Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday's postcard: Autumn in Nebraska and The Mite Society

The front of this old postcard contains a fairly mundane illustration titled "Autumn in Nebraska."

The fun starts on the back of the card. It was printed in Germany and is labeled as:

Post card - Carte postale
Weltpostverein - Union postale universelle

It was mailed with a 1¢ Benjamin Franklin stamp from Sea Isle City, New Jersey, at 2 p.m. on September 16, 1909.1 The recipient was Mrs. Mary Collins of Cape May County.

And here's the note, scrawled by a person whose name looks like "E.S. Wheaton":
Sea Isle City Sept 15, 1909
Mrs. Kline said to me you wished to know when The Mite Society was organized, in the year 1865 just at the close of the war, with a membership of 65. I would like to know how many at the present time & what the finances show! from your friend E.S. Wheaton
It seems there have been numerous Mite Societies throughout the past 150 years or so. The search phrase "The Mite Society" gets 28,100 hits in Google. Many of them refer to church-based service groups. A June 26, 2008, article by Courtney Bonoyer in The Herald of Randolph (Vermont) states, in part:
"There are many different societies in the world. The better-known ones are the Elks and the Masons. There is a lesser known one out of Gaysville though, that’s all about doing good for others. It’s called the Mite Society.

"No, they aren’t talking about dust mites or anything like that—it’s not a bug society. The mite they are talking about is a coin. It comes from a story in the Bible about many rich people who went to church and donated a large amount of money, that to them was a drop in the bucket. However, a poor widow also gave what little money she had (a mite or two) and was revered for it.

"The Universalist Church formed the Mite Society in 1861; later on it was united with the Congregational Church. The Universalist Church disbanded and members of the Congregational Church ran the Mite Society from then on."
Here are a few interesting links about other Mite Societies:

1. This also happened on September 16, 1909: Adolf Hitler, age 20, moved out of his lodgings at Sechshauserstrasse 58 in Vienna with his savings exhausted, no income and no forwarding address, then spent the next several months homeless. He would later describe autumn 1909 as "an endlessly bitter time." (Source: Ian Kershaw's "Hitler: A Biography," via Wikipedia)

Friday, October 7, 2011

This week's ephemera preservation success story

I check out Craigslist on occasion to see if anyone in southcentral Pennsylvania is unloading anything interesting in the realm of books and ephemera. For the most part, they're not. Folks want $10 for a few worn Dean Koontz paperbacks or $5 apiece for used James Patterson hardcovers. And every fourth post is for somebody selling their collection of "vintage" Playboy magazines from the 1980s. There's a lot of dreck and common items that are wildly overpriced.

But every once in a while there's a cool listing.

Earlier this week, I came across a listing for "Civil Air Patrol Manuals" for a very modest price.

The following items were included in the lot:
  • Airplanes and Engines - Complete Examination - November 1941
  • Air Corps Technical School - Shop Mathematics - August 1940
  • Air Corps Technical School - Electrical Fundamentals - September 1940
  • Civil Air Regulations - Complete Examination - July 1942
  • Air Corps Technical School - Direct Current - December 1939
  • Civil Pilot Training Manual - Second Edition - September 1941
  • Meteorology - Complete Examination - March 1941
The listing also stated: "These books were used by a pilot that flew for the Civil Air Patrol."

Oh yes, I was intrigued.

So Joan and I took a 15-minute drive to pick up the manuals during our lunch break yesterday afternoon. A nice older gentleman named Bob said they had belonged to another local family that he was acquainted with. When the patriarch of that family died recently, his daughter was looking to sort through his belongings and take care of the estate as soon as possible. She was about to pitch these manuals in the trash when Bob said he'd take them and try to find someone who might be interested in them.

Way to go, Bob!

These manuals are well-worn and they might not have any serious value to collectors. But they have legitimate historical value as artifacts from 70 years ago. They're bound to be full of fascinating insights.

