Leader Board Ad

Monday, December 28, 2009

Surly Old Year!!!

Coming Soon! "A cure for hangovers", or "Taking the pain out champagne"

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I found some old cards in a scrap book at an estate sale years back that held my interest long enough to make it to this post.  Beyond today they will probably go with the gifts I am giving tomorrow. Not this Disney card. This one I'll hang on to because everything Disney seems to just appreciate in value. This one is from a while back:

I'll save you a trip to the cabinet for your microscope - 1935.  I thought this card would be appropriate as the nephew of Walt Disney - Roy Disney, died 9 days ago. There is plenty to read about him on Wikipedia so go here.   I had thought that this was Walt's brother, nope. However, the family resemblance is definitely there. They have an elfish or impish look about them that seems to fit well with the legacy of the name.  This 75 year old card was only about 5 years into the Disney studio machine and the early determination to brand the icon and protect it, even back then, seems prophetic.

 If you want to revive a saggy or non-existent economy, invent something that uses creative energy is relatively inexpensive to mass produce yet gives pleasure to the giver and receiver.  Greeting cards must have done a lot for many different industries paper, retail, artists, etc. and that it has endured says something as well. This next example was just sitting in a basement and though I never intend to collect random things the completeness and quality got me. It's a composite creation so bear with me if you don't immediately get the effect (click on it to see).

These are only some of the samples in the box, but they look untouched, and again, as I often lament in post after post - I can only guess at the age of these - 30s? 40s? maybe?
In closing, and before I sleep through the big day, I will leave you with this:

Your visits to this blog have been a gift that I can't repay. Your comments and feedback are the reason I keep on keepin' on. Merry Christmas and hope to "see" you next post.  Greg

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Orna-mints...they keep your tree smelling fresh!

One year a local AM radio show discussing holiday decorations shared callers suggestions on unique decorating tips. Someone thought it would be a neat idea to put hooks on lifesavers and hang them from the tree. Later that same month the local emergency room was over-run with hook extractions.

Some people just couldn't put a good idea down.

More Christmas memories for you to review.  For those of you that follow in your family's tradition of putting up a tree and hanging ornaments and other decorations - how many have that one (or more) box of ornaments that should have been retired long ago? We do. While downsizing my mother-in-laws home this summer my wife collected some of the ornaments she remembered as a child. Not just the ornaments though.

There's a thousand other ways to store ornaments that would preserve them into the next millennium, but no one could bear to take the first step and toss this sad box.  I'm glad.  I just wish I knew what year it was.  My guess would be mid to late 40's.  If you really want to know more about Max Eckard and Sons, and the "Shiny-Brite" line of decorations go here.  I was hooked by the graphic on the box:

Apparently, up to this point Christmas ornaments were made in Germany or Japan. Well, with a war on, Santa's got to be directed to side with the good guys, right?  Must have been that North Pole Treaty FDR signed, or maybe it was the Arctic-Accord?  Ah, memories.  It is sad to think who's shaking hands with Santa now (pardon the brand-bashing).  


Coming Soon!  Is Mickey Mouse gay? (well, he is in a good mood.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Stalkings

When you're looking for old paper, there is no limit to the odd items waiting to be found. Xmas cards are no exception.  Kept for years maybe due to sentimental reasons, the illustrations are eye-catching. I've kept a few because the art work and colors were so vibrant, I felt as though I was tossing a masterpiece. With today's cards the cost makes you feel as though you have invested in art. I'd prefer to illustrate my own cards; the store bought ones always seemed sappy, over-priced, and forced to me. My apologies to anyone who has ever sent me a card, but I really am only interested in the personal note written inside and rarely look at the card. Here's one from the 1940's.

My first impression of this card was, "It's so cold out here and it looks so warm in there. Why won't they invite me in?" and then I realized that somebody must have come out with a line of cards for stalkers and their restraining order-toting victims.

"But since I can't (because of those little incidents where you found me outside your window at Thanksgiving, Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, most any day) and now I'm locked away!" 

