I just discovered one of the best yard sale finds ever? When I opened the lid I discovered a treasure trove of vintage finds.

Best yard sale finds

The other day I mentioned “collect calling” to the twins and they stared at me blankly.

Collect calls?

You know—I told them.

A long time ago when you went into a phone booth and didn’t have any money—so you had to dial the operator and tell them you wanted to talk to your father and explain that you and your friends needed a ride home because you were stuck at the movies without a ride or a quarter.

More blank looks.

Quarters in the phone? Phone booth? Calling an operator?

It was as if I was speaking Greek or Latin or Martian. No one was picking up what I was putting down.

It made me think how much life has changed in such a short while. Is it wrong that I miss collect calling? Or Blockbuster movie rentals? Or Glamour shots? Or Columbia House Record Club? Or mixtapes that you made off your clock radio.


There was a whole life that existed before life as we now know it. A life that was full of amazing things that we’ve replaced with newer and faster and better. A life full of things we’ve lost or tossed to the side or forgotten about.

Good thing I just found this box.

Because when I opened it?

I found this inside.

Best yard sale finds toolbox

I found this box at my friend’s yard sale and I fell in love with the patina and the edges and the worn lid and the stenciled writing on the side.

I thought it was just an ordinary box.

It looks simple and unassuming and unremarkable.


Best yard sale finds vintage tools

Until you lift the lid.

I literally gasped when I opened it.

Instead of just a wooden box?

It’s so much more.

It was a time capsule ensconced in a wooden box– a treasure trove of tools and fasteners and drill bits and woodworking pencils. Oh, the stories these tools could tell of projects that existed before electric drills and screwdrivers you can chat it up with and drills that connect with an app on your phone.

Best yard sale finds drill bits

This box is older than the iPhone.

It was around way before streaming services ever introduced binging television shows.

It existed before the internet and laptop computers and i-pads and AirPods and color televisions and restaurants that serve nothing but coffee.

There is hard work and dedication and a few hard knocks embedded into every line of these tools. You can see the dings and the nicks and the marks and the indentions of hundreds of projects on these tools.

Projects you couldn’t google.

Projects your father’s father’s father taught his son.

Projects that were done to last forever rather than the next 10 minutes.

Just between us? I don’t even know what half the stuff in this box does. I showed it to my husband the carpenter and he didn’t know either.

But that doesn’t matter.

Because this toolbox is pure vintage gold.

I’m thinking about framing some of these tools. Or cleaning them up and displaying them. Or figuring out some way to reinvent the pieces from this toolbox.

I love this wooden toolbox with all its imperfections and rusty treasures.

I can’t help it.

There’s something so amazing about holding history in your hands.

Technology is transforming our lives in ways this long-ago carpenter could have never understood. And the faster that life spins? It’s important to ground ourselves in the foundation of tools and toolboxes and vintage finds and the history of lives that were well-lived.

It’s a lesson I want to share with the twins.

In a little while.

I think they still need to recover from our “collect calling” conversation.

I couldn’t help it. I told them about phone books, too. 🙂

PS My husband just read this post and asked me if they still made clock radios.

I covered my toolbox’s ears and told him to Google it. 🙂

PPS Is there anything that you miss that isn’t around anymore?

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  1. Image for Linda Scott Linda Scott

    Good Morning!! What a great find to preserve. Funny because our kids wouldn't know what to do without Technology, but we would. I used to make collect calls when I was in college to my parents. haha!!! Now, do I love my cell phone, oh yes and it's always at the ready when I need it which gives me a sense of safety (when it's charged)! Love my laptop too for many things! History is a great teacher and we need to learn all that we can from the way folks used to live before Technology!! History vs Technology. However, without technology we wouldn't be having this chat today!! Happy Monday!

    1. Image for Betsy Betsy

      So true Linda. But wouldn’t it be grand if all technology was beneficial. I just read an article about deepfake postings that are spreading false information. If we could somehow do away with these negatives we would be so much better off.

