Friday, November 4, 2011

A cornucopia filled with reader comments

I am overjoyed to have an abundance of reader comments to share to with everyone today!

The 29th anniversary of the first episode of St. Elsewhere: David Bianculli, a tremendous TV critic and founder/editor of TV Worth Watching, was kind enough to write: "A pleasure to read this... from someone who loves 'St. Elsewhere' as much as you do. Great job."

And Anonymous writes: "Bravo on an excellent post. But who is Bruce Greenwood?"

Bruce Greenwood is a Canadian actor who portrayed Dr. Seth Griffin on the final two seasons of St. Elsewhere. He's had a terrific career in movies that has included roles in "The Sweet Hereafter," "Capote," the 2009 "Star Trek" (as Christopher Pike), and -- in what I think is his best performance -- the terrific 2000 film "Thirteen Days," in which he portrays John F. Kennedy.

Wampole's Creo-Terpin ink blotter from Ensley, Alabama: Justin Mann of Justin's Brew Review writes: "Regarding footnote 3: While the characters are different, the blotter is actually not incorrect. In German, the special character above the 'o' is called an umlaut (oom'-lau). Sometimes it's just difficult to write it that way, especially in print (like on my Droid 'smart'phone, apparently...). So the acceptable alternate spelling permits placing an 'e' after the vowel with an umlaut. They are equivalent. Learned this during my studies of German, and I guess that it probably also applies for other languages that utilize this special character. (BTW, one of my favorite breweries that I often tout on my blog is Tröegs, which is a nickname based on their family name, Trogner. They 'improperly' utilize both an 'e' and an umlaut. Aah, what the heck, no one cares about that - their brews make up for their lack of knowledge of German grammar!)"

Thanks for the correction and insight on this, Justin!

Weekend postcards: Some wonderful corners of Europe: mshatch, who authors The Secret of the Golden Flower, Unicorn Bell and mainewords, writes: "What lovely postcards - I wonder what those places look like now?"

The postcards on this day highlighted Heidelberg Castle, Germany; Sos del Rey Católico, Spain; and St. Michael's Church in Vienna, Austria. I was able to find a picture of Sos del Rey Católico that appears to be the same street that is shown in the old postcard (although perhaps from a different angle). Here they are, side by side, with the old postcard on the left. Looks like not much has changed!

Halloween Countdown #9: Who on earth would wear this? Buffy Andrews, who blogs at Buffy's Write Zone and Buffy's World writes: "This looks like my grandma's afghan. Belongs on the back of a couch! Ouch! Seriously."

You'll have to go to the original post to see the nightmarish outfit that Buffy is talking about!

Halloween Countdown #12: Horrors from the gift guide: Justin Mann, commenting on the unfortunate boy in his underwear1, writes: "Umm, a family that reads together,, that can't be right."

And Anonymous, commenting on the Beauty Pillow Case, writes: "I think picture #2 is actually printed sideways. She's holding the pillow up while leaning against the wall. That will keep her hair in place."

Halloween Countdown #13: Pointing the finger at myself: Justin Mann, becoming a most-welcome Frequent Commenter on Papergreat, writes: "Love it! Thanks for sharing your pain, Chris. It was so big of you that I refuse to make jokes. Only one question: why do parents insist on photographing their children holding up gifts that they received? Do they wish to capture the joyous gratitude upon their sweet cherubs' countenances? 'Cause I don't know about you, but I was never overjoyed when I received underwear. Wait, I do know about you - I can see from your photo that you were one happy camper."

Halloween Countdown #14: Live Mystery Egg: Anonymous writes: "U.S. Mail was probably faster and more accurate in delivering to the right address in those days, so whatever was in those eggs probably had a good survival rate...before the air ran out."

Happy Halloween: Witches and zombies and scarecrows! Oh my! Justin Mann writes: "Not crazy about witchery, but I absolutely *love* the picture of you and Mr. Bill! What a great way to participate in the festivities! (Also, great use of 'gaggle'.)"

