Vintage Christmas Candy Figures

Many years ago, maybe as much as 50 years, I remember Christmas figures with candy in them. These plastic figures included a snowman, a Santa on skis, and a red horse with wheels.
vintage plastic snowman

Rosbro plastic snowman from the 1950s. A fun collectible.

They were fun to play with and pretty sturdy. Many are still around today. Often, the pipe breaks off the snowman and the reins of the horse are gone.

I happened to find some at yard sales and flea markets, some twenty years or so ago. They brought back childhood memories of 1950s Christmas times. Now, I use them in my Christmas decorating.

christmas vintage toys

Rosbro Santa on green skis, snowman with a pipe, and red horse on green wheels.

You can find them on eBay at prices of $10 to $40 depending on condition and demand. Having the box adds to the value. My Santa no longer has the lightbulb and cord.

These seasonal figures were made by the Rosbro Plastic Inc. of Providence, Rhode Island. The company also made hard plastic figures for Easter, Halloween, and other holidays.

vintage santa skis

Rosbro Santa with original box. 

(all photos by Virginia Allain)

Other Christmas figures Rosbro made were white reindeer, a Santa on a bicycle, and Santa with reindeer and a wagon. Follow the link if you’d like to read more about collecting Rosbro hard plastic Christmas figures.

Do you remember any of these from long ago?


Stocking Up for Thanksgiving

Time to buy the turkey or ham and all the trimming for the holiday feast. I’m sure your list on the week before Thanksgiving includes cranberry sauce, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and other traditional foods. The Publix Supermarket that I use was so busy today, there were no shopping carts in the cart area. My husband hunted around the parking lot and returned triumphantly with one.

retro-1950 shopping pixabay

Shopping for groceries in the 1950s

Much of our Thanksgiving meal was homegrown in my childhood years. We didn’t raise our own turkeys but the mashed potatoes and the green beans came from our bountiful garden. Gail Lee Martin would have shopped at the local IGA market for the cans of cranberry sauce. We always had the jellied kind that you served in slices. Now, I opt for the whole berry, but still from a can.

The pies were homemade with Gail rolling out the pie crust in the farmhouse kitchen. There would be pumpkin pie and whipped cream to go on it. Someone would assemble the 5-cup salad with the luxury of mandarin oranges, tiny marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple, and a sweet creamy sauce tying it all together. So the shopping list would include those.

Gail wrote about the Thanksgiving meals from her childhood. The 1930s holiday didn’t necessarily include a turkey. Read the details at We Gave Thanks Prairie Style. The description shows how times change but the family gathering was still special.  The desserts included a gooseberry pie made from berries they picked along the Cottonwood River. Sometimes pumpkin wasn’t available so a faux pumpkin pie was made with other ingredients.

Clyde and Gail Martin just finishing Thanksgiving dinner_Shanno

Thanksgiving in the 1970s – Clyde and Gail Martin.

What special dishes are you serving this Thanksgiving? I hope you don’t forget any of the special ingredients while shopping.


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 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 of that 1930 Halloween on the Our Echo website.

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

I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy

A childhood memory from Gail’s daughter, Virginia Allain.

A Great Patriotic Musical

For I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy…” Who can resist singing along with this great patriotic song?

When we were kids, every fourth of July we took time away from the firecrackers and hand-cranked ice cream to watch Yankee Doodle Dandy on television. There was something so satisfying about George M. Cohan’s vintage movie that made our hearts swell with patriotic pride and made us chime in singing along. It was an old movie, even back in the 1950s when we made it part of our 4th of July traditions.

I’ll share with you here some of the wonderful songs and scenes from Yankee Doodle Dandy. Have fun listening to the songs and watching the YouTube scenes from the movie.

Here’s the Movie Trailer for Yankee Doodle Dandy – The movie won an Academy Award.

You can buy a DVD of Yankee Doodle Dandy, so you can watch more than just these video clips

Sit down with the family and watch this vintage musical. Sing along with the catchy tunes. Admire Cagney’s cheeky charm and his singing and dancing.

My sister was thrilled when someone gave her the original sheet music for “Over There.” She framed it and has it hanging in her dining room.

Every heart beats true ‘neath the red, white and blue!

The following video is a Tribute to George M. Cohan – containing many of the songs from Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Other Movies with George M. Cohan’s Music

The Seven Little Foys

Cohan: Over There

Give My Regards To Broadway

 Now, It’s Time to Sing Along –

Just sing along with me, “For it was Mary, Mary, long before the fashions changed...”, then march around the room singing “For I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy. Yankee Doodle do or die. A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam, born on the 4th of July.” You can wave a little flag while you march, to really get in the spirit.

When I shared this with my friends, here is their response:

Ann – Haven’t given it a thought in years, but now all the songs are running through my head. Guess I’ll have to watch it too.