  2. Image for Teri Walker Teri Walker

    That is priceless! I love reading your blog posts; they are all interesting. But this one-it resonates with me. How life was so different for us of a certain age 😉. I can relate. I just read a quote that goes like this: “Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.” -Stanislaw Jerzy Lec- such a privilege it is to grow old.

  3. Image for Lee Stearns Lee Stearns

    There sure is! I miss the simplicity of life without technology- paper boarding passes and Broadway show tickets instead of “ apple wallet, I treasure mom’s and nanny’s handwritten recipes- when we evacuate for a storm I grab those first! I miss photo albums, I miss handwritten notes and face to face chats instead of texts…I sound like a grumpy old person! I’m NOT… but I miss all of that and think it contributes to some of our problems today! So I LOVE you KA for keeping us connected!❤️❤️

    1. Image for CathyAnn CathyAnn

      Ditto! Plus...the art of sending Thank You cards, having meaningful conversations vs. impersonal texts, playing board games/cards, doing jigsaws, enjoying nature.

  4. Image for LORRI LORRI

    My dad had one of these toolboxes..pure gold!! I'm thinking he even made the tool box for himself.Sadly my Dad has passed a long time now but we still have his tool box. We gave it to my son when he got married as a testament in time with thoughtful sayings with the different tools. Priceless❤ Going to call my son and ask where that toolbox is..I haven't seen it for awhile

    1. Image for CarolIne Marley CarolIne Marley

      Made the mistake of remarking that I was going on a long weekend to visit my "kin folks". Caused a lot of comments in return. 😜. I freely admit to being an older hick....🤓

  5. Image for Tracy Tracy

    That box is stunning! I someday hope to find such a treasure as this beautiful box. What history it holds ❤️ I’ll go back and tell you what I “do NOT“ miss. Being the youngest of 3 girls, I was always elected to get up out of my pink beanbag and go manually change the channel on the TV. Don’t even think about spinning the knob around super fast like the Wheel of Fortune, either! Bonus: I’d get told I was sitting too close to the TV and I was going to ruin my eyes 🤪. But, it’s closer to my arms this way!! Definitely got my 10,000 steps in a day but only after dinner was the television allowed to be on. I wish I had patented the remote ❤️

  6. Image for Donna Donna

    Wow, the memories you invoked. I think Colombia House Record Club and Glamour Shot take me way back. It brings me such joy to remember them. All of the memories do but I hadn't thought of the 2 mentioned in several decades. I am 78 and so its fun to dig into those old memory banks. Wait I think I still have a copy of my first Glamor Shot. Thanks for bringing it up.

  7. Image for Claudia A. Claudia A.

    I’m not sure. I like all the conveniences now. That “party line” thing drove me nuts. Our neighbor was constantly on the phone. That’s right Janice I’m calling you out. It is rather strange though the amount of technology that has been implemented in our lifetime. (I’m sure my parents would’ve said the same thing back in the day). I have recently acquired some things after both my brother and sister have passed away. It’s interesting to go through them. I received my brothers toolbox after he passed 1 year ago. Inside were micrometers and calipers. Tools that he had used as a quality control inspector. Tools that are probably not used much now since technology has evolved so much. My sister, recently passed, I received her sewing machine and her sewing box. It was interesting seeing all the different seam rippers, the needle threaders and accoutrements. The boxes that held each of their instruments and notions telling the story of where each were purchased and price paid. Loads of memories.

  8. Image for AnnTN AnnTN

    Yes, clock radios are still made. We have one. We also still have a landline and a cordless phone with a built in answering machine. We also still have a combo dvd/vhs player. Unfortunately, when we connected it to our flat screen tv, we couldn't figure out how to make it work. Now it sits there useless. ha ha ha! We also have modern conveniences like indoor plumbing. HA! Wi-fi, cell phones and the like. I sure do miss the old days sometimes. That means the 70s and 80s before all of the new technology.