Finding a new job in 1973 with Spider-Man's help: Matt Bradshaw of Omega Channel writes: "I love that 'Cartoon For Money' ad. I remember very clearly sending away for that back in the early 70s. The booklet they sent was maybe 10 or 12 pages in magazine size, featuring the cartoon tale of a cartoonist who learned to make big bucks from his doodles. I was disappointed at the time to find the 'Free' book was just an advertisement for their course/books, and being 8 or so years old at the time the price they were asking was out of the question. I wish I still had that booklet and I wonder what they were actually giving out to the paying customers."

Thanks for sharing that memory, Matt!

Perfume and fairies in a 1920 issue of The Ladies' Home Journal: Mel Kolstad of Ephemeraology writes: "That Djer-Kiss ad is GORGEOUS. Thanks for sharing it with us, Chris!"

You're welcome! Originally, I had planned for that post to include multiple advertisements from the February 1920 issue of The Ladies' Home Journal. But I got so side-tracked with tangents related to Djer-Kiss that I didn't get to any other advertisements.

I can, however, share one more here today, in closing. Here is part of the advertisement for Mavis, a perfume sold by Vivaudou. It was painted by Fred L. Packer.

1. There's a phrase you don't hear every day. Thank goodness.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Photos from 1951 Industrial Arts in Pennsylvania bulletin

Above: Wood turning at Shamokin

This cool softcover book, "Industrial Arts in Pennsylvania," was published 60 years ago by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Department of Public Instruction.1

It has multiple stamps indicating that it was once part of the Spring Grove Joint Senior High School Library.

The well-bound2, 115-page "bulletin" covers myriad topics, including the history of industrial arts3; the function of industrial arts within general education; suggested curriculums; industrial arts for girls; legal aspects of industrial arts; and how to design and lay out an industrial arts classroom.

My favorite part of the book is the photos of Pennsylvania schools from six decades ago. Featured in the book are schools in Derry Township4, Lebanon, Altoona, Erie, Quakertown, Lancaster, Shamokin, Williamsport, Hershey and Coatesville.

Some of those photos:

Above: Related Subjects at Derry Township

Above: Mechanical Drawing at Lancaster

Above: Woodworking at Derry Township

Above: Radio at Lancaster

1. In 1969, Pennsylvania's Department of Public Instruction was renamed the Department of Education.
2. A lot of creativity and craftsmanship went into this book. They really don't make 'em like they used to. Check out, for example, the jazzy design of the endpapers:

3. The section on the history of industrial arts includes this tidbit that I was unaware of:
Definition of Sloyd
"Sloyd" was a system of shopwork patterned after the work of Otto Solomon [sic] of Naas, Sweden, which consisted of 50 models involving 88 exercises. (Sloyd is a Swedish term for a whittling knife.) Otto believed that shopwork had to be interesting in order to have educational value, and, therefore, discarded the practice exercise, the keystone of the Russian system, and included the tool processes to be taught in the making of the model.
For more on Sloyd, check out the Wikipedia page, which differs a bit on some of the above details from the 1951 bulletin.
4. There are four Derry Townships in Pennsylvania. My best guess is that the book is referring to the Derry Township in Dauphin County, which includes the community of Hershey.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Excerpts from a 1937 travel brochure for Poland

This promotional travel brochure for Poland was published in 1937, two years before the Invasion of Poland marked the start of World War II.

The brochure was printed in Poland and appears to have been jointly produced by the League for the Promotion of Tourism (Liga Popierania Turystyki) and Polish State Railways. This copy was once kept on file at Ridgeway Tours, managed by Christian H. Shenk, at 32 Penn Square in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Pictured at right is the cover of the brochure, with a colorful illustration of a man in a traditional Polish outfit. The back cover (shown further down in today's post) features a similar illustration of a Polish woman.

The opening section of the brochure is bittersweet, when you consider what Germany and the Soviet Union did to the country soon thereafter:
"Draw a line from the southern most tip of Portugal to the northeastern most tip of the Ural Mountains and another from Scotland to the Caucasus and they will cross Warsaw, Poland's gay capital -- the geographic center of Europe. Warsaw with her 1,300.000 inhabitants is among the most colourful cities in Europe. It has the mellowness of bygone centuries and the quick tempo of the 20th. Those who seek that which gives travel fascination will find it there.

