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.
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