Remember the Dime Store?

Sometimes It Was Called “The Five and Dime” or “The Five and Ten”

Back prior to the 1960s, one could go to the 5 and 10 store for all sorts of things. This is before the day of WalMart. This slim booklet was promoting Woolworths before the proliferation of dollar stores. I had fun looking through the list of what you could buy for 10 cents or less.

squidoo 001

1910 F.W. Woolworth Co. booklet is from my ephemera collection

For ten cents, one could get some curtain rods, some candles for the dining table or a dresser scarf. It reminds me that back in the day, women spent quite a bit of time sewing for the home and their families.

woolworth booklet early 1900

Woolworths sold the needles and thread, the pillow pieces to be assembled, material to make curtains, plus lace and ribbons to decorate those.

Did you see the plastic cowboys and Indians at the top of this page? That was what we gravitated to while Mom shopped for household needs. The little plastic figures provided us with hours of fun in the sandbox in our yard.


cowboys and indians

Vintage plastic western figures that you could buy at the dime store back in the Good Old Days.


Here’s a YouTube video that looks back at a five and dime that is open today, although there isn’t much you can buy for a dime now. It still has the old candy counter at Berdine’s 5 & Dime Store – Harrisville, WV.

Read more memories of old-time dime stores.

Photos by Virginia Allain

Last Minute Costume – Be a Gypsy

Finding the Perfect Gypsy Costume

InCharacter Costumes Women's Fortune Teller CostumeInCharacter Costumes Women’s Fortune Teller CostumeView Details

It’s been years since I dressed up for Halloween. That’s why I wanted to find the perfect costume. Nothing too skimpy, but I wanted it to be a bit flirtatious.

A gypsy costume appealed to me as I have fond memories of dressing in Mom’s ruffled skirt and decking myself out in her costume jewelry. My mother, Gail Lee Martin, put her creative flair into creating great Halloween costumes for her children each year. It’s something you can assemble yourself if you have a full skirt in your closet and lots of jewelry. You can also buy one if you aren’t feeling creative.

Being a gypsy for Halloween was popular in my childhood as you could assemble the outfit from things you had around the house. Add some of Mom’s red lipstick and some rouge and I felt I was the most glamorous gypsy ever.

Here I am with my best friend, a pair of gypsies ready to go trick-or-treating.

Here I am with my best friend, a pair of gypsies ready to go trick-or-treating. Virginia Martin on the left and my friend, also named Virginia. We both attended IXL School in Arkansas City, KS back in the 1950s.

Now I could be a grown-up gypsy with real gold bangles and a sexy off-the-shoulder blouse. I could even get a crystal ball and entertain all my friends by telling their fortune.

This costume filled the bill with the colorful layers just like a real gypsy would have. Since I have super-short hair, I’m going to add a wig with long curly hair to arrange artfully cascading across my bare shoulders.

Quality: Many of the gypsy costumes available were too bare or too flimsy, obviously made of sleazy inexpensive fabric. This one gets raves from those who bought it. They say it’s a much higher quality than you usually get in a Halloween outfit. I can see from the picture that I’m going to really like it.

Finding the Right Wig

 To my mind, a gypsy ought to have luxurious, long curling dark hair. You can opt for auburn but I wouldn’t go with blonde. Black or brunette is best.

Gypsy Black Wig Hat Scarf Kerchief Gold Coins Costume Accessory Fortune TellerGypsy Black Wig Hat Scarf Kerchief Gold Coins Costume Accessory Fortune TellerView DetailsRockabilly Wig in Black - Adult Std.Rockabilly Wig in Black – Adult Std.View DetailsSmiffy's Women's Long Wavy Auburn Wig with Faux Skin Parting, One Size, Superstar Wig, 5020570422878Smiffy’s Women’s Long Wavy Auburn Wig with Faux Skin Parting, One Size, Superstar Wig, 5020570422878View DetailsREECHO 20REECHO 20View Details

The Accessories Complete the Look

When I was little, we raided Mom’s jewelry box for dangling earrings, gold chains and pearls and bangles for our wrists. Chances are you have some gold chains and pendants that you could combine to feel like a gypsy.