"Situated at the heart of Europe, Poland with its 150.000 square miles and 34,000.000 inhabitants offers an amazing variety of quaint folk customs, dramatic natural scenery, and lovely old cities, filled with the relics of her ancient glory. In contrast she has airways reaching all Europe, torpedo trains that go 93 miles an hour, the world's most powerful broadcasting station1, fine roads, fine hotels and abundant natural resources, such as oil, zinc, lumber, coal."
Here are some excerpts from various sections of the brochure:
  • THE NATIONS CRADLE: "Leaving your port of entry2, you will pass in your motorcar over the rolling country of the Kaszubs (Cashoubians) [and] several picturesque towns of Polish Pomerania3 (Pomorze -- The Land By The Sea). ... Pomorze is a prosperous agricultural province of reborn Poland. Full of picturesque villages, towns, forests and lakes, it forms that access to the sea, without which there could be no Poland. It will interest you to know that it is one of the oldest parts of old Poland, the very cradle of her civilization. ... If you go south from Poznań, you will reach Upper Silesia, a network of foundries, mills, mines and factories. At times it will seem to you that you are passing the industrial or coal mine region of Pennsylvania or Ohio.4 And yet, even here you will find dense forests, picturesque hills and modern health resorts."
  • FORESTS AND SHOOTING: "Half way between Warsaw and Wilno is Poland's largest national park containing one of the oldest virgin forests in Europe, Białowieża.5 This forest has an area of approximately, 1.000 square miles. A herd of European bison, the only surviving specimens of this animal, lives there in freedom and immune from the hunter's gun. In the Białowieża vast forest reservation one can find the stag, the wild boar, the European elk, the roebuck, the wolf, the lynx and almost every kind of bird."
  • A WEALTH OF TRADITION AND PAGEANTRY: "If you are a lover of old traditions and colourful customs, based on rich folklore, you will not miss these in Poland. ... On Easter Monday the old custom of 'Smigus' is observed. It consists in pouring water over the first person you meet in the morning and is more fun than most old customs. ... Christmas Eve is a holiday closely connected with family life. The chief meal, at which no meat is served, is partaken in the evening as the first star appears in the sky. Care is taken that the number of guests at the table is always even, the superstition being that an uneven number means death to one of the party. ... Hunting in Winter is traditional in Polish country houses. After early breakfast the hunters start off in sleighs for the forest. At noon special dishes are brought to the hunters and eaten after being reheated. This meal consists of a stew called 'Bigos'6 and 'Krupnik', a combination of spirits and honey."
  • OLD CUSTOMS PRESERVED: "One of the most picturesque peasant groups can be found in the Cracow region. Peasant weddings are celebrated here in an elaborate manner. Marital rites are started by mounted youths, dressed in long navy blue and red coats and hats studded with peacock plumes, arriving at the house of the bride. They are the 'best men' and they seize the bride, bundle her into a carriage and rush her to church. She is crying, for she must pretend, according to custom, that she is greatly worried. After the wedding there is a dance lasting three days."
  • SPORTS: "Physical training, sports and games are very popular in Poland. The coming generation is as proficient in athletics as the youth of America. All schools in Poland are equipped with gymnasiums. ... Winter sports flourish in Poland, thanks to the opportunities for training in the Carpathian mountains. Czech and Marusarz are the best Polish ski-ers. ... In 1934, Captain Bajan won the European Challenge. Poland won three times in succession Gordon Bennett International Balloon race [pictured at right]."
  • SOME PRACTICAL HINTS: "The Polish zloty, divided into 100 groszy, is worth approximately 20 american cents or 10d. For conversion of dollars into zloty multiply by five. The English pound is worth roughly 25 zloty, a penny is equivalent to 10 groszy.7 ... Cafés usually charge 1 zloty for coffee, while an excellent pastry costs 30 groszy. Tips are abolished in restaurants and cafés, a service charge of 10% being added to the bill. ... When crossing the border into Poland it is most important to declare the total sum of monies carried, as it is not permitted to take out of the country more money than brought in."

Read more about the brochure in this followup post.

