Sunbury, Ohio is a painfully cute little town very near Westerville, Ohio, where I grew up. As a kid, back when Westerville was a sleepy, isolated village of 15,000, I used to ride my bicycle out the back roads and up to the sleepier, more isolated Sunbury -- there used to be a great little donut shop on the square for breakfast. Most times you could make it half the way there without seeing a car on the road.
I like to think I'm too young to sound this old, but I barely recognize much of the area anymore. In a few short years, suburban sprawl has gobbled up my beloved Westerville. Most of the roads around town have grown from two lanes to four (too dangerous for most cars, let alone a bicycle), and even the zip codes have grown from one to two -- in a town that had a post office no bigger than my living room when I was growing up.
But Sunbury, just a few miles up the road, has somehow managed to survive relatively unscathed. Sure, there's been change and development, but most of it has happened outside of town, out where State Routes 3 and 37 intersect. The town square still looks much the same as it did thirty years ago, and the houses within walking distance are mostly from the last half of the nineteenth century, with just a few built later than 1920 or so. The only change has been some of the old houses have been impeccably renovated, doubtless to suit the tastes of Columbus refugees who slipped into town quietly, seeking a simpler life.
Three times a year, for as long as I can remember -- Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day -- Sunbury has held an antiques show/flea market on the town square. Rain or shine, hot or cold, the spacious lawn that surrounds the old town hall (still the tallest building in town, if you don't count the lumber mill south of the square) becomes a city of canopies, tables and showcases. Some of it looks like the contents of someone's garage. Lately, there's been a disturbing increase in vendors of Asian knock-off purses, clothing and sunglasses. But there's also some pretty nice stuff, plenty to provide a day's entertainment if nothing else.
So three times a year, for as long as I can remember, I've made a pilgrimage to Sunbury. Janet and I met almost eight years ago, and she'd never been there before we met, but from our first Memorial Day together on, she's been right there with me. She even says, if we ever decided to move closer to Columbus for work, that Sunbury is where she'd like to live. That says a lot, coming from someone who has lived her entire life in Newark!
Last weekend was our Memorial Day visit to Sunbury, and it was a test of endurance. With near-record temperatures and bright sun for most of the day, getting through the show required both a snow cone and a large lemon shake-up!
I'll be doing an article later about the interesting Dur-O-Lites I found at the show. Here's the other things I found:
At the top is a first-generation Ronson Penciliter, with the plain black lower section. For some reason, the black one has evaded me -- I don't know whether it's because they are truly more rare, or whether I just haven't been at the right place at the right time before, but the planets lined up for me and I brought this one home. The seller was trying to convince me that it's in the original box, but since it's unmarked I'm not convinced the box really goes with it. It does look nice with it, though.
All the first generation Penciliters I've found have the same chasing on the upper barrel, and all of the imprints are identical to what I've already found.
The gold pencil is an early Parker "Lucky Lock" pencil. The "Lucky Lock" feature was nothing more than the way the top locked onto the top of the pencil. To remove it, push inwards and twist counterclockwise (looking at it from the top), and it should pop up about an eighth of an inch -- then you can simply pull the top off to access the extra leads:
Many of these are broken or jammed, and it's Parker's fault. See, Parker quickly abandoned the Lucky Lock feature in favor of a bell that simply pulls off. But if you attempt to pull a Lucky Lock top straight off, you'll either shear off the two tiny tabs that hold it in place or cause the tabs to wedge tightly inside the cap, leaving little hope that it will ever be removed again. I'm sure many of these met their demise after someone assumed that the bell pulled straight off. This one, however, is in perfect shape:
The barrel is completely dent-free, there's absolutely no brassing, and it has a great chased pattern that calls to mind the later "squiggle line" Parker 51 caps:
Last, this little Scripto was in a junk box for a buck or two. I actually thought the barrel was wood, because it was completely opaque, but after a bit of sanding and polishing, it turns out the surface of the plastic was just badly degraded. I haven't got it completely cleaned up, but it's a lot better than it was:
Nothing that I found was really spectacular, just a different color of this, another variety of that -- although the Dur-O-Lites I found are a neat story. In the past I have found some spectacular things in Sunbury, but most of the time I'm just enjoying being there. As always, we had a beer and lunch at what was a greasy spoon on the east side of the square (it's a bit yuppier now and called the Firehouse Tavern), we visited the antique mall on the south side of the square (it appeared to have about the same stuff that was there last year), and we parked our car at the Cellar Lumber lot south of town, where the parking is monitored by the local Boy Scout Troop that works for donations (as always, we gave them a fiver).
And come Fourth of July, we'll do it again. And we'll love every minute of it. Any guesses what I'll be doing on Labor Day?