Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday's postcard: Puerto Barrios in Guatemala (probably)

This old postcard (1930s?) probably depicts a scene in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.

We only have two text clues to work with. Scratched into the photo on the front is the word "BARRIOƧ" -- with a backwards S. And written in ink on the back is "GAUTEMELA [sic] BANNANA [sic] PORT."

So, yes, I think Puerto Barrios is a good educated guess. Located within the Gulf of Honduras, it was named in 1884 for Guatemalan president Justo Rufino Barrios. According to Wikipedia, "its heyday was in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, following the construction of a railroad connecting large banana plantations with the shipping docks."

A major railroad can clearly be seen on the postcard. And the back of the postcard mentions a banana port. That's all the more reason to think this is Puerto Barrios.

Puerto Barrios was heavily damaged by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in February 1976. Afterward the earthquake, a new primary seaport for the region was built in nearby Santo Tomás de Castilla, and Puerto Barrios has struggled since then to regain its former importance.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Handy information from the 1942 Civil Air Regulations

This July 1942 edition of "Civil Air Regulations (Complete Examination)" once belonged to a York County, Pa., pilot.1

The bulk of the content is questions and answers, to be used in preparation for a student pilot's solo examination. It also includes a partial list of recent civil air violations (with their associated fines), other review material and a glossary.

The staplebound booklet was mimeoprinted by Carlton L. Wheeler of Penn Yan, New York.2 It originally cost 75 cents.

Written across the top of Page 2, in capital letters, is: "CIVIL AIR REGULATIONS MUST BE OBEYED!" As the United States was involved in World War II at this point, the text further states: "Violation of the Civil Air Regulations may result in a fine up to $500 or one year imprisonment, or both. Warning: Beware of flying over restricted areas! Guards at many defense plants, etc., are reported to be under orders to shoot at any plane flying low. Play safe and stay away from danger areas."

Here are ten interesting notes and tips from this 70-year-old guide:

1. Name the order in which aircraft in flight shall have right of way.
(a) Balloons (b) Gliders (c) Airships (d) Airplanes including rotor-planes.

2. What is "official sunset"?
As published in the Nautical Almanac, converted to local standard time for the locality concerned. This book is the authority for all officially designated time.

3. Name five items which would be classed as prohibited articles of transport in aircraft.
Arms, ammunition, explosives, munitions of war, and habit-forming drugs.

4. What are the minimum safe altitudes over various regions?
See illustration below:

5. Name the equipment required to be installed in an aircraft to engage in visual-contact day flight within 100 miles of a fixed base.
1 Altimeter; 1 Air Speed Indicator; 1 Tachometer for each engine; Oil Pressure Gauge; Oil Thermometer for each air cooled engine; Manifold pressure gauge for each altitude engine; Fuel gauge; Certificated4 safety belts for all passengers and members of the crew; Portable fire extinguisher in cabin planes; Position Indicator for retractable landing gear; Device for measuring amount of oil in tanks; First Aid Kit; Log-book for airplane and one for each motor; Rigging information.

6. What is the international radio distress signal when sent in Morse code? In radio telephony?
S.O.S. by radio; and the spoken word is "Mayday" in radio telephony.

7. What is the minimum legal altitude for acrobatic flight?
See (stomach-turning) illustration below:

8. What is the closest approach permitted to grandstand or spectators for any aircraft during an air meet?
200 feet.5

9. What do the letters "NX" signify?
That the aircraft bearing them is deemed to be safe only for experimental purposes.6

10. What should a pilot do if after taking off he finds that a passenger has with him intoxicating liquor?
Keep on flying. He has no authority to do otherwise unless the passenger becomes intoxicated. He should then land at the nearest airport and have the passenger removed by local authorities.

1. I detailed the acquisition of this book and several other related flight manuals in this October 2011 post.
2. Wikipedia has these interesting notes about Penn Yan, past and present: "The name of the village is said to have been contrived from the first syllables of 'Pennsylvania' and 'Yankee,' as most of the early settlers were Pennsylvanians and New Englanders (or Yankees). Many Amish and Mennonite families are recent arrivals to the area. Beginning in 1974, many Mennonite families moved to Yates County from Lancaster County, PA, seeking cheaper farmland."
3. A $500 fine in 1942 would be the equivalent of a $6,613 fine in 2010, according to The Inflation Calculator.
4. Certificated? OK, word mavens, here's an interesting article from regarding the difference between “certified” and “certificated.”
5. The distance is now MUCH greater than 200 feet, and has been such for decades. According to this recent Associated Press story on safety (or lack thereof) at air shows:
"Before the Reno accident, the last U.S. spectator fatalities were at an air show in 1951 in Flagler, Colo., where 20 people were killed. That accident led to significant changes in the way air shows are staged, including a requirement that grandstands are kept a distance of 500 feet to 1,500 feet from planes depending upon the aircraft.

