Baby Boomer Salvation

Posted on December 12th, 2011 in 1970s,Collectibles,Me Generation by Terry Hamburg

The 1970s was the Great Treasure Hunt, spearheaded by enterprising baby boomers.

Antiques and collectibles were suddenly hot and available, spilling out of attics. Young boomers were both buyers and sellers. The San Francisco Salvation Army store sat in the middle of old neighborhoods brimming with merchandise and ignorance.

By the late 1970s, the small intake staff was overwhelmed. The resident Colonel accumulated the best antiques for special twice-a-month super sales. Every other Tuesday at 9 a.m. the door flung open to 10,000 square feet of beckoning treasures. Dealers descended like stampeding wilder beasts. Everyone was issued a basket. Nothing was priced. For large pieces you grabbed description tags.

When ready to “cash out,” buyers went to “pay stations” where the Colonel’s clueless staff blurted out a one-price-for-all figure.

Buried items went undetected. Vintage and designer clothes were just beginning to catch on with baby boomers and many a stack passed the gate for “5 bucks.” The store took in so much cash (cash only) it hardly mattered; tons more stuff would arrive for the next sale. Seldom was heard a discouraging word, especially “receipt.” Large plastic tubs served as cash registers. Everyone knew that part of the take was taken, finding its way into employee pockets.

The boomer block party lasted almost two years. One day an anonymous tip led police to the Colonel’s home where they found a stash of antiques said to rival the city museum. In fact, a few were missing museum pieces. Most came from Salvation donations. An insider who felt unfairly cut out of the bounty had spilled the beans.

A reform administration assumed control and immediately all donations became subject to strict intake procedures. People wanted to lynch the Colonel who, as one dealer making out like a bandit put it (paraphrasing Othello), “embezzled not wisely but too well.”

The new leader promised a clean slate – a regulated system with fair market pricing. The Colonel proved fiscally honest but weak in the flesh, resigning after caught in a liaison with a volunteer forty years his junior, and to make matters more newsworthy, the same sex.

Baby Boomer Trivia Questions

All these dolls are hot collectibles. After Barbie, which one was the most popular of the 1960s ?

Chatty Cathy
Betsy Wetsy
Jacqueline Kennedy

Match Game: Connect the notoriety to the person

—Versatile artist, invented the modern mobile. One sold for $4.7 million.

—Big name in vintage costume jewelry.

—His dummy flew off store shelves and became a collectible.

—Some of his lithographs sold for five figures.

—Actor appeared on millions of Hopalong Cassidy collectibles.

William Boyd, Paul Winchell, Kenneth Lane, LeRoy Neiman, Alexander Calder

Answers at end of post

Notable Quotables

{I see} a world full of rucksack wanderers, Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming all that crap they didn’t really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars…  ~Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, 1958

Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.  ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr., writer

Answers to Baby Boomer Trivia Questions

Chatty Cathy, the first baby boomer talking doll, sold like hotcakes, but was always #2 behind the undisputed princess, Barbie.

I love you.
Will you play with me?
I hurt myself.
…and on and on

Match Game

—Versatile artist, invented the modern mobile. →Alexander Calder

—Big name in vintage costume jewelry. →Kenneth Lane

—His dummy flew off store shelves. →Paul Winchell. His wooden best friend was Jerry Mahoney.

—Some of his lithographs sold for five figures.Leroy Neiman

—Actor appeared on millions of Hopalong Cassidy collectibles. →William Boyd

Fun and Informative Link: The Kovels have been tracking antiques and collectibles for over half a century. Click on → Kovels

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