Vintage Cooties

Last Friday morning, my mom and I noticed an estate sale just a block away from my parents’ house so we walked over to see what it was like. Mom picked up a few sugars and creamers, and I came home with a couple of interesting finds.


The woman who lived in this house was a needlepointer, it seems, as there were some tapestries/canvases for sale. I found only one box of yarn, though. The two white skeins are Columbia-Minerva Featherweight Knitting Worsted. There’s no yardage listed, but each weighs two ounces.

The blue is Bucilla EVER-FAST Tapestry Wool. There are 15 skeins, 40 yards each in a denim blue (Color #1999). Also in the box was a receipt dated April 16, 1963, and the skeins were priced 45 cents each. Guess where the yarn was originally purchased?


Dayton’s! I knew department stores used to sell yarn, but this is the first I’ve seen evidence of this for Dayton’s. Too cool. (And check out that old-style phone number!)

Now, as for the cooties part of the post. Rest assured, I didn’t find evidence of moths, but I’ve put the white wool into a ziploc and the blue tapestry wool box is separate from the rest of my stash until I decide what to do with it.


Yup, the other thing that came home with me was an old Cootie game. All the pieces and game die are intact. I didn’t realize until I looked at the game box top that the original company was based in Robbinsdale, MN. Dr. Toy’s Toy History explains:

Herb Schaper, a letter carrier for the U.S. Post Office, whittled the first COOTIE out of wood in 1948. In the first years, Schaper built, by hand, 40,000 wooden COOTIE games. Three years later, more than 1,200,000 were produced with the aid of machinery. By 1978, COOTIES 30th birthday, more than 30 million COOTIE games had entertained children worldwide. Milton Bradley [Company, now Hasbro] acquired COOTIE and other Schaper classics in 1987. 

Based on my memory of the game box from when I was young, I’m not sure the 1987 date is correct. And what’s more, the history information at Hasbro’s website shows that MB was acquired in 1984, so perhaps it is a typo for 1978? Anyway, there is a bit more information about Cootie available at the Hennepin History Museum. This older plastic version is much more colorful than the version I played. I also wonder if any wooden versions of this game still exist?

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15 Responses to “Vintage Cooties”

  1. Chris Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 7:54 am

    What great sale finds!! I didn’t know that Dayton’s had ever carried yarn – I’ve seen evidence for Penney’s and Sears before. And how fun about the Cooties game.

  2. deb Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Wow! The father of my best friend in high school (Wayzata) used to work for Schaper. We always had plenty of “Cootie” games around. What a blast from the past. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Amy Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 8:05 am

    What great finds! Love the cootie game. And I think you should frame that Dayton’s label. Geez, I miss Dayton’s. It just hasn’t been the same.

  4. Guinifer Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 8:12 am

    Oh EXCELLENT! We had an old set when we were kids – it looks very familiar. I miss Daytons.

  5. Nicole Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 9:17 am

    How cool! What great finds… like digging up lost treasure.

  6. Megan Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Wow! Your post makes me want to find an estate sale to attend. :)

  7. Jeanne Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 11:01 am

    That Cooties game looks just like the one my grandparents had. I played with it for hours. sniff I wonder what happened to it.

  8. rina Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 11:06 am

    hmmm… what are you going to knit from the yarn? Socks, sweaters?

  9. Miss T Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Great finds! Yes, years ago most of the big department stores carried yarn. Some even had expert knitters available to answer questions. I miss Dayton’s, too. None of the department stores are any fun anymore.

  10. Becky Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Too cool! Love the old Cootie game. Such memories.

  11. Rebecca Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    I REMEMBER that Cootie game! And I remember when it was an insult to tell someone they had cooties. All BOYS had cooties! That is, until a few years later when their cooties mysteriously disappeared.

  12. Sydney Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    What great finds! You even have the box for the tapestry wool. The old Cootie game is just too cool.

  13. lisa Says:
    April 24th, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    Oh! I think I had that game! A child of the 60’s…

  14. mrspao Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    I love those sorts of sales – they always provide such a mine of great things :)

  15. n button Says:
    June 16th, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Came accross your site while looking up info on Cootie game. Just purchased one off of e-bay. Remembered going to my grandparents and playing it as a child back in the fifties and now that we are grandparents wanted to bring back the tradition in our own home so purchased a vintage game to carry on the fun. Hope there are some little ones in your family for you to have fun with playing this old game that bonds families around the table. Too much of that one kid at the computor going on these days. We need to get back to family night. Wonderful you and your mom go to estate sales together. I love to do that. Have a great life. Norma

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