Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Noisy New Year!

When I was little, my parents always went out for New Year's Eve.  My brother would stay home and watch my sister and I (except for the year he told us not to kill ourselves and then left).  I usually made it until midnight, beating pots and pans together, but I was never still up when my parents got home.  Getting up the next morning, my sister and I always played with their hats and party noisemakers they would bring home with them.

A few years ago, I found some vintage metal noisemakers at a garage sale.  I love the graphics on these.






Upon closer inspection, I noticed inside that these had been made from recycled tin containers.  Most noticeably, one was an old Johnson & Johnson gauze bandage box:


This one had me baffled as it wasn't in English and had no noticeable graphics.  You really can't see much from this picture:


However, using a flashlight and looking further inside, I found the words "Peter Möller" and a picture of a girl thrusting a sword through a fish.  Googling Peter Möller, I found it was as cod liver oil company out of Norway.  The logo has changed slightly over the years.  No longer does the girl impale the fish, but rather now a ray of sun shines from a spoon in her hand:

As to why these were reused in the making of the noisemakers, I have a theory.  I would guess these were made in Japan and exported to the U.S. in the late 40's and early 50's. Being as devastated as Japan was following the war, they certainly would have needed bandages.  And according to a history of Moller's at their website, "After the war, medicinal cod liver oil retains its high status as an important dietary supplement in the “rebuilding" of the country. Cod liver oil becomes an 'emergency product in ravaged areas where the supply situation is difficult.'"

Medicines and bandages to heal the body converted to noisemakers to heal the economy.  That's a lot of history wrapped up in a simple noisemaker.

A Merry Mid-century Christmas Continued

Each year we cut our Christmas tree down the day (or a couple) after Thanksgiving.  This year was no different, except we chose a Norway Spruce instead of our usual Scotch Pine.  About a week before Christmas, I began hearing the sound of needles falling.  Usually, we don't have an issue with this, but either due to the different type of tree or the drought we've seen here in the midwest this past fall, it was raining spruce needles like a spring torrent.  When ornaments began to fall off the tree when the branches would no longer support them, we decided it was time for the tree to come down.  It was only the day after Christmas.  Normally, we leave the tree up at least until after New Year's Day, but there was no way.  So, my wife suggested we put up our aluminum tree.  The tree was my family's before I was born.  Here's a couple shots from December 1967.  I was 3 month's old.  That's me in the striped onesie:


Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Elf of the Shelf is Watching You!

This past fall, I found this in a box of 25 cent items.  At first, I passed on him, but then I went back.  Although I initially found him scary, his kitchiness won me over.  Although it was still prior to Halloween, I set him up on our shelf.
Then came the commercials for Elf on the Shelf.  I couldn't resist singing the song to my kids and replacing the lyric "...each and every Christmas" with the lyric, "...watching you be bad!"  The older kids found it funny, but my two youngest are sincerely disturbed by it.  They've become very distrustful of the elf.  It could be the cocky pose in which I've placed him.  He looks down arrogantly upon us.  "Why is he watching me?" my 2-year-old asked just a few minutes ago.  I explained the candy vs coal scenario after which she assured me she preferred candy.  My 5-year-old  despises him.  Freakish gnome, daring to rat him out to the big man. I can understand his hatred of the elf -- out of the family, he probably runs the highest risk of being reported .   If the elf ever disappears, I'll know who to blame.

As for the Elf of the Shelf website, it's unwieldly at best.  And it took a significant amount of time to dredge down to the reason for its existence (which oddly isn't explained in the commercials).  It's a promotion for a children's book which I haven't even seen in the book stores (and I was just in the children's section of a Barnes & Noble several days ago).

A Merry Mid-century Christmas

I've always loved the 50's, but somewhere along the line, I became obsessed with mid-century design and decoration.  My love of aluminum Christmas trees goes back to my childhood when we would set up my family's old artificial tree ,which had been replaced with a newer "natural" looking tree, in my bedroom.  It had a rotating base and color wheel.  I still have that tree and accessories and set it up each year in my basement.  But I found this tree at a garage sale a couple years ago and couldn't pass up the $4 price tag.  It's a little worse for wear, but not too bad.  I don't have a color wheel to go with this one -- I wonder how hard it would be to build one... 

