Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday's postcard: Sami girl and a reindeer

At every turn, I come across more Christmas-related ephemera, so I think I'm going exclusively with holiday-themed blog posts in the final week leading up to Christmas.

This old postcard, from Norway, features "a Lapp girl and a reindeer,"1 as it states on the back of the card. I'm calling her a Sami girl (and not a Lapp girl) in the headline for today's post, because that's the more correct term.

But it's complicated. Very complicated.

The Wikipedia page on Sami (which, itself, can also be spelled Sámi or Saami) includes an entire 600-word subsection on the etymology of Sami and the use of Lap, Lapp and Laplanders as alternate (and, to some, pejorative) names for the Sami people.

And who are the Sami? They are, per Wikipedia, "the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi2, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway."

Reindeer have been herded for centuries by the Sami, who used them for their meat, hides, antlers and, to a lesser extent, for milk and transportation. More details from Wikipedia:
"Today, in Norway and Sweden, reindeer husbandry is legally protected as an exclusive Sami livelihood, such that only persons of Sami descent with a linkage to a reindeer herding family can own, and hence make a living off, reindeer. ... Among the reindeer-herders in the Saami villages the women usually have a higher level of formal education in the area."
Beyond all that, it's nice to look at a postcard with some snow it! I'm a little cranky about the fact that there's no snow in our upcoming forecast here in southcentral Pennsylvania, and we haven't had any snow at all since the Halloween weekend snowstorm.3

The postcard also made me smile because I've been spending the past few weeks at the newspaper handling our readers' submitted photos of their deer-hunting harvests.4 So it's nice to see a photograph of an actual living deer. (Even if the girl here is simply sizing up Blitzen for the holiday feast.)

1. The complete printed text from the back of this unused postcard:
  • Norway. Samepike med reinsdyr.
  • F-505-0. A Lapp girl and a reindeer.
  • Foto Amundsen.
  • Enerett: Knut Aūne Kunstforlag Printed in Norway
  • Ultra
2. Sápmi has its own soccer team, the Sámi Spábbáčiekčanlihttu, which won the 2006 Viva World Cup. And, yes, I just wanted to include the name Sámi Spábbáčiekčanlihttu on Papergreat.
3. At right is a picture of our Goldendoodle, Coby, checking out the path I shoveled in the aftermath of the February 5–6, 2010, and February 9–10, 2010, snowstorms. I am missing snow!
4. For my newspaper's take on deer-harvest photos, check out "What’s with the dead deer photos every year?" by York Daily Record/Sunday News managing editor Randy Parker on the YDR Insider blog.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Some holiday ideas, including the Weed Christmas Tree

Featured today is Toni Wood's 1971 staplebound booklet titled "Complete Instruction Book Christmas Ideas" (cover price, 59¢).

The 48-page book -- published by "Belmont Industries division of Chemtoy Corporation"1 in Cicero, Illinois -- is big on suggesting Dow Chemical's Styrofoam, spray paint and glitter for most of its craft projects.

Author Wood warns readers in an introductory note:
"Spray paint is simple and easy to use and comes in many lovely, vivid colors. Before using spray paint on STYROFOAM, BE SURE TO READ THE LABEL ON THE CAN. IT MUST SAY 'FOR STYROFOAM.' If the label doesn't say that the paint may be used for styrofoam, DO NOT USE IT. If you use a NON-STYROFOAM paint, it will melt holes in the foam or foam will disintegrate altogether into a small pile of plastic. LEARN TO READ LABELS CAREFULLY."
So there. Happy, healthy craftmaking, everyone! And don't disintegrate anything.

But if Styrofoam and disintegration aren't your cup of tea, Wood has another suggestion: Decorate with weeds!


Here are the instructions for the Weed Christmas Tree:2
"Find one sturdy tree-shaped weed. Dry. Spray with green paint. You may need to tie a small wooden dowel to center stem as I did for added support. Glitter with spray glue and a mixture of fine green glitter and green 1/8" glitter squares. Set in base filled with plaster of Paris. Spray base gold. Trimed with hand made ornaments..."
And here's your finished product. Merry Weed-mass!

The best part? Thanks to all that spray paint and glitter, your festive weed can no longer be safely mulched. So it's off to the landfill! Ho, ho, ho, Planet Earth!

1. And if the word Chemtoy doesn't suggest the magical holiday season, I don't know what does.
2. Keep your marijuana jokes to yourselves, please.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Old book of Christmas carols and a musical postcard

The colorful illustration on the cover of "Treasure Chest of Christmas Songs and Carols"1 is what first caught my eye at a local flea market.

