Monday, April 30, 2012

COLLECTION #218: Vintage Children's Friend Magazines from the '30s and '40s

I shared with you last week, some of my vintage LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon) magazines from the early part of the 20th century. Today, I have a collection of Children's Friend magazines from the 1930s and 1940s. The Children's Friend was the Church's publication for children, leaders and teachers. Today, it is called the Friend, and is one of the longest lasting publications in the USA. We always had the Children's Friend in our home growing up, and I remember it from even before I was old enough to read, since my older siblings had their copies. Later, when I became a professional illustrator, my first illustrations were published in the Friend, and I have contributed illustrations as recently as five years ago. So, it's always had a warm spot in my heart.

Typical of children's magazines of the era, the Children's Friend was filled with stories, puzzles, activities, arts and crafts, and photos of children far and wide, participating in church activities. Next week I'll share with you my collection of Children's Friend magazines from the 1950s and '60s.

For those of you who are LDS, you will note a photo and name of Mildred T. Pettit on the left photo on the page above: she is the composer of the children's song, "I Am a Child of God".

Sunday, April 29, 2012


The Labelman is Dwayne Rogers, who as a former agriculture inspector, began collecting produce crate labels in the late 1970s. He discovered that there were others out there, mostly in the agriculture business, who likewise had an interest in these colorful relics of the not-too-distant-past. At that time, it wasn't too difficult to find unused labels in agriculture warehouses, farms, and even print shops. Dwayne began collecting, trading, and began selling his labels at flea markets, street fairs, and eventually, eBay. I've bought some of my own labels from him.

Generally, I don't feature for-profit sites on my weekend collector feature, but I decided to make an exception, because the labels are generally very affordable, and he gives so much information about his labels. Not to mentioned, his collections are so vast and fascinating.

Stop by for a little taste of freshness, and a bit of a nostalgic look at days past.

Friday, April 27, 2012

COLLECTION #217: Vintage Schoolbooks About Our American Neighbors

Growing up in the US, we spent at least a year in elementary school learning about our American neighbors, primarily Mexico, Central and South America. When I was young, this was in the sixth grade, and I well remember the salt dough map I made of the South American continent.

These books are all from that same approximate grade level. Lots of interesting facts about Canada, Mexico, and Latin America, especially about their customs, climate, and products. As is often the case, the older books seemed to be a bit more interesting and exotic. I love my copy of "An American Family Visits the Americas". It is full of wonderful black and white, and full color illustrations of the people and cultures of Latin America. It was published in 1942.

I even have a fun Social Studies book from Mexico, called, Continente Americano: Metodo Objectivo. I couldn't find a copyright date, but it looks like the 1950s, early '60s.

There's only one book about Canada in my collection. I remember learning about Canada in grade school, and memorizing the provinces and capitals. I don't recall if we actually had an entire book about Canada or not. (Having traveled to Canada several times, I can tell you, it is just as fascinating as Argentina or Bolivia!)

Two small songbooks round out my collection. I remember how much fun it was to learn to sing in Spanish!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

COLLECTION #216: Vintage Toothpick Holders

A sweet little collection, only three strong, but cute.... my three little toothpick holders. One from New Orleans, (we bought it new in 1983, but the design is very retro), one from Knott's Berry Farm, age unknown, and the last one a little green 'watering can' ceramic holder, probably from the '40s or '50s. They do look adorable on my knicknack shelves.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

COLLECTION #215: Grandmother's Wedding Dress

I look forward to Wednesdays, when I feature something unique from my collection, something that I only have one of. Often these individual treasures are special to me because of how they came to be in my possession: a gift, a flea market find, a curbside treasure. But today's treasure is most precious, for it is my Grandmother's wedding dress. Although I'm an 'oldie' myself, and I have two little grandsons, due to the age of my grandparents when they married, the age of my own Mom when she married, and the birth order in our family, this wedding dress is probably older than that of most of my contemporaries' similar treasures. My Grandma Martha Matilda Gruetzmacher Ward was born in 1878, and my Grandpa William Walter Ward was born in 1875. They both married a little later that was common in that day- Grandma was 31 and Grandpa was 34.

