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Any Thing Store: 1940

February 1940. "Secondhand store. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma." Medium format acetate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

February 1940. "Secondhand store. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma." Medium format acetate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Catalpa Trees

In the South these trees were planted not for beautification but for fish bait. A specific type of moth lade their eggs on catalpa trees so their larvae (or worm) could feed on the catalpa leaves. These worms were used for fishing.

More bark than bite ...

Yep, you're right Dave, should have looked up there with binoculars. I am overdue for my cataract surgery also. Keep up the fantastic work!

Cats rule, Dogs drool

Admittedly I am more of a feline fancier than a dog lover, possibly why I didn't notice the chair-mutt until jamax commented on its presence. Spurred on by all of the eclectic merchandise on offer, it seemed appropriate to look for any signs of a cat, on or near the premises. Much to my delight my search was rewarded! Nobody can tell me that isn't Felix watching the universe unfold below him from his lordly vantage point. Observe the Mighty Ruler surveying his kingdom from the lofty branch situated between the two main tree trunks on the right!

[That "cat" has more bark than bite. - Dave]

Mattress springs

were a cheaper alternative to store bought harrowers. If you needed loose soil smoothed out you would drag one or two mattress springs (weighted down a bit) behind your tractor. We did this when we landscaped around our new house in the early 1970s.

The Dog's name must be Waldo

After much searching I finally found him!

"Waldo" appears to be relaxing under the table with a couple of early
Home Depot 5 gallon buckets sitting on it.

Sewing Machine

To the right there is a sewing machine with a manual foot pedal. My Great Aunt Flossie used to make patchwork quilts with one of those. She sewed well into her 90s. She passed back in the early '80s.

Kindred spirit

We actually had one of those Windsor chairs in my basement when I was little, and during her "antiquing" phase, Mom did indeed stain it chartreuse.

Left behind

I suspect that most of the items came from the homes of folks who migrated to a supposedly better life in the Far West in the 1930s to escape the ruin of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Families had to sell at giveaway prices what they could not take with them, and often their household possessions literally were given away.

Firmware for Sale

The modern version (in the 70s) was surplus electronics catalogs, like ROMs for sale, "many useful patterns."

It's complicated

It makes my brain hurt to look at this but I'll make a quick stop and pick up one of those charming little drop-leaf tables far left beside the bedsprings, and a couple of the Windsor chairs. I will probably paint them all chartreuse.

String bean tree

On the left of the photo. Northern catalpa is the correct name. Yes, I Googled it.

Suddenly …

the Sanford and Son theme is playing in my head

Guard dog on duty

I wonder if the dog is for sale?

So ...

Why is there a sawhorse on the roof?


Wow that proprietor is keeping a close eye on those two old gray would be thieves

Wow! Wow!

The very original recycling. I mean, springs for a mattress for sale? Man, we honestly have it good in these modern times with disposable everything merchandise.

Things Change

Clearly, the items in the front yard likely don't come back inside each evening for safekeeping when business is done for the day. No Ring cameras or high tech survellaince back then. Junkyard dog on duty? Coming out of the Great Depression, were people in general just more trusting of their neighbors? Maybe a rhetorical question.

Come to my estate sale; you won't be sorry

Below is 609 West Reno Avenue today. Given the condition of the old house in 1940 there was little doubt it would not be there today.

I am spending a good part of my retirement years on the same treasure hunt as Dezi Beck, only substitute Estate Sales for Dumpster Diving (most of the dumpsters around me are in locked enclosures). I tell people I should be ashamed at how much art on my walls came from thrift stores. I have about a dozen pieces on the walls worth over $1,000 each for which I paid less than $100. I suspect most of it was from the kids cleaning out their parents' houses and just wanting the houses emptied. I've also developed a list of search words for Craigslist, which include divorce and downsizing. I have bought some amazing things that people in those situations just want to get rid of. The end result is I told a friend I am purging my house of things I don't need while filling up my house with things I don't need ... but of better quality.

Going, Going ... Gone?

We can only wonder how many of the "treasures" here were collected for the scrap drives a few years later.

Signs4sale: $0 OBO

Bet the same hand that did that masterpiece atop the porch roof had no part in those ransom-note-like scrawlings off to the right. What do I bet?? How 'bout a washboard, slightly used.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

"One man's trash is another man's treasure," goes the old saying.

However, after years spent "antiquing", thrift shopping, Craigslisting, eBaying, and even "dumpster diving", I've come to the conclusion that, often, "one man's trash" is just "your trash" waiting to happen.

Kettle Store?

If Ma and Pa Kettle owned a store, this is what it would look like.

Ab's Picker's Heaven

Allan Thomas Abston (1892-1976) is seen standing in front of his Used Furniture Store at 609 W. Reno Avenue in Oklahoma City. He and his wife, Ova B. Page, came from Tennessee in about 1930. Selling used furniture was a lot easier than working in the coal mines. They had three sons and two daughters, to help them sell their "gently used" goods during the Great Depression.

Photo Shopping

This one grabbed my attention. I see several things to buy. The woman is eying the crib. Maybe the gentleman watching doesn't know why. He'll get the lunchbox.

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