Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mystery photos: Random baby and an image we've nearly lost forever

Here are two completely unrelated photos. Neither has any identifying information on the front or back.

The baby pictured at right sure is cute, though. And he — I think it's a he — seems to be enjoying that stuffed cat.

It's a long shot, of course, but if you recognize this baby or this stuffed cat, let me know, and I'll get this photograph back into your hands.

The second photo is much older and in terrible condition. I'm not an expert, so I don't know what kind of antique photograph I'm dealing with here.

It's just slightly larger than a credit card and has a black back. Here it is, magnified a bit:


So we have two people sitting in front of car. There's a kind of beauty in the deterioration of the image, though it would be nice to be able to glean more details.

Here are a few closeups:




And here's that last image once again, after a little Pixlr tinkering on my part:


Anyone have any thoughts? If you do, please comment down below.

Saturday's postcards: Two neat vintage scenes from Norway


Greetings on the final Saturday afternoon of September!

Today's first postcard, shown above, is an undated, unused postcard of The Fish Market (Parti fra Fisketorget) in Bergen, Norway.1 It was published in Oslo by Eberh. B. Oppi.

I'm sure the Fish Market has changed greatly over the decades. Here are some recent descriptions and reviews from TripAdvisor.
  • "The Fish Market is often labeled as a major tourist attraction in Bergen, mainly because of its long tradition in Norway's fish trade center, but the fish market today is not what it once was. Depending upon your personal tastes and interests, the Fish Market may seem overrated and oversold by guides and tourist information. In the tourist season it is crowded by makeshift souvenir shops, some of which sell high quality (and high priced) items, others sell junk. Beware of pickpockets as it tends to be crowded. Many tourists leave the market dissatisfied and disappointed." [written in July 2008]
  • "What a shame. I was there 38 years ago when I was a backpacking hitchhiker and it sure seemed authentic and local to me. Just part of everyday life there. I am going back this summer and hate to see everything commercialized." [written in June 2009]
  • "Yes, there was fish for sale, but really it is an overpriced outdoor restaurant. My mussels were delicious but incredibly expensive, even by Norwegian standards. Plenty of atmosphere. Most of the punters looked like tourists. I wonder where the locals buy their seafood?" [written in September 2012]
  • "In a country where Burger King whoppers are $18, finding a good deal for food is hard to come by. That is, unless you come to the Fish Market. My husband and I decided to splurge on two King Crab legs each at approx. 340 NOK for two King Crab Legs (about $58 US dollars). Now, understand...in the surrounding restaurants...ONE King Crab Leg meal was about 700-800 NOK (approx. $120 or so dollars!!!!) so $58 was a steal! My parents got an amazing and delicious salmon dish. I highly recommend dining out here for the fun of it and to save some big bucks!" [written in August 2012]

There are many more interesting blurbs (positive and negative) that you can check out on TripAdvisor, which seemed to have the most extensive collection of online consumer reviews of Bergen's Fish Market.

To me, the best things about this postcard are the gorgeous photograph, with its overcast sky, and the amazing baby stroller...


That hoodie-clad baby is riding in style! It almost looks like the baby carriage version of a Linjebuss.

Speaking of gorgeous photographs, though, here's today's second postcard:


The text on the front of the Normann postcard2 states: "Geiranger. Utsikt fra Dalsnibba"

The Norwegian to English translation would be: "Geiranger. View from Dalsnibba"

Geiranger is a village in western Norway. It is located at the head of the Geiranger Fjord, which affords it spectacular views such as this one. Lonely Planet, in fact, calls it the top tourist experience in Norway. Geiranger primarily exists because of tourists — more than 100 cruise ships pass through each summer.3

Dalsnibba, meanwhile, is the 4,843-foot mountain that is located about 13 miles south of Geiranger and Geiranger Fjord. The photograph for this postcard would have been taken near Dalsnibba's summit.

Footnotes
1. The Hanseatic warehouses in Bergen were previously featured in this July 2011 post.
2. Arne Normann took more than 300,000 photos in Scandinavia between 1940 and 1990 and became synonymous with Norwegian postcards. I also stumbled upon Foto Normann, which "is a documentary film about legendary Norwegian landscape photographers Arne Normann and his father Carl Normann who led the tourist postcard photography business in Norway for over a hundred years."
3. According to Wikipedia: "Geiranger is under constant threat from the mountain Ã…kerneset which could erode into the fjord. A collapse could cause a tsunami that could destroy downtown Geiranger."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Minutes of Provincial Council of Pennsylvania in 1703

This is probably the oldest excerpt yet posted on Papergreat. It's a short passage from:

Minutes
of the
Provincial Council
of
Pennsylvania.

