Nostalgia and fun for the Manse

Did you have one of these? A Chinese checkers game on one side of the round, flat tin, a checkers game on the other, and all the playing pieces stored inside. Hours of fun at very little cost!

The other side of the Chinese checkers board. We found it at an antique mall in Stratford, Ont., last weekend. “We had one of these!” exclaimed the clerk as she was doing the checkout. Didn’t we all?

Raymond and I adore visiting antique malls, flea markets and, yes, yard sales. (And auctions, of course, as I reported here.) Not for us (at least, not usually) the high-end antique stores with fine wooden 18th-century pieces of furniture that cost thousands of dollars. No, we’re the cheap and cheerful types. We have bought furniture at the antique malls and so on, but it tends to be mid-century – that would be mid-20th-century – stuff: mission, art deco, Scandinavian. Cool stuff, and much less expensive than the really old things. And of course these pieces come from the era when we were young, so they ring a nostalgic bell.

A vintage copy of the Parker Brothers game Pit, which we used to play with my cousins the Paynes. Picked up at an antique barn in New England for a mere $7!

And most of the time it’s not furniture we buy, but little things: the Fire-King glass that I collect, or Blue Heaven china, or a set of fish knives, or old games and decks of cards; I am particularly fond of old menus from restaurants, airplanes and cruise ships, and I have quite a few of those. Oh yes, and of the course the occasional book. (Ahem. See Exhibit A: our Montreal living room before we moved a bunch of the books to the Manse.)

Now that we own the Manse, a house that is already filled with mid-century memories for me because that’s the period in which I grew up in it, we have a perfect place to put all these finds. Funny: I’ve been picking up these bits and bobs for years, yet only bought the Manse this past January. It’s almost like I knew ahead of time that there’d be a place for them!

Here are some of our more recently acquired sweet small treasures:

A map-of-North-America wastebasket, which I found at the Aberfoyle Antique Market in Aberfoyle, Ont., and that is a dead ringer for one that my dad used to have in his study at the Manse. Guess where this one’s going to end up.

Noxzema the way it used to be. The bottle inside is full – has never been opened! This is what my mum always used to put on our sunburns.

Found in Stratford, Ont.: a bottle of Skrip, which bills itself as “writing fluid” and “the successor to ink,” but that I recall my father always using as … ink. For the fountain pen he always had ready to hand. It was made in Goderich, Ont.

Vintage soft-drink (“pop,” if you must) bottles, all found last weekend in Stratford: Hires root beer, Pure Spring ginger ale, and Wilson’s ginger ale. Where are they now? Gone, all long gone. But at least the bottles will live on in some nook at the Manse.

I hope these little finds bring back some memories to readers as well. It sure is fun to hunt this stuff down. As Raymond and I often ask ourselves: who has more fun than we do?

15 thoughts on “Nostalgia and fun for the Manse

  1. Oh, and have I told you about my New England Moxie collection? Seven ounce bottles from several eras; quart bottles; an original six-pack; a serving tray; and, best of all, a Ted Williams promotional poster. I am so proud, even though I can’t drink the vile stuff.

  2. Oh, and a Moxie 5-cent sign. Once, in Bucksport, Maine, I bought a bottle for Katherine. One has to partake of local flavours after all. I think she never made it beyond the first sip.

    • Funny you should mention that, Jim! I did see one at an antiques warehouse just the other day and thought about getting it, but decided it could wait for another time. Obviously if the Manse is to reflect the era, there has to be a crokinole board. But listen, you’re a smart guy, so maybe you can answer me this: why does it always hurt your fingers more than it should when you fire off one of the pieces in crokinole? Is it some sort of reverberative effect? That has always been one of the mysteries of the universe, to my mind.

      • By “fire off one of the pieces” do you mean having your shot carom off one of the pegs that guard the inner circle? I have no clue why that hurts the finger when, say, scoring a bull’s eye (20 points) or knocking out an opponent’s disc doesn’t, but I’m all too familiar with the phenomenon. Yes, it’s one of the great mysteries. By the way, Katherine, did you know that the earliest known crokinole board was made by one Eckhardt Wettlaufer in 1876 in Sebastopol, Ont. (near Tavistock) by an ancestor of Charlie Shannon’s daughter-in-law? Speaking of Tavistock, the World Crokinole Championships are held there every June. And where was The Gazette’s coverage? Crokinole! It’s like curling, only without the ice and brooms.

      • That’s exactly it, Jim! What the deuce can explain that phenomenon?
        I have to say I knew nothing of the Great Tavistock Crokinole Championships, nor the game’s connection to our Gazette friend and colleague – thank you for those tidbits The things one learns thanks to blog correspondents!

  3. Old pop bottles – perfect for the two or three long-stemmed wildflowers you have picked in the nearby meadow…Queen Anne’s Lace, Black-Eyed Susan, Daisies…and a couple of interesting grasses like those ones that look like sparklers before you burn them (only green)…on a red-checked tablecloth in the kitchen..

  4. That is a very cool edition of Pit, Katherine! And you have no idea how much I now want that wastebasket…

  5. ahhh I used to have that Chinese checkers game – we had a place up north near Mont Laurier and spent many evenings there playing the game or doing puzzles, not the wuss 200-pieces but the real mackoys… the 1000-pieces ones – and each of us would hide one piece at least to be the one who’d place the last one on the board ;o)) – I used to collect many things (not so much anymore) but I had a very nice of ‘tomato ware’ which I’d picked up through the years – it’s the fun of looking for the stuff – which is why I think Ebay and sites like that killed the fun of looking for antiques and collectables – what’s the use when you can find 2,000 tomato-ware salt and pepper sets at the click of a button! Ha! There’s my cranky old self rearing its ugly head ;o)))

    • Johanne, I could not agree with you more! The whole fun of collecting is the serendipity of finding pieces in unexpected places. If I find one piece I’ve been missing in my Fire King Sapphire Blue collection at a yard sale in some out-of-the-way place, I am overjoyed. Where’s the fun in just going onto eBay and buying it? I refuse to do it.

      I have to admit I had never heard of Tomato Ware before so I looked it up. Seriously funky stuff! (Of course the hyperlink I found is from eBay – wouldn’t you know it?)

      That is quite the mischievous jigsaw-puzzle trick, I have to say!

  6. Hi Talking about your pop bottle collection I do know the Wilson bottle was from Wilsons bottling plant in Toronto. The pure spring bottle is one of the first bottle design’s used. Elders beverages Kingston Ont. bottled pure spring Orange drink back in the 1950’s. Hires root beer was bottled under license from many different bottling plants. just a little history…..

    • Thank you so much, Jerry! I was intrigued by your mention of Pure Spring Orange – I don’t think I remember that. In my mind, Pure Spring was only ginger ale … though even as I’m typing that I’m thinking, “Was there maybe a cream soda?” Interesting to learn about the Kingston connection with Pure Spring. Hey – since you obviously know a lot about vintage soft drinks, let me ask you this: I have a very dim memory of a soft drink from Kingston for which there were ads on TV (doubtless CKWS out of Kingston) featuring a pipe band or marching band or some such. I’ve tried to find some mention of those ads online, or better yet a video, but with no success at all. Does this ring a bell for you at all?

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