Friday, November 25, 2011

A Cautionary Sale!

My, oh, my. It was interesting, I bought a few things, and when I left this morning’s sale I wanted to get home as fast as I could to a) take a shower and b) start decluttering my house!

The Craigslist ad did not lie. One couple’s accumulation of Stuff had been carted to a 7000 square foot building in order to have this sale. From what I heard, having it at the house would have been impossible for several reasons. (One was the mice. Ig. Didn’t hear that till I’d been looking around for some time!) This building apparently is used mostly for weddings and other large gatherings. I got there about 20 minutes after the sale started, and was a little surprised that the parking lot wasn’t full nor were there lots of cars turning in. Guess most folks were battling each other for bargains at the malls.

I started looking around. The twinkling strings of lights are probably wonderful for a wedding, but they were hell on my eyes trying to discern what I was looking at.


The stage was amazing – a whole scene is painted up there. That full moon over the mountaintop is a light fixture. I actually took a couple of things over to it in an attempt to make out details.


After a while I began to adjust to the gloom. One of the first tables I came to had old games. Thought these were kind of amusing.

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Aren’t those kids a riot? Looks like they just grabbed three kids and said, “Here, pretend you’re playing this game.” And doesn’t ‘Dig’ sound like fun. Actually, I looked inside the box of that one, but pieces seemed to be missing so I passed on it.

Actually, I passed on a number of things. Well, thousands actually given what was there. A couple of our friends recently bought a fabbo motor home and we know it needs a clock, so I was a little tempted to give them this one.

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D & D, you had a narrow escape! I know you want to listen to 12 different tunes coming from the wall as you drive around!

This made my wordsmith’s teeth grind together. Helllloooo…if something is unique, there is ONLY ONE.


I thought putting a first aid kit into a cardboard box was a little odd. Then I realized it was a CLEANING first aid kid. These people must have a different relationship with their carpets than I do.


Of all the thousands (I am not kidding) of items, it seemed like a third of them were owls. They were everywhere in every conceivable material and form. I will probably be chased by owls in my dreams tonight.


Close to the table of games I spotted these.

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They struck me as something that might resell, given the popularity of midcentury stuff, but had no price. A guy came by with a roll of masking tape and gave me an acceptable price for them, and we chatted for a few moments. He shook his head as he looked around and said, “Yep, this all belonged to one woman. She’s 77 and just moved to a smaller place. Kicking and screaming all the way.”

My soft heart went into overdrive. Ohhhh, poor old thing, I thought, how sad for her. But as I looked through all the tables of stuff, my sympathy somehow started fading. There was something about it all…well, it was mostly just junk. Perhaps I’m overly pragmatic, feeling that the things in our homes should be useful (or beautiful!) . I certainly have plenty of stuff that I have acquired just because I like to look at it. But maybe that’s the key, because I do look at my stuff and enjoy it and if it stops making me feel happy I move it along so someone else might enjoy. A bit later I fell into conversation with one of the women helping with the sale, and got more of the story. She repeated what the guy had said about it all coming out of one house, and I said it must have been a big place. She nodded. “Great big house in West Salem, up on the hill. You wouldn’t have believed it. Every room was packed from the ceiling to the floor. And there were rooms where something had fallen down and blocked the door so you couldn’t even get in. All this stuff, and mice.” (This was the point when a shower started sounding good.) “Mice, and cats. And cars in the yard. They kept every car they ever bought and left them in the yard. Lincolns. There’s a Lincoln parked over at the church they’re trying to sell. They foreclosed on her house. When she lost her husband, she had no income but she didn’t stop buying stuff. They bought the house back in the Seventies, you’d think it would be paid off, right? But no. They just kept buying stuff.”

By now I’m about ready to put back the items I had picked out to buy! I didn’t – but I’m more than a little glad I’ve carted at least a dozen boxes of stuff over to the kitty rescue’s thrift store since I moved here!

In the end I spent $4.70, and hopefully will make it back with a couple of resales (a form of decluttering!). I did buy the two framed Richter antelopes.


Wind up toys are always fun, and both of these little Tomy bears still work.


Brought home a few Christmas ornaments. We’re thinking about having a fairly large tree (the ceilings in our house start at about 10 feet and go up to a peak in the middle!) that will be able to accommodate all our ornaments and then some.




Thought this candleholder was just interesting.


As well as candles, it can hold the wind up bears.


Picked up another vintage linen that I’ll try to resale. The RN number on the tag dates this to late 1959!

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I can’t help wondering why one would have a lovely piece of useful cloth like this, and never ever use it. Not even for show – because even though the tag is from Montgomery Ward, that $2.49 price tag was a chunk of change back then. Over $18, according to an inflation calculator I just consulted.

I unearthed a couple of old pieces from the tables of stuffed toys. Hope this vintage rubber-faced skunk will sell. She’s really rather cute.


And I tried to resist, but this guy needed to be rescued.


I know, I know, he’s not the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. He’s probably been over-wound, but when you spin his tail his head still turns back and forth. He’s quite close in design (though not as well made) as my windup lamb that I bought at an auction about 30 years ago. Her tail also spins, which makes her head go up and down, and a little bellows in her neck bleats.


