Archive for September, 2012

Dave Grusin – Fuzz [1972]


Let’s face facts: The Ford Torino, made famous in TV Shows like Starsky & Hutch or Streets Of San Francisco, deserves a theme song by Dave Grusin.

The Electric Company 1971

My neighbors are clearing 60+ years worth of stuff out of their home, and this part of the record collection they gave us!

I remember watching this show, but didn’t know that Morgan Freeman played character Easy Reader. Learn something new each day!

NuTone Intercom

NuTone 1

A friend moved into new digs this year, and was confronted by the most comprehensive 1960s Com System she had ever seen.

It was wired throughout the two-story house, with speaker and microphones in many of the rooms.  There was even a speaker out on the porch that overlooks the city.  Most of it still works, and we have parties there under the glorious umbrella of AM Radio.

When I was a kid this would have generated hours and hours of playtime.  The mere fact of having two-maybe-three intercoms in a house could help children imagine all sorts of stuff.  original Star Trek episodes could be reenacted. Submarine adventures – Dive Dive Dive!  Even pretending to be a chef calling out orders in a really big kitchen.

The possibilities are endless.

Check out these detail shots:

NuTone 2

Hallway Intercom

NuTone 3

Room Intercom

NuTone 4

Space-Age Nutone logo

NuTone 5

Skyline of Bellevue WA under the roof-mounted Nuton deck intercom

NuTone 6

Intercom Command Center in the Dining Room

NuTone 7

“Remotes” – nothing wireless here; slide switches communicate with each room.

For the record, Nutone is still around – making intercoms, security systems, even bathroom fan assemblies. Sadly none of the products have that awesome space-age logo!

Quiet Artesians and Wild Rainiers

When I was at the grocery store the other day, I saw two Pacific Northwest legends in the cooler near each other; Rainier and Olympia beers began life in my neck of the woods, and have been brewed for well over 100 years.  Olympia was brewed originally in Washington’s state capital.  The Rainier brewery’s owner even started a baseball team – the Seattle Rainiers – to advertise his product.  While both brands depict legendary northwest mountains, they are now owned by Pabst and have been moved out of state.

The flavors of these beers won’t win awards, but their stature in PNW popular culture has allowed them to be the enduring kings of the cookouts.

Seattle is a place now where craft beers and international brands are readily available, especially from Mexico.  Granted, many of them are good.  But at one time this area was a mid-sized blue collar region where local beer labels carried hometown pride and became famous namesakes.  Every region has at least one – Lone Star in Texas, Primo in Hawaii, Coors in Colorado, and even Red Stripe in Jamaica.

But in the early 1980s, no Seattle high school party was complete until the Big Red R arrived – either in keg or rack form – and righteously extracted from the trunk of a jacked-up Camaro.

The stunning Mrs. BelRedRoad shares tales of her father’s drinking “Oly” when she was growing up.  They were both cheap, had generally good flavor, and depicted local mountains of notoriety.  Both brands were also well known for their TV commercials (shown below).  Rainier made fun of itself, professing the existence of “Wild Rainiers” and motorcycles that said “RayyyyNeeer….Beeeerrr” as it was running through the gears.  They even had talking frogs long before Budweiser. Olympia – banking on the fact that no one knew what an Artesian Well was – claimed the water came from secretive Artesians that also played jokes on people.

The old Olympia Brewery closed in 2003.

Oly Oly Oh;

The former Rainier Brewery in Seattle – now the Tully’s Coffee roasting plant and art studios – stood with its iconic giant lit red R viewable from Interstate 5. The famous R is now housed at the Museum of History and Industry.


So sing a round of Oly Oly Oh, or crack open a Wild Rainier.  They may no longer be from Washington, but they still make a hometown proud!

Mr. Music See N Say [1966]

Another trinket from our family archives!

The stunning Mrs. BelRedRoad has owned this Mattel See N Say ever since she was a little girl in 1966 – about the time these photos were taken in Staten Island NY.  I have known about this toy almost as long as I’ve known her.  Recently pulled out of storage, I decided it was time to document its existence and record its sounds.

The audio is activated by a pull string, and comes from a small record player inside the toy.

Watch the video below – which I took with the help of BelRedRoad Jr. while he pointed to each instrument and pulled the string.  My wife’s favorite sound is “Guitar!” which she and her brother will randomly quote off to each other at family events.


Hot Wheels Splittin’ Image [1969]

Picked this up on eBay last week.

The Splittin’ Image was part of the Hot Wheels 1969 model year, along with several other cars.  It was designed by Ira Gilford, who also designed the sleek Twin Mill.  Splittin’ Image was available in several colors; since blue is my favorite, I feel very fortunate to have found one – especially since it’s over 40 years old!  The car is heavy compared to the current crop of cars.  The ‘Red Line” tires and “Made in Hong Kong” on the bottom identify it as a vintage piece.  While not a perfect specimen, this one is still a beautiful blue example of Sixties design.

Best thing about collecting Hot Wheels is that a majority of them are inexpensive.

New cars from the store range in price from 97-cents to $1.29; higher end models, new collectibles,  or special editions go for $1.99 to $4.99.  The vintage Splittin’ Image above was a not-whopping $8.50 on eBay, after someone tried to outbid me in the last four seconds of the auction.  Bottom line: It’s a hobby that kids can still latch onto – just as they could in the 1960s – because of the low cost involved.

As a kid I had several Hot Wheels, including the famous Red Baron.

I have no idea what happened to those cars, and I started buying Hot Wheels again in the mid 1990s.  When my oldest son turned three we started buying him Hot Wheels.  He has what’s left of my collection, along with a multitude of others that have been acquired along the way.  Most of them get used as toys – like they should – but he also has a number of them which are for collector purposes only.  And what about his old man?

I have my own cubicle collection at work 🙂

Retro Toy Love: Fisher-Price Play Family Camper [1972]

Retro Toy Love: Fisher-Price Play Family Camper [1972]

Another vintage item from the family archives, now in use by our kids.

The boat holds two Little People and the camper even comes off the back of the truck.  This is part of a Fisher-Price set owned by the stunning Mrs. BelRedRoad when she and her brother were growing up; as our boys started playing with the sets, she added small pieces found at garage sales and swap meets to create an entire town.  This stuff is hearty and worthy of any playtime imagined by a kid.

Retro toys for the win!

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