Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday's postcard: 1912-13 West Chester Normal School basketball


As March Madness continues1, here's a college basketball team from 98 years ago: the 1912-13 West Chester Normal School2 basketball squad.

The following player names are written in ink on the back of the picture postcard:

Frank Finnegan
Albert Morgan Ruth3
John Roberts
Joe Blouse
Lawrence Davis
Ted or Harry Baldwin4
Robert Mantz
Tom Shore

Under those names is the note: 'Westchester [sic] Normal Team I. Lost one game."

This postcard belonged to my great-grandmother, Greta, who was a student at West Chester Normal School at the time and played on the women's basketball team.

According to the history of kinesiology at West Chester, athletics played a key role at the college from 1871 onward. Gymnastics, wrestling and women's tennis were officially introduced in 1892, and they were followed by bicycling (1893), boxing and swimming (1894), and women's golf and men's basketball (1898).

For more information on the Class of 1913 at West Chester Normal School, you can check out the yearbook, called "The Serpentine", which is offered here in several formats.

The editor-in-chief of that yearbook was the aforementioned Frank Finnegan, who clearly was a multitalented fellow. And Morgan Ruth was one of the assistant editors.

Footnotes
1. I didn't fill out an entire bracket. But, before the tournament began, I predicted a Final Four of Kansas, North Carolina, Florida and San Diego State, with Kansas defeating San Diego State in the finals.
2. Some school history, from Wikipedia: "[West Chester University] traces its roots to the private, state-aided school that existed from 1812 to 1869. As the state began to take increasing responsibility for public education, the academy was transformed into West Chester Normal School, still privately owned and state certified. The normal school admitted its first class, consisting of 160 students, on September 25, 1871. In 1913, West Chester became the first of the normal schools to be owned outright by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." The college evolved into West Chester State Teachers College in 1927, West Chester State College in 1960, and, finally, West Chester University of Pennsylvania in 1983.
3. That's precisely what is written. "Albert" was written and then crossed through and replaced with "Morgan".
4. Again, that's precisely what it written: "Ted or Harry". Based upon what I've seen in the 1913 Serpentine yearbook, I believe "Harry" is his correct first name.

Friday, March 25, 2011

"For perfect attendance at school"


The above inscription to "Marie" appears on the first page of a copy of "Katrine"1, a novel by Elinor Macartney Lane2.

A Google search for the teacher, F.V. Pultz, revealed just ten results.3
One of them is the history page for Tenth Legion School in Rockingham County, Virginia. F.V. Pultz is listed as having been a teacher there in the 1912-13 school year. So it's not a bad guess to say that "Marie" and "F.V. Pultz" were student and teacher at Tenth Legion School (pictured below, in an image from the aforementioned history site) less than a year earlier, when this inscription was written.


If you're interested in more, check out this in-depth history of Rockingham County Public Schools. Among other things, you'll learn that the Tenth Legion School originated in 1878 as the above structure (which was a one-room schoolhouse before expansion) and moved to a new building and site in 1921. That building lasted until 1972, when Tenth Legion School was closed and consolidated into Plains Elementary School in Timberville, Virginia.

I wonder if the students there receive books as a reward for perfect attendance.

Footnotes
1. "Katrine" was published in March 1909 by Grosset & Dunlap in arrangement with Harper & Brothers. The full text of the novel is available as a free eBook at Project Gutenberg.
2. "Katrine" was Lane's last novel. The New York Times Saturday Review of Books reported on April 3, 1909: "The recent death of Mrs. Elinor Macartney Lane will be deeply regretted by the many readers of her charming novels. To those who had the privilege of knowing her personally it is a matter of profound sorrow. Mrs. Lane's two most important books -- "Mills of God" and "Nancy Stair" -- are tool [sic] well known to need any comment. Her last work, "Katrine," had just been published. In a letter written a short time before her death she expressed the opinion that it was the best thing she had done. All who knew Mrs. Lane well will agree that she was a rarely brilliant and charming personality. She not only possessed genius, but she had the most noble and beautiful qualities of character. Nancy Stair herself was not more splendidly loyal and devoted to her friends than was her gifted creator."
3. Or, I should say, it revealed just ten results when I was researching this entry. The existence of this entry will, of course, bump up the number of Google hits for F.V. Pultz.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Doll fads of 1960

I was flipping through the 1961 Compton Yearbook1 (doesn't everyone, in their free time?) and came across the interesting entry for "Toys." Here's an excerpt:
"The one toy that was probably the most popular in the world in 1960 appeared during the summer in Japan. It was a little black inflated vinyl dakkochan ('embraceable') doll. Manufactured first as a baby's plaything, the odd little doll soon became a craze with teen-agers and housewives. The toys soon appeared in the United States where they are called Winkie dolls."
Pictured above are two images of dakkochans. Note that the one product is labeled as "Black Girl Toys" and was made in Hong Kong.