Coming soon: Santa teams up with Uncle Sam!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Topic: Practical Jokes are neither Practical nor Jokes.....Discuss!

Have you ever fallen for the old whoopee cushion on the chair?  Or, how about the hand buzzer? Maybe the flower that squirts water? Maybe you were the one playing the pranks?  I thought I would always be the one watching from the sidelines, until one day I was the kid staring in awe at the display of gags & novelties in a hobby shop in Wakefield R.I.

Convincingly designed and cleverly packaged, these objects dangled empowerment over women, seniors, and other kids. Watch as you cause them to shriek or gasp at the fake vomit on the bathroom sink, or moan at the generous load of dog crap on the carpet.  The awe I held for these pranks transcended time, and maturity to the point where I can't help but grab one of these oddities when I see them at a sale

The itching powder and "Soot soap" with their eye-catching multi-lingual package designs are great and the reason why I couldn't pass them up (both unused). As for the ice cubes...I don't know where I got the ices cubes, they may have come in a box lot of items.  They look deadly for their choking hazard design.  I don't know why it would be funny to prank someone with a nail in an ice cube, these come across more as some "gateway" prank to homicide.

I remember thinking when I was a kid back then, Does any of this stuff really work?

It did for the manufacturers, because they produced a ton of it, and they still do.  The one item I will never forget were  cigarette  "LOADS".  That little red can with the tiny wood slivers that promised to turn a cigar or cigarette into shreds. I've got one around here somewhere....Ready the image and cue the flashback music. (please click to read more)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where were you 68 years ago...Today?

(Well, actually, I mean tomorrow, but who knows when this will be read?) It's a sad thing that's  happening to newspapers these days.  They are not only becoming fewer in number, they are getting smaller.  The headlines are getting larger, and if the Danbury News-Times prints the word "SUNDAY" any larger, I'll have to cover my ears.  I know that all my complaints are based on cost-cutting measures, but times haven't always been this bad, they've been worse, but the papers were much larger.  Case in point:

Click on it to get the full effect.  There are 7 (count'em) 7 columns of news. I know that in the 40's newspapers' only competition is radio, or the town crier, and TV is just a world's fair exhibition attraction-contraption. What struck me about this paper was the lack of urgency I thought existed right after December 7th.  This is clearly the first edition out since the attack.

The middle column down the front center is essentially an editorial report but it lacks the banner explosion that is meant to lift the paper out of the newsstand and into the hands of hungry readers,  Even if there was an "Extra!" edition printed on the 7th or 8th, I still get the feeling that the news hasn't sunk in yet. Christmas sales are in full swing:

I like newspapers from the past, no matter how yellowed or fragile they are, the ridiculous difference in prices for everyday items and their value makes them an interesting read. Was a dime really harder to come by? Is it true that electricity was so inexpensive?

This paper was found at an estate sale several years ago near the Boardman bridge in New Milford. I am afraid that the person living there must have been a "hoarder" of sorts as there were many papers of this type strewn around one room.  I bought a couple that either had significant headlines or just gave an interesting snapshot of what it was like to live back then.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

All the trappings of an interesting find...

I found this sale purely by accident, but I should have found it sooner.  3 weeks ago, while my daughter and I were out on the tag sale trail, there was a "sign" from above...the lamp post, which led us to a garage full of stuff. Unfortunately, it was the home of a "regular", a familiar face I remembered from previous sales.  There are all kinds of regulars on the tag sale trail, hunters out there looking for whatever interests them.  I don't know what they're looking for, but often it is the priceless stuff that will be resold via consignment or Ebay.  Nothing wrong with that, but that's not for me.  So, I am not motivated to arrive early and take a number, well, maybe sometimes.  Anyway, this guy was one of those "regulars" I have seen 2-3 times in the past year. I made small talk because this makes it is easier sometimes to slip away without a purchase, and I knew that a fellow digger would not have either a "dig" or a deal for sale.

