Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mystery photo of couple on New Year's Eve


I came across this photo while shopping here in York County earlier this year, and I've been saving it for tonight.

Written in ink on the back of the photo is, simply: "NEW YEARS EVE 1949."

(Also, printed faintly in two spots, is: "KODAK VELO PAPER.")

I believe the three stripes/chevrons indicate that he is an Army sergeant, but military uniforms are not an area of expertise for me.

The good news is that they look like they're having a nice time. If, by some miracle, anyone should happen to recognize either of them, drop me a line!



New Year's Eve list: My 10 favorite Papergreat images of 2011

It's New Year's Eve, and everyone finishes off the year with a list of some sort. So here's mine: My 10 favorite images from this blog in 2011 -- a purely subjective list.

#10: A postcard from Japan


This is from the March 15 post "Nippon-koku," in which a series of vintage postcards were presented as a counterbalance to the devastation and despair of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

#9: "Mystery at Long Barrow House"


In this March 22 post, I wrote: "The cover of this book made me smile when I came upon it. The greens and oranges punch out appealingly. And what more would you want from a juvenile fiction title than the word 'Mystery' and images of adventuring children, an old house with a green roof and a bearded little man (or leprechaun?) wielding a club menacingly? Adventure awaits!"

#8: Young banjo player on bedspread


This image comes from the still-popular May 16 post "Selections from the 1967 Top Value Stamps catalog."

No further words are needed.

#7: Crown Coal, King of Anthracite


This old ink-blotter advertisement was featured in the March 16 entry "Crown Coal, J.W. Wolgemuth and Wenger Feeds." It dates from sometime between 1920 and 1944, and I love the colors and design of the card.

#6: Underwood's Original Deviled Ham


This image hails from the March 17 post "Oldest food trademark still used in the United States." (And, yes, I'm aware that three of my top-10 images come from consecutive days in March. Very odd.)

This full-page advertisement came from a 1905 magazine and launched me off on a meaty tangent that included King Oscar Fish Balls, Rose Beef Tripe with Milk, Armour Pork Brains in Milk Gravy, Tasty Joy Quail Eggs and Goblin Meat Pudding.

#5: Story Gnome: The Keeper of Magic Books


Our family has a soft spot for Story Gnome, who was featured in this May 6 post. He's an illustration from "Mother Goose Secrets," a 1925 book by Barbara Webb Bourjaily. And for many months this past year, Story Gnome served as my Papergreat Twitter avatar.

#4: Sami girl and a reindeer


Check out the colorfully dressed Sami girl and her white reindeer in this postcard that I wrote about on December 17. My love for this image wasn't even lessened when I realized that the girl has a huge knife affixed to her waist.

#2 (tie): Fiskargränd and Møntestræde



These two postcards, from April 9 and April 16, are joined at the hip. Or perhaps I should say "joined at the alley."

The colorful Fiskargränd ("Fish Alley") in Visby, Sweden, and the black-and-white Møntestræde ("Mint Street") in Odense, Denmark, are both wonderful, human-scale early European alleys. They harken to a time when our lives weren't ruled by cars and the necessary speed of modern life.

#1: A dark and stormy night ... and a good book


I said in this October 4 post that this was my new favorite piece of ephemera, and nothing has unseated it. Not even close.

At the time, I wrote:
"A dark and stormy night. An old, shadow-filled mansion. A warm, comfortable chair by the curtained window, perfect for a golden-haired, blue-eyed young lady to sink in to -- good book in hand -- after everyone else has retired for the evening.

Then a sudden noise interrupts her reading. What's intruding?

The colors. The sense of gloom and utter aloneness in the middle of the night. The expression on her face. All of that makes it a wonderful illustration. And that fact that this trade card is in poor condition, with creases, scratches and a missing corner, only adds to the overall effect, in my opinion.

