Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A Toast to the Sunbeam T-20A

I recently told of my estate sale quest for a toaster, so I won't repeat that, but I'll give a little background on why I was obsessed with my mission that day.

For one thing, I've been obsessed with vintage toasters for a long time.  I've owned many different models over the years and it's always fascinated how many variations there can be for the same simple task of toasting bread.

I've previously owned a couple different Sunbeam models that featured automatic lowering and raising and radiant control including the model T20-B and T35.  Over the years, my toasters have come and gone, either due to selling them or them simply wearing out.  It was easier letting go of toasters back then as no one was interested in them and were easily found for $1 at sales.  Times have changed.

When I saw this ad in the December 1951 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, I knew I had to own one again.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Escape to Christmas

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate today.  And even if you don't celebrate, I think you'd still enjoy a visit to The Escape Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale for a Christmas dinner, circa 1950's. All for the paltry sum of $3.50. Bon Appetit!

Friday, December 24, 2021

Home For Christmas

When I was a kid, aside from the magical appearance of the Sears and J. C. Penney Christmas catalogs in our mailbox, nothing signaled the oncoming of Christmas more than the appearance of commercials promoting record album collections of Christmas music from K-Tel, Reader's Digest and Time-Life.

One particular album that fascinated me was the 1977 "Home For Christmas" album.

It wasn't the song content that fascinated me, although I loved Christmas songs, it was the pop-up interior.  The commercial boasted it was a "wonderful, unique decoration for under the tree, or as a holiday centerpiece" while songs by Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Johnny Mathis, Ray Conniff and Mahalia Jackson played in the background.  

We never mailed away for things when I was a kid.  Plus my mom already had her staple of Christmas albums from A&P and Firestone she played while we decorated the Christmas tree.  So I never had this album or its pop-up house.  Until this summer when I found it at a garage sale.

I was already familiar with the cover, so I'd kept an eye out for it at sales for years.  I'd come across it before, but the interior was always missing.  Then I found this one in mint condition.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Uncanny Finds -- Christmas Edition

I've previously blogged this can, but it's been nearly 10 years, so it deserves another look.

This can of powdered A&P Egg Nog was still about 3/4 full when I found it, hinting at its potability.  "A Sterilized Product".  Thank God it can't reproduce.


Mary with Santa

 This past summer, I came across this vintage Real Photo Postcard of a young girl with Santa Claus.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Saving Life Savers

I'll be the first to admit I've come across some weird things at sales.  I'll even admit to buying some of those weird things.  This is one of them.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Angels We Have Heard on High

I've been very lax about publishing any Christmas content this season (I know, big surprise), but I'm off this week, so hopefully I can give you some last minute presents.

Today I'll show you some Christmas angels I've bought over the past year.

Up first is this Timco light-up angel from the 1950's or '60's. It was made in Japan.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Jet O Matic Brewing

Yesterday was a particularly good estate saling day, and it happened all at one home.

It began with my weekly perusing of the listings on There weren't many sales in my area, but one was particularly close and while looking through the posted photos, I saw this:

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Saturday Evening (Christmas Blog) Post

It's been a while since I posted a magazine, but this one had so many great ads and Christmas ones to boot, so here it is.  I picked this magazine up at an estate sale over the summer.  It has a lot of issues, not the least of which is the red ink bled through most of the ads.  But they're still fun to look at.  And of course with the ads come my poor attempt at humor.  Please bear with me.

And so, here it is, from December 8th, 1951, The Saturday Evening Post (ads only).

Cover art by John Falter who did a number of covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Let's Get this Christmas Thing Going

I know you've been asking, where's Tom been lately?

Okay, you probably weren't asking that, but I'm back after a mostly on-hiatus November.

Let's kick off the Christmas season with a few finds from the past year (and there were a lot of them).

Up first are these 3 "melted plastic popcorn" decorations.  They're actually called "Glitter Plaques".  They date from the 1970's.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thankgiving to my readers in the United States.  I thought I'd share some of my Thanksgiving-related finds from over the years.  No special story behind these, just things I liked and now use.  First up are some honeycomb decorations.  We had a Hallmark honeycomb turkey when I was a kid. It was our sole Thanksgiving decoration.  My sister and I would fight over assembling it.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Ghost at the Window: A Review

Last month during the Countdown to Halloween, I presented a handful of young adult books with a haunting theme and asked my readers to vote for one which  I would then review.

Well, after a whopping 3 votes (each for a different book), it was clear I would need to flip a coin.

