Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mystery photo of couple on New Year's Eve

I came across this photo while shopping here in York County earlier this year, and I've been saving it for tonight.

Written in ink on the back of the photo is, simply: "NEW YEARS EVE 1949."

(Also, printed faintly in two spots, is: "KODAK VELO PAPER.")

I believe the three stripes/chevrons indicate that he is an Army sergeant, but military uniforms are not an area of expertise for me.

The good news is that they look like they're having a nice time. If, by some miracle, anyone should happen to recognize either of them, drop me a line!

New Year's Eve list: My 10 favorite Papergreat images of 2011

It's New Year's Eve, and everyone finishes off the year with a list of some sort. So here's mine: My 10 favorite images from this blog in 2011 -- a purely subjective list.

#10: A postcard from Japan

This is from the March 15 post "Nippon-koku," in which a series of vintage postcards were presented as a counterbalance to the devastation and despair of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

#9: "Mystery at Long Barrow House"

In this March 22 post, I wrote: "The cover of this book made me smile when I came upon it. The greens and oranges punch out appealingly. And what more would you want from a juvenile fiction title than the word 'Mystery' and images of adventuring children, an old house with a green roof and a bearded little man (or leprechaun?) wielding a club menacingly? Adventure awaits!"

#8: Young banjo player on bedspread

This image comes from the still-popular May 16 post "Selections from the 1967 Top Value Stamps catalog."

No further words are needed.

#7: Crown Coal, King of Anthracite

This old ink-blotter advertisement was featured in the March 16 entry "Crown Coal, J.W. Wolgemuth and Wenger Feeds." It dates from sometime between 1920 and 1944, and I love the colors and design of the card.

#6: Underwood's Original Deviled Ham

This image hails from the March 17 post "Oldest food trademark still used in the United States." (And, yes, I'm aware that three of my top-10 images come from consecutive days in March. Very odd.)

This full-page advertisement came from a 1905 magazine and launched me off on a meaty tangent that included King Oscar Fish Balls, Rose Beef Tripe with Milk, Armour Pork Brains in Milk Gravy, Tasty Joy Quail Eggs and Goblin Meat Pudding.

#5: Story Gnome: The Keeper of Magic Books

Our family has a soft spot for Story Gnome, who was featured in this May 6 post. He's an illustration from "Mother Goose Secrets," a 1925 book by Barbara Webb Bourjaily. And for many months this past year, Story Gnome served as my Papergreat Twitter avatar.

#4: Sami girl and a reindeer

Check out the colorfully dressed Sami girl and her white reindeer in this postcard that I wrote about on December 17. My love for this image wasn't even lessened when I realized that the girl has a huge knife affixed to her waist.

#2 (tie): Fiskargränd and Møntestræde

These two postcards, from April 9 and April 16, are joined at the hip. Or perhaps I should say "joined at the alley."

The colorful Fiskargränd ("Fish Alley") in Visby, Sweden, and the black-and-white Møntestræde ("Mint Street") in Odense, Denmark, are both wonderful, human-scale early European alleys. They harken to a time when our lives weren't ruled by cars and the necessary speed of modern life.

#1: A dark and stormy night ... and a good book

I said in this October 4 post that this was my new favorite piece of ephemera, and nothing has unseated it. Not even close.

At the time, I wrote:
"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 hand -- 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.

A perfect piece of ephemera..."
Perfect indeed. And it also serves as the main image for Papergreat's new page on Facebook. If you "like" the page, you'll be able to follow all of this blog's 2012 posts on your Facebook wall. Be among the first to find out if anything unseats "a dark and stormy night" as my favorite illustration.

Have a safe New Year's Eve!

Friday, December 30, 2011

1961 Ginza Tokyu Hotel guest booklet

True story: Much to my chagrin, I don't do much advance planning for these blog entries. Although I have absolutely no shortage of items to write about, I need for inspiration to strike me when I'm in my daily researching/writing window.

This morning, before getting online, I was trying to brainstorm something to write about. One good possibility I came up with was a 50-year-old Japanese hotel guest booklet, which serves as a companion piece to a postcard I wrote about way back in February.

But I hadn't really made my final decision until I came downstairs and logged into Blogger. I found that I had one new reader comment overnight:

Dear Chris
Hi,This is Tanaka from Tokyo.
Ginza Tokyu Hotel was a hotel in Ginza, Tokyo.
Built in 1960, the 10 storey hotel was initially the only 4-star hotel.
It closed in May 2001.
Well, I know a sign when I see one!

So here is today's ephemera post, with an assist from Tanaka, who -- by the way -- also has a marvelous ephemera blog, called Hotel Stationery. Although it's a Japanese-language blog, you can still check out all the wonderful images of paper from around the world.

