Well, October is half way gone, and your trunk refinishing project is
way behind schedule for Christmas, isn't it? Don't worry, your cousin
Sylvia can wait another year to get her trunk from you. Relax, have
some fresh cider, and get a good fire going in the woodstove.
Still warm in your neck of the woods? Well, summer came to a close up
here rather abruptly once again this year. We're back to scraping frost
off the buggy seat every morning, and we're in the peak of our fall
foliage season. This means the leaf gawkers are clogging roads all over
Maine. If you're up this way be sure to keep one eye on the road - if
you forget to pay attention you'll be sporting a new hood ornament
before you know it. He'll be mad, too.
News from the trunk shop - we have a roller-ball trunk up for grabs on
the For Sale page - these were made by several shops in the Milwaukee
and Detroit areas around 1880-1900. The roller ball trunks have these
wicked looking rollers on each corner, top and bottom, to fend off dents
and dings from other folks' trunks. Sort of like those sharp blade
thingees that spun a competitor's wheels to sawdust in the old chariot
races. These roller ball trunks had only one thing in common - each had
the trademark rollers from the US Roller Co on them. A label on the
bottom usually identifies only the maker of the fender balls themselves,
not the rest of the trunk. The label has a graphic picture of several
broken trunks on the dock, while the roller ball model sits there,
shining in its glory. The picture was considered racy in some areas,
because it actually showed a woman's corset spilled out on the dock
(from the trunk, not from the owner). That's why these labels only
appeared on the bottom of the trunk. That's some trunk trivia for you.
We've had several customers take us up on our offer to help them
evaluate trunks for sale on EBay and other online auction sites. We're
glad to help. If you haven't heard of this service, it really is
simple. If you see a trunk you like somewhere on the web, send us a
link to it and ask our opinion. We try to be fair and on the level.
We'll tell you what we think the trunk is worth and what questions to
ask. Sort of like consultants, but without the frequent flier miles,
exorbitant fees, or hideous ties. (OK, I do have a hideous tie, but
Amanda won't tell me which one it is, just that one of my ties is
hideous. My hands shake when I pick one out for the occasional power
meeting I might attend with the local Ducks Unlimited chapter or
We're producing our own line of replacement trunk handles, which may be
of interest to you refinishers out there. I hope to have them on the
site by the end of the month (I'm not saying which month). I've become
somewhat dissatisfied with the quality of replacement handles currently
available out there, so I figured we should just make our own. Heck,
we're in Maine, home of some of the country's most talented leather
workers. We've found a plant that will make them to our specifications,
and we'll be able to sell them for less than they cost elsewhere. Our
goal is to provide near exact replicas of the originals, made of several
layers of leather, stitched and glued, and dyed to meet the big three
color choices (black, brown, maroon). We might even have some fancy
models, with embossed flowers. I'll keep you posted on our progress.
It's hunting season now, and the birds are flying. Rif Shaper and Norm
Broussard, a couple of trunk nuts if ever there were any, were upcountry
trying to find a partridge or two. They camped up by Cliff Lake and
were all settled in for the night when a big bear showed up in the
campsite. Norm started lacing up his shoes, and Rif hollers, "Norm, you
derned fool, you know you can't outrun a bear!"
Norm, very calmly, turns to Rif and says, "Well.........See, Rif, the
way I figures it, I only have to outrun you." Keep that in mind when
you're choosing your camping partners this Fall.
We made it up to Baxter State Park in early October, a truly spectacular
place. Baxter Peak, on Mount Katahdin, marks the northern terminus (I
didn't even know I knew that word) of the Appalachian Trail. There was
snow up top, which we were satisfied seeing from the campsite down
bottom. The girls aren't quite up to that climb yet, (ages 5 and 7),
but in another year or two they should be able to carry me up. Make a
point to visit Baxter someday. There are roughly 140,000 acres of old
wilderness, one dirt road (single lane), no electricity, lost of ponds,
lakes, and streams, and plenty of Maine wildlife. On your way up there,
be sure to stop in the shop to get a few trunks for your porters to lug
up the mountain.
We currently have 24 trunks in the shop, most of which we haven't
touched yet. We've been busy refinishing trunks for customers
(including Marcie in NYC who sent us 14 to refinish - bless your heart,
Marcie) and running the leather business. That part of the barn has
seen some wild activity in September and October. We're not sure why,
but it's been a hoot, to say the least.
So get your fire roaring, grab some good old cider (not that pasteurized
garbage), put on your wool socks, and read "Tender is the Night" once
more to warm your innards. Always warm here, so stop in when you can.
Til next time-
Churchill and Amanda Barton