Monday, April 25, 2011

Lydia's back, and strange things are afoot!

Hello, gentle readers! It is I, Lydia, returned from Africa. I shan't be working regularly here in the store, but Doug has asked me to resume blogging duties as long as I am around Chicago, so you can expect my bright shining typeface semi-regularly for at least a few months.

Yes, this means that my entire role at O'Gara and Wilson right now is to find entertaining things around the store and blog about them. Fear me!

It seems as though I might as well resurrect the old pattern: each blog post features a Collector's Item, a Favorite and something Affordable & Interesting. I'll start with the Collector's Item, because it is the most bewildering:

This comes from an 1883 illustrated play titled "A Parody of Iolanthe", written by one D. Dalziel, who apparently edited some sort of theatrical newspaper at the time. "Iolanthe", as I learn through the Internet, was a Gilbert & Sullivan satire that played in the early 1880s. It featured fairies messing about with the House of Lords. So Dalziel's "A Parody of Iolanthe" features fairies messing around with ... railroads.

The Fairy Queen is quite stern, and although much of the script puzzles me (because it has so many references to contemporary late 1800s railroad politics), even I could tell that some moments are funny, like when the Queen makes a bunch of magical decrees that the railroad people are magically forced to obey:

Queen: The comfort of your passengers must be your primary consideration. (Very solemnly) You will also be forced to run your trains according to your advertised time-table.

All: (shriek) Oh, spare us! Spare us!

How could that cruel Queen force the trainmasters to run on schedule? How terrible! Presumably many railroad historians (or Gilbert & Sullivan fans) are vying for this book, because ours is the cheapest available copy at $495.00. Far beyond my ability to afford, alas, but I'm glad I got to look at the pictures of dancing Olde Worlde lords.

Slightly less esoteric is this week's Favorite:

Yes, indeed: O'Gara & Wilson has the all the 1976 issues of "The Michigan Polka News". All these issues have been pulled together in one tall binding, which I would show you except that the book was too big to fit in the scanner (I could only fit one corner of the News itself, as you can see above). The Michigan Polka News did not merely feature Polka Band Calendars, but also Polka Tidbits, information about Polka Sprees for Charity, discussions of the Origin of the Polka, various polka contest winners, and the stories of polka heroes. Our collected 1976 "Michigan Polka News" issues will cost you only $60.00, my friends, and every page is in beautiful condition.

You are probably wondering how the Affordable and Interesting item can top these. It probably can't:


I really wish I had access to a video camera right now, or at least a camera, because attempting to scan this object is not doing it justice. (It's hard to scan things that aren't flat!) Basically, it's a rubber mermaid in a small, round, clear plastic case. There is a tiny crank on the bottom that makes the mermaid shake her hips and gyrate. The scan on the left shows her with her hips to one side, and the scan on the right shows her after a half-turn of the crank! She is supple, 1950s, and only $5.00. Apparently this type of novelty item was quite the thing among libidinous young men back in the pre-"Playboy" days ....

Where else in the world could you find such random things? Nowhere, gentle readers. Nowhere. That's why you keep coming back to O'Gara & Wilson, and we love you for it. See you soon!


Lilithcat said...

Delightful to have you back, Lydia! I've missed your posts, despite the fact that they often cost me money. ;-)

Adam Spiegel said...

Chicago of course has been a center of polka for a long time, owing to the fact that there are more Polish people here than anywhere except Warsaw. One curious offshoot is the Chicago band "The Polkaholics", whose style is something like "punk-polka" or "speed-polka", if you can imagine that. The connection to the bookstore is that the front man for this band is Don Hedeker, who got his undergraduate degree (and maybe others) from the University of Chicago. We were a bunch of wild and crazy undergrads back then, circa 1978-1983.