Saturday, October 20, 2012

Great links: Enchanted forests and vintage Halloween postcards

Oh, do I have a couple of treats for you on this warm late-October evening!

(It's much nicer than last night, when a line of thunderstorms came seemingly out of nowhere in central Pennsylvania, lighting up the sky, soaking fields and leaving a thick fog in its wake that made the world seem like Silent Hill when I walked home from work at 2 a.m.)

First up is "When the Woods Are Scary," a gallery of photographs of enchanting (and sometimes disturbing) forest scenes.

The blogger1 who posted the gallery on lovethesepics wrote:
"There are ... times when a person is totally alone in some eerie forest that seems a bit enchanted. When the woods seem scary, it could be because you let your imagination run wild. It might be local folklore about a foggy forest, or a moody mist attached to legends and claims that the woods are haunted. How we interpret a setting may be our state of mind at the time, but artists of all kinds have taken to the forest for inspiration. J.R.R. Tolkien used Puzzlewood as his mystical, magical muse that inspired him to create the fabled forests of Middle-earth within The Lord of the Rings."
The gallery includes stunning and spooky photos of forests in California, Canada, England and dozens of other locations. Go check it out!
* * *
Meanwhile, Angela Meiquan Wang of BuzzFeed has dredged the World Wide Web and come up with a stellar gallery titled "21 Truly Bizarre Vintage Halloween Postcards."

I cannot even begin to tell you how envious I am of these vintage pieces, which feature prancing black cats2, vegetables with faces, witches and many, many, many creatures with pumpkin heads.

A few too many pumpkin heads, in fact.

I am only fortunate enough to have one vintage Halloween postcard in my collection at this time. I'll save that for a bit later this month.

1. The author of the lovethesepics blog describes herself thusly: "I’m a teenager with Spina Bifida and this is my first site. Sometimes my mom helps. She is the one who instilled in me a great love for nature, taking me out to experience adventures, even when it meant carrying me because places were inaccessible to me in my wheelchair. We have a great appreciation for fantastic photos."
2. A short index of black cats on Papergreat:

10 great Pennsylvania postcards from the 20th century

When it comes to postcards, the more the merrier, so here's an eclectic collection of 10 Pennsylvania postcards spanning the past 100 years or so. Enjoy!

1. Grand View Point Hotel

The Grand View Point Hotel, also known as the Ship of the Alleghenies, was an amazing mountainside hotel located along Route 30/Lincoln Highway in Bedford County. It was built in 1927 and burned down in 2001. The advertising copy for the hotel boasted that you could see three states and seven counties from its deck.

There are a number of websites with more images and details about its history. Two good places to start are Grand View Ship Hotel Tribute Pages and The Old Motor.

This postcard, which seems to be an odd combination of illustration and photograph, was distributed by H. Paulson, Grand-View Ship Hotel, Central City, Pa.

2. Terre Hill

This postcard shows the terminus of Lancaster and Terre Hill Trolley Road in tiny Terre Hill, which is located in northeastern Lancaster County.

According to Wikipedia: "Terre Hill was formerly known as Fairville, Pennsylvania. It was incorporated as a borough in 1907 after a successful court battle to separate from East Earl Township, Pennsylvania. ... The borough was once considered to be the hub of cigar-making in Lancaster County."

This postcard, which has had its stamp torn off, was postmarked at 5 a.m. on July 26, 1907, in Terre Hill.

3. Sunnybrook Ballroom

This undated postcard shows Pottstown's Sunnybrook Ballroom, a facility that is still in existence. According to the reverse side, the ballroom:
  • is famous for name bands
  • is ideal for your group, organization or company for a private party, dinner dance, banquet or trade show
  • has facilities for 20 to 2,000 guests
  • has parking for 1,000 cars
  • also includes The Colonial Room, which is open daily for luncheons and dinner
The Sunnybrook Ballroom is famous enough that you can get one of those Images of America books detailing its photographic history.

This postcard is a Vic-Mar Color Card, with the company being located at 416 Enfield Road in Oreland, Pennsylvania.

4. Philadelphia's vanished sports facilities

Does this make some of you feel old?

Pictured, from the top down are John F. Kennedy Stadium, the Spectrum and Veterans Stadium — all vanished now from South Philadelphia.

So many memories from those places!

This postcard (which is unused) was published and distributed by Wyco Colour Productions of Ambler, Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Today's questionable recipe: Putting meat into your cake

Today's recipe would have been perfect for last year's Halloween Countdown.1 It combines two things you don't often see combined — cake and meat. (Maybe it should be served with a side of scary gelatin.)

The recipe is for sausage cake2, and it comes from a 1970s staplebound booklet by Nordic-Ware titled "Unusual Old World and American Recipes."

Basically, you just mix the raw pork right into the cake batter.

"You definitely can’t lick the bowl," says Rachel Tayse, who wrote about a slight variation of this recipe on her Hounds In The Kitchen blog.

Tayse also writes: "The resulting cake is surprisingly tasty to the medieval palate. If you use a mildly flavored sausage, the pork lends very little flavor. Nuts and fruit stud the cake. The texture is rich and dense like any spice cake."

So, here's the verbatim recipe from the Nordic-Ware booklet. You might also want to compare and contrast it with the one Tayse posted (some of the fruits & spices are different).