From the Organization to the Termination of the
Proprietary Government.
Published by the State.
Vol. II.
Containing the Proceedings of Council From December
18, 1700, to May 15, 1717.

The edition I'm excerpting from was printed by Theophilus Fenn in 1838 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The passage concerns some folks who might have performed some marriage ceremonies that they weren't supposed to:

At a Council held at Philadelphia, the 31st 11 mo., 1703-4.
PRESENT:
EDWD. SHIPPEN, Presidt.
John Guest, Thomas Story,
Samuel Carpentr, Griffeth Owen.

Andrew Bankson, according to order of ye last Council, appearing before this Board, was questioned concerning his being present at a late marriage of Tho. Murray & Rebeckah Richardson, contrary to Law, and countenancing it as a Justice of ye Peace; upon wch he declared that he was wholly ignorant of its being illegal, & was heartily sorry for what was done, promising that whether he should continue in Commission, or otherwise, this should be such a caution to him as to prevent him of committing the like for ye future, & being severely checked, was dismissed.

George Lowther, also was sent for & questioned concerning a License said to have been granted by ye Lord Cornbury, for marrying ye sd persons in ye Province of Jersey, upon a letter from ye sd Lord, a Copy of wch was produced,) by Rebeckah Shippen, assuring her that he had heard of no application for that purpose, & should not grant one if applied for But the sd George Lowther, Sending forth the sd. License, produced it, & being viewed carefully, it appeared to be authentique.
Many of the passages in the book are, frankly, pretty boring — comparable to the uneventful municipal meetings that we're used to three centuries later. But there is some compelling stuff about negotiations with various Indian tribes in the years 1709 to 1711 that I might delve into in a future post.

If you're interested in this topic, let me know and I might dive back into it even sooner!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Two more dandy vintage book covers, including a Rex Kingdon novel

If you're like me and can't get enough of vintage book covers, here are two more gems...

"Rex Kingdon of Ridgewood High"

This book, by Gordon Braddock, was published in 1914 by A.L. Burt Company and was the first in a juvenile-fiction series.

A page maintained by Mary Crosson on the University of Missouri-Kansas City website describes the series:
"Rex Kingdon is your basic all-around series book schoolboy hero — athletic, honest, interested in woodcraft, and so forth. The son of a scientist, Rex spent his early years traveling around the world. When the series opens, he's a new boy at Ridgewood High School. Later books see him camping out with Ridgewood friends, entering prep school, and playing on the school football and baseball teams. The basic plot of each book is the same: a jealous 'enemy' boy, a poor sport who aims to thwart Rex at every turn, is eventually converted into a staunch friend through the example of Rex's manliness and good sportsmanship. In the introduction to #5, 'Storm Island,' a sixth book is promised, but I can't find any evidence that 'Rex Kingdon and his Chums,' was ever published."
Meanwhile, author Braddock describes Rex thusly in this book's foreword:
"In this first volume of a new series for the modern youth Rex Kingdon makes his bow. I think you will find him a human chap with a love of fun, a whimsical sense of humor, and a clear conception of the demands of duty and honor and loyalty; yet by no means a prig or snob. And, above all, not the sort of unreal, impossible, never-was 'hero,' who is encountered so often in the pages of juvenile fiction."
So, Rex is more realistic and believable than other juvenile-fiction characters. Which explains why, when he is first introduced in Chapter 3, he tells us that he was recently "shackled for three months in a Peruvian jail." Because that was a common occurrence for American teens 100 years ago.

The most enjoyable discovery in this book, however, might be the names of the characters. Skimming through the first section of the narrative, I came across the following names:

  • Kent Starbuck
  • Shrimp Ballard ("an ardent admirer of Starbuck")
  • Nipper Ware
  • Chub Taffinder ("Chub hated exertion of any sort")
  • Hallet, the postmaster
  • Si Crane
  • Elmer Starbuck
  • Dudley Durand (who wears a scarf)
  • Bruce Brigham
  • Tug Melchor (from the mill district across the creek)
  • Dr. Pheneas Fogg
  • Dell Vickers

"Old Chester Tales"

This book, meanwhile, was published in 1898 by Grosset & Dunlap and was written by Margaret Deland.

It has a cursive inscription on the first page that states: "Ethel G. Wade. From Cousin Fannie Foy. March, 1911. Hot Springs, Arkansas."

Author Deland, a Pennsylvania native, was known for her several "Old Chester" books, which were apparently based on her early memories of Maple Grove and Manchester — Pittsburgh-area communities in which she grew up.

Here's the opening passage from one of the book's tales, titled "Good for the Soul." As you can see, it has much more sensible names than Braddock's book. But I did get a bit confused.
"It was about twelve or thirteen years before Dr. Lavendar startled Old Chester by helping Oscar King elope with that little foolish Dorothea Ferris that, one night, in the rectory study, with Mary and his brother, Joey Lavendar, as witnesses, he married Peter Day."
I read that sentence three times. And, each time, I thought Dr. Lavendar tied the knot with Peter Day.

