Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday's postcard: Mighty Mouse Stops an Evil Plan

This isn't precisely a postcard, but it's the same size and dimensions. It's Post Cereals' Mighty Mouse Mystery Color Picture No. 1 from 1957. It was probably originally packed inside a box of Post Sugar Crisp1, as Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide states that "Mighty Mouse championed Sugar Crisp in 1957."2

The back of the Mystery Color Picture states:
"Here the champion of the Mouse Kingdom, Mighty Mouse, is on his way to crush an evil plan. This mean character will try anything to win. What evil is behind is behind the walls of the house?

"To find the answer just apply water to the picture with a brush or piece of cotton and -- presto! the answer appears in color. Collect all six Mighty Mouse color pictures and solve the other mysteries."
The water was applied to front of the card long ago, as you can see above, revealing the villain to be "Sylvester the Fox in his laboratory."

Some of the other card fronts from this series can be seen on the Neato Coolville blog.

1. Post Sugar Crisp is also mentioned in the July 10 Papergreat post "Breakfast ideas from Tang with a space shuttle theme."
2. Some other cartoon characters that "championed" Sugar Crisp, according to Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide, were: Dandy, Handy, and Candy (three identical bears); Sugar Bear; Granny Goodwitch (voiced by Ruth Buzzi); and Li'l Abner.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Science stories of October 1935,
Part 1: "No Men on Mars..."

Returning again to those clippings from the late-October 1935 issues of the St. Paul (Minn.) Dispatch1, here is the first of a trio of science-related stories that jumped out at me.

In this article, Harvard professor Loring B. Andrews declares in a public lecture that Mars is "definitely not inhabited."2 Loring states:
"The old question, 'Is there life on Mars?' has been definitely decided by recent observational evidence which shows that the atmosphere of the planet contains only one quarter of 1 per cent as much oxygen as does the earth's atmosphere at sea level.

"Human beings, such as inhabit the earth, would find life very difficult under this condition, far more extreme than the lack of oxygen at the top of high mountains."
Andrews -- surely to the delight of science-fiction writers -- does leave the door open for the possibility that there had been life on Mars in the past:
"If in the past there was greater abundance of oxygen, human beings might have dwelt there, for the temperature conditions are not too extreme and there is available a supply of water, even though it is a meager one."
The topic of water on Mars was in the news again recently. NASA issued this news release on August 4, 2011:
PASADENA, Calif. - Observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars.

"NASA's Mars Exploration Program keeps bringing us closer to determining whether the Red Planet could harbor life in some form,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “and it reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration."
One final note: I find it interesting that, almost exactly three years after this St. Paul Dispatch article about Mars was published, Orson Welles sent the nation into a panic with his Halloween radio performance of "The War of the Worlds" by The Mercury Theatre on the Air.3

I'll put up the other two 1935 science stories, spotlighting telescopes and gold, as bonus posts over the next few days.

1. Previous posts to reference clippings from these Dispatch newspapers include:
2. A longer article about Andrews' 1935 Mars lecture has been archived online by The Harvard Crimson.
3. Did you know that Norman Lloyd, who was a member of Welles' Mercury Theatre, is still alive and will turn 97 in early November? Lloyd, whose career included working with Alfred Hitchcock and portraying Dr. Daniel Auschlander on "St. Elsewhere," and his wife Peggy celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary on June 29, 2011.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Ruth Manning-Sanders tale in Cricket magazine

While I was sorting through a stash of old Cricket magazines, I was delighted to find that one of them contained a story by Ruth Manning-Sanders, the folk and fairy tale author I mention often in posts and asides on this blog.1

Cricket has been around since 1973 and is described as "The New Yorker for children." It has always had a strong editorial board. For this January 1980 issue, the board included Lloyd Alexander (author of The Chronicles of Prydain, which was one of my bridges to J.R.R. Tolkein), Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Virginia Haviland.

Who has memories of reading Cricket as a child or has a subscription to Cricket for their children or grandchildren today?

The Manning-Sanders tale contained in this issue of Cricket is "The Teapot Sprout," an Irish folk tale. It had been originally published a couple of years earlier in the Manning-Sanders anthology "A Book of Kings and Queens."2

The tale in Cricket has been adapted slightly from the version in the book. It's been tightened and shortened a bit. And some of the vocabulary has been tweaked for the magazine's readership. For example, the phrase from the book "my kerchief round my head to keep off the draughts" has been changed to "my kerchief round my head to keep off the drafts."

