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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1771 - 1774

1771. So also I acquired these etchings, this collection of books and almost everything else you see in my office here, the result of fifty years of accidental collection. My brother who has a similar establishment in Utica fifty miles away has no such good luck, this is all the result of living in a town with a huge University, and the absent-minded professor types the place generated by the dozens.

 1772. It is the University that has created my collection; except for that part that is the result of the years I spent cleaning out attics and basements, when I was a younger man.

1773. You ask me if I should return these things to their rightful owners if I am a scrupulously honest man as I am sure I appear to be to you, but it is out of the question. You know what I am like? I am like that poor person who gets a job taking care of an old invalid whom nobody wants to go visit. She attends to all of the old woman’s needs and in idle moments she listens patiently to the ladies rambling reminisces and adds her own observations just to show she cares.

1774. Then the old woman dies, who happens to be rich and she leaves everything to her attendant who has shown her attention in her last days; if the young woman was sincere is hardly the issue. But the family brings a lawsuit against her as if she was a worker in an old folks home caught with missing jewelry in her possession. But we want her to win the lawsuit, and we want the family to lose because it’s simple justice.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1767 - 1770

1767. The Yardman could see that Proctor was uncomfortable with his decision which expressed itself in this question. “How is it, Proctor asked, “that this icon being new, nevertheless is all pitted and worn out and looks older than the icons painted hundreds of years ago. “Because I sandblasted it,” said the Yardman.

1768. Then he proceeded to give this elaborate explanation. “First of all how is it that I came to have all of this stuff here in the first place?” He asked rhetorically, and proceeded to answer his question. “People bring me their dead cars and I dispose of them. Now cars die in a similar way to people in that sometimes it is sudden and unexpected, and at other times it is a long drawn out process.”

1769. You hear someone say, “I said hello to him this morning at the post-office, he dropped dead mowing the lawn this afternoon, and tonight I am going to his wake. At other times it is, “They operated last month and he is back in the hospital today for treatments.” In short, it is the long death and the short death. So it is with cars. Sometimes it is rust that eats away the floor and finally attacks the suspension till the shock absorbers give way, but then at other times it just, “throws a rod,” as they say.

1770. Now, with sudden death of a person, often the fate of the car the person owned falls into limbo. The family will oftentimes bring a perfectly good older car to my yard without even looking it over. They want to be rid of it as soon as possible. In such cars one often finds the most amazing things that may have been riding around in the trunk for years. This is how I came to have the icons, these oriental rugs, and the brass lamps with the greens shades on them.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1763 - 1766

 1763. “The martyred saints are the good ones,” said the Yardman, “Saint Sylvester is seven hundred, and the Saint Jerome would be seven fifty, but I couldn’t possible sell you this other one for anything more than a hundred dollars as I only paid twenty-five for it and it was only just painted last year at a Russian Orthodox monastery not far from here.”

1764. “You see, if I charge you more for it, eventually someone is bound to point out to you the difference between it and the old icons from previous centuries,” he explained.

1765. With that he turned the icon over and showed Proctor the back of it, which was just a plain piece of pine plywood. Then he took the others off the wall and turned them over also. The backs of the old icons were more intricate than the fronts. In an effort to keep the old wood from warping the entire back was carpentered with interlocking slats of walnut, hand carved with great care.

1766. Again Proctor was made to feel ignorant about something painfully obvious. Although Proctor preferred the new cheaper icon, he had made his trip to the salvage yard to spend seven hundred dollars, and so, in a rather confused way, he changed his mind and decided to purchase the Saint Sylvester, even though it was not his preference. He was victimized by the superior knowledge of the seller, and forced to change his mind, discarding his initial judgment out of intellectual embarrassment.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1759 - 1762

 1759. The soldier, the first object in his collection, represented the very idea of creating a collection in the first place. His second object, he decided was going to be one of the Russian Icons belonging to the Yardman. He planned to purchase it with the proceeds from the sale of his car that the man had made possible.

1760. Proctor sold his car that week for twelve hundred dollars and with the money in hundred dollar bills in an envelope, he took the bus and paid another visit to the salvage yard.

1761. There were three icons in the tarpaper shack and of the three one stood out to him as more symbolic of his situation. It was a painting of some figures on a ladder ascending into heaven probably, but Proctor wanted to imagine them as students, such as he was, in search of a degree. The other two paintings were conventional stiff, formal, but touching portraits of some saints holding the various implements with they were done to death.

1762. Proctor looked carefully and at length at each of the three and after serious consideration took the picture of the figures on the ladder down from it place on the wall and put it on the edge of the desk. He took out his envelope with his money and began counting out some nice new hundred dollar bills and at the same time asking, “Seven hundred, you said seven hundred?”

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1755 - 1758

 1755. “Alright then how about the Andrea Doria, the Madonna, and this old painting on wood here for twenty five dollars total?” Said Proctor. “If you really want the icon it would be seven hundred dollars by itself,” said the yardman. “Don’t you know that these icons are very valuable objects, and these prints next to it are just worthless junk?”

