Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reader comments: Esso, THON, Koester's Bread and more

I have awesome reader comments rolling in from every direction these days, including Facebook (do you like the Papergreat page?) and e-mail. So let's dive right in and get to your insights and feedback...

Esso touts the oil culture in these 1950s books for kids: Melanie Pancho wrote: "I remember books like this! (Dating myself, I know, but that's okay!) They must have been illustrated by the same person who did the Dick and Jane books, which were still in use when I was learning to read. By the way, you should use that last pic as your avatar right here on Facebook, it's fantastic!"

Mel Kolstad of Ephemeraology, who blogged about gas stations on the same day as my post, wrote: "YES!!! It MUST be your new avatar. Wonderful post, and great minds think alike - we posted an hour apart and we both did gasoline-related posts today! WEIRD!"

(Note from Chris: OK, I didn't use it as my Facebook pic, but I did follow through and make Beaming Boy my Twitter avatar.)

Finally, Anonymous wrote: "Funniest thing about the first picture is the coin changer the Esso serviceman is wearing."

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"Wallpaper Does It," courtesy of Western Electric: Of the tricks and tips mentioned in this 1955 booklet, Linda Chenoweth Harlow wrote: "Design tricks still used today. Thank goodness the patterns are better!"

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Memories of Penn State's 1993 Dance Marathon: I am humbled and happy to say that this post was shared quite bit among THON participants, past and present, and was able to bring back some poignant memories for a lot of people.

More importantly, I am thrilled to report, if you haven't already heard, that last weekend's THON raised $10,686,924.83 for the fight against pediatric cancer. Absolutely unbelievable effort by those Penn Staters!

Ashley Akright, Nick's little sister, shared this touching message on the first night of THON: "Mom and I read this in the hotel room tonight, with tears running down my face. So glad my family could inspire Chris and so many other dancers throughout the years. I wore my 1993 THON shirt tonight and brought the referenced red sweatshirt. Donate now if you haven't already to, so no one else needs to shed a tear over a child's battle against cancer."

And Bud Akright, Nick's dad, wrote this: "Chris, After reading your words, I am reminded of how proud I am of all the Thon students, especially my daughter, who continued the fight even after Nick left us. Love you all, THON on!"

Ashley also found her 1993 THON hat, which I had autographed for her at the time. It's pictured here. In the meantime, Nick's 1993 letter, as promised, is in the mail to the Akright family.

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Coupons from the E.H. Koester Bakery Co.: This post from March 2011 generated a number of great reader comments and memories.

One more came in early December, when this email from Linda Durkos finally made its way to me:1 "I am always looking for Koester’s Bakery paraphernalia and I saw on your blog that you have two bread coupons for the bakery. Koester’s has a warm spot in my heart as my grandmother worked there during the 1920’s through her retirement in 1964 as an office manager and this is where I developed my sweet tooth. Anyway, to get to the point, I was wondering if you would be interested in selling these coupons as I have several other pieces of advertising from the bakery – bakery window decal in gold with black outlining; bakery window decal of twins; bread wrappers and believe it or not, an ashtray with the twins on it. I use it for soap. These would be a wonderful addition to my collection if you are willing to part with them."

How could I refuse a request like that? Of course, I wouldn't hear of taking any money for the Koester’s coupons. I just mailed them to her and told her that, if she had a few pieces of ephemera laying around that she wasn't interested in, she could send them my way. A good, old-fashioned Ephemera Swap!

I forgot all about it until a couple days ago, when my wife told me there was a package for me and my jaw dropped at the size of the box.2 It was jam-packed with ephemera. There are enough postcards, envelopes, pamphlets, brochures, newspaper clippings, ticket stubs -- and more -- within this box to sustain two months worth of Papergreat entries. I am truly floored. Thank you so much, Linda! I cannot wait to dive in!

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Only six days until Valentine's Day! Anonymous wrote: "Eons ago when I was in elementary school we used numbered letters from the alphabet to sign our valentines to classmates (a-1, b-2, ... z-26). If that's what the sender is using here, it would be JEC, which may be the perp's initials!"

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Violet Anderson and Kenneth Lehman will sing and play: Blake Stough of Preserving York did some excellent sleuth work and wrote:
"I'm always interested in stories about York County...

"It appears there were several 'Green Valley Ramblers' around during the 1900s. I've found references to bands of that name in newspapers from the 1930s to the 1970s. The locations I came across via were:
  • Hamilton, OH (1937)
  • Frederick, MD (1938)
  • Connellsville, PA (1951)
  • Lebanon, PA (1967)
  • Burlington, NC (1972-1977)
  • Uniontown, PA (1976)
  • Chester, PA (1977)
  • Gettysburg, PA (1978)
"The Gettysburg listing mentioned that the 'Green Valley Ramblers' playing there were from North Carolina, so it seems THAT particular band may have traveled quite a bit.

"Not much help, but perhaps a nudge in the right direction."
Thanks, Blake!

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New occasional series: The Wanamaker Diary 1910: Mom wrote: "We had that Underwood typewriter when I was young. Mom bought it second (or third or fourth?) hand in the 1950s. If you typed too fast on it, the strikers would jam up and stick together. Easily fixed. Those machines were built to last. Not like the junk they sell today. And you could buy red/black ribbons. With a stroke of the right keys it would shift the position of the ribbons and you could type in one color or the other. High tech in those days!"

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A very old Jules Verne book cover and a 1960 band photo: Finally, Scott Downs, the publisher of the Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News, checked in on Facebook to say that he liked this post: "Great cover art. I love the art used on antique books."

Scott then sent me some images of favorite book covers from his own collection, which I am happy to share here:

Above: From 1910, "The Boy Aviators in Nicaragua or In League with the Insurgents." This was the first book in "The Boy Aviators" series.

Above: From 1894, "Cruise of the Midge," of which only 1,500 copies were printed.

Above: From 1899, "Triumphs and Wonder of the XIXth Century."

1. You have to love the Internet. Linda got in touch with me by contacting the The Gettysburg Times, a newspaper I haven't worked for since 1994! (Fortunately, someone in Gettysburg knew that I was still working in nearby York.) In trying to find me, Linda wrote: "Good afternoon: I would like to get in touch with Chris Otto and my search has led me to the Gettysburg Times. I am not having success on his blog and, since according to my children I am an electronic Neanderthal, this is the only avenue I can find. If you could forward this to him, I would appreciate it." Hey, it worked! So Linda gets full credit and bonus points for creativity.
2. Using my favorite standard unit of measure, this box could have held 1.5 Gwyneth Paltrow Heads.

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