Giddy Up!


I took a gamble on this one, but I figured if I couldn't sell it on eBay, my daughter would enjoy playing on it.  I paid $5 for it.

Made by The Wonder Products Company of Collierville, Tennessee, the first manufacturers of spring rocking horses.  They manufactured the Wonder Horse (and Wonder Pony which is what the model I bought was called) from the 1940's through the 1970's when they went out of business.

It was missing the handgrip, so I made a new one from a dowel rod.  Unfortunately, the size of the hole was between two of the available dowel rods Home Depot sold, so I bought the bigger one and sanded it down until it fit.  But, I didn't account for the thickness paint would add, so it ended up being an extremely tight fit when I went to insert it.  I can guarantee it won't come out.

The Wonder Pony is a smaller version of the Wonder Horse (naturally), so I think it's more collectible having a smaller footprint and fitting into a smaller area. We'll see, I have it listed this week on eBay.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Music to My Ears

Here's another item that blurs the line of garage sale.  Okay, it's completely out of focus.  I didn't get it from a garage sale.  A co-worker gave it to me because he knows I like vintage electronics -- and more importantly, he knows I like "free".  This came from his father-in-law who recently moved to a residential care facility.  It's a Magnavox:





The needle was broken, but while cleaning it up, I found a spare, brand new, still in the packaging.



It works great.  I'm not quite sure of the era, although I would guess late 60's to early 70's.   I reminds me a lot of my mother's (which she still has), but hers was clearly a '70's piece with a lot of plastic faux wood and scarlet red speaker grills. 

I've been enjoying listening to Herb Alpert, Perry Como, Nat King Cole and Dean Martin.  I try to keep the records in the same era as the player.  Just wouldn't seem right listening to Huey Lewis on this. 

It's current residence is my basement as I already have a 1940's console radio in the living room.  I'm looking forward to playing some of my Christmas albums while setting up my aluminum Christmas tree next month.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two Silver Spoons Together...

On my way to help move some furniture this afternoon, I saw a lone (and lonely) garage sale in Watertower Place subdivision on Telegraph Road.  An older woman appeared to be cleaning out her garage and had some things thrown out in boxes with no prices.  I saw a few loose silverware in one box.  We're hosting Thanksgiving this year, so I'm on the lookout for some serving spoons, etc.  After looking closer, what caught my interest was the writing on the spoons.  One said "1933 Century of Progress" which I recognized as a souvenir spoon from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.  The other said "Banner Buggies" and had a picture of a horse buggy in the bowl of the spoon.




She wanted $1 a piece, so I took them.  And before I left, she had me open a stubborn window for her in the garage.

Looking online (okay, eBay), these don't have a lot of value, but still interesting.  The World's Fair spoon features the Federal Building which housed the Navy exhibit featuring painted murals of the Navy's seafaring power throughout U. S. history.

I discovered the Banner Buggy spoon was an adverstisement for a St. Louis-based company that produced horse buggies from 1880 through 1910 and then began a foray into automobiles.  Initially proposing their own line of automobiles, they ended up producing car bodies for Cheverolet, then assembling whole vehicles before finally being acquired by them around 1917.   Russell Gardner, the owner of Banner Buggies before the buyout, went on to produce the Gardner Automobile in St. Louis which built automobiles through 1932.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When It Rains, It Storms...

You see what I mean?  I went out last Saturday and hit a few estate sales.  One was picked clean as it was in its second week and the items were down to one room.  But sitting in that room was yet another Kodak Carousel slide projector and 6 or 7 carousel wheels of slides.  Plus a screen.  The entire package was marked $5.  After quickly looking through the boxes, I determined they were indeed full of slides.  When I bought it, the man running the sale said the slides were commercial slides of places like Rome.  I was a little disappointed to hear that as I am always looking for vintage home life and travel shots.  He made a comment that he never understood how people could sell their family slides.  I nodded in agreement.

