Mole Trap

Mole trap 07-30-2015This wicked-looking device hanging in Mother’s basement came from HER parents’ backyard garage in Advance. I can remember seeing it and being fascinated by the grisly tool when I was a little kid.

The way it worked was you would look around your yard until you saw the raised portions of ground where the moles had created runs. You would cock the trap by pulling up on the handle at the top, which would compress the spring and raise the spikes.

After that, you would put the trap straddling the run with the big stakes on both sides, sticking it in the ground just far enough that the flat trigger at the top of the spike platform would rest across the raised dirt. The theory was that a mole passing through the run would jiggle the ground just enough to send the spikes plunging through him.

I never checked for success

I’m not sure we ever deployed the device with any serious intent to dispatch any moles, and I certainly never dug around to see if it had been successful if we had.

If you have a sadistic bent and moles in your yard, I’m pretty sure the trap ended up at Annie Laurie’s Antique Shop.

Wow! I just did a Google search for “mole trap” and came up with a whole bunch of more modern devices for dealing with the rodents. After looking at a couple of videos, I am more convinced than ever that ignorance is bliss. I’m glad I never checked for results.

A Model Hobby

USS United States models 09-23-2015Dad and I spent many a winter evening building plastic models of ships and planes. Well, to be more accurate, I sat at the table WATCHING Dad build plastic models of ships and planes.

He was a follow-the-directions kind of guy, so he would get frustrated when I skipped around and ended up having to take apart stuff that I had assembled out of order. Before long I would be relegated to applying decals and sorting parts.

One of our largest projects – at least in size – was The U.S.S. United States. It wasn’t the most complicated, but it lit up and it was about two feet long.

A memorial to my Grandfather

Ken Steinhoff and Roy WelchHere’s something about the model I never told anyone: when my grandfather, Roy Welch, died when I was 10, I wiped all the dust off the deck and vowed that I would only dust half of it in the future as a way of remembering the passage of time since I had lost him.

When I took it down from the attic to put in a box of stuff going to Annie Laurie’s Antiques, I looked for the dust demarcation, but 30 or 40 years had made it ALL dusty.

Despite that, I still remember my Roi Tan cigar-chomping grandfather. I guess I really didn’t need the U.S.S. United States to do that.

Nobody But Daddy Touches It

Steinhoff TV remote 09-25-2015When we bought our first Zenith TV set, the dealer offered to throw in a black ceramic panther with eyes that lit up for the top of the set. That must have been a standard promotion because I saw a score of them over the years.

Mother thought they looked tacky, so Dad traded it in for credit on an Alliance Antenna Rotor and antenna.

We kids were given strict instructions that “NOBODY but daddy touches it.”

It made satisfying noises

Turning the dial caused a motor at the top of the antenna mast to turn the big antenna to bring in the least worst signal of a distant station. It couldn’t turn all the way around or it would twist off the antenna wire, so you would run it all the way in one direction, then reverse it.

There was some kind of big relay or something hiding in the innards that caused a very satisfying CLUNK-CLUNK-CLUNK! as the rotor was turning. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t mess with it. Dad could have heard the thing all over the house.

That’s it on the left

Steinhoff home 1618 Kingsway Dr June 1970

If you look closely, you can see the antenna sticking above the roof on the left side of the house. If you click on the 1970ish photo to make it larger, you can see Brother Mark’s Sears Spyder bicycle with its fake leopard-skin banana seat in front of the porch.

I figured Laurie Evertt would tell us to toss the gizmo in the dumpster, but she put it in the Keep Pile. Turns out that ones in good condition are going for about 25 bucks on the Internet. (It’s even got the motor and a stub of antenna mast, although it hasn’t been turned on it years. Check it out at Annie Laurie’s Antiques on Broadway if your life has been empty without an Alliance Antenna Rotor.

Dad died in 1977, so I guess it’s OK for you to touch it. If you get hit by lightning, though, I guess the curse is still attached.

Brother Boppin’ Lincoln Logs

Steinhoff Lincoln Logs 09-23-2015Deep from the bowels of the attic (you’re going to hear that phrase a lot) came this box of Lincoln Logs, with some colorful wooden stacking circles mixed in. (Click on the photo to make it larger.)

The construction toy was first produced by John Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1916. The Lincoln Log name was registered on August 28, 1923. Several histories speculate that the idea for the logs came when John saw his father building the earthquake-proof Imperial Hotel in Japan. Here’s more information from the Chicago Historical Society,

As a side note, Lincoln Logs were one of the first toys to be advertised on television, starting in 1953. The target audience was said to be middle to upper-class families who had a TV in their home and could afford to purchase educational toys for their children.

Perfect for brother-boppin’

The longer pieces, made out of redwood in the old days, were long enough that you could swing them hard enough to get your bother’s attention. When we got around to buying a set for our kids in the 1970s, the pieces were shorter, too short to administer a good thumpin.’ In fact, for a time, they were made of plastic.

Holy Cowboys and Native Americans!

Steinhoff Lincoln Logs 09-23-2015These and other treasures like the Martian Magic Tricks may already be on the shelves at Annie Laurie’s Antique Shop in case you’re looking for vintage toys.

I just did a quick Google search for the magic trick assortment. It sells for $50 to $200 if it’s in good condition. (Knowing my destructive brothers – also a phrase you’ll hear often – I doubt that it was in good condition. They probably let all the magic leak out.)