Sarah Hale, Abraham Lincoln, and Thanksgiving

While America was in the midst of the Civil War, Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She explained, “It now needs National recognition and authoritative fixation.”

Vintage Thanksgiving postcard

Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book.

Vintage Thanksgiving postcard

George Washington was the first president to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, issuing his request on October 3, 1789, exactly 74 years before Lincoln’s.

The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving. This document was written by Secretary of State William Seward. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops
Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,

Secretary of State

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

So thank you Sarah Josepha Hale. Without your persistence we may not all be enjoying a thankful gathering this coming Thursday!


Carol Fenn, 11-2018

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

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

The Beauty of Industrial Lighting

With a beauty that comes when form follows function, industrial lighting from the 19th and early to mid 20th century has come into its own.

Antique and vintage task lamps

Some prime examples

Vintage heat lamps can be converted

From factory floors, medical and dental offices, mines, etc., this form of lighting can add a very unique look to your home or office decor.



Some very interesting industrial-looking lighting can also be gleaned from the DIY (do it yourself) world. Clever people are making lamps out of chicken feeders, old strainers, bird cages, etc. It can be a great look and it’s always fun to reduce, reuse, recycle.

When you see photos of where they were originally used, some of the old medical lighting might be the stuff that nightmares are made of … LOL … but they’re just old lamps and they have SUCH a great look!


Surgical and dental lamps

Some of the most interesting industrial lighting pieces are “explosion proof” fixtures. Rugged 20th century models, developed for use in hazardous industries like coal mining or petrochemicals, they typically feature housings of caged wire.

Our August, 2018 mashup “The Industrial Age Goes To School” will showcase a lot of industrial pieces. Come on in to The Midtown Mercantile Antique Mall, 4443 E. Speedway, Tucson, AZ, and find that special piece to light your way!

Carol Fenn 7-2018

Let’s Go Bohemian ~ The Art of Boho Bliss

Right now, we’re going Boho! Hippie chic! Bohemian! Yes, it’s boho bliss!

Gypsy wagon

Think Rudolph Valentino.  Gypsy wagons.  Flowing rich fabrics of purple and orange.  Middle eastern hanging lamps, animal prints, candles. Comfy cushy chairs and sofas filled with comfy cushy pillows. And throw some of those pillows over there in the corner!

“I hope I make it to The Mercantile on time.” – Rudolph Valentino

Rules? There aren’t any. Bohemian is for those of us who disdain rules. Do whatever fills your heart with fun.

Slightly minimalist bohemian

Come on in to The Mercantile. Our current mashup, BEACH BLANKET BOHEMIAN BOARDS THE ORIENT EXPRESS, is filled with wonderful boho items that will assist you on your journey to bohemian bliss!


Carol Fenn 6-2018

That Fantastic Rhinestone Cowboy Bling

“The Rhinestone Cowboy Tours The Southwest” is one of the many Mash-Ups appearing at Midtown Mercantile Merchants. Check-out the Cowgirl looks–sooo vintage!

Vintage cowgirls decked out

Mid 1900s cowgirl outfits

For well over 100 years and counting cowboys and cowgirls have loved “bling.” From the tips of their boots to the top of their hats they have used color, rhinestones and silver to garner attention.

Early cowboy spurs, including a pair of “Lady leg” spurs

The kids had fun with cowboy bling too!

Even their horses would be decked out in hand carved leather and chased silver, as you can see in this parade horse outfit.

In the mid twentieth century the famous Nudie came on the scene. Based in California’s San Fernando Valley, he made his famous “Nudie suits” for singing cowboys, singing cowgirls, rock groups, movie stars and any cowgirl or cowboy who could afford his work. Today his suits are sought after, worth a pile of money, and highly collectible. They’ve been recently re-discovered by today’s generation which is making them even more valuable and sought after.

Nudie here, Nudie there, Nudie everywhere!

Nudie, on the left.

Enjoy this walk down memory lane and come on into Midtown and take in some of our “Cowboy Bling!”

Roy Rogers, wearing Nudie

Carol Fenn 1-2019

Monterey Furniture “In Old Arizona”

Monterey Furniture refers to several distinctive furniture lines made from 1930 to the mid-1940s in California. It derived its character from Spanish revival style, the California missions and their furnishings, ranch furnishings, and cowboy accessories.  

 

Original Spanish revival, Barker Bros postcard

Monterey furniture

Mason Manufacturing Company, founded by Frank Mason, is credited with the original style. Other lines were made by Imperial Company, Angeles Furniture Company (the line called Coronado), Del Rey, Brown and Saltman, and even Sears (La Fiesta.). Original Mason Monterey stands out from these other lines with it’s superior quality and heavy hand wrought iron strapping.  

Monterey “prohibition” bar. The tile top slides forward revealing a hidden compartment.

Monterey by Mason came in just a few distinct finishes and in the beginning most pieces had some sort of decorative elements, such as a lively squiggle, or a floral decoration. The Mexican cartoonist Juan Intenoche headed the paint department, and the most valuable pieces of Monterey contain his whimsical designs. Donkeys, bucking horses and bulls, sleeping men under wide hats, cactus and other images are his trademark.

The whimsical art of Juan Intenoche.

 Mason branded most of their furniture with a horseshoe and the name, “Monterey,” though not all are branded. Smoke from the branding occasionally was too thick for the workers; on those days they simply stopped branding. 