A perfect piece of ephemera..."
Perfect indeed. And it also serves as the main image for Papergreat's new page on Facebook. If you "like" the page, you'll be able to follow all of this blog's 2012 posts on your Facebook wall. Be among the first to find out if anything unseats "a dark and stormy night" as my favorite illustration.

Have a safe New Year's Eve!

Friday, December 30, 2011

1961 Ginza Tokyu Hotel guest booklet

True story: Much to my chagrin, I don't do much advance planning for these blog entries. Although I have absolutely no shortage of items to write about, I need for inspiration to strike me when I'm in my daily researching/writing window.

This morning, before getting online, I was trying to brainstorm something to write about. One good possibility I came up with was a 50-year-old Japanese hotel guest booklet, which serves as a companion piece to a postcard I wrote about way back in February.

But I hadn't really made my final decision until I came downstairs and logged into Blogger. I found that I had one new reader comment overnight:

Dear Chris
Hi,This is Tanaka from Tokyo.
Ginza Tokyu Hotel was a hotel in Ginza, Tokyo.
Built in 1960, the 10 storey hotel was initially the only 4-star hotel.
It closed in May 2001.
Well, I know a sign when I see one!

So here is today's ephemera post, with an assist from Tanaka, who -- by the way -- also has a marvelous ephemera blog, called Hotel Stationery. Although it's a Japanese-language blog, you can still check out all the wonderful images of paper from around the world.


1961 Ginza Tokyu Hotel guest booklet

This 64-page staplebound booklet measures 3⅝ inches wide by 5 inches deep. It contains everything that a guest of the Ginza Tokyu Hotel would have needed to know in 1961, plus a fold-out color sightseeing map of Tokyo in the center.

(My great-grandmother, Greta, received and saved this booklet when she was a guest there.)

The message on the first page of the booklet states:
Dear Guest:

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the GINZA TOKYU HOTEL. Our aim is to render your stay with us as comfortable and pleasant as possible.

In order to help us achieve our objective, we will greatly appreciate receiving any constructive criticism or suggestions you may have to offer.

We wish you a happy and enjoyable stay at the GINZA TOKYU HOTEL.
The page with the hotel rates notes that the 1961 dollar-to-yen rate of exchange was $1 = ¥360.

Single-room rates ranged from ¥1,800 to ¥2,200. Japanese-style rooms were ¥3,500 or ¥5,000. And the most expensive room was a deluxe double suite costing ¥20,000.

Amenities

Here are some of the highlights of the descriptions of the hotel's amenities:
  • Main Dining Room: "The Main Dining Room is decorated with the handwoven brocade masterpiece by the world-famed Shikō Munakata. Dinner music from 6 p.m. every evening."
  • Top of Ginza (Roof Garden Restaurant): "During the summer months, serves cold buffet and beer on the roof garden, 11 stories above Ginza, affording and unexcelled panoramic night view of Tokyo."
  • Ginza Snack (Main Floor): "Serves light lunches, late night snacks, soft drinks. Open: 24 hours a day. Quick service. Popular prices. This snack restaurant provides a 'Picnic Lunch' for ¥600."
  • Cocktail Lounge (Main Lobby): "A favorite Rendez-Vous spot. Serves a wide variety of hard and soft drinks. Enjoy our soothing music and soft drinks in our lobby."
  • Baby Sitter: "Available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., ¥100 an hour."
  • Golf Practice Range (Roof): "A golf practice range is available, free of charge. Call the Information Desk for golf clubs, balls, etc."
  • TV Sets For Rent: "Available at ¥300 a day."
  • Important Requests: "Did you know? That many fires are caused by careless people smoking in bed. That dogs and pets disturb the comfort of others and sometimes cause considerable damage. That it is customary in Tokyo, and much more comfortable, to wear a jacket in public at all times. Our exception is the GINZA SNACK which is as casual as any coffee shop."
  • Masseur, Masseuse: "Available by appointment from 6 a.m. to midnight, ¥500 an hour."
  • Arcade: The hotel's arcade (map pictured at right) was open year round from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (See below for some of the advertisements for stores in the arcade.)
  • Shika Odoshi: "Shika Odoshi or deer alarm is placed in the Main Lobby near the Cocktail Lounge. The bamboo tube hits the stone at regular intervals when it fills with water. This alarm is used for the purpose of frightening deer away."
  • Wedding Hall (2nd Floor): "This authentic Japanese Wedding Hall is complete with beauty parlor, ceremonial dresses for rent and photo studio. The Tokyu Travel Service will also arrange your honeymoon trip."

