We sometimes take a New England Vacation. That means we don’t go very far and we do it off-season (also known as Reduced Rates Time). Usually this involves staying at an inn or bed and breakfast for a couple of days. We spend the daytime going to various antique shops looking for things we don’t need at prices higher than we are used to paying back home. Sometimes good bargains can be found.
Our most recent foray was to the southern part of Maine. We stayed at one of our favorites, the York Harbor Inn. It is situated right on the ocean, not far from the famous Nubble Lighthouse (Nubble Light). York Harbor is also next to several other good antiquing communities.
These include Ogunquit, Kittery, and Wells. Our first stop is always the Kittery Trading Post. You won’t find many antiques there (unless you are interested in some old used bullet dies). You will find a nice selection of clothing, sporting goods of all sorts, and of course Maine souvenirs. The place is decorated with mounted bears and moose at every turn. This is an awesome store and well worth the visit. We managed to buy a couple of things including a stock of Duck Dynasty chocolate bars that may end up in some Christmas stockings. The one item we were really interested in was a heavy Indian-style blanket. We purchased one from the Trading Post about 10 years ago and it is still like new. These Pendleton Blankets are made real well and they look and feel great. We looked over the current stock but were unable to decide on a blanket. The price (a bit high) made it an even more difficult decision. The decision was made to check back on our way home.
Most of the next two days was spent visiting large and small shops. Some were very neat, clean, and well lighted. Others were cluttered, grungy, and dank. All were at least a little bit interesting. Only one in 6 or so held anything of interest to me. I am always looking for old radios and radio-related items. Other stuff can interest me too. It just has to be the right price and condition. I did not see many radios. The ones I did see were usually poor examples of little or no interest. They were also usually priced way beyond their true value. You find this often with antique dealers because most of them don’t handle many radios and thus do not know what they are worth.
So, I started looking at recipe books, the ones that look like little brochures. These were usually given away by the manufacturers of sugar, flour, and soups. We like to frame them as kitchen decorations. I found a nice one that was put out by the American Can Company (the back page explains how to use a wall-mounted can opener) that features a nice color cover picture of mom cooking in her 1952 kitchen. The other thing to know about recipe books is that many radio stations and radio shows issued their own cookbooks. Those are the gems I was most interested in. Did I find one? You bet! This one was produced by the Pet Milk Company (evaporated milk in the can). The cover shows their spokesperson Mary Lee Taylor and right next to her is a big old microphone. Go to the back cover and there is a small blurb for Mary Lee’s Saturday Recipe of the Week show (every Saturday morning on NBC).
But it gets even better! The rest of the back cover features a photograph of Fibber McGee and Molly holding a can of Pet evaporated milk. It is an advertisement for their radio show that was “on NBC every Tuesday Night, Coast to Coast”. What could be better? Together I paid about $2.50 for the booklets. If you go on eBay right now you can find several of these for very little more.
Another paper collectible (called ephemera) that I took a liking to was a May, 1941 Time Magazine. I purchased it ($4 after winter discount of 20%) because of the numerous advertisements, especially the color ones for cars. Click on the two you see here for larger versions.
I did find one ad for the 1941 Buick (my car) but it was in black and white. That was OK since the other ones were so nice. The short list of full-page color ads: Columbia Records, Monsanto Chemicals, Monroe Machines, Ethyl Gasoline Corporation, Fisher Body (GM), Texaco, Coca-Cola, Chrysler, Old Gold Cigarettes, Oldsmobile, White Trucks, Cadillac, and Nash. The only question now is, do I leave the magazine intact or take out the ads and frame them?
I saw some vacuum tubes, none of value. I saw an RCA tube caddy with a few interesting items inside (dial string, a few tubes and dial lights, etc.) but the ratty condition (and the fact that I already own one) did not warrant the $35 price (“sorry sir, we don’t offer discounts”). It was a $10 item for me. The Farmall Tractor chalk board was nice. It was also the only item in the store without a price. Don’t you love it when they have to contact the dealer for a price and the dealer is not available? Then there was the 2 foot tall electric insulator. This thing was massive. I almost went for that until I started to think about what I was going to do with it. I had no idea!
