If readers of this blog1 have learned anything so far, I hope it's this:
- Collecting ephemera doesn't have to be a dry, stuffy hobby.
- Not all ephemera has to be pristine.
- Not all ephemera has to have significance or value.
- Sometimes it's OK to laugh at the ephemera. Its feelings aren't going to be hurt. It's not like we're making fun of sentient beings like HAL 9000 or Watson2, which could launch a subroutine that would wipe us off the planet if we cracked a joke about them.
The first sentence I wrote when I launched this blog last November was "Almost everything fascinates me". And I meant it. I could find as much to say about a 1955 subscription card for Time magazine as I could about a mint condition Treskilling Yellow3.
So this brings us to last weekend. My wife and I took a trip to Pittsburgh for the wedding of one of her good friends from high school. We took a scenic, unhurried route westward on Friday and, shortly after a lunch stop in the frightening anomaly of Breezewood, found ourselves in Bedford.
There, along Route 30, we came upon a place called Hoke-E-Geez.
Hoke-E-Geez is a 40,000-square-foot indoor flea market located in a former Ames Department Store building.
On the A Part of the Solution blog about sustainable living, written by a Bedford-area resident, Hoke-E-Geez is described as follows4:
It sells used jeans, fridge glass, computer mother boards, kitchen cupboards, old Christmas lights, duct tape, doilies, duck decoys, bumper stickers, books, vinyl albums, dolls’ clothes, dining tables–you name it. One of everything from all the history of Western Civilization is somewhere in that building. And there’s a price-tag on it, too.
And, of course, it sells ephemera.
Now, this is NOT a place where you're going to find a Treskilling Yellow, Action Comics #1 or an autographed copy of "The Catcher in the Rye".
So, in other words, it's my kind of place. Joan and I browsed the cassette tapes and vinyl albums before spreading out to see more of the store, which had everything from Atari 2600 cartridges to past-the-expiration-date mouthwash. My first real "find" was the December 1956 issue of Together (The Midmonth Magazine for Methodist Families). The magazine's cover is pictured at the top of this entry. It was for sale for a mere 25 cents.
Upon seeing the picture of the child on the cover, my first thought was not: "Meh! That magazine has a tear in the middle of the cover and an ugly, circular mark where someone left a bowl sitting on it."
My first thought was also not: "This is cool. It's a 55-year-old magazine that's still in reasonably good shape and can help me learn more about the history of Methodism."
No. My first thought was: "Hey! Look! It's Ralphie Glick from Salem's Lot!5"
That's how my mind works sometimes.
And so I bought the magazine for a quarter, brought it home and, as soon as I could, did some Google image searches so that I could create this:
Like I said, ephemera is much more fun if you don't always take it seriously.6
1. Hi Joan. Hi Mom.
2. My daughter loves Watson. This worries me.
3. I have several of these. Contact me if you're interested in purchasing them. But please don't insult me with offers of less than $50.
4. On the "A Part of the Solution" blog, Hoke-E-Geez is described as being open seven days per week. When we were there, however, its days of business were listed as Wednesday through Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday).
5. My thoughts on the wonderfulness of the 1979 miniseries version of "Salem's Lot" are mirrored and well-summarized here, on the Final Girl horror blog.
6. Discussion question: Would Ralphie Glick have been a more successful vampire if he had brought a puppy along on his night-time excursions? I tend to think it might have opened more doors (and windows) for him.