Advertisements

LEFT: Yoshii Drug Store, selling Lederle's Achromycin and Stresscaps. RIGHT: Saito Barber Shop.

Tokyo Chiyoda Electric Co Ltd., featuring its "world famous transistor radio."

LEFT: The "Foreigners' Feasting Paradise" at Suehiro restaurant. RIGHT: Kimonos for sale at Sakura Co., Ltd.

LEFT: The Aoki Clinic and Hospital, which has a specialist in "Inner Diseases." RIGHT: Kirin Beer, Japan's "Top Selling Beer."

Suntory whisky (Bill Murray not included)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fairy tales: From laxatives to Littlestown to Johnny Depp

Looking back at the first full year of this blog, one thing that surprises me is how little I wrote about folk and fairy tales.1

So let's travel down that avenue today. Pictured at right is the front cover of "Famous Fairy Tales for Children," a 20-page staplebound booklet published in 1930 by Pepsin Syrup Company of Monticello, Illinois.2

The full-color booklet measures about 4¼ inches wide by 6½ inches tall. It includes illustrated3 versions of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk4, Little Red Riding Hood and Aladdin and His Lamp, interspersed with copious advertisements for Pepsin Syrup Company, which produced "the largest selling family laxative in the world."

Here are some of the testimonials for Dr. W.B. Caldwell's Syrup Pepsin included in the booklet:
  • Dr. Caldwell's Syrup Pepsin does exactly as you say it will, and I always keep it in the house. -- Mrs. A. Carroll, 49 West Dedham St., Boston, Mass.
  • Have used Dr. Caldwell's Syrup Pepsin for years and would use no other laxative for my two children. -- Mrs. D. Delaney, 7610 Cornelia Ave., Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Since my 76th birthday I have needed a good laxative and always keep Dr. Caldwell's Syrup Pepsin on hand. -- E.M. Rugg, Redondo Beach, Calif.
But, laxatives aside, what really piqued my interest about this fairy-tale booklet is the back cover, which is printed with the following:

COMPLIMENTS OF
HOWARD A. STONESIFER
DRUGGIST
South Queen St.
Littlestown Pennsylvania


This is where the fun really starts.

Howard A. Stonesifer (1879-1969), pictured at right, ran a pharmacy in Littlestown5 from 1902 until 1948, according to this "Find A Grave" biography that was created by Howard D. Sell. Also, according to Sell:
"[Stonesifer] married Etta Sarah Frances Crouse on October 12, 1904. They had a daughter Myrtle Louise. Howard was president of the Rotary Club, the Keystone Cabinet Company, the Littlestown National Bank and later the head of its board of directors. He donated $150,000 for the Littlestown swimming pool."
Now, about Howard's daughter...

