Thursday, August 4, 2011

Papergreat's star-studded 200th post (plus some chickens)

Strike up the band! Papergreat has made it to its 200th post! I told y'all I had a lot of ephemera tucked away, waiting to be researched and shared.

To celebrate this milestone, I'm blowing out the budget and bringing in the biggest stars of ephemera for today's post. So, without further ado, here are (drum roll) Casper the Friendly Ghost, Jerry Richardson, David McCallum, Elvis Presley, R2-D2 and some chickens.

Casper wants you to brush your teeth

Here's a public service announcement from a circa 1975 Casper the Friendly Ghost comic book. The "Don't Give Plaque a Ghost of a Chance" message is co-sponsored by the American Dental Association and Harvey Comics.

In addition to Casper, Harvey Comics, which ceased publication in 1994, brought us such memorable characters as The Ghostly Trio, Wendy the Good Little Witch, Little Dot, Baby Huey, Richie Rich, Sad Sack and Little Lotta.1

Jerry Richardson: Methodist All-American

I've already written once about the December 1956 issue of Together (The Midmonth Magazine for Methodist Families) that I discovered at Hoke-E-Geez in Bedford, Pennsylvania. And that issue has even more treasures to divulge.

For example, Fred Russell, a sportswriter with the Nashville Banner, selected the first All-American All-Methodist football team. He called it "an explosive, power-pulsing, jet-impelled lineup which any coach in the country would be happy to direct."

Russell selected both a university-level team and a college-level team. Interestingly, the university-level team is filled with players from Southern Cal, Syracuse, Duke and Northwestern, as all of those schools were considered to be "Methodist-related" at the time.2 Thus, Syracuse halfback Jim Brown is a member of Russell's team.

But the All-American who caught my eye was a member of the college-level team: Jerry Richardson of Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Richardson went on to play for the Baltimore Colts in 1959 and 1960. He caught a touchdown pass from Johnny Unitas in the Colts' victory over the New York Giants in the 1959 NFL championship game.3 Richardson went on to become majority owner and founder of the NFL's Carolina Panthers. He made the millions that helped him launch the Panthers as an expansion team with his work from the 1960s through 1990s as one of the titans of the chain-restaurant business.

David McCallum: "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and his fans

David McCallum, star of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." is featured on the cover of the June 6-12, 1965, TV book that was inserted in the York, Pennsylvania, Sunday News.

Of course, McCallum is best known these days as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard on "NCIS" -- one of my daughter's favorite TV shows.4

In the article about "U.N.C.L.E.", McCallum, who was 31 the time, complains about the struggles of being a dreamboat and having a gaggle of teenage fans chasing him at all times:
"And they all want to kiss me. Always, if my wife's along, they ask her first if they may. Funny, they never ask me."
McCallum also insists that his 1960s haircut is a trend-setter, not a trend-follower: "The Beatles have a McCallum haircut, not vice versa. I've had mine for eight years."

World of Illusions: An attraction you can skip

Here's a brochure, probably from the 1980s, for "World of Illusions" in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The cover features a wizard (presumably Merlin), R2-D2 and Elvis Presley. Inside, the brochure touts (these are verbatim):
  • Make one of your friends disappear
  • Watch an amazing recreation of Houdini's Chinese Torture Escape
  • Participate in an 18th Century seance
  • Watch a Star Ship Transporter materialize an Imperial Warrior5
  • See the Wizard Merlin levitate right before your eyes
  • Take your picture with RD2, and other characters inspired by "Star Wars"6
It probably doesn't matter that the brochure is from the 1980s. According to the unanimously scathing reviews I've read of this "tourist attraction," nothing has changed or been updated in decades.

In fact, these excerpts of "World of Illusions" reviews from TripAdvisor are surely more entertaining than the attraction itself:
  • "Just went to this place in July 2011 and it was horrible. The place is so outdated it should be ashamed. I don't have anything else to say but spend your money elsewhere!!!"
  • "Don't waste your $8 on this. It is 10 minutes of my life wasted that I will never get back. Everything in there was totally lame we didn't even crack a smile. There is not much to see and it takes just a few minutes to go through. It sucks!"
  • "This sad excuse for a 'tourist attraction' was BY FAR the worst waste of money I have ever spent...and I have seen some cheesy things. I expect a certain amount of 'lame' with an $8.00 tourist attraction but this was ridiculous! This place would have been sad if it was free!"
  • "world of suck ... It was more like someone printed out a bunch of 'illusions' from the internet and framed them. And if the attraction didn't suck bad enough, the exit drops you out into an alleyway.
  • "The biggest waste of time and money in Gatlinburg and quite possibly the entire Eastern United States!"