After taking them home and testing out the projector (it works), I put a tray in and watched.  I was happy to find they weren't commercial slides, but family slides from the early to late '60's.  Below is a sampling.  First up, Easter, 1963:



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Look for the Union Label

It's been a dry spell lately, I haven't hit the garage sales the last couple weekends, however, I did do something remotely garage sale related two weekends back.  My son is a Cub Scout and each Fall and Spring, the pack does a family camp out.  Typically, we stay at 1 of 2 local parks -- Jefferson Barracks or Mastondon State Park.  This time, we stayed at Teamsters Camp 688 in Pevely, Missouri.  It took a moment to register, but this is where brothers Bobby and Gary Bradshaw stayed, as detailed in a previous post.  I was a bit surprised at the almost elitist atmosphere -- afterall, aren't these union folks your hard-working, salt of the earth laborers?



A guard greeted us at the entrance and allowed us to proceed once she had taken down our information.  The first thing I saw was the waterpark:
People At Play

then the clubhouse



followed by the golf course:

Union Hills Golf Course

There's a large lake there below where we camped.  I can imagine Bobbie and Gary swam in that lake as part of their summer camp experience.

There was RV camping


but we camped amongst the trees



My son and I had a good time, lots of activities, campfire and nighttime hike.  But to quote Bobbie, we "messed" the family and was glad to be home again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

You Snooze, You Lose...

All too often, I've been taught this lesson.  I can't count the number of times I've arrived at a garage sale, just to have the person immediately in front of me scarf up the good stuff.  Vintage beer signs, vintage toys, you name it.

Saturday I slept in.  People are opening later, I justified as I layed in bed enjoying an extra hour's sleep.  Finally crawling out of bed, I sat and had some breakfast, read the paper, waited for the kids to wake up to see if they wanted to go garage saling with me.

I left the house at 9:30.  Becker Road in South St. Louis County is generally a bounty of garage sales and that morning was no exception.  Looking around at one sale, nothing in particular was catching my eye until I saw these two:

Now, I'm not a baseball fan, or even a sports fan, but I do like vintage sports.  I think I would have been a fan 50 years ago or more.  Plus, the toy factor had me.  I could imagine some kid lining these guys up for an imaginary inning.  They were obviously flawed, one missing a bat, the other missing his arms, but I asked how much.  50 cents for both.  Then the seller said, "Yeah, I had three others in perfect condition, but someone bought them earlier."  Oh well, would have been nice I thought.  I bought these two and brought them home.  The kids have been playing with them since.

Tonight I did a little research.  These were made by Hartland Plastics from 1958 to 1962 and were sold in Woolworth's stores.  I also found out who these guys were.  The player in the Braves uniform is Hank Aaron.  In the Giants uniform is Willie Mays.  In mint condition, they sell for $300 a piece.  Even missing a bat, Hank draws $150.  I couldn't find an example where a player was missing their arms, but I'm guessing that seriously lowers the value.  There was a 25th anniversary reissue in 1988, however, I learned those are marked 25th anniversary on their belt buckles which these definitely do not have.  Also, the cream-colored jersey is a giveaway, the new ones being much whiter.

To think about those 3 that got away, I see dollar signs flying out the window.  I know, it's kind of a glass half empty/half full situation.  I paid 50 cents for the two, and I might be able to sell one for $150.  Not a bad profit.  But I can't help but think about the one (or 3) that got away.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pumpkins on Parade

I've mentioned my toaster addiction.  Another is Halloween.  One facet of that is my plastic pumpkin collection.  I've always loved the cheap plastic Trick or Treat pumpkins and lighted blow mold decorations.  I've been fairly successful finding these at garage sales, not to mention lucky as they command some decent money online.  A lot of the manufacturers like Empire Plastics and General Foam have gone out of business.

My love for Trick or Treat pumpkins goes back to this one:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Carnival of Trademark Infringement -- and Humiliation

I picked these up separately.  The brown one last year and the white one just this past Saturday.


I'm pretty sure Charles Schulz didn't get any royalties from the use of Snoopy's image. 

The white one is marked "Made in Hong Kong" while the brown is unmarked.  I'm guessing these are from the 60's or early 70's.

I remember getting these at school carnivals growing up.  They were typically given out at the Duck Pond or as consolation prizes when you didn't pop a balloon or land a ring on a bottle.