1756. This was exactly what Proctor expected the yardman to not know, this is what Proctor wanted to magnanimously point out to the junk yard proprietor, but instead he was bested yet again by the man and ended up buying the Andrea Doria, the Madonna, and an old photograph of a soldier faded beyond recognition in a small frame with a moth-eaten velvet mat.

1757. Proctor discarded the picture of the Madonna, and also the print of the Andrea Doria, but in his room there was a fireplace mantle for a non-existent fireplace, and on the mantle he put the picture of the soldier. The soldier’s new function was to constantly remind Proctor of his experience trying to get rid of his 54 Plymouth at the salvage yard, and gradually this recollection turned itself into the desire to create his own collection of bizarre unrelated objects.

1758. He wanted his own collection just like the Yardman had. His collection was not going to be accidental however; each object was to have a specific significance known only to himself. Each picture or object would commemorate an event, an idea, or some important part of his personal history. The collection would occupy his fireplace mantle. The significance of the objects would be enhanced by not being hung on the wall, but instead, placed on a shelf.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1751 - 1754

1751. It was at that moment that Proctor Cronk became a collector of works of art. It was not the usual setting for such a decision, one would rather expect it to happen in a museum, or at least in an art gallery, but it happened in a tar paper shack in a salvage yard.

1752. As so often happens, his first purchase had all of the characteristics of his later collecting life even down to the methods he used to get the object he was after. He was not entirely honest in his methods, but at least what he said was more believable than the Yardman’s claims of grandfathers with sepia photographs of the Coliseum.

1753. At first Proctor only wanted to repair his slightly damaged ego, by showing the Yardman that, although he might be able to diagnose a car problem from a distance, he did not know anything about art or its values. He intended to do this based on the assumption that the man did not know that the Russian icons were valuable. This was an easy mistake for him to make, seeing as he judged the man’s office space by conventional ideas about interior decoration.

1754. “Would you be willing to sell me this print of the “Madonna and Child,” you have here in the black frame?” Proctor inquired. He was referring to one of those sepia reproductions from an old Catholic calendar. The yardman said he would sell it for five dollars. “And what about this print of the Andrea Doria in the frame with the broken glass?” He asked. “Both for ten dollars if you want them but they are not really very good reproductions if you ask me.”

Richard Britell

Monday, June 24, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1747 - 1750

 1747. Having their edges use as clothes hooks obscured even the various things hung on the walls. The tops of pictures were used as small shelves for miniature objects. The antler points of a moose held a collection of women’s gloves. Obviously valuable things were mixed up helter-skelter with worthless trash.

1748. There were only three things unencumbered and not being used in any inexplicable way, they were a large double barreled shotgun leaning next to the door jam under a World War 2 bayonet, and an old baseball bat.

1749. There were many paintings and prints hanging on the walls and Proctor discovered that the huge brown print of the coliseum in a wide oak frame could not be sold because it belonged to somebody’s grandfather who had been born someplace or other. He could not purchase the Piranesi print of a prison interior for a similar reason having to do with some other relative.

1750. The Yardman had a few real Russian Icons, as well as several very cheap prints of religious works. The prints were all in that sickly shade of brown used so often for old religious calendars. The icons, which were obviously valuable, were hung in a group next to the cheapest sort of religious images in frames without any glass. Proctor thought to himself, “they are sorted by subject regardless of their value.”

Richard Britell

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, 1743 - 1746

 1743. Added to that was the fact that the junkyard man kept smiling at him in a friendly way exhibiting his dark yellow teeth with numerous gaps and those gaps between the Yardman crooked teeth kept reminding Proctor that the Yardman knew a great many things, and he was studying journalism and so knew nothing about anything.

1744. “Am I to understand that nothing you have is for sale unless the person wanting to buy it is the exact right person, who needs the thing he buys in a certain way to your express satisfaction?” Asked Proctor. Put in this way the Yardman relented a little and invited Proctor to look inside his office and see if there was some other hood ornament he would like to buy, as the one he had been working on was already taken.

1745. Proctor was 22 at the time he encountered this eccentric salvage yard man, and even though he was young he knew that there were people who were unable to part with things and were always engaged in enlarging their personal collections of quasi valuable junk. If you make attempts to purchase these broker’s wares they always find a reason not to sell; and often in the process will start raising the price to exorbitant levels.

1746. Proctor entered the Yardman’s office to see what he could find of interest and began to look over a seemingly infinite assortment of objects. It was not possible to get a good look at anything because some other thing leaning against it obscured every object

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1739 - 1742

1739. Oh sure, any day he wants to he can open up a restoration catalogue and buy a cheap aftermarket reproduction but what is the good of that. The man wants to buy the real thing, especially one that has a little damage and those little black pitted marks that show that it has existed for thirty years.

1740. And when his friends ask him if he is going to have it chromed so that it will look like new he is going to reply, “Yes, just as soon as I pay for my Grandma’s face lift, which will make just as much sense. No, you see he wants the ornament to look just the way it did thirty years ago, when his father drove out of the driveway that morning never to return.