We looked around his garage, and I was right...nothing.  We did talk about the lack of good sales this year and I shared my opinion of some of the estate sale services.  I respect most of them, but he let loose with several scathing opinions of a few he didn't think too much of.  Then, as if someone might be listening in on our conversation, his eyes shifted left, right, then left again, he leaned toward me, and in a somewhat hushed tone said, "Bethel, in a week or 2, lotta stuff, old house, they may not even advertise, gonna be good, keepa look out..."  and that was it. We left and I stored his tip somewhere in my brain.  Then, a week later, there we were on the "the trail" again, trying to kill time before a birthday party in New Milford.  I read about a sale in Easton that looked promising, and we headed in that direction.  As we turned on to Rt 58, I remembered a sale or two that had been memorable on this road, and at the first side road to the left there was a familiar "Estate Sale" service sign on the corner.  Suddenly we were off in a new direction.

Although it was the last day, and the last hour of the sale, there was still a mother-load of stuff . I discovered that the sale had been going on since Thursday, and it dawned on me as I realized we were in Bethel. This was the sale that guy had given me the tip on. I briefly lamented on not having had come sooner, but, no matter, in the basement I managed to find the "dig" I was looking for.  In the workshop, among all kinds of shelves and cabinets was an old desk, and I began to paw through the drawers. If untouched, these are often repositories, or micro time capsules (think of an old desk in your house, alright, your older neighbors house).  In this desk there was one drawer that wouldn't open and by removing the drawer above I was able to reach down and remove the contents. What I got was an assortment of papers and catalogs, and envelopes, including the one above.  There was an interesting letter inside: (click to enlarge)
Okay, so it was a little morose, but that's the chance you take when you read other people's mail.  It seems that the owner of the letter had written away for some "trappers" secrets he saw offered in a magazine.  What he got was a bit of a delay in his order (Note: ordered in October - shipped late February) with a personal note which includes a single sentence obituary (I'll summarize in case you can't read the handwriting):  "Sorry so late, but it's been real cold, my wife died, and thanks for the order."  Not only cold, seems it's been a little heartless in Gordo, sheesh! What "methods" were worth waiting 4 months and a funeral for?  (click to enlarge)

That's right! How do you catch a raccoon without a trap, snare, or poison?  The question I don't want answered is: "What do you do with them once they're caught?" Good Eats! or just good skins? But wait there's more:(click to enlarge)

Trapping foxes makes a little more sense, though for CT it could have been to keep them out of the hen house. I wonder what this area looked like in the 50's; I am sure there were fewer homes and more wildlife. This last tip is my favorite:(click to enlarge)

Now, getting raccoons drunk just so you can kill them seems just a little unsportsmanlike.  I would wait until they've raised their paws at the local Varmint AA meeting, "My name is Rocky and I have a drinking problem . It's been...." - Bang!  Nothing like being shot by your own enabler.  That's would be like a bartender stealing your shoes, just too easy.   As you may have noticed, these methods all came from Jessie Connor in Gordo, Alabama. The copyrights are pending, so I am taking a chance sharing them here, however, I can find no one involved in any trapping activity there that has been introduced to the internet. I will gladly remove these if asked.  Along with the methods was an advertisement, though it appears to be Jessie's father, read on: (click to enlarge)
Also "Hillbilly Farmer" $1.00"  The best 2 dollar prescription any man can give his children is this book. and on the back is another publication:(click to enlarge)

I thought this was a real unique discovery in one little package that hadn't seen the light of day in over 50 years. I will be sharing more "Tales form the sticky desk drawer" in future posts...stay tuned.  You can blame me if you feel I trapped you into this.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It is Tempting....

Parents just don't know what they do to their kids.  Take me, for example.  I could have become anything, but before I knew what I wanted to be or do, I was in the care of my parents. Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be writing my own "tell all" autobiography, "Martyr Dearest". Mainly because I have nothing juicy to tell - the skeletons in my closet are all ones I've found, plan to keep, and eventually share with you.  Unlike other obsessive (maybe a little compulsive) types, I know why I do this urban archeology thing I do.  My dad was an English teacher and tinkerer/carpenter.  He was in love with the sea and sailing and he would often take me beach combing.  Later on, my mother would teach me to drive, and I learned to parallel park at....garage sales.  Neither of my parents were collectors, so I guess it skips a generation?