If you don’t have the right “gypsy look” jewelry on hand, take a look at what I’ve found. These are so fabulous that you’ll keep them for wearing with other outfits through the year.

I searched Amazon for jewelry for belly dancers, gypsies, fortune tellers and these were my favorites.

Vintage Engraved Coin Bib Necklace (Antique Gold)Vintage Engraved Coin Bib Necklace (Antique Gold)View DetailsMystic Fortune Teller Dangling Gypsy Costume NecklaceMystic Fortune Teller Dangling Gypsy Costume NecklaceView DetailsGypsy Coin Necklace Costume AccessoryGypsy Coin Necklace Costume AccessoryView Details

Shoes or Boots?: I haven’t decided on the footwear to go with it yet. This one shows it with boots, but I’m thinking slim slippers like dancers wear or sandals that lace up the leg might work for me.

Madden Women's Toe Ring SandalMadden Women’s Toe Ring SandalView DetailsWomen's Pom Pom Gypsy Lace Up Strappy Flat SandalsWomen’s Pom Pom Gypsy Lace Up Strappy Flat SandalsView DetailsFuntasma Women's Gypsy Ankle-Strap Sandal,GoldFuntasma Women’s Gypsy Ankle-Strap Sandal,GoldView DetailsBoho Coin Rhinestone Gypsy Boot Bracelet Bling Chain Artisan Personalized Jewelry Handmade in USABoho Coin Rhinestone Gypsy Boot Bracelet Bling Chain Artisan Personalized Jewelry Handmade in USAView DetailsMinishion Women's Dance ShoesMinishion Women’s Dance ShoesView Details

Gypsy costumes have been popular for generations. My mother had a photo from 1930 that showed her parents, Clarence and Ruth McGhee, in their homemade gypsy costumes. Ruth was a good seamstress and likely she sewed these up on her Singer sewing machine.

They wore their costumes to a Halloween party in Teterville, Kansas.

Mother and Daddy The Gypsies

My grandparents, Ruth and Clarence McGhee, dressed as gypsies for a community Halloween event.

Halloween in the Good Old Days

Back in the 1920s and 1930s when Gail Lee McGhee was growing up, Halloween was celebrated in a simpler way than today. Since she lived in an oil field camp in the Flint Hills of Kansas, there was no door-to-door trick or treating. A community Halloween party was held at the Teterville School with adults and children wearing costumes.

Gail’s parents, Ruth and Clarence McGhee, dressed as gypsies for a community Halloween event.

Looking Back at Halloween Fun by Gail Lee Martin

Gail wrote about her clown costume that her mother made for her and her sister and about the fright she had when she saw her mother and father in gypsy costumes. The party games included bobbing for apples. You can read her story below. It was featured on the Our Echo website and before that was published in the Kanhistique magazine. 

I recently went to the local Wal-Mart store to get some groceries and was confronted with all kinds of ghosts, spooks, black cats, and goblins; pretty, ugly, and unique Halloween masks, and a multitude of noisemakers. My mind took an instant spiral back to our Halloweens through the years.

The local community in northwestern Greenwood County, Kansas where I lived with my parents, Clarence and Ruth McGhee and my older sister, Melba, in the early thirties was made up of people who worked in, around and for the oil companies, in search of the flowing ‘Black Gold’. The two major school districts, Nolar and Teter, were the center of the community’s entertainment. First, one elementary school, then the other, would have some sort of amusement. Everyone would attend, no matter which district they live in even if they didn’t have children attending school. They had box suppers, programs for holidays, and put on plays. My acrobatic team performed on the stage one time but that is another story.

The first year I remember was when someone decided to have a masquerade for Halloween to be held at the Teterville school up on the big hill. I was happy with the clown costumes Mother made for my sister and me. They were so cute and showed my mother’s imagination and sewing skills. I never heard anyone mention that Mother and Daddy were going to wear costumes. In my six-year-old mind, I probably thought it was just kid stuff. So when I first saw them dressed as Gypsies, I didn’t know them. I was one scared little girl and clung to my older sister, Melba, the only familiar object in sight.

