Sunday, April 10, 2011

Isn't It Good, Norwegian Wood?

Or, in this case, Danish wood.

One of my "finds" at the Alameda Swap Meet was this marvelous Dansk salad bowl, beautifully pieced and perfect despite being a mid-century design. If I could have afforded one back then, I'd have bought it - as it is, I got it anyway, just 40 years later and for a ridiculously low price.

You might find something wonderful at the swap meet, too. It is held on the first Sunday of every month on the former Alameda Naval Air Station. I think they use the old runway, as the event is huge and the parking lot is even larger.

They are very well organized with a UPS man stationed out front in case you need to ship things and carts of various sizes to rent if your treasures are too big to carry. Parking is free and there's a free shuttle to take you to the gate, but it costs $5 to get in, plus whatever treasures you discover while you're there. I'd be amazed if you can look over the acres and acres of tables and not find a "must" or two.

Our family was stationed briefly at Alameda NAS back in the '50s, when it was an active Navy base. Back then, my sister and I rode the city bus from Alameda to Berkeley to school and back, all by ourselves. More or less unthinkable today, as we were only 10 and 8 years old at the time. I'm sure there was a base school but my parents must have heard that the Bentley School, at that time housed in a big old wood frame mansion in Berkeley, was better. It was my favorite year of school ever, fourth grade. My teacher was Mrs. Vohs, a wonderfully kind and loving woman who nonetheless expected her students' best and got it.

I don't recognize any of it when I go back to Alameda now - the buildings were probably all the same but I was too young to have a mental map of the place and we were there for less than a year. Now, it just seems large and utilitarian - all those disused buildings that were once a bustling naval station.

But I have lots of memories - of my Dad describing an earthquake that traveled right up the anchor chain to shiver his ship; of my sister teasing me unmercifully on the bus, as older sisters are wont to do with younger ones; of being allowed to drive one of the first automatic transmission cars available - all the kids in the neighborhood got a turn at the wheel in an empty parking lot; of being invited on my first date to go to Children's Fairyland (it's still there and still delightful); of a book called "Skippy" that started me on the road to being a lifelong reader.

I hope your visit to Alameda is as rewarding as mine was, even without the memories.



Blogger Greg said...

What a great find! I attended a meeting on the Hornet years back and the place was kind of barren. I hope they make good use of beautiful bay front property.

Sunday, April 10, 2011  
Blogger Kailyn said...

I was out with old friends on Friday night, two of whom now live in Virginia. They were talking about the things they would like to have their daughters experience in the Bay Area. I mentioned Fairyland. The reaction around the table was, "It's still there?"

Sunday, April 10, 2011  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I would have bought that bowl too! Yum.
BTW, there was no school on the base. Alameda is dotted with public schools, and I lived right across the street from one. (I presume you lived on the base; we didn't.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I went to the Alameda Flea market years ago; I loved it - full of so many fun goodies. A friend of mine was really into American Indian Jewelry and he got all his best treasures there.

Sunday, April 10, 2011  
Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

I think my dad's got something similar, and has been using it for years and years for salad. It's got an interesting, oily patina :)

Monday, April 11, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, I hope they come up with a good use, too - it's a lot of very attractive real estate. I'm thinking parks and open space but likely it will end us as condos.

Kailyn, everyone who has been to Fairyland has good memories of it, especially if they went as children.

Cookiecrumb, we did live on the base, first in a quonset hut, then later in small quarters. Most of my memories of all that are vague, except of Bentley School.

Nancy, I found a piece of Inuit art for my collection there - very inexpensive, as it was slightly chipped.

Ms Mouse, my mother's salad bowls had that same patina - I guess it come with years of use. This bowl was actually too dry, so I oiled it with mineral oil and it looks much better now. California is not kind to woods - it's too dry here.

Monday, April 11, 2011  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

!!! We lived in one of those Quonset huts for a brief spell. Worst memory of my life. Gah.

Monday, April 11, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, I seem to recall that my mother was awfully glad to leave the Quonset hut behind.

Monday, April 11, 2011  

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