1741. And in the ornament the father returns to the son in the driveway, for a fleeting instant, without any face life, without any re-plating. And you want me instead to sell it to you so you can put it on your fireplace mantle with your other knick-knacks.

1742. God, what a terrible drubbing young Proctor Cronk was getting at the hands of the yardman. He was taking a mental beating of the type that only a junkyard owner can administer.

Richard Britell

Friday, June 21, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1735 - 1738

1735. In the trunk the yardman showed Proctor that the tire iron was rattling against the rim of the spare tire rhythmically with the vibrations of the engine. “If you want to sell this car, it has a good engine, don’t take less than seven hundred for it,” pronounced the yardman to Proctor.

1736. Proctor could not believe what had just happened. The yardman’s actions contradicted all of his assumptions about human behavior. Why would he avoid buying a perfectly good car that some dope does not know is sound? Many explanations occurred to him. The yardman did not care about money. The man preferred the pleasure of making a fool of him, to taking his car for twenty-five dollars. The man was just dumb, which explained the tarpaper shack and his obvious poverty.

1737. Nevertheless, Proctor was deeply impressed and wanted to find a way to express his appreciation. Thinking of the office full of assorted junk he asked the yardman if he would be willing to sell the hood ornament he had been polishing when he first walked into the shack. “What, said the yardman, you got a 34 Hudson you want to restore do you?”

1738. “No,” said Proctor, “but I have been thinking of making a collection of the hood ornaments of old cars.” “Don’t go doing that,” replied the yardman. “If you go around buying up the old hood ornaments of the old cars, then the people who really need them will have a harder time to find them. Can you imagine what it’s like for a person with a 1934 Hudson to look hopelessly for an authentic hood ornament.”

Richard Britell

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Proctor Cronk at Syracuse, parts 1731 - 1734

1731. To those in possession of the salvage yards however, their personalities do not appear distorted, on the contrary it is the rest of so called normal society that exists in an obviously distorted state, this they can see clearly from spending a lifetime sorting through their junk.

1732. Proctor drove his clunking 1954 Plymouth into the salvage yard, parked in front of the office which was a tar paper shack, walked in to a room full of all types of fantastic junk, and asked how much he could get for his car.

1733. The owner of the yard had his back to Proctor, and was cleaning a small metal object with a cloth. The object was the hood ornament of a 1934 Hudson. The junkyard man said, not turning around, “Why do you want to sell it?” “Because the engine is shot,” said Proctor. “No it’s not,” replied the yardman. “How do you know that?” Asked Proctor.

1734. The yardman did not reply, but turned around in his chair displaying his face that looked like a roasted chestnut. He stood up and asked Proctor to start the car up. Proctor did as his was told, and opened the hood for good measure. The yardman stood by the side of the car with his head cocked to the side, and after a few moments asked Proctor to leave the car running and to open the trunk.
Richard Britell

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Proctor Cronk in Syracuse, parts 1727 - 1730

1727. Proctor was not interested in journalism, and he did not want to go to Syracuse University, but his father had wanted to be a journalist, and had dreamed of going to the university so he force fed the experience to his son by the method of economic starvation. Proctor was not the sort of man to strike out on his own in defiance of his father, and do what he longed to do, like for example study pottery out in the mid-west, or attend photography workshops with the masters.

1728. The problem with Proctor was he had none of those desires so he did what his father commanded him to do. He went to Syracuse University, driving his father’s old hand me down Plymouth sedan, the 1954 model.

1729. The car was a distinct disadvantage because he could find no good place to park it over night and the best student parking was even further from his classes than his rented room. He put the car up for sale but because of a knocking sound he got no offers. 

1730. After his third parking ticket he decided to junk the car expecting to get twenty-five dollars for it. He drove it to a scrap metal yard in the town of Chittenango and there he met one of those unusual men who spend their entire lives collecting junk and develop the most amazingly distorted personalities.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Coromo In New York, parts 1723 - 1726

1723. Aldo did not actually do the framing himself, he selected the stock and the mats for his clients and then farmed out the work to a framer who was a friend of his.

1724. It was at his framers that Aldo discovered and purchased the Coromo pictures for one hundred dollars each. The pictures were very transformed and even Coromo himself would not have recognized them at first. Other than changing the overall tint, the framer also changed the signature to a K from a C, so that a connection to the original Coromo would be more difficult.

1725. It was not these dark brown paintings that Coromo looked at on the Internet, but photographs taken by Tallulah that she posted to her blog, and then never got around to removing after she discarded the pictures. She took the pictures with her phone, so it was impossible to distinguish the signature, or the date.

1726. The question arises, how did Proctor Cronk realize that the paintings by Coromo at the resort where the same works as the ones he bought from Aldo? To answer that question we have to go back to the very first pictures Proctor Cronk ever purchased when he was a student at Syracuse University studying journalism in their world famous Journalism department.

Richard Britell
June , 17, 2013