Brushes and Brooms – the old school way

Here’s a TBT (Throw Back Thursday) of another sort.

VD_Broom strawIt’s not my memories. I wasn’t around yet. It’s a good reminder of how many small things we take for granted today. The broom’s worn out? We just pick up another one on our next shopping trip. If we remember.

Life wasn’t always so easy.

BRUSHES AND BROOMS (Excerpt from Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Volume III, by Rita Van Amber)

During the 1930’s and 40’s when I was growing up on a farm in central Mississippi we made our own brooms. Broom straw, a type of tall grass, grew in large clumps on the hillsides around that part of the country. When it became dry in the fall we collected some by twisting clumps of it off until we had a big handful. The lower part of the clump was bound around with a long strip of old inner tube. (We never had a car, so I don’t know where the inner tube came from.) The tops of the straw had small tendrils of softer fiber, which was the part that swept the wooden boards comprising our floors. We made several of these brooms every fall so we would have enough to last until the next fall.

Memory of Doris Dolph, Schofield, Wisconsin

VD_broom straw plant


A Fayetteville New Year – 1948 style

Flora diary_outside coverFlora Cardwell Luper wrote in her diary at the end of every day. Every day. Faithfully. Religiously. Sometimes not a lot. Sometimes undecipherable. But what she left in her 5 year diary is a little slice of her life.

Flora wrote often of her family: Her husband, Al, her daughters Marge and Dot, her sons Wade and Thord – and especially of her grandson, Stug.

Here are a few entries, as she started a new diary in January 1948, one she’d consistently fill with entries for five years, until the end of 1952. Through her eyes, she leaves an imprint of Fayetteville, Springdale and northwest Arkansas from over 60 years ago.

Flora diary_journal entries

January 1, 1948 Alice was home, but not James. Cold & snowing today. Al went to work. Burl stopped for Margie, Stug & I to eat N.Y. dinner with them.

January 2, 1948 Donna Mae ____ took Margie & Virginia to a show in Springdale. Stug stayed with Al & I. He was good. Letter from Dot.

January 3, 1948 Sent Melba Margie M. dresses. She made her one, Marg one. Margie bought them a new dress. Melba made them.

January 4, 1948 Locker cost $12.50. $6 for wrapping the beef. Jan 8 went to W.M.U. at the church. Stug & Marg & I went down on the bus.

January 5, 1948 Al, Harold, Carrol killed the black calf to nite. Hung up one hind qt. Up the rest in a locker $12.50. Stug has a cold. Bless him.

January 6, 1948 Sure having good eats. The calf fine. Margie & I wash & iron. Getting ready for Thord when he comes up after her to go to Ft. Smith in the truck.

January 7, 1948 Wash & iron as usual. Grandad comes up to see Margie about in a wk. Edwin called from Miami & talked to Margie from Joy.

I hope you enjoyed this step back in time.

A Hobo, a Tramp, and a Bum



A hobo, a tramp, and a bum walked into a bar…Sorry, that’s as far as the joke goes. There is no punchline. To most of us the three terms are interchangeable. They’re one and the same.

hobos1They’re not. Among many things in life that look similar from afar, there are varying degrees to these wandering men we associate with days long gone.

According to Wikipedia, “A hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond—especially one who is penniless. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States around 1890. Unlike “tramps“, who work only when they are forced to, and “bums“, who do not work at all, “hobos” are traveling workers.”

Hobos were not uncommon since the turn of the century. With the Great Depression in the early 1930’s, hobos proliferated across the country. While growing up a small child, I enjoyed hearing my Grandpa Jones talk of the days when he ‘rode the rails’ looking for work and eating cold cans of pork and beans.

In Britt, Iowa, there is a Hobo Museum. Check out their webpage here for lots of great photographs, symbols the hobos used, a Hobo Cemetery, and information on this piece of our past.

These men from long ago even had a Hobo Code. (From their website)

An ethical code was created by Tourist Union #63 during its 1889 National Hobo Convention in St. Louis Missouri. This code was voted upon as a concrete set of laws to govern the Nation-wide Hobo Body; it reads this way:

  1. Decide your own life, don’t let another person run or rule you.
  2. When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
  3. Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.
  4. Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.
  5. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
  6. Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.
  7. When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
  8. Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
  9. If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
  10. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
  11. When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
  12. Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
  13. Do not allow other hobos to molest children, expose all molesters to authorities, they are the worst garbage to infest any society
  14. Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
  15. Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
  16. If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts.

Now there’s another place on my growing list of places to visit. The Hobo Museum in Britt, Iowa. Until then, I’ll just thank my Grandpa Jones for his stories of his hobo travels in the days before he became ‘Daddy’ and ‘Grandpa’.




You don’t have to be a millionaire to collect vintage items. It can be done on the cheap.

Okay, maybe having untold fortunes would make it easier. But where would be the thrill of the chase? Wouldn’t that hinder the delight of finding an affordable treasure?

The price of collectibles has risen over the years – as everything else has. However, there are still vintage items available for less than five or ten dollars.

photo haul from antique storePOSTCARDS: One of my first collections was postcards. I explored antique stores from floor to ceiling, lusting after merchandise I couldn’t afford. I was a young mother of two boys and our young family lived a paycheck to paycheck existence. Almost everything was out of my nonexistent ‘antique’ budget. But postcards, for fifty cents or a dollar – I could afford those. Although they have also increased in price, especially the holiday cards, you can still purchase several for less than $10.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Old photographs are another favorite of mine. Prices vary, depending on the shop, where you’re at, and the condition of the photograph. These are not only memories of people long gone, but you’ll also discover snapshots of life in the past. All for the small price of anywhere from fifty cents to several dollars. Most antique stores have many to choose from. Making your selection will be the hardest part.

SHEET MUSIC: An abundance of vintage sheet music is stacked in antique stores across the nation. Many old pieces sell for less than $5, depending on age, condition, song, artist and artwork gracing the cover. Evenings with the family sitting around the piano went by the wayside after radio and television entered our lives. And now, in our technology age, except for the musicians amongst us, sheet music seems to be a piece of the past.

BUTTONS: Buttons, buttons, who has grandma’s buttons? Searching out old buttons can lead you on an interesting chase. Some of the finer specimens, such as hand painted porcelain or metal military buttons are more expensive. But most have prices on the lower end of the scale. A favorite find from my California hunting days was an old mason jar chock full of old buttons for $10. The ones I’ve found since were in the $20-$25 range. Individual button prices range anywhere from twenty five cents to several dollars.

VINTAGE LINENS: Handkerchiefs and dishtowels are easily found for less than $10. Occasionally you can find a tablecloth or embroidered dresser scarf, although they usually run more. I jumped for joy all the way home one day when I found a hand stitched Scandinavian styled tablecloth for only $10, all because it had a few minor stains on it. Another day, in another shop here in Texas, I spied a set of five embroidered dish towels with the ‘Wash on Monday’ theme, for $10.95. Yes, they live with me now.

Give it a try. Stop by your local antiques and collectibles store this weekend. Browse around. I think you’ll be surprised at what you see that needs a good home – with you. All for an affordable price, much cheaper than you think.

Comments or questions? Email Trisha at

— The photo shows my latest treasures from an antique store in Keller, Texas. I got two postcards and four photographs for $12. The postcard with the photo of the four people was $2. The Easter greetings postcard, postmarked 3/24/1921, was fifty cents. Both large photographs, Gladys M. Cleveland of Hamilton Montana and Uncle Richard (age 70) were $3 each. The two smaller photographs were $2 and $1.50.