Thursday, December 22, 2022

Always on My Tree

I don't know why I'm compelled to save what I call "Misfit Memories" (memories no one wanted), but I do.

Maybe it's the thought that something meant so much to someone at one time, only to be forgotten or lost when they pass.

This mish-mash of paper and tinsel is no exception. I found them wrapped up in a bag this past summer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Child World/Children's Palace Video Toy Chest

I don't normally pick up VHS tapes at garage or estate sales unless the content is unusual or unavailable in other formats.  This tape meets both qualifications.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Empire State Toaster

I have a disease for which there is no known cure.  If you saw me walking on the street, you wouldn't even be able to tell I was sick.  The disease? My name is Tom and I'm a toaster hoarder. I have an urge to buy any toaster I see at garage sales, estate sales, antique malls, thrift stores, you name it.  Maybe someday there will be a cure, but for now, I just keep buying.

My latest infection is this 1930's Electrahot Style 500 toaster featuring a stylized Empire State building design. I found it at a private estate sale for $6.  It was pretty grimy when I got it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Halloween 2022 Post-Mortem

Welcome to November 1st, or as I like to call it, October 32nd.

Normally, I use this post to visit some of my stats over the past month.  But it appears Google's stats are either on the fritz, or they haven't updated them for October yet.  And also, let's be frank; blogging is a dying form and there are less and less page visits as the years pass.

But this blog has never been about page visits.  I do this for myself.  It's an outlet for my never-realized career in writing.  Plus, as I've said in the past, I find it easier to let go of things once I write about them.  This has prevented me from ending up on one of those hoarder shows.

I will take this opportunity to thank those that continue to support my blog through visits and comments.  There are my usual dependable staples (the usual suspects in no particular order) like Lady M, Caffeinated Joe, Top Cat James (always quick with a joke or to light up your smoke), Dex, FrankO, Deadpan Flook, and PhillyRadioGeek.  We also had some repeat customers that stop by and comment on occasion. Thanks to Alexis Skrull, Erik and JohnONeill0505. We also had a few new guests come by. Thanks to The Billman and  MLW33 for seeking out/stumbling onto the blog.

And finally thanks go out to Dex (already mentioned) and Michelle AKA Naila Moon (who also dropped by) for taking on the task of running The Countdown again this year.

I churned out 41 posts this year, just a couple shy of my record. Not all of them were winners, maybe none of them were, but I hope some enjoyed all and all enjoyed some.

Here's to Halloween 2023. Onwards and upwards!

Monday, October 31, 2022

And To All, A Good Halloween Night

"And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Halloween well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!"

Great Balls of Popcorn!

You thought I was done? Not quite yet.

I thought I'd share this traditional Halloween treat with you.  Popcorn Balls. I'm old enough to remember when old ladies would hand these out as treats in your Trick or Treat bag.

Deck the Halls with Bowels of Ghoulies

Time for my annual post of my interior decorations.  They don't vary much from year to year, but I like to share anyway.  Everything (almost) in these shots were garage or estate sale finds.

Haunting Memories

Happy Halloween all!  The big day is here.

I've always had a fascination with the classic haunted house.  When I was in Second Grade, our school carnival featured one built on the frame of a semi trailer.  I bought my ticket and bravely strode forward through the entrance.  I laughed as I tried to navigate over the rollers on the floor.  A barred window (like an animal cage) allowed people to watch you as you tripped and stumbled through it.  I saw my mom watching and smiling and it gave me additional bravery to continue on.  Once I passed through the second set of doors, everything went dark.  I felt my way along the walls until I saw a light up ahead.  I walked toward the light which soon became a room.  A room with a coffin in it.  Inside the coffin was a vampire.  Just as I was looking at it, someone jumped out of the darkness and screamed at me.  That was it. I ran back the opposite way, back over the rollers which with the pace of my running, just mercilessly spun as fast as my feet could make them.  I fell several times before making my way back out the entrance. Sorry, kid, no refunds.  I later learned it was my older brother's friend who had been hiding inside, not as any part of cast, but rather to specifically scare little kids like me.

A couple years later while on a vacation to Lake of the Ozarks, we came across another haunted house that was on "the strip".  My sister and I went inside, nervously holding hands.  At one point, I felt something brush my leg.  I told my sister to stop, that she'd dropped her purse.  I reached down and grabbed what felt like a rubber strap and gave it a yank.  It didn't budge.  I let out a scream which made my sister scream.  We both ran ahead.  We did manage to finish it though.

What do you imagine when you hear "haunted house"?  Odds are, it's a gothic Victorian mansion, windows broken or boarded up, shingles and siding falling from it. Something like this.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Old Gold Scarecrow

 This ad comes from a lot of 1940's and 50's Saturday Evening Post magazines I bought at an estate sale this weekend.  The magazines were $1 each. How could I resist?  This particular ad comes from the October 21st, 1953 edition.