And the winner is...Lady M with "Ghost at the Window"!

Monday, November 1, 2021

Halloween 2021 Post-Mortem

Well, Halloween 2021 is permanently written.  No more decorating, just deconstruction.  My last Countdown to Halloween post has been posted (well, technically, this is the last).

Once again, I was able to dig up enough material for 31 days of fun, I hope you enjoyed. I'd say it seems like it gets harder every year, but to be honest, this year, though daunting at first, seemed like a breeze.

And that's how the month passed, with a breeze.  Here we are on November 1st and I'm posting my traditional post-mortem (By the way, that would make a great rival breakfast cereal for General Mills' Monster cereals:  Post Mortems).

So let's now look at how Garage Sale Finds (known as Stranger Finds this time of year) did this past month.

Total views for this month were 11,042.  Of course, it doesn't mean all of those were for the month of October posts.  It was a few thousand over an average month though, so the Countdown does definitely boost readership, if slightly.  Overall, readership has been lackluster, simply due to the severe decline in blog reading in general.  Most people turn to YouTube channels now for this form of entertainment.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Trick 'n Treat!

Well this is it, the night of nights.  31 days of preparation have all lead up to this.  And we know what "this" is.  It's all about "Trick or Treating".  Or is it "Trick-r-Treating".  Or is it "Tricker Treating".  Or is it "Trick 'n Treating" as these die cuts say.  Either way, it's all about the candy.  Grab your bucket and let's all walk up to the haunted house.

This set of Trick 'n Treaters was created by Peck in the 1970's.  The question the children should be asking is, are the ghosts tricking or are they treating?

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Baron Weirwulf's Haunted Library

I would be remiss if I neglected to post at least one horror comic this season.  And while this 1979 issue of Charlton Comics' Haunted  may be a bit tame by the classic 1950's horror comics standards, I offer it in the spirit of the season nonetheless. I don't have much to add to these pages and honestly, I'm running so far behind on decorations this season due to weather and work, I need all the time I can get to prepare for the big day.  So enjoy and tune in tomorrow for the final installment of The Countdown to Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Monster Mask Memories

Sometime around Thursday of the week, I'll begin perusing the upcoming sales on If something catches my eye, I'll make note of it.  Typically, there isn't much that will get me to a sale before it opens. I've gotten to the point where waiting in line for an hour isn't worth whatever I'm going for.  I try to hit sales at least an hour after the open when the lines are gone and hope to find something others have missed.

When I saw these two masks on the site for a sale a couple weeks ago, I reconsidered my approach.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Magik Revisited

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a magician.  I asked for, and received, the Presto Magic kits with standard illusions and tricks such as the Multiplying Spots, Penetrating Vision, the Endless Water Vase, the Bullet trick and the Ball and Vase trick.  I learned to do the tricks, and learned others pouring over the included Adams' 101 Magic Tricks booklet and other magic books I bought from the Scholastic flyer, but they were all simple and most people knew how they worked.  I could never afford the professional magic tricks sold in dedicated magic shops.  I continued to pick up magic sets at sales over the years, but of course, I never became a magician.

This summer, my family vacationed in the Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  As a surprise, my wife booked a visit to Evanswood Magic Mansion.  I had seen a Youtube video by Jacob the Carpetbagger doing a tour of The Magic Mansion and had mentioned to her it would be cool to see in person. The day before we left, my wife presented me with the tickets (well, at least an email with digital tickets).

The night of the tour, we pulled up to the house silouetted in darkness.  Well, actually, the tour started at 7:00 p.m. and it was still light out, but "silouetted in darkness" sounds better.  Below is a photo I took when we left.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Blinky Lite Bonanza

Years ago, 6 to be exact, I blogged about these Blinky Jack O' Lantern flashlights.  These are fairly common and date from the late 1980's and up. Simply twist the top and they light.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Games for Hallowe'en

I was fairly gob-smacked, or perhaps even "goblin-smacked" given the season, when I found this 1912 edition of "Games for Hallowe'en" sitting on a bookshelf at an estate sale.  It was laying flat, so clearly someone had already seen it and passed it over.  We're coming down the wire to the big day.  Maybe this book will help with your plans.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Traumatic Balloon Stories

While ephemera is generally considered to be items made from paper, the actual definition is "things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time".  I think we can agree balloons fall under this definition.

I found these vintage Halloween balloons at a recent garage sale. Based on their designs, I'd place them no later than the 1970's.  

