Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Advertisements from a 1977 Slovenian almanac

I found this book in a Salvation Army thrift store in Kane, Pennsylvania, in May 2010, while my wife and I were celebrating our fifth anniversary.1

The small volume -- it measures 4 inches wide by 5½ inches tall -- is a 1977 almanac published in what was then the Socialist Republic of Slovenia.2

"Pratika" is the Slovenian word for almanac.3 The book contains horoscopes, lunar tables, cartoons, puzzles and other features you would commonly find in almanacs.4 As further confirmation of its country of origin, some of the Slovenian cities that it references include Ljubljana, Žalec, Rogaška Slatina, and Portorož.

The fact that I discovered this almanac in northwestern Pennsylvania shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Western Pennsylvania traditionally has some of the highest populations of Slovenian Americans.

Ohio and Pennsylvania were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in total population of Americans of Slovene descent in the 2000 Census.

I thought it would be fun to show some of the 35-year-old Slovenian advertisements from the almanac and, using Google's handy-dandy Slovenian-to-English translator, take a stab at figuring out what the text states.

Above: The names for the colors on the paint cans are NOT matched to the colors shown, which I think is part of the joke. In reality, these are the Slovenian words for various colors:
  • rdeča = red
  • modra = blue
  • bela = white
  • rumena = yellow
The rest of the advertising text translates loosely to: "What it says on these self-adhesive labels is not true. However, Aero paint labels are true! By the way, while we're talking colors, have you purchased your Aero school crayons?"

Above: This advertisement for Kors ready-made garments in Rogaška Slatina states: "We manufacture quality ladies, men and children's clothing in the latest fashion." Apparently, the latest fashion in 1977 was to dress like a member of the KGB.

Above: Regarding this lady with an electric mixer, this Iskra advertisement states, roughly: "Even in the kitchen you can be in a good mood, because home appliances are better and faster. Electric mixers can help in preparing food and drinks." (By the way, "jedi" is apparently the Slovenian word for dishes.)

Above: I believe the bicyclist is reaching toward the two children enjoying the cold beverage, because he's saying something like, "Hot! To me!" The small text in the Fla-Vor-Aid5 advertisement states: "Rapidly prepared refreshments. Flavors: orange, lemon, strawberry, raspberry and cherry."

Above: First off, šamponi is the Slovenian word for shampoo. And the product name "Dan na dan" means "Day to day." The text translates roughly to, "Shampoo so mild and harmless to your hair. ... Day to day shampoo with the scent of apple, citrus, peaches and strawberries - a gift of nature to your hair."

1. That morning, we also visited the nearby village of Burning Well. Nothing seemed to be on fire. (By the way, doesn't everyone go to Kane, Pa., and Burning Well, Pa., for their anniversary?)
2. It became the independent Republic of Slovenia in 1991.
3. And apparently it's not strange for a Slovenian almanac cover to feature a man playing an accordion while riding in an airplane.
4. There are also a surprising number of drawings of naked women, which is decidedly not something you'll find in your Old Farmer's Almanac.
5. I wonder if Fla-Vor-Aid is the same as Flavor Aid, a Kool-Aid competitor produced by Jel Sert. In the 1978 Jonestown massacre -- which led to the phrase to "drink the kool-aid" -- the fatal beverage was actually Flavor Aid.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Great links: Shorpy Higginbotham

For as much time as I spend on the Internet, I have no idea how I had never stumbled upon until about a month ago.

The amazing website features thousands of high-definition vintages photos dating as far back as the 1850s. By "high definition," it means the following: "Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive."

The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Several photos of Shorpy are featured, and they did some genealogical research to determine his sad fate.

You can lose yourself for hours on, marveling at and pouring over the details of the vintage photos. Categories include vehicles, Civil War, factories, railroads, sports, World War II and many more.

Here are small versions of photos from one category I particularly enjoy -- stores. (Click on the photos to be taken to the high-resolution versions housed on

Above: This storefront was photographed in Altheimer, Arkansas, in September 1938 for the Farm Security Administration. Check out the cat!

Above: This is the inside of a Super Giant supermarket in Rockville, Maryland, taken in 1964.

Above: And this is another Farm Security Administration photo, taken at a "country store on a dirt road" in Gordonton, North Carolina, in July 1939.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Hey guys, check out my +2 Sweater Vest of Protection!"1

Oh, if only I had come across this photo last fall when I was putting together the Halloween Countdown series!

This fine-looking fellow is sporting a gold-colored Man's Sleeveless Slipover, the directions for which are included in the April 1972 issue of The Workbasket. Adding this slipover to an already questionable early '70s outfit clearly makes things go from worse to worsted.2

Other highlights of this issue of The Workbasket include Nimble Thimble, an "ingenious" gold-plated thimble with a spring-grip attachment; an advertisement for the amazing Hollywood grapefruit diet; something called the "3-Faced Doll" that I was too scared to examine more closely; a recipe for nosegay cupcakes; and an advertisement touting savings of 50 percent on more than three dozen new models of accordions.3

1. Yes, I'm aware that this reference doesn't make sense within the space-time continuum. The original Dungeons & Dragons was not published until 1974, while this photo was published in 1972. Still, the joke was too good to pass up, time paradoxes aside. Meanwhile, if you're interested in the history of armor class in D&D, check out this post by MerricB on the EN World message boards. Who's the nerd now?
2. Thank you. I'll be here all week.
3. The accordion makes a cameo appearance in the fabulous Cello Wars Lightsaber Duel video, which we recently came across on YouTube. If you haven't seen it, it comes with the highest recommendation.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A trio of cemetery photos

On this quiet Sunday evening, here are three photos I've taken at old cemeteries, which my wife and I love to explore.

There first two were taken at Oak Hill Cemetery, located on a hillside in southwestern Vermont, earlier this year.

And this photo was taken at Phoenix Cemetery in Gaines Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, in May 2010.

Some of my other amateur photography

Cute sticker asks students to keep their hands clean

This red sticker, which is three inches wide, was affixed to the first page of 1967's "Journey Toward Freedom, The Story of Sojourner Truth."1

The illustrations of the two kids are so great, I had to post this!

This copy of "Journey Toward Freedom" had been a library book at West Side School in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

1. Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree. She was called "Mau-Mau Bet" by friends.