Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday's postcard: Aerial view of Wrangell, Alaska

Here's a postcard from the early 1970s along with some facts and background about Wrangell, Alaska, that I have "wrangled" for you:

1. It's really in the middle of nowhere, way down in the southeastern panhandle of Alaska. If you want to get to or from Wrangell, you're going to need an airplane or ferry. Traveling by a combination of ferry and car, the closest major city is Juneau, Alaska, which is only 200 miles away but the trip apparently takes about 12 hours.1

2. To get from Wrangell to Anchorage, Alaska, using only car and ferry, would be a 1,022-mile journey taking 34 hours. By comparison, it's 1,077 miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Des Moines, Iowa, and that trip would only take you about 17 hours by car -- half the time.

3. While Wrangell Island has been occupied by the Tlingit peoples2 for thousands of years, Wrangell, in the northwestern corner of the island, is a non-native settlement.
Russians began fur-trading at the site in 1811. In 1834, Baron Ferdinand Friedrich Georg Ludwig von Wrangel (pictured at right), who was in charge of Russian government interests in Russian America, ordered a stockade built in the middle of what is now Wrangell Harbor. This is considered the founding date of the city, which passed to British hands in 18393 and American hands in 1867.

4. The "Wrangell History" page on the Wrangell Chamber of Commerce website contains some fascinating tidbits that have been compiled by Pat Roppel and the Friends of the Library. Check it out and read all about a "prohibition drink" that involves raisin pie, yeast, water and a hot stove; a colorful description of the city at the turn of the 20th century; seafaring superstitions and more.

5. The aforementioned chamber of commerce website also lists the "perks" of living in Wrangell, which include:
  • Parents welcome in school
  • No gangs
  • Volunteer in schools
  • Fantastic Public Library with Free Internet Access
  • Medical Facility with Doctors on staff
  • Wrangell Fire Department has excellent response time
  • Senior Citizen Meals on Wheels
Also, my wife would be pleased to to hear that Wrangell offers workshops and classes for scrapbooking.

6. Wrangell has a newspaper, the Wrangell Sentinel, which claims to be the oldest continually publishing newspaper in Alaska. And it has a library -- the Irene Ingle Public Library. But it does not appear to have its own bookstore.

Opportunity knocking?

1. All travel times and distances are from Mapquest.
2. The Native Languages of the Americas website has a outstanding collection of links to Tlingit folklore, legends and mythology. One of the important mythological figures is "Property Woman," a spirit with curly hair who brings prosperity to anybody who catches sight of her.
3. The British Hudson's Bay Company leased the fort in 1839 and named the stockade Fort Stikine.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Some wonderful reading elsewhere on the web

The internet is so crammed full of great stuff that we should never be at a loss for finding something interesting to read. But sometimes it's just a matter of giving each other recommendations about where to find the truly cool stuff.

Here's a collection of terrific sites where you can read about ephemera, books, history and more.

Do you have a great site to suggest along these lines? Include it in the comments below. I love finding new places to add to my favorites!

On the Ephemeraology blog, Mel Kolstad has had terrific recent posts on block type and tokens.

On Forgotten Bookmarks, Michael Popek has featured a fascinating old sports team photo and a movie inside a book. (Also, check out Popek's "Forgotten Bookmarks" book that's coming out later this year!)

On A Pretty Book, JT Anthony has had dandy recent posts regarding books about Texas and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."

On Preserving York, Blake Stough has authored some nifty entries on an old photo of schoolchildren and an old vaccination certificate.

On Rebecca Joines Schinsky's The Book Lady's Blog, in addition to a gaggle of great reading suggestions (including "The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City" by Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti), recent posts have included Mid-Year Reflections on Book Polygamy and The Top Ten Books That Influenced J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tracy's Toys (and Some Other Stuff) featured an entry about the comical-looking 1968 board game Pie Face.

On Odd Things I've Seen, J.W. Ocker saddles up beside a life-size portrait of "The Picture of Dorian Gray."

Finally, as today is Friday, you should be checking out the Friday Reads website! Happy surfing!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Julie got an A on her spelling test

This old spelling test was tucked away inside a tanned old copy of "Cyrano de Bergerac" by Edmond Rostand.

Julie Mudge did well on her 20-word test, spelling everything but destinies correctly. She aced resort, martial, forging, supplication, remonstrated, tyrannical, indulge, inviolate, basely, cope, formidable, adversary, irresolution, supinely, delusive, phantom, invincible, vigilant and inevitable.

Belated kudos to Julie Mudge for her excellent effort!

Also, I like the way she dots her i's.


I think there's a strong likelihood that Julie Mudge is the late Julie Mudge Caruso of Hanover, Pennsylvania, who passed away earlier this year at age 74.