1961 Ginza Tokyu Hotel guest booklet

This 64-page staplebound booklet measures 3⅝ inches wide by 5 inches deep. It contains everything that a guest of the Ginza Tokyu Hotel would have needed to know in 1961, plus a fold-out color sightseeing map of Tokyo in the center.

(My great-grandmother, Greta, received and saved this booklet when she was a guest there.)

The message on the first page of the booklet states:
Dear Guest:

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the GINZA TOKYU HOTEL. Our aim is to render your stay with us as comfortable and pleasant as possible.

In order to help us achieve our objective, we will greatly appreciate receiving any constructive criticism or suggestions you may have to offer.

We wish you a happy and enjoyable stay at the GINZA TOKYU HOTEL.
The page with the hotel rates notes that the 1961 dollar-to-yen rate of exchange was $1 = ¥360.

Single-room rates ranged from ¥1,800 to ¥2,200. Japanese-style rooms were ¥3,500 or ¥5,000. And the most expensive room was a deluxe double suite costing ¥20,000.


Here are some of the highlights of the descriptions of the hotel's amenities:
  • Main Dining Room: "The Main Dining Room is decorated with the handwoven brocade masterpiece by the world-famed Shikō Munakata. Dinner music from 6 p.m. every evening."
  • Top of Ginza (Roof Garden Restaurant): "During the summer months, serves cold buffet and beer on the roof garden, 11 stories above Ginza, affording and unexcelled panoramic night view of Tokyo."
  • Ginza Snack (Main Floor): "Serves light lunches, late night snacks, soft drinks. Open: 24 hours a day. Quick service. Popular prices. This snack restaurant provides a 'Picnic Lunch' for ¥600."
  • Cocktail Lounge (Main Lobby): "A favorite Rendez-Vous spot. Serves a wide variety of hard and soft drinks. Enjoy our soothing music and soft drinks in our lobby."
  • Baby Sitter: "Available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., ¥100 an hour."
  • Golf Practice Range (Roof): "A golf practice range is available, free of charge. Call the Information Desk for golf clubs, balls, etc."
  • TV Sets For Rent: "Available at ¥300 a day."
  • Important Requests: "Did you know? That many fires are caused by careless people smoking in bed. That dogs and pets disturb the comfort of others and sometimes cause considerable damage. That it is customary in Tokyo, and much more comfortable, to wear a jacket in public at all times. Our exception is the GINZA SNACK which is as casual as any coffee shop."
  • Masseur, Masseuse: "Available by appointment from 6 a.m. to midnight, ¥500 an hour."
  • Arcade: The hotel's arcade (map pictured at right) was open year round from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (See below for some of the advertisements for stores in the arcade.)
  • Shika Odoshi: "Shika Odoshi or deer alarm is placed in the Main Lobby near the Cocktail Lounge. The bamboo tube hits the stone at regular intervals when it fills with water. This alarm is used for the purpose of frightening deer away."
  • Wedding Hall (2nd Floor): "This authentic Japanese Wedding Hall is complete with beauty parlor, ceremonial dresses for rent and photo studio. The Tokyu Travel Service will also arrange your honeymoon trip."


LEFT: Yoshii Drug Store, selling Lederle's Achromycin and Stresscaps. RIGHT: Saito Barber Shop.

Tokyo Chiyoda Electric Co Ltd., featuring its "world famous transistor radio."

LEFT: The "Foreigners' Feasting Paradise" at Suehiro restaurant. RIGHT: Kimonos for sale at Sakura Co., Ltd.

LEFT: The Aoki Clinic and Hospital, which has a specialist in "Inner Diseases." RIGHT: Kirin Beer, Japan's "Top Selling Beer."

Suntory whisky (Bill Murray not included)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fairy tales: From laxatives to Littlestown to Johnny Depp

Looking back at the first full year of this blog, one thing that surprises me is how little I wrote about folk and fairy tales.1

So let's travel down that avenue today. Pictured at right is the front cover of "Famous Fairy Tales for Children," a 20-page staplebound booklet published in 1930 by Pepsin Syrup Company of Monticello, Illinois.2

The full-color booklet measures about 4¼ inches wide by 6½ inches tall. It includes illustrated3 versions of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk4, Little Red Riding Hood and Aladdin and His Lamp, interspersed with copious advertisements for Pepsin Syrup Company, which produced "the largest selling family laxative in the world."

Here are some of the testimonials for Dr. W.B. Caldwell's Syrup Pepsin included in the booklet:
  • Dr. Caldwell's Syrup Pepsin does exactly as you say it will, and I always keep it in the house. -- Mrs. A. Carroll, 49 West Dedham St., Boston, Mass.
  • Have used Dr. Caldwell's Syrup Pepsin for years and would use no other laxative for my two children. -- Mrs. D. Delaney, 7610 Cornelia Ave., Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Since my 76th birthday I have needed a good laxative and always keep Dr. Caldwell's Syrup Pepsin on hand. -- E.M. Rugg, Redondo Beach, Calif.
But, laxatives aside, what really piqued my interest about this fairy-tale booklet is the back cover, which is printed with the following:

South Queen St.
Littlestown Pennsylvania

This is where the fun really starts.

