Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday's postcard: Fiskargränd in Visby, Sweden

This is an undated, unused postcard from Visby, Sweden, produced by Pressbyrån. You know what I like best about it? No cars! It's a beautiful walkable community.

Of course, the primary reason it's walkable is because Visby was around for a couple thousand years before cars. Visby, which has about 22,000 residents, is considered one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Scandinavia. It was known to be a center of merchandise as early at 900 A.D.

Among Visby's most notable features is a long stone wall called Ringmuren ("the Ring Wall"). According to Wikipedia: "The work on the ring wall was likely begun in the 12th century. Around 1300 it was rebuilt to reach its current height, acquiring the characteristic towers, although some towers were not constructed until the 15th century."

In 1525, the merchants of Visby were feuding with Lübeck and the Lübeckers burned down all of Visby's churches except the cathedral. Those ruins remain today, leading some to call Visby the "city of roses and ruins."

And what is Fiskargränd? It appears to translate to "Fish Alley."

The Swedish version of Wikipedia has an entry for Fiskargränd. Running that text through Google's translator and doing a little cleanup, we get this:
Fish Alley is a street of Visby [and] is the most photographed. The area where Fiskargränd lies is popularly called "Fish root" from the 1600s onwards. Fiskargränd, adjoining neighborhood fishermen, has been used as a street name since the 1750s. Climbing roses, among other plants, were planted in the early 1940s. ... Fish Alley is just around the corner from the Botanical Garden.

In December 2004 there was a citizen proposal that Fiskargränd be renamed to Rose Alley. The person wrote "that there are no fish there, but there are at least a thousand roses." The proposal was rebuffed by the Municipality of Gotland, which did not see enough reason to change the name.
I have to agree with the Municipality of Gotland on that one. There's no need to change from the historical name. Fish Alley. Rose Alley. Either way, it looks like a wonderful place to live. So stick with the heritage of Fiskargränd.

1. Pressbyrån, which translates to Press Office, is a Swedish company that evolved from the Swedish Telegraph Bureau and is now primarily a chain of convenience stores. Pressbyrån had its own line of postcards from 1932 to 1966, which helps to give an idea of when this postcard was produced.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A sweet card from Gloria

This is a homemade card1 that a daughter gave to her father, presumably sometime during the Richard Nixon presidency (January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974). It features some lovely artwork by young Gloria.

You can make your own joke about what bright idea President Nixon is having with that light bulb going off above his head.

Young Gloria obviously gets a mulligan for her misspelling of "Mr. Nixion." I was surprised to find, though, that "President Richard Nixion" receives 3,200 hits in Google. So it seems that children aren't the only ones who don't know how to spell Tricky Dick's2 last name.

1. I can't remember where I got this. I think it might have been among the auctioned-off papers and ephemera of a New York state resident.
2. I did not know until now that Nixon's other nicknames included Gloomy Gus, Iron Butt and The Mad Monk. The "List of nicknames of United States presidents" is yet another reason I love Wikipedia.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Plenty of projects in Pack-o-Fun

Here's the cover of the November 1970 issue1 of Pack-o-Fun, a scrap-craft magazine that was first published in 1951 and is still around today. Lyle Clapper, son of the magazine's founders, said in 2004: "It's the oldest craft magazine in existence, certainly nationwide and probably worldwide as well."

According to the Chicago Tribune2, Edna Clapper started the magazine in 1951 with her husband, John, who served as publisher:
As founding editor, Mrs. Clapper was the driving force behind the magazine for 25 years. She insisted on exact, step-by-step directions for her projects and used her children as test subjects.

"They would try it and she would watch them, and if they had a rough time with it, she would adjust it so that it was a workable project," [former Pack-o-Fun editor Kay] Sweeney said.

The first issue of Pack-o-Fun was assembled in her basement using mimeographs and a sewing machine. Three hundred free copies were distributed. When Mrs. Clapper brought her publication to a Cub Scout meeting, every den mother bought a copy, her son said.

Pack-o-Fun might have gained its greatest fame for the role it played in the growth of the sock monkey craze. In 1958, according to Wikipedia, Pack-o-Fun "published 'How to Make Sock Toys', a guide to making different sock animals and dolls with red heeled socks. Frequently cited as being their most popular book ever, this pamphlet went through multiple printings and was being produced in new editions up until the mid-1980s."3

Some of the other contents of this November 1970 issue were:
  • How to make a squash turkey with acorn squash, butternut squash, radishes and red cabbage
  • How to make Christmas decorations with computer punch cards ("the newest of scrap materials")
  • How to make a pioneer church, Conestoga wagon, wishing well and other items from burnt wooden matches
  • How to make a card-table fort with corrugated cardboard
  • How to make birds from pine cones, plastic-foam balls and pipe cleaners
  • The Idea Exchange, featuring reader submissions, including the description of how to make a chair for your dollhouse from a duck's wishbone4, from Mrs. Mary Keenan of Picton, Ontario
  • Handy Hints, also from readers, including this one from Mrs. Robert Homer of Altoona, Pennsylvania: "Paint a small wooden stepladder to match your room. Place plants on each rung for an unusual and attractive plant holder."
  • Submitted Cub Scout photos from across the United States
  • An extensive Pen Pals section5
  • A full-page advertisement for a set of Musical Multiplication Tables records from Bremner Records.