  9. Image for Judi Watkins Judi Watkins

    Hi, KariAnne! This post was a wonderful way to start my week! I sometimes read your posts to Hubby, and he definitely enjoyed this one! You see, Hubby and I had the "privilege" of clearing out his grandparents' home and barn a few years back, and we found not only a very similar box containing similar tools (his grandfather was a carpenter), but a barn full of old farm tools. It was truly a time capsule. The best part was clearing out his grandmother's kitchen -- it was like walking into the 1930s! We found all of the old kitchen tools that were used before every family had electricity, and supermarkets hadn't been thought of yet! Of course, we kept everything and now I have the task of curating the collection and finding ways to display some and repurpose some of the rest. I am looking forward to seeing what you do with your piece of history -- you are amazing!

  10. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    What an amazing box. Our fathers would know what everything is in there and how to use them. What isnt around anymore that I miss? My youth. And yes, I miss it a lot. I looked in closets, basement, under beds, in drawers and even in old boxes...but it wasnt there. My youth is gone , like so many other things we used to have and took for granted. And even though I am absolutely in love with this very moment, this hour, this day I still at times, miss my youth. Youth was like a rich dark chocolate, delicious and Oh so bittersweet.

    1. Image for Colleen Colleen

      Oh my..I am in total agreement with you here, Jodena! I miss my youth everyday and can’t believe that it has gone by so fast! I am finding it very hard to wrap my head around getting old. My brain tells me I’m still in my 20’s. I think I’ll try and hold onto that forever!

  11. Image for Becky Becky

    I have a box just like that, except it has a handle! It was my great grandfathers tool box. It is filled with all his old tools! It is one of my favorite things!

  12. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    A friend of mine has the best decor and a special talent for placing it in their farmhouse (authentic)! She has one living room wall covered with vintage tools of all kinds: farm implements and woodworking! It’s amazing … !!! LOVE these, KariAnne ~ I have many tools from my Dad, which he used in various hobbies aside from his professional life …

  13. Image for Liz Shivel Liz Shivel

    KariAnnne, I enjoyed your blog today. I miss a lot of things that kids or young adults wouldn’t have a clue about! I still have a Magnavox stereo record player that I bought 50 years ago! The turntable stopped working years ago and I’m still trying to find someone to fix it! But I can play the radio and I have an 5 CD player plugged into the back of it to play through. the speakers! And I still have LPs and 45s for it! I also have a wooden box that has tools in it that were my dad’s and my grandfather’s, and two big, rusty saws with carved wood handles that I keep thinking I want to hang on the wall as decor. Thanks!

  14. Image for Linda Linda

    I am reading all the above comments and smiling. Recently my 16 year old grandson was looking through the cabinet where I keep my CD.s (Remember those? lol) He said "why don't you download all of these and get rid of them?" I proceeded to explain to him they are a wealth of information on the covers...lyrics, stories about the artists, musicians...and besides I STILL have a CD player with speakers and use it when I'm in my art room. ;-) You brought back so many good memories. I think the thing I miss the most is the slower pace and the fact that we actually made eye contact and talked to each other instead of being so lost in our phones. We have recently remodeled the barn on our property built by my husband's grandfather. The beams still show the saw marks where he cut them in his sawmill on our farm. It is spiritual to be in there and I would like to think they are thrilled that we have preserved it. My grandkids will enjoy it for years to come. Loved this post! Happy Monday!

  15. Image for Rizae Rizae

    Please do not clean up those old tools!!! The age, dirt, patina and everything that makes them unique and beautiful would be gone forever. They would lose their stories and their history. Like us....

  16. Image for TR TR

    doing something fabulous w the woodworking contents definitely feels like a gift for your brother ;) Hope he doesn't read your blog!