Some of the first things I found at these sales were beer signs, bottle openers, other breweriana.  Like most of the things I've collected, very little of it has been kept more than 10 years.  I did have some large moving beer signs that were fun to restore and hang over the ping pong table in the 70s, but they were never going to make it into the late 80's.  I did gain an appreciation for these items, and now when I see something special I hang on to it.  This post card from the 30's is one I found more than 8 years ago:

Tropical Beer, Cuba, 1931 front

First, I had no idea what level of industrialization Cuba enjoyed. I know of very little Cuban history that predates the communist take over in the late 50's, or the various capitalist and mob influences before that.  Unfortunately, the better part of my Cuban history studies was spent watching "Godfather 2".  The next best part of the card is the reverse.
Tropical Beer, Cuba, 1931 back
Other than the spurious calculations peppered all over the back, I can't get over the brief and single purpose for Bill to send JP a postcard other than to tell him "Having a fine time. Beer is great." Yes, Bill. I am sure of that. Why he felt the need to jam it in poor JP's face is something we'll never know.   I am also amazed that the stamp survived and though only partially there I can see that the cancellation is Guantanamo Bay Feb 2, 1931.
What really got me about the card were the cartoon-ish stereotypes gathered around a giant bottle of the brew. I guess these are your average wealthy American businessmen (and the missus) toasting the symbolic Cuban Hops farmer. 
The military may approve of Tropical beer, but I'm not sure DCF would approve of the mother Breastfeeding her baby, while her daughter is drinking! That's going to be one tipsy-toddler. ( take a close look at what the child has in her right hand, maybe she is holding it for Mama).

Well, sports and beer do go together, though maybe not during the game.  I find it curious that  these men all seem to be striking rather effeminate poses? (maybe not Babe Ruth.)

Finally, we have the rest of the stereotypes, proving once and for all that "All Drink Tropical Beer". If you are feeling a little thirsty after reading this and want to learn about more Cuban beverages and a brief history of Tropical Beer, take a look here. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Get That Fighter!

It's funny how you can remember even the slightest detail of a discovery.  I never know what I am going to find, because I don't look for anything. I want to look at everything and then pick out the one item that has a story to tell, or something to teach me, or something to just occupy me.  20 years ago this 4" x 5" booklet was just sitting on a metal table in a garage on one of the numbered streets near the Danbury Hospital (2nd street, 4th,Street). I don't remember the street, but I can still  vividly recall that textured metal folding table. I took one look at "Restricted"  on the cover, and I was hooked. That word on any document is like someone showing you a control panel and saying, "Don't press that button." (What ever you do, DON'T click on the image for a closer view! - see! it's tempting.)



Despite the overall message "Kill or be killed", I love the visual nature and layout of this  1943 training tool for gunners in the Army Air Corps. Although I never would I am sure I could show this to my six-year old and she would have more than a sporting chance of shooting down a few "incoming!"

There are more pages to this manual but I wanted to scan the ones that gave the general idea.  The first half of the instruction is based on the physics and trajectory of the bullet as it leaves the gun.  The last 6 pages all fold out nicely to show different views and specs on 3 each of the German and Japanese best fighting machines.  It has held up pretty well and may be quite rare. I can't find another reference to it anywhere on the web.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Film Fun

What could be more fun than film? That's right "Film Fun". As long as there have been movies, there has been a magazine dedicated to highlighting and sensationalizing the "buzz".

I thought the year on this was a misprint when I picked it up in the basement of a Newtown estate sale. I studied film in college, but I didn't think things got rolling until the 1920's. Before that time I thought it was all faded and blotchy scenes from Edison's kinetoscopes. Nope, this is 2 years after the formation of Paramount Pictures, and the year before United Artists was formed. Charlie Chaplin had passed the $10,000/week salary mark and many of the covers of "Film Fun" during this time featured C.C.

