Sunday, December 30, 2012

From the readers: Christmas 2012

Christmas begins: Peter Pan recipe for peanut butter cookies: Wendyvee of Wendyvee's writes: "Wow, I would have guessed earlier [than 1988] on the switch to plastic [peanut butter] jars! Mr. Scrooge is such a creeper. We may have to launch a Scrooge meme."

And Justin Mann of Justin's Brew Review, who can't leave this topic alone, adds: "I still think the 1 egg + 1 cup of sugar + 1 cup of PB recipe trumps all. However, I will eat any PB cookie you put in front of me. I love peanut butter!"

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Very old Christmas card (and more) inside 1890's "Triumphant Songs": Jayne B. Lyons writes: "Great score, Chris! I enjoyed reading about the extra 'goodies' found inside the book, along with the history of the book and ephemera!"

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Kids Say the Darndest Things, Holiday Edition: Wendyvee writes: "I can't get past a boy named Elfis ... I'm dying here!"

And Susan Jennings, who authors the My Inside Voices blog, writes: "I love the kid who stuck with the tried and true 'once upon a time' and then killed off the reindeer. Fantastic."

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1960s Russian С Новым годом postcard ("Happy New Year!"): I asked readers if they could translate the Russian word written in cursive on the red ornament on this postcard. I received two helpful, greatly appreciated and anonymous replies:
  • Поздравляем kind of means "we wish you all the best". I have a different question: what role does the rabbit play in stories about Ded Moroz? In Russia, you can buy chocolate rabbits for New Year's, that are sold in Europe for Easter.
  • The two phrases go together: поздравляем с новым годом! поздравлять means "congratulate".

Ded Moroz (Дед Мороз) is, per Wikipedia, a folklore character who plays a role similar to that of Santa Claus in some Slavic cultures. His name translates to Old Man Frost or Father Frost.

I haven't yet found any specific connections between Ded Moroz and rabbits. Just this one small item of interest: In the 1978 animated film Дед Мороз и серый волк (roughly, "Santa and the Gray Wolf"), rabbits figure into the tale. Here is that film's plot, according to the Voices from Russia blog:
"Ded Moroz prepares New Year’s gifts for the young forest animals. A grey wolf and raven come up with a plan to kidnap the rabbits. The action centres on the kidnapping of the rabbit children … but have no fear; the plot has the obligatory [Soviet] happy ending. Everyone celebrates the New Year and all the young forest animals get their presents."
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Christmas-themed cover of the December 1979 issue of Cricket: Janelle Neithammer Downey writes: "I bought a subscription to Cricket for my daughter when she was in elementary school. She loved it!"

And Wendyvee adds: "I remember Cricket! Our family doctor always had it in his waiting room."

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Festive Christmas matchbook from D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Co.: Sean Kelly writes: "Let me know if you would like a walk down memory lane about the D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Co. I have quite a collection dating back to nearly the founding days when my great, great, great grandfather started the company downtown [in York] on George Street, where the McDonald's stands today. There is also a similar matchbook from that period, too. I believe that they were made in the mid to late 30's, but could have been into the early 40's. Unfortunately, my great grandfather would have known for sure, but he passed away in 2005, just short of his 104th birthday."

And there was also a fun discussion about this matchbook on the Preserving York Facebook group. Some highlights:
  • Blake Stough: D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Company has a trademark on "NIF=TY" dated May 19, 1923, not that it's much help. I notice the original word/phrase uses an equal sign instead of a hyphen. I have no idea if that's significant, but if that was changed over the years, it may help determine a date for this piece.
  • Jaclyn Helzer Sallade: Think these matches were popular among local businesses. Have one from another place I will post. I found it among family items and always guessed it was from the 30's or 40's. Will post soon. Have seen the Stauffer logo before, maybe on a tin.
  • JoAnne Everhart: I can remember seeing the NIF=TY logo in the late 1950's. I used to go into a corner grocery near the McKinley Elementary School and they had big boxes of bulk cookies with glass lids. On the front of those boxes it said NIF=TY.

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A merry Christmastide to you, Marguerite E. DeWitt: My wonderful wife Joan writes: "This is one of the most beautiful Christmas tributes I've read this year, or in fact any year. Thank you for always caring about the little things, the postcards and the small gestures that other people would miss. I love you, husband!"

And Wendyvee adds: "This is such a sweet post. Thank you for all of the cool stuff, the great examples of graphic design, the head-scratchers, and for going the extra mile of researching the wonderful things you find."

As I've said many times, I never know where I'm going to end up when I start researching something for a post. As I discovered a little bit about the life of Marguerite E. DeWitt and started putting it all together, I realized that it had become one of my favorite posts of 2012, quite unexpectedly. And that's one of the big reasons I spend so much time on this hobby. You never know what story you're going to uncover. (Almost) no one else is tracking these things down.

Thanks to all of you for your comments and participation this month! I think it was another very enjoyable collection of Christmas-themed ephemera. And I never even got to Krampus. He'll have to wait until December 2013!

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