  17. Image for Teddee Grace Teddee Grace

    What a wonderful find! I still have a clock radio. I keep it because it plays tapes! I've given most of my tapes away to a neighbor who still can play tapes in his pick-up truck, but I still have a few I like to keep on hand. I feel the same way about antiques...I have been going through old family photos and have found a number from family picnics from when I was a child. We're talking about 75 years ago! The men in overalls, all lazing around on the grass, seem to be the subject matter of most. I expect the women were packing up the food they had cooked! I realized when I found these that there was no television, so family picnics were one of the primary ways we farmers got our R&R. I also was without wi-fi all weekend in our senior housing apartment building. I don't have television so was about ready to take up whittling and playing the spoons! A lot has happened in 75 years.

    1. Image for Colleen Colleen

      People don’t have clock radios anymore? I’ve had the same one (and it still works fine) that I’ve had for over 45 years! I hope they still make them when this one dies. Why do people use these days, I wonder?

  18. Image for Lindsay Lindsay

    I miss the written words a letter brings. I moved 1000 miles away from home as a young woman. My sister was away at college. Our mother would sit down every Monday evening and write us both a letter. The connection to home through her letters is something I'll never forget. No matter what, that letter came every week. I wish I had saved them. Texting isn't the same. I sound like a dinosaur lol. Just missing my Mom.

  19. Image for Kay Kay

    My daughter has my father's tools and they are a treasure! She has cleaned the rust off with white vinegar and warm water. Her friend has a wall covered with tools she has collected from garage sales. They are actually very interesting!

  20. Image for Amy Jones Amy Jones

    I loved this article! I don’t think my girls and I have discussed “collect calling” yet, but we often discuss what we used to do before we could tell the air what we wanted to watch or listen to!

  21. Image for Kris Kris

    What a treasure that you found! I have a love/hate relationship with the modern world. I love a lot of the conveniences, but I hate things like dropped calls (which wasn't an issue with landlines), and the death of shopping malls (I remember so many good times going shopping with my mom). I think we can still intentionally hold onto the best parts of yesteryear--handwritten thank you notes on pretty notecards, for instance. We have a puzzle partway completed on our coffee table as I am typing this, and I dusted off the Scrabble game that I inherited from my parents this past Saturday and challenged my daughter to a match. Our older home has a real woodburning fireplace and yes, I know that gas fires are cleaner and more convenient, but they don't beat the ambiance of the real thing. It takes a little more effort but the payoff is huge.

  22. Image for Carolyn Brown Carolyn Brown

    Interesting story. Over the holiday I had my neices choose a picture from a calendar belonging to one of my neighbors who is an artist. We hodge podge the pictures on top of cigar boxes for the girls to create their own keepsake boxes. They choose items that really meant something to them to put inside them. Will be interesting to see in 20 years what they think about what they chose. You should take what you have found in your box and arrange them in shadow boxes, display them somewhere in the house with a caption that says, "What were these items used for?" A great conversation piece.

  23. Image for Susan Sikes Susan Sikes

    What a great flood of memories! I guess our kids and grandkids will have to make their own memories. There is no telling what kind of stories they will tell to their children one day. This was a really fun post!

  24. Image for Amy Amy

    Absolute LOVE! What about going on a vacation with the kids. You had a paper map and had to try to figure out what you were looking at and for. You didn't just turn on your phone and Google the address. I miss the "simple" life.

  25. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    I absolutely adore this post!! What a COOL find, KA!!! You write so beautifully. The only thing I really miss that isn't around anymore are certain people. I love having this fast amazing technology.... but I really glad I didn't have to raise my two daughters in this fast information age. It's dangerous and unfair, unreal and worries me about the young people very much. I did love mixed tapes. I made so many and had some very special ones I made for myself. If you've never seen the movie HIGH FIDELITY - one of my fav movies of all time. Have a delightful week. :- D

  26. Image for Kay Grogg Kay Grogg

    I just had a conversation with a cousin about party lines. He mentioned how other people tied up their line for hours and no one could make a call. He lived in the country, so party lines were more prevalent outside the cities. I also remember how I could listen on on a conversation on our upstairs “extension” and no one knew I was listening. Now that would rock the world of the youth of today!

