Thursday, April 22, 2010

Amish Paradise...a Hoarder Of Awesome afternoon roadtrip

Shipshewana, Indiana is a strange place. It's a tiny little town near the Michigan/Indiana border. It's a famous tourist destination because of it's dense Amish/Mennonite population. I find it a pretty eerie place. I guess you'll have that with an ultra-religious town populated by nobody but Amish and cranky old Republicans(not to get too political on y'all), full of tourist attractions for the 70-plus crowd, but with a big stinky loud livestock feed mill smack in middle of everything, making the whole town dusty and smell like vaguely like dog chow. If you've ever seen the Documentary "Devil's Playground", it was filmed here and in neighboring LaGrange. Anyway, besides being a strange place to visit, it's also got some top notch antiques. Not the cheapest place to pick up goodies, but since the average antique shopper in the area is 300 years old, it seems that the cooler things are amongst the cheapest...and that, along with their fantastic candy store, keeps me coming back relatively regularly.

On the way there, yesterday, I planned on taking pictures of some of the sights, but somehow I missed the junkyard with the VW Beetle wall, and this REALLY cool California style, Eichler-ish atomic ranch house, and we took a different way back, so I didn't get a second chance on the way home...oh well, next time. I did get one cool photo from the car. This Depression-era gas station-turned tire shop still has the original porcelain Mobil oil Pegasus sign. I can't believe nobody's stolen it/offered so much money they caved and sold it. It's one of those things that I really want, that I'll never one of those huge fiberglass Big Boy mascots.

We were in a hurry on the way to Shipshewana, since everything closes at like 5pm(thanks a lot, old people), and I generally wake up at 2...and it's almost an hour drive. Not a big window for antiquing. We were in such a hurry, we flew past this big old ex-auto repair shop-turned storage building with a bunch of knick knacks in the window, and a garage sale sign, between LaGrange and Shipshewana. About a mile down the road we decided we'd better turn around and check it out. Good thing! The place was PACKED with old junk. We bought a ton of stuff, and everything was $1 a piece. I think it's because the old guy there liked us. He joked around with us for a while and even showed me the 1953 Studebaker hot rod he was building in the back. We left with armloads of nifty stuff...some of which I'm saving for later posts. One cool thing I got(actually, these were 50 cents for all of 'em, not $1), were these business cards from the Merry Mouse Stage Bar in Cleveland, Ohio. I looked up the addresses on the card on Google maps, and it looks like both buildings are long gone. I wonder if that's thee Cliff Edwards, the vaudevillian jazz singer, who voiced Jimminy Cricket. since he was on the club circuit in the 40's and 50's, I have reason to believe it is.

I looked around a little on the internet for formation on the Merry Mouse, and this is all I ad from the Cleveland Press, 1948. One thing is for certain, and that is the swankiness of the club.

This patch was in the same box with the cards...I think I got this one for free. I don't have much else to say about it, other than it's neat.

This strange donkey ash tray is one of my favorite finds in the barn. readers of the ever phenomenal Gonked, Glooked, and Slurped blog are probably familiar with the worry bird cousin of this guy...

seen here. doubt from the same manufacturer(T.C. USA?). This guy seems to be WAY more enthusiastic about receiving a hot load of ash in his ass, than the bird does.

Here's the other side. It reminds me a little of Jack Davis' Marx "Nutty Mads" figurines from the 60's.

This plastic-painted-to-look-like-wood poodle is from Hong Kong. I don't know who the manufacturer is, because that part of the tag is damaged, but I don't think that would help. Looking on Ebay, I found a few of these, and they all seem to say different things on the bottom. At least 3 different companies were importing these from Hong Kong in, I'm guessing, the early 60's, all with their own tags. I have a matching dinosaur one, and they made a squirrel too...probably other animals as well.

We made it to Shipshewana with time to spare, but we were pretty spent from playing "American Pickers" in that barn, so we ended up not buying anything at the antique mall. We did, however, get enough candy at the candy shoppe to give us both diabetes 7 times over.

We headed home taking an alternate route, so I could hit the usually fantastic Goodwill in Sturgis, MI. Glad I did, because I scored these fantastic trashy shellacked wood Elvis masterpieces! I also got a really clean 7" of Shaun Cassidy's "That's Rock 'n' Roll"...Ha!

On the way home, we drove past this old folks home that always has 5 or 6 people sitting outside in Eames arm shell chairs. I always hope they'll be on the side of the road with a 'free' sign. The chairs, not the old people.


  1. "Thanks Old People" HAHAH! I friggin' love the Elvis Plaques..srsly. It took me forever to get a velvet Elvis and I actually went to Mexico to find it. I can't bring myself to pay the big $$ on Ebay for one. Mine is a Mexi-Elvis. Sounds like a real Rumspringer of a trip, LOL!

  2. I almost forgot!
    Hey there, I'm finally getting my act together to send out the 1st 15 stuff. I need your address! Just email me at
    Thanks! -Amber

  3. I live in Shipshewana and I am neither Amish or a cranky old Republican!!! However, I am surrounded by them and don't know which one is worse. Thanks for the article.

  4. Ha! At least you guys have an amazing candy store! We here in Coldwater don't even have that. Dark chocolate covered coffee beans! Is that car museum any good? I've always wanted to go...I think it's weird that there's a car museum in a town with as many buggies as cars.

  5. Great stuff, love that empty butt ashtray. Seems like Amish country always has good junk - there are pockets of them beyond just Lancaster PA and there are always good auctions and flea markets (and cranky old republicans).

  6. The car museum is ok. I would much rather see some muscle cars from the 50's, 60's and 70's. What's even funnier, I think the guy who owns all those old car used to be Amish!!!

  7. Hey, sorry for the delay, it was a busy weekend in Atlanta. Thanks for the shout out and, yes, the Worry Bird was manufactured by TC of Hawaii.

    Cool score and a great entry. I wish we could take a road-trip sometime soon!