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, March 31, 2010

It's Always Sunny in Skokie

It was a gray day when we visited this Skokie two-story ranch. But that was outside. Inside, why, it had never been sunnier!

Thanks to the G.E. SUNLAMP, you can "enjoy year 'round suntan!" And increased incidence of skin cancer! In the comfort of your own home!

Here's the back. Don't bother squinting or clicking the picture for a larger version. Here's the best part: "For all the family," says the second subhead, rather inelegantly. "Most people who can be tanned by the sun can use the G.E. SUNLAMP. You may wish you consult your physicians in some cases," it cautions, ever so blithely. "Particularly concerning babies and small children." After all, nothing looks healthier on a baby than a nice, dark tan. And premature wrinkling.

Ah, ha! Discovered in an upstairs bathroom: one of the "various fixtures and holders" designed for the G.E. SUNLAMP. Along with one of its younger siblings, apparently from the seventies.

I wasn't surprised to find it here. Everything about this bathroom was bright and sunny!

From the wallpaper.

To this cheery yellow tile vanity top.

You know what be even more awesome? If each of those yellow tiles had a little smiley face painted on it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

LaGrange Teen Angst

This was a great, Brady-era house that just needed a little vision and TLC to make it sit com-ready.

They just don't build 'em like this any more, and that's a shame in my book. When I was growing up, rich kids lived in houses like this. (Ours was built in the 1920s, and from the outside looked like a large white shoebox with a front porch. It was neat and spacious, but lacked this kind of drama.)

This is a stairway and landing a girl could walk across on prom night to the whole family's oohs and aahs. Or storm up and into her room, on those occasions when one or both of her parents were ruining her entire life!

This bedroom has probably been soaked in hysterical tears.

Someone spent a lot of time depicting this old salt in needlepoint.

Santa Claus, too.

This kitten looks afraid of something. Perhaps it's the thought of being thrown in the trash.

If this house had a major flaw, it was the kitchen. It was a tiny thing, tucked into the corner of the first floor like an afterthought.

The mom didn't care about entertaining much, I guess. Or feeding her family.

The kids probably spent all their time down here anyway, dining on TV dinners and bowls of popcorn and sugar-sweetened cereal. That is, when one or both of their parents weren't absolutely ruining their lives!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicago Train Stop. And More Than a Cafe

The only thing that might make this post more enjoyable for you is knowing that immediately after I left this sale, I inadvertently had lunch at an old-folks cafe called "Mather's: More Than a Cafe." This video will do a better, quicker job of explaining what I wandered into than I ever could.

Ordinarily when I go on these excursions, I enjoy dining at one-of-a-kind, out-of-the-way places I find along the way. It adds to the fun, and gives me a glimpse into a world outside of the standard-issue, corporate-run, hyphenated same-old-thing.

And by the way, get a load of this wallpaper.

And so, after looking at engines and tracks and tunnels and models of charming old-fashioned little towns, I went looking for a place to have a quick bite to eat.

Because I wanted something out of the ordinary, an establishment that described itself as more than a cafe struck me as just right.

It bears saying that this more than a cafe looked perfectly ordinary from the outside. There were no signs or portents that would lead me or you or anyone else to believe that this more than a cafe was as much more as it really was.

My first clue that something was amiss was the receptionist just inside the door. "Can I help you?" she asked with a pointedness I would only grasp a few moments too late. "Yeah..." I said, looking around, still not getting it. "Can I have lunch?"

Oh, and every time I see the phrase "train lover," I immediately think of some girls we used to gossip about in high school.

"Well," the receptionist said, "do you know how this works?" The sensible response would have been a simple "No," and a discreet getaway. But I was inside the door. Patrons had already turned around to greet the new arrival. It was too late to turn back. "You order at the counter," she gestured at a cafeteria line behind her, "and pick a table."

How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?

So I went in. And the very next thing I saw was an exercise class of seniors in sweats and stirrup pants, all of them stretching to their "full range of motion," as encouraged by the instructor. And more seniors beyond them, at computers around the dining area, catching up on emails and pictures of the grandkids and generally brushing up on their Internet skillz.

