Historic Jersey Diner Available. Price: $0

According to Preservation New Jersey (www.preservationnj.org) a classic New Jersey diner on Route 1 in Lawrence Township (near Princeton) is available free to whoever will dismantle it and remove it from the site. The building is a relatively rare surviving example of a diner manufactured by the Mountain View Company of Singac (Little Falls) New Jersey which fabricated diners from 1939 to 1957. The site has been approved for redevelopment. An article regarding the redevelopment proposal is here: http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2012/04/mrs_g_has_big_changes_in_store.html

From the article:
“… concerns have been raised about the future of the diner, a steel structure on white masonry that is surrounded by tall weeds and is a picture of neglect. In Lawrence it was known as Ben’s Diner in the 1970s and early ’80s. It was called the Cass Diner back in the ’60s, and before that it was the Calhoun Diner, a name it took from the street in Trenton where it was originally housed.

The diner would be removed or demolished during the construction. No definite plans have been set, according to a spokeswoman for Schaeffer. “Preservation is on the table,” said Hilary Morris. Schaeffer’s late grandmother, Beatrice Greenberg, the appliance store’s namesake, had always liked the diner and wanted to preserve it, Morris said.

“It’s something that’s important for her to preserve. We’re in discussions with the developer,” Morris said.”

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Photo source: nj.com (http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2012/04/mrs_g_has_big_changes_in_store.html)

On Open Public Records and Public History

An interesting post here about one historian’s experience trying to get permission to take digital photos of public documents from the 1890s:

“My request to take flash-free digital photos was rebuffed despite my explanation that it would be better for the aging documents than forcing them flat against a copier’s glass platen and then closing the machine’s cover.”

The Name of the Sword

Glamdring, Andúril, Sting. Some weapons have names. Beowulf used the sword Hrunting, King Arthur had Excalibur, and of course the hammer of Thor is Mjölnir. In The Spirit of the Sword and Spear (Cambridge Archaeological Journal 23(1):55-67), Mark Pearce references the named weapons of myth and history to argue that swords and spears can have individual identities, and thus, potentially, biographies. As he says, “I do not mean to argue that prehistoric weapons were regarded as equivalent to humans, but rather that they had some sort of spiritual persona…with its own specific agency, believed to have its own intention and volition. This might have been perceived as some sort of in-dwelling spirit.” (p. 55)

 From these named weapons, he attempts to look farther back in time to ascertain whether swords and other weapons from the Iron Age of Europe also were assigned identities. There are, in fact, at least two Iron Age swords with names stamped onto their blades, although the names could belong to the sword, the owner, or the blacksmith.

 More common are swords and spears that have faces (or geometric designs that could be interpreted as faces), which, Pearce argues, may also indicate that they were given an identity. He is aware that “It is dangerous to use analogies from myth to reconstruct prehistoric reality” (p. 64) and “it is certainly true that human beings have a tendency to interpret unstructured visual stimuli in meaningful ways”  and “It might be easy to over-interpret stimuli that may seem to depict faces.” (p. 62)

 Against these statements, he can muster only a weak defense: “But when looking at the spearheads and swords illustrated in this article, the faces are very striking… It is clearly impossible to demonstrate conclusively that faces are meant, but it does seem evident.” (p. 62)

 It does not help that “in some cases the decoration tends towards the abstract and can be recognized as indicating a face only by reference to, and comparison with, the more figurative examples.” (p. 62)

Yet his main idea is intriguing. Perhaps a less descriptive and more analytical approach would produce stronger results.

 The article is open access and available to download at the Cambridge Archaeological Journal.