1. What they claimed as "the world's most powerful broadcasting station" was the Raszyn-based transmitter for Polskie Radio. According to Wikipedia: "Before the Second World War, Polish Radio operated one national channel – broadcast from 1931 from one of Europe's most powerful longwave transmitters, situated at Raszyn just outside Warsaw and destroyed in 1939 by the invading German Army – and nine regional stations."
2. The brochure suggests that travelers enter Poland through Gdynia.
3. Ruth Manning-Sanders retold a number of folk and fairy tales that originated in Pomerania.
4. This might be the only tourism brochure in existence that happily compares an area to Pennsylvania's coal-mine region.
5. I had never heard of the Białowieża Forest until I read Alan Weisman's fantastic book "The World Without Us," part of which takes a look at the environment in parts of the planet that are mostly untouched by humans.
6. According to Wikipedia, typical ingredients in bigos include white cabbage, sauerkraut, various cuts of meat and sausages, whole or puréed tomatoes, honey and mushrooms.
7. You're on your own with that paragraph.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Perfume and fairies in a 1920 issue of The Ladies' Home Journal

Pictured is a portion1 of an advertisement from the February 1920 issue of The Ladies' Home Journal2 for Djer-Kiss, a line of perfume products made in France.

The advertising copy states:
"With the pure fragrance of June flowers -- with the pure softness of June breezes. What! Has Juin been mysteriously wafted in February?

"Whether it be my parfum Djer-Kiss itself, with its 'odeur stolen from June flowers' -- or the June softness of my poudre de riz Djer-Kiss -- or the soothing daintiness of the Talc -- or the reste -- to each Spécialitc -- to all the Spécialités -- the admirable skill of Kerkoff gives the supreme touch."

Fairies were a popular sensation at this time3, and this advertisement makes me think of the Cottingley Fairies, who were featured in a controversial series of photos taken between 1917 and 1920 by two young English girls. (The photos caused quite a sensation and were considered to be authentic by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a strong believer in spiritualism.4)

If you want to know more about Djer-Kiss and Kerkoff, I highly recommend that check out the in-depth blog Collecting Vintage Compacts.

The March 15, 2011, post is all about Djer-Kiss (pronounced "Dear Kiss"), going into great depth on the topic and displaying some marvelous images. A small excerpt:
"Emerging in the early years of the 20th century, the French perfumer, Kerkoff, is best known for its fragrance ‘Djer-Kiss’ and also for its extraordinarily colourful and evocative images of fairies in its advertising material. ... Just who Kerkoff was, is not known but this was the name featured prominently on all early Djer Kiss perfume and sachet powder bottles. ... Like many ambitious French perfume houses, the company quickly saw that its future prosperity lay in the wealthy American market and, also, like many it did not establish an office in America but used an American company to manage its affairs. The New York company of Alfred H Smith was appointed as Kerkoff’s sole importer."
For much more, read the entirety of "Djer-Kiss - A fairy tale Madison Avenue would be proud of."


1. I say "portion" because this was a large-sized magazine -- 10⅝ inches wide by 16 inches tall -- and the full pages will not fit on my scanner!
2. Ladies' Home Journal was first published in 1883 and is still published today. It is one of the six remaining Seven Sisters magazines.
3. It also occures to me that this is the right time frame and these are precisely the kind of magazine illustrations that Henry Darger was clipping and imitating for "The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion." The figures in this small portion of the Djer-Kiss advertisement especially struck me as looking like "Darger girls."
4. Conan Doyle's firm belief in the supernatural eventually led to his bitter rift with friend Harry Houdini. It's a fascinating real-life tale. One book that delves into it is "Final Seance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle" by Massimo Polidoro.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween: Witches and zombies and scarecrows! Oh my!

Happy Halloween! Here's a picture of me in my 2010 scarecrow costume, sitting in the front yard along with one of our black cats, Mr. Bill. (Yes, we have multiple black cats.) It was a fun time last year. After Mr. Bill went back inside, I sat motionless in a pile of hay in the front yard, looking like nothing more than an October yard display. Then, when unsuspecting trick-or-treaters walked past in the fading daylight, I would slowly wave at them or say, "Trick or treat!" One gaggle of teenage girls got VERY freaked out.

Two pieces of spook-themed ephemera today...

First, a 32-page staplebound book titled "The Realness of Witchcraft in America," which was written by A. Monroe Aurand Jr. and published in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The short book, which is cheap and easy to track down if you're interested in a copy, is packed with interesting tidbits about the history of witches and witchcraft.

