How many times did people fall off that stool?

How long before the particle-board drawers warped from moisture, and stuck?

How often did she stand up after writing some letters or paying some bills, and smack her head on the lamp?

It doesn't matter. It looked cool. It was cool.

The other night I decided to pull the trigger, get it over with, plunge in: someone must collect all the art from the StarTribune 1920s Auto Show, and I don’t see anyone else stepping up to the plate around here. Sigh. Always lands on my plate.

It will be a site in the future, and I don’t want to spend it all here. Lord knows we’d be short of updates for 2024 if I just willy-nilly cast it all on the Bleat. But a few things were interesting, and I wanted to share, because you find things in the most unexpected places.

One year they hired someone to draw all the dealers and executives. Two full pages.

Doc was the local rep for the company, a national concern. He was a high-tech fellow, it seems; the other guys were shown fishing or golfing.

A page of go-getters:

Harry would have sold cars in any era. Today:

Downtown, in a block that was once the epicenter of the city's auto dealerships.

But the dealerships were everywhere. This guy's on the edge of the city limits. Come gaze into the baleful eyes of Jimmy Leck!

The building's gone; the site is now home to a big car repair shop. Before that, it was a big car repair shop. Now I know that before that, it was a smaller car repair shop.

Remember weeks ago, I don’t know when, we looked at this building?

Well. I searched the old newspaper archives for hours trying to find something, to nail down the original occupants. Tried car companies, addresses, names, and pieced together a reasonably accurate account of who occupied the structure. And then I stumble across this:

1927. Almost a hundred years have passed, and the building is still there, rehabbed, home to a grocery store.

One page has a guide to gas stations, because you’d need those. Most of them are gone, of course, but you get a glimpse of the style of the structures. This was a John Hancock station:

And then there’s the romantic artwork the paper commissioned to illustrate the great promise of the automotive age. It’s mythical.

It would be scorned today, because the bien pensants have turned on the car. To be honest, they turned on the car long ago. There’s a contingent that would ban them from cities entirely if they could, reducing everyone to walking (in the winter, in 14 below temperatures) or taking the bus, then walking (in the winter, in 14 below temperatures), then repeating the process to get home.

They don’t seem to care whether suburbs ban cars, just the core city. The suburbs are regarded with contempt for being low-density and car-dependent, and there’s really nothing you can do about that now. Bulldozing all the houses and erecting massive dense housing blocks in which everyone has the same allotment of space in a slot in the sky - well, one can dream! But probably not imminent. Barring that, they can make the suburbs more dense and run the buses out to the end of habitation, so people who can’t afford to live there now, or don’t want to, can live in a nice place with a greater amount of social capital.

What fascinates me now: they still want to ban cars from downtown, when the downtown is panting and gasping. The office towers are empty, and they’d still make everyone take the bus in, or ride a bike.

There’s overlap between these urban idealists and the Work From Home demographic, I think. They want “vibrant” urban areas, and yet they are content to see downtown wither if it means they don’t have to go downtown and sit in a cubicle. It’s as if they have a vision in their heads where everyone is on a bicycle going somewhere, and that’s what counts. Not where they are going, or what they are doing, but the fact that they are on a bike, like Amsterdam. I think if they developed time travel the number of people who’d volunteer to go back and kill Hitler would be exceeded by the volunteers who wanted to strangle Henry Ford.

Oh, by the way: we think of the cars of the past as being black, black, dark black, jet black, midnight black, and so on.

The 20s . . . the 20s were a peacock time.


Now, this year's Above-the Fold Kul-chah Feature, or ATFKF.

Maerten de Vos, "Moses Showing the Tablets of the Law to the Israelites, with Portraits of Members of the Panhuys Family, their Relatives and Friends."

Let's meet the Panhuys!

Yes, that’s her daughter. I think you can safely say that’s her daughter.

Why the cherub is grabbing her forearm, I don’t know.

Again: pretty sure these two are related.

The Brotherhood of the Nose:

God, this day is just taking forever

Everyone knew that Mom hated to have her picture taken.










Seventy-four thousand souls. Motto: "The Capital of the Rio Grande Valley." Nickname: "H-town." Name origin: a town in the Netherlands. Let's get to it.

It's so nice you don’t notice the Dumpsters right away:


I do believe I began on the edge of downtown, so let’s not jump to assumptions.

Very modern and up-to-date, once.

More of the Google car’s accidental art:


Ah, the old “interior of a house in Pompeii after the roof collapsed and 30 tones of expelled rock fell in” style.

The two are from the same era, more or less.

Don't enter here!

Or . . . maybe you do? Because the doors are camoflaged to confuse the enemy?


Somewhat. It’s probably original 30s / 40s. The color is anomalous and the bricks around the window not common, but probably original.

It was a bar. Or a restaurant.

Takes you a few seconds to realize what it was. But only a few. Some things ahe only one purpose.

Formerly the Grande, a “Mexican movie theater.”

A later shot.


Nice original sign, hanging on after all these years.

“I don’t know, make it Dutch, make it Arab, I don’t care.”

(later, to architect)

“What the hell is this”

I’m guessing no vacancy, right? Or nothing but


I can’t quite read this. In the middle of a renovation that showed what the bricks looked like originally? Rehabbed a few years ago, but now abandoned?

Oh, I should’ve looked around the corner.


No one cares anymore.

On the other hand:

That’s nice work, and on such a small building, almost an act of philanthropy.

“Bob, reach across your desk and throw this out the other side of the building, will you?”


Emporis says was built in 1927, and has gone by many names.

Baxter Building
Rio Grande National Life Insurance Building
Los Nueve Pisos
McKelvey Building
Blaschka Tower

Residential now. I don't know how. You stretch out to sleep, your feet are out the window.

I’ll bet Mr. Feldman doesn’t run it anymore. Original Feldman, anyway.


OUMB, Fluted-column Yamasaki division. They were everywhere.


I'll give them this: eventually, it said "Bank" as much as the Roman embassies.

It looks as if it lost a pie-throwing competition.


There has to be more, right? I feel like I’m missing the essence of Harlingen. Must go back.

(Minutes later)

No that just about covers it. Things get better, but not more interesting.




That'll do, and why wouldn't it? You want more? You're insatiable. Okay, hit the update. But that's it.




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