Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday's postcards: Take a holiday in Spain

The forecast is calling for it to be 104° today here in York, Pennsylvania. Just a little to our west, on a storied battlefield, men will be running around foolishly in full uniform, re-enacting part of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Meanwhile, it's a balmy 82° right now in Mallorca, one of the autonomous communities of Spain...

Above: This postcard features Calle de la Almudaina (Almudaina Street) in Palma, the capital of the island of Mallorca. As regular readers know, I'm a big fan of old, human-scale streets and alleys. I have previously featured Fiskargränd in Visby, Sweden; Møntestræde in Odense, Denmark; and a three-for-one post with fabulous old streets in Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands.

Calle de la Almudaina is part of "The Old City" of Palma, which is described by Wikipedia as "a fascinating maze of streets clearly hinting toward an Arab past. With the exception of a few streets and squares which allow traffic and are more populated with tourists most of the time, the walkways of this city quarter are fairly narrow, quiet streets, surrounded by a diverse range of interesting buildings, the architecture of which can easily be compared with those in streets of cities such as Florence."

Some of the other sites in and around the popular tourist destination of Palma (which was founded in 123 B.C.) include the massive Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, Bellver Castle, and the Banys Àrabs (Arab Baths).

Above: This postcard features a general view of Toledo, Spain, where the temperature is in the low 90s today.

Toledo is much more ancient than Mallorca, dating to the seventh century BC. Its unique cuisine history includes lamb roast, alubias con perdiz (beans with partridge), perdiz estofoda (partridge stew), gachas manchegas and marzipan.

The huge structure that you see on the right side of the postcard is the Alcázar of Toledo, a stone fortification that was once used as a Roman palace in the 3rd century. It is now a museum.

According to "The Alcazar of Toledo is situated in Toledo's highest point, making it a perfect place to resist. The Alcazar's history is long and bloody. It changed hands several times, treason, murder and sieges occurred, and it all culminated with its last siege in 1936."

Check out this a neat public-domain photograph of the Alcázar's interior from Wikipedia.

Above: Today's final postcard features an overhead view of Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey on the mountain of Montserrat in Spain.

Here are some interesting things about the monastery and the mountain:
  • The monastery started as the Hermitage of Santa Maria in 1025. In 1811, much of it was destroyed by Napoleonic troops. Rebuilding took time and the "newer" parts of the structure are only slightly more than a century old.
  • Santa Maria de Montserrat is home to the Virgin of Montserrat, one of the black Madonnas of Europe.
  • Youth from Barcelona make overnight hikes to watch the sunrise from the heights of Montserrat.
  • The monastery contains a publishing house that has been in operation since 1499.
The postcard photo was taken from the Funicular de Sant Joan, the steepest funicular railway in Spain. The operating company's English website is here.

From Sant Joan, the island of Mallorca is visible on a clear day.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Story time: "The Dragon After His Winter Sleep" (from China)

Following last week's German tale "The Goblins," this short and sweet folktale comes from China.

"The Dragon After His Winter Sleep" is one of the stories within Project Gutenberg's public-domain version of 1921's "The Chinese Fairy Book."

The anthology was edited by Dr. Richard Wilhelm and was "translated after original sources by Frederick H. Martens."

In his preface, Martens writes: "The fairy tales and legends of olden China have in common with the 'Thousand and One Nights' an oriental glow and glitter of precious stones and gold and multicolored silks, an oriental wealth of fantastic and supernatural action. And yet they strike an exotic note distinct in itself. The seventy-three stories here presented after original sources. ... They have been retold simply, with no changes in style or expression beyond such details of presentation which differences between oriental and occidental viewpoints at times compel. It is the writer’s hope that others may take as much pleasure in reading them as he did in their translation."

The Dragon After His Winter Sleep
Once there was a scholar who was reading in the upper story of his house. It was a rainy, cloudy day and the weather was gloomy. Suddenly he saw a little thing which shone like a fire-fly. It crawled upon the table, and wherever it went it left traces of burns, curved like the tracks of a rainworm. Gradually it wound itself about the scholar’s book and the book, too, grew black. Then it occurred to him that it might be a dragon. So he carried it out of doors on the book. There he stood for quite some time; but it sat uncurled, without moving in the least.

Then the scholar said: “It shall not be said of me that I was lacking in respect.” With these words he carried back the book and once more laid it on the table. Then he put on his robes of ceremony, made a deep bow and escorted the dragon out on it again.

No sooner had he left the door, than he noticed that the dragon raised his head and stretched himself. Then he flew up from the book with a hissing sound, like a radiant streak. Once more he turned around toward the scholar, and his head had already grown to the size of a barrel, while his body must have been a full fathom in length. He gave one more snaky twist, and then there was a terrible crash of thunder and the dragon went sailing through the air.

The scholar then returned and looked to see which way the little creature had come. And he could follow his tracks hither and thither, to his chest of books.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Partial label from Ecco Tomato Juice and the Tomato Twinkle recipe

This old label comes from the same southern York County yard-sale collection that yielded the E.H. Koester Bakery coupons and the miniature golf scorecard from Clearwater, Florida.

