Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My love of old contraptions is sparked, like the Hindenburg

     I was watching "American Pickers," and the boys came across an old "shave ice" machine—somewhere in the midwest, I think. It was manufactured in Japan and it sported an image of a Zeppelin, among other things. Pretty odd. Nobody on the show seemed to know much about it.
     The way the contraption works is this: a block of ice is positioned below the plate at the end of the screw. As one cranks the lower plate that spins the ice, one tightens the wheel above, forcing the ice slowly downward. A blade below the lower plate shaves the ice, depositing the shavings underneath.
     I did  a little research and came across the above image, which seems to match what Mike and Frank came across—I recalled the name "Tomitashiki" on the front of it.
     Evidently, "Tomitashiki" or "Tomita Siki" (see below) manufactured and sold these things pre-war. "Shave ice" treats, it seems, were made popular in the U.S. via Hawaii, which, as you know, has long had strong cultural connections with Japan.

Why a Zeppelin?
     I have learned nothing about the reason for displaying a Zeppelin on the machine. Obviously,  the Zeppelin company was German, and, ahem, the Germans and Japanese did seem to make connections in the late Thirties. Still, why display a blimp on an ice shaving machine? Maybe it was simply an iconic "modern" gismo of its time. (The Zeppelin's iconic status changed, of course, in 1937, when the Hindenburg crashed and burned. But that tragedy was more about the politics of fuels like hydrogen and helium than about the viability of dirigibles and the like.) (1929: Graf Zeppelin flies around the world. Stops in Japan.)
     I found an image of a similar model below.

     Very cool.

1 comment:

Erik Kitchens said...

My father has one that my grandparents brought back from Japan in the 60's