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Dennisons to Die For

A couple more treasures I found at the flea market last year (same lady again) were these two large die cuts.  Each measures 16" across.  These are both made by Dennison and date from the 1950's or '60's.  Way back in 2015, I blogged about some place cards that had this same design.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

A Grave Die Cut

I bought this skeleton die cut from the same woman at the flea market where I found yesterday's blogged items.  This die cut is make by Eureka and probably dates from the 1960's or '70's.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Grocery Store Halloween Displays

I went to a flea market late season last year (just before Halloween) and happened upon a woman selling a lot of vintage Halloween paper items.

I ended up buying quite a few items from her including some original 1960's or '70's grocery store display pieces.

First up is this Jack O' Lantern.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

When Horror Pops Up

When I was a kids, my grandparents bought me a Western pop up book. Full of pull-tab gun fights and pop up ghost towns, the mechanics of it fascinated me.

This "Classic Tales of Horror" Pop-up book published in 1988 was after my time, but I would have been all over it as a kid.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Gurley Bleeding Skull Candles

I've written about Gurley candles in previous years' posts, here and here.  One of the harder to find, not to mention perhaps a bit more controversial candle were their bleeding skull candles.

I found this one, already burned and bled at a garage sale about a month ago. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Book Me

I've written before about my penchant for children's literature.  Reading children's books is a small investment of time and thought and brings back memories of the books of my youth.

I went to a garage sale about a month ago that had boxes and boxes of library books for sale.  After talking with the seller, he explained he and his wife were at an auction and thought they were bidding on 1 box of children's books only to discover after they won it was actually 17 boxes.  They picked out the books they wanted for their children and were selling the rest.

I dug through and grabbed every haunted house and ghost story I could find.

While these books are considerably after my time, I thought I'd give them a chance.

Here's where you come in.  View the cover and read the synopsis of the books below and tell me which book I should read first.  By the way, it wasn't until I scanned these books that I discovered 3 were written by the same author, Betty Ren Wright who specialized in ghost stories.

I'll read the winning book and write a review of it, hopefully by Halloween.

"A Ghost in the House" Betty Ren Wright 1991

Collegeville Cape

Dracula would be hard pressed to sneak up on anyone in this vinyl cape by Collegeville. This vinyl cape swishes like corduroy pants.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Phantom Phind

At the same sale where I found the paranormal fiction (or are they) books a couple years ago, I found this 1911 first edition of "The Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Fuzzy Peck

These two flocked felines are frolicking playfully on a Jack O' Lantern who appears to be none to happy about the situation.  Watch those claws!

This die cut was produced by Peck in the 1970's and was previously seen a Halloween post I did in 2017 where it appeared on a wall behind Fonzie in the "Happy Days" episode "Haunted".

As mentioned, the cats are flocked in a black velvet, a die cut feature exclusive, to my knowledge, to Peck.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Candy Stoppers

These two candy stoppers (or toppers if you prefer) likely came stuck into one of those clear tubes filled with the knock-off M&M candies.  These date from the 1970's.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Heads Will Roll

Back in 2016 during that year's Countdown, I posted this find.  It was a small plastic bust of Frankenstein('s monster) that was a premium in Post Super Sugar Crisp cereal.  This summer, I came across another:

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Are You Out of Your Gourd?

These two gourd-heads remind me of the anthropomorphic vegetable people that were once associated with Halloween.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Tale of Two Witches

I was at a garage sale over summer where I saw this ceramic piece.  It initially struck me as a newer piece, but the paint and jeweled eyes of the cat intrigued me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Werewolves of London

This Wolfman die cut isn't terribly old.  He probably dates from the 80's or maybe even later.  But I like his style.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Everybody Loves a Lantern, So Why Don't You?

 I found two of these unassuming flat discs in a lot of newer Halloween decorations.  Unassuming, but I recognized what they were right away.

They were marked "Made in Japan" and that was enough for me right there.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Bat Jiggler

 I've found a plethora of these bat jigglers over the years.  They seem to be one of the most common Halloween decorations.  And I can't resist them.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Honeycomb Pumpkin

My earliest memories of honeycomb holiday decorations are of the Hallmark Thanksgiving Turkey my mom would put out as a centerpiece on our dining room table.  My sister and I would fight over who got to assemble it.  We didn't have any Halloween decorations outside of my own drawings and school art projects.

It wouldn't be until as an adult I began collecting vintage Halloween I would discover how many different honeycomb Halloween decorations were produced.  I'll be showing some of those I found over the past year in upcoming posts.  Today, we'll start with the old reliable pumpkin.  "25" is stamped on this particular pumpkin reflecting the original price of a quarter.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Fosta Funglasses

 I found a pair of Fosta Funglasses back in 2015 and blogged about them during that year's Countdown to Halloween.