The 32-page staplebound book was copyrighted in 1936 by Treasure Chest Publications Inc. of New York, N.Y.2

The book includes 26 traditional carols, including "Away in the Manger" (first published in Philadelphia) and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (written by an Episcopal priest from Philadelphia).

The most interesting thing I learned from this songbook regards the history of a well-known alternate word for Christmas -- Noel.

In "Treasure Chest of Christmas Songs and Carols," a carol in listed in the table of contents as "The First Nowell." I can't recall coming across that spelling before, but the song is actually listed under "The First Nowell" in Wikipedia, with "The First Noël" as the alternate title.

Wikipedia, in a separate entry, notes the following etymology of the word:
Noel (also spelled Nowell or Noël) is an alternate word for Christmas. The word comes from Middle English noel, which derives from the Old French word noël and its more common form naël. The English spelling "Noël" is taken directly from modern French, which also derives from the Old French. The ultimate Latin origin is the phrase nātālis (diēs), "(day) of birth".
Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn adds some more about the history of Nowell/Noel/Noël -- including a blunder by Jay Leno -- in this December 2006 blog entry.

Today's second piece of ephemera is this oversized -- 8⅛ inches by 6 inches -- postcard featuring a boy and a burn barrel.

This postcard was a gift from my great-grandmother to my uncle at Christmas 1958, and it is (or it was) a playable record!

Stated on the back of the postcard is the following:
  • The Singing Postcard, Phonoscope
  • Plays 200 times perfectly
  • Normal Record 45 RPM, White Christmas by Irving Berlin
  • Audiomaster S.A. - Marterey 36 - Lausanne
  • Printed in Switzerland
  • All rights of the Manufacturer and of the owner of the recorded work reserved. Unauthorised public performance, broadcasting and copying prohibited.
If you're intrigued, check out this in-depth early history of phono postcards by Rainer E. Lotz of Germany (who focuses mostly on 78 rpm postcards). It's a fascinating and well-done piece.

And for more great reading about Christmas carol songbooks, check out "Revisiting WGAL Christmas Carol Sheets and Choral Concerts" by Blake Stough on Preserving York.

1. If you're interested in this 75-year-old book of carols, there are plenty of cheap copies available on Amazon as of this writing.
2. Treasure Chest Publication's other books included "Treasure Chest of World-Wide Songs," "Treasure Chest of Gems for Piano," "Treasure Chest of Cowboy Songs," "Treasure Chest of Home Spun Songs" and -- my favorite title -- "Treasure Chest of Darn Fool Ditties."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Objectionable Words and Terms" from an 1884 cyclopedia

I purchased a copy Professor H.L. Williams' 1884 tome "The World's Cyclopedia and Library of Universal Knowledge"1 last week at The York Emporium because, while leafing through it, I saw that it was much more than just a standard single-volume encyclopedia.2

Other nifty features include four pages on the brief history and statistics of the Brooklyn Bridge3; an official list of counterfeit national notes; and a list of the insolvent, assignment, and homestead laws of the different states of the union.

But my favorite section is the one titled "Objectionable Words and Terms." It's an often-hilarious treasure trove of cranky thoughts on the state of the English language in the 1880s.

Some excerpts:
  • A'ry, na'ry -- "I haven't a'ry one," "I have na'ry one." Say "I have neither," "I haven't either," "I have none." "I haven't got na'ry red." Very low. Say "I have not one cent."
  • At loggerheads is uncouth. If roughness of expression is not desired, say "at variance," or, "on ill terms," or speak of a disagreement, a misunderstanding, or a quarrel.
  • Bad box -- "He is in a bad box" has a vulgar air. Say bad predicament, or unpleasant situation.
  • Barking up the wrong tree is an expressive and comical back-woods phrase which is not found in cultivated circles.
  • Bran new, or brand new is condemned by some writers. It seems unobjectionable as a colloquialism, but should not be used too freely where dignity if regarded.
  • By Jupiter, By Jove, By Jimini, and the like, are oaths by heathen gods.
  • Bain't, for are not; as, "They bain't at home."
  • Cave in -- Low. Say give up, submit, or yield.
  • Chicken fixins is a frivolous expression for which trifles, small matters or little things may be advantageously substituted.
  • Dicker is a colloquialism of wide currency for bargain or trade. It is not admitted in books nor favored in polite society.
  • Disremember, for forget, or do not remember; as, "I know him, but I disremember his name."
  • Furnentz, or fornenst, for opposite, or opposite to; as, "He lives furnentz the college." "I stood directly furnentz him."4
  • Fotch, for fetch, or bring; as, "Will you fotch the water?" "Fotch the trunk up the stairs."
  • Ju, for did you; as, "Ju see the elephant?" "Ju ever see the like?" "Ju know the man?"
  • Kotch'd, for catched, or caught; as, "They who set traps for others, often get kotch'd themselves."
  • Odd splutter her nails signifies God's blood and the nails which fastened Him to the cross.
  • Ouch, for oh, used interjectionally, on receiving a sudden fright or injury; as, "Ouch! the boat is sinking!"5 "Ouch! that wasp stung me in the eye!"
  • Pretty -- This word is often abused by being placed before other adjectives in the fancy that it qualifies them. It does not, but is frequently made to appear in a ridiculous combination. "This basket is pretty large," "I am pretty tired," "he is pretty awkward," are instances. Rather conveys the sense that is intended in such cases. Some who misuse pretty make matters worse by pronouncing it "pooty," or "poorty."6
  • Swap is not an elegant word. It will be well to confine it to trade in horses and jack-knives. Say exchange, barter or trade.

