The Old Hoosier Kitchen Cabinet

In the early 1900s kitchens didn’t have built-in cabinets. A housewife of the era might have had some open shelves to store the dishes on and some things would hang on nails driven into the wall.

Getting a Hoosier cabinet gave the woman of the house a workstation with many modern conveniences. It had a rack for spices, a flour sifter, a deep drawer lined with tin or zinc to hold flour, and a variety of other conveniences all in one location.

The Chickasha daily express. Chickasha Indian Territory Ok Nov10 1920 Page PAGE EIGHT Chronicling America « Library of Congress hoosier cabinet

Advertisement from the Chickasha Daily Express, November 10, 1920. Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Chronicling America.

In this vintage ad from a 1920 newspaper, you see the price range from $20 up to $71 while on sale. This was quite a bit of money in the days when a teacher might only earn $2000 in a year and the average wage was just over $3,000.

Since families made their own bread at home, the convenience of a Hoosier cabinet held strong appeal. There was an enamel counter surface for rolling out the dough and all your ingredients and tools were close to hand.

These continued to be popular into the 1930s, 1940s and lingered into the 1950s. You see the basic style is similar to that of the 1920s, but now the 1950s homemaker might have an electric mixer and an electric frying pan. Many houses built in the post-WWII housing boom would have wall cupboards and counters similar to kitchens of today.

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The electric frying pan and the Mixmaster electric mixer date this to around the 1950s. (photo by Virginia Allain)

The old Hoosier cabinets fell out of favor. They show up in antique stores now and are considered quaint. There’s some nostalgia for these symbols of grandma’s kitchen and some find new life as display cabinets for vintage dishes or are used in cottage style decorating.

retro-kitchen hoosier cabinet pixabay

Vintage Hoosier cabinet (photo from Pixabay)

Read more about Hoosier cabinets.


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.

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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

Remembering Paper Dolls

Guest blogger is C.J. Garriott (Gail Lee Martin’s little sister).

1930s & 1940s Memories from Gail’s Little Sis

christmas 1947

Carol Jean McGhee, December 1947

Cj Garriott – “Playing paper dolls was a winter day activity on the Kansas prairie in the 1930s and 1940s. I cut pictures from a clothing catalog, finding first the “dolls” I liked, usually making a family (mother, father, myself and sisters) then adding a couple of playmates. Aunt, uncles, and cousins often got represented also. Usually, I could find a dog and a cat or two in a magazine to cut out and add to my imaginary world.

I would then look for outfits that would fit over my dolls. Sometimes the doll I liked had clothing that needed to be trimmed down, in order for other outfits to fit over satisfactorily. Mother showed me how to make tabs on the shoulders of clothing so they would stay on the doll.

I kept them in pages of books (which we always had a lot of), keeping them unwrinkled. Daddy would round up heavy paper envelopes that had come in the mail on which we would paste my dolls.”

“After I was married, I saved the Betsy McCall paper doll pages for nieces.”

Betsy McCall goes to the country paper doll magazine page 1954Betsy McCall goes to the country paper doll magazine page 1954View DetailsBetsy McCall's flower garden paper doll magazine page 1954Betsy McCall’s flower garden paper doll magazine page 1954View DetailsBetsy McCall rolls Easter eggs paper doll magazine page 1954Betsy McCall rolls Easter eggs paper doll magazine page 1954View DetailsBetsy McCall, Print advertisement. 60's Color IllustrationBetsy McCall, Print advertisement. 60’s Color IllustrationView DetailsBetsy McCall cutout's, 50s Color Illustration, print artBetsy McCall cut outs, 50s Color Illustration, print artView DetailsBetsy McCall Patterns, 50's Print Ad. Full page Color Illustration (Betsy McCall finds a surprise) Original Vintage 1953Betsy McCall Patterns, 50’s Print Ad. Full page Color Illustration (Betsy McCall finds a surprise) Original Vintage 1953View Details

Originally published on Hubpages in Nostalgia for Paper Dolls.

Vintage Soda Ads

Sodas, Colas, Pop…  (memories by Gail Martin’s daughter, Virginia)

I remember sipping orange pop at the corner gas station as a kid. We could choose from grape or strawberry or chocolate pop from the big red cooler filled with icy water while Dad had the Pontiac’s gas tank filled. Ah, so cool and refreshing on a hot Kansas day.

There was a bottle opener on the side of the red cooler to pry off the metal cap. Then you took a big swig of flavored soda. The strawberry would make red streaks down your chin and on your shirt if you weren’t careful drinking it.

Vintage soda machine - Coca Cola

Old time soda cooler like you would see in a gas station. Photo by Virginia Allain

If you share my memories of vintage sodas, then you’ll enjoy these retro ads that I’ve found and photographed. You’ll see these old tin signs on the walls of restaurants along with other antique and nostalgia items.

We didn’t have pop at home, even for picnics or special occasions. We drank Koolaid or lemonade back in the 1950s and 1960s. Soda was too expensive.

kayo soda tin sign

KayO chocolate soda tin advertising sign.