Howard A. Stonesifer (1879-1969), pictured at right, ran a pharmacy in Littlestown5 from 1902 until 1948, according to this "Find A Grave" biography that was created by Howard D. Sell. Also, according to Sell:
"[Stonesifer] married Etta Sarah Frances Crouse on October 12, 1904. They had a daughter Myrtle Louise. Howard was president of the Rotary Club, the Keystone Cabinet Company, the Littlestown National Bank and later the head of its board of directors. He donated $150,000 for the Littlestown swimming pool."
Now, about Howard's daughter...

Here's some information about Myrtle Louise Stonesifer King, pieced together from various sources:6
  • She was born in Littlestown on May 1, 1905.
  • She graduated from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, in 1927 and later earned a master's in drama from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • She worked off-Broadway under the stage name Louise Howard.
  • She had another stage name -- Halo Meadows -- which she used for her career as a burlesque/exotic dancer.
  • In 1940, she married Jeron Criswell King (pictured at right), who was better known as the extremely inaccurate psychic called The Amazing Criswell.
  • She appeared on an episode of "You Bet Your Life" (with host Groucho Marx) in the 1950s and performed her original song, "Chop Your Head Off."
  • She was "quite mad," according to Charles A. Coulombe, whose family rented an apartment from The Amazing Criswell. Added Coulombe: "Mrs. Criswell had a huge standard poodle (named 'Buttercup') which she was convinced was the reincarnation of her cousin Thomas. She spent a great deal of time sunbathing ... which, given her size, was not too pleasing a sight."
  • When her father, the pharmacist, died in 1969, she returned to Littlestown. She did this even though he had once told her: "Don't come back. All you want to do is play music and raise dogs. You'll never be able to take it if you come back here."7
  • She and The Amazing Criswell were legally separated in 1974.
  • She did move back to Littlestown. On a message board for The (Hanover) Evening Sun, one person remembers that "she was definitely a Littlestown character from my childhood ... walking her dog along the main streets wearing flip-flops, shorts, and a halter top despite being well into her 70s."
  • She died in Littlestown on May 12, 1985, and is buried there in Mount Carmel Cemetery -- the same cemetery as her parents.
  • Earlier this week, "A Movie Night With Myrtle Louise!!!!" was held at Redeemer's United Church of Christ in Littlestown. So her legacy remains quite strong.
And that really only scratches the surface on the life of Myrtle Louise Stonesifer King.

But how do we get to Johnny Depp?


The Amazing Criswell worked with director Ed Wood and appears as himself as the narrator of "Plan 9 from Outer Space" -- one of the greatest debacles in movie history.

Wood, The Amazing Criswell and "Plan 9 from Outer Space" were celebrated in the fabulous 1994 Tim Burton film "Ed Wood," in which Jeffrey Jones portrayed Criswell and Depp portrayed Wood.

I'm sure Howard A. Stonesifer never imagined the tales that would emerge from his family when he was distributing fairy-tale booklets laced with laxative advertisements to his customers' children in 1930.

1. And that's kind of crazy, because I'm the guy who collects everything Ruth Manning-Sanders; has many books from the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library; and makes regular references to Baba Yaga around people who have no clue what I'm talking about.
2. Joan and I purchased this booklet during a trip to Golden Lane Art and Antique Gallery in New Oxford, Pennsylvania, earlier this month.
3. It appears that all of the illustrations are by Frank and Allie Dillon. The only other reference I found to them was as the illustrators of a story in St. Nicholas Magazine in 1915 or 1916.
4. My favorite version of "Jack and the Beanstalk" is the 1974 animated feature directed by Gisaburō Sugii. If you saw it during the 1970s or early 1980s, I'm sure you never forgot it.
5. Littlestown and New Oxford are both located in Adams County and are less than 15 miles apart. So it's possible this fairy-tale booklet hasn't traveled very far in its 80-plus-year lifetime.
6. Sources include her Find A Grave page, her Wikipedia page, a 1982 article from The Gettysburg Times, and, yes, a Facebook fan page.
7. That quote comes from the aforementioned July 12, 1982, article in The Gettysburg Times.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Christmas Baby

Presented for your enjoyment today, without commentary or footnotes, are the front and back sides of "The Christmas Baby," an illustrated song card published on December 19, 1937. It's part of the Berean Beginners Pictures and Stories set that was published by The Methodist Book Concern.

The Papergreat Corporate Headquarters will be on vacation for a few days. I'll be back with more ephemera on Thursday.

Merry Christmas!