The book begins with a broad outline of the history of witchcraft worldwide, but it gets most interesting when it starts delving into the beliefs of the early Pennsylvania Germans. Some excerpts:
  • Aurand quotes Julius Friedrich Sachse's "The German Pietists of Provincial Pennsylvania":
    "Another custom then in vogue among the Germans in Pennsylvania was the wearing of an 'anhangsel,' a kind of astrological amulet or talisman ... In rare cases a thin stone or sheet of metal was used in place of parchment. These 'anhangsel' or 'zauber-zettel' as they were called, were prepared by the Mystics of the Community with certain occult ceremonies at such times as the culmination of a particular star or the conjunction of certain planets..."
  • Aurand writes: "'Letters of Protection' as we know them in America, or sometimes 'Himmelsbriefs' as they are known both here and in Germany, are quite common in America, or were not many years ago. ... We accepted an order for printing copies1 of the 'Letter of Protection' in 1918, which we learned were subsequently handed to members of the National Guard, and to draftees who went into the service from several central counties of Pennsylvania."
The short but fascinating book goes on to discuss the witch trials of Margaret Matson and Gertro "Yeshro" Hendrickson, the murder of Nelson Rehmeyer in 1928, the Albert Shinsky case and more.

Moving along, zombies are my favorite creatures from horror films and fiction, well ahead of such terrible entities as vampires, werewolves, mummies, slashers, aliens and New York Mets fans.

And when it comes to zombies, I'm a George Romero guy, through and through. While his films -- most notably "Night of the Living Dead" and "Dawn of the Dead" -- are my favorite zombie flicks, there are a few other walking-dead movies that rank highly on my list. They include "The Last Man on Earth," starring Vincent Price; "Messiah of Evil"2; "My Boyfriend's Back"; "The Return of the Living Dead"; and "Shaun of the Dead".

"World War Z" has a chance to be the next great zombie film, if they don't screw up Max Brooks' great book.

And then there's 1973's "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things."3 I first saw this in the late 1970s when I was in elementary school and living in Clayton, New Jersey -- before I had ever seen any other zombie films. TV stations showed it on afternoon matinees. It scared the crap out of me.

Here's a set of TV listings from a York Daily Record TV guide from Fall 1978. It shows "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things" as airing at 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 4, 1978, on Channel 17.4 It's fun to look at the other stuff that was on TV that night:
  • "Carol Burnett and Friends"5 and "The Joker's Wild" were two of our family's favorite evening television shows.
  • It's interesting to see the guests on that night's episode of "The Tonight Show": comedian Kelly Monteith, ventriloquist Señor Wences; and Frank Abagnale, the real-life figure who served as the inspiration for "Catch Me If You Can."
  • ABC televised Game 1 of the 1978 National League Championship Series at 8 p.m. In that game, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 9-5, at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The Dodgers got two home runs from Steve Garvey and one apiece from Davey Lopes and Steve Yeager, and they went to win the series, three games to one. ABC's TV announcers for that game were Al Michaels, Don Drysdale and Johnny Bench.
But enough about Phillies losses, Carol Burnett and Frank Abagnale. If you're a connoisseur of zombie movies and have a stomach for bad 1970s fashion, overacting and tragically poor decision-making by a group of young adults stuck on an island teeming with zombies, I highly recommend "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things."

1. When Aurand writes "We accepted...", I assume he is referring to The Aurand Press of Lancaster.
2. "Messiah of Evil" features wonderful and creepy art direction by Jack Fisk, who went on to serve as Art Director for "Days of Heaven" and Production Designer for prestigious directors Terrence Malick, David Lynch and Paul Thomas Anderson. He was nominated for Oscar for his Art Direction on Anderson's "There Will Be Blood."
3. "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things" was directed by Bob Clark, who gets my vote for the most strangely diverse filmography of all-time. He also directed "A Christmas Story," "Porky's," "Turk 182!" and "Baby Geniuses".
4. That would be WPHL-TV, a channel we also had in southern New Jersey. During this time, another creepy thing you would have seen on WPHL-TV and the now-defunct WKBS-TV (Channel 48) was commercials for Brigantine Castle, like this one:

5. "Carol Burnett and Friends" was the syndicated, 30-minute version of highlights from the hour-long episodes of "The Carol Burnett Show," that originally aired from 1972-77.