Monday, February 6, 2012

New occasional series:
The Wanamaker Diary 1910

This is a battered, falling-apart-at-the-seams copy of "The Wanamaker Diary" for 1910 that I've been wanting to write about for a year. But the problem is that it's too interesting. I could never figure out where to start or conceive of how to fit all of the cool stuff from its 400-plus pages into one blog post.

I mean, this thing is PACKED with goodies. Vintage advertisements, diagrams of Philadelphia's sports and theater venues from a century ago1, poems, recipes2, household tips, pet names for a baby's fingers3, song lyrics, news reports of telepathy, some family information scrawled in pencil by its former owner, weather-forecasting guides and much, much more.

So I'm turning it into a series!

I can imagine churning out a dozen or more posts on this gem of a 102-year-old book during the next year. I have created a Wanamaker Series label to organize the posts as they accumulate.

For today, we get no further than the inside covers.

This is the inside front cover:

The advertisement for the Underwood Typewriter Company touts the No. 5 Underwood Retail Bill and Charge Typewriter: "For entering charges and making entry on weekly or monthly bill at one operation, this machine is incomparable. Typewritten Records, Time Saved, and Underwood Satisfaction."

Meanwhile, the inside back cover touts the Philadelphia Wanamaker's (which I'll write more about in coming installments):

1. Including Franklin Field, Adelphi Theatre and the Chestnut Street Opera House.
2. Including this recipe for Meat Tea: "Cut a pound of lean meat into thin slices, put into a quart and half a pint of cold water, set it over a gentle fire where it will become gradually warm. When the scum arises let it simmer gently for about an hour, then strain it through a fine sieve or napkin, let it stand ten minutes to settle, and then pour off the clear tea. An onion and a few grains of black pepper may be added."
3. Thumbo, Lickpot, Long Man Ling, Side Finger Ring, Lit-tle ducky duck-y ducky duck-y darling, Thumbkin, Pinnikin, Long Man Gray, Ring Man and Peezy Weezy, of course.


  1. CHRIS!!! How fabulous! Where on earth do you find such wonderful books - I mean, this one and the "Pleasing your Husband" one alone are enough for a whole 'nother blog! :D

  2. Wanamaker's was a fabulous place! I worked in the toy department one Christmas for my first post college job, 1971. Children and parents could ride a monorail that ran around the entire ceiling of the 8th floor toy department. Kids often spit out the windows of the monorail.

    Tours were given of Wanamaker's well hidden office. Even though he died about 1922, it was kept much as he left it. The office had large windows overlooking downtown Philly while most of the store was windowless.

    The store had a post office and a furnished model house in the furniture dept. People would joke about spending a weekend in the model house. Wanamaker's in- store bank was on a lower level. We carried cash to the bank before checking out.

    The Wanamaker Christmas show was a treat with a multi-story display of flashing lights and the Wanamaker organ music. We watched from the balcony cafe (3rd fl.)or the Chrystal Tea room on the 9th floor. The organ was built for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Wanamaker purchased it in 1909, but the installation took 2 years with nearly 10,000 pipes.

    Strawbridge & Clothier had the brass wild boar, unimpressive in comparison to the Wanamaker eagle in the Grand Court. The eagle was THE place to meet in the store.

  3. I work at a library, and one of these was donated to us, but I grabbed it because it looked interesting. It's full of handwritten notes, but I have no idea what these things are supposed to be? Mine is from 1932.