I'll probably do a blog on some of the other magazines at some point this winter.  I know, hold your breath.

Garage Sale Haunts

I thought I'd do something a little different today.  Rather than showing you what I found at garage sales, I'll share what houses I saw while garage saling, specifically those decked out for the season.

Hopefully the pictures are large enough when clicked on to see the details (blogger seems to be having an issue with that the last couple years), because some of these are great.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Scratch Cat Fever

 These die cuts are referred to as "Scratch Cats" due to their extended claws and hackled backs.

This die cut was made by Beistle and dates to the 1960's. It's jointed and can be positioned as desired.  I recently found this along with two identical die cuts in a lot at an estate sale. I paid up for the 3 at $15, but each is worth $15, so I didn't do too bad. Aside from the staples in the back of this piece, it and the others are in excellent condition. There are no bends and the joints are tight.

Spirit Ball Memories

I'm not usually into modern Halloween items or props (although granted this is 17 years old), but this piece was pretty cool, the price was right and it reminded me of something from my childhood (more on that later).

Friday, October 28, 2022

Black Cat Face Die Cut

 I picked up this cat face diecut in a lot last summer.  It was included in the same lot as the Eureka Trick or Treaters and the Eureka Owl.  This particular die cut dates to the 1940's and is unmarked.

This is a fairly large die cut measuring 11" x 11".  It kind of reminds me of the old Black Cat Fireworks packages.

I Ja, You Ja, We All Ja for Ouija

We had a Ouija board when I was a kid.  For some reason it layed on the ground in our furnace room.  And it freaked me out.  My sister had told stories of how it had predicted who she would marry, providing the initials of the person she did in fact end up marrying. I was pretty afraid of anything potentially ghost related. Yeah, I was a chicken.

I've gotten over that fear and had no problem buying this Ouija board.  In fact, I picked up 4 of them this season.  There was an odd run where I kept finding Ouija boards. 

Even when I was afraid of them, I always loved the art on these. This version dates from the 1960's.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Hang for Freat

This was actually a thrift store find.  I knew it wasn't terribly old, but it's getting harder and  harder to come by blow mold pieces these days and its hair plus pink eyes sold it to me.


Kimple Haunted House

This 1970's Kimple Haunted House ceramic mold was an estate sale find this past summer. It was fairly cheap, so I picked it up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022


I believe we're all familiar with the "Groucho Nose" glasses gag. They've been around for years, in fact since the 1940's. But did you know their proper name is "Beaglepuss"?  The Topstone company marketed them simply as "Schnoz".

Honeycomb Hitchhiker

Way back in 2014 during my first year in the Countdown to Halloween, I posted about these Honeycomb cereal box cutout records.

This past year, I came across 2 more.  One I had before ("Miser's Gold"), but the other was new to me, "The Hitchhiker".

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Jerk O'Lantern

I can't imagine the circumstances under which this pumpkin cutout was created.

Cat Blow Mold

I found this little blow-molded black cat and Jack O'Lantern over the summer.  It's only about 6" tall and isn't lighted, so not the typical Halloween blow mold we're used to. I can see this being sold in a dimestore in the '70's and maybe set on someone's desk as Fall/Halloween decoration.


Monday, October 24, 2022

Halloween is Hallowed

As this is the last week leading up to Halloween, I thought I'd throw some additional random content out here for things that didn't warrant a lot of commentary or discussion or are just odd or weird one-offs.

At first I thought this pamphlet was going to be a religious tyrade against Halloween. 

Bucketful of Boos

There's been a lot of buzz in the Halloween community for the past few weeks about the re-release of the McDonald's Halloween Boo Buckets, particularly among millelenials who remember these from their childhood.

I previously posted about the earlier 1980's version of these buckets.  Since then, I've acquired some of the later series from the late 80's, early 90's and even up to the early 2000's.  Again, these don't do much for me as they were past my Halloween prime, but the kids like them.  "The Kids" being in their late 30's and early 40's now.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

A Lost Art

Today's post touches on a subject I raise here rather often: "they don't make them like they used to."

Case in point, this paper Halloween plate I picked up a couple months ago.  It probably dates to the 1940s or 50s. As a side observation, I always wonder how a single plate or napkin survives all these years.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Empire Pails

Empire Plastics produced Halloween blow molds including Trick or Treat pails from the 1960's through 2001.  Most of their pails were the common Jack O' Lantern pails like those I've previously posted.  They later produced non-Jack O' Lantern pails like these I found.  These came late in the company's existence, but I like them, particularly this monster pail which was produced from 1989 to 1994.

Friday, October 21, 2022


My house cannot be attributed to any particular design aesthetic unless "Late Garage Sale Era" is a thing. 

