Celebrating Labor Day Art!

Labor Day – the perfect day to celebrate antique and vintage labor posters and other labor related art.

Some honor home front workers supporting the war effort. Many support and celebrate the union labor movement, which brought so many important rights to American workers.

Woman Labor – 1912

Some are 1930’s WPA posters – the Works Progress Administration which, thanks to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, employed the unemployed and helped bring us out of the Great Depression.

The “Free Labor Will Win” poster represents fighting the Axis dictators in World War II (which had “unfree” labor) combined with President Roosevelt’s positive policies toward organized labor unions.

There are Women’s labor posters, anti child-labor posters, etc. I’ve also included a labor related US stamp and the movie poster from the great movie, Metropolis, about a shining Art Deco city which is powered by thousands of poor abused workers living underground.

Come on in to the Midtown Mercantile Mall at 4443 E. Speedway in Tucson, Arizona. We have many merchants who sell vintage art. There just might be some of these old labor posters in the mall right now. If you hang a few of these on your wall you will have a wonderful historic collection, and they are beautiful as well!

Carol Fenn 9-2017

Back To School – Back Then!

Back in the day, before the first day of school, (which used to be mid-September) your Mom or Dad would take you shopping for new clothes and new shoes.

Shopping at one of those newfangled “shopping malls.”

No self service shoes back then

We loved our lunch boxes

In those days, the clothes, no matter how much they cost, a lot or a little, were quality, finely made, and they lasted until you grew out of them. And this was probably the only time you got new clothes until the next year.
After you were done shopping for clothes you might get treated to a brand new lunch box. Which one should you get? Yogi Bear, Peanuts, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Popeye, Underdog, Huckleberry Hound, Mary Poppins, Hee Haw, Batman, Julia, The Flintstones, or what? There were so many! Why is it so hard to pick?

So many to choose from!

Last, grab a composition book, a pack of pencils and maybe a cool pencil box. That’s all you needed. Everything else was supplied by the school.  Oh, and hopefully your mom will save some paper grocery bags so that you can cover your textbooks with them.

We didn’t have to pay for books but we had to protect them

Today, kids go back to school in the middle of summer and parents receive the school’s annual list of classroom supplies that they must purchase and deliver. It can be three or four pages long and can include, several cleaning products and even a Costco-sized package of toilet paper. It might even include a huge bag of flour! This is in addition to the school supplies for your own child. Masks, a backpack, paper, pens, folders, notebooks, a calligraphy set, fifteen new apps for their tablets, a graphing calculator, a scalpel, an electron microscope and a centrifuge. And clothing? You’ll be buying clothes all year because today’s clothes only last thru maybe a half a dozen laundry cycles. Doesn’t sound like much fun does it? And not to mention the expense. Many parents cannot afford all of these items, hence the school supply drives that pop up this time of year.

And I’m certainly not a snob about how people dress but just check out the difference in the crossing guards then and now.



Hey, to beat those back to school blues come on in to The Mercantile at 4443 E. Speedway, Tucson AZ.  You might find one of those old lunch boxes to help bring back those “back in the day” memories.

Carol Fenn 8-2017

It’s Christmas Cookie Time!

It’s time to make Christmas cookies! Time to pull out that fifty year old tried and true Betty Crocker recipe for sugar cookies. Cookies that can be shaped like Santa, Rudolph, a star or a holiday tree.  

And with that old vintage recipe let’s hope you have some tried and true kitchen tools to help you get the job done. There’s nothing like using vintage measuring cups, mixing bowls, a beautiful rolling pin and of course, the vintage cookie cutters.

Vintage Pyrex measuring cups

Vintage birds-eye maple rolling pin

Cookie cutters. Fun to use and lots of fun to collect. They come in so many varieties and can make a wonderful display.

If you don’t already have all of these necessary tools, you need to come on in to The Mercantile at 4443 E. Speedway. You can browse through about 100 booths on your search for cookie cutters, rolling pins, etc. Everything you’ll need to make these delicious cookies!

***Betty Crocker Christmas Cookies***
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

2 Heat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease cookie sheet.

3 Divide dough in half. Roll each half 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with 2- to 2 1/2-inch cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheet.

4 Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.   Decorate with icing, etc.

Carol Fenn 12-2017

The History of The Wreath

We all know about hanging wreaths on our front doors, but where did that tradition originate? And what does it symbolize? Since it’s Christmas in July here in the Midtown Mercantile Mall, let’s look into it.

Early Greco-Roman wreath

Ancient wreath – gold acorns and leaves

The victor

Wreathes date back to ancient Greece and Rome, where members of the Greco-Roman society would make wreaths using tree leaves, twigs, small fruits and flowers. Laurel wreaths were used to crown victors of sporting events, a tradition still used today during the Olympic Games, where the medals are engraved with wreaths of laurel.

