I wouldn’t classify myself as a collector, but I do have a collection or two of vintage treasures I fancy. Most recently, I started a sentimental little collection of silverware from the Horn and Hardart automats from the early and mid-century. Although I never went to a Horn and Hardart restaurant, the name reminds me of my family and their stories of dining and working there. I would love collect a full set to replace my Ikea silverware.
My great-grandmother (born 1899) loved regaling me with stories about her life and the history she lived through. Not many topics fascinated me more than the crazy automat restaurants at which she dined (side note: I know that many grammarians say it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition, but it feels wrong to rebel against Mrs. Bosworth, my junior high grammar teacher.). I was obsessed with the idea of a restaurant filled wall to wall with vending machines from which you could procure hot food items for just a nickel a piece. That sounded like heaven to my seven year old brain.
Vintage Horn and Hardart Automat Postcard from Wikipedia. (I would love a set of those chairs.)
My grandmother was not my only source for Horn and Hardart stories. In the early 1950s my mom worked there, which meant I could interrogate her about all aspects about how this system of little windows and doors worked.
I love these photos of my mom and her Horn and Hardart automat co-workers posing on the roof.
My Horn and Hardart fascination only deepened when I discovered that my great-grandfather also worked there while conducting some family history research. Here’s a close-up of his death certificate naming Horn and Hardart as his employer. Also, if you look closely at the address at the bottom, you’ll see it says 3 Eva Court. This is the address where my great-grandparents lived and where I came up with the name for my blog.
Do you have any collections, sentimental or otherwise?