Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday's postcard: "Unusually High Tide"

This undated and unused postcard, most likely from the middle to late 1960s1, is promoting The Marine Room Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge in La Jolla, California. The caption simply states "Unusually High Tide".

To me, it looks like a publicity still for an Irwin Allen film.2

The Marine Room (I believe the "Cocktail Lounge" portion of the title is no longer in use) is now in its 70th year of operation and doing quite well as a prestigious dining establishment in extreme southern California.

Here's an excerpt from the restaurant's website:
For generations of San Diegans, the “Seahorse” symbol of The Marine Room has long stood for its dramatic on-the-surf location and award-winning cuisine by Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine Ron Oliver. Considering this rare blend of culinary excellence, uncompromising service and beachfront setting, it’s no wonder The Marine Room has become a true San Diego landmark. Simply stated, this is fine dining at its finest.

Opened in 1941, The Marine Room quickly became famous as pounding surf created dramatic displays against the restaurant's windows. For more than half a century, celebrities, world figures, residents, and visitors have made it a habit to enjoy the spectacular panoramic views of the Pacific and exceptional cuisine. We invite you to San Diego's premier dining destination and experience how each tide brings something new to The Marine Room.
In fact, today's Papergreat post has unintentionally good timing, because The Marine Room is celebrating is 70th anniversary in the entire month of May with some special offerings. According to the website: "The Marine Room opened on May 29, 19413 with a menu of Fresh Lobster a la Newburg in a shell for $1.35, Rainbow Mountain Trout Saute Amandine for $1.25 and Martinis for $0.35. For the month of May, three specials ... including two new twists on the original menu, will be available, including Maine Lobster, Scallop and Prawn Newburg, Ancient Mariner Style Alaskan Halibut and Free Range Veal Chop Oscar."

Another neat thing about The Marine Room is that it's fully on board with the digital and social-networking eras. The restaurant has an email newsletter, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a promotional YouTube video. It also offers Foursquare check-in. How many restaurants that opened in 1941 can say that?

1. Here's another image of the postcard, only it's a black-and-white version and includes a different caption on the back.
2. Perhaps the 1976 made-for-television movie "Flood!", which starred York County's own Cameron Mitchell?
3. Way off on an tangent: May 29, 1941, is also the birthdate of more Major League Baseball player John Edward Kennedy, who has a fascinating life story and some interesting connections with President John F. Kennedy.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Down South, the lost ephemera of lives torn apart

The American South is just starting the long process of picking up the pieces and putting itself back together in the aftermath of this week's devastating round of tornadoes that killed more than 300 people.

In the wake of the tragedy, a fascinating and heartening project has emerged on Facebook: a page titled "Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes".

Nobody is pretending that the scattered ephemera of so many shattered communites and households should be given priority at this moment. Those in the South who were affected need medical care, clean water, food and places to sleep.

But if getting back that irreplaceable picture of a baby or a great-grandmother can help some survivors reclaim a piece of their lives or their family history, that's worth something, right?

So, as thousands of pieces of paper were blown miles from their original location and even into adjacent states, a curious thing happened. Someone decided that, instead of stuffing all of that "trash" into garbage bags and sending it to a landfill or incinerator, they would post images of the photos, letters and documents -- some only tattered scraps and pieces -- on Facebook and see if the owners can eventually be found.

It is one of the most innovative and noble uses of Facebook I've seen.

Here are a few more of the hundreds of images of found photos and ephemera that have been posted on Facebook:

All of these images -- and contact information for the people who found them -- can be found on "Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes". Check it out, and please spread the word. Anyone in the world might be able to identify some of the people in these photos or names on these documents.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Beautiful handmade bookmark and the "Alice and Jerry" readers

This fine piece of child's artwork -- a smiling sun and a teepee resting on a rainbow-colored plain -- was being used as a bookmark inside a 1957 copy of "Guidebook for Round About" by Mabel O'Donnell.1

On the back of the bookmark is a pencil drawing and what is presumably the young artist's full signature in cursive. I cannot make out the entire middle name, so the most accurate I can be is to say her name is Debbie L. Schell.

"Guidebook for Round About" was part of The Alice and Jerry Basic Reading Program, which was a lesser-known alternative to the Dick and Jane basal readers.

When it came to tracking down information on the "Alice and Jerry" series, I found two fellow bloggers and one geneaology newsletter that provided some history and insight.

1. On Alana's Vintage Collectibles, Alana wrote a November 2010 entry that states that the "Alice and Jerry" series was published between 1936 and 1966. Primary author O'Donnell2 set the book in the fictional towns of Hastings Mills and Friendly Village, but those locations and characters were based on the real town of Aurora, Illinois, and some of its inhabitants.