I haven't had much time to leaf through them yet. So that'll have to be another post on another day. But here are a couple neat illustrations from inside the meteorology manual:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Snapshots from Kiwanis Lake in York

Submitted for your approval: A pair of photos taken at Kiwanis Lake in York, Pennsylvania, early one morning last month...

Click on the images for larger versions.

(These were taken, by the way, with a Motorola Droid. Isn't technology ridiculous?)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bond Clothes notepad, a swing glossary and old pigskin records

This miniature Bond Clothes notepad, just 2⅜ inches wide by 3⅞ inches deep, dates to the 1930s, I believe, and was never used. The front cover states:
Student Lane
The New Style Center
For Young Men
Bond Clothes

The notepad is personalized for a clothing store at 709 Penn Street in Reading, Pennsylvania. The store might be The Brusstar Co., based upon this advertisement from the June 20, 1919, edition of the Reading Eagle. I say "personalized," because I've found that there are other notepads like this out there that are identical except for the address printed on the bottom of the front cover. Here on, for example, is one for a clothing store in Fort Worth, Texas.

The back cover, pictured at right, also has some interesting advertising copy. But what I found most interesting in this pristine little notepad were the inside covers.

The inside front cover, clearly trying to cater to a younger set of customers, contains a glossary of "Swing Stuff." It's too wonderful not to print in its entirety:
  • Alligator - swing fan
  • Beat my socks - broke
  • Beat up - no coin
  • Blip - very good
  • Blowing his top - hot licks
  • Bunny - coat
  • Cat - swing addict
  • Corny - old-fashioned
  • Copasetic - everything's okay
  • Crawl into the nest - get some sleep
  • Dicty - high class
  • Diggit out - out to town, deliver
  • Early black - evening
  • Fews and twos - money, cash
  • Freeby - no charge, gratis
  • Gutbucket - low-down music
  • Hep cat - wise guy
  • Hipchick - snooty gal
  • Hot licks - improvised stuff
  • Icky - one who is not hep
  • Jam - swing session
  • Jelly - on the house
  • Jitterbug - swing fan
  • Jive - to kid along
  • Joint is jumping - place is lively
  • Killer-diller - thrill
  • Muggin' - making 'em laugh
  • Nix out - to eliminate
  • Riff - hot lick, high notes
  • Rug-cutter - good dancer
  • Schmaltz - sentimental
  • Sharpies - dancers who thrive on swing
  • Slide your jib - talk freely
  • Takeoff - play a solo
  • Tin ears - one who dislikes swing
  • Togged to the bricks - dressed up
  • Whipped up - exhausted
  • Woof-hound - alligator high on swing
Meanwhile, the inside of the back cover contains "Gridiron Gleanings" -- a list of all-time college football records. The latest of the dates is 1934, hence my initial thought that this notepad dates from the 1930s.

Here are a few of the then-records in college football:
  • Longest run from scrimmage: 115 yards, Wyllys Terry (Yale) vs. Wesleyan, Nov. 4, 1884
  • Longest scoring forward pass: 87 yards, Bradbury Robinson to John Schneider (St. Louis) vs. Kansas, 1907
  • Longest field goal from placement: 65 yards, James T. Haxall (Princeton) vs. Yale, 1882
  • Longest punt: 84 yards, Thomas Oliver (Catholic University) vs. Western Maryland, 1934
  • Most touchdowns in one season: 26, James C. Leech (Virginia Military Institute), 1920
There are a bunch of other football records listed. If there's one in particular you're interested in, drop me a line in the comments section.

Right now, though, I'm pretty whipped up. I'm going to crawl into the nest.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A dark and stormy night ...
and a good book

This is my new favorite piece of ephemera.1

I love the illustration on the front of this index-card-sized Victorian trade card for A&P Baking Powder. A dark and stormy night. An old, shadow-filled mansion. A warm, comfortable chair by the curtained window, perfect for a golden-haired, blue-eyed young lady to sink in to -- good book in hand2 -- after everyone else has retired for the evening.

Then a sudden noise interrupts her reading. What's intruding?

