Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday's postcard: America House Motor Inn

Today's unused, undated postcard showcases the America House Motor Inn & Restaurant, which I don't believe exists any more.

According to the back of the card, the facility was located "On Eastern Shore of Virginia at Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Plaza." I think that means it was located in Virginia Beach, but I could be wrong. Scanning some maps, it appears that residential development has taken hold in the area where this motor inn would have been previously located.

The facility was described on the back of the postcard as follows:
"40 acres of family seaside fun! Ten-acre private sandy beach, world's best sports fishing, sailboats, swimming pools, putting green, driving range, playgrounds, picnic grounds, indoor and outdoor game facilities, famous Chincoteague ponies. Soaring observation tower gives beautiful view of Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean."
Does anyone have any memories or further information regarding this place?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Two groovy images of gloomy castles

As some bad weather rolls into Pennsylvania for the weekend, here are a pair of illustrations of castles.

First up, Leonard Lubin's cover illustration from the 1979 Scholastic paperback "Star Jewel."

And ... drum roll ... I proudly present this illustration of a castle and wolves created by my daughter, Sarah, in her sixth-grade computer-design course at West York Area Middle School. Awesome sauce, Sarah!

"Personally trained in the [Jack] Woodford style"

This 1952 hardcover of "Two Can Play" by Jack Woodford and Jeanne Renée isn't especially rare or notable. But what caught my attention was some of the text on the dust jacket of the Signature Press, Inc. novel.

The lone paragraph on the back of the cover states:
"SIGNATURE PRESS, INC. was formed with Jack Woodford as one of the principal owners to publish and promote books written by him and by young authors whom he personally trained in the Woodford style."
And the inside front flap states: "This is the first book that Jack Woodford and his protege, Jeanne Renée, have written together. There will be more to come."

So who was Jack Woodford?

First off, that's a pen name.1 His real name was Josiah Pitts Woolfolk.

Writer Richard A. Lupoff posted this wonderfully concise biography of Woodford on last October:
"Jack Woodford (1894-1971) was one of the most accomplished (and eccentric) novelists of his time. He quarreled with the publishing industry, he was attacked as a pornographer, he had been a heroin addict and alcoholic, he spent time in a Federal penitentiary for mail fraud and ended his days (by his own description) living in a comfortable suite in a mental hospital. His books on writing remain some of the best ever published on that subject. His 'sleaze' novels were packaged sensationally2 but in fact, at least by modern standards, are little more than tepid romances."
Sleaze aside3, Woodford's greater legacy is probably his well-regarded books about writing, especially "Trial and Error," which was originally published in the 1930s and has various editions that sell for $10 to $30 today.4

How well-regarded was Woodford's no-nonsense writing advice? Here are quotes from some of his fans and disciples:5
  • Ray Bradbury: "Jack Woodford's 'Trial and Error' was the first book on writing I ever read, at the age of fifteen. He said all the right things and said them clearly. I stayed afloat and got my work done because of him."
  • Piers Anthony: "I have a strong feeling of affinity for Jack Woodford, an ornery cuss who answered his mail and his critics and told it as it was — as I do now. ... Jack Woodford was writing on writing back when I was born — and he still makes more sense than anyone else. His references may be dated now, but his truths are eternal."
  • Robert A. Heinlein: "I read 'Trial and Error' in 1939, started writing and did exactly what he said to do, and it works and I've sold it all."

That's a pretty nice trio of recommendations!

So, while the "Woodford style" of trashy pulp fiction might not have done much to advance to world of 20th-century literature, his advice has certainly inspired legions of writers, including some of our greatest science-fiction and fantasy authors.

1. His other pen names included Gordon Sayre, Sappho Henderson Britt, and Howard Hogue Kennedy.
2. If you're curious about the "sensationally" packaged "tepid romances" of Woodford ("Two Can Play" might have been his tamest cover of all time!), you can check out some of his raciest covers at a blog called Vintage Sleaze, which is precisely what you would expect it to be. I think my favorite title is "3 Gorgeous Hussies."1
3. Here's an amusing quote attributed to Woodford, regarding the art of keeping the plot simple in his style of pulp novels: “Boy meets girl; girl gets boy into pickle; boy gets pickle into girl.”
4. Woodford's non-fiction bibliography on Wikipedia is a good place to start if you're interested in his books about writing.
5. These are excerpted from Woodford's Wikipedia page.