I also have been known to collect interesting telephones. I have several that are still awaiting a good display space at home. I like novelty phones like Garfield the Cat. He sits atop an old National speaker. So it was not surprising that an older telephone caught my eye. It was the standard two-piece desk or wall telephone with the pushbutton dial pad that is exposed when you lift the receiver. The difference was the case. The entire phone was transparent! I thought that was so cool. It was even nicer that the dealer had posted “50% off on all items”. That brought the $20.00 pricetag (a bit steep for me) to a reasonable $10.00. It was not until much later back in the hotel room that I realized the 1980’s Cicena (the ‘Rhonda’ model) telephone also had a jack for a power supply.
What was the power needed for? No power supply came with the phone. Then I noticed the neon tube inside the case. I knew that I had a spare power cube at home (I never throw them away). An extensive search on the Internet helped me determine that 12 volts DC was needed. I took a chance on a center positive pin and it worked great! This thing was made to light up! The whole phone glows a very warm blue (two levels of brightness) while the dial pad is illuminated by separate green LED’s. Rhonda has found a permanent home on my nightstand.
Our third day of vacation was our last. After checkout we headed back home along US Route 1 (where all the antique stores are) for one last pass. There are a lot of outlet shopping malls in Kittery. They generally do not have anything of interest to me. My wife did not show any interest either. Then I spied the Brookstone store. Do you know anyone who does not enjoy browsing all the wacky gadgetry that Brookstone stocks? It’s like a funhouse for curious geeks. I like to look at the stuff but rarely buy anything. The two items I have bought in the past (a world time map/clock and a hand crank shortwave radio) have given me hours of fun and they don’t break! Well, I zoomed right past the parking lot (about 4 acres of cars with almost no empty spaces) and then made my decision. “Camille, do you mind if I just have a look around in Brookstone? You never know what you will find there.” Of course she agreed to the shopping diversion. I pulled into the second entrance and hauled around to the back of the mall. Empty spaces in the back, just as I figured. As you enter Brookstone the first thing you notice is the greeter and next you see the crowd of people looking and looking, just like you intend to do. We were greeted and supplied with a 15% off coupon (spend $50 first, etc. … fat chance I’ll be using that). I began my saunter through the aisles and bayous of Brookstone. As usual I am attracted to any electronic gizmos. Then I saw this substantial rectangular box with a black piano finish. It was billed as the iDesign Power Speaker Stereo for iPad. I was looking for one of these, but not something in the $100.00+ range. This one said it was just $29.99. Why? Two reasons:
- this Brookstone is a clearance store and only handles discontinued items
- the tag indicated that the speaker was ‘second quality’.
I was willing to give it a go. A friendly young lady offered to try the speaker out for me (I had to ask – needed to see how loud the thing was). She went and got a box and opened it up. I volunteered to get my iPad from the car but she had an iPod handy. Sure enough the thing boomed out the audio and it sounded good too. I was sold. According to the tag the original price was $149.99, crossed out and changed to $89.99 and crossed out again and changed to $49.99 and finally dropped to $29.99. The clerk at the register rung up the sale and I saw $89.99 appear on the display. Before I had a chance to object it changed to $24.99 and finally $26.36 with tax. Good deal! I guess they gave me that discount coupon. Then the clerk gave me another coupon for $20 off my next purchase over $99, online or at the store. I think I should have bought two of these things! It turns out the unit worked real well when I got it home. The little stand for the iPad was a bit difficult to attach and the docking connection does seem a little less robust than I would like. I may fix that by purchasing a docking extension cable on Amazon. For now I can enjoy room-filling music anywhere in the house where I plug this in. It even has an auxiliary input (standard 3.5 mm stereo cable) that plays music from my cell phone. I think I will be stopping at the Kittery Brookstone again next year! (and yes, it plays anything I can put on the iPad: Pandora, TunIn Radio, You Tube, MP3’s, Netflix, etc.)
Final stop on the way home?..Kittery Trading Post again…we picked up a few more candy bars and we got that blanket. It’s going to be a warm winter.
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