And, finally, some chickens...

These are chickens, apparently. They looks more like a 1980s poultry hair band to me.

The illustration is from the cover of the October 1934 issue of Poultry Tribune.7 Did chickens really look like this once? Can chickens like this be found today?
I really need a poultry expert to weigh in here.8

See, you never know what you're going to find on Papergreat.

Who knows what the next 200 posts will bring...

1. Yes, this happened. Little Lotta, aka Lotta Plump, was a chubby girl who gained superhuman strength upon overeating. The "Little Lotta" comics were published from the mid-1950s through mid-1970s. Don Markstein's Toonopedia states: "Lotta's schtick, which pretty much summed up the driving force of most stories about her, was that she ate to excess. Her figure showed it, too — but that was the only normal effect of her dietary habits. Instead of sluggishness and high blood pressure, Lotta's overeating gave her immense strength; and instead of being called ugly names by the other kids, Lotta was lionized for her muscle power. For these reasons, Little Lotta is considered by many to be one of the worst role models in comics." Also, and I hesitate to mention this, but I find it extra disturbing that Lotta Plump was often pictured in short skirts and with her knickers showing. And, yes, I'm aware that sentence I just wrote is going to draw undesirable search-engine traffic to Papergreat.
2. For example, the University of Southern California originally operated in affiliation with the Methodist Church. But, according to Wikipedia: "The university is no longer affiliated with any church, having severed formal ties in 1952." Interestingly, Russell's article was published in 1956, four years after those formal ties were severed.
3. The 1959 NFL championship game was a rematch of the fabled 1958 NFL championship, which is dubbed "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
4. My favorite McCallum movie is -- no surprise here -- "The Great Escape."
5. What does that even mean? That deserves the Picard Response.
6. I guess misspelling it as "RD2" is their boneheaded attempt at skirting trademark infringement.
7. The advertisement on the back cover of this issue was the subject of a Papergreat post on June 20.
8. My lame attempt at research included using "rooster with lots of hair" as a search query in Google Images. The results were almost as laughable as my query. They included Conan O'Brien, Rooster Cogburn and Selena Gomez.


  1. Oddly, I was in the kids' area at the Knoxville Zoo today and saw a chicken I described as a "Beatles" chicken. I Googled that, and your sute came up. Turns out (I broke down and asked) that they are Polish roosters. Google and you will see.

    Side note: I went to that world of illusion in Gatlinburg to see R2D2 in like 1983. It hasnt't changed since then.

  2. About those Together magazine Methodist all-America football teams: Russell named them for eight years, from the 1956 through 1963 seasons. He continued to select both “University” (major college) and “College” (small-college) squads. These were always two-way elevens; it was during the single-platoon era of college football. He would usually name first and second teams, though in the first year or two he also selected third-team and honorable mention players.

    The biggest problem for Russell was, there just weren’t that many Methodist institutions playing big-time football, so his University teams were drawn from a fairly shallow pool. (Although when that pool included Syracuse greats like Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and John Mackey, it feels a little fussy to complain.) USC was also a strong resource in that pool, but after that first year, Russell didn’t include any Trojans in his selections. This wasn’t explained; perhaps Russell thought about it, and decided that historic ties alone with the Methodist Church didn’t warrant keeping a school in the mix.

    The U. of Denver dropped football after the 1960 season, and that would have left only five schools to draw the University team from. But Russell took two teams that he had drawn from for the College team in 1956 and 1957 — the U. of Chattanooga and the College of the Pacific — and from 1958 considered them major college football programs, contributing to his University team, instead. That was a bit of a stretch, though Chattanooga and Pacific definitely played more up-market than a lot of the really small schools that Russell drew on for the College team. But that ultimately left Russell drawing from seven schools for his University team — still low, but viable, I suppose.

    There were a lot more Methodist schools with small-time programs that he could select his College team from. He wrote that about 44 Methodist colleges played ball at that level, and over the eight years that Together published the teams, he named players who were from 35 different schools. So, it was fairly competitive to get named to the College team.

    Finally, Russell’s selections carry some weight, because of his reputation. A friend and protégé of the great sportswriter Grantland Rice, Russell had a very long career himself, working as a sports journalist for 70 years, serving as sports editor of the Nashville Banner for decades, and being, arguably, the dean of Southern sportswriters in the 20 or 30 years before he retired at the very end of the 20th century.