Radio Flyer

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If you, like me, are a fan of US movies and TV series, then the iconic Radio Flyer will be more than familiar. Indeed, I know they must be sold in other parts of the world, but like so many everyday iconic items of US life – check out our earlier post on Iconic US Sweets/Candies –  Iconic American Candy – Part 1 – I don’t think I have seen one for sale in the UK. Certainly, when my kids would have loved such a product they weren’t available.

For generations, US kids have carted themselves, several siblings, pets, toys and other important treasures in these charming red trolley wagons. A wonderful item  of great simplicity that’s use is limited only by the depths of a child’s imagination. As American as “Milk Duds” but what’s their story?

2017 saw the celebration of the first hundred years of the Radio Flyer. Antonio Pasin, a Venetian born son of a cabinet maker who, aged 16, in 1913 arrived in New York City to start a new life. In 1917, in Chicago, he started building wooden toy wagons and selling them to local shops. He was a jobbing joiner who built the wooden wagons to carry his tools.

Demand for the wagons led to Pasin forming the Liberty Coaster Company in 1923, and ten years after he made his first wooden wagons he was making pressed steel versions and selling them for just under $3.00. He was very interested in the many production techniques used in the local car industry, earning himself the nickname “Little Ford”. In the 1930’s he produced several versions of his “Liberty Coaster” including The Streak-O-Lite” and The Zephyr that echoed the Chrysler Airflow.

Renaming the company in 1930 the Radio Steel and Manufacturing, the brand name “Radio Flyer” stemming from Pasin’s fascination with the pioneers of Radio (Marconi) and Flight (Lindbergh).

Production was interrupted during the latter stages of the Second World War and turned to oil drum manufacture but the company survived. In 1987 Radio Steel and Manufacturinf became “Radio Flyer Inc” which has been overseen by Pasin’s grandson, Robert as CEO, since 1997.

The company’s range of Radio Flyer and associated products grows annually and aside from being voted a great company to work for, its iconic products are rooted deep in the warmth of the American psyche.

Images used with grateful thanks – Radio Flyer Inc., ClassicCars.com and Vintage Vending Inc.

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Dr Seuss

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I know very few parents who, when reading their child’s favourite “Dr Seuss” story, have resisted the temptation to give their version of the voice of The Cat in The Hat, The Grinch or The Lorax. My kids – or should that be my – favourites  “Green Eggs and Ham” (published in August 1960) – and the voice of “Sam-I-Am” – has also ticked the right boxes with loads of other families, because as of 2001 it was the fourth best-selling English-language children’s book of all time!

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So who is the author and illustrator responsible for these iconic, wry, whymsical and much loved books?

Today, March 2nd, is the anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel in 1904, in Springfield (Mass. USA), who’s better known to generations of story-time devotees by his pen-name of “Dr Seuss”. During his long career he published 48 books which have sold in excess of 200 million copies and have been translated into over 20 languages.

Geisel adopted his pen-name,”Dr. Seuss” – his Mother’s maiden name – whilst at University. He attended Dartmouth College – who’s School of Medicine now bears his name. He left Oxford University in 1927 finding work as an illustrator and cartoonist for Vanity Fair and Life magazines and as a commercial artist in New York’s advertising business.

In 1937 he wrote and illustrated his first children’s book “Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”. These were followed The Cat in the Hat (1957), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957), and Green Eggs and Ham (1960). In his later years he also tackled more serious issues, such as the environment, with “Lorax” published in 1971.

He won many awards for his work including a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and three Oscars in the 1950’s.

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In America, March 2, has been adopted as the annual National Read Across America Day, and in the UK, by coincidence, today (in 2017) is World Book Day – being the first Thursday in March – I wonder how many tall, red and white hats will be making they way to and from schools today?

In 1948 Geisel and his first wife Helen, settled in San Diego’s beautiful seaside community of La Jolla (California, USA), died on September 24, 1991, aged 87. Sadly, Dr Seuss himself never became a father.

Why not enjoy Dr Seuss with your entire family with this amazing collection of the Dr Seuss books – please click the link following the image

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A Classic Case Of Dr Seuss

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Images courtesy of The Dr Seuss Estate

Levi‘s 501

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501’s were seen as work-wear for much of its first sixty years being rechristened ‘blue jeans’ in the 1950’s.

Jacob Davis, a tailor, was approached by a workman’s wife asking for a stronger pair of trousers. He sought a solution to pocket and fly tearing experienced by workers using his denim trousers by applying copper rivets to the stress points of the garment. He then went in search of a partner to help make these early examples.

Levi Strauss was a dry goods vender who had sold Jacob the denim he needed for his early samples. They joined forces and the production which following its the grant of Patent on 20th May 1873  for “waist overalls” heralded a massive success.

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In 1886 the Two Horse leather patch was first used and added to the overalls.  In 1890 the Patent passed into the Public Domian, meaning the company lost their exclusive over riveted denim. As a result the company introduced the “501” as the definitive version of their denim work “waist overalls”, with copper rivets and the Two Horse leather and later the “leather-like” patch.

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By 1936 the Red Tab appeared. These ingenious and other design elements have ensured that Levi Strauss have been able to seek protection for their design against cynical copying. The company spend million of dollars annually protecting their Intellectual Property Rights.

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Always at the heart of youth culture, the universal appeal stems from its integrity, a loyalty to the original design, the highest quality denim and sturdy manufacture.

I have loved Levi’s jeans since a teenager. Whilst the waist band may have expanded – and indeed contracted on various occasions due to mad cabbage soup diets etc – I have been through zip-fly, yellow label and 360 degrees back to red-label button-fly 501.

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They are simply my favourite jeans that have seen me through endless concerts and music festivals. Dylan at Blackbush in 1977 (that included sleeping on Waterloo Station concourse due to a missed last train), to Glastonbury mud-caked, U2 and the Rolling Stones at Wembley to Mumford and Sons at Benicassim they have simply been more than a wardrobe anchor.

Today they combine perfectly with classic shoes, an Argentinian woven belt and a great shirt and/or jacket – depending on the season – for London creative business meetings. Less Revolution and more Evolution my 501s – and I now have several favourite pairs – are still beautifully made, ooze classic iconic style and are, above all, hugely dependable.

Would you like a pair of Levis 501? Click this AMAZON link to buy your own iconic jeans click the Amazon link below the image: 

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Levi’s 501 Original Fit Men’s Jeans, Blue (Onewash), 34W x 30L

The essential Argentinian belt can also be added here by clicking the Amazon link below the image – make sure you get the right length!

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Carlos Diaz Mens Womens Unisex Argentinian Brown Leather Embroidered Polo Belt (85 cm/ 32-34 Inches)

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Photo by Levi Strauss