Making and painting Monterey furniture c 1932

Hollywood, via Barker Brothers Furniture co., was influential in the original creation of Mason’s furniture line. Barker Brothers approached Frank Mason with the idea of creating a line of furniture based on furniture seen in an old (1929) cowboy movie, “In Old Arizona.” Spanish revival homes were being built all over Los Angeles and Barker Brothers, smartly, wanted a line of furniture that would complement the style of those homes. Hence the birth of Monterey furniture.

In The Midtown Mercantile Mall – main floor

Come on into the Midtown Mercantile Antique Mall. 4443 E. Speedway, Tucson AZ. You just might find some Monterey or Monterey style furniture!  


Carol Fenn 8-2018

The Garden Sanctuary

Due to the nature of my business, I get invited into a lot of Tucson yards. Often, in those yards, I’ll come across a small garden sanctuary. It can be very small, with just a single statue, or it can be more elaborate with a Madonna, other statuary, running water, plants, flowers, etc.  

No matter their size these sanctuaries always warm my heart. The shrine might be honoring a lost pet, a fellow human, religious devotion or Mother Nature.   


If you want to construct a sanctuary the Midtown Mercantile Mall is a good place to start. We have thousands of items to choose from and some of those items just might fit perfectly into your very own garden sanctuary.   

Come on in to The Mercantile. We’d love to help you get your sanctuary started.


Carol Fenn 5-2018

The Arizona Rough Riders

Rough Riders was the name given to the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, a response to the understaffing of the United States Army as a result of the American Civil War. A young Theodore Roosevelt was offered the command of this regiment to fight in the Spanish-American War. While Theodore desperately wanted to be part of the fight he was smart enough to realize that he did not have the necessary experience to command a combat regiment. He deferred command to his friend Col. Leonard Wood, a Medal of Honor winner from the Indian Wars, while he accepted a commission and second-in-command as a Lt. Colonel. 

Rough Riders

Arizona Rough Riders

 
 
The regiment’s number was 1200 volunteers. Of those 300 (25%) came from Arizona! The Rough Rider’s ranks included cowboys, indians, socialites, polo players and just average citizens who responded to the nation’s call to arms. The majority of its other members came from Texas, New Mexico and New York. One of the volunteers from Arizona was Bucky O’Neill.

Bucky O’Neill

In the late 1800s, the charismatic Bucky O’Neill, had travelled west to the Arizona territory. He started a newspaper, formed a posse to track down train robbers, became mayor of Prescott, AZ, and was generally full of adventure. During his time as mayor of Prescott, he volunteered to become a Rough Rider. 


Bucky O’Neill was the first to enlist and he put together all of the 300 Rough Riders from Arizona. He then set sail with Teddy Roosevelt to Cuba. Roosevelt wrote endearingly about O’Neill’s character, recounting how O’Neill was the only man to dive into the sea when two black soldiers fell overboard. Shortly afterward, Roosevelt would be devastated when the 38-year-old captain was killed in the battle of San Juan Hill. Upon O’Neill’s young death, Theodore Roosevelt wrote this about him:

Statue of Bucky O’Neill

“The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered befell just before we charged. O’Neill was strolling up and down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer ought never to take cover—a theory which was, of course, wrong, though in a volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our regimental toast on the transport running, ‘The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted.’ As O’Neill moved to and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of the sergeants said, ‘Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you.’ O’Neill took his cigarette out of his mouth, and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed and said, ‘Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn’t made that will kill me.’ A little later he discussed for a moment with one of the regular officers the direction from which the Spanish fire was coming. As he turned on his heel a bullet struck him in the mouth and came out at the back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant soul had gone out into the darkness.”

If you would like to read more about Bucky O’Neill and the Arizona Rough Riders there is a wonderful book, “The Arizona Rough Riders,” written by a Tucson man, Charles (Charlie) Herner. The book is in your local library and is also available on Amazon. 


Carol Fenn 5-2018

 

Hollywood Regency Comes To Midtown

First making its appearance in the 1930s, Hollywood Regency is marked by over the top glam. It was inspired by Hollywood’s Golden Era, as actors and actresses seized the opportunity to make their homes reflections of their fashionable lifestyles. Similar to Art Deco, Hollywood Regency is a much more eclectic style. It was used by interior designers who strove to create theatrical environments. The style was refined by interior designers like Dorothy Draper and William Haines. 


There’s never a dull moment with Hollywood Regency. Bold colors take over while simultaneously maintaining a sense of balance. In other words, color, but only one or two choices. Some color favorites include turquoise, yellow and orange. And don’t forget the base of black and white or gray. Metallic accents and mirrored furniture add to the fun. Hollywood Regency is also characterized by an element of fantasy, through things like palm fronds, Italian pottery, bamboo, animal prints and big bold figurines.  


The delicate designs of Chinoiserie can add to the exotic atmosphere. Commonly used Chinoiserie elements included scenic screens and pagoda-style mirrors, chandeliers, cocktail bars, chests, etc. 

Sputnik chandeliers are more commonly associated with Mid-Century Modern, but these so-called “permanent fireworks” were also used to make a glamorous statement in Hollywood Regency interiors. 


Come into Midtown for our own take on Hollywood Regency mixed with Halloween decor – “Hollywood Regency vs. The Monster Mash” – starts on August 29, 2019.


Carol Fenn, 8-23-2019