Here's some information about Myrtle Louise Stonesifer King, pieced together from various sources:6
  • She was born in Littlestown on May 1, 1905.
  • She graduated from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, in 1927 and later earned a master's in drama from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • She worked off-Broadway under the stage name Louise Howard.
  • She had another stage name -- Halo Meadows -- which she used for her career as a burlesque/exotic dancer.
  • In 1940, she married Jeron Criswell King (pictured at right), who was better known as the extremely inaccurate psychic called The Amazing Criswell.
  • She appeared on an episode of "You Bet Your Life" (with host Groucho Marx) in the 1950s and performed her original song, "Chop Your Head Off."
  • She was "quite mad," according to Charles A. Coulombe, whose family rented an apartment from The Amazing Criswell. Added Coulombe: "Mrs. Criswell had a huge standard poodle (named 'Buttercup') which she was convinced was the reincarnation of her cousin Thomas. She spent a great deal of time sunbathing ... which, given her size, was not too pleasing a sight."
  • When her father, the pharmacist, died in 1969, she returned to Littlestown. She did this even though he had once told her: "Don't come back. All you want to do is play music and raise dogs. You'll never be able to take it if you come back here."7
  • She and The Amazing Criswell were legally separated in 1974.
  • She did move back to Littlestown. On a message board for The (Hanover) Evening Sun, one person remembers that "she was definitely a Littlestown character from my childhood ... walking her dog along the main streets wearing flip-flops, shorts, and a halter top despite being well into her 70s."
  • She died in Littlestown on May 12, 1985, and is buried there in Mount Carmel Cemetery -- the same cemetery as her parents.
  • Earlier this week, "A Movie Night With Myrtle Louise!!!!" was held at Redeemer's United Church of Christ in Littlestown. So her legacy remains quite strong.
And that really only scratches the surface on the life of Myrtle Louise Stonesifer King.

But how do we get to Johnny Depp?

Easy.

The Amazing Criswell worked with director Ed Wood and appears as himself as the narrator of "Plan 9 from Outer Space" -- one of the greatest debacles in movie history.

Wood, The Amazing Criswell and "Plan 9 from Outer Space" were celebrated in the fabulous 1994 Tim Burton film "Ed Wood," in which Jeffrey Jones portrayed Criswell and Depp portrayed Wood.

I'm sure Howard A. Stonesifer never imagined the tales that would emerge from his family when he was distributing fairy-tale booklets laced with laxative advertisements to his customers' children in 1930.


Footnotes
1. And that's kind of crazy, because I'm the guy who collects everything Ruth Manning-Sanders; has many books from the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library; and makes regular references to Baba Yaga around people who have no clue what I'm talking about.
2. Joan and I purchased this booklet during a trip to Golden Lane Art and Antique Gallery in New Oxford, Pennsylvania, earlier this month.
3. It appears that all of the illustrations are by Frank and Allie Dillon. The only other reference I found to them was as the illustrators of a story in St. Nicholas Magazine in 1915 or 1916.
4. My favorite version of "Jack and the Beanstalk" is the 1974 animated feature directed by Gisaburō Sugii. If you saw it during the 1970s or early 1980s, I'm sure you never forgot it.
5. Littlestown and New Oxford are both located in Adams County and are less than 15 miles apart. So it's possible this fairy-tale booklet hasn't traveled very far in its 80-plus-year lifetime.
6. Sources include her Find A Grave page, her Wikipedia page, a 1982 article from The Gettysburg Times, and, yes, a Facebook fan page.
7. That quote comes from the aforementioned July 12, 1982, article in The Gettysburg Times.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Christmas Baby

Presented for your enjoyment today, without commentary or footnotes, are the front and back sides of "The Christmas Baby," an illustrated song card published on December 19, 1937. It's part of the Berean Beginners Pictures and Stories set that was published by The Methodist Book Concern.

The Papergreat Corporate Headquarters will be on vacation for a few days. I'll be back with more ephemera on Thursday.

Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

A collection of "The Night Before Christmas" covers


It's certainly an appropriate day to share the covers of some copies of "The Night Before Christmas" that Sarah and I have around the house. The paperback version of the tale that's pictured above was published in 1964 by James & Jonathan1 and features illustrations by Nino Carbé2. (His name is incorrectly printed as "Niño Carbe" on the cover.)

Of course, it is stated on the cover that the famous nineteenth-century poem -- which largely defines our modern conception of Santa, his sleigh, his reindeer and more -- was written by Clement Moore. But this is a subject of some dispute.