For a while I focused on Mid-century modern pieces like this lamp, this 1950's Artcraft cabinet and this 1966 RCA Vistat stereo (converted to a media center).  

Of course, I had other era pieces as well such as this 1918 Æolian-Vocalion phonograph and this 1941 Trutone radio.  And I use appliances that span from the 1910's to the 1970's like these toasters and coffee pots

Wow, that paragraph was link heavy. But my point is, I'm all over the board when it comes to decorating.  The only common theme is I decorate with things I like.

So when I saw this 1920's Art Deco dining room furniture, combined with a price tag that couldn't be beat (it was 50% off day and I got them to come down even more), I caved. Excuse the askew pictures.  It was hard to photograph the full piece with the limited angle I had.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Hanging Skeleton

I found this lone skeleton over the summer. He's marked Hong Kong and looks like something that would have been handed out at carnivals in the '70's.

It reminded me of this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Tears (and Blood) of a Clown

Bridging off of yesterday's post, I present this Collegville/Imagineering Vampire Blood from 1995.  This also answers the question, whatever happened to Imagineering.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Imagineering Fake Skin

I've previously written about Imagineering and their glorious products and how they impacted my childhood.  What I didn't know was how long they lasted.

I found this Imagineering "Fake Skin" at an estate sale late in the season last year.  It dates from 1990.

Monday, October 17, 2022

A (Hay) Seed of Truth

Dennison produced this Pa and Ma Pumpkin set of diecuts in 1964.  You can tell this is "Pa" by his broken and repaired glasses and by the ubiquitous hay stem clenched in his mouth. 

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Haunted Cookie Jar

 You might ask, what's a cookie jar have to do with Halloween? Well, what if...


Saturday, October 15, 2022

Eureka Clown and Ghost Trick or Treaters

This is another Eureka piece I picked up in the past couple months. I bought it at the same sale where I found the owl

Friday, October 14, 2022

Ceramic Ghost and Jack O' Lantern

I recognized this popular design as taken from a Gurley candle.  This is a ceramic mold based on that.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Day 13 of the Countdown, Ah Ha Haaaaaaaa

It must have been Christmas of 1976 when I received 3 Sesame Street puppets as a gift.  It was Bert, Ernie and Cookie Monster. I don't recall asking for them, but it's possible.  I was 9 years old (just turned), so it sounds a little old for Sesame Street, but I may have just been interested in the idea of puppets.  At any rate, I accepted them and played with them on occasion.  Cookie Monster was the most fun because his throat actually opened in back and you could force feed him cookies. I recall trying to make this a feature on Ernie as well (using a screwdriver) and just ended up tearing his neck open.  If I'd known "Count von Count" was an option, I'm sure I would have asked for him.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Chalk One Up for the Owls

I found this chalkware owl at a garage sale over the summer.  I was shocked to find it, because it was the only vintage piece among a bunch of newer Halloween decorations.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Wanda Witch Flashlight

I found this "Wanda" witch flashlight at a garage sale last October along with quite a few other vintage 1980's Halloween items.  The seller assured us she'd be selling vintage Christmas items the following month in another garage sale, but alas, that never happened.

Monday, October 10, 2022

That Voodoo You Do

While this game was incomplete, I decided to buy it for the box art alone. It makes for a good Halloween display piece. 

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Dennison Die Cuts

The Dennison Manufacturing Company of Framingham, Massachusetts was established in 1844 as a maker of paper jewelry boxes.  When Halloween became popular just after the turn of the 20th century, they began manufacturing party decorations.  By the early teens they were publishing party guides known as Bogie Books that told how to throw the perfect Halloween party and just happened to sell the necessary supplies.

These Dennison Die Cuts date from much later.  The first two die cuts date from the 1960's and are the large versions measuring 16" tall.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Get Your Hands on These

Ben Cooper was the "goto" for Halloween costumes from the 1930's through the 1980's.  Most people remember them for their cartoon and comic character costumes made of vinyl and sharp plastic masks held to your face with rubber bands so thin they would snap if you merely flexed your cheeks (and not necessarily the ones on your face).

Ben Cooper also marketed latex and rubber masks that could be found hung on racks or piled unceremoniously in cardboard bins at stores such as Woolworth's and Ben Franklin's.  It was at my local Ben Franklin's around Halloween every year that would find me digging through the masks, trying each one on, the smell of latex filling my nose, and dreaming of buying one so I could REALLY scare some people while Trick or Treating that year.  And if the masks weren't enough, you could buy matching rubber gloves to complete your look.  Oh, who could possibly afford such luxuries? Not me.  So back in the bins they went.

I found these Ben Cooper rubber gloves this past year.  They date from the late 1970's to early 1980's.

