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Monthly Archives: March 2023

“More real than real”

In the YCMTSU Department [“You can’t make this shit up”], a friend of the project recently called to our attention a postcard offering on the Online Auction Site that Dare Not Speak Its name: the RPPC view of an urban fire.

I’d seen this image some time ago and was intrigued by the event; urban fires have been a fact of municipal life and surely Agincourt had been touched by at least one. A firefighter was still pumping water on the smoldering semi-ruin. At least part of the signage was still visible — “…N & ERBE MFG. CO.” — and turned out to be the Chicago office-showroom of Yawman & Erbe, manufacturer of office and library furnishings at the turn of the last century. I thought immediately that they would have manufactured cabinetry for the public library project of 1915, so I cribbed the image and wrote a brief entry.

Then, yesterday, Mr Johnson called to my attention a listing on eBay for another copy of that card — it’s relatively easy to tell one RPPC from another “identical” card — a listing that identified the image as “Agincourt Iowa”! Now we’ve been known to play fast and loose with history but never imagined that one of the project’s many fictions would enter the realm of fact. The slight guilt I feel encourages me to buy the damned card. Whaduya think?


“Does this bus go to Duluth?”

The reply to that query (during my high school years) was, “No, this bus goes beep-beep.”

The 34th annual Lake Superior Design Retreat, a two-day creative cross-pollination among various design types, took place at Fitger’s Inn on the Duluth lakefront. You can read about it here and plan to attend in 2024. You’ll thank me. This year I shared the Agincourt experience with ninety folks, in fifteen-minutes “commercial breaks” scattered among the other five presenters. Agincourt was conceived during a commercial break, so there’s a measure of justice here.

It’s difficult enough to encapsulate a seventeen-year effort in seventy-five minutes. Try parsing that into five bitesized chunks. By the fourth installment, I’d nearly figured it out and number five took a form that should have shaped the other four. Better late than not at all.

I’ll do better next time. But this opportunity has been more beneficial than I could have imagined.