2. On Prairie Bluestem, Genevieve L. Netz wrote a March 2006 entry in which she remembers enjoying O'Donnell's books as a schoolgirl. Netz writes:
Modern reading texts are a hodge-podge of stories, poems, plays, and so on, drawn from every culture imaginable. The Alice and Jerry books taught children to read through interesting stories about American children in authentic, historic settings. In the four Alice and Jerry readers I know best, each chapter in the book continues the story from previous chapters. The books follow a group of children through a year (or thereabouts) of their life.
3. Finally, in the January 2005 edition of "Self Seekers"3, Barbara Peck wrote an article titled "Singing Wheels." In her introduction, Peck writes: "[Y]ou just may have been one of the small minority that read the 'Alice and Jerry' series. And just when you were getting tired of these children and their inevitable dog (named Jip), you had a pleasant surprise waiting for you! When you reached the fourth grade, you began a whole new story -- an entire book of over 300 pages -- called 'Singing Wheels.'"

Peck reviews "Singing Wheels" and its plot in fascinating depth. Most significantly, she expounds on the "geneaological implications" of O'Donnell's books:
As I became re-acquainted with both books, I realized that they taught me my first lessons about genealogy. As "Singing Wheels" begins, 9-year-old children can instantly relate to a boy and his family, even if they live in other times. But when they start "Engine Whistles" one grade later, they suddenly discover that "Tom" is not the person they remember, but rather, his son. In the space of a little over 300 pages, new characters with familiar names are introduced and old characters disappear--a clear instance of given names being "handed down" to another generation. While Ms. O'Donnell never really mentions "death" or "dying," the reader soon realizes that time has passed in the story--and people have, too.

This is the first and only children's book series I recall that dealt with genealogy in any way. Even though that "big word" was never written in its pages--and even though the author merely alludes to the ebb and flow of the generational tide--she clearly implies a genealogical interest and imparts her enthusiasm to young children in an entertaining way. We've said this before: family history and research, formerly thought to be a pastime only of the elderly, doesn't have to be boring. It can be made fun for even the youngest reader, as Ms. O'Donnell managed to do in her books. A popular classroom activity that illustrates genealogical continuity is assigning students to draw a "tree" of the Hastings Family from 1850 to 1950...and the next logical step is to encourage them to make their own chart as far back as they can find out from their own relatives.
Peck's article is a great read and shows how important of an author O'Donnell was, even if her books didn't achieve the everlasting fame of the "Dick and Jane" readers.

1. I acquired this book from a wonderful lady who lives in Glen Rock.
2. Here's a facsimile of a Sept. 18, 1954, Aurora Beacon-News article about O'Donnell. There's some tremendous primary-source information in there.
3. "Self Seekers" is the The Self Family Association Quarterly Online Newsletter Supplement.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why don't I own this? ("Gianni and the Ogre" Edition)

Years ago, I acquired a used copy of Ruth Manning-Sanders' folk-tale anthology "Gianni and the Ogre". But the copy I bought didn't have the original dust jacket.

So I do not own the beautiful dust jacket illustration by William Stobbs, which is pictured above.

This rankles me.

That is all. Have a pleasant night.

Tree quiz from "The Fun Encyclopedia"

This is an old, typewritten1 list that was tucked away inside a copy of E.O. Harbin's thick 1940 tome "The Fun Encyclopedia (A Comprehensive, All-purpose, Entertainment Plan-book for the Home, Club, School, Church, and Playground)".

Harbin's 1,008-page book is certainly comprehensive. It contains entries on tongue twisters, match tricks, brain teasers, holding banquets, magic, tag, picnic games, icebreakers, storytelling, treasure hunts, folk games, amateur plays, puppets, general and seasonal parties, finger plays, how to be a good hostess2, musical games and much, much more.

This typewritten list seems to be adapted from a section of the book that describe how to hold a tree picnic in June. It includes this subsection:
Tree Riddles.--
Which is the straightest tree that grows? Plum.
Which tree is made of stone? Lime.
Which tree is older than others? Elder.
Which tree languishes? Pine.
Which tree is found after a fire? Ash.
Which tree keeps milady3 warm? Fir.
Which tree is often kept in bottles? Cork.
Which tree is homely? Plane.
Which tree do you carry in your hand? Palm.
Which tree reminds you of a couple? Pear.
What tree suggests your sweetheart? Peach.
What tree is sticky, but good to chew? Gum.
What tree suggests a color? Redwood.
What tree suggests clothes? Cottonwood.
What tree is an insect? Locust.
Whoever typed up their own list of tree riddles obviously took some inspiration from the above passage in "The Fun Encyclopedia". Some clues are similar, while others are new. How many can you figure out?

