Weird things from my childhood:
- A defunct antique console radio, much like the one pictured. I wonder what happened to that? It was an absolutely useless piece of furniture because you couldn’t set anything on its curved top, and it didn’t work. But it was pretty, had strange dials and knobs, and made mysterious crackling noises.
- Lots of Woodsy Owl and Smokey the Bear paraphernalia. (Dad was in the Forest Service.)
- A vibrating exercise belt machine.
- Powdered milk
- Speaking of weird fitness equipment, my aunt and uncle had one of these.
- And a player piano. In the same room. And they would let kids play on both, unsupervised. So they would win the cool award, except for that they ran a dairy farm in Michigan, which made for quite a potent bed and breakfast, and once, when we were visiting from Oregon, my aunt cooked us breakfast in her very sensible bra and underwear, which was *shocking* to my 5 yo self. I couldn’t believe she was running around like it was perfectly normal. But I digress.
- A huge blue custom-made aluminum “ricing” canoe that weighed a zillion pounds, that my parents originally used for “wild ricing” in Minnesota. Sounds like a lot of work to eat a bunch of strong tasting grass, but whatever floats your canoe. Great for ricing, not so good if you have to get out and carry the canoe during low water on the Little Deschutes.
- Rock Tumbler. We also went to a lot of rock shows (and flea markets).
- Antique barrister’s bookcase full of hardback Reader’s Digest condensed books that had arrived serially as part of a book club. Oh, the irony.
- Complete set of the “classics” in paperback. By the time I came along, all of the pages were yellowing and falling out of faulty bindings. But this definitely contributed to my love of literature—I had access to everything and even though I grew up in a religiously conservative household, books were never censored. Classics, Reader’s Digest versions, they were all there indiscriminately along with a complete set of Encyclopædia Britannia, circa 1970. Raise your hand if you’re seeing a certain gullibility here for sales pitches, “bargains,” and travelling salesmen. (But also a desire for learning opportunities for their kids.)
- A two-keyboard electric organ. While most normal homes had pianos or guitars, mine had an organ. Before my time, there was a piano, and a guitar, and my oldest brother got lessons on them both. I got organ lessons. Now do you see why my musical talent never matured? I bet you that I could still play When The Saints Go Marching In with pizzazz, though. (To be fair, my parents probably offered me music lessons in whatever I was interested in, that was reasonably affordable. They supported my flute playing for 8 years, because I wanted to stay in Band, even though I have no innate musical talent and never picked up the thing once I graduated high school).
- Funeral home and hotel promotional thermometers.
- Gallon jar of dried morel mushrooms, which we had picked ourselves, and which Mom would use in everything. I had enough morel mushrooms and wild rice as a kid to last me a lifetime.