Secondary footnote
1. Little-known fact: "3 Gorgeous Hussies" was the runner-up when I was deciding what to name this blog.1

Tertiary footnote
1. Not really.1

Quaternary footnote
1. Learned something new today. Did you know that the answer to "What comes after primary, secondary, tertiary?" -- according to Oxford Dictionaries -- is this: "The sequence continues with quaternary, quinary, senary, septenary, octonary, nonary, and denary, although most of these terms are rarely used. There's no word relating to the number eleven but there is one that relates to the number twelve: duodenary." So there.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The (new) oddest stuff I've found tucked inside a book

I was paging quickly through a battered copy of "Frye's Elements of Geography" (published circa 1902), trying to find something interesting to write about on the blog. The book was in really rough condition, with multiple pages missing and numerous ripped, scissored or otherwise damaged pages. There was one nice illustration that caught my eye1, but, other than that, the book seemed destined for the trash can instead of the blog. Its usefulness had expired.

But then something caught my eye. A flash of color.

Tucked far back between a pair of pages, near the spine, was a purple piece of thread. Interesting for sure, but not terribly notable all by itself.

Then I started noticing more things.

Another flash of color. Glimpses of several small, folded pieces of paper.

I slowed down and went through the book page by page, opening it wide to find the treasures tucked in near the spine.

The final tally, after everything was extracted and unfolded:
  • 9 small labels for embroidery thread, age unknown
  • 4 old pins
  • 5 strands of colorful embroidery thread, of varying lengths
Such odd materials to be shoved into the far reaches of an old textbook! Who did this? When? Why? Was the book already in terrible shape when this was done, and it was just thought to be a good place to discard these materials?

I dug up some more information about the companies mentioned on two of the embroidery-thread labels:

Cynthia Mills: The silver tags are for four different colors of thread -- 751, 657, 484 and 750. The information on the tags includes:
  • PAT. NO. 1,592,432 (see Footnote 2)
  • ARTICLE 1170 - 9 YDS.
Cynthia Mills was a cotton-yarn factory in East Boston, Massachusetts. The mill was represented by Harding, Tilton & Company.3

In a statement dated Dec. 29, 1917, and appearing in "America's Textile Reporter," Cynthia Mills is listed as being located at 16 New Street in East Boston. Here's the full financial statement, pulled from Google Books:

Clark's O.N.T.: These light-yellow tags are for three different colors of thread -- 182, 38 and 1. The information on the tags includes:
  • CLARK'S O.N.T.
  • 8 YARDS
There is plenty of information about Clark's available online. Textile Industry History ( has a wonderful page full of the detailed history and the ephemera of Clark Thread Co., which was based in Newark and East Newark, New Jersey, from 1866 to 1949.

O.N.T. stands for "Our New Thread" and the brand dates to the mid 1800s. Given the era of its prominence, it's not surprising that there are numerous Victorian trade cards for O.N.T. that can be easily found online.

Clark Thread Co. is now known as Coats PLC.

1. Here's that one illustration that I thought was pretty cool. The caption states: "Iron Works, Pennsylvania. NOTE: -- The picture shows a huge retort in which hot air is being forced through liquid iron, changing it to steel."

2. Patent number 1,592,432 was filed by John L. Barry on October 1, 1924, and published on July 13, 1926 (which helps to date these materials, a little bit). You can read all four pages of Barry's patent application on this PDF.
3. Here's an excerpt from 1922's "History of American textiles: with kindred and auxiliary industries":
"A prominent firm in the textile industry is that of Harding, Tilton & Company which acts as selling agents for several of the largest mills in the country and which has its principal offices at Boston, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. This Company specializes in handling yarns and grey goods. It was established in 1909 by Mr. Charles L. Harding, of Boston, and Mr. Newell W. Tilton, of New York. Mr. Harding was formerly connected with the firm of Harding, Whitman & Company of New York and Boston. ...

"The cotton goods which are sold by Harding, Tilton & Co. are manufactured by the Whitman, Gosnold and Page mills of New Bedford. The cotton yarns are the products of the Holmes and Fairhaven Mills of New Bedford, the Nyanza Mills of Woonsocket and the Cynthia Mills of East Boston. The worsted yarns are manufactured at Woonsocket by the Samoset Mills, and at Dedham, Mass., by the Dedham Worsted. ...

"These mills represent a combined working capital of about $25,000,000 and give employment to about 9000 hands."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

J.C. Savage of Belfast, tailor and breeches maker

Pictured above is the measure chart that is included as part of an old tri-fold brochure for J.C. Savage, a tailor in Belfast, Ireland. The brochure dates to sometime in the 1920s. My reasoning: While there is no specific date mentioned, it is stated that (a) J.C. Savage was established in 1840 and (b) the company has been "Master Tailors for over 80 years."1