Advertisement for Hires Root Beer from 1892 children's magazine

Sorry I was away for a couple days! It's been kind of the perfect storm (somewhat literally) of (1) a thunderbumper that fried our home computer's hard drive; (2) an extremely long day at work on the first day of high school sports practice in Pennsylvania; (3) and then, happily, the Otto family taking a mini-vacation to see my mom in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, and attend a Phillies game.1

But I have a couple makeshift tricks up my sleeve to get things rolling again...

Here's an advertisement for Hires Root Beer that took up one quarter of the back cover of the June 1892 issue of Wide Awake, a children's magazine:

Wide Awake was published monthly from July 1875 until August 1893 by Daniel Lothrop. It was eventually merged with another magazine of its type -- St. Nicholas.2

1. Final score: Phillies 9, Diamondbacks 2. Most amusing moment: Watching Phillies rookie reliever Michael Schwimer walk to and from the bullpen while sporting a pink Hello Kitty backpack, part of the bullpen's hazing ritual.
2. I highly recommend the detailed history of St. Nicholas magazine that the website Flying Dreams has put together. It's a truly stellar and historically valuable labor of love.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reader comments: Lincoln life mask, Sweetniks and more

Papergreat received much higher web traffic last week after Stephanie Clifford's article in The New York Times titled "Shopper Receipts Join Paperless Age," which includes a mention of this website and linked to the post "An old receipt from L.B. Hantz, contractor, of York."

Thanks in part to that increased traffic, I have another great collection of reader comments to share today. Continued thanks to everyone for making this blog such a participatory experience. It's even more fun we we're working together to dig up fascinating tidbits and tangents. Now, without further ado...

The Life of Abraham Lincoln For Young Folks: Rik Peirson writes: "Out of the blue, I know ... but I have one of the only few Lincoln life masks in captivity -- it's a Clark Mills mask -- done just 56 days before Lincoln's assassination -- given to my grandfather, Ellis Mills Frost, M.D., by the sculptor's son. I'm trying to sell the mask (circa $35K). If anyone has an interest, we have a web page up with pictures and provenance -- at"

Checking out Peirson's site, here's some further information on the life mask, which is pictured above in an image from his website:
"Lincoln allowed only two castings of his face. One was done by Leonard Volk in 1860, before the Civil War, and this one by sculptor Clark Mills. Because of the Mills casting process and because of the proximity of this casting to both the end of the Civil War and just 56 days before Lincoln's assassination at Ford Theater, the Mills mask is usually considered to be superior in both physical and historical quality. As closely as we can determine, there are only five known copies done by Mills. One is in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. ... Also, as closely as we can determine, Theodore August Mills was employed for some time by the Carnegie Institute and Museum in Pittsburgh, and during that time, conveyed one copy of the mask to my grandfather, Ellis Mills Frost, M.D., who was a long-time Pittsburgher. ... The mask was broken in storage in Pittsburgh, though luckily the face remained entirely intact. The pieces of the mask have been carefully kept, waiting for [restoration]."
Weekend postcards: Rome and Milan in black and white: An anonymous reader writes: "I think that in the postcard of Rome it's written 'FORO' and not 'FORD.'

You are correct, and I have fixed the blog entry. Thanks, Anonymous!

An old receipt from L.B. Hantz, contractor, of York: After its mention in The New York Times, this post received several new comments:
  • Nicole Belolan writes: "I found your blog thanks to the Times article! I share your love of ephemera. I thought you might be interested in this 1866 shoe receipt from York County, PA:"
  • stephan!e lee (yes, that's an exclamation point) writes: "Great site! I'm glad I found you, also through the Times article. I've been collecting paper ephemera for years. Unfortunately though, I've been scrapbooking mine in another piece of ephemera, an antique photo album from the Western College Women's College. I suppose I should consider digitally archiving them soon. thanks for sharing your collection, looking forward to more!"
  • Ginny writes: "I have hung onto several receipts from 9.11.2001. We were in London, scheduled to return home on September 12. We had been to Harrod's and Kensington Palace earlier in the day. When I see the receipts, details of the day come rushing back. We also have several receipts from the 1920s that we found in the walls when we remodeled our home. The previous owner was a tailor, so it's quite interesting to have some touchstones from others who inhabited the same walls (or almost the same walls).
All of those comments speak to the historic importance and deep meaning that some ephemera can have. Do we produce and waste too much paper as a society? Absolutely. But should every scrap of paper be recycled or sent to the landfill? Absolutely not. Our ephemera is the history of who we are. What we hold onto -- or leave for future generations -- helps to define who we were, how we lived and what was important to us.

Baseball-themed advertisements from a 1953 Phillies scorecard: myfirstchoicewastaken writes: "More precisely, the baseball player's name is Reddy Kilowatt."

