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The Cardboard Valise by Ben Katchor
Cast Away on the Letter A by Fred
Cherries and Cherry Pits by Vera B. Williams
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Diners, Bowling Alleys, And Trailer Parks by Andrew Hurley
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Comments for Diners, Bowling Alleys, And Trailer Parks

Diners, Bowling Alleys, And Trailer Parks: 03/18/15

cover art

Diners, Bowling Alleys, And Trailer Parks by Andrew Hurley is a history of three recent American cultural icons. Each section is approximately one hundred pages.

The section on diners first outlines the definition of the classic diner — a portable (like an old Air Stream trailer), prefab building designed for providing an easy to set up restaurant in otherwise hard to reach areas (say just outside of a factory, or off a major highway). It then outlines their history and rise and fall in popularity.

The most interesting part of the diner section, though, was the discussion on diners being an east of the Mississippi thing (with a few making it to the Rockies). West of the Rockies were instead influenced by Los Angeles's contribution — the drive-in and drive-thru, with the drive-thru ultimately winning out (for the most part).

The trailer park section I mostly skimmed. The idea behind the trailer park was basically an extension of the diner idea — making ownership of a building more plausible by keeping the cost down through the use of prefab and by separating the ownership of the land from the building. Much of the manufacturing lessons learned from pre-fabbing the diners were applied to the trailer homes. While diners are pretty much a thing of the past, trailer homes have found a solid niche through out the nation.

The section, though, that I chose the book for was the on bowling alleys. In 2011 my family and I took up bowling. There's a local alley from the 1950s heyday of bowling, a rare survivor of the massive closures that happened in the 1990s when the companies that run most of these bowling alleys tried to introduce bowling into Asia.

The book, though, includes history from the days when bowling was a ninepin game (instead of ten) and how the tenth pin was added to get around anti-gambling laws. There's information on the inclusion of women, and later children in the game and how automation was part of the push to "clean up" the game and make it more family friendly.

Three stars

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