For several years Peter and I biked twice weekly from our Junction-area home to York University, where we both teach. We traveled along Keele Street, dodging transport trucks and road debris on that long uphill ride to the semi-industrial, inner-suburban wasteland also known as North York.
I gave up the bike commute to York six or seven years ago. The hour-long ride (did I mention it was nearly all uphill?) left me nearly too tired to teach, and after our daughter was born neither of us had the time or energy to commit to biking as we once had.
This summer Imagining Toronto is running once again as an undergraduate course in the Geography Department at York, and after having managed the twice-weekly commute to Ryerson’s downtown campus (nearly) all winter (including late-night rides home against a frigid head-wind), it occurred to me that it might be feasible once again to try biking to York.
For the first class this past Monday, Peter drove me up to the university, my bike’s handlebars propped out the rear window of our CUV, and I rode home in glorious late-afternoon sunlight, the mid-century suburban landscape an almost unimaginable tranquil setting of newly mown lawns and angled bungalow roofs. Riding over the 401, the eastbound lanes at a stand-still below the Keele bridge, I felt a dangerous liberty.
And on Wednesday I decided to ride up on my own. And I did.
Part of the attraction, thrifty readers will not be surprised to read, is the presence of several second-hand stores arrayed along my route. Stopping in at one or more of them strikes me as a reasonable reward for committing to a long road-trip, and although on Wednesday I managed to visit only one, it was definitely worth the trip.
Shown here (among pieces picked up elsewhere in recent weeks) is some glassware I picked up at the Keele-and-Wilson Value Village, most notably a late sixties / early seventies pitcher identified in some places online as Anchor Hocking. I love it for its emerald hue, the molded medallion insets and the cow-catcher ice spout.
Also shown are four more Pyrex Drink-ups, which brings my total collection to 13 or so. Good thing, too, given how regularly we break glassware around here.
Not shown is a lovely green top I bought at 30% off and another cat t-shirt for my little kitten, two lovely aprons (including a sixties-era Christmas apron priced at 99 cents and a new-but-retro-styled apron at $1.99). And a fairy book with jig-saw puzzles cut into the thick cardboard pages.
The green fern / gold leaf medallion glasses (unmarked) and the red, black and gold glasses (Federal Glass) came home with us yesterday after an impromptu stop in at another Value Village while running errands. The shelves were filled with vintage glassware (most of it Federal; all very Mad Men-eque), quite a lot of which I clutched covetously before leaving on the shelf. Beautiful stuff, but not well enough suited to our tastes and breakage habits to bring home. I did hear someone rattling around the store with a basket laden with glassware afterward, and imagine it was scooped up quickly.
Also shown are another green lazy Susan (bringing my collection to two green and one turquoise, plus a couple of cream ones quietly at work in the cupboards) and one of those retro coffee cup racks I’ve coveted for months. The lazy Susan came from the local Goodwill today; the mug holder was at the downtown Goodwill a week ago or so, marked $1.151, meaning I paid about 75 cents for it at the half-priced sale.
Shown on the bottom tier of the lazy Susan are four footed melamine mugs already in regular rotation, a burnt umber coffee cup marked Corning, and yet another Androck nut chopper. This brings my collection of vintage nut choppers / grinders / etc. to at least a dozen: most of them nestle between bowls on high cupboard shelves.
We’ve attended a few garage sales and one (rather disappointing due to high prices and excessive attention to ‘curated’ contents) church sale recently, in addition to our peripatetic thrift-store browsing. Shown here are three ‘Sun’ patterned Stonehenge stoneware dinner plates matching the three salad plates I bought a few weeks ago. Put together with the ‘Moon’ and ‘Earth’ pieces I’ve picked over the past year, these add up to a full dinner service for twelve. These came from the same downtown Goodwill as the salad plates. Shown also is a lovely vintage tablecloth picked up recently, although I don’t recall where.
This picture shows an Autumn Harvest Pyrex casserole I got for free at the Bloor-Lansdowne Value Village as part of a ‘buy one item, get another one free’ promotion. I paired it with the slightly more expensive cigar store ‘Indian Chief’ decanter (marked JSNY 1974), which now resides in our front entry in a display of amber glass.
Also shown are four citrus-decal juice tumblers and a Federal milk glass mug marked Fort Henry — a place I have consider nostalgic affection for, having lived and worked in the Kingston area for so many years.
At rear is one of those accordion-style sewing chests mentioned in the previous post (I paid either $4.04 or $6.06 for this at the local Goodwill, and may have gotten it at half price) and a green plastic sewing case from mid-century.