I’ve never been able to find any information about my lamb. She’s a tin windup toy, covered with mohair fabric. I bought her with an Eduard Cramer teddy bear that dates to the 1930s. I’m hoping that perhaps the tag on the new guy (what the heck is he anyway? The spots are giraffe colored, but leopard sized…and the body is more like a llama!) might give me some new clues to search. Any info greatly appreciated!



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

At the Grange

Now that we’re running up to the holidays in earnest, I’m expecting fewer and fewer sales on the weekends. Last week’s three day blowout may have been the icing on the 2011 cake. So this Saturday when I saw a Craigslist ad for a flea market being held in the grange hall of a small town about 20 miles east of Salem, I knew we had to go.


Do you see what’s on that hill? Yup, snow! The seasons sure are different when you move a thousand miles north!

The parking lot was packed, the grange was toasty warm, and full of people. About 25 folks had tables set up, pretty much the kind of wares you’d see at garage sales. Makes total sense if you live out in the country to have your sale this way. We made our way down the aisles, chatting with a few sellers. I glanced at a vintage book on Danish silver, and commented to the seller on how cool some of the pieces in the pictures were. He said something like he wished his grandparents had left him some, but what can you do when they pass away before you ever get a chance to meet them. I summoned all my tact and did not say that this probably was not by their choice!

At the end of the room I paused at a table with hundreds of small round objects. Little turkeys, snowmen, reindeer and other seasonal motifs gazed up at me. Looking closer I realized these were wrapped chocolate-covered mints, each decorated with a paper cutout.


I asked the lady if she had made them all, and she said she sure had. She said some of them are cut out with a punch, but some she cuts out freehand. The amount of work she has put into them amazed me – and they were twenty-five cents each. I bought a few of the turkeys. How could I not? This lady cut out 5 layers of tail feathers for each one, and varied the order of the colors from mint to mint, and cut out and glued on tiny triangles for the beaks – and then drew on the eyes and details with a pen. I gave a couple to my friend Diana on Sunday, and she immediately held them up to see how they’d work as earrings.


Not bad actually – but probably would work better without the mint!


On the last row, a couple of ladies were sharing a long table. The older one had a few pieces of vintage china . when I asked about them she laughed and said she knew they were old because they were given to her about fifty years ago, and she wasn’t going to say how old she was at the time.


I seem to like Winfield china! This is the third time I’ve bought some. I wish I knew if it’s safe to actually bake in a casserole dish like this. Or to bake custard in the adorable small lidded bowls? (Missing one lid, dang it.)



The other lady at this table had mostly Christmas items. In the box of quarter stuff I found this.

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Hand painted egg! Rooster! Love! And we really need something Oregon-ish on our Christmas tree, right? What could be more Oregon than this?

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When we left the nice warm grange hall and headed out into the chilly November day, we decided to drive through town rather than just turn around and go back to the highway, since we’d never been here before. Around a bend in the road we found a thrift store and went in to peruse. I live in hope of finding another fabulous piece of MCM furniture everywhere I go. Didn’t find anything…but I wish I was still young enough – and small enough – to use this.


It’s called a Pogo Pony, apparently came out in the late Sixties. I bet there were some scarred hardwood floors in the homes that had these puppies! The ads for it said it could gallop, trot, canter, even back up and turn, and the spring-feet actually leave the floor. It must have been a really fun toy. Of course, any kid who had one today would probably be required by law to wear a helmet to ride it!

If I may veer for a moment into shameless self promotion, I’ve got several auctions running this week on eBay, including those Vera napkins some of you like. Auctions end the day after Thanksgiving – please take a look!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

What You Can Buy for Grzybumpy Cents

You know, I expected retirement to be wonderful. I looked forward to it for a long time and was really ready for the change. I assumed that moving a thousand miles north would mean that my thrifting would be limited to the summer months, and that by now I’d be blogging about stories from the past or how I’m using things I’ve found over the years. No doubt those weekends will come as winter progresses. I certainly did not expect to be able to go out garaging more than I did in Southern California, but this weekend I hit sales on three days. Woo hoo!

Granted, the number of sales are limited, but the stories I heard were fun, and I spent a whopping thirty bucks so you know I brought home some goods.

Friday I bought things at three sales and heard stories at another. I saw this plaque in one garage and asked the lady how much it was.


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“Grzybumpy cents,” she mumbled. I must have had a puzzled look on my face, because she said a little louder, “Grzybumpy cents.” Ummm…she said it once more, and I said, “Did you say twenty five cents?” “Yes!” I laughed and told her I’d thought she said forty-five cents and it seemed like such an odd amount, and she laughed too. No way was I going to tell her I thought she was saying grzybumpy. And of course a quarter is perfect, because that was the original price!


The picture is laminated to some kind of board. Don’t think it’s a real cover, but besides being perfect for my guest room decorated with children’s literature stuff, I actually remember this album from when I was little. (It was not my favorite though. That honor goes to “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?”) Maybe I’ll have to frame that saying “What if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about” though personally I like better  “Hokey Pokey Clinic – a place to turn yourself around.”

I also picked up this little trellis there, for when we start relandscaping in the spring.


Another sale netted a fifty cent bottle of Fray Check, which I’ve never owned before, despite have sewn sporadically for, oh, um, over forty years. And I picked up some votives and tealight candles at another, which was nice because I’ve been using a lot of them in the Yixing teapot warmer I found a year or so ago.

The funnest sale though was not one where I bought anything. This beauty greeted me as I stepped from the car.


If it’s not a twin to the sad picture over on Retro Renovation it’s at least a close cousin! A nice young couple with three kids are renovating their Craftsman house, and this puppy had to go. Hope some MCM fan got it. Most of their stuff was inside the house, but when I headed through the yard I was stopped by this wonderful wattle trellis the wife had made.


They told me the house came with three lots, one of which is planted with fruit trees which had not been pruned for a long time, so there were plenty of cuttings to work with last spring. Evidently the cuttings were not ready to admit defeat, and sprouted leaves after they had been woven into the trellis!

Inside I started chatting with the lady of the house. A small, gray half grown kitty came by and was willing to be picked up and petted. It was one of those delightful conversations where one topic riffs off another. Before long we were each telling our favorite “mice in the house” stories. (Oh, go on. You know you have one too.) Hers included one about a bowl of cat food that none of the cats would eat from. They would line up to eat from the other bowl and not go near the other, even though it was full. Then they started noticing there was always a dip in the food in the middle of the bowl. By now I’m about ready to believe it was haunted, but no. One night she stayed up late, sitting quietly nearby, and saw a very large – well, let’s say it was a step up in size from a mouse! – come out, grab a piece of food from the middle of the bowl, and take it back to where a stockpile was being created. All of the household cats were brought in to take care of the problem, but they all jumped up and cowered on the bed!

Saturday, I started out at a sale near my house, and spent at least 45 minutes going through the artist’s studio behind the house. The first thing I noticed was this lamp, which is a relative of the vintage Sight Light desk lamp we got back in January.


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I looked around some more, and noticed boxes and boxes of cloth. You have never seen so many vintage linens in your life. I keep telling myself “No more!” and I did pretty good. Only brought home a couple of cloths to keep.

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I picked up this vintage tea towel to see if it will resell.

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The linens were just the tip of the iceberg. The lady who lived here was, according to her daughter in law, very artistic in lots of ways, and anything she wanted to do or try her husband would get for her. She painted, she did ceramics, there was a kiln, there were vases and knick knacks and boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations. There was so much stuff I had to look around several times because I kept seeing stuff I had missed. Like this little guy.


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I was completely smitten by the sailor collar and the basketwork of his cart. When I got him home I remembered a piece of ribbing I had left from a felted sweater. So now I have a new pincushion.


Amazingly, I was the only shopper for much of the time I was looking. Others came and went. One gent about my age looked around happily and told me and the daughter in law that he grew up in a florist’s shop, and he remembered a lot of the things that were there. He pointed out some vases from the Fifties, and got nostalgic over a herky tape dispenser just like the one his mother had in her shop. While he was talking I noticed a stool under some pink pillows. Moved the pillows and found this.


Yes, it needs recovering, but it is perfect to go with our Heywood Wakefield vanity. It swivels beautifully. When I got it home I saw that the fabric was just pinned on. How fast do you think I got it unpinned? Probably not quite  that fast – the pins were rusty and I had to get some pliers to pull them out. Underneath a different homemade slipcover emerged.

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It was rather stained, so it’s getting an oxy soak even as we speak. I think the stains are coming out, but if not I’ll find something else.

When I got home I started looking up prices on vintage tablecloths and noticed they seem to resell pretty well. So this morning Steven and I headed back so I could see if anything resale-worthy was still there. We were greeted by this beauty, who probably lives next door.

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Can’t think when I’ve gone back to a sale a second time (or gone out three days in a row). I could tell that some stuff had been sold, but what went out of there on Saturday barely made a dent. While I was going through the tablecloths and cloth napkins again, I got more of the family history from the daughter in law. Her husband’s parents are now in their late 80s and living in a care home. They ran a store in Montana for years, sounded like it was a combination of clothing and pretty housewares. “She’d go buying for the store, and of course would find stuff she wanted for her own home too.” I heard about the sets of dishes that various family members have received, with names like Spode on the backs. Each set with eight or twelve place settings. When they closed the store they moved to this house in Salem and created an absolutely amazing garden behind the house. Her studio where she did her art was actually built over a swimming pool! Yes, they had an indoor pool, but when they were in their 70s decided it was too much to take care of, so they built a floor over the pool and made it her studio. Steven asked if they had filled in the pool, but no, it’s still under there. Not only that, there is a trapdoor and they use the old swimming pool for storage! Which may explain the rather musty smell clinging to the probably hundred or more sofa pillows still looking for new homes.

Today I picked up a couple more tablecloths. Hopefully they will sell, but if not I’ll be happy to keep them. ;o)


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Also some vintage Vera napkins.

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And my stash of tiny tapers grows apace!


Since there’s so much stuff still left, they are planning to have another sale in March when they put the house on the market.

Yeah. I might have to go back again, just in case I missed something!

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