I like to think of myself as a “Retro” kind of a guy and also somewhat “Active.”  This mirror piece could could be seen as a reflection of my Retro-activeness.  People always ask me where I get all the items I use in my art. My answer is; I salvaged much of them over time.



For example in this work here I acquired the Mercury hubcap a couple of years back when my family and I were swimming in the Lewis River at Lewisville Park just north of  The City of Battle Ground, WA. We love to swim in the rivers here and find them to be very clean and refreshing.  Lewisville Park is wonderfully maintained.  A green and lushly forested place with many amenities.

We always bring snorkel masks and gear when swimming and spend a lot of time scouring the river floor looking for treasure.  The Mercury hubcap was one of those great finds.  It didn’t come easy though, we had to work for it. It was wedged in about two feet of swift water and only about 6% of it was showing.  We didn’t know what it was until we freed it from the two or more large river rocks which were teamed up and intent on keeping it for themselves. I tugged and pried at for about thirty minutes until my oldest and much stronger son Ryan worked at the task. I was certain it would be one of those “help me open the jar of pickles Son” moments.

After another thirty minutes he gave up.  Well, we can’t just swim away and leave this thing here.  It looked much too promising,  a real treasure I’m sure.

So I went back at it;  and after another hour was able to free it from it’s watery grave.   “Aah haaaa I yelled as I thrust it into the air along with an arch of river water trailing the motion as I waved it like a flag.

The people at the swim site did glance over at me for a second, then realizing it was just a crazy old pastey white guy with an enlarged, overly exposed belly, they quickly turned away.  I proudly sloshed my way up the bank and presented my trophy to my wife  like a proud Golden Retriever with a freshly bagged duck in its mouth.

She in all her beauty and wisdom said, “Nice, the trash can is over there.”  “Are you kidding” I quipped.  “This thing is awesome, I’m keeping it”.  To which she replied, “what are you going to do with that thing?’ “I’m not sure, but I’m keeping it, thank you very much.” And I did as you can see.

Mercury Hub Cap

Mercury Hubcap

Also in this piece is an old microphone which came from a Wire Recorder that was manufactured in 1945. That’s right, before CD’s, cassette tapes and even 8 tracks. I’m talking way back; even before reel to reel tape recorders there were Wire Recorders!  This was a home or office model and was quite portable for its time.

Of course I am much too young to have used one of these in it’s prime, but I purchased it back in 1970.  I was in the sixth grade and my buddy; let’s see… For the sake of this story I’ll call him John; John Ford (because that is his real name.)  John Ford and I went to the Ellsworth Elementary School annual rummage sale.

Somehow?  I can’t remember, we earned tickets through some kind of games.  While digging deep into the heaps and piles of rummage I came across the Wire Recorder. I was amazed and marveled at it’s clean lines and Commando Cody-like design.  It was complete with all necessary parts and even extra spools of wire for recording.  The price was a dollar but I only had six tickets valued at 10 cents each.  I really wanted the recorder so I talk my friend John into pitching in his four remaining tickets (we did stop off at the bake sale room first after all.)  He did so and we agreed to joint ownership of the grand device.

We took turns with it at our homes and recorded many prank phone calls and I’m sure some flatulent tones were captured as well.  I even had my friend Donnie Thornburg call my girlfriend at the time, while we recorded him telling her I wanted to break up. (Duke; you coward.) I do feel bad for that. (Sorry Janet.)

Old Mic from Wire Recorder

Old Mic from Wire Recorder

So let’s review… I got the Wire Recorder in 1970, dragged it through countless moves, in and out of damp basements and dusty attics and not least of all… into my third marriage.  Yikes!  Do you think it was worth it?  Anyhow last month I dug it out and sadly it no longer worked. So I gutted it, harvesting it’s more interesting parts.  Old radio tubes and of course the microphone.  John; John Ford; if you’re out there and want your portion of the Wire Recorder. I have divided it.  Remember its 60/40 in my favor.


14 Responses to “RETRO-ACTIVE”

  1. Moving into our new home, our past caught up with us, bringing together STUFF in storage for 16-20 or more years. I found boxes of clothes size 22 (was I EVER that huge?), record albums, books, pictures, and odds and ends that I had long forgotten about. Many of these I threw out or donated to Goodwill, but many I just couldn’t part with. They ended up in more boxes awaiting inspiration.

    How many things do we keep all the time just “waiting for inspiration?” Here comes the Lord of Things to remind us that there is inspiration in these things from our past – if we only had his creative talents.