If you're interested in more reminiscing about the history of Pack-o-Fun, here's a great blog entry from Craft Leftovers.

1. This copy was originally received by the Smoketown Elementary School library in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, four decades ago. I'm not sure how many hands it passed through before I bought it for a quarter.
2. This information is from the Tribune's obituary for Edna Clapper.
3. Amazingly, this paragraph represents the first appearance of the word "monkey" on Papergreat. It took me a stunning 79 posts. It's stunning because one of my favorite pastimes used to be posting photos of monkeys on the Internet.
4. That's pretty disgusting.
5. I am sure no magazine has a Pen Pals section like this today. The Pack-o-Fun section features the full name, age, street address and hobbies of many boys and girls, ages 7 to 17.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

From the Notepad: Cool links, Lada Draskovic, Twitter and more

Today's a great day to launch an occasional feature called "From the Notepad", which will include comments from readers, updates on previous entries, random things that have been rolling around in my head1, and a piece of notepad ephemera.

Today's notepad sheet (pictured at right) doubles as a minor mystery. It's from Dietz's Lawn and Garden Store, located one mile north of Stony Brook at R.D. 7 in York, Pennsylvania. At the bottom of the sheet is this "Pappy says" tip: "Garden Tractors, Hand and Power Mowers bought from us are backed by service to give customers satisfaction. Consult us about your lawn and garden problems."

I haven't been able to find anything relating to the existence or history of Dietz's, so I might need to turn to my wonderful wife and her "Ask Joan" column. And, of course, if you have any thoughts or insights on this slip of paper, include them in the comments section.

COOL BLOG OF THE DAY: A reader left the following comment on the "Delving into Henry K. Wampole & Company" entry:
Thanks for the info! I write a blog using my great-grandfather's diary from 1927 and he mentioned buying a bottle of Wampole's. I had no idea what it was and so set off on a search and found your blog! Will add a link for my readers to find out more. My blog is at
Bacling, who describes himself as a "husband, father, pastor, fire and life safety educator" has indeed put together a fascinating blog, using a relative's old journals as a hook to write about the past and present.

Here's an excerpt from the journal entry that discusses Wampole's:
On Thursday, March 31, 1927 Bonnie Elmore wrote: Rain-Cold. Pay Day. Arose at 6:00. Made a fire. Dumped ashes. Left home at 7:45. My eyes hurt very badly. Walked down street at noon. Norman took meat to Scout leaders at 6:30 p.m. to demonstrate campfire cooking. I got haircut also bottle of Wampoles. Shaved after supper. Chilly. We went to bed about 11:00.
If you like that excerpt, you'll definitely want to check out more at Bacling's blog.

MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY: If you've been working hard and perhaps employing a therapist to help block out the images presented in last week's entry on "He-She Jewelry", you might want to move on to the next item.

I mentioned the "cosmic, karmic connection going on here across two continents", with regard to bloggers in England and the United States writing about the same silly piece of ephemera and using the exact same two images.

In response, Chris P. Bohn, the British author of the original "He-She Jewelry" post, has dubbed me his "new favourite writer in the whole wide world" on his current blog, Bohn also describes me as having "exquisite taste," which might cause my wife to gag on her Diet Pepsi.

Anyway, I will continue our intercontinental lovefest by reminding everyone that Bohn's book, "A Modicum of Daftitude" is still available and now sports the ridiculously low price of $7.55. Buy copies today for all your nephews and neighbors!

LADA DRASKOVIC UPDATE: Toward the end of the March 24 entry on "Doll fads of 1960", I mentioned the "sweetniks" dolls created by Yugoslavia's Lada Draskovic (pictured at right), and challenged readers to help find more information about her. There haven't been any volunteers yet, so here's what I have discovered.