But the next sentence helped with context.
"Peter, with a pretty girl on his arm, drifted in out of the windy and rainy darkness, with a license from the Mayor's office in Upper Chester, and a demand that Dr. Lavendar perform the marriage service."
OK. Now I get it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Old mail and lists tucked away inside "The Valley of Decision"

I found several items — a day's mail from April 1950 and some lists — tucked away inside a copy of the 1943 Peoples Book Club Edition of "The Valley of Decision" by Marcia Davenport.1

All of it appears to have belonged to Bessie N. Carrier of Staunton, Virginia.

Here it is...

Delayed slip from Thalhimers


This postcard from Thalhimers department store to Miss Bessie N. Carrier was postmarked at 7:30 p.m. on April 12, 1950, in Richmond, Virginia. The typed note on the back states:
Your order for slip is very much appreciated, however it is with keen regret we advise that our stock is temporarily depleted. A new shipment is expected shortly, and your order will be forwarded on or about April 20, 1950.

Your patronage is appreciated, and we hope to serve you more promply [sic] in the future.

Cordially yours,

THALHIMERS
MAIL ORDER SERVICE

A few reminders from Margaret


And this one-cent postcard to Bessie was postmarked at 12 p.m. on April 12, 1950, in Mint Spring, Virginia.

The cursive note states:
The Wesleyan Service Guild will meet April 17 with Miss Carrie (?) Thomason. On April 16 the Distric [sic] Guild will meet at Central Church beginning at 2:30. Please try to go. Margaret.

Stamps needed


Bessie wrote a few things on this scrap of a used envelope. One side states "Mr. Lowberman (?), Please leave me 33 - 3¢ stamps and 1 postal. B. Carrier."

On the other side is some math. I generally leave math to Joan, who is currently working with our daughter on the "Life of Fred" math series.

A note-filled envelope


Wow! Where should I start with all the writing scrawled on this envelope?

Here's what I can transcribe from the front of the envelope. It almost makes for a kind of poetry:

[LEFT SIDE]
Told me to
Call Sat. a.m.
but I may go
99° to R. tomorrow
Still have
spring fever
Temp Wed. + Today
99°
How are you?
Are you still so
busy?
My heart does a little
unnecessary pounding beating
sometimes

[RIGHT SIDE]
One nite didn't sleep
since talked
Thurs. night
Ran fast heart
Washed hair
and helped
clean a cabinet
in kitchen
Richmond?
Ask how is.
Can't seem to
do much without
getting very
tired + nervous
slept well every
nite since I
talked to you Sat.
Knee has
hurt quite a
right much
seemed right
swollen last
night
On the back of the envelope there is, along with the phrase "visits help morale," this 1950 grocery-store list:
  • Prunes
  • T.P.
  • Tomatoes
  • ½ doz. lemons
  • 2 big cans ??
  • 3 Veal chop
  • ½ doz. stamped env.
  • 3 long stamped env.
  • medicine heart
  • 2 mouse traps
  • ½ lb. cheese
  • cherries
So, is all of this enough to paint any kind of picture about what Bessie's life was like 62 years ago? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Footnote
1. Davenport was perhaps best known for a biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that she published in 1932, and she was also the stepdaughter of musician Efrem Zimbalist Sr. Davenport's novel, "The Valley of Decision" chronicles several generations of family that owns a Pittsburgh iron and steel works.

Ephemeral artwork seen on a late-night stroll through Brooklyn

In July, Joan and I spent a night in Brooklyn and found ourselves checking out the wild and vibrant scene on the streets long after midnight.

One of the many things I love about New York City is the sheer volume of paper that's plastered everywhere — the advertisements, posters, political screeds and event flyers of the city's 8.2 million inhabitants (with graffiti and doodles layered in for good measure).

And it's all truly ephemeral. The appearance of a wall, sheet of plywood or light pole changes daily, as new things are plastered down and old ones are partially torn off or obscured.

To me, the scenes can be art. Even if they're gone the next day.

So here is the "artwork" that I discovered with my camera on a single night's stroll through Brooklyn. These images might not be everyone's cup of tea. But I find them, just like the everyday ephemera that is featured throughout this site, to be worthwhile records of who we are and the marks we leave behind.

The Train


Computer Age


Any Port in a Storm


Pareidolia1


Collage1
(You definitely want to click on this one to see the larger image. This size doesn't do it justice.)


(A closeup of some of the dozens of faces within this one.)


His Shadow Lingers1


Footnote
1. Is that a moray eel or the Alien creature in the upper right?