Sunday, August 28, 2011

So much ephemera, so little time! (The Fall/Winter Preview)

I wonder if I could get a federal grant that would allow me to spend all of my time blogging about ephemera?

Maybe I should ask Matthew Lesko to look into that for me, because it's about the only way I'd have any hope of researching and writing about all the great pieces of paper I have squirreled away in the basement.1

But the reality is that this is a hobby blog, and so work, family time, raising a sixth-grader, yardwork, catering to the needs of five demanding cats2 and watching the Philadelphia Phillies usually come first.

Throw in a home PC meltdown, some extra-long days in the newsroom, and a hurricane, and it can sometimes be hard to achieve my personal goal of one Papergreat post per day.

There's some fun stuff coming down the pike, though! I have a to-do list that I hope keeps you coming back regularly.

Consider this a fall and winter preview3 for Papergreat:

  • An old guide for the Capital Roller Rink in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Seth Seiders and his 1920s advice for the "Pivot Man" (featuring a cameo by Al Capone)
  • A collection of sci-fi and fantasy fanzines from the 1950s through 1970s
  • Part 2 of "The books and papers of Elbert Nostrand Carvel"
  • A look at the "Romper Room Song Book"
  • More selections from a full box of travel-related ephemera (pictured at right) that's going to take me years to get through.
  • An employee pass for the 1935 Electric & Radio Show in Philadelphia
  • The contents of "A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband"
  • Some pages from an old program for the York Opera House, generously provided to me by Jim Lewin of The York Emporium4
  • The beautiful frontispiece of "Told Under the Green Umbrella"
  • A memoir of a Victorian childhood by someone named C.L. Timings
  • Recipes, recipes and more recipes
  • Delving a bit into the world of vinyl records with band marches by the Spring Garden Band and a collection of square dances
  • A battered 1910 Wanamaker diary
  • A somewhat disturbing old advertisement for Excelsior ginger ale
  • More old receipts
  • A stack of military technical manuals
  • Several 1940s issues of The York-Hoover Herald
  • Photos of the trip the Otto family finally made to Roadside America
  • More poultry ephemera than you can shake a stick at5
  • The complete history of the Steve Jeltz Fan Club
  • A 1940 issue of Strength and Health magazine
  • Multiple pieces of ephemera from someone's 1971 trip to Las Vegas for The Showmen's League of America banquet and ball (warning: may contain clowns)

Another reason it's often hard for me to get around to writing is that I'm easily sent spiraling off on a tangent when I'm sorting through papers or leafing through books for possible sale.

For example, the second book I grabbed this afternoon was "The Copper Box," a 1923 hardcover novel by J.S. Fletcher. Flipping to the first page inside, I found a neat record of the book's ownership history:

In the middle, in pencil, is written: "Dear Dickie - Many, many happy returns of a most important day, and much love. From Aunt Midge 9/23/27"

At the top of the page, William H. Young of Union, West Virginia, stamped the book on June 6, 1958. And someone attached some 1957 Christmas Seals for decoration.

And, on 7/24/76, the book was inscribed as being in the possession of John Brake of Greenville, Virginia. (Who is probably also the John Brake who published a 1,276-page book titled "The History of Greenville, Virginia, 1732-1994".)

1. It also doesn't help -- my wife would surely and correctly add -- that sometimes I add to the collection of ephemera in the basement faster than I can write about it.
2. In order, from heaviest to lightest: Salem, Mitts, Mr. Bill, Floyd and Huggles.
3. Remember those Fall Preview issues of TV Guide in the 1980s? Weren't they cool? Everything looked so promising: Tales of the Gold Monkey, Manimal, Misfits of Science, The Powers of Matthew Star, AfterMASH, It's Your Move, Automan... Well, maybe not AfterMASH.
4. The York Emporium, by the way, was recently named to a list of the the 20 best independent and used bookstores in the United States. Very well-deserved.
5. OK, I'll admit it. Between the square dances and the poultry, I'm a bit afraid I'm scaring some of you away.