Jul 31, 2013

The Emporium Is For Sale

Emporium Of Curious Goods
Jim Thorpe, PA
This is one of my favorite places to stop when I'm in Jim Thorpe, but I was surprised to find this sign hanging up in the shop when we were in town yesterday.  I hope that whoever does end up buying the place doesn't change a thing because this place is a treasure.

Jul 30, 2013

Go Directly To Jail, Do Not Pass Go

The Old Jail Museum
Jim Thorpe, PA
The Carbon County Prison was built in 1871 and remained in operation for over 100 years until its closure in 1995.  The two story building includes 27 cells and a dungeon that was used for solitary confinement until 1980.  The same building had a section that served as the living quarters for the warden and his family.  This included a living room, sitting room, dining room, two bedrooms, and a large kitchen that the warden's wife used to cook dinner for both her family and for the prisoners.

The stone building was purchased by Tom and Betty McBride and was re-opened as The Old Jail Museum.  Tours are held every year starting in the Spring and continuing through Early Fall.  My wife loves museums and has talked about this place many times, so she decided to make this one of the stops on our trip to Jim Thorpe to celebrate her birthday.

Click to enlarge

There was a presentation in the cell block and a guided tour of the facility.  When the tour was over, everybody was invited to stay and explore the grounds for as long as we wanted.  We were all allowed to take pictures as well, except for Cell #17 which had a handprint on the wall that was put there by one of the Molly Maguires in the 1870's before he was hanged.  As the legend goes, the man said "This handprint will remain as proof of my innocence" before he was executed, and the handprint remains on the wall to this day despite many attempts to scrub it off.

The Dungeon lives up to its name.  They brought us all down here and turned off the lights for a few moments to give us a taste of what it was like to be in solitary confinement at the Carbon County Prison.  It's hard to believe that this was still being used as recently as 1980.

The Old Jail is a fun place to spend a few hours, especially if you're interested in the history of Northeast PA.  I'm not sure I buy into the ghost stories about the handprint, but it's still pretty cool to see.

Jul 29, 2013

More Saké, More Happy

Broad Street - Hazleton, PA
Our hibachi chef didn't know what he was in for when he met my dad.

Jul 28, 2013

The Crystal Pepsi Mall Tour

Crystal Pepsi Cool Zone
Century III MallWest Mifflin, PA
In the summer of 1993, Pepsi launched a back-to-school promotion in sixty malls across the United States.  Shoppers who visited a Cool Zone, like the one in the photo from C3 Nostalgia above, would be given a free can of Crystal Pepsi and something that looked like a credit card which could be used for discounts at participating restaurants and retail stores.

These plastic discount cards were a marketing gimmick that Pepsi went back to a few times in the early 90's.  The first one I remember was called the License To Chill.  I don't remember ever actually using it to get a discount on anything, but I was ten years old and finally had something to stick in the credit card pocket of my velcro wallet, so I was happy to have it.  The next summer, they came out with the Gotta Have It card, and then these Back To Cool Savings Cards were available in the summer of 1993.

Palm Beach Post - Palm Beach County, FL  (August 8, 1993)

I lived in Boynton Beach, Florida in the summer that the Back To Cool promotion was taking place, and they had set up a Crystal Pepsi Cool Zone in our malls too.  In addition to the free soda and the savings card, you could get a free CD if you spent $100 at the mall throughout the month of August 1993.  It didn't have to be at one store or on the same day.  You just had to save your receipts and once you've had enough of them to show that you've spent over a hundred dollars at the mall, they would give you a collection of songs from Billboard and Crystal Pepsi that was called Slipped Disc.

Slipped Disc isn't half bad for a promotional compilation album.  It starts off with Tom Cochrane's single Life Is A Highway.  It includes three well done cover songs: the Ugly Kid Joe version of Cats In The Cradle, the Red Hot Chili Peppers cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic Fire, and The Pixies 1991 cover of Head On from The Jesus And Mary Chain.  It also has Tones Of Home, which is the first single released by Blind Melon, and an excellent song that was overshadowed by the success of No Rain, as well as Just the Way It Is Baby, which was the first hit single by The Rembrandts and pre-dates their unfortunate decision to record the theme song to Friends.  The final two songs on the CD are I Don't Want Your Love by Duran Duran, and an incredible song Sleeping Satellite by an artist that I know almost nothing about named Tasmin Archer.  This was her debut single which went to the top of the charts in the UK, but I don't remember hearing it on the radio in the US.  It's a shame that it didn't get more exposure over here because it's a damn good song and it closes out a pretty great collection of music.

If you were on a long car trip in the 90's and could only have one CD in the car, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Slipped Disc.  There are probably a few hundred different ways to hear each of these songs today, but if you want to relive the experience of a mall-shopping Crystal Pepsi drinker from the summer of '93, you can find plenty them for sale for just a couple of bucks on eBay.

Jul 27, 2013

It Keeps Going And Going...

Energizer Bunny Screen Saver
PC Dynamics (1992)
This old screensaver was being sold at Black Diamond for $2.50.  I wish I would have bought it.