The two camps on the authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" are divided between Clement Clarke Moore and Henry Livingston Jr. The debate is an interesting tale that includes sleigh rides, Dutch folklore, Washington Irving, textual content analysis and the possible importance of Santa's pipe. If you want to delve into more, check out "Whose Jolly Old Elf Is That, Anyway? Literary Sleuth Casts Doubt on the Authorship of an Iconic Christmas Poem," written by David D. Kirkpatrick and published by The New York Times on October 26, 2000.

Scholarly debates aside, here are some of our family's additional "The Night Before Christmas" covers to enjoy on Christmas Eve.

"The Night Before Christmas," a 1980 Golden Press "I'm an Artist Storybook" with illustrations by Rod Ruth

"The Night Before Christmas," published in 2002 by Little Simon, with pop-up illustrations by Robert Sabuda

"The Night Before Christmas," published in 1993 by Grosset & Dunlap, with illustrations by Jean Hirashima

Footnotes
1. James & Jonathan Inc. was based in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Notable Hollywood folks from Kenosha include Don Ameche, Bert I. Gordon, Al Molinaro, Mark Ruffalo, Daniel J. Travanti, Orson Welles and Billy Zane.
2. Nino Carbé had an interesting career, as detailed on this excellent website bearing his name. In the early 1930s, he illustrated editions of "Tales of the Arabian Nights," "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Frankenstein." He had a long career with Walt Disney Studios, where he worked on such films as "Fantasia," "Bambi," "Pinocchio," "Dumbo" and "Victory Through Air Power" (a fascinating slice of World War II history). He also did some animation for Chilly Willy for Walter Lantz Productions and he worked on Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated version of "The Lord of the Rings." (Speaking of which, have you seen the groovy new trailer for December 2012's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"?)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Reader comments: Christmas edition

A month filled with Christmas-themed and holiday-themed ephemera posts has brought out the best in the readers. So I turn it over to you today...

Awkward Christmas card idea from the past: A lot of responses to this one:
  • Mel Kolstad of Ephemeraology writes: "I LOVE this card! We can think of it as analog Photoshop!"
  • Someone with the user name "Indiana Medical Insurance" writes: "Great idea. We have plenty of old pictures so I'm tempted to use some that are 10-15 years old. Maybe put everything in black and white as well."
  • (Note: If anyone attempts to replicate the sheer awesomeness of this card in the future, please send a copy to Papergreat.)
  • Anonymous writes: "Previous comments like the Christmas card idea. Personally, I think it's creepy!!"

Christmas recipes from The Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library: Mel Kolstad writes: "WHOA - SO weird that we both posted stuff about vintage Betty Crocker holiday recipes today on our blogs!!! Do do do do...do do do do...." (Here is the Ephemeraology Betty Crocker blog entry she's referring to.)

Postcard: Wishing Thoma a Merry Christmas in 1913: We got a nice, research-based exchange going in the comments section on this one:
  • Mel Kolstad wrote: "What a gorgeous postcard, Chris! I wonder, though - may the grandaughter (sic) from Schuykill (sic) have possibly misspelled "Thomas"? She certainly doesn't have a great track record in spelling, at least judging by this postcard!"
  • Blake Stough of Preserving York wrote: "In the 1910 and 1920 United States Federal Census records, there are several 'Thomas' and/or 'Thomas J.' Miller's listed in Harrisburg, but none on Schuykill Street. There are also no "Thoma J. Miller" names listed in those years. As Mel mentioned, this may be meant to say Thomas."
  • I responded with: "Interesting, Blake. Appreciate the research. ... Were you looking up 'Schuykill' or 'Schuylkill'?"
  • Blake responded: "There was actually no need to look up an individual street name. In the census records for those years it lists the street names along the edge of the pages. The house number is usually included as well for each household."
I would have to agree that the most likely answer here is that this person's name is actually Thomas J. Miller. But I still enjoyed the tangental avenue I went down in researching the use of Thoma as a first name.

A handy Christmas cape that doubles as a tree skirt: Mom had this comment: "Green bean and almond molded salad...more frightening than the RED JELLO." (Hmmmm.)