Nan – Oh me! It has been a long time since I have watched Yankee Doodle Dandy and I need to do that again soon. Thanks for reminding me.

Wendy – Yankee Doodle Dandy was one of my all-time favorite movies. I loved all James Cagney’s musicals (he was a fantastic dancer), but Yankee Doodle Dandy was the best. I’ve seen it many, many times. Perfect choice for the 4th of July!

Marcella – I remember watching this old movie rerun when I was little. What an energetic guy Cagney was.

Lori – My favorite movie as a kid. I loved when he says he thought the 4th of July fireworks were in celebration of his birthday!

Nancy – This movie and James Cagney have always been two of my favorites. He was a hoofer long before he became “Public Enemy Number One,” (another of his movies), and I think he’s delightful! Love the songs, they make me puff up with pride and get tears in my eyes.

Diane – I’m afraid I just can’t think of this song without remembering Prince Poppycock singing it on America’s Got Talent. Watch it on YouTube. As the judges say, it is a spectacle you won’t soon forget.

Philip – I can’t say that I was a “Little Johnny Jones”, but there is a lot about this that I can relate to. I think that George M Cohan is a musical genius.

Melinda – James Cagney was great in this movie. One of his finest performances in my opinion.

Cressy – Love, love, love it! Here is it Labor Day and what better way than to listen to songs like Grand Old Flag and Over There. It’s inspiring. This music makes me want to pay more attention to my country, remember more often the patriotism that binds every American to this land of the free and home of the brave. Thanks for this lovely journey filled with memories.

Nonni – This movie is one of my favorites, with wonderful, uplifting songs…George M. Cohan was a truly patriotic man and is played to perfection by James Cagney. This is a great Independence Day celebration movie.

Robby – Yankee Doodle Dandy is a great film and a superb sing-a-long tune that is famous in the UK too. We also have some rousing English music and songs such as Land of Hope and Glory, Heart of Oak and, from a film roughly the same era as Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Dambusters!

Dusty – My high school senior musical was “George M” so I know a lot of the songs from the movie because of that. I love the movie, it’s one of the best ever…

A Long Ago Christmas

a-long-ago-christmas-bubblewsI’m the keeper of the family photos now since my mother died. I need to add the stories to them before it is time to pass them along to the next generation.

Three of the people in this 1971 photo are already gone. Remaining are my sister, brother and me. We are all in our sixties now. Some forty years have passed since we were standing here for this Christmas picture. We were just in our twenties then and our parents were in their forties.

Little did we dream that Shannon would die before my parents. She is so young in this picture, the baby of the family.

My brother, so handsome and vital in this photo is now in a nursing home. He had a stroke and must use a wheelchair. Just thinking of how restricted his life has become due to health issues makes me sad.

My sister, in the blue sweater, has moved to another state. She’s made a new life there and enjoying exploring new territory. In this photo, she was still in college and so was I. I’m the one in navy blue. Yes, back then I had red hair.

Two of our sisters aren’t in this photo. I’m sure they were there for the family gathering.

Little did we know the paths that our lives would take. Maybe it is best that we don’t know.

(post originally published on Bubblews – by Virginia Allain)

Old Dead Bird

My dad always made some remark at Thanksgiving or Christmas about the “old dead bird.” Well, our turkey fits that status now. He’s been stuffed and roasted and sliced and served.

Dad is carving the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Lil Cat looks on hopefully.

Dad is carving the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Lil Cat looks on hopefully.

After the feast, it gets totally dismembered. When it reappears tomorrow, it will be as turkey soup.

We don’t eat our holiday dinner until around 5 pm, so at noon I start chopping the onions, celery, and apples to mix into the dressing. Hubby cooks some sage sausage on the stove top to add. I throw in a few other things like raisins and dried cranberries. Combined with a package of seasoned stuffing mix (I apologize to any Australians reading this), and many cups of chicken broth, it goes inside the turkey.

By the time the 15-pound turkey is in the oven, I face a massive clean-up project. The whole kitchen reeks of Lysol when I’m done. I make sure that the faucet, the sinks, the counters, and even the kitchen cabinet knobs have been sanitized.

All that work is worth it, as we’ll have turkey re-run alternating with turkey soup for the next seven days. It’s amazingly cheap meat as stores sell it at a loss to get shoppers hooked into their store. Besides that, it’s a lower-fat meat. It’s quite versatile, easily transformed into turkey salad sandwiches, stir fries, all sorts of casseroles. Tastes good too.

My husband makes the turkey soup on the day after Thanksgiving. (photo by Virginia Allain)

My husband makes the turkey soup on the day after Thanksgiving. (photo by Virginia Allain)

We should eat it more often, but skip the umpteen side dishes that make the holiday meal so fattening.

(originally published on Bubblews by Virginia Allain)