Tuesday, October 09, 2012
  Peculiar postwar phenomena

Polistra has mentioned the little Crosley before. It was built from 1939 through 1952, and became popular during the peculiar postwar period when Detroit couldn't keep up with demand. Crosley was a primitive and tiny car, but it was made by an appliance company and didn't depend on the usual channels of supply. In that era of rationing, reconversion and inflation, Crosley had one big advantage: it was available and affordable.

Every time I see a picture of a Crosley, I taste popsicles.

Here's the connection: In the summer of 1954 my father was working on a degree at OU, and as a veteran he was entitled to rent a cottage in another peculiar postwar phenomenon called Sooner City. This was a jam-packed development of primitive and tiny houses called Homettes, prefabbed in Texas and shipped to various government housing projects. The basic Homette was 16 x 16 feet, with a kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom. Most of the units in Sooner City were actually 'doubles', as you can see here...



Nearly all the veteran couples had small kids, so an ice cream man found it profitable to circulate constantly in Sooner City. He had a '52 Crosley station wagon with a little propeller on the front and a refrigerated box in the rear. He'd pull a Popsicle or Dreamsicle from the box, and I'd pay him a nickel and enjoy the rest of the day.

...Those were powerful nickels, weren't they? Created enough joy to last a lifetime.



= = = = =

Sooner City was demolished in 1966, and later another peculiar phenomenon was built in its place: a conference center called OCCE.

This Googlestreet is roughly the same position as the 1946 view above, looking into OCCE.


In the late '70s I worked nights at OCCE, which was basically a sort of deluxe motel for people attending various conferences at OU. A good cushy job with some bookkeeping and some checkouts and checkins, but mainly time for studying. Unfortunately, though it was in the exact same location as Sooner City, there were no Crosleys and no Dreamsicles.

= = = = =

Later artistic note for Poser types: I've refined and released the Homette, with an interior and some furnishings. ShareCG here. I doubt that I'll release the Crosley; not happy with the shape of the model.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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