Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday's postcard: Wanamaker's and the 1911 World Series

This postcard ties in nicely with this year's Wanamaker Series and gives us a chance to see a vintage illustration of the imposing Philadelphia department store I've been writing about sporadically.

The Daniel Burnham-designed 12-floor Wanamaker building, with its Italian Renaissance look, was constructed between 1902 and 1910 and dedicated by President William Howard Taft on December 30, 1911.1

Today, it is the 157,940-square-foot shopping paradise known as Macy’s Center City.

Macy's offers daily tours; daily recitals on the famous Wanamaker Grand Court Organ; the intriguing-sounding "Macy’s Living Classroom" experiential program; and several events centered around the Christmas holiday, including a 6,000-square-foot Dickens village.

Getting back to today's postcard, it was actually mailed a couple of months before that Taft dedication ceremony. And the reverse side has something neat to offer.

It was postmarked on October 17, 1911, at North Philadelphia Station and mailed to an address in Norristown.

The punctuation-free2 cursive note appears to state:
David [?] look for me when you go to Freeland down here to see series Harry
I don't think it's a great stretch to say that the "series" Harry is referring to is the 1911 World Series.

Everything fits. The series was between the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Giants.

This postcard was postmarked the day after Game 2 of the series, in which Gettysburg Eddie Plank and Home Run Baker led the Athletics to a 3-1 victory in front of a crowd of 26,286 at Philadelphia's Shibe Park.

The Athletics won the series, 4 games to 2.

If Harry attended more than one game at Shibe Park, he had a longer visit to the City of Brotherly Love than he might have originally anticipated. There were six straight days of rain between Games 3 and 4. And so, after Game 2 was played in Philadelphia on October 16 and Game 3 was played in New York on October 17, there was not another game at Shibe Park until Game 4 on October 24.

Maybe Harry spent all that extra time in Philadelphia shopping at Wanamaker's.

Here's the complete back of today's postcard...

1. For a neat look at some of the building's long history, check out "Wondrous Wanamaker's: Magical Moments and Milestones" on
2. Has anyone ever done serious research into why people don't use basic punctuation on postcards? I can't believe how widespread it is — past and present.

Friday, September 7, 2012

An eclectic collection of suggestions for #fridayreads


I'm not slacking off. Honest. I had an actual ephemera-related blog post ready to go this morning. I was prepared to hit the "Publish" button in Blogger. But then one final thought crossed my mind. I did a little bit of research and ... BAM! I realized there was a plot hole in my post big enough to sail the Titanic through. Even bigger than the plot hole that nobody was in the room to hear Charles Foster Kane utter the word "Rosebud."

So that post is back in the shop for repairs. In the meantime...

Some #fridayreads suggestions

Here is another wide-ranging collection of suggestions for your upcoming leisure-reading time. Enjoy!

1. Here is my favorite excerpt from Foundas' article about Paul Thomas Anderson:
"...Anderson likens his research process to a digressive Internet search that begins one place and ends up somewhere wholly unrelated, 'like when you get on YouTube looking for a sports clip and now, three hours later, you're watching some old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.' One of his Web finds was The Aberree, a Scientology-themed newsletter published from 1954 to 1965 by a Phoenix couple, Alphia and Agnes Hart, who were among Hubbard's early adopters. ('The most certain thing about Scientology is that no one can be certain what this "Science of Certainty" will come up with next,' reads the opening line of the first issue, leading off a discussion of the nascent church's efforts to legalize itself as a religion.)

"'It really was the best possible way to time-travel, reading these newsletters,' he says, 'and to kind of get a sense of not just Hubbard, but the people who were really interested in the beginnings of this movement, because they were very, very hungry to treat themselves and get better, and they were open to anything. They were so incredibly optimistic.'"
That's right, Paul Thomas Anderson and I are kindred spirits — Web surfers and ephemeraologists!