In addition, Bruce Thiel, the assistant news editor at the York Daily Record/Sunday News, added this fun anecdote: "My grandmother always made Jello salads at Christmas. One was strawberry, which was a hit. The other was lemon with shredded cabbage and carrots. It was an acquired taste."

Saturday's postcard: Sami girl and a reindeer: Mel Kolstad (who lives in Wisconsin) writes: "I had to laugh about the 'What's with all the dead deer photos?' part, because we have the same dilemma here! Deer hunting is HUGE but there is the faction who'd rather not see the hunters with their dead 'trophy'. We don't have ANY snow either! I'm crabby about it too, especially when I learned today that parts of TEXAS may have a white Christmas and we most likely won't. How is that fair?"

"I never thought it was such a bad little piece of ephemera.": Anonymous has a good thought: "Perhaps it is a greeting from or for someone in the Southern Hemisphere, where it would be summertime and 'beachy' during the Christmas holidays."

Manger scene at St. Mary's Episcopal School for Indian Girls: Justin Mann of Justin's Brew Review writes: "I love this post for so many reasons. First of all, I love that Sarah puts the figurines to bed. I also love that you intentionally left the footnote blank and followed up with a tertiary footnote. Third, I love that you posted the Food Center's Facebook page. I could go on, but mostly I want to tell you to keep up the great work!"

Thanks, Justin!

Christmas 1971 and a vintage greeting card: Mom writes: "Uh oh. Scary clown."

Yes, because it's the holidays and all, I wasn't going to bring up the scary clown in this 1971 photo of me (at right).

Somehow, I survived the childhood trauma of having my face inches from said clown. But now that the topic has been broached, here he is in all his glory (not exactly a vision of sugar plums dancing in your head):

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Family Circle's "Most Beautiful Christmas Tree" of 30 years ago

Thirty years ago today, in its December 22, 1981, issue, Family Circle1 announced the winners of its "Most Beautiful Christmas Tree" contest.

The winner and recipient of the $4,000 first prize was Gary Bowers of Elyria, Ohio. His tree is pictured at right.

Second prize went to Jean Lincoln of Somers, California, and third prize went to Mary Wilks of Verona, New Jersey.

This is how Family Circle described the contest:
"These splendidly decorated Christmas trees are the top winners in our December 1980 Christmas Tree Contest, sponsored jointly by Family Circle and American Tree & Wreath. Chose from over 22,000 entries, they reflect all the love and warmth of this joyous holiday season. We hope that these prizewinners will inspire you as you decorate your own 'most beautiful' Christmas tree."
Here are the second- and third-place beautiful trees...


Footnote
1. Family Circle, according to Wikipedia, began publication in 1932 as a magazine distributed at supermarkets such as Piggly Wiggly and Safeway. The Family Circle website is currently offering a one-year subscription for just $5.99.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Manger scene at St. Mary's Episcopal School for Indian Girls


This undated postcard features a manger scene1 with all Indian characters at St. Mary's Episcopal School for Indian Girls in Springfield, South Dakota.2

The postcard also states that the school building appears in the background and that the school was founded in 1873.3

But does St. Mary's still exist? It does not. My search for information about the school took me first to a message board on City-Data.com. In December 2009, a woman started a thread seeking information on the whereabouts of an altar and cross that her grandfather had carved for the St. Mary's chapel.

It turns out that St. Mary's was closed (probably in the late 1980s) and turned into a privately owned detention center for male juveniles.4 But the altar and cross were saved and moved to an Episcopal church about 300 miles away in Eagle Butte, South Dakota.

One of the key figures in the history of St. Mary's was A.C. Kenyon Cull, who died in June of this year at age 90. He served as headmaster at the school from 1955 to 1985 and his life's experiences also included serving in the British Army with the Royal Corps of Signals and getting married in Jerusalem in 1946 and staying in a monastery guest house near the Sea of Galilee for his honeymoon.

