Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Recently, I picked up a bag of snapshots at a flea market and inside were these! I always get a kick out of seeing silly snaps and here we can share in some backwoods silliness from these two girls. Wait, did I say two girls? There's just one really tall girl posing behind a tree, right? Shh...just play along.

Sorry to break the illusion, but the head in the above photo belongs to the booty in the next photo and vice versa.  

Oops! Looks like the head is showing a bit too much leg. Let me fix that for her.

There you go! Now the illusion works much better with the aid of photoshop.

Unfortunately the snapshots are void of any identification. The photos that were in the same bag are marked Pocahontas, Arkansas. So, it's a good guess that these gals were goofing off over seventy years ago in the Ozarks.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Here in Neato Coolville we're all about preserving the past. It's very important, because everything is temporary and everything changes. We now live in an age where things can easily be saved digitally. Images, sounds and writings can survive long after the physical material has disappeared. 

Last week, my grandmother passed away. She lived a long and fruitful life to the age of 101. She experienced and witnessed many wonderful things and overcame many adversities. She had a century's worth of knowledge and memories that she always enjoyed sharing. We're all going to miss her dearly. Fortunately for us and for her descendants we have audio and video recordings of her telling stories and sharing what life was like back in the old days. 

Today I just want to encourage everyone to preserve their own family heritage by recording interviews with your loved ones. It's nice to have video, but I find it easier and less intrusive to simply use the recording device on my smart phone. Before you start, make sure to have a list of questions to help keep the conversation going. Ask about regular daily activities, about their jobs, their hobbies, favorite foods, favorite movies etc. I always made a point to ask about major historical events and where or what they were doing at the time. Questions about past family members and friends always works as a fun conversation starter. I learned so much about relatives that came before me and now have a better understanding of who they were. Also, use photographs, props or things from their past to help jog a memory. 

By the way, this isn't just a thing to preserve the memories of grandparents. Do the same with your parents, yourself and even your kids. How many of us would get a kick out of hearing an interview with our childhood selves. I know I would!  

Okay, so get out there and have some fun and preserve some family history! Do it today, before all those precious memories are lost forever. Just hit the record button!!!

Thursday, January 01, 2015


Wishing everyone a neato New Year!  Let's hope this is not the year when the robots take over.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


For fun on this last day of the year, here's a scan of the obscure and brilliant comic strip Hickory Hollow Folks from 1948. This strip was created by Walter Quermann and only ran in the St. Louis-Post Dispatch from 1934 to 1955. Click here and here for some info on this rare strip. 

 Click the strip to go big for a closer look

Thursday, December 25, 2014



Misfit Toy Stats
Name - Barney
Type - Lost
Age - 35 - 30 years
Origin - Manufactured
Height - 2 1/2"
Demeanor - Friendly

Meet Barney, our final misfit toy of the 12 Days of Christmas! Barney started out life as a Christmas ornament, so I suppose technically he's not a toy. But really, aren't all Christmas tree ornaments toys? I know I played with most of the ornaments on my tree when I was little, so like it or not we're saying Barney is a toy. Besides, he thinks he's a toy, so that's all that matters. Like most of the misfit toys I really don't know their story. The same goes for Barney. I saved Barney out of a fifty cent bin of toys in a thrift store. This little wooden snowman was very dirty and his glued on hair was a mess. Barney simply looked lost in a sea of broken worthless toys.