At right is a simply amazing seventies-era (I think) Cake keeper, complete with chrome base, fake wood paneling on the lid and that immortal script. I don’t make a lot of cakes and in all truth have no idea what I’m going to do with this object, but it strikes me as practically iconic of its era. It’s in wonderful condition, without any dings and only a few minor scratches on the square base. I grabbed this at the local Goodwill after it had sat presumably unnoticed on the shelf for several days.
Speaking of cakes, at left is this vintage amber glass cake stand, reportedly made by Anchor Hocking in the Fairfield pattern. I just love it and will put it to use holding hors d’oeuvres and other garden party goodies. This lovely object came from the local Goodwill: I think I paid $3.03 for it. I’d love to find another, as a matching set would make for a very good table setting. [There was a time when I wasn't especially fond of amber glass: obviously I've had a change of heart!]
This bronze quail (shown at right) came from Value Village. It complements the similar, smaller brass quail I bought at another Value Village a few weeks ago. Both have since taken up residence on one of the bookshelves.
I like bird ornaments, preferably when they aren’t made of china. There is something elemental about them; something evocative of the intersection between nature and culture. One of these days I’ll put my various little birds (all found at garage sales or, more recently, at second-hand stores) together and do a post on them.
I have never been to Paris, not even by virtue of a flight stop-over while travelling in Europe, but have collected a few books about the city (particularly its underground sewers, subways and the Haussmannization of the city).
I do have a little metal Eiffel Tower picked up at a garage sale years ago, which sits in my bedroom window with tiny replicas of a few other architectural wonders. My little daughter has always loved to play with it, and so (in addition to promising her we’ll make a special trip to Paris when she’s older and I have more time) I told her I’d keep an eye out for a tiny Eiffel Tower she could keep.
Last week during a visit to the Value Village while out running errands, I found not one but two tiny Eiffel Towers in a little box, and nearby, a souvenir scarf of Paris. The Eiffel Towers now sit on my daughter’s windowsill; the scarf may see use as part of a table setting.
Shown on the right is a large collection of turquoise Boonton Ware, apparently from the sixties. It’s very well made of thick melamine. I bought it over the course of several visits to Value Village, where it kept showing up in plastic bags or loose on the shelves. In total I paid no more than about $10 for the set, the bulk of which I got at 30% off. My favourite part of the set is probably that butter dish, complete with cute oblong lid.
When I was a little child my parents would take us camping at various Provincial parks in southern and central Ontario. Turquoise melamine ware, probably from an identical set, was our constant companion on such trips, as it can take both heat and cold as is virtually unbreakable. I like it for both practical and nostalgic reasons, and have stored in in the garage awaiting our own camping adventures.
Apart from the beloved Fire King jadeite mixing bowl that essentially gave birth to my affection for vintage kitcheny things, I have never seen jadeite ‘in the wild’ (or even online, for that matter) at a price I would ever consider paying.
That changed at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago — a garage sale just down the street — where I found these three jadeite Fire King plates for a dollar each. I managed to pick them off a table while someone who was obviously a dealer grabbed nearly everything else in sight while doing her best to bully the garage sale host into either dropping the already modest prices or forgetting to charge for some of the pieces.
In a free box at a street sale a few blocks over, I found this set of steak knives in their original box, a fifties-era light meter used in film (manufactured by Zeiss), and a new pair of seventies-ish made in Japan mittens. I paid fifty cents for the Canada Post mailbox coin bank, and a quarter or perhaps fifty cents for the owl trivet. The butterfly / dragonfly / ladybug / honeybee tablecloth weights cost a dollar or so.
And then there was this drop-leaf table. A few weeks ago it showed up at the local Goodwill, and apart from idly observing the price grease-penciled upon it — an outrageous $200 — I didn’t give it another thought.
But then on a Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, the store’s intercom crackled with news of a ‘Manager’s special:’ all furniture 75% off; no reasonable offer refused.
I was browsing books or knick knacks or possibly children’s clothes, but decided I should mosey over in case there was anything of interest. I had completely forgotten about the table — until I saw it still sitting there, and did a rough calculation, and offered the head teller $40 for it.
Which she accepted with so much alacrity I knew I should have offered $30. [She told me later they were in a desperate rush to get rid of furniture, as the processing room was filled to overflowing.] Still, I was happy to have the table at that price, and called my somewhat reluctant husband to come with the car to pick it up.
The table is 28 inches wide (or long, in the configuration as shown). When the leaves are up (there is an additional leaf we’ve stored in the garage) it’s about 72 inches long (82 with the spare leaf). The table appears to be made of mahogany, and while everyone at the store called it an antique, I’d guess it’s from the first decade or two of the twentieth century. There are a few scratches on the varnished surface, but on the whole it’s in excellent condition: solid,well-built, elegant. I love it.