I am confident in asserting that it comes from a can of Ecco Tomato Juice, as all three recipes on said label call for the use of that product.

But what was Ecco? I can't find much.

In addition to Ecco Tomato Juice, there was also Ecco Grapefruit Juice and Ecco Cocoa. I found advertisements for the juice products in 1941 issues of The Sun of Lowell, Massachusetts.

My best guess is that Ecco might have been the "store brand" of Economy Grocery Stores Company, a New England chain of supermarkets that was founded in 1914 and changed its name to Stop & Shop in 1947. The dates and regions seem to correlate with the scant evidence I have, and the Economy Grocery/Ecco link seems reasonable.

The three recipes on this Ecco label are for Surprise Tomato Cocktail (secret ingredients: pea juice and allspice), Tomato Juice Cocktail and Tomato Twinkle.

The Tomato Twinkle recipe is disturbing. It seems to creep into that territory that I explored last October in the "Things you shouldn't put in Jell-O" post.

Tomato Twinkle
1 tablespoon plain, unflavored gelatine
¼ cup cold water
1¾ cups Ecco Tomato Juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon grated onion
¼ cup stuffed olives, sliced

Soak gelatin in water 5 minutes. Heat tomato juice to boiling point. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, lemon juice and onion. Chill until mixture beings to thicken. Put a thin layer in the bottom of wet molds. Arrange layer of sliced olives over the bottom. Fill with tomato mixture. Chill until firm. Unmold and serve on lettuce with mayonnaise. Serves 6.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Victorian trade card for James Pyle's Pearline Washing Compound

A young girl and her cat are pictured on the front of this attractive Victorian trade card, which was produced more than 100 years ago (probably between 1880 and 1907).

Here's the advertising copy from the reverse side:
James Pyle's Pearline Washing Compound is better than any soap; handier, finer, more effective, more of it, more for your money, and in the form of a powder for you convenience. Takes, as it were, the fabric in one hand, the dirt in the other, and lays them apart -- comparatively speaking, washing with little work.

As it saves the worst of the work, so it saves the worst of the wear. It isn't the use of clothes that makes them old before their time; it is rubbing and straining, getting the dirt out my main strength.

For scrubbing, house-cleaning, washing dishes, windows and glassware, Pearline has no equal.

Beware of imitations, prize packages and pedlars.
Pearline's advertisements aren't hard to find online, as the product was promoted heavily during its heyday. Here are a few more examples:

Best of all, though, I came across Elizabeth Handler's fabulous "From Maine to Kentucky" genealogy blog. Almost exactly one year ago, she published a well-researched post about one of her relatives -- James Pyle.

I'm offering up a few highlights, but you should really go read the whole post.
  • "[He] was born in Nova Scotia on August 16, 1823, to a father who fled to Nova Scotia as a Loyalist in the Revolutionary War."
  • "In New York City directories in the 1870s, Pyle, James, is listed as having the occupation 'soap.'"
  • "Pyle initially called his soap 'O.K. Soap' and placed an ad in the New York Times, October 23, 1862, which refers to James Pyle's O.K. Soap. The New York Times obituary of James Pyle says 'Brought O.K. Into Popularity.' It also states 'He was the first to utilize in advertisements the letters 'OK' in their business significance of "all correct".'"
  • "From the 1870s until about 1907, Pyle's Pearline was widely advertised. About this time, it was decided that the name of Pearline was well known enough that advertising could be discontinued for a time."
Read the rest of Handler's post on her great great grandfather here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Batman battles a terrifying enemy with Hostess Twinkies

This corny advertisement hails from the April/May 1975 issue of DC Comics' "Beowulf."1 It's one of the early installments of a long-running series that featured myriad comic-book characters touting the benefits of Twinkies, fruit pies and other Hostess products that generally aren't good for you.

In this one, an Adam West/Burt Ward-looking Dynamic Duo come across an ancient and dangerous (and English-speaking) mummy and narrowly avert death by giving him a box of Twinkies. Everyone lives happily ever after.2

The Hostess comic-book advertisements are so well-remembered that there are plenty of websites where you can find more information.

Perhaps the best is the (R-rated and hilarious) Seanbaby's Hostess Page, which claims to document every Hostess advertisement ever produced. Sean and his gang provide irreverent off-color commentary and analysis for each of the Hostess ads, too.3

Some other Hostess/Comics websites of note include:

Now, go enjoy some Twinkies -- the eternity-lasting treat for an eternity-lasting tomb-dweller!

1. This was actually the very first issue of "Beowulf: Dragon Slayer." It wasn't long before the very last issue, either. The series lasted only six issues, and in that short time it mixed in monsters and genres at a schizophrenic pace. According to Wikipedia, Beowulf "encounters Dracula, a mysterious Lost Tribe of Israel, Ulysses accompanied by a troop of anonymous Greek Warriors, Egyptian/Sumerian space aliens straight out of Chariots of the Gods, and the lost city of Atlantis" during the short run of the comic. The first comic introduces Beowulf this way:
"A distant past shrouded in the mist of time; when men lived savagely in the shadow of all-mighty Wyrd, the God of Fate, and in the terror of Satan, Dragon-Lord of the Underworld.