In 2003, Edgar Chavasse, who served in the British military in World War II, posted a note on Rodoslovlje, the website of the Serbian Genealogical Society, seeking information on the three children of the Draskovic family. Chavasse wrote: "The eldest Dejan (?) went to University in Italy to study Law. The daughter Lada was also in Italy and the youngest Stojan was killed in 1944/5 and is buried in a small cemetery by the water near Kotor. Their father did not survive the war and their mother was in Dubrovnik in 1947/8. I knew Dejan and Lada in Florence 1944-1946 but then lost touch. If they are alive they will be nearly 80 by now but I would be very grateful for any information."

Chavasse had some success with his research and checked back to the same forum with this update in 2005. (Note: I have cleaned up some typos and punctuation in the following excerpt.)
Let me set out what I know. The family Draskovic was resident in Kotor Bokarska until World War II. I believe that the father may have been executed by Tito's Communist forces in 1944 and that this was reported in the local press. The mother moved to Dubrovnik where she was living in mid 1947 when I visited her there whilst still in the Army and attached to The British Embassy in Belgrade. I also visited and photographed Stojan's grave and was told he had been killed in action against the Germans in 1944. As to Dejan I think he was possibly at Bologna University rather than, say Padova. He was with a group of Italian Partizans north of Assisi and, after the liberation, fell gravely ill in Gubbio during October 1944. I took his sister [Note from Chris: That would be Lada] over to get him from there and brought him back to Florence, where he recovered. That was a hair-raising journey by jeep with no windscreen in bad weather. At the time I was part of a small unit waiting to go into Bologna, but we never achieved it. Lada was working as a receptionist at The Excelsior Hotel in Florence from after the liberation in 1944 until late 1947, when she may have married an Italian businessman in the hardware business. At that time the Excelsior was an Officers Rest Hotel run by the US Army. Unfortunately all their staff records were lost in the postwar flood disaster. The then-manager, "Boris", was transferred to the Danieli in Venice, but has died so there are no leads there.
Later in 2005, Chavasse mentions in a post that he has "succeeded in tracing Lada Draskovic", but doesn't specify what that means or give any further information.

The best hope at this point might be tracking down Chavasse and seeing if he has anything further that he can divulge on what became of Draskovic and her sweetniks of 1960.

TWEETS AND TWITTER: Did you know that you can follow @Papergreat on Twitter? Among other things, you'll get a tweet every time a new post goes up. And I might have an ephemera giveaway through that account sometime down the road, too, so it's a great time to get on board.

I'm a bit of a Twitter addict myself. I follow an eclectic group that includes Phillies beat writers, national news organizations, booksellers, friends, Penn State football sources, meteorologists, authors and a couple of celebrities3.

One thing that has surprised me about Twitter is how its 140-character limit hasn't stopped people from finding ways to deliver eloquent commentaries and rants.

Author Joe Hill (@joe_hill), who is the son of Stephen King, has a fantastic presence on Twitter. He delivered this commentary yesterday, spread over four consecutive tweets:
Comic stores are increasingly becoming pop culture stores & this is a good thing. All of it - comics, vinyl, anime, action figures, games, Bettie Page, old forgotten wonderful TV shows - go together. They represent the totality of something I think matters: the American imagination. Comic stores are imagination shops. In an increasingly digital world, your neighborhood #comicsmarket gives you the chance to own lasting daydreams, not disposable "content."
I couldn't agree more, by the way.

1. It's a scary place up there. I advise you to take a flashlight and a baseball bat.
2. I am considering reworking the banner graphic on Papergreat to include that quote.
3. Oddly, most of the celebrities I follow have a Star Trek connection. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy -- both 80! -- and Wil Wheaton all have great Twitter personalities.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's nothing a little Witch Cream won't cure

This is an undated loose advertisement from a old issue (probably the mid-1890s) of Harper's Magazine1.

The advertisement's description of Witch Cream: "This delightful skin lotion puts out the fire of irritation, arising from Chaps, Salt Rheum and Eczema, and nourishes the skin back to health again, and when well, feeds it. It is the ounce of prevention for all those skin evils."2

In a cute twist, the company that made and sold Witch Cream is C.H. & J. Price of Salem, Massachusetts, the general site of the infamous witchcraft trials of 1692.

Some more tidbits about C.H. & J. Price and Witch Cream:
  • The South Danvers Wizard, reprinting an item from the Salem Observer, reported the following on April 2, 1862: "Destructive Fire in Salem - Extensive fire of the drug and apothecary story [sic] of Messrs. C.H. & J. Price on Essex Street....A.A. Abbott, Esq., who had an office on the second floor, lost about 200 volumes of books."
  • An advertisement for Witch Cream in an 1892 issue of Scribner's Magazine has the following advertising copy: "A Bold Robbery. Jack Frost is a burglar. He breaks through the skin of hands and face and robs it off its freshness and beauty and leaves it chapped and sore. Witch Cream (a delightful skin lotion) is a protection against the thief. Nay, more, it will arrest the rascal and make him restore beauty and freshness to the skin."
  • The Chemist and Druggist, a trade publication, reported in its January 7, 1893, issue that the following trademark was registered in the United States on December 6, 1892:
    "Witch Cream," and figure of a witch, for a medicated toilet preparation, by C.H. & J. Price of Salem, Mass.