I am also pleased to see this article note that Anderson intends to plow forward right into his next movie, which is planned to be an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's "Inherent Vice" starring Robert Downey Jr. As an aside to an aside, I would also note that Robert Downey Sr. has already appeared in an Anderson film. He was the unamused owner of the record studio who got into an argument with Dirk and Reed in "Boogie Nights."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vintage photo of a 1936 Ford

I don't know much about this old photograph, which I picked up at a flea market. So I doubt we'll ever know the complete story behind this couple and this car.

The writing on the back states:
Yr. 1937
Irene + Elwood Henry
standing at yr. 36 ford
I'm not a car guy, so I'm not going to embarrass myself here and try to delve into makes and models and Ford's automobile history.

I can direct you to a few links regarding Fords in the 1930s, though:

If any experts on Ford makes and models want to tell us what we're looking at here, your comments would be greatly welcome.

I'd also be thrilled if there's anyone out there who recognizes Irene and Elwood from this photo. They look like a fine couple.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"If you want to be in an evolving relationship..."

Joan found this slip of paper tucked away inside a book she was looking through earlier this year.

It's a little depressing.

But depressing notes deserve to be shared, too. Right?

The writing was fairly light and in pencil, so here's what was written:
Tonight I needed a friend
Sometimes I don't
suggest thing bc
I don't like being
disappointed constantly
— Cafe Normandie
— Frederick
— Movies
— Spend some time w y
before the week starts

If you want to be in an evolving
less self-involved
give and take
I'm guessing that Cafe Normandie and Frederick are both Maryland references. There's a Cafe Normandie in Annapolis. And Annapolis and Frederick are less than 90 minutes apart.

Perhaps those were two possibilities — along with the movies — for this anonymous note-writer to take his or her significant other.

I hope he or she found that friend.

Special events booklet from a 1973 VFW convention in New Orleans

Thirty-nine years ago, this staplebound booklet was distributed to delegates and guests at the Veterans of Foreign Wars' 74th national convention in New Orleans.

The event was held from August 17-24, 1973.1

The booklet contains mostly advertisements (and discount offers) from Louisiana businesses that were hopeful the convention would bring increased traffic.

There are also "greetings" pages from VFWs across the state, including the posts in Westwego, Chalmette2, Harvey, Harahan, Houma, Gretna and Arabi.

Here are tidbits from some of the more interesting pages from the booklet:
  • VFW Metry Post 6640 hosted a free beer bust on August 21, with the beer being donated by Miller Brewing Company. A beer bust is exactly what it sounds like. According to the Urban Dictionary, it is "a large gathering for organizations, clubs, college students, etc. where beer is the sole beverage served, and is consumed in large quantities." Other events sponsored by Metry Post 6640 during the convention were two dances, a red bean luncheon and "Seafood Galore." Also, importantly, the Post's bar opened at noon every day.
  • The Million Dollar Pageant of Drums was held on August 22 at City Park Stadium. Admission was just $1.50 if the coupon from the booklet was used.
  • There is an advertisement (pictured at right) for the Miss International U.S.A. Beauty Pageant. Somehow, I don't see VFW delegates and a beauty pageant mixing. But I guess anything was possible, especially after the beer bust.
  • The Louisiana Maritime Museum in New Orleans offered "free doubloons." The museum featured displays on naval heroes, ship models, antique nautical instruments and the "wheel and engine-room telegraph of the old Navy destroyer U.S.S. Merrill."
  • The New Orleans Jazz Museum offered special VFW convention rates of 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. (Perhaps that is why it soon went bankrupt.3)
  • George Chiasson, a World War I veteran from VFW Post 3793 in Kaplan, Louisiana, bought a page in the booklet in memory of his loving wife, Agatha L. Chiasson, who had died on April 27 of that year.
  • The advertisement for Broussard Restaurant and Napoleon Patio stated that the restaurant "in heart of Vieux Carré" was open every day but Wednesday. (Today, it operates seven days per week and has a $36 Louisiana Bouillabaisse as one of the centerpieces of its dinner menu.)
  • Finally, there was this advertisement (shown below) for Gemelli's, which offered "distinctive men's wear" at 117 Camp Street in New Orleans. The clothier specialized in convention formal attire, including tuxedos, the Prince Edward Shaped Tux, brocades and something called "Full Dress Orleanian." It carried sizes from 34 cadets to 66 X Lg.