Former students and administrators of St. Mary's remain in active communication through this Facebook page.

Footnotes
1. Our family has a big collection of manger scenes, also known as nativity scenes, crèches and cribs. (This is in addition to our big Christmas collections of decorative nutcrackers, Irish ornaments and snow globes.) Here is a sampling of the nativity scenes in our living room:1


2. Going off on a photographic tangent, I became fascinated by the photo of Main Street in Springfield, South Dakota, on Wikipedia. I made this list of things I see in the photo: air siren; barn-like facade on a brick structure; office for NorthWestern Energy; office for Bon Homme Insurance; Boschma Law Office (with lovely white curtains in the window); Libby's Steakhouse2 (with banners for Bud Light, Libby's Casino and an indoor golf range); a MR. Golf Car Inc. store; a Doug's Food Center4 on the corner, which offers fresh produce and quality meats and has both Pepsi and Coca-Cola vending machines out front; and a lot full of golf carts, presumably belonging to MR. Golf Car Inc.


3. For the record, here's the other information on the back of this undated, unused postcard: "Kolorvue by Artvue Post Card Co., 225 5th Ave, New York, N.Y. 10010"
4. Sadly, another local school -- the University of South Dakota at Springfield -- was closed in the 1980s and turned into a state prison. Turning schools into prisons is not a wonderful course for our country.

Secondary footnote
1. If you're wondering why all of the figures in the lower-left nativity scene, by Playmobil, are laying down, it's because my daughter, Sarah, had already "put them all to bed for the night" before I took this photo.
2. According to The Shadowlands' "Haunted Places in South Dakota," Libby's Steakhouse might be haunted. The website states: "It is believed the basement of this restaurant is haunted by a little girl, there has been only one sighting which was just a glimpse. If you leave the basement door open it causes stacks of soup bowls to fall over for no apparent reason. When you are actually down stairs you feel very uneasy and sometimes you will get 'tripped' going up the stairs. It is though she died of an overdose, the former building used to be drug store known as Hoch Drug."
3. [This secondary footnote intentionally left blank.]1
4. Doug's Food Center only has six "Likes" on Facebook. Help them out.

Tertiary footnote
1. I just wanted to see how small the type would get.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas 1971 and a vintage greeting card

Before getting to today's piece of holiday ephemera, let's continue the buildup to Christmas on Sunday with a couple of gratuitous photos of yours truly from Christmas 1971 in Montoursville, Pennsylvania.

In this first photo, I am riding some newfound transportation and -- no surprise -- checking out a book. It's "Pets and Pals," a board book published in 1970 by Western Publishing Company. This clearly set the stage for my later devouring of books by the likes of Theodor Seuss Geisel, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Edward Packard, Ruth Manning-Sanders, Stephen King and Alan Weisman.1

In the second photo, I have ditched my wheels and am checking out another early passion -- music. Given that it's 1971, I'm probably spinning either "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night or "Me and Bobby McGee"2 by Janis Joplin on my brand-new3 Fisher-Price Music Box Record Player.4


Now on to today's ephemera. It's something that I picked up at some sale or another over the past year, so I can't put any name or context to it. But it's kind of cool and in good condition.


Next to the colorful illustration on the front is the printed greeting:

May the bright cheer
Of Christmas tide
A lasting gift
With you abide

Below that, in pen, is written "Best wishes from Class 18." And below that, in pencil, is "1925." Was this card received in 1925 and sent from the Class of 1918? That's my best guess.

The back of the card, meanwhile, was used for some definitions that someone was apparently studying. Written in cursive is:
teleology - final causes
a priori - from something prior
Footnotes
1. Plus, of course, just a few authors in between.
2. Years later, some friends and I enjoyed changing this song to "Me and Willie McGee."
3. Apologies to Professor H.L. Williams and other guardians of the language.
4. Actually, 1971 is the year that this Fisher-Price record player was introduced, according to Perpetual Kid. Instead of Three Dog Night, its songs would have included "Edelweiss" and "Camptown Races."

