EPIC Day of New Treasures Seen (but sadly, nothing bought)

Yesterday, my friend Sherri and I had lunch and went thrifting. We were in her neck of the woods in North Kansas City, so I was thrilled when she wanted to show me some thrift stores and antique malls I hadn’t been to yet.

The day started out awesome when I came across a stash of Scrabble games at the first store we went into. A quick call to my artist friend Beth Hanna of Baha Beauties to gauge her interest in them and we were out the door. Almost. I was drawn to and delighted by this chair so much I had to snap a picture. As someone now living in a mid-century home, I have become more interested in the designs of the day, so I have new appreciation for such things. And we then marched on.

Mur-Mill Chair Mid Century

Chair by Mur-Mill Fine Furniture, Owensboro, KY

(I did a little search on the Mur-Mill label on the back when I got home and turned up zilch.)

We checked into an antique mall in the neighborhood and had a great time teasing each other for our tastes (that don’t always match) and reminiscing about items similar to things owned by our families in days gone by. And then we came across this.

This Crane Chef Kitchenette features not only two burners, a sink and a fridge, but the fridge even has a small freezer spot. It even works “perfectly”, according to the tags. And for $450, someone is going to get really, really lucky on this one. I imagined it being perfect for those tiny homes that are so popular nowadays. Sherri thought it would be cool to have on her patio, where she does a lot of entertaining. But we left it behind for someone else to find.

Vintage Crane Chef Kitchenette

Vintage Crane Chef Kitchenette

We then came across this oddity, as I’d never seen anything like it. The tag called it a “Lavabo”. Turns out there are many available (for the right buyers), but none I found in my research looked like this; most are ceramic and many are painted. I think it’s a devastating display (sans the chicken feathers and God knows what else in the basin). So we snapped the shot and carried on.

Next up was this colossal painting that once graced the entryway into the historic Savoy Grill in Kansas City. It is probably 7′ tall and 15′ wide and the gold frame is stunning. The lights inside of the castle light up! A little cheesy for me but Sherri was in awe. A little research shows that the piece was put up for auction with many other items from the space in 2012. Details here. Price tag on this beauty is a cool $50,000. It is a real stunner.

Savoy Grill painting

Savoy Grill painting

Savoy Grill painting

Savoy Grill painting

The last thing I snapped a shot of was this crazy little antique crumb brush. I see antique crumb catchers from time to time and even picked one up for myself once, but I guess these brushes don’t usually get my attention. A quick Google search turned up all kinds of examples. The snake-like shape on this one got my attention.

Many years ago, it was common for wait staff and even hostesses at home to use these brushes and catchers to clean off errant crumbs and debris from table tops to keep things tidy. It’s still done in some higher end restaurants today, but they don’t typically use items this fancy.

Antique Crumb Brush

Antique Crumb Brush

Silver Crumb Catcher - MJ's Collection

Silver Crumb Catcher – MJ’s Collection

So that was the day. I had so much fun, didn’t spend any money and we learned A TON.


Down to the Letter, Syracuse Plates Make the Cut

I couldn’t help it. They’re classic. There were five of these little charmers. These dishes carry with them the sounds of a 1960’s diner. Heavy, simple and melodic.  They have a scalloped edge, not too frilly, with two red stripes on the interior of the plate, and a crest with the letter “C” inside. On the backs, they read “SYRALITE by SYRACUSE 98-8 U.S.A.”

I snatched them up at a local thrift store here in Liberty, Missouri a few months ago, thinking my son may like them for when he gets his first off-campus apartment. I think they’re super-country clubbish and jazzy.

Syracuse has been been around for many years, and has a mind-boggling body of work that served airliners, trains, diners across the U.S. and other large-scale dining establishments.

Wikipedia says this and more: Syracuse China Corporation, located in Syracuse, New York, was a manufacturer of fine china. Founded in 1871 as Onondaga Pottery Company (O.P. Co.) in the town of Geddes, New York, the company initially produced earthenware. In the late 19th century, O.P.Co., began producing fine china, for which it found a strong market particularly in hotels, restaurants, and railroad dining cars. The manufacturing facility in Syracuse closed in 2009, after 138 years in operation and production was removed from North America.

I would venture a guess that the crest is associated with some country club or restaurant, but my research turned up no matches as of yet.