I also found a neat clip from the March 17, 1897, edition of Printers' Ink, a journal for advertisers. Fred Goldsmith Walker2 explains in a letter that he writes advertisements for C.H. & J. Price, who are "the largest druggists in the country east of Boston."3

Walker asks the Printers' Ink editorial staff for its opinion of six of his ads, including this one for Witch Cream: "All persons can't be beautiful. They can have a clear skin if they use Witch Cream. To be brief, it's a skin-feeder. Starts right in and nourishes. Easily absorbed, it strikes the bottom strata, and healing begins. Smoothness, clearness and health follow. 25¢ and 50¢ bottle."

The rest of Walker's advertisements, including a second one for Witch Cream, and the positive feedback from Printers' Ink can be read in the below clip:

And now to finish with something completely different. Witch Cream isn't just a medicated lotion from a century ago. Something called "Witch's Cream" is a traditional apple-based recipe from Hungary4.

Here's the full recipe from the aptly named Hungarian Food Recipes website:
Witch's Cream (Hungarian: Boszorkánykrém)
* 1 kg (2 1/2 lbs) apples
* 150 g (5 1/4 oz) sugar
* 1 tablespoon rum
* 1 egg white

Bake the apples in a very hot oven, pass through a sieve, and before it cools, add the rum, sugar and egg white, and beat until stiff.

Tip: for a nice touch, decorate the top with berries or a wafer (or both!)
If you make it, let me know how it turns out.

1. Harper's was launched in 1850 and is the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the United States, behind Scientific American.
2. Mr. Walker also wrote an obscure book of poetry titled "My Leisure Moments", which was published in 1892 by Barry & Lufkin.
3. Ha. Think about that for a second.
4. Fun fact: Hungary is in the top four countries for Papergreat page views. So I'm trying to appeal to my eastern European fans a bit.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Worst Christmas present ever?

This old Christmas list was tucked away inside a hardcover edition of H.B. Gilmour's "So Long, Daddy".

It has a fairly typical roll call of presents. Sandra & Louie and Joan & Fred are getting bedspreads. Ellen & Jim are getting a copy of "The Wizard of Oz" (Book? VHS? DVD?). Others are getting shirts, dolls, gloves, can openers and perfume. Typical Christmas presents.

And then there's Loretta.

Loretta must have really ticked someone off that year.

Next to her name on the list is written "plague".

Which raises a lot of questions. First, what kind of plague? Bubonic? Septicemic? Pneumonic? Or perhaps Loretta got one of the Biblical Plagues, and came downstairs to a Christmas tree surrounded by frogs or locusts.

Also, where does one shop for the plague? Does is come safely packaged?

I wonder if they ever got a thank-you note from Loretta. If they did, it might have been best not to open it.


OK, some readers are already pointing out that Loretta clearly received a plaque for Christmas, not the plague. To which I would reply:

1. Yes, but that's not nearly as interesting or fun. Who wants to read a blog entry about a plaque?
2. It sure looks like a "g" to me, and not a "q".

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The dragon went always more quickly

This illustration is from the 1939 edition of "Contes Et Legendes (Premiere Partie)" by H.A. Guerber. It was part of Harrap's Modern Language Series.

From Guerber's preface1:
"This little collection of Legends and Fairy Tales is intended merely as an introduction to general French reading. The stories have been told as simply as possible, with infinite repetition of the same words and idioms to enable the pupil to obtain a good vocabulary almost unconsciously. They have also been narrated as graphically as practicable to arouse an interest in the plot, to stimulate curiosity, and thereby induce the pupil to read to the end.

"With the exception of the first tale of the series, for which I have purposely selected the common nursery story, 'The Three Bears,' I have carefully avoided the tales which are most familiar, or have given them in some unusual version, so that only by knowing the meaning of the words the sense of the story can be obtained."
The French caption on the above fantastical image states: "Le dragon allait toujours plus vite".

According to the now-vanished website Yahoo! Babel Fish2, that translates to: "The dragon went always more quickly".

1. The full text of the book is available at Project Gutenberg.
2. Yahoo! Babel Fish was named after the fictional animal used for language translation in Douglas Adams' series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The fish name is a reference to the biblical account of the city of Babel. I was informed in December 2019 that Yahoo! Babel Fish has been gone for more than five years, but this article by Brenda Barron on is a good look at the rise and fall of that website.