Other Halloweens I remember were fun parties at home. For many years we lived in an oil field housing development called a camp, which the Phillips Petroleum Company furnished for their employees. Mother would decorate our front room with pictures of black cats and witches cut out of black paper and invited all the neighborhood children. We played many games and had refreshments of hot cider and cookies. I remember one activity that was a wild, wet, and fun for most everyone. That was bobbing for apples. I wasn’t very good at this game but some of the boys with big mouths were excellent.

After Clyde and I were married we lived mostly in the country. Home and school parties still prevailed. “Trick or Treat” hadn’t even been thought of yet. Imagination played a big part in dressing up for Halloween, as masquerading was referred to. Sometimes a character from a favorite book would be the inspiration or just a fancy piece of jewelry would lead a small child to be a princess or maybe a South Seas islander.

Planning costumes at our house always started with a rummage through an old barrel filled with an odd collection of clothes. In this were out-of-style dresses, suits, old jewelry, even feathers, and pieces of fur and leather. Grandpa’s old long johns and Grandma’s flannel nightgown found a home in there too. Some favorite costumes were kept for years, appealing to the next generation of children.

In later years ghosts became popular, sheets and pillowcases in the linen closet became endangered. For some reason, witches were never popular in our family. Probably the difficulty in fashioning the tall hat had something to do with that. Remember the waxy big lips? Our children became intrigued with them in 1959. Such a simple thing that changed your looks and made everyone laugh.

Our son, Owen loved to play ’cowboys and Indians in the 50s, and his favorite outfit was a leather vest and fringed chaps with a ten-gallon hat–well perhaps a five-gallon would be a better description. It did have a leather neck strap so it didn’t blow away in the strong Kansas winds. Owen wore this outfit long after Halloween was forgotten. It was the one he was wearing when he was riding a saddle strapped to a high board fence and the saddle slipped and threw him in the dust breaking his arm when he was six years old.

Thirty-five years later Owen appeared on the streets of El Dorado looking like a sheik dressed warmly for a cold Halloween night.

Our daughter, Cindy, carried her love of masquerading over into her adult life as a paying hobby of a puppeteer. Dressed as ‘Whiskers the Cat,’ she performed for children’s parties for a few years in the 1980s. My sister’s cat, Whiskers, probably was Cindy’s role model, since he always acted like a real live Halloween cat.

In 1957 our family moved south of Arkansas City and our children attended a country school called IXL Elementary School. That year the city celebrated the 25th year of the Arkalalah Festival. This fun time is always held on Halloween, and IXL decorated a float that depicted a large greeting card with four students in fancy dress to represent the school. Our oldest daughter, Susan, a fourth-grader, was chosen to be one of the four. The girls were dressed alike in pastel yellow satin and net–a memory to treasure, even in an old black and white photo.

A kaleidoscope of colorful costumes of my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren shows that at least time hasn’t changed our family’s imaginations. I see pictures of an Indian, clowns, a princess, and just plain old spooks. Pictures certainly are worth a thousand words.

(This was published October 1993 in Kanhistique magazine. I was paid more for the pictures printed than for my text).

Bats and Girl Halloween CardBats and Girl Halloween CardView DetailsVintage Little Witch and Black Cat Halloween CardVintage Little Witch and Black Cat Halloween CardView DetailsGhost Jack O Lantern Pumpkin Child PostcardGhost Jack O Lantern Pumpkin Child PostcardView DetailsJack O Lantern Pumpkin Ghost Child PostcardJack O Lantern Pumpkin Ghost Child PostcardView DetailsHalloween Retro Vintage Children's Costume Party PostcardHalloween Retro Vintage Children’s Costume Party PostcardView Details

Decorations from the time included carved pumpkins and black cats. There was none of the zombies and gory costumes that are seen today.

Retro Black Cats Can Be Scary or Cute

Many people collect vintage Halloween items. They make great decorations for a Halloween party or for the Halloween season. They show up on eBay and if you’re the lucky bidder, you can decorate with Halloween cats too.

The designs have been reproduced on tote bags and t-shirts as well. I’ve collected a sampling of the best here for your review.