Anyway, I loved the feel and the look of the little plates, so I brought them home and quickly hid them from my husband. Like we need more frickin’ plates. 🙂

Syracuse Dishes

Syracuse Dishes La Placita 1706, Vic’s Tally-Ho, Kildare’s and a sailboat platter

Problem Entry Finds its Answer

My husband and I have lived a few places together. We have lived in larger homes with lots of space, and we’ve lived in hotel rooms. Right now, we’re somewhere in the middle. We have a little slice of heaven in Liberty, Missouri with a nice fenced-in yard for our three dogs and our home is just under 1,000 square feet. Compared to the hotel rooms it’s palatial, but our furniture was bought several years ago for a much larger home with much larger rooms, so we’re trying to adjust.

Which brings up the point of our entry way. It is small and leads into a room that we are struggling to make do with our current furniture until we feel like the timing’s right (first in line: 2015 tax bill, new washing machine, etc.), which means we really don’t want ONE MORE piece of furniture in the living room. But where to put our keys when we walk in the door?

I came up with what I think is the perfect solution, after having cruised ebay and other sites for “floating shelves”. New shelves cost hundreds of dollars and old ones, well, they were too ornate for our 1963 home. So I found this drawer at an antique mall in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It was more than I would ordinarily spend ($24- *GASP!*) but the size and color were spot on as-is.

Initially, I thought I would just have the hubby put it up as is, with the patina and the weathered look, but Mr. Wonderful was pretty adamant that it wouldn’t work, considering the living room has a brand-spanking-new coat of paint on the walls AND the trim, which is now stark white. It’s a crisp look and he felt like a rubbed-out old catalog drawer would clash, and I’m sure he was right. But we both liked the turquoise color, so we agreed I would paint it the same color, just without the wood rubbed through and with the inside of the drawer painted too. But, I insisted, the drawer pull stays.

So I painted it. I would have been cool having it attached to the wall by its side, so that it still acts like a drawer, but hubby and I negotiated again and decided it would be attached to the wall by it’s bottom. The only problem is then that the bolts he attached them with would be visible, so I had some thinking to do.

The solution came one afternoon when I was looking over some old retro napkins I had bought some months earlier. I decided that their designs would be FABULOUS with the color of the shelf, so I cut out two pieces of cardboard that exactly fits in the bottom of the drawer and I covered them. One was covered in one of the napkins, the other with a piece of embossed white wallpaper I had just picked up for $1 at an estate sale. Then I inserted them into the shelf to see which one worked best. The white option showed best with the stark white trim around it, so that’s what I picked! I hope you like it; we sure do!






The entryway before.

Funky Fun Facebook Page

In progress! Which insert to use and what to decorate it with – all small items considered!

Mcclellan etryway key-catching solution

Putting the shelf up meant big bolts, because we may decide to hang hooks off of it for my purse, which is like a bag of bricks. So the challenge was to hide them. Voila!

Home is Where the History Is: Liberty, Missouri

And history there is!

My husband and I have lived in this quaint little slice of heaven, just north and a little east of Kansas City, Missouri for just over two years but my roots run deep here. Liberty was settled in the 1820s and eventually became home to many notable rogues: Jesse James, the Dalton Gang, the Younger Gang, and so on. So it’s steeped in real “Wild, Wild West” kind of history. And it’s where my father’s mother and father’s kin settled back in the early origins of the town.

My grandmother’s line is the most notable, with relation proven back to both the Youngers AND the Daltons. My grandfather’s family was said to have been related to the Jesse James family (one story says his parents were friends with a great aunt of my grandfather or something) but don’t quote me on that. The Cates family name can be found in some of the county’s earliest publications and there is a natural greenway also that bears our name.

My grandmother’s beloved uncle (by marriage) was the County Coroner in the 1940s, and his wife filled his seat when term limits require he vacate the position.


But that’s not the point: the point is that there are so many old treasures in this part of the country that I’m finding I need to sell a few things to make room for some of the things I’m seeing but can’t justify (our house is tiny, after all). So I’ll be listing some things on eBay and Etsy for fun.

Today I got to list this license plate that I found at an estate sale in Leavenworth this morning. I imagine it being bent along the bottom so it can be used as a desk name plate, but that’s just me. What else could it be used for?KS 1990 Pearl License 07

GOP Convention 1976 Swag

It’s not very popular to be a Republican these days. I could rant. I won’t.

These souvenirs from the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri were kind of sight for sore eyes in a local antique mall today. This is the first time I’ve seen any memorabilia from the event for sale in my journeys, so I had to have them. The blue t-shirt has seen better days and I can’t read what size it is, but I’d guess a Large. The convention logo is in pristine condition though and I think it’s a pretty nice piece of local history.

The bag, I don’t think, was ever actually used. I may have to think about what to do with these guys.