"The requirements were strengthened after 67 people were killed and another 350 injured in 1988 at a U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany, after the midair collision of an Italian Air Force team performing stunts. Wreckage from the collision landed on spectators. Planes are no longer allowed to fly over crowds at U.S. shows."
6. According to Wikipedia's entry on aircraft registration:
"An older aircraft (registered before 31 December 1948) may have a second letter in its identifier, identifying the category of aircraft. This additional letter is not actually part of the aircraft identification (e.g. NC12345 is the same registration as N12345). Aircraft category letters have not been included on any registration numbers issued since 1 January 1949, but they still appear on antique aircraft for authenticity purposes. The categories were:
  • C = airline, commercial and private
  • G = glider
  • L = limited
  • R = restricted (such as cropdusters and racing aircraft)
  • S = state
  • X = experimental
For example, N-X-211, the Ryan NYP aircraft flown by Charles Lindbergh as the Spirit of St. Louis, was registered in the experimental category.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Great moments in Papergreat history: Spam advertises on the blog

Screenshot from shortly after midnight on March 1, 2012.

Late last night, I became perfectly giddy when I came across this advertisement for Spam -- Spam! -- on Papergreat.

I'm a big Spam fan, so it's way cool to see it right here alongside the ephemera.

The funny thing is that, until now, I've only ever had one small mention of Spam on the blog.1

Meanwhile, it's clearly time for Underwood's Deviled Ham to step up and respond to Spam's advertisement. Underwood has gotten a lot of free love here on Papergreat. It's time for them to put their money where their meat is!

Or, ahem, something like that.

1. To rectify that, I must say of Spam: "I love it. I'm having spam spam spam spam spam spam spam beaked beans spam spam spam and spam!" (And, as an aside, the glorious Spam sketch premiered on December 15, 1970, the day after I was born. Spam.)

Photos of the abandoned Great Barrington Fairgrounds

Joan and I were taking the scenic route home after a trip in Vermont in late January when we were compelled to stop the car and get the camera out.

Traveling through Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on U.S. Route 7, what caught our eye was the abandoned and overgrown Great Barrington Fairgrounds.

The fairgrounds took a direct hit from an F4 tornado in 1995 -- winds were estimated to be between 158 and 260 miles per hour. There were attempts to rebuild and reopen, but the fairgrounds closed for good around 2000 and are now surrounded by "No Trespassing" signs (which I obeyed).

Here are some of the photos I took on that cold and flurry-filled day.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Coupons for a 1980 book fair in Baltimore

Tucked away inside a paperback copy of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," I found a handful of blue coupons and a yellow bookmark for a book fair that was held on St. Paul Street in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1980.1

The text states: "12 coupons may be exchanged for one free paperback book -- value to $1.95. (No Magazines)."

Alas, I only have seven coupons. No free book for me. (Plus, of course, the fair ended three decades ago.)

I don't know if this particular book fair still exists, but Baltimore has a snazzy-looking annual book festival, which will be held in late September this year.

1. 1980 was also a leap year. Nice coincidence for the Feb. 29 post!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Otsu-e painting of an oni with a shamisen

This is the illustration -- simultaneously creepy and amusing -- on the front of an old, undated postcard from Japan. The only words in English on the back are:
  • Post Card
  • ŌTSU-E
Let's start with Otsu-e, which translates to "pictures of the city Otsu," which is near Kyoto, Japan.1 The Otsu-e were folk paintings done by unknown artists and sold to travelers, beginning early in the country's Edo Period (1603–1868).

The website of the Mingeikan Museum in Tokyo, which features folk crafts, has an in-depth article about the Otsu-e by Haruhara Yoko. Here's an excerpt:
"This genre of folk art ranges from themes of good luck to those of happiness and prosperity. The paintings are at once frivolous, light-hearted and disarming, providing an amusing blend of auspicious symbols and social commentary. ... The name otsu-e is derived from the place where these paintings were sold, in and around the post town of Otsu, which lay on the Tokaido Road running between Edo (present day Tokyo) and Kyoto. Stands were set along the road to sell these paintings as souvenirs to passing travelers. Created by anonymous artists, the paintings were sold in great numbers for little money."
According to "History of Otsu-e," a variety of techniques -- including compasses, a ruler, stencil plates and woodblock prints -- were used by the artists so that the pictures could be mass-produced. Sometimes, the entire family helped with the production process.

