Just a quick post here about a recent excursion, in early March of this year, into one of our neighboring states, the great state of Connecticut: A day for Celebrating such things as a free Friday and start to the weekend, an anticipation of Spring being on its way (as a very harsh Winter in the northeast was winding its way down, and a birthday celebration in memory of my dad, who would have turned 85 this year.

So, a fun day planned, in spite of the lingering piles of icy snow still on the ground. Image

Our first stop – JK’s in nearby Danbury, CT for some Texas wieners. We’ve previously posted here about JK”s so there is not much to add, necessarily, to what we previously described. However, here are a few images; note the one of me with my drink. I had ordered a cherry Coke, and what they brought me, much to my delight, was a house made cherry coke, complete with a red maraschino cherry. It was literally the “cherry on top” of an already happy sort of road food/greasy spoon/comfort food eating experience.

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Moving on through snowy, picturesque Connecticut

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We made our way to our next destination, Dotty’s Diner, in Woodbury, CT, for their fabulous donuts. This place, which we’ve also previously blogged about is charming and the very epitome of what is good about old school dining establishments. The donuts are arguably the best I’ve ever had – dense, crunchy on the outside, soft and flavorful on the inside – in short, perfection.

Admit it – you want one of these now, don’t you? I know that I do.

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Jolie sure does look happy to have her’s.

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Next destination – none other than¬† Wild Bill’s Nostalgia Center in Middletown, CT.

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Jolie found out about this place and when she told me, I knew that we would have to go. Here’s a brief video that explains what this place is all about.

 

Essentially, then a large, flea market style shop for collectors of toys, t-shirts, old magazines, vinyl records, and other fun objects from the past, Wild Bill’s is the sort of place where one could easily spend an entire day perusing its many contents. We were both awestruck by all of what was there, including

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posters galore; here I am with something I actually once owned – the famous 1970s Farrah Fawcett red bathing suit poster. Also,

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a wide range of dolls, action figures, monster/movie character replicas, and bobble heads – all to appeal to collectors.

Also, lots and lots of sports memorabilia

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as well as games. Here, in my opinion, is one of the greatest action games of my 1960s childhood, the beloved game of “Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots.”

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There are even a small number of retro arcade video games on hand. Here’s Jolie with a game she fondly remembers – Centipede

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While she didn’t actually get to play it, it was fun to just be in the presence of these games, as the memories that they trigger are pretty vivid.

Oh, and speaking of memories – when I was a kid, I was – like many kids my age – obsessed by Evil Knievel. I know in my heart that the moment in which Fonzie jumped the shark on Happy Days, he was paying tribute/being directly influenced by Knievel and his spectacular motorcycle jumping stunts. Anyway, I was very happy to find this.

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Making our way up and down the aisles of the Center, we also discovered that there were some slightly hidden, truly quirky works of art on display, such as this life-sized diorama in the back, one signifying something non entirely clear; is Wild Bill perhaps a postmodernist?

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These pieces were a bit clearer and helped to convey the essence of Wild Bill’s

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Finally, we decided to make a few purchases. And, the man working the register was non other than Wild Bill himself. Here he ism, represented on the outside of his center.

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I opted for a laminated, signed poster of the character Rat Fink, the hod rod driving rat character created by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. I’m such a fan of Ed Roth and Rat Fink that whenever we go to join up with Jolie’s dad at “Back to the Fifties,” the large car show held each spring at the Minnesota State Fair grounds, my car t-shirt of choice is my Rat Fink shirt.

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Truly, Big Daddy Roth’s influence looms large; his aesthetic ties in directly with things like 60s garage rock, B-movies, rockabilly, and so many other markers of total coolness.

 

The other notable purchase was of a copy of a National Lampoon, the subversive humor magazine that had its heyday in the 1970s. I used to read these very regularly during my high school years and they truly gave the 1970s a much more satirical edge than it might have had otherwise. I picked up the September 1977 “Grow Up” themed issue. The highlight is probably the darkly and deeply) funny comic story by Gahan Wilson called Grown-ups Can Do Anything,” a comic that gets more and more hideous with each panel.

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Gahan Wilson is, in my opinion, a genius.

Following this really fun visit, we were not quite ready to return home, as we still had one more place to visit. And that place was the Pez Museum, which is located near New Haven in the town of Orange, CT.

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The Pez Museum is basically a series of displays of Pez dispensers and other bits of Pez history, connected to an active Pez factory.

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This was all fun up to a point, though after the wide-ranging a quirky collection of stuff at Wild Bill’s, after a while, looking at Pez dispensers started to feel slightly repetitious. Still, it was an interesting and particular example of one form of pop culture from past to present, and worth the modest price of admission. Now, neither of us actually really like the taste of Pez, so we wound up not purchasing any souvenirs, which is what they are set up to sell.

Then, after a brief stop at the Danbury Fair Mall where we picked up a bottle of a really fine balsamic vinegar at Wiliams-Sonoma,

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we also picked up some nice cupcakes from Crumb’s Bake Shop for something we had planned for later in the day; as I had mentioned, March 7th was my dad’s birthday.

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I have somewhat recently established a new tradition for my dad’s birthday, and it is based on a food memory. My dad introduced me to the wonders of Asian cuisine and one thing I specifically remember is him introducing me to eating pu pu platter, which is essentially an appetizer combo served in Asian restaurants (sometimes with an open flame for sticking meats on sticks over the flame for some extra cooking). I still enjoy eating these. Now I rely on getting a take-out pu pu platter from a local Chinese place. they do a good job, and we definitely are happy with the outcome.

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After our little pu pu feast, we then enjoyed the cupcake, which served as my dad’s birthday cake.

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So, that was our day!¬† And seeing these pictures makes me want to back to nearly all of these places again. Maybe I can find some more National Lampoons and enjoy its subversive humor over another Dotty’s Donut. That would be a very good thing.