I could really upset some bleeding heart friends by wearing the shirt…



Missouri Artist Jack O’Hara Captured Home State With Charm

I’m a sucker for posters. I ran across these at a local shop today on a random visit. All four of these guys were bundled together and obviously have some age to them. I immediately recognized the three Missouri scenes as Hannibal, Old Town St. Charles and St. Louis.

All four posters / lithographs were created by the same artist: Jack O’Hara. A Kansas City native, Jack O’Hara was born in 1921 and died in 2012. He spent his life in the area and it shows in these images. (See his obituary below.)

They’re charming snapshots of some of Missouri’s most recognizable towns in the middle-late 20th century. (I would guess 1960s-70s.)

The Hannibal street scene shows a large mound, which is an immediately recognizable feature of the town, and it also shows storefronts like “Ice Cream Parlor”, “Mark Twain Museum”, “Gifts”, “Pizza”, “Antiques” and “Museum”. Judging from the t-shirt on the bike-riding kid in the foreground, this was completed in the 1970s.


The second poster, clearly Old Town St. Charles, shows Main Street’s cobblestone streets that still remain today. Also shown are the quaint old-time storefronts and one legible hanging sign for “Antiques”. The cars also suggest that the image was representing the late 1960s or early 1970s.


The third is a riverbed scene that shows an uprooted tree in the foreground and two (perhaps young) people with their backs to the artist, carrying away a canoe towards the water’s edge. Not all that dynamic, but definitely could have been inspired by Missouri streams.


The final one is perhaps the most recognizable of all: St. Louis’s Gateway Arch and the old County Courthouse. Men in suits and hats walk the streets as if the artist is catching “lunchtime”. Cars and clothing suggest the image was also created in the late 1960s or early 1970s.


Perhaps the artist did a series of Missouri towns?

I hope you get a kick out of them like I do. And you wouldn’t believe what I paid for them if I told you.


Jack Butler O’Hara, 91, passed away peacefully on April 6th. After a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease, his last days were spent remaining cheerful and loving. His sense of humor endured and he made the most of the life he had left. Born January 27, 1921 to Ben and Dorothy O’Hara. He attended Southwest High School graduating in 1938 as Class President. He attended the University of Kansas where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta and lettered in track. He also attended the Kansas City Art Institute and the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He was an Eagle Scout and a member of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. During World War II, he was a 1st Lt. in the Medical Administrative Corp and spent a year in the Philippines. Following his release from the army, he worked in the editorial department at Hallmark Cards. Three years later, he joined Valentine-Radford Advertising Agency and eventually became a partner. After 21 years with the agency, he retired to paint full time. His principle medium was watercolor and, after being accepted five times in the annual show in New York City, he was accepted as a member of the American Watercolor Society. His work is in private and corporate collections both here and abroad, including Senator Nancy Kassebaum and Senator Thomas Eagleton. He is also represented in the permanent collection of the Spencer Museum, Lawrence, KS, the Kemper-Albrecht Gallery in St. Joseph, MO, the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine, the Muchnic Museum, Atchison, KS, the Kansas City Art Institute, the Nelson- Atkins Museum, and the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, Nevada. He exhibited numerous one-man shows including a show of Irish landscapes at the Nelson- Atkins Museum of Art. In addition to his landscapes, he became well known for his portraits. He was on the board of the Kansas City Museum, the Nelson- Atkins Council of Fellows and Pets for Life. He was a member of the Kansas City Country Club, the Moorings Club, Vero Beach, FL, the Garden of the Gods Club, Colorado Springs, CO and a former member of the University Club and the Vanguard Club.
He leaves his wife of 58 years, Marie Bell Watson O’Hara, son Thomas Watson O’Hara and wife Laura and twin children Callae and Jack, son David Benjamin O’Hara and son John Burns and wife Catie and their sons Luke and Dan. Jack also leaves his twin sister JeanO’Hara. He was fortunate to enjoy his life surrounded a wide circle of friends.

Climbing the Cates-Benson (Bengtsson) Family Tree

I have done a lot of work on my family tree since my grandfather died a couple of years ago. Naturally, I wish I’d asked him a thousand more questions but didn’t. So I sorted out family photos and set out to figure out their subjects. It’s been so much fun and I’ve met some terrific cousins in my search.
I’m a visual person, so my work started by trying to lay out the photos in an order that made sense to my family line – so I created a visual family tree. This way, I could figure out who came from who.

My Cates Benson Trout Endicott Halsey Camron Family Tree

My Cates Benson Trout Endicott Halsey Camron Family Tree