My memories of carnivals bring both smiles and a little queasiness.

One memory I have is of a haunted house attraction when I was in second grade.  These were generally constructed from a semi trailer and packed with blacklit, neon-painted scenes, jets of air and sound effects.  This particular attraction had bars on the front like a jail so you could see the patrons entering.  Along that same area were sets of rollers that made it very difficult to walk.  I'm sure it was for the amusement of people watching.

I convinced my mom I was brave enough to go through, and she reluctantly allowed me to go.  I made my way past the rollers fairly easily, even laughing a little.  Then I entered the darkness.  I only remember entering the first room which had a scene of a coffin lit by green light.  Suddenly, someone jumped out from behind and screamed.  I didn't stick around to see who it was and ran out the way I came.  I distinctly remember crying and yelling my head off as I tried to run on those rollers, only to fall, get up, try to run again and fall yet again.  Even in second grade, I was humiliated.  To rub salt in my wounds, the carny refused to refund my money.  I later found out the person scaring people inside was my older brother's best friend.  Although this is much more elaborate, it is reminiscent of what I remember these haunted house attractions being like.

My second memory involves my 5th grade carnival. My first to which I took a girl. The object of my affections was Pam and I had pined for her since the 4th grade, an eternity at that age. We arrived around 10 in the morning on a bright clear-sky morning. I immediately went for the cotton candy, mistake number one. But how could I resist? It was a carnival! When else do you get cotton candy? My second mistake was I didn't eat anything else. How could I? I was full of cotton candy. Which, by the way, makes an excellent derogatory accusation: "Ah, you're fulla cotton candy!"

So Pam was a bit of a daredevil. She wanted only to ride The Octopus and the Ferris Wheel. I was a bit more reserved and would have been happy on those little motorcycles that stay firmly on the ground and go around in slow circles. But in a lesson learned in later years, the male of the species will do whatever it takes to appease the female. So I rode the Octopus and the Ferris Wheel alternating back and forth for at least a dozen times -- third mistake. Getting off the Octopus, I knew things weren't right, and I told Pam -- *begged* Pam, "Let me take a break." Her response was, "No, c'mon, let's do the Ferris wheel one more time." See above about the male of the species. So, I got on one more time -- final mistake. It was pure misery as we revolved around, up and down, coming over the top for that descent down. I got off and promptly began running. I made it to the grass and projectile-vomited pink fluid. I then ran into the cafeteria making a beeline for the bathrooms, more pink spewing onto the tiles of the cafeteria floor. I completed the task in the toilet of the boy's bathroom. Once again humiliated, I returned to Pam, knowing I was that much less in her eyes.

That Monday at school I overheard one boy talking to another about the carnival, "What was that pink goo on the cafeteria floor?" I knew, but I wasn't saying.

Friday, October 1, 2010

All Wound Up

Continuing my unveiling of objects obtained at last weekend's subdivision garage sale, I present the following. These both came from the same house. When I caught sight of the first, there was a person in front of me eyeing it, so I kind of crowded a little (okay, maybe a dirty technique, but it works, he moved on). At $2, I snatched it up. That's the after shot. When I got it, it was filthy and only worked with a little coaxing. I took it completely apart and cleaned and oiled it. I did the best I could straightening the bent bars. It's made in Japan. I'm not sure of the era. Those online I've found say "Occupied Japan". Mine is simply marked "Japan". It's entirely tin. Here it is in action (sorry for the poor quality video).


The other item from that sale is a bee hive mantle clock priced at $10. There's no manufacturer's marks anywhere (inside or out), but it closely resembles a cathedral mantle I have from my grandparents that was made by Ingraham in the 1920's.


It also needed a deep cleaning. The pendulum wouldn't stay running either. I took the clockwork out of the case and oiled everything. The case itself was covered in grease or wax and was black. Cleaning with Murphy's oil soap revealed the wood grain beneath.

I really enjoyed bringing these wind-up objects back to life. I was just reading in the weekend paper how clock repair is becoming a dying art as everyone has clocks on their computers, microwaves, iPhones, etc. Maybe something to pursue in my retirement years.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Okay, I admit it, I have a problem...