1. While this convention was being held, Todd Helton, Sergey Brin, and Dave Chappelle were born, and Paul Williams of The Temptations died. Also, during the year 1973, Anne Rice finished writing "Interview with the Vampire," which is set in and around New Orleans. It was not published, however, until 1976.
2. Chalmette had a 46% drop in population between 2000 and 2011 because of Hurricane Katrina. Etymologists might also be interested to know that, according to Wikipedia: "The community was named after plantation owner I. Martin de Lino de Chalmette, whose surname is, in turn, derived from the French word 'chalmette' (meaning 'pasture land, fallow land') and has been traced to the Proto-Celtic word '*kalm'."
3. According to Wikipedia, the New Orleans Jazz Museum included "many instruments used by New Orleans jazz greats, perhaps most famously Louis Armstrong's first cornet. In 1969 the museum relocated to the Royal Sonesta Hotel. In the early 1970s the hotel changed ownership. The museum then relocated in 1973 to 833 Conti Street, but soon went bankrupt. The collection went in storage and was then donated to the Louisiana State Museum [where it still resides] on September 15, 1977."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fire up the grill on Labor Day and have some fish and shellfish

For Labor Day, I thought I'd go with a cookout-themed post (even though it looks like significant parts of the country are not having cookout-quality weather today).

"Fish and Shellfish Over the Coals" is a 24-page staplebound recipe booklet that was once sold by the U.S. Government Printing Office. It appears that new printings were done through the mid 1970s, but I think this booklet was first published in 1965.

How do I know that? Well, the archived news release from the Department of the Interior — dated July 12, 1965 — announcing the booklet's publication is available online in PDF format. (Whether this is a necessary use of the Internet's vast storage capacity is a question that even this packrat ephemeraologist would ask.)

Here's an excerpt from that news release:
"Developed especially for those who enjoy cooking outdoors, the new booklet contains recipes for lobster tails, whitefish in foil, flounder with crab stuffing, rainbow trout, charcoal broiled scallops, and many other tasty seafood delicacies.

"Bureau home economists tested and approved nearly 40 new recipes and serving ideas which are illustrated in color in the 24-page booklet. It also contains helpful suggestions for buying fish for quality and quantity, and tips on starting and maintaining the charcoal fire.

"Fish and Shellfish Over the Coals, (Test Kitchen Series No. 14), is available for 40 cents from the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.C. 20402."
There were high hopes for what this modest booklet would accomplish. Donald L. McKernan, then the director of the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries1, stated: "Publication of 'Fish and Shellfish Over the Coals' will help many more consumers realize the economy and nutritive value of fish as an everyday food."

I think my favorite part of the booklet is the advice on "How to know good fish":
"In selecting whole, fresh fish, look for bright, clear, bulging eyes; reddish pink gills; bright colored scales adhering tightly to the skin; and elastic flesh, springing back when pressed."
Recipes in the booklet include charcoal-grilled red snapper steaks, campfire smelt, smoked mullet, sesame rainbow trout, Chesapeake Bay clambake, oriental swordfish steaks, ocean perch German potato pancakes, tuna Waldorf salad2, hickory smoked sablefish and yellow perch kabobs.

Here's one of the full recipes, complete with its accompanying photo...

Flounder with crab stuffing

  • 6 pan-dressed flounder (¾ pound each), fresh or frozen
  • Crab Stuffing
  • ¾ cup butter or margarine, melted
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Paprika
Thaw frozen fish. Clean, wash, and dry fish. To make a pocket for the stuffing lay the fish flat on a cutting board, light side down. With a sharp knife cut down the center of the fish along the backbone from the tail to about 1 inch from the head end. Turn the knife flat and cut the flesh along both sides of the backbone to the tail allowing the knife to run over the rib bones.

