Odd Yard Sale Finds


August 2012

Oops there goes another rubber tree plant!

Ants are the most common insects on Earth. It is estimated that for every human on the planet, there are approximately 7000 ants. That’s a lot of ants! Ants are among the strongest insects as well, able to carry 20 times their own body weight. This one is tin, and big, but harmless, even more so because he is missing his fangs.

Wonder if he still has his high hopes?

“I love it when a plan comes together.”

I know I watched this show in the 1980s, but I have to be honest and say that I really don’t remember much about it, other than the fact that they blew up a lot of stuff, Mr. T wore about 6 lbs. of gold chains, and George Peppard’s character uttered that famous tag line in every show. The A-Team game is not necessarily a rare item, but it is rare to find one in this condition, sealed and unopened. What a shame to think that some kid(s) were denied the pseudo-experience of launching motor vehicles and busting up people.

Here’s the intro from the TV show featuring real men blowing up real stuff (and lots of it).

Drive-Thru Trees? Who knew?

I don’t think we have these in New England. Our trees do not look wide enough for automobile traffic. The yard sale seller of this souvenir shaker probably picked it up at the Drive Thru gift shop, way back when.

If you are headed west, and your bucket list includes “Drive through a tree,” here’s the link for more information:

Oh no! Not the oven!

My first thought was that this is an oven mitt, but that couldn’t be, could it? No one would stick this guy in the oven, would they? My second best guess is that it is some kind of spa mitt, if there is such a thing. That seems to make more sense. Bet that towel turban could catch fire in no time. That would not be a pretty sight, or a very safe one.

“You’re everything a big bad wolf could want.”

The 1950s and 1960s could be called the age of the novelty salt and pepper shaker. People collected them by the millions. I was at a yard sale in New Hampshire a few years ago and the seller must have had at least 300 sets of s&ps on the table. Most of the novelty shakers of the era were tacky, or at least they appear so now. Very few are cute, and well made. This “Miss Cutie” pair is the exception to the rule. I am still a bit sorry I sold them. I don’t keep a lot of stuff, but I think I should have found a place for them.

For the record, Miss Cutie may or may not be related to Little Red Riding Hood. The title line is courtesy of that Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs hit from the 1960s. I am sure the big bad wolf would be equally happy with Miss Cutie if Little Red Riding Hood proved to be too elusive to catch.

Hippopotamus hamburger?

Thankfully this was the name of the restaurant, not the fare that it served. The restaurant was a San Francisco icon for more than 30 years, closing its doors in 1987. Apparently, even though hippo was not on the menu, some of the recipes were a little “out there” as the saying goes. The Hippo Cook Book debuted in 1969.

Here’s a link to a bit of Hippopotamus Hamburger history:

What do I win if I can name them all?

I can name most of them. Gorbachev, Kruschev, and Brezhnev are easy. One of them is Lenin and one is Stalin, I think. Not sure about the other two.

Russian nesting dolls turn up quite often at yard sales. This is the only set of Russian leaders I have seen.

Missing its Trylon?

I have to admit, this one has me stumped. It’s a 6″ diameter wooden ball that looks to be very well made. The “why” part is a mystery. Surely, it must have been made to do something, or go with something. I just have no idea.

The Trylon reference is to the Trylon & Perisphere that most collectors are no doubt familiar with. Even if you are not a collector, it’s always nice to know what those things are called, just in case you find yourself on Jeopardy one day, and the answer is “iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair symbols that everyone has seen, but no one knows the actual names of.”

“A spittoon? I was sure it was a cuspidor.”

The truth is it can be called either. If you are Portuguese, you can take credit for the classier cuspidor moniker. If you are just good old-fashioned American, you gotta call it a spittoon; and contrary to what most people would think if they stumbled upon one of these, it was definitely not designed to be a planter; although in today’s society, since spittooning (or just plain spitting) has pretty much gone out of style, the planter idea is definitely a great one.

I have been buying and selling assorted “junque” for the better part of 25 years, and this is the very first spittoon I have ever purchased. I could celebrate the occasion with a chaw and spit of tobacco, like they did in the old days, but I think it is best if I not. I would probably miss the opening anyway. Not much practice in that department.

Blog at

Up ↑