Monday, May 31, 2010

In Memory of Kenny Miller - Just an Ordinary Guy - War Hero

My dad and Kenny Miller had been friends forever. The Miller's always lived near my dad and his family. Kenny had 3 brothers and so did my dad. They were all children of the Great Depression. Neither my dad or Kenny graduated from high school. And according to my Uncle in a story related to me at my dad's funeral, Kenny and my dad had more than a few scrapes with trouble and the law. They grew up poor and abandoned by their fathers. They grew up knowing that they had to rely on themselves to survive. They were tough kids, in a tough part of town, during very tough times.

My dad and Kenny Miller were together on the afternoon of December 7, 1941. They heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor together. And they decided to enlist in the Army the next morning when the recruiting station opened. These were kids who had been abandoned by America, but they were outraged that someone would attack Her. They were poor, seldom-do-wells who demanded that She be protected, even with their lives.

December 8, 1941 Kenny was in line in front of my dad. They each signed up, enlisted in the American Army to defend Her with their lives. They were split up. My dad ended up as an engineer building airfields in India, then Burma and ultimately in China. Kenny ended up as a waist gunner on a B-24 serving in the 8th Air Force (389th BGr, 566th BSq) in England. Two American boys from St. Paul, Minnesota shuffled by the winds of chance to the far corners of the world.

Kenny was killed in 1944 when his B-24 was shot down over Holland. His body was buried with dignity by the local Dutch people in their cemetery. (And after the War moved to an American Military Cemetery). He was honored then and is still honored by the Dutch as one of thousands of Americans who died setting them free.

My dad, his brothers and Kenny's brothers all served in WWII and all made it home. They went on to have families and birthdays and good jobs and some bad jobs and good marriages and some bad marriages and grand kids and almost new Chevrolets and all the things that were part of the American dream. They worked hard and made America a better place than the one that they grew up in. Kenny never came home. He remained the small kid (probably from poor diet as a child) who went off to war to protect his America.

My dad never told me this (in fact this is one of many tidbits of my dad's humanity that my mother revealed long after dad died), but each year around Memorial Day he would go to the National Cemetery at Fort Snelling and lay some flowers at the monument. The flowers were in Memory of his best friend Kenny, who died because he was in line in front of my dad at the recruiting station on December 8, 1941. My dad wasn't that morbid or responsible, but he was well aware of the randomness of life and of death.

I'm not going to go to Fort Snelling today. But I am going to set some flowers aside in Memory of Kenny Miller and all the other kids who died to keep America free. Those who died because, no matter what hand they had been dealt, they knew they had to protect Her.

Mr. Flannery

P.S. - I found this note posted on another blog and it brought a tear to my eye:

I received an e-mail today from Mrs. Irma Haex of Holland. She and her teenage son, Wesley, have adopted the graves of four Americans buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten.

Irma writes...

We do this out of respect for the men who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, it is 65 years ago that the war ended, but most of the Dutch people won’t forget.

I thought people here might enjoy knowing that there people like Irma and Wesley Haex, tending the graves of our fallen overseas

P.P.S. -- Kenny was the only member of the crew killed that day. Everyone else escaped the plane and eventually was captured by the Germans. They all lived to be liberated from POW camps by American soldiers near the end of the War. The official account states:

"Miller was killed at his waist gunner’s station during the fighter attack. The Germans originally buried his body in the village cemetery at Henrick-Ido-Ambacht, South Holland, Netherlands."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

It was a Hot Time at the Flea Market

Saturday was a beautiful day here on the tundra. High of 87*, sunny with a breeze from the south. I followed through with my idea from last week and set up at the local flea market again today. I stopped at an auction on Thursday evening and brought the entire load right to the flea at 9:00 PM. (There is an advantage to living only about 3 miles from the site). I brought a full trailer and a couple more trucks full of stuff there on Friday. All the time the Weather was beautiful and the predictions for Saturday were just as good.

I got to the flea at 6:15 AM today and the place was already hopping. All the spaces were full (including the expanded area outside the normal gates and fences). I finished the set up and Mike joined me to sell some of his lesser vintage tools. My first was the Great Northern Railway sign and the Quaker Oil sign that I had there last week. Wow! It was a good way to start.

Right then my neighbor, Russell, who also sells at Maple Lakes Antiques, invited me over to his space to see his latest acquisition. It was a GIANT clown face door surround. You walk into its mouth to get through the door. Wow! It is really cool. He also had two photo props. The painted caricature bodies that you show your head on top or though to have a photo made. Again WOW! (Kris took the photos, I was too busy selling to even unlimber my camera).

