Monday, September 03, 2007

The Holy Grail of Kitsch

I don't think I ever showed ya'll this fabulous little piece of Americana.

This lamp has an engraving on its ceramic base, with the date of the meltdown -- March 28th, 1979. Which means it was made after the accident. That's right. It's a commemorative.

I'll just sit here quietly for a minute while you absorb that.

A commemorative Three Mile Island Lamp.

Are you with me now? Need another minute?

Ages ago, I spotted it in a little antique store in Phoenixville, PA. Checked the price, $45. Picked it up and marched to the register. There was no way in hell I was gonna leave the store without it.

Would you?

Apparently more than a few people would because the guy behind the counter saw me coming and said, "That's been sitting here forever. I'm afraid the shade's gonna get broken. You can have it for $25."

A consummate bargainer, I refrained from telling him I'd have gladly forked over an order of magnitude above that price, and this was probably ten years ago. I'd never seen anything like it and even though I have a few items that are priceless to me -- mostly my dad's WWII gear -- this one just appealed to my not-so-inner black comedian.

No way could I live without it. Could you?

Anyway, child number one, her friend, and I were sitting here a little while ago, discussing the lamp. It recently came to my attention that there's another one in the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, NM, and we were trying to wrap our minds around how random an object it is. I mean, who would think of manufacturing something like this? How did the conversation go down? Did management have to approve it? The same management that oversaw plant safety?

We could only imagine what other commemoratives might be floating around out there -- Tsunami boogie boards? Challenger mobiles? A Mt. St. Helen's ashtray? The matching Chernobyl night light to complete my collection?

But of course, no one died in the Three Mile Island disaster, so we decided that's what made it ok to turn it into a reading lamp. Kinda ironic that if the disaster had run its course we'd be able to read from the lights emanating from our own eyes. But I guess that's beside the point.

My friend Dana (the one who gives me Moppits when I sell a manuscript) saw the lamp one day and froze. She turned to me, glassy eyed, and silently held up her arm. All the tiny hairs were standing straight up. "Ann," she whispered. "You've found the Holy Grail of Kitsch."

To this day she's still trying to find one, trying to top me. But she won't. Hehe. How could she? What could possibly top this?

How about you? Any freaky shit in your basement? Attic? Perched on your desk? Where did you find it and why do you love it, but even more importantly, is your freaky shit better than my freaky shit? If so, prove it!

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Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

I don't know how anyone could top your lamp!!! I've had some kitschy stuff but I don't know where it went.....probably the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

As an aside, a friend of mine brought me a "I Survived Three Mile Island" t-shirt about a year after the occurance. I don't know what happened to that either.

September 03, 2007 10:54 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Oooo what a great vintage T-shirt! My daughters would love it. Too bad you can't find it.

Years ago I was in a thrift shop in Ithaca NY. Vintage tees were just starting to be popular. A couple of girls were rooting through the merchandise and one of them held up a Bay City Rollers tee and asked, "Who were they?" LOL. Now I wish I'd bought it!

September 04, 2007 6:06 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

I have a collection of Edgar Allan Poe stories, without a publication page, like most regular books have. I've contacted the Library of Congress and they don't have record of the book, nor a description of one like it. That surprised they heck out of me, because they have every book published to man.

The books not a first edition, but I can't find out when they book was made. It's more of a mystery than anything else.

One day I'm hoping to find out it's worth a million dollars. I can always dream.

September 04, 2007 7:54 PM  
Blogger Renee' said...

Alrighty Ann... I will pit my Damn Troll collection against your 3 mile island lamp LOL

Although most people are not as fortunate as I have been in that their mothers weren't nuts. Mine, of course Never got rid of anything,ok except dad!

I have my donny & Marie lunch box, my partridge family bus, Robot from lost in space(ahd he still speaks...Danger, Danger Will Robinson)My entire collection of 45's and yes 38's in the aqua covered box i kept them in. All of my K-Tell Albums. Well the list goes on and on.

As for the Bay City Rolller,Les was HOT! Saturday Night, yea Saturday Night!

Back to my Trolls. buried under the debris my mother called a house, before she moved. I found a shoe box full of my orginal dam trolls! These were Not the generic trolls you are used to seeing. These are the ones that came out in the 50's before the explosion of them in the 60's.

They had belonged to my aunt who gave them to me(boy does she groan about them now) when I was a kid. Yes, there are other trolls in the box, the ones that came with velcro clothes are collectables now. But my damn trolls would cost a fortune. And I keep tucked nicely away, and take them out to play with sometimes when my aunt is over and I can gloat LOL


September 05, 2007 9:02 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Mel, it's definitely worth a million dollars. It has to be! Maybe Poe himself printed it in his cellar. How cool!

September 06, 2007 6:15 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Hmmmm, Renee. Trolls? Not sure if I'm gonna concede a win here, yet. But it's still a sweet collection to have.

I had a mess of them too. Once I had to make a caveman diarama for grade school (in a shoebox) and I dressed the trolls in animal skins, put a toothpick spear in the male troll's hand and painted blood on a little plastic deer to represent their dinner. LOL. No wonder they kept sending me to the school counsellor ;)

My sister and I kept our collection of 45s in an aqua covered carrying case too! I still have that, as well as the 45s. I used to have a bunch of slate records too. Don't know what happened to those.

I'll tell ya, though, I sure wish I kept my Best of The West toys and lots of others. Who would've thought they'd get so valuable!

September 06, 2007 6:26 AM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

When I moved out of my parents house, my eldest brother took over my collection of 45's and I haven't seen them since. LOL

September 06, 2007 3:42 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Bev -- my daughter took some of my old ones and hung them on her wall. They look great.

On another note, I'm ashamed to say "Having My Baby" by Paul Anka is among that collection. Yes. Yes. I bought it.

September 06, 2007 7:01 PM  

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