Here are some excerpts from the brochure, which indicates that J.C. Savage was located at 119 Donegall Street in Belfast:2
  • "In presenting this Folder to you for your kind inspection, we beg to state that as Master Tailors for over 80 years in the Cutting and Making of garments in Riding attire, we can give these garments in the Latest Styles, comfortable in Saddle, and Tailored to merit your custom in the future, and also your good recommendation to others, for which we would thank you."
  • "As we have the honour of being official Tailors to the majority of the Hunt Clubs at home, and can number amongst our extensive Clientle [sic], many of the foremost Equestrians at home and abroad, we offer you with every confidence our services as an authority on the subject of Riding Garments in the Latest Styles."
  • "Remittances payable to J.C. Savage, and crossed Ulster Bank, Carlisle Circus, Belfast."3
  • Products included jodphores, breeches, leggings and a waterproof riding coat. All could be ordered and tailored for men or women.
  • Customers were asked for a number of details, including:
    • Split Fall or Fly Fronts
    • Ladies -- Split Fall or Buttoned each side
    • Buckskin -- if to match cloth or lighter shade or white
    • Laced or Buttoned, and where -- front of knee or inside Shin Bone
    • If Whalebone (yes or no)
    • Level Tops or high at back
    • Pockets
    • Belt Loops
    • Brace Buttons -- if on outside or inside or if any
    • State if required for Riding or Walking
Pictured below is the illustration of three kinds of leggings sold by J.C. Savage -- Brooklands, Malton and Canvas. Regarding the leggings, the brochure states: "We recommend your Leggings to be worn with Riding Boots (which extend approximately three inches above Ankle longer than walking boots), and to measure Length of Legging short, so as not to reach Ankle. In this way your Leggings last for years."

1. There is little available online about J.C. Savage and its history, but I did find one small advertisement in a 1935 issue of Esquire.
2. Please read these quietly to yourself in an Irish brogue.
3. Ulster Bank does a great job of putting its company history online. There's a 4½-minute video on the Our History page and the Our Story pages describe the company's narrative from 1836 to present. Also, Ulster Bank is now a wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, which has a fantastic history and heritage website.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Warm up with baseball photos from the early 20th century

Pitchers and catchers report in about one month. We can make it.

In the meantime, here are some roughly-100-year-old photos of baseball players from a family album.

(Alas, there are no identifications for any of these.)

Anyone notice a slight resemblance to Chase Utley?

If you need more of a baseball fix, check out the sad jinx that was Guide to Papergreat's Phillies ephemera posts and co-worker Pat Abdalla's fine baseball blog The Southpaw.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A protractor (and more) inside a 1938 arithmetic textbook

One of the neat things about the old copy of 1938's "Modern-School Arithmetic Advanced Book (New Edition)"1 that I came across is that it still contains the dark-blue cardboard protractor that was originally attached to the inside back cover of the textbook.

A small cardboard tab had been glued to the inside back cover, and the student removed the protractor at the perforated mark. The tab contained the following statement from World Book Company, the textbook's publisher:
"Fold back on perforation and then cut along perforation with a knife.2 When not in use, the protractor should be inserted in the flap of the stub.

"An extra protractor will be sent by the publishers on receipt of five cents in stamps and a self-addressed envelope bearing a 1½-cent stamp."
The textbook, intended for seventh-graders, beings with some interesting graphics that give us some insight into the time period.

The above graphic, for example, indicates that -- in the farm community that was surveyed -- 20% of homes had bathtubs, 30% had running water, 40% had electric light and 50% had telephones. (Assuming those numbers weren't just made up for the sake of the textbook, which is entirely possible.)

Here's another neatly illustrated graphic about student activities:

You have to love seeing 60% of the seventh-grade students in the Book Club (even if that's a made-up figure, too)!

Finally, browsing through the book brought a big and unexpected surprise. In a section of word problems titled "Preserving Our Forest," I came across this photograph:

What are the odds of a York Countian finding a York County photo within a 1930s arithmetic textbook?3

I wonder where this "young red pine forest in York County" was located? Perhaps if the original U.S. Forest Service photo still exists, it contains more specific information about where it was taken.

AFTERNOON UPDATE: A reader who got here from Twitter (@pstirk) says the above photo is from what is now William H. Kain County Park, looking toward Lake Redman and what is now Interstate 83. It was apparently trumpeted as one of the first reforesting successes. Very cool!

Note to readers
I've created a new subcategory called School Days on Papergreat, so that you can easily find all of the previous and future posts related to education, textbooks, schoolchildren and the like. I realized that I have a bunch of posts on this topic, and some of you might enjoy browsing through just those posts and the memories they bring back.

1. According to the inscription on the first page, this book once belonged to Mary Ellen Spitler of Greenville Grade School.
2. You don't see many textbooks these days that ask students to wield a knife.
3. My wife, a college math major, would have a somewhat stern answer to this question. Perhaps I should not have brought it up.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reader memories of West Pittston, Pennsylvania

Photo of West Pittston from

I wrote about Sue Tatterson's trip to Scranton Lace Company last week, and reader Jo Ott used that post as a springboard to share these wonderful memories of growing up in West Pittson, Pennsylvania:

If I'm reading that ticket correctly (my old body doesn't twist sideways much any more!) that ticket says "West Pittston." My family lived in West Pittston -- 144 North Street -- during the 1940s -- most of the WWII years. My sister (1 year older) attended West Pittston High School and I attended elementary school there. I have old report cards from all four of our school days there.

