Monday, December 13, 2010


After church yesterday (where the choir I am in sang like angels), my sister Rachel and I decided to treat ourselves to a gourmet lunch at Chez Ronald and then drive the Box a few miles north along the Susquehanna River to the far side of Duncannon in Perry County.

It is named after the coastal town of Duncannon in Ireland.  Lightning Guider sleds were manufactured in Duncannon from 1904 until 1988, and we were headed to the former sled works, now an antiques mall, for some unusual reason known as Old Sled Works Antique and Craft Market.

The poor Box had to navigate through the World's Worst Parking Lot, which consisted of gravel, pot holes, and humps where former holes had been overfilled. And, of course, it was raining like mad. After sloshing around in the muck, we headed back to the wide paved entrance to the lot, where another car single-handedly had started a row. Naturally, we were happy to join in. Can you spot the Box?

Adjacent to the parking lot stands a metal tower. The Sled Works' website describes it thus:  

"Moved to the Old Sled Works in July 1998, this Forest Fire Lookout Tower (formerly known as the 'Dauphin Water Gap Tower') was a fixture for more than 50 years along Routes 22/322, a few miles west of Harrisburg, PA.

The tower had been closed for more than 30 years to foot traffic due to lack of proper maintenance and insurance. Still it remained a visible, outdoor icon for thousands of cars that passed by it each day. Due to a recent highway project, this 110' dinosaur was right in the path of progress and was destined for the scrap yard.

Luckily, a few miles away, owners of the Old Sled Works had the idea of saving the tower and re-erecting it in their parking lot. After months of planning and many bureaucratic hoops, the Duncannon Tower now stands proud for all to see and enjoy.

The first thing that caught my eye was right inside the door. A collection of old television sets, many recognizable from my youth, were lined up. Several were playing -- in black and white, of course. I can recall in the 1950s when our family got our first set. It was a Hallicrafters brand. It must have been around 1954 or 1955, because I recall watching the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 at the Cartwright's house, and we got our first TV some time after that. I also recall walking around our neighborhood in the evening (it was safe then!) and seeing who had bought a television -- the evidence being the ghostly blue-gray light coming from darkened living rooms.

After the television display, we started cruising up and down the aisles in search of some elusive treasure. I had called Susanne earlier to let her know where I'd be but had to leave a message. In the junky furniture aisle, I got a call from her, wishing she had known, because she would have come along. Alas! She wanted me to look for a two tables -- one for bedside and a long farm table for dining. Mercifully, neither was to be found, saving a ton of money.

They say about antiquers that we are buying back the things our mothers threw out. I hate to say it, but we're now old enough to be buying back things we ourselves threw out! For example, the Pyrex casserole dishes with the little blue flower on them. We still have a stack of them we use all the time in the microwave. Who knew they were antiques?

Well, a couple of things amused us, but I bought only two small snow-flecked brush trees to add to our collection.

We decided to head back to The City and stopped on our way at the Cove Antiques Barn. There were some bargains to be had there! First of all, everything was spotless, including the old gentleman sitting inside the door. We both assumed he was a mannequin as we walked by. It was only when he moved that we discovered he was not such a dummy after all.

I purchased some little goodies for Susanne -- two little white creamers and a small round dish, made from the thick porcelain that you find in restaurants. She has a nice little collection of them from various sources. I also bought a pair of small Baldwin Brass candlesticks. Talk about a bargain. These little beauties retail for $42.50 each. With my shrewd bargaining skills (and the fact the the price was marked right on 'em) I got them for $1.50 each. They are perfect for the little ruffed beeswax candles they use in the Moravian Churches at Christmas. You can see an example here.

Anyway, bargains aside, the highlight of our visit at Cove was running into old friend Michael, with whom I worked at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for many years. He is editor of a fine magazine on Pennsylvania's history, culture, and art (lavishly illustrated, as they say), published by the PHMC and Pennsylvania Heritage Society. Michael is one of the most knowledgeable people I know and a skilled writer and editor.

Michael was on his way back to town from his weekend retreat upcountry, and although he could open his own antique mall with his current collections, he still loves to browse. When he spotted the Box in the parking lot, he came looking for us inside. We had a pleasant conversation, looked at a few items together, then took our leave with a promise to chat on the phone sometime this week.

To reach the Box in the parking lot, Rachel and I squeezed past a giant waterfall coming from the barn's roof and then headed south to home, happy to be in out of the cold and rain.

 This was my favorite stand in the mall, although 
I suspected that some of the items where only 
passing as antiques, but, hey, I am no expert!

I loved this little Coke Can Car!

An older poster was aimed at attracting 
shoppers to downtown Harrisburg. 
Click on the photo to enlarge it.

There's a nifty little museum exhibit about the Sled Works.

Susanne always liked these splay-legged
Victorian tables, which I don't care for.

The Cove Barn antiques spilled out under the overhang.

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