austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

They must be somewhere in the sunny afternoon

Sunday, our last full day in New Jersey for our anniversary trip, bunny_hugger wanted to drive again. This is when I clumsily dropped the astounding news that our rental car doors would unlock if you just pulled on the handle while you have the key fob in your pocket. She doesn't approve of what this does to the concept of ``car key''.

We wanted to go to a diner for lunch, and with our Regent Diner closed and even the Toms River Diner apparently gone we had a good candidate. Corner Post Diner, one of the several that we went to the first week she was in New Jersey. It was one of two places we'd eaten where someone stopped by to say bunny_hugger looked like their sister. (The other one was at a Lakewood Blue Claws minor-league ball game, a detail I think I forgot to mention in my report of the game that Bruce Springsteen Appreciation Night.) The diner looked ... weird. Rather more formal and dressed-up than we remembered. We spent a lot of lunch trying to work out whether the place had been renovated and upgraded considerably, or whether it's just that since our earlier table had been in this narrow corridor by the window we didn't know what the main dining room looked like.

The next stop on our old-places tour was the Book Garden, the used book shop that's five miles west of Great Adventure on Route 537. (I also thought for a bit we might go to Great Adventure after all, but we had more pressing old-places to revisit.) The most astounding thing there, as ever, was that the owner recognized me. I mean, yes, I used to visit the place a lot, but that meant once every couple weeks, more than five years ago. I grant I have a couple good distinguishing hooks to make me memorable, but there's so many other people in the world to remember.

I picked up a couple of books, of course, but bunny_hugger had the real find in the postcards. She found a bunch of Michigan-themed postcards. The only Lansing one was for one of the high schools, a reminder that for some reason you could just sell postcards of ordinary public buildings back in the day for some reason. The major find was a bunch of Detroit-area cards. They were written with the fascinating, compellingly boring material of that era's texting. Many, many reports of having arrived in Detroit, or having arrived in Detroit yesterday. And how it was not as hot as the day before, but hotter than it should be tomorrow. How it rained, or was expected to rain, or did not rain. But what we noticed: we had a bunch of cards written by the same person, apparently on the same trip. They were sent to different people, though, with different last names at different addresses. So how did they all end up sold to the same used book shop? What twists of fate shuttled them all to the same location?

My best guess was maybe someone in the neighborhood collected stamps, or postcards, and snagged them from everyone who was willing to turn them over. My father's guess, which is similar but I think more compelling, is that the postcards were just shared around to everybody in the extended family, or the neighborhood circle of friends, and they ended at whoever was the last to receive the cards that get moved around (or who was always slowest at sharing them with someone else). I mention all this so you can appreciate how we got to wondering about things and maybe use this as your creative writing prompt for the day.

Our next stop on the old-places tour was the Freehold Raceway Mall, and the double-decker carousel there, and that brought with it the discovery of many small changes at the place. The Radio Shack was gone, of course. So was the dollar store, and who knew dollar stores could go out of business? The Sears had retreated to just filling the lower level of its anchor store location, and we'd discover that it closed at the same time the main mall closed. Since we'd parked just outside it this meant we had to figure an alternate way to get to our car. (We could, but we had to walk along un-sidewalked areas along the mall's road belt.)

Also at the carousel we'd discover that we had forgot the loyalty card and had to start a new one. Ten rides is supposed to get us a free ride, and we've probably got that, but scattered over about fourteen cards that we have got to organize for the next time we're in New Jersey.

We had gotten to the mall fairly late, and only had the chance to poke around one store besides the carousel. This was the Disney Store, which I don't think we have a local edition of. There we learned they had more of the four-armed Stitch puppets I'd gotten bunny_hugger for Christmas, which, good. Also we discovered these little ... tube-like plush doll renditions of various classic Disney characters. The clerk tried to explain the appeal to us: they were a Japanese thing, and the dolls stacked well. And ... that's it, apparently? I really don't get it.

But by then we were being turned out of the mall, a side effect of how ridiculously early everything closes on Sunday, and the end of our visiting old places. We did have a new place to go, though.

Trivia: In 1981 Atari agreed to pay General Computer $50,000 per month for two years, with first right of refusal to any games they might make. Within three months General Computer offered Food Fight to Atari, which had not expected them to actually make anything. (The contract was to buy Atari's way out of a lawsuit.) Source: The Ultimate History of Video Games, Steven L Kent.

Currently Reading: The Vulgar Tongue: Green's History of Slang, Jonathon Green.


PS: More Merry-Go-Round Museum exhibitions!

SAM_8150.jpg

M C Illions backdrop panel, of the sort that would give scenery to a carousel horse. This is only two panels; they had something like eight, far too many to show at once, at least as the museum's exhibit was currently arranged, but they hoped this would give some idea of what it might look like. No idea whose face that is as a cherub up top.


SAM_8155.jpg

Each year the Merry-Go-Round Museum carves a new horse that gets raffled off. In Presidential Election years they're designed to have a Patriotic theme, and there's nothing symbolic in the 2016 Patriotic Horse being flopped on its side.


SAM_8170.jpg

Past carvings by the museum: two of a family of sea horses/dragons. The Merry-Go-Round Museum has as its centerpiece an antique carousel, but only (``only'') the mechanism and platform and such. The mounts weren't available or affordable, so, they've replaced them with their own designs.


Tags: fifth anniversary trip, halloweekends, merry-go-round museum, new jersey
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