When the earth was no more than a few tribal lands cast in the darkness of mystic lagoons, fog-cloaked swamps and devil-haunted castles!

A time of villains, demons, spirits of evil -- and the blood-beast Grendel!

A time of heroes, kings, warriors of the good -- and the noble savage -- Beowulf!"
Here are some previous Papergreat posts involving comic books:
2. SPOILER ALERT: This is also the exact plot of Christopher Nolan's upcoming "The Dark Knight Rises."
3. For example, with regard to "Batman and The Mummy," Seanbaby points out: "Robin, if you carry a Special Mummy Ray Gun around with you, it had better [bleeping] work on mummies."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Readers comments and the Italian postcard caption contest results

Last weekend I asked readers to come up with their best captions for the above postcard from Sorrento, Italy. There were some great responses! Here's a recap:
  • Aswope: "(Giggling) Did the carriage driver not get the memo?"
  • Wendyvee of Wendyvee's RoadsideWonders.Net: "... and so, Madam, Shake Weights are a flab-busting breakthrough. They trim your arms and shape your shoulders at the same time!"
  • Jim Fahringer: "Sorry, Dear, the horse is better dressed and looks better than you!"
  • Anonymous entrant: "Honest, all I said was 'Beam me up, Scotty,' and I just turned up here."
  • My wife Joan: "If I have a trussed-up horse, and YOU have a trussed-up horse, I RIDE YOUR HORSE."1
And ... the winner of the two Italian postcards and other assorted bonus ephemera is Jim Fahringer.

Jim, please email me at with your mailing address and I'll get your goodies sent.
* * *

Here's a roundup of some other recent reader comments. Thank you, as always, for sharing your thoughts and continuing the conversation here on Papergreat.

Weekend postcards: Celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II: Anonymous writes: "The last photograph/postcard has to be a photo of the royals and entourage ... in wax. Maybe from one of Madame Tussauds museums. Anyone agree?"

Good call! Yes, I think I would agree with this. I came across a couple of similar vintage photos, including this one. Of course, Madame Tussauds keeps up with the times, and the Queen doesn't look like this anymore. The museum's website offers a look at the current royal wax figures.

* * *

Warm up with baseball photos from the early 20th century: Harold Hecuba2 writes: "Very cool photos. People played for the love of the game in those days."

* * *

There's beauty in them thar old library circulation cards: Mel Kolstad of Ephemeraology writes: "WHOA. I have never seen a circ card that old -- what a find!"

And JT Anthony of A Pretty Book writes: "Joan of Arc was checked out 12 times in nearly 32 years for an average of once every 2.67 years. Wonder how that compares to other books on library shelves then and now?"

* * *

Found recipes, Part 2: Whose box (and turketti recipe) was this? Teresa Nielsen Hayden, the founding author of a highly recommended website called Making Light3, gives us the final word on turketti:

"That Turketti recipe belongs in the same category as Turkey a la King, Turkey Croquettes, Turkey Alfredo, Turkey Hot Dish, Turkey Divan, etc. -- that is, recipes designed to use up post-Thanksgiving leftover turkey. Its closest relative would be Turkey Tetrazzini: turkey, cooked spaghetti, flavorful sauce, cheese.

"Turketti is actually a pretty good recipe of its kind. Using cream of mushroom soup as a basis for sauces was a standard maneuver back then, and the chopped ham, pimento, and green pepper would have added considerable interest. It gets extra points for specifying a sharp cheese rather than Velveeta.

"The only part that puzzles me is refrigerating it, then baking it for 45 minutes, which turns what would otherwise be a respectable midcentury pasta casserole into something resembling school cafeteria food. On the other hand, if the idea was to have a dish you could cut and serve in freestanding squares, that would be the way to go."
* * *

Neat illustrations and more from a 1948 Bear Cub Scout book: Anonymous writes: "Thanks for putting this on. My brother had this very book when I was a kid and I must have worn it out looking at it. Every illustration is familiar."

* * *

Fun stuff from "Practice Activities in English, Grade Eight" (1937): Buffy Andrews of Buffy's Write Zone writes: "This was dandy, Chris. Swell job of posting this. Now I have to go train my tongue!"

1. Joan is, of course, referencing the "I drink your milkshake!" scene in Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood."
2. I'm not sure is "Harold Hecuba" is that reader's real name. But it's also the name of the character Phil Silvers played in a well-remembered episode of "Gilligan's Island" titled "The Producer." It features the castaways staging a musical version of "Hamlet." Also -- and this is REALLY going off on a tangent -- Madame Hecuba is the name of the villainess in the 1974 animated Japanese version of "Jack and the Beanstalk," which has curiously stuck with me through the decades. This blogger remembers it, too.
3. Making Light is filled with fascinating, thought-provoking and sometimes silly stuff. One recent post I enjoyed was titled "The return of the evil spelling test" and garnered more than 200 comments. #Jeaolous