It was a great day to sell. I heard that the lot was full and cars were backed up more than a mile from the stop sign at the major highway. I'd guess we had 6,000-8,000 people walk by the space today.

Eventually I had to get my golf umbrella out because my face was turning to a crispy critter. So I sat there selling, drinking water and shading the back edges of my fire red ears.

I sold a bunch, but no big furniture. Crapped out musical instruments for $20 each, including 2 trombones and 3 baritones moved right away. I even sold a 1994 27" Sony TV that I bought at the auction on Thursday.

It was pretty much over by 1:00 PM. Mike helped me load the big pieces back on the trailer. (Including my 10' long tressle table which looked great and held one large bunch of stuff). I then loaded the smaller items into the truck and trailer. It was hot and I worked slowly with lots of sitting in the shade and drinking water between spurts of activity.

I wrapped everything in bungees and ratchet straps and headed out on the highway. I took the back roads to avoid the delay at the major highway intersection. Fortunately my route took me by the liquor store in Annandale. I treated myself to an 8 pack of 7 oz. Miller Lite, ice cold and ready for use. While I wanted to crack one open on the way home, our open bottle law could be a major problem.

I got home, let Babe out, cracked a beer and sat on the end of the dock dangling my feet in the cold, clear water of beautiful Flannery Bay. I am tired, sore and baked, but it was a fun and profitable day with a great casual ending.

Mr. Flannery

P.S. -- I called Russ today and bought the clown face and the other photo caricature. I am going to pick them up tomorrow and bring them to Gypsy Lea's for the June sale.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Tressle Table Hits the Rails

Its been a beautiful week here on the tundra. Mostly clear skies with highs in the 80's. I have been doing some work outside, both painting furniture for the shop and getting the yard in shape for the summer. Do you remember the tressle table with folding legs that I bought at auction about 3 weeks ago? It had a few rotten boards and a hole rotted through the top. It is ready for sale after some significant remodeling.

The blackened and rotted boards are clearly shown here. Mike gave me two nice pieces of old tongue and groove Douglas fir board that fit into the space.

I cut out the rot and inserted the new boards.

The new boards have a different texture and are visible as the 2nd and 3rd boards in from the top of this photo.

I then sealed the table with amber varnish. (The new boards are the 2nd and 3rd from the left in this photo). I think the table looks pretty good.

What do you think? Is this a table that you would consider using on your Country patio or in your primitive house?

Mr. Flannery

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Before the Rain

Here are two photos that I took before the torrential rain storm forced the camera into the cab of the truck.

The antique wrought iron pieces appear to be from the openings in a church belfry. I have a fourth piece still in storage.

The Great Northern Railway sign was a hit, but not a sale. I am certain that with a full sale day it would have gone. Now I am contemplating doing the set up again Memorial Day weekend. It is a huge day for sellers and buyers at the Wright County Flea Market. I've checked and there aren't any really good looking auctions that I'll miss if I do set up. However the weather forecast shows chance of rain for every day this week.

Mr. Flannery

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Yet We Believe Their Predictions for Weather 50 years from Now

The weather predictions for today at 11:00 PM last night included 85* and partly cloudy skies. My decision to set up and sell at the local flea market looked good. This morning when I got up at 6:00 AM clearing skies and 85*, so the cloudy skies did not cause any concern. I set out all my smalls, moved some bigs off the trailer and prepared to sell. The customers started to stream on by my location. The sky was cloudy but it was predicted to clear.

I sold a few items, including all 50 of my 1950's and 60's license plates, but the skies were getting darker, not clearing. Then there was a sharp crack of lightning followed, in about ten minutes, by torrential rains. All the shoppers scrambled out of there. I packed away the things that would be greatly damaged by the rain. I packed up my trailer, having not sold a single large piece. It was 11:00 AM with 59* and heavy rain.

Ok, I understand that weather prediction is an inexact science, but they were not even close for a ten mile area 12 hours ahead of time. Yet these same people have predicted what the weather is going to be 50 years from now in the whole world, and we are basing an entire taxing system that will destroy our economy on their predictions. What in our experience with weather prediction would make anyone believe that these clowns can get 12 hours locally correct and therefore their 50 year predictions are credible?