Also, the Cricket version features illustrations by Jan Brett, not the original illustration for this tale by Robin Jacques that appeared in "A Book of Kings of Queens."

1. And with her 125th birthday coming up later this month, you can expect to be reading even more about her on Papergreat.
2. "A Book of Kings and Queens" also includes tales from the Greek Isles, Russia, Sicily, Madagascar, Czechoslovakia, Pomerania and Bosnia. Manning-Sanders retold stories from all over the world in her anthologies, and usually did a great job of noting the source country or region for each tale. As a further aside, one of the tales in "A Book of Kings and Queens" is "The Two Enemy Kings," which features a primary character named Otto.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two mysteries: Who were these people? What did they did do?

I picked up both of today's intriguing pieces of ephemera at a one-of-a-kind antiques store in York New Salem, Pennsylvania. The shop, which is only open two days per week, is like the coolest attic in the world. The shelves are filled haphazardly with boxes full of receipts, postcards, magazines, greeting cards, photos, church bulletins and much more. Every trip there is a treasure hunt for paper, sorting through stuff that miraculously wasn't thrown out decades ago.

Both of today's items are mysteries (my favorite kind of ephemera). The above postcard has had the corner with its stamp torn off. But clues remain. The back of the card has:
  • A postmark from Scranton, Pennsylvania, dated 4 p.m. on June 10, 1908.
  • It's addressed to Mrs. Ray B. Barr in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
  • The tiny print states: "Souvenir Post Card Co., New York. Printed in Germany."
  • This line is also printed on the card: "This space may be used for correspondence after March 1st, 1907."
But there is nothing on the back of the card to indicate the who, what and where of the image on the front of the card. In the upper-left corner on the front of the card, there are some tiny words in red ink. But they've faded and, more importantly, most of the words were eliminated when the stamp was torn off. Can anyone zoom in on that part of the postcard (click on the image above to make it larger) and make out those partial words?

So who are these people? My best guess is that they are child laborers awaiting a shift in a (northeastern Pennsylvania?) coal mine. The postcard is circa 1907, about three decades before any serious legislation against child labor was enacted in the United States. Why you want want to highlight your child workforce in a postcard is another question entirely.

Who were these kids? Did they know they were being photographed for a postcard? What were their lives like? How many of them died young in the mines? Sometimes, when I see children in the corners of postcards -- like the boy from this postcard whose image is magnified at right -- I wonder what their names were and what they were thinking on these days when their image was captured.

Along those lines, another postcard that I have featured previously on Papergreat contains a fascinating image of a young girl sitting on the street. Here's a close-up of that girl, from the postcard of Møntestræde in Odense, Denmark.

Today's second item, pictured below, is an undated photo. Another mystery photo, although at least we apparently have a name for this woman. At some point, the photo was pasted to a piece of envelope, which contains a postmark for 8 a.m. on February 2, 1907, in Columbia, Pennsylvania. And written in pencil is "Aunt Lucy Gilbert."

We'll likely never know any more than that about Aunt Lucy...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Baseball-themed advertisements from a 1953 Phillies scorecard

In the late 1990s, I acquired a "1953 Official Score Card" for the Philadelphia Phillies. It's a treasure trove of baseball information, vintage illustrations and advertising that gives a wonderful snapshot of Philadelphia-area businesses and commerce nearly six decades ago.

Reeling off a lineup of the company names within would certainly create a wave of nostalgia for those who remember this era: Philco, Roper, Blatz, Hygrade's, Ortlieb's, Old Gold, Squirt...

For today's post, I am focusing on some of the advertisements from the scorecard that specifically incorporated baseball themes.

Leading off is a quarter-page advertisement for Sealtest ice cream that made its point with very few words:

This advertisement for Philadelphia clothier Krass Bros.1 offered a "complete wardrobe" to the first Phillies players who achieved certain statistical milestones.

Here, Phillies pitcher Robin Roberts made a pitch for Gem Duridium razor blades.

There's a themed page with eight advertisements and a headline that states "YOU'RE SAFE! ..... WHEN YOU PATRONIZE THESE RELIABLE FIRMS."

I chuckled at one of the juxtapositions on that page, shown below.