Grandma and Grandpa Ward were married on 9 October 1909, in Owatonna, Minnesota. Due to some fortunate circumstances, the wedding dress came into my possession quite a few years ago, and I've tried to take good care of it since then.

I've written about their love story on an earlier blog entry, so I'll link it here, in case you are interested. It's a sweet story! (And the subject of another Orphan Wednesday two months ago).

I can imagine my Grandma, sitting with her own mother, at their treadle sewing machine, perhaps with the help of some cousins or friends, lovingly stitching every tuck, dart, and row of lace. There are some discolored 'bones' in the neck area (these were the little pieces of celluloid that made the neck stand up straight, instead of folding over), and a nice stain along the hem. Perhaps it was from the wedding celebration- they were married in the bride's home in Minnesota. Perhaps the stain is wine or juice. I can only wonder!  Sadly, only a day or two after the honeymooning couple left for their new home in Portland, Oregon, her mother passed away. Such tender memories of her wedding and wedding preparations must have been darkened by the news, which probably arrived by telegram when the couple arrived at their new home.

But I have the dress and veil, and a photograph of my Grandparents, taken, as was common back then, shortly after the wedding. The photo was taken in Portland, so I'd imagine it was taken within a week or so of their marriage. Aren't they beautiful? I love looking at Grandma in that dress, with her sweet face, and imagining what life was like for them back in 1909.

Here's a layout I did about the dress:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

COLLECTION #214: Cowboy Toys & Collectibles

When I was a little girl, cowboys were all the rage. The 'golden age' of the cowboys began in the 1930s and 1940s, with the advent of celebrity cowboy movie stars and singers, such as Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and Tex Ritter. Of course, there had been earlier cowboy celebrity heroes, such as Tom Mix and William S. Hart, but these later stars became much more commercially successful and marketable.  [OK, to be fair, there was an earlier Golden Age of Cowboys....that would have been when the genuine cowboys roamed the Wild West in the 19th century!]

In the 1950s, when I was little, television westerns were the most popular genre for entertainment. In addition to the above stars, we kids adored Davy Crocket, Zorro, (he may not have been a cowboy, but he was definitely a western hero!) Rin Tin Tin (a doggy western hero), Daniel Boone. My personal favorite TV westerns were Maverick, Wagon Train, the Rifleman, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, the Virginian, and the Wild, Wild West.  By the mid-60s, the western genre had lost popularity, and only a few die-hard series such as Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and the Big Valley remained.

But cowboys weren't just for the movies, television and records. Cowboys were everywhere. On lunchboxes, games, home accessories, table linens, clothing, dishes, books, jewelry, calendars, and of course, toys. Some toys capitalized on licensed characters such as Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers. (Very collectible, and expensive today). Others just clung to the spurs, so to speak, of the trend, and used generic cowboys and cowgirls to sell merchandise.

Here's my collection of mostly toys, but a few other items used by children and adults alike. I hope you like, and if you had, or still have any cowboy or cowgirl toys, why don't you leave a comment and share your story? (Click on any image for a closer view).

Cowboy Checkers by Fairchild Corp. Cowboy game by Milton Bradley. Notice the Cowboy Joe game piece from Go to the Head of the Class

Roy Rogers and Trigger neckerchief

More cowboy themed handkerchiefs

Misc. cowboy toys

Roy Rogers watch, and some toy watches

Toy watches and western set

Miss Davy Crockett purse

Cowboy dishes

Cowboy themed wall art and accessories

Cowboy paper doll
Cute cowgirl birthday card 

Mattel cowboy 'Ge-tar'
Cowboy and horse themed wall plaques

I have a few other cowboy themed items, you can see them here, here, and here. Oh! And here too.