Mr. Flannery

Friday, May 21, 2010

Godspeed Larry Miller

A good friend of mine, Larry Miller of Seattle, Washington died yesterday. He was 59 years old. Larry was one of the smartest men that I know. MBA from Cornell, author of two books and speaker of many languages including Vietnamese. Larry served as a spook in the Navy in Vietnam. He did things that he would never talk about and he received more than one dose of Agent Orange while in supposed enemy held territory. Larry was just another delayed casualty of the Vietnam War. He never fully recovered from Vietnam. He had dreams and sweats and tremors. Ultimately he was granted a disability for the damage caused by Agent Orange.

Larry was a troubled soul. He eventually gave up and found his relief in a bottle of Vodka. He has been slowly committing suicide for years. He needed the bottle to face the world. The dreams and the tremors. He could never overcome the demons in his mind. His childhood, his war, his Blackfoot Indian heritage all seemed to push him to his death. He was smart, engaging, funny and troubled. I just hope that his next journey will be more peaceful than his last. Godspeed Mr. Miller. We will miss you and we wish you peace.

Mr. Flannery

Another Way to Drive Myself Crazy

Just when I was starting to get a handle on all the goofy things that I am doing I go ahead and add another task that is sure to drive me crazy. The largest flea market in central Minnesota is only about 3 miles from my house. It is only open on Saturday so I am often at auctions or working at Gypsy Lea's rather than going to the flea. Yesterday, while I was sitting at Dave Miller's auction, I decided that I was going to set up and try to sell some of my junk at the flea. This morning I got up, loaded up the trailer and headed to the flea market grounds. I am going to sell at the Wright County (aka Annandale) Flea Market tomorrow.

It is cloudy and threatening to rain, but I trucked over to the flea to unload my trailer.

Some of my stuff is under the green tarp and associated table.

The steel pieces are a Quaker Oil sign and a Great Northern Railroad sign. I'll set them up tomorrow when I get ready to sell.

I'll bring another trailer load over there this afternoon. I made two decisions about tomorrow. I'm not going to price anything. Just quote a price if anyone asks. And I'm going to leave most of the second load on the trailer, to facillitate exit on Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Flannery

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Should Vamp Before I Revamp

The house re-vamp is a work in progress. I decided to take the three piece set home instead of to the shop. So I pulled the couch and two chairs out of the family room; moved the couch, 2 chairs and ottoman from the sunroom (complete with Hogerific pillow) into the family room; brought the couch, loveseat and chair from the auction into the sunroom; and hauled the old family room couch out to the trailer to haul to the shop. Babe and I did this by ourselves.

The office revamp has not really started but I do have almost all the cabinets in the sunroom emptied so I can cable TVs, computers and satellite receivers through out the house. Changing the location of three rooms full of furniture in the midst of this revamp means that I am vamping on top of the revamp that is also being revamped.

These are doors made from two 1905 Arts and Crafts stained glass windows that I bought at a college building pre-destruction auction. They are now the entrance from the sunroom into the family room.

The sunroom before being vamped. The cabinets have been emptied for the other revamp also in progress. The green couch and these chairs have been replaced.

The "new" couch, loveseat and chair from the Miller auction have been placed in the sunroom. Willie clearly appreciates the new arrangement.

Simon and Burt like the new chair too.

Willie head on.

The chair from the sunroom with its Hogerific pillow looks great in the family room.

Mr. Flannery

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Syttende Mai Came and Went without a Riot

Yesterday was celebrated by my Norwegian neighbors as Syttende Mai, Norwegian constitution day. Syttende Mai means 17th of May in Norwegian. Much like Cinqo de Mayo or Fourth of July, the date has come to denominate the event. In 1821 Norway, which was part of Sweden, was granted a separate constitution, while remaining under the royal standard of the King of Sweden.

Norwegians celebrate the day with flag waving, parades and speeches. Norwegian descendants worldwide celebrate the day with flag t-shirts, flag waving, speeches, dinners and even festivals. These celebrations are common in areas with a large Norwegian descended population like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington and Alaska. Here on the tundra yesterday was celebrated as Syttende Mai. Now I have the good fortune of not being Norwegian. In fact, I am just about 100% of Swedish descent. So I thought that some contrary display to this Norwegian jingoism was necessary.

Syttende Mai represents independence from Sweden (my guys). Even though those precipitous Norwegians waited until 1905 to formally sever their relationship with Sweden. (After a 360,000 to 180 referendum). For 80 years the Norwegians used a flag with a hybrid of the Swedish and Norwegian flags as an ensign. The Swedes inserted the same ensign in the upper left of the Swedish flag.