It was a fabulous town to live in back in those days. A June Cleaver kind of community. My best memories are the snow sledding on the town's great hills in the very deep snows the area received every winter, staying out, even at night, until my wet gloves and snow pants turned to ice and I was in very bad need of a nose wipe.

Being in coal country in coal's peak mining days, I remember as a little kid seeing neighbors coming home from the mines totally black with coal dirt, carrying the metal lunch pail all miners then carried into the mines. Speaking of the mines, I remember one day hearing of a little girl who was walking down the sidewalk across the Susquehanna River in Pittston, eating an orange, and she just disappeared. There was a cave-in and she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cave-ins were frequent back then and as a little kid I would sometimes wonder if our house would sink into the ground. I'd scare myself thinking I heard digging underneath!

I drove up to West Pittston back in the summer to see what it's like today. Not much has changed. The great high school is still there although it's no longer used as a the high school. The Grand Union is gone. So is the wonderful skating rink where everyone in town could be found except when on the hills sledding in winter. My old house is still there, as are the neighbors'. They're all gone now, including, Louie Lewis who managed the cemetery. Louie and his wife Betty and my parents were good friends and played cards with other neighbors all the time. The Michalango funeral home up the street is still in operation, but with a new name and owner. Grablick's Dairy is gone or at least I couldn't find it.

Saturday mornings it was walking across one of the river bridges to downtown Pittston to the old Roman Theatre to watch all the cartoons. Roy Roger, Tom Mix, Abbott & Costello, Our Gang movies, all the great musicals and love story movies. Loved playing marbles in the dirt in the yard next to our house. There are many more stories -- like how our family received eggs and sugar in the mail from a relative in Juniata County during those war years. [Comment from Chris: How does one mail eggs?]

We left West Pittston for York County in 1947. Myself and one brother entered Edgar Fahs Smith, another brother finished his last grade school year at Shiloh Elementary and my sister went into York High. Three of us graduated from Ol' York High.

Sadly, West Pittston was badly hit by flooding this year. One newspaper article I read included the information on how the town's citizens voted down flood walls similar to those installed up river in Sunbury, I believe. They didn't want to lose their views of the river.

Every family I ever knew growing up in Pennsylvania had at least one Scranton Lace table cloth. They were brought out every Easter and Christmas and other special occasions. Some families even graced their dining room table with a Scranton all the time, then would bring out the "good one" for holidays.
Thanks for sharing all of those wonderful memories, Jo!

Plato, Socrates and an old brassiere advertisement

Sometimes, the items that are found tucked away inside books make perfect sense. For example, when I discovered a card promoting an event with a labor activist inside a biography of Karl Marx.

And sometimes the juxtaposition between the book and the piece of paper inside makes no sense at all.

Tucked away inside the 1971 Penguin paperback "The Last Days of Socrates" by Plato, I discovered a folded advertisement for the Private Life bra by Tru Balance.

So, perhaps, the person who once owned this book didn't much care about what Socrates asked Crito, with his dying words, to offer up to Asclepius.1

The advertisement for the Private Life bra, which cost $3.95, states, in part: "The bra to feel you're-not-wearing-a-bra in! Helanca2 stretch lace and very pretty. ... Wear it for the new fashion silhouette. For sleeping. For loafing. Or whatever. How can you resist feeling naughty so nicely? White, pink, blue, black."

It does not appear that Tru Balance Corsets Inc., maker of the Private Life bra, is around any more. The Private Life trademark is expired. Tru Balance's other trademarks, also expired, included Just-A-Nuff, Like Nothing On and Softpower.

I don't have any further details about the demise of Tru Balance Corsets. It would have been helpful if Plato had written a book about the company's last days.

1. A rooster.
2. Some history of Helanca fabric is described on the virtual German Hosiery Museum, which some day hopes to have a physical museum:
"In 1931, the American Rudolph H. Kägi presented the result of months of research to the manager of the American subsidiary of the Swiss company Heberlein & Co. - a new yarn. Mr. Kägi was a specialist for twine production, and he developed a new method of achieving the characteristics of wool in flat artificial silk fibers. In his method, he spun the acetate fibers into a springy spiral, then wove it with wool to produce the first stretch fabric.

"The company Heberlein & Co. in Wattwil acquired this process and patented it. This new yarn, which no longer possessed the gloss and smoothness of synthetic silk, was soft and warm just like wool, and was trademarked under the name 'Helanca.'"
Read much more on the German Hosiery Museum's in-depth website.