1. Professor Williams was also the author of "Analysis of Gems."
2. This book once belonged to "William G. Rabine."
3. The Brooklyn Bridge stuff is worth its own Papergreat post some day.
4. I believe that "ferninst" is another variant of this odd word. William Allen White wrote an interesting regional note on the word, which can be found here.
5. "Ouch! the boat is sinking!" is my new favorite phrase.
6. This rant and the rants of countless other grammarians over the decades didn't help. I'm pretty sure that we're pretty much stuck with misuses of pretty these days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Receipt for Knights of Pythias and Tweets of Old

We can thank Tweets of Old for today's (late-night) ephemera post. It inspired me to blog about this old receipt for the Knights of Pythias that I've been sitting on1 and failing to write about.

First off, what is Tweets of Old? It's both a Twitter stream (@TweetsOfOld) and a blog.

Author R.L. Ripples (a pseudonym) describes it as follows:
@TweetsofOld is a Twitter stream that began as a convenient way to store interesting old news found while doing research for a book (due out Fall, 2011) about fraternal lodge initiations in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, and the company which manufactured the extraordinary equipment used for them.

Most of what I publish here are “one-liners,” the original items –brief, but whole. I sometimes edit in minor ways for length. These occasionally gossipy news briefs were popular in small town papers and often were grouped according to section or county of residence, and in some newspapers filled several pages. They were listed under headings entitled “local brevities,” “tidbits,” “squibs,” “jottings,” “scintillations,” “whisperings,” “murmurings,” “siftings,” “dots,” “echos,” “crumbs,” “sparks,” “ripples,” “telegraphs,” and so on.2
I've been a big fan of @TweetsOfOld since I first stumbled upon it in the Twitterverse. I retweet the one-liners often on @Papergreat.

A couple samples of Tweets of Old:
  • Mrs. J.C. Anderson, a giddy young thing, and the mother of 16 children, has run away with a big-trousered dude 25 years of age. OH1889
  • Some bees got on the war path yesterday while being robbed. Citizens were compelled to either close doors or leave town. GA1891

So R.L. Ripples' wonderful tweets inspired the posting of today's piece of ephemera. The above receipt shows that, in May 1926, D.B. Lehman paid his dues of $1.95 for the Knights of Pythias' Kearney Lodge No. 159 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. It was received by Master of Finance B.W. Flack and Chancellor Commander John R. Leidig.

The Knights of Pythias are an interesting fraternal organization/secret society. The group was founded in 1864 and was, according to Wikipedia, the first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an act of the United States Congress. The organization's name was inspired by the legend of Damon and Pythias (which illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honor and friendship).

There are several auxiliaries of the Knights of Pythias. According to an online message from Supreme Chancellor Edwin Wright3, "The Dramatic Order Knights of Khorassan is the fun order of the Knights, and they have an auxiliary the Nomads of Avrudaka which is the fun order for the feminine members4 of the family and community."

But how, you might ask, if you're still reading, did Tweets of Old figure into all of this and inspire tonight's post?

Well, it was this tweet from earlier today:


If the Knights of Pythias still offers goat rides, I'm going to have to contact them about a membership!