  27. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    I have all my cousins on fb but, sometimes I wish we would call each other and really talk about all that's happening in our lives. I do know that tecnology is a must but. sometimes I think of all the things we use to do for it. I love your find it is a wonderful oldie.

  28. Image for Mildred Mildred

    Great memories. Phone booths, phone books, collect calls, paper maps, clock radios. My husband still awakens to the alarm on his clock radio. How did we ever find anyplace without GPS??? PS Sic 'em BEARS!

  29. Image for Debbie Debbie

    I loved this! Couldn't wait to hear what was inside you're a great story teller. It's hard to believe what is no longer here in our life time and that our kids have no clue lol. Couldn't have your blog to make me laugh, cry, etc. So there's that lol

  30. Image for Laurie Laurie

    I read this post to my hubs and we both laughed and reminisced of times gone by. Like 1970 when he was stationed in Biloxi MS and he would call me collect in central CA . We would talk for an hour, or until a line phoned at the phone booth on base. My parents not amused when the phone bill arrived each month. Fifty three years later we’re sitting here reminiscing while we listen to my vinyl Carpenter’s album. We’ve shared lots of funny stories and sweet memories.

  31. Image for Linda Linda

    I mentioned to a young friend of mine that I was thinking about getting rid of my hope chest. Total blank stare. She really wondered what I was talking about. Had to do a lot of explaining. Love your videos and love that old box!

  32. Image for Lora Bloomquist Lora Bloomquist

    You know my vintage-loving heart loves this post & I think from the amount of comments, you’ve struck a cord! I love finds like this where you create the story in your head of who owned it & what they did with it. Lucky you!

  33. Image for Jennie Jennie

    Awesome blog! Your words are truly inspirational! We also have a tool box which belonged to my father-in-law which we cherish.

  34. Image for Ann Ann

    so we were always prepared in case of emergency.In my day, we put dimes in our Weejun penny loafers. Phone booths took a dime

  35. Image for Maria ELENA Blecha Maria ELENA Blecha

    I just was looking at my dad tool box, thinking what I should do with it, am sure nobody else thinks it is a treasure!!! It is sad, how the person is gone and things remain!!!! Lots of old memories

  36. Image for Peg Peg

    Oh, what a great find!! I really miss rotary dial phones...they way it felt to dial the number and the sound it made!!! xoxo

  37. Image for Linda L Linda L

    I was a children's librarian for years and I would do an Antique Roadshow display every year; typewriters, princess phones, a zipper pull, a glove stretcher were among my favorite items to see if the kids could guess what they were. Once while reading a story to second graders the word handkerchief came up; no one knew what it was or had ever seem one!

  38. Image for Carol Carol

    This was so fun to read. Tell hubby clock radios are alive and well. I listen to mine at night on snooze till I fall asleep, works like a charm. Then listen again first thing in the morning while I drink my coffee in bed. Haven't started your am routine yet but thinking about it. Starting the stretch program this week, the yoga leader is great! You definitely have a way with words!

  39. Image for Mary Lou Mary Lou

    My girls could understand collect calling, after my explaining it, but party lines were beyond their imagination. We had a party line the whole time I was growing up.

  40. Image for Stephanie E Brown Stephanie E Brown

    Oh my love this post. Every day is a story. Everyone and everything has a story. So glad you search and share stories so history will be remembered. You might enjoy listening to the song Automatic by Miranda Lambert with your gorgeous girls. The video is precious. Brought back lots of memories for me. Like sun tea! I bet it will for you to my friend. Keep sharing and shining! Cheer those Wildcats on! We need extra cheerleaders this year. Love that you my friend are extra in such a wonderful way. Extra talented and kind. Stay warm. Having redbud winter in Kentucky. 65 yesterday. 35 for highs this weekend. Yep I bet you remember the crazy March weather we have here. Have a great weekend!

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