I guess it's more of an addiction than a problem, or possibly an addiction that results in problems. I can't resist toasters. Particularly chrome ones. I can't pass up a chrome toaster at a garage sale. Most homes only need one, but I have several. I came home with another one Saturday. One almost exactly like another I already have.




C'mon, it was only a $1! How can I pass that up. Logic goes out the window for $1.

It's a Sunbeam model T-35 manufactured around 1958. It has pressure sensitive toast slots -- put bread in and it goes down automatically. According to some research I found online, "toasting was not based on a timer, but on a thermostat that measured heat reflected (or radiated) from the surface of the bread, hence the 'Radiant Control' Moniker." Toasters were so much more high tech back then. Why don't they make automatic plunging toasters anymore?

Like I said, it's very similar to my other Sunbeam, a model T-20B which features a design said to be inspired by the Trylon and Perisphere symbols of the 1939 World's Fair in New York.



I also had a Sunbeam T-1-C from the 1930's:



Sadly, I sold this one on eBay. Later, I found that the same toaster appears in the movie A Christmas Story. Of course, then I wanted it back.

I also had a Toastmaster Super Deluxe that was also a pressure-sensitive toaster, but had clockwork gears inside it and made a fantastic sound when it went up and down. Unfortunately, one of the elements burned out on it and I had to let it go. I've been searching for one ever since.

We keep one of the toasters in our camper, a plain jane chrome GE. It's actually my wife's favorite toaster. Says it makes the best toast. Which brings me back to this latest toaster. When I took it to the garage sale host to buy, she reminisced that she had bought it because it reminded her of her grandmother's toaster and went on to say it just made better toast than newer models. Her husband found that funny, but I understood.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

C'mon Get Happy!

Today was another annual subdivision sale I like to attend. An older neighborhood near MacKenzie and Heege Road in Affton (or maybe it's Marlborough). I came away with some pretty cool items which I'll be profiling in the following days.

At one of the sales was a stack of record albums. Going through it, I noticed a Partridge Family record. I never really watched the show, I was a Brady Bunch fan. I always thought of those two shows having a Beatles/Rolling Stones rivalry. Or Munsters/Addams Family, if you wish.






Anyway, I flipped the album over just to see what was on it and found stuck inside the original plastic cover was a letter bearing a local television stations call letters, "KTVI Channel 2".

Reading the letter, I saw that it was a congratulatory letter from Johnnie Walters for the consolation prize for Dialing for Dollars.


I vaguely recall the show. It was during the afternoon movie on Channel 2. Basically, they would announce a number and the amount of the current prize, then draw a random phone number and dial it. If you knew the "count and the amount" you won the amount. Apparently, this person knew neither the count, nor the amount.

Doing some research about the show, I found that it was spoofed on SCTV with Harold Ramis playing "Moe Green", and though it was a syndicated show, apparently the parody was actually based on Johnnie Walters and the St. Louis show:



Besides this album, I came away with about 7 others along with what was holding all of the records:


Finally, a place to hold my albums. Unfortunately, this will only hold about a tenth of them...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours...Slide Projectors

It seems like whenever I finally buy something for which I've been looking a long time, I suddenly find it at every turn.

Walking through a local antique mall, I saw a slide projector in the box. Turns out it's a Carousel 800, just like the one I just bought a couple weeks back. It was priced at $6 ($2 less than I paid at the garage sale, I might add), but was also labeled "as is". I have found that "as is" always means "broke". It never means, "I'm not sure if this works or not." But, upon opening the box that holds the carousel, I discovered it contained slides. The box was marked "1970 Grand Canyon" and "Family". I looked at a few and most appeared to be scenery, but I also saw some vintage shots featuring the family. So I bought it, of course.

Opening it up at home and testing it, I found that it had a working bulb which was worth the $6 alone, but the carousel would not advance. Just makes that buzzing noise that says "stuck motor" and "I'm not going anywhere".

So I set the non-working projector aside and loaded up the carousel with the slides , just 7 short of filling my 80-slide carousel. As I had noted, most were of scenery in and around the Grand Canyon. Taken a full year the before the Brady's visited the Grand Canyon, there are some great shots of the family decked out in 70's attire -- a 30-ish couple and older relatives(?).