1. Not literally. It's not nice to sit on the ephemera.
2. Perhaps the newspaper industry could be saved by reviving this kind of hyperlocal content.
3. Not to be confused with Supreme Chancellor Valorum.
4. I'm assuming Wright really meant "female members" and not "feminine members," which is a whole different thing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A handy Christmas cape that doubles as a tree skirt

Here's an odd combination. The December 1972 issue of The Workbasket touts a Christmas-themed "Christmas Cape or Tree Skirt."1

This is the cover story's introductory paragraph, before it delves off into the knitting project's purls, slip stitches, chains and gauges:
"Poinsettias and holly indicate your festive feelings when you are on the go and wearing this pertinent cape. When you are at home let it decorate the base of Christmas tree. Cape takes about 12 ounces 4-ply white orlon sayelle, 2 ounces each of red and green, a few yards of gold, a size 10½ 29-inch circular needle and Susan Bates plastic crochet hooks sizes G and K."
I don't know. Seems you should pick one or the other. Would you really want to wear this again -- especially if you have a live tree and the "cape" has been sitting up against pine needles, sap and the water-filled tree stand?

Other Christmas-themed content in this issue from 39 years ago includes:
  • How to make a pine-cone decoration with Styrofoam2
  • How to make a snowman-themed cookie jar3
  • How to make "Santa's Footprints" decorations4
  • How to make Christmas wreaths using IBM cards5
  • How to take care of gift poinsettias6
And now, given some of the other content of this 1972 magazine, I fear I must leave "Holiday Mode" behind for a few moments and slip back into "Halloween Countdown" mode.

Because there is some, ahem, good stuff in this issue of The Workbasket.

Here, for, example, is the lovely "Carousel Blazer," which would certainly make any young man the envy of his schoolyard peers.

And the article suggests an additional accessory for this knitted ensemble: "A dashing scarf emphasizes the tailored perfection of classic double breasted blazer."

Oh, why not? Clearly, a scarf is all this kid now needs to complete his journey to hell.7

Speaking of which, remember "Things you shouldn't put in Jell-O"? Well, this issue of The Workbasket comes up with a serious violation of that rule with a "Christmas Dinner" recipe titled "Molded Salad with French Green Beans and Almonds."

You don't need to be one of the Wise Men to know that's just horrific.

To document this atrocity for future generations, here are The Workbasket's illustration and recipe:

1. Designed by Mrs. Frank J. Citino.
2. By Mrs. Gabriel Lovasz.
3. By Mrs. Howard Muehl
4. By Mrs. Leonard Langhorst
5. By Mrs. T.O. Johnson
6. By Olga Rolf Tiemann
7. At least Carousel Boy can hang out in Nerdsylvania with this kid.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Fishin' Buddies" promotional cardboard fan from WGAL-TV

Here's an interesting item: An undated cardboard fan featuring a photo of two blond boys fishing with a Lassie-like dog. Printed on the front, in tiny type, is: "FISHIN' BUDDIES, 8687 LITHO IN U.S.A., © A. SCHEER."

Here is what's printed on the back:
  • The WGAL-TV Channel 8 logo
  • "Your Favorite Programs Are On WGAL-TV"
  • "Always Stay Tuned To Channel 8"
  • "PAT. NO. 2,449,701, OTHER PATS PENDING"1
One thing that is not immediately clear is whether this is supposed to represent the long-running TV show "Lassie," or whether it's just a generic Rough Collie. I am now leaning toward the second possibility. If it was "Lassie," I think they would have just stated that somewhere.

WGAL-TV began operations on March 18, 1949, as the fourth television station in Pennsylvania and the first outside Philadelphia.2 According to WGAL-TV's own history web page: "Early entertainment programming on WGAL consisted of film features and shorts. Later, WGAL carried selective programming from CBS, ABC, NBC and the now defunct Dumont Network before becoming the exclusive NBC affiliate for the Harrisburg-Lancaster-York-Lebanon area."3

It was 1963 when WGAL-TV became exclusively an NBC affiliate. So, it's possible that, at one point, WGAL-TV aired episodes of the CBS series "Lassie," which ran from 1954 to 1973.

It's not too hard to find old WGAL-TV-related memorabilia, especially here in southcentral Pennsylvania. I did a quick scan of eBay auctions and found plenty of items with WGAL logos, including rulers, ashtrays, keychains, matchbooks and, most interestingly, a barometer.

And, back in September, Blake Stough wrote about WGAL-TV Christmas Carol lyric sheets on Preserving York.

Here's the back of the cardboard fan:

1. Patent 2,449,701 was issued on September 21, 1948.
2. WGAL-TV beat the broadcast debut of Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV by about nine months.
3. To see a neat old trade advertisement for WGAL-TV, check out Page 3 of this PDF of the April 12, 1955, issue of "Broadcasting-Telecasting" magazine, which is archived online by David Gleason.