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Stowe Antique and Classic Car Show, 08/09/2014: flea market items

Stowe Antique and Classic Car Show, 08/09/2014: flea market items published on No Comments on Stowe Antique and Classic Car Show, 08/09/2014: flea market items

We went to the Stowe Antique and Classic Car Show today, held in, of all places, Nichols Fields in Stowe, VT. This is its 57th year, and it’s the largest car show in the state.

To get to the classic cars, we crossed from the parking lot through the flea market, where we encountered many old metal tinplate and diecast toy vehicles.

This highly detailed Model T toy was in very good condition.

It even had a crank, just like its source material!

This fire engine pedal car is packed with realistic touches, including a functional bell and a holder for the hose. Janna remembers playing on one of these as a kid.

Several booths were selling ephemera, mostly automotive, but not necessarily. Not about to spring for $5.00 an ad, I nevertheless photoed my favorites.

Larger version.
Apparently there was a time when Cosmo was a more respectable publication, instead of a glossy recycler of the same sexist bullshit every five years. This 1904 ad from the more substantive iteration of Cosmo nicely illustrates the en vogue silhouettes of the moment.

Larger version. Advertising techniques have not changed at all in the past century. Then, as now, advertisements motivated buyers to select their product by creating a perceived need within the customers that only the product could fill. Here Arrow challenges readers to contemplate the dire social consequences of not having a frock coat: pity and mockery. "Better have the frock coat"…or else you’re a loser!

Larger version. Another entry in the Same Old, Same Old category, this ad for the mysterious Vestro does what dubious ads in the back of dubious publications have done for centuries. It tells nothing, but promises everything, and asks people to send in their money with the naive faith that they will actually be rewarded with big tits.

You know, after reading this ad, I still have no idea what Vestro is. A topical cream? An herbal supplement? A support garment? An excuse to send pictures of scantily clad women through the mail? Will history ever learn the answers to such burning questions?

Larger version. No intelligent analysis here. I just think "Our sound quality is so awesome that even sick people don’t run screaming for the hills!" isn’t a very effective way of hyping one’s Graphophone.

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There’s a lot of interest going on in this page. The "ELECTRICAL VIBRATION" from the Voltamp battery acts as a panacea in the upper right, with a correspondence course for CPAs below it. Just below that, Popular Music Pub. Co. offers vanity publishing services for gullible authors. In the bottom right, Dissolvene, which sounds alarmingly like some corrosive solvent, promises a perfect figure "without effort." There’s just one catch: you have to wear a snug, non-breathable layer of rubber right next to your skin, and you’ll either develop heat rash, a lifelong fetish or both.

I find the half-page ad for "Jell-O" most fascinating of all. Today’s popular consensus [demonstrated in all its sarcastic glory on the Web site of James Lileks, author of The Gallery of Regrettable Foods] is that Jello is a cheap, luridly dyed, rubbery substance with little nutritional value, more of a polymer, really, than a food. But that wasn’t the case in 1906. It was so desireable that it motivated little kids to break massive wishbones, equal to the size of their yearning for the "delicate, delightful, dainty dessert." It won all sorts of gold medals, and it could even be put into "fancy" molds for truly classy presentations. When was the last time you ever heard of the Jello salad mold associated with swankiness? For most people, it’s a repository in which are congealed all the revolting food combinations [in Technicolor, of course] of the 1950s and 1960s.

This ad touts Jello not only as delicious, but also as pure. It’s "APPROVED BY THE PURE FOOD COMMISSIONERS," screams the copy. The ad even turns threatening with its admonition that "dangerous imitations…may undermine your health." Just in case one doubts the purity of Jello, one can look to the name of its maker: Genesee Pure Food Company. This stuff is so clean — you can use it as soap!

Why the emphasis on purity? At the turn of the twentieth century, there were very few consumer protection laws in the United States. Manufacturers had no obligation to list active ingredients — or any ingredients at all [hence our complete ignorance on the contents of Vestro above] — on their food labels. Unscrupulous companies — such as those meat packers portrayed in such disgustingly vivid detail by Upton Sinclair in his novel polemic The Jungle — adulterated their so-called food with a variety of substances. People didn’t necessarily know what they were putting in their mouths, but muckrakers’ exposes had rightfully given them cause to worry. The ad’s portrayal of Jello as an exceptionally clean, harmless and officially approved food seeks to allay readers’ concerns over its provenance. As a bonus, the characterization of Jello as pure also grants it connotations of refinement and elegance, which brighten its high-class luster. Jello is spiffy, my friends.

Before we started examining the cars, we stopped into a craft tent, where I discovered Kathy Giroux’s work. As part of the Mountain Fiber Folk Cooperative [farm in Montgomery, VT], she does needle felted figures. I like their expressive eyes.


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