For those of you who missed it, I wrote a post last October on the J. Peterman Catalog and was surprised that many of you though it was "only a television thing" based on the recurring character, Mr. Peterman, on the hit sitcom Seinfeld.
In the real-life catalog, each item for sale (ranging from clothing to antique coffee grinders) is described in a literary blurb designed to create atmosphere.
Many of the blurbs are over the top and make for highly entertaining reading, especially if you add a British accent (don’t ask me why—the company is based in Lexington, KY, but an accent makes everything more fun, so pick your favorite one and have at it). Read them and you could learn a thing or two about setting scenes.
And if you're short on novel ideas, you might just get a handful from the catalog. Check out this advertisement for luggage:
Try looking in the attic first. You don't have one? Then it's time maybe to go to the secret barn. Somewhere there is one. And it's filled with everything.
Look…there under that huge pile of saddles and hats…it seems to be the hood of a car. Oh no. It's the Packard. It's the 12-cylinder Packard convertible somebody (Emily?) once drove across the country. The doors are locked.
…but inside the car seems to be stuffed with old clocks, framed oil paintings, a leopard skin, books, boots, brass fishing reels, stamp albums…
You can't take it all in. At the other end of the barn you notice a marble table, a beautiful slim-wheeled two-seat carriage, a stack of a dozen carved chairs, a leather trunk…it's all too much at once…
You trip on something. What is it? A leather suitcase of some kind. You lift it by its handles. It has old European hotel stickers on it. You grab it and practically run…you'll come back to the barn some other time…
In broad daylight you examine it. A beautiful, mellow old leather Gladstone. (That's what they used to call them.) Rather defiantly and ruggedly old-fashioned looking. Strong enough to go down the Nile, across the Alps, through the Canal, over the oceans, but still small enough to carry aboard a plane. A thing like this would cost a fortune these days…
Heirloom Gladstone Bag (No. 1006). Rich Brown full-grain cowhide, handsome but meant to be abused. Brass fittings throughout. Cloth-lined. Big enough to swallow a lot, but not too big: 9-1/2” wide x 18” long x 14” tall.
Click the links for more entertainment and an interesting selection of beautiful/handsome/eccentric items from around the world :)
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On another note, I’m taking a break from blogging next week due to traveling. Where, you ask? Perhaps the outskirts of moonlit Paris, or the deep jungles of Burma? I’m afraid not. I’ll be in Iowa, visiting my parents.
Until June, happy writing!