    Cousin, I’ve put together a small box with your name on it to fill with the junk of my life that might inspire you in your artistic life. It’s not as special as the stuff you’ve collected with the fantastic stories, which are actually better and well told, but they are parts of my life stories that you might find inspiration in.

    Like the silly plastic Mardi Gras beads my father, your uncle, brought back from his adventures on the Gulf Coast of the US, which you so creatively applied to those beautiful handmade canes, you have a magical way to preserve simple memories that goes beyond scrapbooking. You turn memories into works of art.

    Wow, so proud.

    And how big is this mirror thing? It must be huge to make the hub look so small!

  2. Duke DesRochers Says:

    OMGosh! I can’t wait to dig into that Box-O-Stuff…. It’s like handfulls of greasey french fries to me… yum, yum, yum….

    Love you kids…

  3. […] his stories, and artwork, has evolved. He shares the stories behind his artwork through his blog. RETRO-ACTIVE is about a new mirror wall hanging that features a tire hub cap he spent a couple hours pulling out […]

  4. Well, Hi there Duke!

    Your cousin Lorelle suggested on her blog that we read yours and frankly I’m really glad she did and that I followed her recommendation!

    I was quite surprised to read on your blog about my old family favorite park in Washington, Lewisville Park outside of Battleground!

    I was born in Vancouver, WA and our family (four siblings) lived out in the country near Ridgefield until I was about 13. My paternal grandparents and their friends and family enjoyed Lewisville Park since it began in the 1930s.

    We kids all loved to go over on the weekend with the extended family and friends to have picnics, wade in the freezing cold water and play dominoes until dark. What fond, fond memories I have of that wonderful place.

    Just recently I ran across some old family movies that had been put on DVDs and there were several minutes of us kids playing in the river, the very same one that you found the Mercury hub-cap in! What fun!

    We kids were also in 4-H, riding and showing horses. And every Saturday in the summer, would ride our horses over to Battleground where our 4-H leader would hold riding lessons. Then, tired and exhausted we would ride our trusty steeds home, confident that we were now accomplished equestrians.

    This now Minnesota girl hasn’t been to that park in over 45 years, but by reading your blog, I was transported back in memories like I was there yesterday. Thank you for writing about Lewisville Park and Battleground, WA.

    The Wicker Woman-Cathryn Jungroth Peters

  5. Hey, nice tips. Perhaps I’ll buy a glass of beer to that person from that forum who told me to go to your blog 🙂

  6. Duke DesRochers Says:

    Wow! That’s incredible… I am so glad we were able to hook up. Is’nt it cool what a blog can do for a soul?

  7. […] his stories, and artwork, has evolved. He shares the stories behind his artwork through his blog. RETRO-ACTIVE is about a new mirror wall hanging that features a tire hub cap he spent a couple hours pulling out […]

  8. My ex husband used to do woodworking. I think he will enjoy your blog very much. 🙂 He now does a lot of photography but still likes the unusual and the artistic.

  9. Duke DesRochers Says:

    That’s cool.. it sounds like you and your Ex are good friends. Thank you for your kind comment. I really wish I had photographic skills; someday perhaps.


  10. Janet Turpin Sanders Says:

    Wow Duke…you are quite the blogger…now nearly 40 years later the truth comes you still have the recording of Donnie breaking you up from me? I hope you know how much I cryed over that…boo hoo…I find it really halarious now though! Hey I have tons of junk to give you. I am quite the junk collector too only I have no outlet really. I’ll have to get box together and send it your way along with a copy of a video with that cartoon you worked on years ago with Steve…not sure if you ever got a copy. Keep up the blogging…what a writer you are! Janet

  11. Duke DesRochers Says:

    Oh My Yes… I do have the spool which contains the recording of that great and dreadful day. I would love to have the junk and the video… Thanks for the kind words and keep the faith. PEACE… Duke

  12. […] his stories, and artwork, has evolved. He shares the stories behind his artwork through his blog. RETRO-ACTIVE is about a new mirror wall hanging that features a tire hub cap he spent a couple hours pulling out […]

  13. […] his stories, and artwork, has evolved. He shares the stories behind his artwork through his blog. RETRO-ACTIVE is about a new mirror wall hanging that features a tire hub cap he spent a couple hours pulling out […]

  14. Came here from your cousins site. Very interesting blog. I enjoyed my visit. I have concluded that your cousin is correct. I hope to bring mine up to your standards.

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