Made in Occupied Japan


If you had told me years ago that I’d find myself on a hot August afternoon in a chicken coop, I would have declared you had the wrong girl.  You see, I’ve never been a chicken coop kind of a girl.  However, this weekend I found myself in the middle of Chicken Coop Antiques & Home Décor in Mooresville, North Carolina and loving every minute in it. 

As the Chicken Coop just opened in July, with a grand opening on the 4th, this was our first visit, but it definitely will not be our last.  It was the perfect place to cool off while scoring our most unique find of the day.  Our next visit will be on the first Saturday of the month when the Coop has their Antique Yard Sale.

Be sure to stop in and visit with Alan and Brie Cagle.  They have some items you won’t find anywhere else.  As well, they are always looking for more unique items to sell.  So, if you have advertising, pedal cars, wagon wheels, old toys or bottles, license plates, gas pumps, vintage bicycles, or juke boxes give them a call 980-521-1874.  They buy, sell, and trade and they have a long wish list including many other categories. 

So what did we find in the Coop today?  Well by now you know I’m a sucker for anything marked “Made In Occupied Japan.” I know, you’re thinking what’s so unique about that.  Well, they had a peacock pocket warmer with the original box, directions, a velvet carrying bag, and the little measuring cup for the fuel.  This is the first MIOJ we have found in the original box.

Before we found our way to the Coop, we had visited Lost N Found Vintage Mall and American Classic Antique Mall.  The pinball machine I wrote about a while back is no longer in residence at American Classic, having found a new home, but there was plenty to see.  I know you’ll find it hard to believe that the Great One found a bank and of course, it has no key.  This is also a National Recording Safe Company traveling teller type bank.  This one will hold $24.90 in change and has an opening on top for rolled dollar bills.  However, it is so heavy empty, I can only imagine what it would weigh when full.  Of course, if he puts any money in, it’ll take more than a rainy day to get it out.  Maybe he should just use it for a paperweight instead. 

At Lost N Found we found a dark green siphon seltzer bottle.  Since we rarely find any of these, much less a green one, we knew we weren’t going to walk away empty-handed.  Green must be our lucky color because after getting to know Barbara, who was holding down the fort, she contacted the owners and got us a really good deal.  When you visit Lost N Found, check out Barbara’s booth, Brown Eyed Suzy, for items, particularly jewelry, made with vintage bits and pieces bringing the past to the present and launching it into the future.

We didn’t pay much attention to the printing on the bottle at the time, but it turns out our lucky bottle is from Argentina.  While the Argentinians have always loved their soda water, nowadays folks there like to order “sifon de soda,” which is a bottle of seltzer water along with their wine allowing them to mix their own refreshing wine spritzer.

No visit to Mooresville would be complete without stopping at Lake Norman Antique Mall, which is where our day began, mainly because I remembered their more than ample air-conditioning, a high priority in August.  I guess it’s been one of those days where it was easier to start at the end and work my way back to the beginning. 


If you have ever traveled I-85 through South Carolina between exits 90 and 92, then you undoubtedly have seen The Peach.  It’s a bit hard to miss.  Since the 1980’s this majestic water tower has graced the sky above Gaffney with its presence rising above the trees and causing more than a few motorists to wonder if maybe they have been behind the wheel just a bit too long.  However, if you’re not from around here, then you may remember it from Season 1 Episode 3 of Netflix House of Cards as Frank Underwood dealt with a death in his district attributed to The Peach.

The original paint job was the artistic endeavor of Peter Freudenberg.  After studying many a local peach, he climbed into the bucket of a bucket truck and rising 13 stories in the air using 50 gallons of paint in 20 colors mixing the colors as he went, turned the large steel sphere into what he felt was the perfect rendition of a Carolina peach.  Good enough to call to mind the feel of the fuzzy skin and the sticky sweet peach juice dripping down your arms on a hot summer’s day. 

As the textile industry was winding down, the Powers That Be in Gaffney decided the town needed a new identity and what better way to represent South Carolina’s top producing peach region than a giant peach.  After all, in those days South Carolina was producing more peaches than the neighboring Peach State – aka Georgia.  Over the years, the Peach has brought not only local and regional fame but national and international recognition as well.  In the 2006 Reader’s Digest America’s 100 Best, The Peach was listed in the Adventures section and according to, it was listed as Steel Tank of the Year in 1981.