Isn't this floor festive?

So I ordered my meal -- a Reuben or turkey sandwich or something, I don't exactly recall -- and sat down at a table that was as out of the way as I could find, to wait for its delivery. I felt, as the ladies at Harpo used to say, like a raisin in the rice bowl.

When my sandwich finally arrived, it turned out to be fairly bland and easily chewed.

I finished my meal --along with plenty of salt and pepper -- and left without incident. Of course I did. Those seniors weren't looking for trouble any more than I was. And when I was once again outside, I'm sure we all breathed a grateful sigh of relief.

I hope they all had a good laugh at my expense. Because I've certainly had one or two at theirs.

And by the way, isn't it strange that a semi-truck would deliver the magic of Lionel trains to you?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Skokie Fun and Games

Judging from our previous posts, the good people of Skokie know how to enjoy themselves. Toys, games, daring wallpaper and decorating choices... it's obvious they knew how to have a good time. Add the owners of this cozy ranch to their number.

There's nothing more fun than a rousing march.

A pretzel barrel full of golf balls. Not just fun, but wacky and practical, too. Wacktical!

As fine a collection of vintage board games as you're likely to find anywhere in the Chicago area.

I'll set up the tower, and you can be the terrorist, okay?

Can you name all 48?

I'd say a few too many have been playing this one lately. Though it does give me a great idea: the collateralized debt obligation game. Buy stuff blindly and sell it to the other players before the timer goes off and the economy goes into the shitter!

Awww. Who needs a hug?

Talk about your sense of fun. I love the fact that somebody very cleverly added an "s" to "husband." Who knows how many hen-pecked men lived here at one time? Or what kind of black widow presided over their every coming and going?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Estate Sale Stories...

... forgot today was Monday. Our apologies to you, the loyal reader.

We'll be back on Wednesday with a new post and our act generally more together.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Des Plaines in Bloom

Spring is almost here! In honor of its imminent arrival we're offering up this tiny Des Plaines ranch with a garden's worth of blooms inside.

But first, there's something about old ovens that brings out the June Cleaver in me. This is a Chambers "Custom Gas" model, a brand I've never heard of. A little Internet research shows that it was reintroduced in 2007 to little fanfare, and apparently no longer exists.

It was found in this kitchen, where the wallpaper matched the drapes, which match my nightmares.

We'll move along in a moment. But first, I thought I'd rub your nose in this just a bit longer.

Okay, that's enough.

No it's not.

And... cut to the sun room.

I don't know what I like better. The upholstery on the rattan furniture.

Or these Dukes of Hazzard serving trays on the sofa. (Combined retail value on Ebay: $30-$60.)

Or these TV trays nearby.

You don't run across items like this every day on the estate sale circuit. Honestly, to me, this is beautiful and hideous at the same time. It's like meeting someone who's unattractive but really good in bed.

Okay, one more and done: This is not the first time I've found one of these.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Odds and Ends from Here and There: Green Things

St. Patrick's Day is right up there with World Religion Day and National Hobby Month as far as holidays go. But people seem to like it, and Lord knows we need something to celebrate this time of year, so here we go.

We'll start with this Richard Simmons DVD, because he's always good for an easy joke and we could probably all stand to lose a few pounds.

Moving right along. I miss these phones, along with those orthopedic-looking shoulder braces. This one looks like it would happily put an eye out if you were unlucky enough to aim it in the wrong direction.

I wish I could have taken this trio home with me. They would have gone perfectly with that phone above.

Faithful readers of this blog have already seen this photo. It's hard to believe toilet paper used to come in a rainbow of pastel colors, and with roses and flowers printed on it, too. It's true: the past really was a more elegant and civilized time.

I'm sure this is still perfectly fine to use.

I wanted this picture for my office, but I was afraid it would send the wrong message to management.

Two of these trolls are dressed for the wrong holiday.

How to raise an envious little girl.

The only things this walker is missing are some streamers for the handlebars and a couple rear-view mirrors.

Never paint a room this color. This color is reserved for hospital emergency rooms and that place where the school janitor waits until class is over.

Thanks for stopping by. May your St. Patrick's Day be green!
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