An article from the August 29, 1960, issue of Time headlined "Dakkochan Delirium" offers some interesting background and insights on the dolls. It was probably also the source material for the Compton Yearbook entry. Some excerpts:
  • "In the hottest craze to hit Japan since the Hula Hoop, Tokyo department stores were filled with scrambling, stumbling, shoving teen-agers fighting to spend 180 yen (50¢) for a squeaking, winking, black-skinned dakkochan ('embraceable') doll."
  • "With over 300,000 dakkochans sold in the past two months, the odd little doll intended for toddlers now embraces Japanese teenagers' arms and handbags, housewives' broomhandles, children's strollers. It wriggles on the bodies of strip-teasers in burlesque houses, clings nonchalantly to girls clinging to their boyfriends on speeding motorcycles."2
  • "The dakkochan is the brainchild of Yoshihiro Suda, 27, planning chief for Japan's toymaking Tsukudaya Co."3
  • "Japanese intellectuals, who can be pretty crazy themselves, have been quick to discover social significance in the dakkochan's black skin. Citing the growing popularity of Negro jazz. Artist Setsu Nagasawa argues that 'a Negro culture wave seems to be sweeping Japanese youth.' Novelist Tensei Kawano, who has featured Negroes in four books, asserts: 'We of the younger generation are outcasts from politics and society. In a way we are like Negroes, who have a long record of oppression and misunderstanding, and we feel akin to them.'"
The dakkochans were Golliwogg-like characters. So, not surprisingly, sentiment about them had turned a quarter-century after their sizzling summer of 1960. According to Wikipedia, the company "eventually replaced it with a fantastical character called '21st Century Colorful Dakko-Chan', which bears enough similarity to connote the original symbol, while divesting the traits which brought criticism."

More information and pictures about the history of dakkochans can be found in these two 2010 posts on Femke Hiemstra's Femtasia blog: Winky Dolls and Dakko-chan. There's some great stuff there.

Now, changing gears, the 1961 Compton Yearbook "Toys" entry also included an interesting photo, which is shown below. The caption reads: "BEATNIK DOLLS. These unusual dolls, called "sweetniks," are shown with their creator, Yugoslavia's Lada Draskovic, in Rome."

We'll make that this week's mystery. Beatnik dolls? Sweetniks? Lada Draskovic? Do your best digging and report back in the comments. I'd love to know more.


Footnote
1. "A Summary and Interpretation of The Year's Events to Supplement Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia."
2. That's some great writing.
3. I think the name of the company might have actually been Takara. The Wikipedia page for that company matches up well with other details.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The wonderful world of comic book advertisements


I could do an entire blog on the wacky and wonderful world of old comic book advertisements, but:

1. I would get bored and want to touch on other fascinating topics, such as Henry K. Wampole & Company and its attempts to sell pharmaceuticals in Argentina using images of the Virgin Mary.

2. More importantly, other bloggers have already done great work on the topic of comic book advertisements. There's not much new that I could bring to the party.

A case in point is today's piece of ephemera. This full-page advertisement for the Monster Fan Club and its "ABSOLUTELY FREE! GIANT LIFE SIZE MOON MONSTER" comes from the March 1971 issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen.

When I went to do some research on the Monster Fan Club, I quickly discovered that Scott Saavedra's Comic Book Heaven (and his commenters) have already hit this topic out of the park. You really need to go read the entry, which, among other things, blows the lid off the mail-order scam that was Monster Fan Club. One small excerpt from a commenter that I loved:
"That ad goes back at least as far as 1963 or -4, when I saw it in Strange Planets, a pirated EC comic that had been reprinted. My friend and I were enormously excited over the prospect of an actual six-foot moon monster--plus masks!--until his father warned us that they'd only be made of paper. It wasn't often that an adult was right about anything in those days (no day passed without five or six assertions that I'd outgrow comic books, for example), but he sure called that one right!"
So I think that, for the most part, I'm going to leave the comic book advertisements to other great websites. Here's a rundown of places you can visit to get your fix of "authentic" submarines, X-ray specs, Hostess ads1, frontier cabins, toy soldiers, joy buzzers, sea monkeys, Charles Atlas, and much more.

Finally, here's a great recent article on i09.com (one of my favorite geeky sites) titled "In praise of the totally lunatic comic book advertisement."

There's a Meatloaf advertisement mentioned in that io9 post and, in closing, I'll be darned if I'm going to miss an opportunity to post an image of a comic-version of Meatloaf on Papergreat (view the full advertisement here):


Unrelated addendum
Elizabeth Taylor died today at age 79. Her 1963 big-screen spectacle "Cleopatra" is mentioned in this old Papergreat post.

Footnote
1. To get meta-geeky, here's Alan Moore discussing parodies of the Hostess advertisements, using his Watchmen characters.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Mystery at Long Barrow House"


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 fiction1 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!