Recently, folks were concerned that The Peach had fallen out of favor and was in the process of going the way of so many other relics from our past.  But it’s not going anywhere, it was only being prepped for a facelift.  All of the old paint had to go courtesy of sandblasting, then the tank had to be primed and then, Eric Hinn with a 6-inch roller and 55 gallons of paint in 16 colors set about bringing The Peach back to life.

So with The Peach in mind, we headed to Gaffney on our most recent picking adventure.  However, we never laid eyes on The Peach.  What we found instead was Black Horse Antique Warehouse on Frederick Street.  As luck would have it, Brenda Earls was in the midst of preparations for a 4th of July celebration, which fortunately for us started on the 3rd.  Cookies, snacks and drinks were provided for shoppers as well as special 4th of July sale prices.  What more could we ask for, a winning lottery ticket, maybe? 

Black Horse Antiques is located in a beautiful old brick building, which originally housed a mercantile.  There are original hardwood floors and exposed brick walls.  From the four upstairs windows you can look out over downtown Gaffney.  I half expected a parade complete with a marching band to pass by in the street below.  Light also streams in through the huge showcase double windows on either side of the front door downstairs as well giving this 10,000 square foot store a cozy inviting atmosphere.  They have everything from china, to toys, jewelry, clothes, furniture and everything in between. 

Asking about other shops in the area as we were checking out, David directed us to Pieces From The Past Antiques on North Limestone Street.  Here, we found owner, Gayle White, researching some interesting items and my first MIOJ shelf sitter.  We would have stayed longer, but we wanted to do some visiting in Spartanburg before we headed back home.  The peach sighting would have to wait for another day. 


Charleston, South Carolina is famous for its antique stores, particularly those located downtown, but the Great One and I do not have an ample budget for high-dollar antiquing.  So on our recent visit to Charleston, we started small with some of the antique/vintage shops located West Ashley and on Mt Pleasant.  We got a later start than we had intended so we’ll have to save James Island and Johns Island for another trip.

We started with Roumillat’s on Savannah Highway and wouldn’t you know it, he found yet another type of dime bank.  I’m afraid we have only scratched the surface when it comes to bank collecting.  The bank collector groups are even divided into still banks and mechanical banks and I’m guessing further subdivided into other categories, as well. 

I think he should start The Great Randini’s Society of Keyless Banks Collectors.  He could have a No Keys Allowed logo and maybe a secret password to gain entry through a door that no one can find.  A keyless key ring could be ceremoniously bestowed upon members as they are inducted at an annual convention.  Perhaps they could help each other understand the allure of these inaccessible receptacles.  I am sure there is some deep-seated reason why he is drawn to these forlorn and forgotten banks.

After stopping at the Antique Mall of Charleston and a few more shops in the West Ashley area, we headed to Mt Pleasant.  We both remember passing by Page’s Thieves Market growing up when going to and from the beach and as neither of us had ever stopped, we decided to put it on our list for this trip.  Unfortunately it was a cold, damp day in Charleston and not the most conducive weather for browsing at Page’s.  I’m thinking our next visit there will be in the springtime.  They have plenty of interesting items to see and the cutest little dogs in matching pink sweaters guarding the store.  

On our way to Page’s we had passed by Six Mile Antique Mall on Coleman Blvd so on the way back, we pulled in.  Are we ever glad we did.  It is a really comfortable shop, well laid out and easy to move around between booths.  The owners, Dan and Harriet Blackburn, are lifelong collectors, who are thoroughly enjoying their “retirement” even though they are most assuredly working harder than ever.  They are full of information and we really enjoyed hearing their story.  After looking at everything downstairs we headed upstairs and somewhere along the way, I found a “Made in Occupied Japan” vase.  Six Mile Antique Mall will definitely be our first stop on future visits to the Charleston area. 

It looks like I’ll have plenty of time for researching my vase this weekend.  Supposedly, we are in for a good bit of snow (at least for us) tonight and with temperatures below freezing through the weekend, we probably won’t be going anywhere this weekend.