Traditional wreath

Meanwhile, in Europe, about 1,000 years before the birth of Christ, pagans celebrating the solstice made evergreen wreaths as a sign of perseverance through harsh winters and the hope of a coming spring.   By the 16th century, Catholics and Protestants had adopted these pagan symbols to celebrate Advent, the season of waiting and preparation for the birth of Christ. 

A Tucson wreath

The bottom line – the wreath’s circular shape, with no beginning and no end, symbolizes an unending circle of life. Evergreen branches symbolize the life of the earth that never truly dies, in spite of the cold winter winds.

Now this is cute!

While it’s nice to know the history behind traditions most people today don’t even think about the symbolism. They just want that traditional wreath on their front door. And now, with the popularity of repurposing, some truly wonderful wreaths are being made out of vintage ornaments, lights, and decor. 

What an excellent use of repurposed vintage items!

 Many of these old Christmas items can be found in the mall. Come on in and have a look around!

Carol Fenn 7-2017

Christmas Memories ~ Old & New 


As we celebrate Christmas Day many of us think back over the years of decorating the tree with family ornaments, meals shared with loved ones, or perhaps what was our favorite gift ever. Mine was Barbie’s Dream Kitchen. I loved that kitchen! Those mid century colors were awesome:

I know of one lucky girl 🙂 whose favorite gift was a green stingray bike. The story goes that her mother drove for six hours to get that bike just in time for Christmas! I wonder if it looked like this (except in green of course!):

If you were a kid in the fifties and sixties you might see one of your favorite gifts in this photo. Barbie’s sport car, a toy robot, a Lionel train, an airplane, or tinker toys! Ah, Christmas memories …

As we grow older and develop new friendships and bring in-laws into our families more memories are made. New traditions are born. I make the same Christmas dinner my mother always made. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and crescent rolls. It’s delicious and, if I do say so myself, perfect. When my ex-significant other first sat down to this meal the first words out of his mouth were, “Where’s the macaroni and cheese?” … LOL … what? Well, as long as he was with us, the Mac and cheese became part of our meal. It’s gone now, and so is he. But I have to say, sometimes I miss that delicious cheesy dish!

Now might be a fun time to reflect. What was your favorite gift?  What new memories and traditions have others brought to your Christmas Day?  Will those traditions stay or will they go?  Merry Christmas memories to one and all!

Christmas At The MERCANTILE Mall

‘Twas a few days before Christmas when all through the mall

Vintage ornaments were waiting

To brighten your hall.

The Santa hats were hung from the rafters with care 

Oh my goodness 

They’re so high!

How’d they get them up there?

I turned every corner

I searched every nook

And Christmas was everywhere

You should come take a look.

Through the end of December

They’re having a sale

On Frosty the Snowman, 

“Noel” for your yard

On ornaments


And trees 

Big and small.

Now as I was leaving

I spied an old sign

A favorite of many,

Certainly mine.

And what did it say?

That happy old sign

It reminded us all

No matter our age … to …

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 


Mid Century Women and Their Aluminum Christmas Trees 

Ah, the aluminum Christmas tree. So pretty in all of it’s mid century modern minimalist splendor. When we think of them from back in the 1960s we picture them perhaps in a gorgeous California Eichler next to a Herman Miller lounge chair. The presents all neatly wrapped while the color wheel slowly changes the hue of this lovely scene.  

But then the reality of kitsch enters the scene as these vintage photos expose. Ladies posing next to these trees seemed to be the thing to do. Sometimes raunchy, sometimes elegant, sometimes sweet, always funny.  

What is she doing with that vacuum that she’s wearing?

Enjoy the photos. Merry Christmas!

Carol Fenn 12-2018

Holiday Candles and Their Many Uses

There are many different reasons why candles are associated with seasonal holidays. Long, long, ago candles were used during ancient winter solstice celebrations as a way of remembering that the light of spring would soon come. One of the earliest records of candles being used at Christmas is from the middle ages, where a large candle was used to represent the star of Bethlehem. 

Candles are used during Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Light. During the eight nights of Hanukkah each candle is lit in a special menorah.

Antique Sterling Silver Menorah

Candles are also used in the modern winter festival Kwanzaa, where a special candle holder called a kinara is used.


One of the most beautiful use of candles at Christmas are candlelight services when the entire church is only lit by candles.

Candles were also originally used to decorate Christmas trees until safer electric lights were invented!

In some parts of Ireland it was traditional to have a Yule candle instead of a Yule log.

Candles are also used as part of the St. Lucia’s or St. Lucy’s day celebrations in Sweden. A wreath of candles, worn on the head, is a beautiful tradition.

So no matter where you are, or who you are, it’s time to get out your candles and celebrate the season!  

Carol Fenn 12-2017

The GLORIOUS Variety of Sterling Silver Serving Pieces

Forks, knives, spoons. Flatware. Sterling silver flatware. Pretty straight forward right? Well, hold on there Sunshine! Don’t forget about the serving pieces. Yes, that’s right, the antique and vintage sterling silver serving pieces. There is absolutely nothing straight forward about them!  