Stuff fish loosely. Combine butter, lemon juice, and salt. Cut 6 pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil, 18 x 18 inches each. Grease lightly. Place 2 tablespoons sauce on foil. Place fish in sauce. Top each fish with 1 tablespoon sauce and sprinkle with paprika. bring the foil up over the fish and close all edges with tight double folds. Make 6 packages. Place packages on a grill about 6 inches from moderately hot coals. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serves 6.

"What have you done to him? What have you done to his eyes, you maniacs!"

1. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: "In 1970, the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries was transferred to the Department of Commerce and renamed the National Marine Fisheries Service."
2. To be very clear, the Tuna Waldorf Salad includes apples, celery, nutmeats, mayonnaise and lettuce. In addition to the tuna, of course. Hopefully, the Fawltys haven't just run out of them.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

From the readers: Contest results, great illustrations, Cairo and more

Wow! There were so many wonderful responses for this caption contest. I love the time that everyone put into it.

Here are your suggested captions for this vintage photo of young lady on the telephone:

  • Justin Mann: "You cancelled your credit card. I need you not to cancel your credit card and I need you to up your limit."
    (Bravo, Justin! A pitch-perfect reference to Paul Thomas Anderson's "Punch-Drunk Love.")
  • Flowerbell: "Hi Grammy. Thanks for the phone you sent for my birthday. Am I supposed to text by banging it against the wall in Morse Code?"
  • Leslie Ann: "Oh Golly, Mr. Smith, I will be a swell receptionist! You won't be sorry!"
  • Wendyvee: "Gee Willikers, Betty. The new partner at Daddy's practice looks JUST LIKE Davy Jones ... only taller!"
  • Man of la Book: "In a moment later to be lost to history, Wendy Watson asked the famous inventor if he would like to 'chat' or order a pizza."

The grand prize goes to Justin Mann. But, to paraphrase Oprah, EVERYBODY GETS EPHEMERA!!!

So, I need Justin, Flowerbell, Leslie Ann, Wendyvee and Man of la Book to email me at with their snail-mail addresses. And I'll be sending out some groovy ephemera to thank you for your participation.

I might also be sending Justin a lot of pudding.

* * *

Here's the rest of latest roundup of Papergreat reader comments...

"Mind not the Blush that burns your cheek" (plus gratuitous goats): Cindy Snyder writes: "I love the cat ... and the goats. I also think the vintage advice is still applicable today."

The "vintage advice" on how to handle "proper conversations" that Snyder is referring to included: "Conversation is like the measles or chicken-pox -- contagious. If your friends are ungrammatical, vulgar, coarse, or profane, it will be hard for you to become a clean, forceful speaker. Associate with a good conversationalist if you would speak well."

* * *

Saturday's postcards: Two greetings from 100+ years ago: Blueskyartist, who authors the Blue Sky Journey blog, writes: "Hey, I have that Remember Me postcard with the gorgeous rose on it! I love old postcards! I like to use them in my collages, but some of them are so wonderful that I can't part with them! The beautiful illustrations, the messages on the back from 'the voices of the past' ... how can I let them go? A lot of times I just use my copier and make copies to use in my art!"

* * *

Faint doodles inside a very old arithmetic textbook: Eggcup writes: "The doodle of the bunny looks exactly like a page from Beatrix Potter's Benjamin Bunny or Peter Rabbit — there's an illustration where Peter is crying. Not sure if the timing would line up, though!"

* * *

The wonderful world of comic book advertisements: Keir writes: "I remember the Meat Loaf ad and not knowing who the hell he was, or why he would be referred to thus."

Keir, by the way, authors a fascinating blog called Traces of Evil, which discusses remaining Nazi sites in Germany and has topics ranging from Nuremberg to Leni Riefenstahl to "Star Wars" to Königsplatz to Hitler's bunker.

And so now we've connected comic books, Marvin Lee Aday and Adolf Hitler, through the strange interconnecting power of Papergreat and its readers.

