“Are you building a museum?” That’s the interesting question that Jim, who’s a friend and former Montreal Gazette colleague of Raymond and me, asked in response to my post of a couple of days ago – the one in which I announced that I felt I needed to acquire for the Manse one of those colourful 1950s-’60s metallic folding-step step stools that we all used to have.
Jim’s question is a good one. I expect there are others among you good people who read Meanwhile, at the Manse who have wondered the same thing, as I ramble on about cool and funky midcentury (mid-20th-century, as I always realize I need to explain) stuff that I’ve managed to acquire, or would like to acquire. I think it’s a polite way of saying, “Why the heck are you collecting this old junk?”
But let’s keep the question to “Are you building a museum?” Here is the answer: “No. But.”
No, I am not building a museum. (And neither is Raymond.) But: the more time we spend on this Manse adventure, and the more time I spend remembering and reflecting on the years when I was growing up here, the 1960s and ’70s – well, the more interested I get in vernacular mid-20th-century design, in things that we all had and used back in those days and thought nothing of, but that we realize in retrospect were beautifully designed and are kind of worth retrieving now, in the 21st century, when so much of what is made is disposable and (not to put too fine a point on it) crappy.
Things like a red dial phone (you can find it in the photo at the top of this post), the receiver of which feels comfortable and beautifully ergonomic in your hand when you are making a call. Especially if you are making that call from the comfort of a 1960s-era telephone table!
And timeless children’s toys, like the Fisher-Price garage:
And, yes, a useful and space-saving folding-steps step stool:
Which I have now absolutely determined I must have, sooner or later.
Is the Manse a museum? No. It’s a place where the ever-patient Raymond and I like to have, and use, and appreciate, thoughtfully designed stuff, no matter what era it’s from. It is, I hope, an interesting place. A little on the eclectic side.
A place where every object has a story.