Yes! I absolutely should have known that and included it in the original post. Thanks for sending me that information. Here's the scoop on Mr. Kilowatt from Wikipedia:
"Reddy Kilowatt is a cartoon character that acted as corporate spokesman for electricity generation in the United States for some six decades. [He] is drawn as a stick figure whose body and limbs are made of 'lightning-bolt' symbols and whose bulbous head has a light bulb for a nose and wall outlets for ears. Reddy was created at the Alabama Power Company by Ashton B. Collins Sr., and debuted March 11, 1926. He was subsequently licensed by some 300 electrical companies in the U.S. and abroad looking to sell homes on using the relatively new technology."

Two mysteries: Who were these people? What did they did do? Two intriguing images were featured in this post last week.

Regarding the postcard of the children and (presumably) the coal mine, my mom makes the great point that the young laborers are not taking a break or waiting for the start of their shift. They are working -- sorting the coal from the stones and/or sorting the pieces of coal by size. I would still love to hear other insights into the sad and compelling scene on this postcard.

Regarding the photograph of "Aunt Lucy Gilbert," (pictured at right) Blake Stough of the terrific history blog Preserving York writes: "In regard to the Lucy Gilbert photograph, there is a person listed in the 1900 United States Federal Census by that name in Columbia, PA. She is shown as 48 years old, the wife of Aaron Gilbert, and mother of eight children, six that were still living at the time. In the household was John Jr., Gertrude, Walter, and Ellen, whose ages ranged from 20 to 12. While I can't say this is the woman in the photograph, it is a strong possibility. ... Now if we only knew WHO the niece or nephew was!"

Doll fads of 1960: Regarding Lada Draskovic and her Sweetniks dolls, Deborah Greife writes: "I have one of the Sweetnik dolls from Italy. I have been trying to research and find more information on them, but this blog is the only place I've found any reference to them at all, other than a PDF someone has that is a scanned image of a newspaper page with the same photo you have here.1 I'm really trying hard to find out more about these dolls and their creator. Any help would be appreciated."

In my first response to Deborah, I mentioned that Papergreat dug up some more information on Draskovic and her family in this April 6, 2011, post. But much remains a mystery, especially regarding the Sweetniks.

Deborah and I exchanged some further emails and she sent me some great photos (shown below) of her Sweetnik doll. She adds: "I attached some pics of my doll and her cat. I forgot to mention that she has a cat! The cat has no tags but she is wearing 2 bangle bracelets and 1 bracelet has a tin tag that reads: SWEETNIK on one side and the other side reads: 'Brevettato Patented Made in Italy.' ... Maybe with some luck we will get to the bottom of the mystery of the sweetnik dolls. I will contact some doll collector sites and see if I can get more info as well."

This has certainly been a fun one to continue researching!

Here are Deborah's photos:

1. Here is the PDF newspaper image that Deborah Greife is referring to. It's from the February 8, 1960, edition of The Leader-Herald in Gloversville-Johnstown, New York. While it is the same photo featured previously on Papergreat, the photo caption sheds some new light on Sweetniks: "DOLLSVILLE -- Unusual beatnik dolls, called 'sweetniks,' naturally, surround their creator, Lada Draskovic, in Rome. The dolls are dressed in loose-fitting sweaters, toreador pants and sandals. Their straggly, woolen hair is done in bright red, blue, orange and green. Selling like hotcakes in Rome, the way-out dolls may soon be introduced to U.S.-ville."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Science stories of October 1935,
Part 2: The 100-inch telescope

Here's the second in a series of three science-related clippings from the late-October 1935 issues of the St. Paul (Minn.) Dispatch. (Part 1 is here.)

The article, datelined New Haven, Connecticut, states:
Space of a depth almost inconceivable ten years ago is definitely conquered in accurate geographical charts made with aid of the 100-inch telescope.

A space ship, using charts described at Yale University by Dr. Edwin Hubble of Mt. Wilson observatory, could set out to travel 240 million light years straight away from earth with reasonable assurance.

The fliers would reach clusters of nebulae 240 million light years away -- the distance it takes light 240 million years to travel.

"The distance," Dr. Hubble said, "is known with an uncertainty of less than 30 per cent and probably less than 15 per cent."

This is the greatest distance yet charted. Arriving, the traveler would probably find the nebulae to be clusters of stars like those of our own heavens, averaging about 85 million suns apiece.
The "100-inch telescope" referred to in the article is the famous Hooker telescope at Mount Wilson, which was the largest telescope in the world from 1917 until 1948. According to Wikipedia:
In 1935 the silver coating used since 1917 on the Hooker 100-inch mirror was replaced with a more modern and longer lasting aluminum metallic coating that reflected 50% more light than the older silver method of coating. ... Edwin Hubble performed his critical calculations from work on [this] telescope. He determined that some nebulae were actually galaxies outside our own Milky Way.
Hubble, of course, is the namesake for the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990 and has spent two decades taking pictures of the cosmos that Hubble himself could only have dreamed of.

Here is just one image from the amazing gallery of Hubble pictures.

The Majestic Sombrero Galaxy (M104)