Excuse the quality of the photos, they're pictures taken of the projection -- I don't have a slide-capable scanner.

There's the obligatory shots from the road:


Note the St. Louis inspection sticker in the right lower corner of the window.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Carousel

When I was younger, I never understood slide people. By "slide", I'm referring to film slides. I recall them being the butt of jokes in tv shows where some unfortunate person(s) is/are forced to sit through a boring presentation of someone else's trip. For example, on the Simpsons when Patty and Selma show slides of their trip to the Yucatan ("And this is Selma dropping off our vacation film to be developed.")
But over the years I've grown to appreciate the vivid colors of those vintage slides through websites like Shorpy and Charles Phoenix's slide of week.
Being a vintage media collector (also known as "AV Geek"), collecting Regular and Super 8 film and cameras , 16mm film and cameras, splicers, etc, I've harbored the idea of owning a Kodak Carousel slide projector, even though I don't own a single slide.
The final episode of Season 1 of Mad Men (one of the few shows I follow), Don Draper makes an ad pitch to a couple of Kodak executives guiding them to a new name for what they call "The Wheel". Possibly the best scene of that season.  Sorry, since I originally posted this, the clip has been pulled from Youtube.  The scene can be summed up by the speech given by Don:
Nostalgia - it's delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, "nostalgia" literally means "the pain from an old wound." It's a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn't a spaceship, it's a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards... it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It's not called the wheel, it's called the carousel. It let's us travel the way a child travels - around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.
That episode secured my mania for a Kodak Carousel slide projector. Yesterday, I found one.
Once a year, the Canterbury Estates subdivision in Affton holds it's neighborhood garage sale the weekend afer Labor Day. It used to be in conjunction with the Saxon Manor subdivision just down the street, but a couple of years ago, Saxon Manor stopped having the sale. Ten years ago, the two together created a carnival atmosphere, with residents selling hot dogs, cotton candy and ice cream along with their worldly possessions. It was among the scant 20 garage sales this year, that I found my Kodak Carousel 800.






It appeared to work well, although it was missing the bulb. The seller, an elderly Asian woman, mentioned of how soon no one would remember how to operate these projectors and said , "Someone has to remember the past!" I told her, that was my hobby. She lowered her price to $8. I was thinking more like $5, but she and her husband seemed nice, so I agreed. When I got home, I bid on a replacement bulb for $1.99 on eBay.

One of the attachments that comes with it is a stack loader, which seems an odd accessory for a carousel projector. You're buying the projector, but dismissing it's main feature?



Also within the case was a hand-written list: "Attendance - July 26th". Unfortunately, no year. It lists 7 couples. I wonder if this was a list of friends who had seen the slides so as not to force them to sit through them twice.

I'm reminded of the words of Don Draper, "It's not a space ship, it's a time machine -- looks backwards, forwards... Takes us to a place where we ache to go again." After all, someone has to remember the past.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Halloween Comes Early

It's Labor Day weekend and the unofficial end of Summer. Something consistent I've noticed over the years about garage sales at this time of the year; it's generally the only time I find Halloween-related items. This weekend was no exception. I picked these up at various sales on Saturday.

Empire Plastics Lighted pumpkin on hay shock - 1967. I have one of these almost identical to this one, except the pumpkin is atop a black cat. That was also a garage sale find. I'll profile it in an upcoming post. I love the vintage blown plastic Halloween displays. I bought this one from an elderly lady (exactly 75, it was her birthday.) She said she was getting too old to put out her decorations. I told her I'd put them out for her.



Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Whatzit?




And now for our first installment of garage sale "whatzit?". I picked this up last summer. I liked the look of it, but I'm not sure what it is. My first thought was a planter because of the open space in the bowling ball. Or it could be an ashtray...



...but there's no slot for the cigarette to rest.



Coin tray? Paper weight? Pencil holder? What's your guess?


****UPDATE****

I saw this identical DRESSER ORGANIZER at TFA on Chippewa a couple weeks ago.  I'm taking their word for it.
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