07-20-06: knapp electric

A few weeks ago on a Saturday during prime garage sale hours, I received this SMS from John:
OMGOMGOMGOMGscooooooooooooorewagwagwagwagwagwageeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeee   (Jul 1, 11:30am)

I eloquently replied with:
WTF? :-)   (Jul 1, 11:34am)

He responded with:
Translation: you will need to save a little space in your luggage. About...board game size. (Jul 1, 11:38am)

I was confused, but excited.  I lerves me nothing more than a surprise! 

When John and I finally had a moment to breathe on our trip to San Francisco a few weeks ago, the gift was bestowed upon me. 


I don't know how I've gone 35 years without ever having heard of Knapp ElectricKnapp Shoes, sure-- but not Knapp Electric.  John assured me that he's seen a zillion antique fans, lights and gadgets bearing the Knapp Electric brand.  Nutty!

Anyhoo, the Knapp Electric Questioner is an electric (not electronic, mind you) puzzle manufactured between 1928 and 1930.  To play, you match a question from the left side with its answer from the right side.  You select your answers by putting probes on corresponding pegs, and if the answer is correct you complete the circuit, which makes the buzzer sound.

The Question and Answer cards cover different topics: science ("An Evening with The Microscope"), history, Bible stories, U.S. state facts, country flags (the US flag only had 48 stars-- whee!), birds, and my favorite: Conundrums, which were just cheezy puns and jokes.

Being over 70 years old, most Knapp Electric Questioners remaining today come with very few question/answer cards.  However, this particular one had 45 cards, including one that had extra-super-awesomeness value.  Apparently you could make $5 if you created a new card and submitted it-- this is huge cash, considering a new Model A Ford cost around $300 in 1928.  In my stack of cards, there was an incomplete "conundrum" card handwritten by a Lillian Thomas of Hoosick Falls, NY.  I gasped when I found that in there... how amazing!  Some of her jokes:

Q: What is round on both ends and high in the middle?
A: Ohio!

Q: What has four wheels and flies?
A: A garbage wagon!

Q: Which is correct: 5 and 6 is 12, or 5 and 6 are 12? 
A:  Neither! 5 and 6 is 11!

Hardy har har!  Oh that Lillian, quite the knee-slapper she was.  :-)

Also fun: On the inside cover (under the spare cards), there are instructions which describe how to insert "the cell" which we now know is a D Battery.  Of course, D batteries weren't called D batteries back then, and apparently they also weren't too easy to come by.  The instructions on the box say (paraphrased), "If your dealer does not carry these cells, you can order them directly from us for twenty cents."

For more info on this gadget, go here.

Anyhoo, this weekend I brought it up to my folks' house to show my dad.  He went nuts-- he'd also never heard of Knapp Electric, but he was totally blown away by this thing's coolth.  We hooked it up and played with it for a long time, just giddy from the geekitude, and perhaps a little high from the strangely-comforting musty smell. 

The rest of the family came over that night (sans ) and I showed it to Mindy and Molly.  We were all totally mesmerized and couldn't stop playing with it.  I chose not to show it to the two youngest kids-- I just didn't want them to be rough with it, or worse, to play with it when they were bored and nobody was around to supervise them. 

For safekeeping, I left it at my folks' place since I'm in the process of getting some new furniture and moving things around my apartment a bit.  Flat surfaces are at a premium in my place right now, so, do the math...

Besides, something tells me I'll find my dad keeping it company.  :-)

Fortune Teller Miracle Fish today tells me that I am: In Love.   There just might be some truth to that. :-)