So I decided to wear my Swedish flag T-shirt yesterday. It was an "in-your-face" taunt at those wild eyed Norwegians, and no one cared. I wasn't chased by gangs of blood thirsty Viking descendants because I had dissed their heritage. The only threat that I received was a good natured offer of a plate of lutefisk, which is a vile boiled cod dish common to both Norway and Sweden.

I guess the answer to this entirely peaceful clash of heritage is easy to explain. All of our ancestors left the old country because America was better. All of the ancestors became Americans, with only a weak tie to their past. There were more American flags displayed than Norwegian flags. Because, while they were celebrating their Norwegian heritage, they were enjoying their celebration as full fledged Americans.

Mr. Flannery

Friday, May 14, 2010

This is Something Cool

I completed my three auctions in three days marathon last night. It was an interesting little auction at Dave Miller's last night. And I bought one of my favorite items ever last night. It appears to be some kind of microscope. It doesn't have any model number on it, so I am not exactly certain what kind of microscope it is. It came in this nice wood case with box joining on the corners.

But the best part was found when I removed the black metal cover. Under it were these two beautiful crystal pieces.

They are about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter. I think that they may light up, or glow, when the lamp in the base is turned on. However, the bare wires sticking out of the insulation on the cord made plugging it into an electric socket seem to be a bad idea.

I have visions of it glowing, or even better having a spark bridge the gap and move, Frankenstein like, up and down between the crystals.

I am going to do some more research on the microscope thingey. And I will be replacing the cord early next week. Then the SPARKS will fly, but hopefully only between the crystals.

Mr. Flannery

PS - While I was posting this blog Terry left me a note on the previous posting identifying the item as a colorimeter. It was used to compare the concentration of chemicals in solution. I did a little looking and determined that it is a Duboscq Colorimeter, made by Bausch & Lomb in the 1930's-40's. The crystals will glow the color of the solutions that the light passes through when placed between the light source and the crystals. BUT no sparks!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Its Sale Time at Gypsy Lea's

Our occasional sale at Gypsy Lea's in Sauk Rapids starts today. We are only open four days each month. We are open the 2nd Thursday thru Sunday every month and we sell, sell and sell. The limited floor space is restocked constantly. So what you see today will be significantly different on Sunday. Because we are in the center of the St. Cloud area, our customers can stop by more than once each sale. And many do stop by 3-4 times.

We were setting up the outside on Wednesday. It was mostly done, but we still were waiting for 2 roller coaster cars that were to come in after I left. These photos are of the mostly completed outside. Hope to see you at the sale.

Mr. Flannery

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Working on My Masters - In Truck Loading

I went to an auction near Spicer Minnesota last night. It started at 4:30 and I got there about 5:30. I hadn't missed anything. The smalls and tools were not of much interest so I mostly sat and watched while the next two hours passed. I did buy an English Tantalus frame. Great metal, wood and mechanics, but no bottles. I'm pretty certain that no one else knew (or cared) what is was.

The furniture wasn't special, but there were two or three pieces that I was interested in buying. They were the heaviest things, other than a tractor, that were there. I bought a giant 36 drawer cupboard, a cupboard base and an antique pump organ with its stool. As I said, good junk, but nothing special.

I then loaded all these pieces into my truck. I packed them so efficiently that I was even able to close the tailgate. Part of my masters degree in truck loading for sure. It was drizzling, 41* and dark when I got home at 10:oo PM, so I didn't even attempt to unload the truck.

Even the small white bentwood chair is carefully packed into the truck without undue overhang.

This 1940's leather office chair is going to be part of my office redo. I have been using a hard wood captain's chair, but now I will have springs and cushions instead. Babe is checking out the merchandice prior to admitting it into HIS house.

The chair is steel and leather. It is built like a tank and weighs about 50 pounds. Must be part of the post WWII return to civilian manufacture. They just took the gun out of the turret and upholstered it. It has lasted 60 years and with a little bit of leather cleaner, should be good for another 40.

The rest of the stuff will be unloaded today. I'll build a top for the drawer unit and then paint it. It'll probably be at Gypsy Lea's for the June sale. The pump organ will be sacrificed. Some pieces will go to the project that I'm doing with the other pump organ that I bought last week. The keyboard, stool and some fancy frame pieces will be at Gypsy Lea's too.

I have to unload the truck today because I have another auction tonight. Oh boy!

Mr. Flannery