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An emergency automobilia and tool rescue effort

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Photography by author.

In “A Dog’s Life,” an episode of the classic TV show The Honeymooners, Alice adopts a dog from the pound without Ralph’s knowledge. Foraging for a snack in the icebox, neighbor Ed Norton mistakes the bowl of dog food for a homemade appetizer, and finds it to be quite tasty. Ralph agrees and figures he can make a million dollars selling Alice’s homemade appetizer, but he needs a financial backer so he approaches his boss, Mr. Marshall, at the bus company. While sampling “Krammars Delicious Mystery Appetizer,” Mr. Marshall calls in two bus company officials to taste it and provide their opinions. Soon, one of them recognizes it as dog food. The business deal evaporates and Ralph is embarrassed.

S-Tool Rescue-02

They may not be high-dollar collectibles, but these dealer brochures do contain interesting information for anyone who appreciates these models. As you can see, the 1961 Ford and 1950 Lincoln brochures have sustained some damage, but are still readable. The tuning manuals cover American cars from 1960 to 1974 and foreign cars from 1960 to 1973.

Upon returning home, Ralph discovers the dog and takes it back to the pound. When he’s told that the dogs are only kept for five days and then destroyed, he’s compelled to rescue his dog and two others by adopting them, despite the fact that he knew they didn’t really need even one dog at the time.

The end of that episode came to mind a few weekends ago at a flea market. While rifling through about 40 boxes of very random items, I overheard the vendor speaking to another shopper. “How much are you selling this stuff for?” he asked. “I noticed that there are no price tags.” “Anything that you want to offer,” he replied.

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This commemorative leather key holder was mined from the bottom of a box bursting with other unrelated items in it, as well. Note the dates.

Okay, so we get to name our price, good deal I thought. By this time, I had collected a few small hand-tools and some vintage automotive literature, and I was just about finished. I had seen and passed on a few other items of interest, as well. Though I probably would have bought them a few years ago, you get to a point in life where you begin to think about where you are going to actually put all this stuff once it gets home and you begin to self-edit a bit…sometimes.

Then he dropped the bomb. “What are you going to do with all the stuff that doesn’t sell?” “It’s going to the dumpster!”

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When last I checked, inches were the same size in the 1960s that they are today. With these three vintage measuring tapes stored in various handy places, I’ll never be without a quick and easy way to measure most anything up to 10-ft (for two of them). The 6-inch stainless steel ruler measures down to 32nds-of-an-inch on one side and 64ths on the other. And it has a conversion table to decimals on its backside.

What? Going to the dumpster? Okay, I know that none of these things are perfect, and some people may think of them as junk, but really? Going to the dumpster? Sure, I had to hunt through dishes, old clothes, a vast variety of 1970s kitchen helpers, picture frames with photos of people in them I don’t know, faded Christmas decorations, 1980s dress patterns and the like, but I still found some nuggets of automotive history and a few vintage hand tools that worked fine. Now you tell me that what I leave behind will likely end up in a landfill if no one else claims them?

Renewing my efforts, I went back through those boxes and retrieved all the stuff that I had on the bubble, but didn’t make the cut on my first go-around. They aren’t in excellent condition, of course. Some are good, others are fair and a few are actually pretty poor. Yet none should be thrown away…in my opinion.

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These four items will be quite practical in the garage. The Husky locking pliers and Ray-O-Vac toggle-switch-operated penlight work as they should. The foldaway Atco magnifying glass will help augment my deteriorating vision when trying to view small items. And how many times have I misplaced the chuck key for my ½-inch drill? I can’t own too many of these.

No, I wasn’t saving the lives of cute little dogs, but I still felt a responsibility, however misguided as some may choose to view it, to rescue these small items. I offered the vendor a fair price for them and they were mine. Take a look at the haul and see if you feel I was justified…or not.