It's "Mystery at Long Barrow House", written by Nancy Faulkner2 and published in 1960 by Doubleday & Company. The book is a discard from Carnegie Public Library3 in Fortville, Indiana.

The opening passage:
"But, Mums, why can't I at least polish the silver? Even Mrs. Miggs wouldn't expect me to break a silver teapot." Becky Webster's face was pulled into a frowning knot and she sound like a petulant child.
The book also features a dog named Mr. McGillicuddy, and the bearded antagonist calls himself Georgie the Ox. Georgie is described as looking like Rumpelstiltskin and he tells the children that his job is to protect the house, which belongs to "The Ancient Ones."4

My mind is always racing and making connections. One day after I came upon this book cover, I saw that Peter Jackson posted the below pair of pre-production images from his upcoming two-film adaptation of "The Hobbit" on his Facebook page.

I love the similarities between the bearded men and the barrow-like dwellings!



Footnotes
1. Today we would call this a Young Adult title, and it would probably be turned into a series.
2. Faulkner's other titles include Journey Into Danger, Sword of the Winds, The Secret of the Simple Code, Knights Besieged, Mystery of the Limping Stranger, Small Clown, Small Clown and Tiger, Pirates Quest, and The Witch with the Long, Sharp Nose. All of which sound like excellent titles. Except maybe for the ones with clowns.
3. This is now the Fortville-Vernon Library Public Library. The original Carnegie library, which was built in 1918, has served other functions since the new library opened in 1986. It is currently a food pantry for the United Methodist Church, according to this website.
4. I hope "The Ancient Ones" isn't a reference to Cthulhu, because, if so, those adventuring kids are in a world of doo-doo, to paraphrase Private Pyle.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Saving wheat during World War I


This card from the United States Food Administration For Pennsylvania was tucked inside an old book. It dates from World War I and is in great condition for its age.1

While there was not food-rationing in the United States during World War I, the United States Food Administration was responsible for overseeing the allies' food reserves. One of its important tasks was the stabilization of the price of wheat on the United States market.

According to these excerpts from the terrific website Historical Boys' Clothing:
When the United States entered the War, President Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover to the post of United States Food Administrator (1917). Food had become a weapon in World War I and no country produced more food than America. ... Wheat used for bread and other food stuffs was the most critical agricultural commodity. Thus it was the commodity given the greatest attention by the USFA. One way of freeing up more wheat to feed the Army and to assist America's allies was to reduce domestic wheat consumption. Here the USFA came up with a range of ideas to use corn and other grains for a range of wheat products. ... Hoover called it food conservation, but many Americans took to calling it "Hooverizing." Various promotions were devised, such as wheatless Wednesdays and meatless Mondays. Hoover was convinced that Americans would cooperate voluntarily to support the boys overseas. He did not want a mandatory program and Government regulated rationing. The idea was that American civilians would have to modify their eating habits voluntarily so that more food was available for shipment overseas. The American housewife was urged to conserve food and eliminate waste. Signs and posters appeared in workplaces and public areas with the slogan "Food Will Win the War". Hoover managed to voluntarily reduce domestic food consumption 15 percent without rationing.
I found this image of another World War I poster that urges Americans to save wheat, meat, fats and sugar and uses the exact same design as the "save wheat" card. With regard to that, the fastcodesign.com blog takes a closer look at graphic design and wartime posters and highlights some excellent examples, including a "save wheat" poster with the headline "Will you help the Women of France?"

Some other interesting links on this topic:
Finally, here's a public-domain image from the National Archives that urges "Little Americans" to do their part to save wheat and "leave nothing on your plate."


Footnotes
1. I can't imagine these cards were ever reprinted in subsequent decades afte World War I, though I can't fully discount the possibility. So I think it's a fair assumption that this card is 93 or 94 years old.
2. The United States Food Administration oversaw numerous posters and public-awareness campaigns. Some of the illustrations and designs were created by Edward Penfield and F.H. Townsend, but it's not clear if either of them had a hand in the simple "save wheat" card featured in this post.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The first day of spring


This illustration was on a loose page inside an box of miscellaneous ephemera that Joan and I picked up at a York County auction on March 12.1 (Click on the image to view a larger version.)

It seemed an appropriate image to post here on the first day of spring.

In tiny type under the illustration are the credits: "PAINTED BY A. BOUVIER"2 and "ENGRAVED BY E. TEEL".

Under the word "SPRING", it reads "Engraved Expressly for the Ladies Repository".

That's a reference to The Ladies' Repository, a monthly magazine that was based in Cincinnati and produced by the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was published from 1841 to 1876.

And, if an old eBay listing I came across is accurate, the illustration is from an 1852 issue of the magazine.

Followup post about this illustration

Footnotes
1. It was another Stermer's auction. I wrote here about an earlier one I attended.
2. Possibly Augustus Jules Bouvier?