Bon Bon spoon and angel food cake fork

One hundred years ago there was a serving piece for just about everything. Tomato slices, asparagus, bacon, lemons, angel food cake, pickles, sardines, ice cream, oysters, baked potatoes, toast, butter, berries, chocolate bon bons, etc. etc. 

The variety is endless. So many ways to serve seafood, for example. And “ice cream forks!” Check out the old catalog pages I’m sharing with you. Who even knew about ice cream forks … and who would think there would be so many choices! Now wouldn’t that be a fun thing to collect! 

Today, we have discovered that we can use grandma’s serving spoon for just about everything. Oh heavens! But that’s ok. Many folks still appreciate the old sterling silver serving pieces. They’re highly collectible and some sell for hundreds of dollars.  

Here at Midtown you just might find some of these classics. Start your search in our French country kitchen and move on from there. Then when you find one or more of these wonderful pieces of history, pull out your linen tablecloth and your fine china and throw a dinner party!  

Carol Fenn 1-2019

Prior To Elf on The Shelf – Vintage Elves!

In 2004 The Elf on the Shelf was written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell over a cup of tea. It was a book about a seemingly old tradition of an elf sent from Santa who came to watch over children at Christmas time. The story describes how Santa’s “scout Elves” hide in people’s homes to watch over events and then report back to Santa. Basically to see who’s naughty? Who’s nice? And there’s one rule – you must not touch the elf on the shelf!

A variety of vintage 1950s, 1960s elves

Oh yeah, he’s naughty

Having a good old time!

Prior to the Elf on the shelf book there were already plenty of vintage Christmas elves watching over us and frankly they could care less about who’s naughty and who’s nice! As a matter of fact, many of these vintage elves have pretty naughty looks on their faces. They’re mischievous. They’re fun. They’re full of good Christmas cheer! Naughty? Nice? Don’t touch? Who cares! They just want to have fun!

Contemplating naughtiness


“I didn’t do it …”

You may have noticed that it is currently the middle of the summer and I’m writing about holiday elves! That’s because it’s Christmas in July in the Midtown Mercantile Mall. Come on in. It’s cool inside and we’re celebrating Christmas!  

Carol Fenn 7-2017

~ Santa Claus During The Mid Century Space Race ~

After World War II America and Russia entered into the Cold War era. Things were already very tense, when in 1957, the Russians launched the world’s first satellite, thus placing the first man made object into Earth’s orbit. Named Sputnik, it’s launch came as an unpleasant surprise to most Americans who traditionally did not like being second in anything!

Space was seen as the next frontier that Americans wanted to conquer! Hence the Space Race between the US and Russia was born! Even little American boys and girls wanted to beat Russia at this game!

When President Kennedy said that we would put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, Americans were launched even more into this new era of space toys, atomic design, and Santa Claus in rocket ships!

Yes, gone was the sleigh and the reindeer! (Even Rudolph!) All Santa needed to get to those chimneys was a well designed spacecraft and some rocket fuel.

Space age Santa adorned Christmas cards, advertising, store displays, even a parade float in California!

After a couple short decades of being in space Santa got his reindeer back (even Rudolph!) and now we see him in his more traditional sleigh delivering merriment wherever he goes! But those cute space age Santa images sure were a lot of fun weren’t they! 

Merry Christmas! HO HO HO!



The VINTAGE Thanksgiving Table

Ah Thanksgiving. A time to remember those sometimes wacky, sometimes touching, sometimes just right holiday meals. Now it’s time to make new memories. It can be a lot of fun to dress up your Thanksgiving table with vintage items. From a vintage turkey platter, to a turkey centerpiece, to a lovely old cake stand. Make it beautiful. Make it fun. Make it your own!  

“Leave it to Beaver” 1950s – Too austere?

1970s – A bit too wacky – but probably fun

1940s – Just right? And check out the kid’s table!

A centerpiece can be a fruit and nut filled cornucopia, a vintage turkey figurine, a primitive dough bowl or maybe antique candle holders. And don’t forget to put it all on top of a beautiful tablecloth!

Primitive American dough bowl centerpiece

WMF Art Nouveau Candlesticks

For your dishes you might want a lovely old set of porcelain dishes. Limoges maybe? Amber glass? Or it can be fun to collect varied souvenir plates all year long then give each guest there own individualized place setting. Just make sure those souvenir plates are food-friendly, as some are not.

c1890 Spode turkey platter

Limoges chocolate set. Perfect for dessert

Amber glass

Desert? As good as your pumpkin pie is, an antique sterling silver pie server will make it even better!  

Antique Gorham Sterling Silver “Morning Glory” pie server

You’ve got one more week. Come on into Midtown Mercantile Merchants. We’re open every day until Thanksgiving and you can find a lot of things to dress up your holiday table.  

Carol Fenn 11-2017