This past summer, I found this pair sitting amongst a bucket of modern Halloween decorations.  It was late in the day and I was surprised no one had discovered them.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Witch Diecut with (some) Crepe Hair

Another die cut from the lot I bought at this estate sale is this Beistle witch.  She probably dates from the 1960's.  

She too suffers from the years with creases and hair loss.  Pretty much like myself.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Like Finding a Pumpkin in a Haystack

Way back in 2010 when I began this blog, one of my earliest posts was about some Halloween-related finds (posted exactly 11 years ago).  This was back before I participated in the Countdown to Halloween or even knew it existed (actually, I'm not sure how many years it's been around).  Anyway, way back then, I blogged about a Jack O' Lantern blow mold.  This year, I found another just like it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Mystical Mazes

For a while when I was in high school, I was obsessed with mazes.  Not life-sized ones like those corn mazes that are all the rage this time of year; the smaller ones on paper.  I even created my own during Social Studies class (when I should have been paying attention).

This book published by Xerox in 1977 offers a ghoulish assortment of mazes just right for this time of year.  Have fun...and don't get lost!

Monday, October 4, 2021

Hallmark -- When You Scare Enough to Send the Very Best

Next to latex masks, the other Halloween disguise I longed for was the packaged Halloween makeup that was sold at stores like Ben Franklin and Venture (a local discount department store).  I imagined myself as a vampire, layered in white pancake makeup, black circles under my eyes, hair dyed black with a widow's peak, fangs in place and blood dripping down my mouth. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford the specialty makeup and only had access to my mother's excess makeup.  That meant I had to make do with foundation powder, eyeliner and lipstick.  One year, I attempted a werewolf with that assortment.  Trust me, it didn't work.

My memories of Halloween makeup are of the vast varieties of Imagineering props, blood and makeup.

Who knew that in the 1980's, card company Hallmark dabbled in Halloween makeup?  Well, I didn't.

I'm pretty sure these two wouldn't have looked out of place on any day of the year in the 1980's.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Black (Cat) Gold

This find from a few months back just goes to show there's still some gold to be found in the wild.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Halloween -- It's My Bag, Baby, and Here We Go Again!

Welcome to Halloween 2021!  Well, technically, we have 30 more days to go.  But today kicks off my 7th annual participation in the Countdown to Halloween wherein I (attempt to) entertain you with my Halloween-related items I've bought at garage and estate sales in the previous year.  And let me be clear: I stretch the definition of "Halloween-related" pretty far.  Hey, I need to pad things out if I want to post every day.

As is de rigueur, my first offering is this year's bag:

Friday, September 17, 2021

Punk Metal

I didn't buy this, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of it at an estate sale today.  You expect to see this sort of thing on a school notebook, but a toolbox?

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Shakey Memories

When I was a kid, eating out was a special event that might only happen 2 or 3 times a year and pizza was never one of my parents' choices.  Though I rarely got to eat it, it was my favorite.  I can recall a couple times my older sister took my other sister and I to Pizza Hut, but other than that, my pizza exposure was limited to Totino's or Jeno's frozen pizza at home when my parents went out without me.

But there was a golden period of about 4 years when pizza was a once-a-year guarantee. Starting in 7th grade, members of the school band could go to a week-long summer camp (yes, Band Camp) hosted on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. My sister, four years older than me, started going in 1977.  I would attend beginning in 1981.

Essentially, you practiced with same-aged kids from bands gathered from around the St. Louis Metropolitan area and at the end of the week on Friday night, give a concert for parents.

After the concert, we would go out to eat.  I'm not sure how it happened, but Shakey's Pizza was the decided restaurant.  The restaurant itself was in an old brick building, similar to this:

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Snoopy Comes Home..and Goes To School

Most schools have already started back for the year a couple weeks ago, but in my day (cue old man voice), we didn't start until the Tuesday after Labor Day.

And in 1974, I was starting 2nd grade. But I wasn't starting it alone.  Not only was my sister still riding the school bus with me (her last year in elementary), but I had a brand new Snoopy lunchbox, made by Thermos by my side.

In the picture below, you can see me clutching it and charging toward our driveway after coming home on the first day of school.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

How's About a Nice Hawaiian Blog?


I found this Hawaiian cutey at a recent sale.  She's plastic and tin and a wind-up.  She was made in Japan and probably dates to the 1960's.

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