Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday's postcards: Planes, boats, waterfalls and ice skating

Let's zip all over the world this afternoon with some cool 20th century postcards.

Eastern's Giant Douglas Silverliners

The front of this undated, illustrated postcard states: "Eastern's Giant Douglas Silverliners Bring a New Degree of Speed to Air Travel."

The back of the postcard provides more detail:

Eastern Air Lines has selected the famous Douglas Silverliners as one of the four types of new planes -- each picked for specific travel service over the routes of The Great Silver Fleet. Flying at 230 miles per hour, and carrying 56 passengers, these 4-engined giants of the air have been selected for fast flights of intermediate distances.
So this airplane is, if my research is correct, a modified Douglas C-54 Skymaster. These were originally military planes used during World War II and the Korean War. After Korea, it had a long career of military and civilian use. It was one of the first aircraft to carry the U.S. president while assuming the call sign Air Force One, according to Wikipedia.

Also printed on the back of the postcard is: "Hand to flight attendant for mailing."

Aborigine girls at Sun-Moon Lake, Formosa

This undated, unused Japan Air Lines ("Route of the Couriers") postcard doesn't contain much more information than what is stated above. But we can still learn a good deal. Breaking it down, piece by piece:
  • Aborigine girls: Taiwanese aborigines make up about 2% of the population (just under 500,000) of Taiwan. Wikipedia has a wonderful, in-depth article on these peoples. You could lose yourself for an entire afternoon there.
  • Sun Moon Lake: This body of water, the largest in Taiwan, is also referred to as Rìyuètán, Ji̍t-goa̍t-thâm, Zintun and Lake Candidius in various languages and historical eras. It surrounds tiny Lalu Island. In legend, Thao hunters discovered Sun Moon Lake while chasing a white deer through the surrounding mountains.
  • Formosa: Formosa is one of the former names of Taiwan. The name comes from the Portuguese phrase Ilha Formosa, which translates as "beautiful island."

Fossli Hotel, med Vøringfoss

Yes, there's a hotel pictured in this breathtaking postcard. Can you see it?

It's the Fossli Hotel in Vøringfossen, Hardanger, Norway. It was opened in 1891, according to the hotel's website. It is only open from late May through the middle of September each year.1

Here is some more background and history from the hotel's website:
"Fossli Hotel, established in 1891, is situated at the innermost end of the Hardanger Fiord in the beautiful Hardanger mountains. The hotel overlooks one of the highest waterfalls in Europe.

"The magnificent Vøringsfoss waterfall has attracted the Kings and Queens and, writers and musicians of Norway and Europe to stay at the Fossli hotel for almost 120 years. Edvard Grieg2 wrote his Opus 66 at the Fossli Hotel.

"The hotel which has been family owned for four generations was designed by the famous architect Konow Lund in the Art Nouveau style for visitors to relax in the clear mountain air. The hotel has retained it's original character to this day.

"In the absence of roads in 1891 the building materials which were carried on horseback to the mountain plateau."
A single room at the Fossli Hotel has a price of 790 Norwegian krones. If I'm doing my math correctly, that would convert to about $137.45 in U.S. currency on the date of this blog post. Not too unreasonable (if you can get yourself there).

The Galleria in Houston, Texas

And here's one last undated, unused postcard. It's an "Astrocard" postcard of the ice skating rink at the The Galleria shopping mall in Houston, Texas. The mall opened in November 1970, one month before I was born.

Stated on the back of the postcard is the following: "Three levels of shopping including over 60 Shops and Ice Skating Rink. In the Galleria -- Post Oak Complex, Houston, Texas."

But the main reason I'm featuring this image is a silly one. This old photo of people awkwardly milling about the ice rink inside a shopping mall totally reminds me of the mall zombies in "Dawn of the Dead."

And so, after Douglas Silverliners, Taiwanese aborigines and the magnificent Vøringsfoss waterfall, I'm leaving you with the wonderful product of American culture and society that is ... Herbert Chappell's "The Gonk."3

1. In the winter, the Torrance family takes care of Fossli Hotel. They've always been the caretakers.
2. Ha! This makes two Saturdays in a row that Edvard Grieg has been mentioned.
3. Here's a fun read about the incidental music from "Dawn of the Dead."

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