Archive for Ellsworth Elementary


Posted in Cooking Tips, Duke's Cooking Stories, Duke's Recipes, Handyman Tips with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2009 by dukex

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.