with it in my aunt & uncle’s basement, standing next to the bar or a wall to give ourselves additional training balance, while trying not to fall into anything. Unfortunately, we no longer have the cylinder (it was swiped from my sister’s dorm room) so if you know of a replacement option, let me know.

What vintage toys do you have or remember? Can you find them today? Would you re-introduce these toys to your family and friends?

Hostess Frozen Food Saw

Are you hosting a dinner party on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day? Setting the table for guests and decorating is part of the fun, while another part is the behind the scenes kitchen work with all of the crazy gadgets and gizmos that are available today. (Really, the variety is nothing short of mind boggling.) But there is probably one that you haven’t thought of… ever hear of a frozen food saw? Me neither, at least until recently when I was sorting through my grandparents’ belongings. Apparently my grandfather actually used this. Take a look!

Hostess Frozen Food Saw.

The back of the box.

The saw still looking new and shiny.

Whatever gadgets you use for food preparation, I hope they are as entertaining to you as this saw is to me. I don’t know that I’ll ever use this myself, but I like having it for my vintage kitchen and as a family conversation piece. Happy New Years party planning & dining!

1930 GE Refrigerator

Our 1928 house came with a 1930 GE Monitor Top Refrigerator in the basement, which was a fun addition to the many retro features in the house.

Our 1930 GE Refrigerator, likely original to our house. It reminded us of Disney's Carousel of Progress ride.

It came complete with metal trays, enamel coated trays, and a terrible smell of ammonia.

General Electric tag on the refrigerator.

Without knowing what exactly what to do with this neat old artifact, we decided to just leave it in the basement (it also weighs about one ton) and figure it out later. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irene flooded our basement and took the fridge with her. There was no way to get all of the river mud and silt out of its intricate parts, so we sadly had to send it away with the rest of the flood debris. Aside from the gravity coal furnace, this is the one object I am most upset about losing to the flood.

One day while shopping in an antique/toy/gift store in town, we came across this vintage ad for the same GE Refrigerator that we had in our basement. It looked identical. We had to have it for a sentimental memento, as well as for the entertainment value of the advertisement.

1930 GE ad.

The text of the ad is classic 1930: “Why hesitate to suggest to your husband the gift you long for most? … The refrigerator with the Monitor Top – as distinguished in its modern beauty as in its splendid record of economical performance – what a glorious gift for any woman to receive!”

While the ad plays to outdated domestic roles, it also speaks of what an economical and efficient gift this is. People are concerned with appliance noise, cost, payment plans, appearance, convenience and of course finding good gifts for mothers and wives. Perhaps it is not so different from today’s advertisements and domestic concerns.

More on the Hardwick Stove

Last week I wrote about my mysterious stove/oven manufactured by the Hardwick Stove Company. Thank you to Elyse for comments. However, I realized that more pictures would be helpful for accurate guesses. Rather than ramble on without images, here are some photos of the unit and a description to the best of my ability. Click on any image to enlarge (and then you should be able to zoom in from there.)

Just a refresher: the hood is not part of the stove/oven unit.

The gas burners when the metal plate is lifted. There are four burners.

The oven is on the right, and a compartment box is on the left. There is a lever that says open/shut. Don't mind Izzy - she just likes to get in the way. Beneath the left door is a storage compartment. Beneath the oven is a broiler.

Another shot, but Izzy is in the way...

A close up of the box when opened. I believe it has wood ashes, but since I know nothing of this stove, I'm not making any bets.

When you lift up one of the warming plates, this is what appears below.

Any thoughts? I’ve just found, so perhaps I’ll find some leads there. Thank you readers for being my sounding board on this matter. I appreciate it. I hope you enjoy the puzzle.

Preservation Photos #50

One of the many beautiful, historic stained glass windows in the 1842 Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro, VT.

Preservation Photos #29

A house in Walnut, Iowa as seen in summer 2006 that I really wanted to buy (it was for sale). Sadly, I do not remember the address, but I encountered it while browsing the Walnut Antique Show.

Souvenir Postcard Booklets

For Christmas, a few years ago, I received a wonderful collection of souvenir postcard booklets from Jen G. She found them at a neighborhood antique store in Boston and knowing how much I love United States travel, she so thoughtfully gave them to me. It’s been a while since I looked at them, but I picked them up over the weekend and once again attempted to date them. There aren’t any dates at all and so far my internet searching has not been fruitful. Some of you readers must know; please share any clues. These souvenir books are so much fun and all quite different in terms of font, captions, and layout. I’ll share them individually in the coming weeks for anyone who may be a postcard dating extraordinaire.  For now, enjoy the intriguing covers.

One method I’ve used so far is by considering surrounding facts. For instance, the Badlands were designated a National Monument in 1929, and not a National Park until 1978. (Of course, I would have given that date range as my guess anyway.) And now after looking at these again, I need to go take a western road trip … how about you?

Preservation Photos #22

A Greek Revival inspired doorway (and a creepy dentist chair sort of visible in the foreground) at Mason Brothers Architectural salvage in Essex Junction, VT. What are your thoughts on salvage? For it? Against it?