Today's postcard features one of the most popular and common Otsu-e images -- the oni (goblin or demon) of Japanese folklore playing a shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese musical instrument) with a sake bottle and a cup in front of him. One similar image can be found here. Others -- all slight variations on the same approach -- are easy to find online.

Haruhara Yoko specifically discusses this type of oni painting in his article:
"One of the most popular motifs of these paintings was the goblin, which came into vogue as a decorative theme in the 18th century. Although the goblin is a symbol of evil in religious iconography, in the satirical otsu-e folk art tradition, the symbol evolved to represent human folly. One such work is 'Goblin Playing the Shamisen,' which depicts a drunken, red-faced goblin immersed in playing this Japanese three-stringed instrument. The farcical nature of this depiction teasingly tells the viewer that too much drinking is overly indulgent."
The article features another example of the oni/shamisen painting.

As mentioned, oni are not always humorous and satirical within Japanese folklore. According to The Obakemono Project, "the term 'oni' is roughly equivalent to the English term 'demon' or 'ogre', and as such can describe a great variety of entities. Oni are roughly humanoid, usually large but sometimes small, and have faces like men or apes or beasts and sometimes even birds. They more often than not have horns, but these can range from tiny nubs to long, sharp, spiraling arcs like an antelope's, or antlers like a dragon's."

Wikipedia adds: "Depictions of oni vary widely but usually portray them as hideous, gigantic creatures with sharp claws, wild hair, and two long horns growing from their heads. They are humanoid for the most part, but occasionally, they are shown with unnatural features such as odd numbers of eyes or extra fingers and toes. Their skin may be any number of colors, but red and blue are particularly common."

A related and recommended film -- if you're OK with black-and-white cinema and subtitles -- is the 1964 Japanese horror film "Onibaba," which is available in a wonderful edition from Criterion. Here's an excerpt from the Criterion summary:
"Deep within the wind-swept marshes of war-torn medieval Japan, an impoverished mother and her daughter-in-law eke out a lonely, desperate existence. Forced to murder lost samurai and sell their belongings for grain, they dump the corpses down a deep, dark hole and live off of their meager spoils. When a bedraggled neighbor returns from the skirmishes, lust, jealousy, and rage threaten to destroy the trio’s tenuous existence, before an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask seals the trio’s horrifying fate."
Translations of onibaba, by the way, include demon hag, witch, old hag, mountain woman, ogre and "The Goblin of Adachigahara."

Much less cheery than the drunken oni playing the shamisen!

1. I am almost certain to get something wrong in today's post, as I am clearly not an expert in the history and culture of Japan. Please comment below if I need to be corrected.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mystery photos inside Cullum's
"The Night-Riders"

A worn copy of Ridgwell Cullum's1 early 20th century novel "The Night-Riders" (A Romance of Early Montana) was about to leave our house last week with some other used books when, inexplicably, I pulled it from its box and leafed through it one more time.

This time around, I discovered that someone had pasted a pair of photos on the opposite side of one of the book's glossy illustrations.2

The photo of the mystery woman sitting on some rocks is 2½ inches wide by 4¼ inches deep. Underneath it is an upside-down sliver of another photograph, featuring only a man's head. Odd!

The only potential clue comes from the name and other information written in cursive on the book's first page:

Gerland G. Steck
Co. L, 10th Inf
Fort Benjamin Harrison

(Aside: The 46th Infantry Regiment, which served in World War II, was originally organized in 1917 at Fort Benjamin Harrison from the 10th Infantry, of which Steck was a member.)

But there's no way to know for sure if these two photos have anything to do with Steck or his relations.

Would these two people have been happy to see their faces side-by-side like this?

1. According to a short biography by John F. Barlow on, Ridgwell Cullum was the pseudonym of British author and adventurer Sidney Groves Burghard (1867-1943). An excerpt of the biography:
"He was born in London, England on August 13, 1867 where, as a young man not yet eighteen, he chose leave England to prospect for gold in the Transvaal region of South Africa. Later he traveled to the Cape of Good Hope, where he became involved in the conflict between British and Boer settlers. Soon though, news of a gold strike lured Burghard to the Canadian Yukon. ... In time he would settle down and become a prosperous Montana cattle rancher. In 1889 Burghard enlisted in the US Army and may have been involved in putting down the Sioux Indian uprising of 1890-91. Burghard finally found the gold he was searching for after he published his first book 'Devil's Keg' in 1903."
Six of Cullum's novels were adapted into movies. That includes 1922's "The Night Riders," which featured an actor named Goober Glenn in a minor role.

2. Here's the illustration that's on the reverse side of the page that features the pasted mystery photos: