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Monday, March 30, 2009

More evidence of my mis-spent youth

For a myriad of reasons, some estate sales are a mess: quick sale, no time, moving, staying one step ahead of the Feds, etc. Most of them are a mess mainly due to the foot traffic they can receive each day they operate. I feel sorry for the folks running those sales - whether professional services, or friends and family, by the late afternoon, they are getting kind of punchy. But, if you're like me, and you like finding things, and you're willing to substitute selection for a deal, then visiting these sales around this time is for you.

So, onto the "Wacky Packages". How or why did I get these? They were just sitting on the floor at a barn sale. Someone must have dragged a box or bag full of junk and these escaped. I just followed the trail. Some were scratched but I was mainly impressed that they were still attached to their backing. It was a lot like seeing an old friend. Before I had given these up to the trash can in the eighties,I am pretty sure I had quite a few. I paid 50 cents for the lot of these.

I can handle a mess, compared to the strict degree of organization some sales undertake, there just is no fun in looking over items that have been cleaned, stacked, and lined up like soldiers waiting for dress review. I don't want to be told what items are there or where they are. I just want to know where I can look. "Is it throughout the house?" I'll ask. I want to look under the table, in the box, behind the door, on the shelf, in the corner, under the rug, between the floor boards, in the ceiling, over the door jamb, often searching for the items that haven't been found yet. Who else do you know brings a flashlight to an estate sale?

When I find something, I don't gloat. I have nothing to prove to these folks, "Hey, look at what you missed." Naw, I like to walk up to the person at the cash box and say "How much is this? or, "Are the owners or relatives around? They probably didn't want to sell this." I may be one of the few people that likes to add things to a sale rather than take them away.

I was lucky to grow up where I did, in a truly suburban setting and I would be surprised if it still exists as I remember it. In 5th or 6th grade I would walk from George Washington Elementary School along a main road to the local shopping center that had a 5 and 10 cent store, best described as the CVS of yore. For or 15 or 20 cents (Yup! then as now some things never change - nothing at the 5&10 was ever 5 or 10 cents, just as nothing at the dollar store is ever a dollar.) I could get a couple of "Wacky Packages" which had 2-3 stickers and a card board list, which on the reverse was a puzzle piece. I was young, but why did I find these so enthralling?

It had to be the over-the-top puns (what one might call the "Walter Crankcase" school of comedy), sight gags, rich and well duplicated color and design, or maybe just the idea of spoofing to bring down the mighty brand. Bombarded as we were by so many commercials this was our opportunity to lash out at the establishment, a perfect voice for a 6th grader. I eventually got a loose leaf binder with paper and stuck all my stickers for future reference. It was nothing to speak of, but it served its purpose. I wonder where it is now? If you want to learn more or were infected by Wacky Packages yourself, you can visit www.wackypackages.org It is fairly comprehensive with better images than my skills can display.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

This is going on your permanent record!!!

The danger in writing a Blog is that in each post the author must risk revealing a part of themselves. To avoid this would make the reading dull, like a novel with no character development. I don't expect visitors to know me from my profile, that's like judging a house by looking at the mailbox. Writing a public blog is a lot of work, for example, this post is in it's 2nd rewrite. In the blogs that I follow (see the right hand side of the page) most have 2 or more regular contributors, add to that the occasional guest blogger and the workload gets kind of spread out. In my case, I have to get over the fact that I can't post every night (at least in 300 words or less, before 2am), so I must be satisfied with posting once a week, twice a week if I am lucky. Not for a lack of material (trust me), it is my own internal battle with quality control. I don't want to just post my inventory of "finds", I want to use the medium to tell a story and possibly enjoy reading it myself.
So, in honor of the timing of my daughter's kindergarten report card (we're still waiting for it to arrive....sheesh!) Here is a revealing look at a point in my formative years:
Ahh, good old East View, when you could still walk to school if you wanted to, and all you had to worry about during the shortcut through a back alley was a few feral cats and their kittens. Peter Van Toll and I actually caught a few of the kittens. He was a junior humanitarian, I was already looking for an excuse to "dig" in someone's garage. Word of caution: I wouldn't recommend to the untrained any attempt at a capture of either cat or kitten ala feral. Trying to capture a feral kitten is like trying to stop a table fan covered in razor blades with your bare hands. Not a good idea.

I was only in 7th grade and my mind was already drifting from my studies. I was becoming a...a..hmmm....rebel?...badass?....How did my seventh grade Art teacher put it?(Click to enlarge)
That's me "The edge of mischief" look out for me, world. I could go at any moment. I'm on the edge baby. One wrong step, one mis-folded paper, one crooked scissor cut and I am full blown mischievousness personified. I love the way Mrs Cole put that, "Greg worked long and hard and well (like the 3 could ever be separate) until after the report card went out, and then he "fell apart." Wow, it sounds as if I must have had some kind of breakdown.

Edge of Mischief - sounds like a Disney soap opera. As I recall, nothing ever came of this warning. I got back in the groove of whatever art project I was supposed to complete and found a different medium in which to express my rebellious ways.

Speaking of that - Coming Soon! The age of rebellion manifests itself in every generation. Here is proof of that from my generation, and a tease for the next post:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Republicans lose better junk!

While I did promise in an earlier post that I wouldn't favor a particular party's views within this blog. I guess I should clarify that I won't be swayed from posting my views of their forgotten stuff:
Maybe the Democrats are just better at holding on to things, or maybe I'm just not looking hard enough? My fellow bloggers, In the years to come, I will promise to provide a balanced ticket of trash, ephemera, and nostalgia in order to present to you a united nation's cast-offs, left behinds, and forgotten favorites. In the meantime, take a closer look at the stitched flag at the top of the ribbon:
I am pretty sure there were more than 13 States in 1908 (actually there were 46), but I can see why, if they had to pick a number of stars for such a small icon that they went with 13. Fortunately for Taft and Sherman, 13 turned out to be a lucky number, if they were at all superstitious. Taft won that election soundly beating William Jennings Bryan by garnering 29 States to Bryan's 17. (Thank you Wikipedia!)

I picked up this treasure at an estate sale that was one of the more interesting ones I have been to. The property had several small buildings on it and one was maybe a groundskeepers house that had a room full of built in bookshelves, yes, a library one might call it. Well, I began looking through many leather bound books amazed at their condition and age. One book I choose was a collection of Kipling's work (coincidence or not: my previous post is a parody of "IF") and tucked inside was this ribbon. The story of the owner is too strange to print here. I brought it to the attention of the person running the sale and she was so impressed with my honesty and said, "Keep it." It's hard to haggle with an offer like that.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Kent Film Festival is coming up...Don't miss it! (click on the poem to enlarge)

Irish I had a winning ticket

I thought this would be a good post in honor of St Patrick's Day. As I learn more about blogging I have found that some of the enjoyment comes, not from blogging myself, but teaching others how easy this is to do. Look for links in future posts of the blogs I helped launch (Gee, I hope they do actually launch).

Anyway, there I was out on a saturday with my other buddy, Robyn. She and I stopped at an unremarkable garage sale to paw through random stuff. I always go for the books. They sometimes seem the best icon for the era they were written in and can seem like time capsules themselves. My preference has always been reference books, odd how-to books, 50's era science fiction novels, and really, really old books when I can find 'em. In fact, the older the better. I am fascinated by the dated references within and when I can get lucky, the things that have been left behind. Case in point.
That unremarkable garage sale had a pocket leather-bound medical dictionary from 1924. I thought there might be some bizarre and outdated terms and medical conditions that I might find. Instead, I was awarded with an Irish Sweepstakes ticket. If I wasn't sure of its authenticity, I was doubly rewarded with this:
I say "award" and not "reward" because although I would like to think that I have found the winning ticket, I have to consider the number of tickets that were sold over the years and why a winning ticket would be stuck in a book and not cashed in. All the research I have been able to do points to what a long running scam the Irish sweepstakes really was. Mob controlled and preying on the sympathies for the Irish, and the need for greed, the money collected on these tickets never actually made it back to those under funded Irish Hospitals.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What X-box, Wii, and Playstation looked like 60 years ago, and then some.



How many times have you driven down that road to that place you were going, only to drive by a tag sale, and wonder as you hear the Doppler effect of people haggling. Oooh, what do they have out there? I bet at 40 miles an hour I can spot what kind of sale it is faster than an FBI profiler can pick a serial killer out of a line-up.

It was during one of those trips I was making on a Sunday morning that a sign on a phone pole caught my eye. Nothing special, but it did say "tag sale", it didn't even seem like that great a neighborhood, but turn I did because you never know. It was definitely the kind of sale that lacks promise: old faded plastic yard toys, non working appliances, and a blank stare from behind a table. To myself, I said, "Don't look at me like that, you put the signs up!" On another card table out of view of the blank stare was a game i'd never heard of for 75 cents.
How could a game called "PIT" be "Exciting Fun"? I knew it was old, so maybe playing in some kind of pit was fun long ago? I thought, opening the box, "As long as they don't mean arm-pit." And then I saw the cards, and then I saw the copyright date (1919), and then I crossed my fingers as I looked through the instructions for what the box should contain, and counted. Ahh! Commodities Trading PIT! It takes me a while sometimes, but eventually I catch on.
Though it may be no surprise, I don't remember where I was originally going that day, but as I recall we were entertaining guests that night and PIT became a piece of serendipity. If you've never played it, try bringing it over the next time the family gets together, or with four or more friends (the game is still being produced). The goal is to shuffle and deal as may of the commodities as there are players. With 9 cards of each commodity everyone starts with 2,3,4 of this or that, and as soon as someone yells "ding!" everyone begins trading to get all of one commodity in their hand. The person who successfully trades for all 9 of corn, wheat, flax, etc. yells, "Corner on____!" It really made our little get-together a laugh riot, and we were hooked.
Once I found PIT, I began to notice more of this style Parker Brothers games. If the price was right, I would pick it up. I may have also believed that with the success of PIT anything else would be as enjoyable, maybe not. "Make a Million" is played similar to bridge, a game that is just lost on me. Unfortunately, I haven't played this game for that reason, but it is complete and from 1945.

Rounding out the stack of games was my final game purchase at a sale whose location I can't remember: Contack.
This game is fun and can be played by as many as 2 -7, but is really best with no more than 3. The object is to match colors with numbers that equal multiples of "5", or, in order to keep from losing a turn the numbers can match, though no points are scored. The first one to use all their pieces is the winner. I haven't seen many of these around at any sale, or I may have collected more.