Monday, December 19, 2011

"I never thought it was such a bad little piece of ephemera."


Today's piece of ephemera is, possibly, the Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree1 of ephemera. It's sad, battered Victorian card with rips, stains and a few big chunks missing. It was never a very festive illustration in the first place. And there's not even any interesting writing on the back.

But, as Linus said, "I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love."

So maybe we can give it a little love and point out some nice things about this old scrap of paper. I'll start:
  • You can't see it in the image, but the card still has some of its original glitter. There is glitter on the shell, the pink plant and the clouds in the background. Not bad for a card that's around 100 years old.
  • In the bottom-left corner, it states "W.B. & O. New York." The only identifying text on the card at least gives us a clue to start from in finding out more about this piece.
  • The scripted message on the card, which stated "Accept my Christmas Greeting(s)" before a chunk was torn out, really looks wonderful. You don't see elaborately detailed script like that any more, in this age of computer fonts and typography.
  • It is a rather lovely Christmas ... shell.
That's what I have. What can you do, gang, to heap some more love on this not-so-bad piece of ephemera that just needs a little love?


Footnote
1. While there are a number of good articles online about "A Charlie Brown Christmas," one of the more interesting pieces I came across was "The Lonely Tree: The Story of A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Brian Heater.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Smart ephemera discovery in York

While many of us are scrambling in the final week leading up to Christmas1, Smart magazine editor Kara Eberle is way ahead of the game, already working on preparations for Christmas 2012.

As she writes on her blog:
"We produce each issue of Smart about two months before it hits your mailbox, so we’re always off by a season. It leads to some interesting challenges, and I learned that I need to work a year ahead if I want Smart to reflect the appropriate seasons. This means I have to find beautiful homes decked out for the holidays now, so I will have Christmas decor2 in the holiday 2012 issue."
Kara was recently interviewing a York County interior designer for that 2012 holiday issue. That's when she made her ephemera discovery.

In an email, she writes: "[He] had these super cool lamps that look green when they're lit, but white when off. I asked him for information on them, and he pulled this tag from underneath the lamp. Oh, how I love hidden treasures! It's a book about the lamp and how to care for it. He had kept the books for each of the two lamps. ... (Unfortunately), we couldn't find any dates on them. He thinks they're from the '40s, but that was just a guess."

Kara's photo of one of the lamp tags is at the top of today's entry. And here's a peek inside one of the booklets:


Here are some things I tracked down about Rembrandt Lamps:
  • "The Sentinel's History of Chicago Jewry, 1911-1961" states that "among the largest manufacturers is the Rembrandt Lamp Corp. This company was formed in 1924 by Albert Witz, Louis Brosilow, and William Markoff, in a consolidation of two companies. Witz was president of Rembrandt from 1924 to 1931..."
  • John Chuckman's blog of Chicago nostalgia and memorabilia includes a circa 1930 advertisement for Rembrandt Lamps. The ad copy states, in part, "The industry's greatest line -- over 500 designs for selection covering every lamp requirement -- priced within the reach of all."
  • A U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for Rembrandt Lamps Masterpieces on September 18, 1944.3 It was one of several associated trademarks once held by IIH Industries.
Here are side-by-side pictures of the Rembrandt Lamps Masterpieces lamp that the tag came from.


Much thanks to Kara for the cool ephemera find! Check out more nifty stuff on her Smart website.

Footnotes
1. No, I have not finished my shopping yet. For me, it's still early.
2. Speaking of Christmas decor, our family recently took a drive and enjoyed some of the holiday lights -- including a house with its own radio station -- around York County. Joan writes about it in this Only in York County post.
3. Another web page detailing the Rembrandt Lamps Masterpieces trademark includes this line under "Consent": "The portrait forming part of the trade-mark is that of Rembrandt Harmanszoon van Rijn, deceased." They missed by one letter on the correct spelling of his name, which is Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.