10 cents a copy? If the caption on the cover is right, I think it is a funny coincidence that in 1918 you could see a moving picture or buy this magazine. Hey, it's your dime, spend it any way you want. Kinda different now, it would be like paying 12 dollars to read "People" - No thanks, 10 cents maybe.
I didn't quite get the cartoon below (click on any image for a little larger version) until I "googled" Yapp's Crossing and found that the illustrator was Johnny Gruelle who had been creating this cartoon for another publication since 1915. He was also the creator of Raggedy Ann & Andy.  Here he points his gentle wit towards the explosion of the film industry.
These next 2 pages I scanned to show the kind of audience this magazine was playing to, based on the advertisers interests.

Mommy seems anemic from lack of iron (you know, the Nuxated kind?) actually she is no doubt listless from all the movies she been seeing.

Nothing like the latest issue of "Film Fun" to take care of "Women's Aches and Ills".  Actually this magazine must have had a broad appeal because it was around for a long time.  If you would like to read more and see several other covers visit here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Canadian Mint and Other Eye Candy....

Canadian Quarter
I think a little clarification is necessary here. What exactly is the difference between a tag sale, an estate sale, garage sale, and yard sale, etc.?

There is no legal clarification for what a "sale" is allowed to call itself.  California recently had a sale,( no, not a fire sale).  They sold off a lot of excess items they had in storage.  While I am sure the government is in dire straits there, the fact that they called it a "tag sale" was coined by the media. Here is my best definitions of each:

Tag sale - They didn't know what to call it but their signs were too small and couldn't fit "Garage" maybe?  Tag sales rarely have any tags for sale.

Yard sale - They don't have a garage, or tables, items are commonly in boxes or strewn on a blanket with signs like "Everything on Blanket $1."  Many times I've asked at a yard sale, "How much for the 3ft?" but nobody ever gets that joke.

Garage Sale - Now we're getting somewhere. If true to the name, this is a collection of all the items that have overflowed from being tucked into corners, cubbys, pockets, and rafters - a sale is imminent if it is ever to be used as a garage again.

Moving Sale - We're getting close to estate sale territory here, but these are often "home goods" sales. If you are looking for furniture, large and small appliances, including bric and or brac.  Usually the best stuff is in the moving van, though.

Schaefer Beer Can
Estate Sale - The golden child of the group.  The one where you get to ask, "Is it throughout the whole house?" and the answer comes back "Yes."  These are the ones that are most often classified as "digs"  (Urban Archaeological Dig - that is).  They're not all rosy treasure chests of booty waiting to be spotlighted on the Antiques Roadshow, but some have potential.  My favorite phrase is "time machine". I'm
looking for the kind of sale where I can step into grandpa's workshop and feel as though I've just gone back in time.  The pencils in the old beer can with the dried out erasers have the names of long lost local businesses still clearly stamped on them. The drawers under the bench hold a multitude of nuts for which matching bolts no longer exist. If you dig in those drawers you may find at the bottom is an ancient coin. Kept as a good luck piece and forgotten when incessant hammering vibrated it into the void from which I rescue it.  The Centeime (front and Back) is a french quarter from 1918 and worth about 26 cents and was found in a box of hardware in Danbury. The half crown from 1959 is worth $1and was found in a drawer in an old barn in Ridgefield..  Just for clarification, none of these coins are gold, that's just my imperfect photography skills.

25 Centime coin french 1918

Then there are the hooks and nails affixed to the walls to hold that gadget, or thingamabob that's never left it's original packaging, still emblazoning it's false printed promise to solve some age old problem.  Beer can openers, swizzle sticks, folding tape measures, and worn tools, some whose purpose may never be known - unless you can tell me. What is this?

Seems to be designed to turn a piece of wood and shape it somehow.

Finally, the collection of manuals, old newspapers, calendars, etc. which were so very important at one time and could never be casually tossed.

It's all treasure to me.  Some to keep, or not, but worth appreciating, studying, and attempt  to understand the way you might at a museum of oddities.