Looking for Retro Kitsch in Somerville NJ

On my way out of S. Deerfield, I stopped by the cafe at 8 to pick up a cup to go. Seeing only one car in the parking lot, I groaned, oh no, no, not again! But yes another call-out, so I had to rescue my lone employee facing a long line of thirsty coffee drinkers. After some calls and some time making bagels, things were in better shape so Cindy and I could get on the road to New Jersey.

It’s always a pleasure to come back to the house where I grew up. But getting here was not a pleasure; bumper-to-bumper on I-95 with trucks crowding in and a frustratingly slow pace. Our mission was to explore the town of Somerville NJ before heading to the homestead. Cindy wanted to find retro kitchen furniture and other 1960s stuff for her California ranch.

We drove down Somerville’s main drag and did find an emporium of such things. There were stalls and stalls of kitsch, with vintage clothing, musical instruments and, well, junk. I spent some time reading (!) an old 1963 copy of ‘Archie’ which was a predecessor to Playboy, and then we poked around at various assemblages of pins, 1960s food containers, and hundreds of other knick knacks on display. Passing by a plastic Jim Beam decanter in the shape of a pick-up truck priced at $48, I had to wonder who buys this kind of thing? All over there were signs warning us not to shoplift, I guess that’s a problem in this town.

Somerville has three such emporiums where people can find Mid-century artifacts and I liked how the town promoted itself with a uniform logo using brochures, maps and a listing of all that tourists can find there. They even had a billboard on 206 that matched the colors of the hand-out map. We rounded the corner and found more vintage clothing and what I’d call ‘modern antiques’ before heading back down the road to visit the parents.

Tomorrow we’ll visit cousin Chris and his wife Susan’s menagerie on their farm in Washington NJ where baby donkies, puppies, pigs and dozens of other animals live, waiting for their turn in front of the camera. Cousin Chris is known as Tucker the Animal Trainer, his animals are seen on Saturday Night Live and in dozens of movies made in the NY area.