The colors. The sense of gloom and utter aloneness in the middle of the night. The expression on her face. All of that makes it a wonderful illustration. And that fact that this trade card is in poor condition, with creases, scratches and a missing corner, only adds to the overall effect, in my opinion.3

A perfect piece of ephemera, too, for October, which is my favorite month of the year, thanks to fall foliage, nights turning chillier4, the baseball playoffs and, of course, Halloween.

Yes, October is the ideal month to celebrate spooks, ghost stories and dark and stormy nights. I plan to do that often this month on Papergreat.

But back to the ephemera...

The reverse side of this illustration is interesting, too, I suppose. It contains a lot of tiny words and such. Here they are, if you're inclined to want to read them:

Meh. In this case, the illustration easily tops "Interesting Facts About Baking Powder."5

1. Who's going to be in charge of keeping track of how many times I say that in the coming months and years?
2. Maybe she's reading a good ghost tale by Sheridan Le Fanu or Montague Rhodes James, which would make her more susceptible to being startled.
3. If you're in love with this illustration as much as I am, some inexpensive originals can be found on eBay, as of this writing. Here's one listing, and here is another.
4. My wife is giving me a nasty look. The cold doesn't suit her.
5. I did, at least, find this line amusing, in its level of alacrity regarding the topic of baking powders: "There are at this time nearly 100 different kinds of Baking Powder, very many of them being not only a miserable failure as regards baking purposes, but are decidedly injurious to health, in many instances having produced the worst cases of dyspepsia." Heck, if there was a Bulwer-Lytton Contest for advertising writing on Victorian trade cards, that could have been a strong contender.

Monday, October 3, 2011

1959 receipt from Metzgers Inc. in State College

I recently found this February 9, 1959, receipt from Metzgers Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania, tucked away inside an old book.1

The receipt is for $1.71, which might not sound like much. But it would be $12.64 in 2010 dollars, according to The Inflation Calculator. So it could conceivably have been for something like a textbook. (Which is jaw-dropping, when you consider the price of college textbooks today.)

Metzgers (or perhaps it was Metzger's) was located at 111-115 South Allen Street in State College.

An advertisement in the April 15, 1965, issue of The Daily Collegian, Penn State's student newspaper2, indicates that the store's full name was Metzgers University Stores (plural) and that some of the items for sale there included:
  • Tennis rackets, from $4.95 to $24
  • Sweat shirts in all colors -- $2.95 for long sleeves, $2.75 for short sleeves
  • Summer jackets from $7.25 to $8.95
  • A large selection of folk, jazz, classical, vocal and show records, on sale from $1.79 to $5.49
I also found this amusing reference to Metzger's in the November 11, 1964, issue of The Daily Collegian, in a news article by Allan Friedman discussing the damage done after the Penn State football team's victory against Ohio State:
"Also as a result of the victory celebration, Metzger's Inc. of State College is still looking for their stuffed lion. Valued at over $200, the battered lion lost its tail in the celebration fiasco. The Borough Police are reported to be seeking its whereabouts."
So, of the thousands of you who attended Penn State University in the 1950s and 1960s, who can share their tales and memories of Metzger's University Stores?

And did any of you keep your receipt?

1. February 9, 1959, is six days after The Day the Music Died -- the February 3, 1959, plane crash the claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.
2. I worked as a reporter and editor at The Daily Collegian (often, when I should should have been attending class) from 1989 to 1993.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Guide to Papergreat's Phillies ephemera posts

Above: The three Sports Illustrated covers (so far) this year devoted to the Phillies. This is supposed to be a jinx, right?

The Philadelphia Phillies opened their quest for the 2011 World Series championship yesterday with an 11-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League division series at Citizens Bank Park.

Here's a directory of some previous Papergreat posts on the Phightin' Phils:
And here's a somewhat tangental post, because we're all about tangents here at Papergreat:

"He Stole Other Men's Jobs -- And Women"

You know you want to click on that one.