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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Bowl-A-Matic: 1960s

Bowl-A-Matic: 1960s

My grandfather worked for Ace Hardware in the 1950s and '60s. He traveled throughout Indiana and set up store displays. This is one of his store designs. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

That turquoise paint

Has been the bane of my existence. It seems that every house I have ever lived in (save that of childhood) has been liberally coated and/or liberally undercoated with that awful, awful 1960s-vogue turquoise color. Judging by that "color tree," that shade seems to have been the only available paint at that time.

Another in a family of questionable building choices for which there is scant excuse. Such as: vinyl asbestos tiles.

Free "DIY" advice

What I remember most about these types of hardware stores from my childhood was the adventure of discovering new things around every aisle and the smell. Even that was magical to me.


I recognize the game to the right of the Bowl-A-Matic. It's the Concentration home game (based on the game show). It had a bunch of numbered tiles that you would remove to reveal the rebus puzzle underneath.

Love old hardware stores

I love this picture. Old hardware stores just were so much more interesting than today's big box locations. Plus, you never knew what kind of interesting things you might find in there. Lots of them seemed to carry a little bit of everything instead of just building materials, as evident in this photo (with the bowling game and the platypus).

Stains of Freshness

The tack cloths, in their wax paper bags (98¢), stained their display container, as they do today.

Color my world

In 1960, paint came in perhaps 16 or 20 colors. If you weren't happy with what came in the can, perhaps you could mix it with a little white paint to lighten the shade, but that was about it. Today, all paint is white and the hardware employee will mix in the exact color you least a zillion various shades. Or bring in a sample and he'll prop it up to the computer, which will then replicate that color right on the button.

Much better world today for buying paint, at least.

Eldon Bowl-A-Matic

From 1962, on eBay.

It was a better world

when you could shop for toys in the paint department.

Do It Yourself

Did'ja ever have to remove old-time, pasted-on wallpaper from real plaster walls? As a kid, my sibs and I got the job of scraping off old wallpaper so my parents could replace it with new paper or paint and it was torture. First we had to soak it down with soggy sponges, then at the right time, scrape with putty knives or other implements, but dare not damage the plaster. It was a time-consuming and much-hated job. However, we never got in trouble with the law since my parents kept us constantly busy with all sorts of chores we called prison work. Our house was 100 years old so there was always work to do, inside and outside. (I was so happy to get a real paying job when I was 15, simply scrubbing pans in a bakery). If they did have wallpaper removers in the '40s and '50s, my father never used them.

Does anyone remember ?

Is that Toy to the right of the Bowl-A-Matic a platypus ? It looks like it could be a pull toy or a pool toy.

This store is certainly appears to be more customer friendly than our warehouse style hardware stores of today. You can actually bend over to look at a can of paint without blocking the aisle.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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