Whether you call it pop or soda or cola depends on the region you grew up in, but the exact wording doesn’t matter. Some of these old advertisements have been reproduced on tin signs which people like to use to decorate their family room.

Enjoy this trip down memory lane.

hot dog tin sign

Hot dog and a Coca Cola for 15 cents – the good old days.

Photos by Virginia Allain

In the comment section, tell me your memories of drinking sodas as a kid (or did you call them pop)?


Sharing and Saving Old Family Photos

When someone shows off a vintage photo of their great grandparents or another old heirloom photo, I always give them this advice.

Make these accessible far and wide. I do so with our family photos and records, considering myself the archivist. We must always remember how vulnerable these are to loss (fire, flood, thrown out by our children).

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I have a private Facebook page for family only and a separate photo web page so those not on Facebook have access. Put them on your Ancestry tree or on the free site, Family Search.

Consider yourself not just the owner of these, but only the caretaker. Make them available for any family member, whether you’ve met them or not, to use and enjoy.

Graphic from

I’ve seen some people have a total meltdown when someone they don’t know adds their photo onto a family tree. “That’s my great-grandmother,” they proclaim in outrage. I tell them to stop and think about it. If that ancestor had 8 children, and those children had 5 children, and then more descendants follow, there are likely hundreds of people who can call that person their great-grandmother.

Let’s Write More Letters

When was the last time you wrote a personal letter on real stationery, added a stamp and put it in the mailbox? I’m trying to do this more often since my brother had his stroke and lives in a nursing home. Using email isn’t an option for him and he has told me that the arrival of the mail is the high point of his day.


Our lives are busy and that’s the excuse most of us give for not writing real letters anymore. It seems we have plenty of time to putter around admiring cute kitten pictures on Facebook or watching the latest reality show on television. I remind myself, that writing a letter is not a huge commitment of time. Sometimes I opt for sending a postcard when I don’t have much to say or am short on time. It lets him know that I’m thinking of him.

Using attractive cards or pretty stationery makes letter writing a pleasant experience. I even have my favorite pen that moves smoothly over the paper and doesn’t leave blots. Since my brother likes street rods, I found some cards on Zazzle with vintage hot rods on them. I figure he can enjoy the graphic as a bonus and it shows I took the trouble to select cards with him in mind.

For my sisters, I usually email them but now and then get inspired to write a real letter. People seldom bother to save emails or go back to read them later. An actual letter or card often gets stashed in a box or a drawer and later is pulled out to savor once more.

Sometimes I use my own photos to create cards on Zazzle. I like sending these to show off my photography and I know the site does a good job with the printing and quality of the card stock. It just seems to add an extra dimension to the letter to have a photo I’ve taken on the card. You could print out your own photos with your printer and leave some white space to add your letter.

Here’s an example of my own photo on a Zazzle card:

White Daisy Postcard 
White Daisy Postcard by virginia allain

This post was originally posted on Daily Two Cents with the following bio added. “Virginia Allain is a retired librarian passionate about sharing information on the Internet. Areas that interest me are genealogy, photography, self-publishing, gardening, golf, and enjoying life.”

Comments on Letter Writing

Nancy  – I like the thought here.  “An actual letter or card often gets stashed in a box or a drawer and later is pulled out to savor once more.” I’ve done that myself so many times. emails are wonderful, but I can’t see them taking the place of a piece of paper we hold in our hands, knowing that loving hands held it before we did as they thought of us.

Danielle – I used to LOVE writing letters! My friends and I used to write these long letters to each other all the time. Now I have no one to write to on paper that would actually write back!

Candy – I have several friends who are in their 80’s and 90’s and live 2,000 miles away. They don’t have email. We communicate by writing letters and I always look forward to seeing one of their handwritten envelopes in my mailbox.

Ruined Farmhouse

Ruined Farmhouse

It’s sad to see a vintage farmhouse falling into ruins. This one caught my eye as we traveled across Kansas a few years ago. It’s springtime, but there is no joy, no rebirth likely to happen for this dilapidated building.


(Photos and essay by Virginia Allain)

Most people would pass it by without giving any thought to it. To me, this house symbolizes the failure of some farm family. Too many failed crops or perhaps the death of the farmer led to the sale of the land. Another farmer now keeps that land productive but didn’t need the house.


Expanding the view shows you the outbuildings that once served a useful purpose. The metal-roofed granary still stands and a barn beyond that. Closer to the house a small building gave in to gravity and soon will be just a pile of boards and rusty nails.

The cows, the chickens, the farm tractor, and the family are all gone now. Only memories of better times remain. Once a family lived and worked here. There would have been curtains in the windows. The children probably slept on pallets in the loft of the small house. At the back is a room, perhaps added-on as the family grew.

In a few seconds, we passed this old farm and I forgot about it. When I sorted my photos, I felt again the sadness of a deserted house and farm. I wonder if any of the buildings are still standing.