1. Just this week, there have been some news reports about the (possibly premature) death knell for typewriters. See, for example, "The typewriter's day is nearly done" and "Last typewriters for sale? Not so fast, U.S. firm says".
2. Harbin writes: "Believe it or not, being a hostess can be fun. ... A 'charming hostess' is marked by the following qualities: modesty, sincerity, poise, sympathy, tact, perfect manners, ingenuity, and good taste."
3. Milady (from "my lady") is an English term of address to a noble woman. It is the female form of milord.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Florida's famed Cypress Gardens and the aquamaids

(This entry is a reworking of a pair of posts that originally appeared on Relics, a now-vanished blog that was the precursor to Papergreat, in January 2010.)

Pictured above is the front cover of a pocket-sized, fold-out brochure for Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida. It is from the 1950s or 1960s. Inside, the brochure touts:
"The world famous aquamaids and champions star in four water ski shows daily. 'America's Tropical Wonderland,' a combination of beautiful girls in old fashions amid settings of tropical plants and flowers. Truly a photographer's paradise featured in movies, television, newsreels and magazine covers."
The admission rates printed on the brochure were $1.50 or $2, depending on the time of year. Children ages 12 to 16 got in for a mere 35 cents, while children under age 12 got in for free.

The aquamaids were the big attraction. They were even featured in the 1953 MGM Technicolor musical "Easy to Love", starring Esther Williams.

Williams is still with us at age 89, by the way.

Sadly, though, Cypress Gardens is not.

Despite several attempts to save it in the past decade and smart ideas from bloggers like Garland Pollard, the park's doors were closed for good in September 2009. In January 2010, Merlin Entertainments bought Cypress Gardens and announced that it would be turned into Legoland Florida, which is slated to open in October 2011.

Pictured at right is a directory of Florida attractions from the same vintage Cypress Gardens brochure. (Click on the image for a larger version that you can read.) How many of these attractions are still around? How many have been razed? And how many are just deteriorating by the side of the road, as cars race by to somewhere else?

I found an interesting 2007 Washington Post article by Susan Harb that touches on Cypress Gardens (two years before its final demise) and other vanishing roadside attractions in Florida.

Harb wrote: "More than 150 Florida roadside attractions have closed since the heyday of the 1950s and '60s. Victims of interstates that bypassed the two-lane amusements, changing tastes in entertainment and stricter government regulations, many of Florida's mom-and-pop sites are on the endangered list."

The September 11 terror attacks took a toll, too, causing some potential travelers to remain at home.

For her article, Harb revisited Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Cypress Gardens, Spongeorama in Tarpon Springs and Weeki Wachee Springs to get the pulse of those Florida attractions.

Of Cypress Gardens, she wrote: "The aquamaids no longer wear tutus and tiaras, the human pyramid on skis is only three persons high, not four, and the audience has to listen to a half-dozen endorsements before the show begins. But the Cypress Gardens skiers are still doing their signature stunts -- barefooted, backward, over ramps and with a pair of wings."

But that only lasted for another 20 months or so after Harb's visit.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Enterprise roasted coffee Victorian trade card

This piece of ephemera, which was deep inside a box of loose ends picked up at an auction this past winter, is a card that's 2 and 1/4 inches wide by 3 and 7/16 inches deep. The girl in the foreground appears to be holding sticks of peppermint in both hands. Printed on the back of the card, in blue capital letters, is:


I think that Enterprise was a company located in Baltimore. In 1898, Enterprise Coffee Company of Baltimore received two U.S. patents for "roasted coffee" and one for "mixed tea".1

When I researched this entry, a couple other samples of these cards could be found when doing a search for "Enterprise Roasted Coffee" on eBay.2

Victorian trade cards, of which this is one, are a huge and popular subdivision within the world of ephemera. In the article "Advertising Trade Cards" on The Trade Card Place website, Burt Purmell writes:
With the opening of the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, printed ephemera met color lithography head on. Until then, color was used sparingly in trade card production. Centennial Exhibitors put thousands of these bright little pasteboard salesmen into the hands of a product hungry public. Grocers handed them out for every imaginable product, from soap to soup! In some cases cards were put right into packaging. They set off a collecting craze and people saved the cards with a passion right into the 1890s. Many an evening was spent pasting them into ornately covered scrapbooks. Wise "admen" of the era knew that a product or service would seldom be forgotten once a collection was started.
I wouldn't even be able to scratch the surface on the history and accumulated information regarding Victorian trade cards here on Papergreat. So if your interest is piqued, I recommend that you surf elsewhere for more information. The Trade Card Place seems like a terrific place to start.

1. The article "Development of the green and roasted coffee business in the United States" has a list that indicates that "Enterprise Coffee Co." imported 1,811 bags of Brazil coffee to Baltimore in 1894.
2. And here's another eBay item that seems to seal the deal on Enterprise's Baltimore location. Check out the full item listing to see the interesting back of the card.