Vintage Halloween CardVintage Halloween CardView DetailsHalloween Greetings Card Cat with PumpkinHalloween Greetings Card Cat with PumpkinView DetailsSalem Witch & Black Cat CardSalem Witch & Black Cat CardView DetailsBoy Wizard Halloween Costume CardBoy Wizard Halloween Costume CardView DetailsMoon and Girl in Halloween Costume CardMoon and Girl in Halloween Costume CardView DetailsA Jolly Halloween, CardA Jolly Halloween, CardView DetailsOld Paper Invitation PumpkinOld Paper Invitation PumpkinView Details

A Collector’s Guide to Vintage Halloween Items

There are many Halloween collectibles dating back to the early days of the 1900s. Besides black cats, I’m partial to the sturdy cardboard jack-o-lanterns. Once in awhile you’ll find some of these at an estate sale or maybe in your grandmother’s attic. Check out the background on these and the value with these books.

Halloween Collectables : A Price GuideHalloween Collectables : A Price GuideView DetailsVintage Halloween Collectibles -Third EditionVintage Halloween Collectibles -Third EditionView DetailsHalloween in America: A Collector's Guide With Prices (Schiffer Book for Collectors)Halloween in America: A Collector’s Guide With Prices (Schiffer Book for Collectors)View DetailsTimeless Halloween Collectibles: 1920 to 1949, a Halloween Reference Book from the Beistle Company Archive with Price Guide (Schiffer Book for Collectors)Timeless Halloween Collectibles: 1920 to 1949, a Halloween Reference Book from the Beistle Company Archive with Price Guide (Schiffer Book for Collectors)View Details


Pumpkin Drop Cookies

Several of Gail’s daughters and a number of grandchildren like to cook. Here’s a recipe invented one autumn day by her oldest daughter who had a craving for cookies. If you love pumpkin flavors in the fall and want an easy baking project, try this recipe.
pumpkin spice cookies

Susan’s Easy Pumpkin Drop Cookies

1 yellow cake mix

1 can pumpkin

2 eggs

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. nutmeg

1/4 t. allspice

1/4 t. cloves

Mix all together and drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake 350 degrees until when touched doesn’t leave an impression.


Susan shared this recipe via email and I’ve saved it for 9 years. I’m getting that fall craving for pumpkin-flavored foods so I might have to get out the spices and a mixing bowl to give this recipe a try.


Pumpkin Drop Cookies (photo from Pixabay) – You can add macadamia nuts or craisins, but those aren’t really necessary.

She said that she was taking the cookies over to the folks so she wouldn’t have them around the house tempting her. Mom and Dad enjoyed visits from their daughters and looked forward to their daughters’ cooking and baking binges.

“Sister Karen must have been in the same mood as she took them beans and ham. It is hard to cook for one.”

meme pumpkin drop cookies

Nature Deficit Disorder

last child in woods

Last Child in the Woods book cover (courtesy of GoodReads)



What a frightening concept: nature-deficit disorder. I remember summer days turning up rocks in the creek to find crawdads, and wandering through woods and pastures under the hot Kansas sun. Because of those experiences and my parents’ interest and encouragement, I care about animals, plants, and the state of the planet.

There’s a concern that children get too little time in nature these days. This results in nature-deficit disorder. Are today’s children missing all the relaxing time exploring nature? If their exposure to nature is television documentaries and carefully orchestrated trips to a petting zoo, will they bond with nature? There’s no question that electronic gadgets occupy too much of their time and has consequences beyond short attention spans and weight gain.


YouTube video on Nature Deficit Disorder and the importance of giving children time in nature.

Nature Deficit Disorder could result in generations who care little for the environment. That would be a truly disastrous situation. Here’s some reading for parents and grandparents about how to ensure children have the opportunity to be lovers of nature.

children water woods pixabay

Children need time and freedom to connect with nature. (photo from Pixabay)

Last Child in the Woods is available from Amazon or from your public library.

I wish parents would soak up the message of this book and take steps to unplug their child and provide regular outdoor time both structured and free time.

How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with NatureHow to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with NatureView DetailsI Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of NatureI Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of NatureView DetailsSharing Nature with Children, 20th Anniversary EditionSharing Nature with Children, 20th Anniversary EditionView DetailsFree-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)View DetailsPlay The Forest School Way: Woodland Games and Crafts for Adventurous KidsPlay The Forest School Way: Woodland Games and Crafts for Adventurous KidsView DetailsBalanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable ChildrenBalanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable ChildrenView Details