While cleaning Barney up after I got him home, I noticed a little hole at the top of his head. Of course, that hole in the head is like a scar and it tells Barney's story! Okay, work with me now, but I bet Barney was a cherished Christmas ornament for some kid. Every year that kid looked forward to helping decorate the tree and every year he placed Barney on one of the lower branches of the tree. As the child grew, Barney kept advancing upward to a new branch each year. I'm sure he was excited to be moving closer to the angel on top of the Christmas tree. That's where all the special ornaments like to hang out. Sometimes Barney was taken down and played with by the child. Barney's favorite thing to do during the holiday season. But one year something happened. The hook in his head was loose and poor Barney eventually fell off the tree and rolled under the couch. Barney was trapped there throughout Christmas. Dust started to collect over him year after year as he was forgotten about. Each year he missed Christmas. He longed to be hanging on a Christmas tree branch again, but it wasn't to be. One day, the sofa was lifted away. He was so excited to be found, but his excitement faded when someone scooped him up and threw him in a box labeled thrift store. And that's how I think Barney became lost.

Btw, what is Barney? Is he a snowman? A clown? An ice skater that's lost his other skate? Maybe he's holding a wrench and he's Santa's sleigh mechanic. Regardless of what Barney is, he has finally found happiness with all the other misfit toys.  For the first time in many years Barney has his hook back and is now hanging on a Christmas tree once again.

Merry Christmas everyone and check back later today for one last misfit toy post. It's the group photo! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Misfit Toy Stats
Name - Mr. Nuttenbaum
Type - Homemade 
Age - Unknown
Origin - Handmade
Height - 2 3/4"
Demeanor - Ornery

Meet Mr. Nuttenbaum, number eleven of our misfit toys. Plain and simple, Mr. Nuttenbaum is an old cantankerous nut! He's as small as a peanut...oh wait, he is a peanut. Anyway, Mr. Nuttenbaum is a true Scrooge when it comes to Christmas. Not sure what his problem is, but maybe he spent too much time packed away and didn't get played with enough. You see, I found Mr. Nuttenbaum in a bag of old toy parts from the 1930s at an antique store.  It looked like someone emptied a kids desk drawer from the depression era.  It's possible that Mr. Nuttenbaum could be at least 75 years old. I'm speculating here, but he was probably made from a crafty parent as a simple stocking stuffer toy for a child. Maybe this crafty depression era parent made a bunch of these peanut people and now Mr. Nuttenbaum is the last of his kind. The only one to survive all these years. Amazing for a little fragile peanut with a wax hat and matching gloves and boots. Being unloved, unwanted, unplayed with and the last of your kind would make any toy's personality a bit on the sour side.  

Ever since joining the rest of our misfit toys, Mr. Nuttenbaum has started to soften. No, not in a boiled peanut sort of way, but his attitude is now much better. If you look close you'll see he has a twinkle behind his ornery drawn on eyes. Of course he does his best to keep up the fake scrooge front, but everyone knows the nut in the shell is not as cold and dark as it was once before. 

Look! Mr. Nuttenbaum seems to be enjoying his first Christmas since FDR was in office. Way to go Mr. Nuttenbaum! 

Tomorrow is Christmas and you'll be meeting the last toy in our misfit toy group. Everyone have a happy Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Misfit Toy Stats
Name - Boo
Type - Unwanted
Age - 4 years
Origin - Manufactured
Height - 5"
Demeanor - Bouncy

Our tenth misfit toy sure is a spiffy dresser. Since Boo looks sharp wearing his green bow tie, I was surprised he was so unwanted at the Hobby Lobby! A couple of years ago, the first lady of Neato Coolville and I were walking through the craft store checking out the Christmas decorations. I noticed the store still had a few Halloween things leftover on clearance. Everything was 90% off. At that "almost free" price, the shelves were practically empty. Only things left were a few plastic pumpkin pails and sitting on a shelf all by himself, was Boo. I always like a little Halloween with my Christmas and so I picked him up and intended to buy him. Then I noticed he was scratched and dented. I set him down and went back looking at Christmas decorations. I didn't need a dented up Halloween ghost. Needless to say, I guess I felt sorry for the spring loaded bouncy ghost toy and bought the old chap.     

Ever since I brought him home, Boo can't stop bouncing. I guess he was happy to finally be wanted.

We're almost to number twelve, but first we'll look at number eleven tomorrow.