UPDATE: This has been shared by Greg Kennedy on Archive.org.

Jul 24, 2013

First Person Tetris

If you wanted the room to spin while you played Tetris in the 80’s, you needed vodka and a swivel chair.  Damn kids today have everything.  [click here to play First Person Tetris]

Jul 23, 2013

The Burger King Salad Bar

Burger King Salad Bar (1983)
The restaurant that would go on to become Burger King was founded in Jacksonville sixty years ago today.  for a brief period of time in the mid 80's, the chain featured a salad bar in some of their restaurants, including many of their mall locations.

The salad bars offered pita bread that could be stuffed with vegetables, as well as plates that guests could use to put together a plate of salad.

These must not have lasted as long as the Wendy's salad bar because I don't ever remember seeing them when I was a kid, but it's an interesting idea that I think might work if they tried again today.

Jul 21, 2013

Pierogies, Potato Cakes, and Polka

Transfiguration Church Picnic
West Hazleton, PA
When I was a kid, my grandparents, my dad and I took a walk over to my grandmother's annual church picnic every July.  Back then, my favorite part were the children's games.  These days, I mostly look forward to all of the good food.

I may not be a religious man, but there's nothing quite like relaxing in the ally of the church where you were baptized listening to live polka music and eating homemade pierogies and potato cakes.

Jul 10, 2013

Sushi Donuts

Sushido Delight
Mister Donut - Thailand
I haven't seen a Mister Donut restaurant since I was a kid, but the chain is still going strong outside of the United States.  In Thailand, they're making donuts that look like sushi.

Jul 9, 2013

1993: Braves vs. Marlins

Atlanta Braves @ Florida Marlins
Joe Robbie Stadium
July 9, 1993
I lived in South Florida during the first few seasons of Florida Marlins baseball. We went to about a dozen games in their debut year, including this game that saw John Smoltz pitch 8 innings.  Future Phillies in this game included Braves outfielder Ron Gant, who hit his 20th home run of the season in this game.  On the Marlins, the lineup included catcher Benito Santiago (1996) and left fielder Jeff Conine (2006) who each spent a year of their career in Philadelphia.

Jul 7, 2013

WWE Six Man Tag Team Champs

WWE Live (house show)
Mohegan Sun Arena - July 7, 2013
Wilkes-Barre, PA
Roberto and I got to meet former two-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund at a WWE house show.  He was a cool dude - perfectly normal one minute, but then as soon as they're about to take the photo, he snapped into his crazy "Mr. Backlund" character and put us in a headlock.  It seems like he truly enjoys meeting fans and creating memorable moments.


Tag Team MatchThe Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) defeated The Prime Time Players (Titus O'Neil and Darren Young)

Singles MatchJustin Gabriel defeated Heath Slater

WWE Divas
Championship Match
AJ Lee defeated Kaitlyn

Singles MatchRandy Orton defeated Big E. Langston

Six Man Mixed
Tag Team Match
Brodus Clay, Tensai and Naomi defeated Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow and Brie Bella
Singles MatchR-Truth defeated Drew McIntyre
Fellow Three Man Band member Jinder Mahal came to the ring with Drew McIntyre. 

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Last Man
Standing Match
Alberto Del Rio defeated Dolph Ziggler

I enjoyed the matches and the chance to meet a WWE Hall Of Famer, but the best part of the show had to be the tattoos on the guy who sat in front of me.  You have to admire how the dimples and creases on the back of his neck make a nose and a mouth.

Jul 5, 2013

Bus Out Of Service

City Bus
West Hazleton, PA
I stumbled onto this old city bus in the woods behind Fern Court while walking little Harvey earlier today.  I'm not sure what year it's from, and I don't know if it's been abandoned or if it's a project that someone is working on, but it truly is a treasure.  I'm not a great photographer by any means, but this is one of my favorite photos that I've taken.  The overgrown plant life and the aged technology give it a bit of a post-apocalyptic feel that I like very much.

Jul 3, 2013

My Connection

Donut Connection
Rt. 93 - Hazleton, PA
This location was a Mister Donut restaurant when I was a kid.  It was converted into a Donut Connection in the early 90's, but with the exception of the sign out front, it still looks pretty much the same as it did 30 years ago.

This place isn't fancy, but I love it.  It's a quiet little place to have a coffee and a donut and maybe get a little reading or writing done, and it's right next to a pizza parlor where you can get a slice and a Farmer's Tea.  Can't go wrong with either one.

Jul 1, 2013

The Priest They Called Him

William S. Burroughs and Kurt Cobain
Lawrence, KS (1993)
This photo was taken at Burroughs' home while Cobain was visiting.  The two collaborated to produce a spoken word version of a short story called The Junky's Christmas, which was written by Burroughs in 1989.  The nearly 10 minute recording featured Burroughs reading his story with Kurt playing a very trippy Silent Night and To Anacreon In Heaven.  It was called The Priest They Called Him, and it was given a limited release on 10" vinyl twenty years ago today.  You can listen to it here.