Friday, October 7, 2022

I Come to Praise Cesar

The Cesar mask company of France was founded in 1842. I sure wish I could tell you more about them, but that's pretty much all that's on their "About" site.

Cesar is known for their vinyl masks (as opposed to latex). That may be why this one has survived in such good condition since 1971.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Ghost Book

There's a long tradition of posting complete strangers' childhood drawings on this blog.  And it seems like they are almost always Halloween themed. I think it's because Halloween seems to bring out the most imaginative images, those of ghosts, ghouls and goblins.

Back in 2014, I shared this "Brew Print"

In 2019, I shared this picture and my own childhood story. 

Today, I bring you an entire book of drawings. Okay, it's only 4 pages long.  But in the words of Count Floyd,  oooooohhhh, it's SCARY!  From approximately 1980, I give you "The Ghost Book".

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Click Click

I recognized the graphics on this small tin metal basket when I came across it in the basement of an estate sale this summer.  I already had the matching can where I keep my smaller Halloween cake decorations

Monday, October 3, 2022

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Bowled Over

I've found you can't let the feel of a sale throw you off and lower your guard.  I was in a newer home a couple months ago and wasn't finding anything vintage.  I'd already swept through the basement and was getting ready to head up when I went looking for my wife to let her know I was leaving.  She was bent over a box filled with newer party supplies which I'd seen but not thought much of.  She pulled out a stack of 6 vintage Halloween scalloped plastic treat bowls.  They were in mint condition.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Halloween 2022 - It's My Bag, Baby, But I'm Running Out of Them

Yes, it's Halloween season once again and that means it's time for those things I've found in the past year that lean toward Halloween or the weird; it's time for "Garage Sale Finds" to transform into "Stranger Finds".

As always, I'll begin this year's offerings with a Trick-or-Treat bag.  Let me tell you, I'm running out of ones I haven't already posted.  I've had this one for a while, but I've yet to post it.

This bag dates from 1988 (which is 34 years ago, people!) and was given out at Michael's (which I didn't even know what a thing in 1988, but apparently has been around since 1973).  It features a scraggly, if not "scratch", cat astride a hollowed-out pumpkin.  Frankly, he looks a little strung out.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Percolating Finds

 Okay, Summer is over and the Countdown to Halloween begins next week.  I need to clear out some cobwebs and when I say "cobwebs" I mean coffee pots.

For some reason, this past year produced a bumper crop of them.  I can't resist picking up percolators and other coffee makers, particularly when they're under $5.  I've kept some (okay quite a few), but I've also sold quite a few of them too; all to fund future purchases and to subsidize what I decide to keep.  These are in addition to the Jet O Matic coffee maker I bought last December.  And yes, many of these need a good polishing.

First up is this Mirro copper-colored aluminum coffee pot.  I've seen these attributed to the "Colorama" line, but I haven't found evidence of that.  Colorama was made by Weller Hostess-ware.  I'm not aware of a connection to Mirro.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Black Hole..That is This Blog

I know, it's been almost a month since my last post.  It feels like this summer has been sucked into a black hole. Hey! Look what I have for you.  As promised to Dex, the complete "The Black Hole" coloring book (mostly uncolored).  Full of line drawings and games and coming straight to you from 1979 and Walt Disney.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Between the Covers - The Black Hole Coloring Book

First off, let me apologize for letting the grass grow so high on this blog.  It's been 2 months since my last post.  Rest assured, garage and estate saling have continued throughout this time and many things have been bought.  I just haven't had the time (and admittedly the enthusiasm) to blog about them.  But let's change that now.

Allow me to explain the title of this post.  Back in 2017, I started what I intended to be an ongoing and occasional post topic.  I picked this topic back up a few years later with this post.  These posts are about things I find inside of books. Usually, it's a bubblegum card, a makeshift bookmark, occasional writing, etc.  Here we are a couple years later and I'm once again exploring this topic.

A couple weeks ago, I estate saled at a hoarder house. I picked up some books including this Black Hole coloring book.

This post isn't about the colored pages in this book (although, that can be arranged), it's about what I found stored in the book; printed on a dot matrix printer, the rules for a club called "G.R.O.S.S." along with a couple other printed pages.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Walt Disney's Comics and Stories (and Ads)

It's not quite officially summer yet, but we've already hit 100 here in St. Louis, so we might as well call it.  And summertime always brings my childhood to mind which involved not going to school (the best), watching game shows on TV, hanging out in our basement (because it was cooler) and reading comic books.

I often pick up random (cheap) comic books at estate and garage sales to supplement our bathroom reading supply.  This is one of them.  This particular comic dates from 1978.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The Egg and Eyes

I'll be honest.  This almost made a "Stuff I can Live Without" blog.  But something about it called to me.  The colors, the late 60's mod design, the lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye.

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