* * *

"Safety on the Farm" — a nightmarish coloring book for kids: There were many responses to this one.
  • Anonymous writes: "The hapless farmer has the same eyes as 'the Man'! Now THAT'S scary!"
  • Justin Mann of the Justin's Brew Review blog writes: "Note the incorrect caption at the bottom of page 8 of the PDF booklet, which I thank you for sharing. These are some crazy coloring book pictures! My favorite is the one you featured that says to check the position of people before starting up machinery. I suppose one can never be too careful. I certainly hope I never suffer such a fate!"
  • And Dianne writes: "'Stop machinery before making adjustments...' is applicable to my great uncle who lost his right arm in a corn picker. A tractor rolled on a steep hill and killed a second family member. My uncle was killed as a child when the horse he was riding bolted out of the barn. Farm life IS dangerous, and that doesn't include the pets that were killed in farm accidents."

* * *

Saturday's postcard: A color-coordinated Holiday Inn: Anonymous writes: "The hotel now serves as an assisted living facility."

* * *

Standard Farmer's Almanac 1905 excerpts, Part 2: Anonymous, referring to the almanac's advice regarding medical emergencies, writes: "If someone pushed a pin into my skin when I wasn't quite dead, I'd rise up and punch their lights out!"

* * *

Three old postcards from Cairo: Origano writes: "The view taken for the historic city is taken from its eastern side, you can see in the back the two minarets of bab Zuwaila, and the mosque in the front with the two domes is Um al-Sultan Shaaban mosque."

* * *

Afternoon Potluck: Vintage dust jacket and a Motor Girls book cover: There are two comments so far on this one.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get out of any of the three speeding tickets I've received during my lifetime.

* * *

"Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.": Mel Kolstad of Ephemeraology writes: " I love this, as 'Glengarry' is one of my favorite movies of all time. Thanks for the laugh (and your 'Shopping skills are above reproach!)."

* * *

1970s Woodsy Owl bookmark: "Give a Hoot! Don't Pollute.": Some comments on this one focused on the new version of Woodsy owl.
  • Anonymous writes: "The 'modern' Woodsy is definitely creepy."
  • And Mel Kolstad adds: "So awesome. And like most recognizable characters, the redux is always worse. If Woodsy ain't broke, don't fix 'em, I say! P.S. Don't forget - Frank Welker also did some wonderful Simpsons work, too."

* * *

Halloween Countdown #1: Nightmare toilets: Wendyvee writes: "Oh, that zany Aunt Lydia. My paternal grandmother was obsessed with bathroom accoutrements ... she would have loved these booklets."

* * *

"The Book of Lists" and my love of browsing books #fridayreads: Wendyvee writes: "My grandparents were big fans of 'browsing books' and I used to love skipping back and forth through their copies of Guinness World Records, strange facts compilations, and other such tomes. Hmmmm, I might have to dig out one of my old copies of Roger Ebert reviews."

And my mom adds: "What? No browsing of the 1892 reproduction of the Sears Catalog??!!" (Yes, that was a great one, too, when I was younger, Mom!)

* * *

Get duly inducted into the Silent Mysteries of the Far East: Robert Rainey writes: "My grandfather has one of these Imperial Domain of the Golden Dragon cards. He also had an Order of the Deep card, along with many diary logs of his time in navy. I never knew my grandfather for he died before my birth."

* * *

Guest post: Smull's Legislative Hand-Book for 1881: Wendyvee writes: "That book is gorgeous and the map is even cooler! I got a real chuckle out of 'Beach Bottom.'"

* * *

Wonderful illustrations from two old school textbooks: Buffy Andrews of Buffy's Write Zone writes: "This post cracked me up. How about 'The Barefoot Boy' who looks more like a man."

* * *

"Remember the Golden School Days and the fun we've had together...": Mel Kolstad writes: "Chris, this is really cool! Thank you so much for sharing this. Thanks to you, I've discovered the best name in the universe — Ruel Funkhouser."

And Wendyvee adds: "I love how researching one thing leads to another. I agree with Mel on that gem of a name. Ruel Funkhouser is a fantastic name."