An occasionally updated chronicle of estate sales in the city and suburbs of Chicago.

"It's such a guilty pleasure..." Lynne Stiefel, Pioneer Press

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicago Time Capsule

For any child of the '70s or '80s, this place was a treasure-filled walk down memory lane.

It didn't start off that way, however. The main bedroom was the usual mix of old linens...

... assorted vanity paraphernalia...

... and a surprisingly artful arrangement of purses.

This was my first clue that there were treasures somewhere to be found. I owned this exact same camera as a boy.

Naturally, I headed downstairs, to see what I could see.

Moonlight Mushrooms are scientifically cultured. Why, there's absolutely nothing natural about them!

Someone certainly does know how to hang on to shampoo, through good times and bad. I don't think I've seen a bottle of L'Oreal Ultra Rich since the Reagan administration.

You could have bought this entire collection for about $5.00 -- and never worried about dry skin again.

If you're going to get this painting of flowers...

... you might as well pick up the TV trays to go with it.

I thought I was finished at this point.

Then someone told me there was an attic. This is where the real goodies were stored.

This lovely specimen of mid-century lighting technology -- priced at just $6.00 -- greeted me at the top of the stairs. I picked it up immediately and didn't let it out of my sight.

Dig that crazy patchwork linoleum. Each one on its own would have been a great example of late-thirties/early-forties flooring design. Pieced together, they were kind of breath-taking.

There was an unused bathroom in the attic, and the tub was filled with forgotten beauty aids.

This Mist and Style Beauty Comb by Northern was probably just the thing to give your bangs a flip back in the mid-seventies. With two, I suppose your styling time was cut in half.

Why American Star didn't become a household name is beyond me. They were obviously doing everything right.

I have no idea what this coy beauty was demonstrating, but I'm betting its use wasn't limited to shoulders.

One hot water bottle is understandable. Two is defensible. But three -- juxtaposed with a box of extra absorbent Depend undergarments -- is just upsetting.

Let's move on to the small kitchen appliances department. The Presto Hot Dogger serves up delicious, hot dog enjoyment with none of the mess or bother of actually boiling water. What could be more convenient, aside from just eating the damned thing raw?

The Exeter Twin Hamburger and Sandwich Grill "fries hamburgers in 1-2-3 minutes." Three minutes for well-done, two minutes for rare, and one minute for e-coli and all the fixin's.

In addition to hating Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois for profiting off the misery of others, we can now add the Services In the Neighborhood for Seniors program, and its god-awful acronym. How many overpaid marketing geniuses did it take to come up with -- and approve -- this travesty?

And finally: I remember this game when it was originally sold in stores. It had never been opened, but still seemed overpriced at $18.00, so I let it go.

Purchased: Mid-century lamp, $6.00.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Palatine Glass House

From the outside it looked like a perfectly ordinary tract home. Nothing distinguished it from its neighbors. Inside, it was a different story.

Even the view from the front door was pleasant. Bright, spacious and airy, with a dramatic spiral staircase. What's not to love?

The kitchen was brand new -- or close enough to it.

Right across from it was this swinging conversation pit and fireplace. You could throw a sweet Playboy After Dark-themed party in this place.

Especially with this collection of plastic pastel drinkware on hand. What'll it be -- margarita or parfait?

But before long it became obvious that someone -- amateur architect or hyper handyman -- had had their way with this place.

This sunroom was the first clue that we were working through an "expanse of glass" theme.

The spiral stairs had been installed on the cheap. Climbing them was a bit of an adventure, because they shimmied and shook with every step.

Here's a shot looking down on the first floor from the second floor hallway. No camera trickery was involved in this shot.

The entire wall was made of windows. I didn't know whether to be dazzled or extra-cuidado. One false move and I could fall to my doom in a shower of broken glass. Across that expanse are two large windows. The lower one looked in on the dining room; the upper, on the master bedroom. Everywhere you looked, there were windows where windows didn't need to be.

On my way out I found this box. The first thing I thought when I saw it was, "Goodbye Kitty."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wilmette Grab Bag

There was a little bit of everything at this sale: an okay ranch home with some interesting touches, a number of random items up for bids, some mix-and-match medical supplies. None of it made a lot of sense.

Here we have a display table in the living room. It looks as though all the breakables have been moved, to keep them safe from the reach of Babe Ruth's powerful swing.

The kitchen had a couple nice touches.

This linoleum was one. I don't know about you, but if this pattern was still available, I'd seriously consider putting it in my kitchen.

This lamp was another. The coiled cord wasn't for taking phone calls, but for adjusting the lamp's height. If you were particularly proud of that night's menu, you could pull that sucker down and really feature your mad dinner skillz.

There was a basement rec room. With houses of this style and era, there's almost always a basement rec room.

There's usually some rattan-style furniture, too. It's a shame there were no cushions -- it's going to take a person with some serious reupholstery mojo to bring these old bones back to life.

There was a table of odds and ends nearby. This was among them. Critics generally agree the sequel fell short of the original Super String.

I also found this portrait of Daddy's Little Hooker.

This is a strange cabinet. I wonder what it was for? Let's take a look at that sticker in the upper-left corner.

Oh. So this cabinet was for displaying guns, as well as one's political views.

I found this bathroom upstairs. There were a few odd items for sale on the vanity.

Still new in the package. Despite that, I don't think this is the sort of thing you want to bring home from an estate sale.

Not even if these were included as part of a 2-for-1 deal.

As I was leaving I saw this on one of the end tables in the living room. Folks, I think it's time to shoot that horse.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Glenview House of Pain

Places like this make me appreciate the homes of hoarders and obsessives. Sure, they're weird, and more often than not they smell bad, and you leave feeling like you really need to wash your hands, but at least they make an impression.

Places like this, however, where everything is neat and proper and kind of anonymous, well, you really have to use your imagination.

I can picture a lot of family dinners in this formal dining room. Dinners where everybody said "please" and "thank you" and no one ever raised their voice or talked about the long-simmering resentments that were just below the surface and silently tearing everyone apart.

This was mom's formal living room. Where were you supposed to sit? Not here. That's not what this sofa is for. If you kids want to sit around somewhere, go to your rooms and leave your father and me alone.

I didn't understand this...

... until I saw these. They're the shoes of a mean mom if ever I've seen them.

I bet the kids spent a lot of time down in the basement.

Hey, Junior. Good job on all your hard work at school. Another trophy? What is it you play again? Baseball and football and basketball? Well, that's just great. Go ahead and put it in the box with all the others. Then go up to your room and leave your mother and me alone.

Apparently little sister brought home some much weirder stuff from school.

During that time when dad was unemployed and spent all that time upstairs in his office with the door closed, we had to cut corners wherever we could.

One that cannot be returned to the store for cash or a gift card of equivalent value. Or given away to charity. Or sold in an estate sale. No matter how much they drive you crazy and grow up to break your heart and bring shame to the family.
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