Finally, here's an advertisement for Philadelphia Electric Company that includes a nifty illustration of a lightning-bolt baseball player.

1. Krass Brothers was even more well-known, in later years, for a series of commercials that aired in the Philadelphia area. Those are documented and remembered on Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, The Blog of Death, and The Consumerist.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Edward Heck's $75 permit for the 1950 Bloomsburg Fair

This is Edward Heck's 1950 vendor permit for the Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania) Fair. He paid a fairly hefty $75 for it.1 On the "For privilege of" line on the permit, it looks like "Nov." is written in cursive, so perhaps Mr. Heck was in the novelties business. (I wonder if the novelties in 1950 were any nicer than the prizes you get to bring home from a typical fair these days.)

Heck's permit was issued by Ray Reifendifer. On the history section of the Bloomsburg Fair's website, it states that Reifendifer was the fair's superintendent of concessions in 1954, so he was likely one of their key personnel for many years.

Here are some of the "rules, terms and conditions" of the permit, as stated on the reverse side:
  • The business for which this privilege is granted shall at all times be subject to inspection by the officials or agents of the Bloomsburg Fair Association, as to its proper and legal conduct. Said Association to be the sole judge of this, and shall have power to annul the privilege immediately, if thought to be for the best interest of the Association.
  • This permit entitles the holder to sell and carry on such business only as mentioned on the face hereof. All gambling, buy backs, skillows2, drop cases, roll downs, tracks, pick outs, dart games, sheet writers, auction jams, pitch games, big six, immoral, vulgar, suggestive shows, shows for men only, displays or performances, and all controlled games are positively prohibited or any other that the Association may see fit to prohibit.
  • Be sure to have all supplies needed for each day on the ground before 10:00 o'clock in the morning. No delivery trucks will be admitted or allowed on the ground after that hour.
  • Electric current and connection from the poles is available at the concessioner's expense.
If your appetite is now whetted for that early autumn tradition of rides, ring tosses and funnel cakes, the 157th annual Bloomsburg Fair is slated for September 24 through October 1 and will feature Kenny Rogers, Cheap Trick, a truck and tractor pull, a demolition derby and much more.

Here in York, we don't have to wait quite as long. The York Fair, which claims to be America's oldest3, will be held from September 9-18.

My wife documents our family's annual trips to the fair on her blog, Only in York County. Here are two of her "Joan goes the fair" posts from 2010:

Hypnosis, potted plants and more carbs than you can shake a stick at
Demolition derby, sad rodents and even more carbs

1. A permit fee of $75 in 1950 would be the equivalent of about $671 in 2010 dollars, according to The Inflation Calculator.
2. Anyone know what "skillows" are?
3. From the York Fair's history page: "The traditions of fairs in the New World began with the York Fair, America’s first fair, held in the historic old Town of York in 1765, eleven years before the nation was founded. A charter to hold that fair was granted to the people of York by Thomas Penn, son of William Penn in recognition of 'the flourishing state to which the town hath arrived through their industry.' Those early gatherings were reported to have been 'the liveliest days of the whole year.'"

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Curious book cover: "Bridge Babies"

Here's a book you don't stumble across every day. It's "Bridge Babies," a 1961 staplebound paperback by Dorothy W. Wilson.

The book consists entirely of pictures of babies' faces on the right-hand pages and typical bridge comments or retorts on the left-hand pages. That's it.

So here's a typical pair of pages:

Yes, I find it a little bit creepy, too. But, then again, my generation allowed "Baby Geniuses"1 and "Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2"2 to come into the world, so I'm really not in a position to be critical on this matter.

"Bridge Babies" was published by Heines Publishing Company of Minneapolis. The company, for which John C. Heines was the president/treasurer, is no longer in business.

Heines Publishing Co. specialized in bridge books and playing supplies. Most notably, it published several popular books by Charles Goren, also known as "Mr. Bridge."

1. "Baby Geniuses" was directed by the late Bob Clark, who also brought us such wide-ranging films as "A Christmas Story," "Porky's," "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things,"1 and "Turk 182!" And if that schizophrenic collection of nostalgia, sex, zombies and blue-collar schmaltz doesn't perfectly encapsulate my generation, I don't know what does.
2. "Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2" features Scott Baio as "Stan Bobbins." Just FYI.

Secondary footnote
1. See Footnote #4 on my May 27 post.