Mystery Date 1935

Where do you find these things? No, stop: don’t tell me. Keep that your little secret.

But my goodness, you have brought in some interesting things lately. There are books, of course—that text on planting rubber trees, printed in Kuala Lumpur, that history of the U.S. Navy, written when said Navy was only about fifty years old—but I expect you to keep surprising me with books I’ve never seen before. When the time comes that I go a whole week without some book that makes me go “Huh!” I shall give up this business and start a Newberry Bottlecap Fair or something.

But it’s the rest of the things you’ve been bringing me. Okay, when the boxes have been in storage for a couple of decades, I know I’m going to turn up the things you forgot you packed. By the way, those cutoffs and flip-flops didn’t look as if they ever fit you: is there a really good story there?

And I appreciate you passing along last year’s unused Father’s Day presents in time for me to sell them this year. The golf ball monogrammer looks to be a big hit, and that duck call kit is bound to turn up in wrapping paper come Sunday. I should remind you, though, that it is not a bad idea to just accidentally drop a five dollar bill when donating things like this. Five dollar bills affect my memory so if one of your kids demands to know where I got the monogrammer I will have no recollection of your name or address.

These postcard-shaped things are new to me, though. Now that I’ve done the research, I see that it was only a matter of time before some came in. Not only do they seem to have been popular, they were well-made, so they’ve lasted. AND they were made in Chicago.

It was a girl’s game, apparently. A young lady would step up to this fortune-telling machine and deposit a coin (I haven’t found out yet whether it would have been a penny or a nickel, but as it was 1935, it shouldn’t have been more than that.) Turn a crank, and one of these cards fell out with a picture of her future husband and future children.

Obviously, this kind of game isn’t going to attract return customers without a lot of different cards, and there seem to have been dozens. If with one coin you found yourself marrying a Race Track Tout, you could always try again and maybe come up with the Football Hero. The text on the cards has just the amount of sass necessary for a game of this nature. Marrying the “Scotchman” will bring you eight children who will all play the bagpipes. If you marry the Matinee idol, you will be spending so much time traveling with him that your future family will be a terrier with horn-rim glasses. Marry the effeminate little ribbon counter clerk and you will find yourself with seven children. The football player “worshipped by the crowd and by himself” will settle down as a bond salesman and “you will be his only little pigskin” (eight kids, all future football players.)

We have five of these, so if you buy them all, you’ll have a good start on however many a full set might be. You may have to go out to rummage sales to complete the set, but if you buy the duck call, too, you can make enough noise to chase off competing customers.

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