A Transcendental Road Trip 

Cloth-covered wire in Wayside: Home of Authors in Concord, MA

What do cloth-covered wire manufacturers see when they are sightseeing?  Let me tell you….

On a whim, Jim and I went to Concord, Massachusetts, this weekend, about ninety miles from our home in Northampton. While Concord is best known for being, along with Lexington, MA, the location of “the shot heard around the world“, the beginning of the fighting in the American Revolutionary War, it was also home to several of America’s shining literary lights of the nineteenth century, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, who coined that famous phrase, as well as being the founder of the Transcendentalist Movement.   Just west of Boston, the road between Boston and Concord is the location of Paul Revere’s famous ride.

Jim and I visited the Minute Man National Park, a large national park covering much of the road along which that first battle of the Revolution took place.  Also part of the park is a house called Wayside: Home of Authors.  This is a house where several famous American authors lived, the Alcotts, including Louisa May, author of Little Women and its sequels, Nathaniel Hawthorne, author, most famously, of The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, and Margaret Sydney (real name Harriett Lothrop), author of the children’s book series, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Continue reading A Transcendental Road Trip 

Brimfield

Brimfield haul waiting for cleaning and rewiring

Last week we dusted off our trusty Radio Flyer cargo wagon, and set out for the great Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, Massachusetts.

Jim with wagon at Brimfield
We’d dropped the first wagon load at the car. Back for a second round.

For one week three times a year  — in May, July, and September —  this rural hamlet in central Massachusetts becomes overrun with thousands of antique dealers, specializing in everything from from 18th century primitives to Mid-Century Modern, with about every variety and sub-specialty you can imagine. So there are vendors who might just sell paper ephemera, or old maps, or framed original artwork, or clocks, or walking sticks and jewelry. There are dealers who sell imported antiques from Europe and, increasingly, plenty of dealers selling mass-produced, vintage knock-offs. Continue reading Brimfield

Movies, Gangsters, and Cloth-Covered Wire (You Have to Start Somewhere)

Dutch Schultz shot

Just who is Arthur Flegenheimer, and what does he have to do with Sundial Wire, anyway?

The answer would probably surprise you more than him.  Jim founded this company, in 1992, because virtually every single major electrical wire and cable company in the United States, had long since ceased to make cloth-covered twisted lamp cord. It was an obsolete product, no longer in demand. As a set decorator for feature films and television shows Jim had worked on many period movies and TV shows, such as The Kennedys of Massachusetts, the comedy Mermaids, and the Civil Rights era drama Love Field. Part of his job included first researching the period, then recreating authentic, period-correct sets, right down to the smallest details: stringing knob-and-tube wiring in an attic, or re-wiring an antique electric lamp or electric fan with the correct wire for the period.

Jim Kent and Jim Erickson on set of Love Field, 1990
Jim Kent (left) and Jim Erickson (right) on the set of Love Field.

Which brings us back to Arthur. Sort of. Continue reading Movies, Gangsters, and Cloth-Covered Wire (You Have to Start Somewhere)