Sausage cake
  • 1 lb. pork sausage
  • 1½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup cold strong coffee
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
In mixing bowl, combine meat and sugars and stir until mixture is well blended. Add eggs and beat well. Onto piece of waxed paper, sift flour, ginger, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice. Stir baking soda into coffee. Add flour mixture and coffee alternately to meat mixture, beating well after each addition. Pour boiling water over raisins and let and 5 minutes; drain well and dry raisins in cloth. Fold raisins and walnuts into cake batter. Turn batter into well-greased and floured mini-BUNDT Pan. Bake 1½ hours at 350° or until done. Cool 15 min. in pan before turning out.

1. Two weeks before Halloween, I'm still undecided about how to mark the holiday here on the blog. I'm leaning toward a short series about some of my favorite spooky tales and films that fly under the radar of mainstream culture.
2. Coincidentally, Sarah, Joan and I just read "Sausages," a Transylvanian folk tale retold by Ruth Manning-Sanders, earlier this week. The moral of that story, I think, was "always be polite to Satan's grandmother."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pages and illustrations from "Wag and Puff," a 1929 primer

Here's another wonderful old school book — 1929's "Wag and Puff" by Marjorie Hardy, a primary teacher at the University of Chicago Elementary School.1

The book, a primer in The Child's Own Way Series, is illustrated by Lucille Enders2 and Matilda Breuer.3

The plot of the book is not very involved, of course. A brown dog named Wag finds an owner. And a white cat named Puff finds an owner. Together, the children and animals have some adventures and learn some things. Much of the narrative, as it is, is centered around an extended visit to a farm.

At the end, Billy says, "Oh, Father, how I wish I could live here always! I like it here. When I am a man, I am going to be a farmer."

Here is a series of neat pages from the book, the first few of which describe how Wag and Puff meet their new owners.

1. Even the endpapers of the book have a gorgeous design, as shown below. Note the stamp for "Birdseye School District No. 32." I'm not sure where that was located, but one possibility is Birdseye, Indiana.

2. More illustrations by Lucille Enders are showcased on this Flickr page.
3. And here's a Flickr link to another Matilda Breuer illustration.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Update: This royal dog was a Welsh corgi named Sugar

Regarding the June 9 post "Weekend postcards: Celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II," Magdalena Herman got in touch with me on Facebook with some additional information.

One of the black-and-white postcards featured Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, standing next to what I originally described as an unidentified royal dog.

Magdalena, an expert on all things Elizabeth II, says the dog is a corgi named Sugar.

Sugar's mother was Susan (1944–1959), the Pembroke Corgi1 that Princess Elizabeth received on her 18th birthday.

Susan was the dog that started it all for the then-future queen.2 She has owned more than thirty of Susan's descendants over the decades.

Regarding Sugar, Wikipedia has the following to report:
"Sugar was the nursery pet of Prince Charles and Princess Anne. In 1955, her pups, Whisky and Sherry, were surprise Christmas gifts from the Queen to the Prince and Princess. Pictured with the royal family, the corgi Sugar made the cover of The Australian Women's Weekly on June 10, 1959. Sugar's twin, Honey, belonged to the Queen Mother; Honey took midday runs with Johnny and Pippin, Princess Margaret's corgis, while the Princess lived in Buckingham Palace."

I asked Magdalena how she could tell that this particular dog was Sugar. Was it the dog's specific markings?

She replied: "Well, I know almost everything about The Queen, I love Her Majesty since I was 5, She is my passion, She is all my life."

Indeed, Magdalena has both a blog and a Facebook page dedicated to Elizabeth II:

Major thanks, Magdalena, for taking the time to provide this extra information about one of the Papergreat postcards!

1. In case you were wondering, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is ranked 11th in Stanley Coren's "The Intelligence of Dogs." The border collie is ranked No. 1 on the scale of dog intelligence and, somehow, the poodle is ranked No. 2.
2. Susan is so important that she has her own Wikipedia page. Elizabeth II's other dogs are discussed on the Queen Elizabeth's corgis page of Wikipedia.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Old calendar page with a "Dombey and Son" theme

Here's a tattered calendar page for May and June of an unknown year...

The theme of the page is "Dombey and Son," a serialized novel published by Charles Dickens from 1846 to 1848.1

It measures about 9 inches wide by 7½ inches tall. The central illustration is of one of the characters in the novel — Captain Edward (Ned) Cuttle, a retired sea captain who has a hook for a right hand.

The quotations at the top and bottom of the page refer to the novel, too.

"When found make a note of" is a line from the novel and became the motto for Notes and Queries, a scholarly journal that was established in 1849 in London and still exists today.

The other quotation is: "When you see Ned Cuttle bite his nails, Wal'r, then you may know Ned Cuttle's aground."

A longer version of this passage by Dickens is as follows:

"Consequently, instead of putting on his coat and waistcoat with anything like the impetuosity that could alone have kept pace with Walter's mood, he declined to invest himself with those garments at all at present; and informed Walter that on such a serious matter, he must be allowed to 'bite his nails a bit'

"'It's an old habit of mine, Wal'r,' said the Captain, 'any time these fifty year. When you see Ned Cuttle bite his nails, Wal'r, then you may know that Ned Cuttle's aground.'

"Thereupon the Captain put his iron hook between his teeth, as if it were a hand; and with an air of wisdom and profundity that was the very concentration and sublimation of all philosophical reflection and grave inquiry, applied himself to the consideration of the subject in its various branches."
But a mystery remains: What year does this calendar page refer to? Coincidentally, May 1st is a Tuesday and June 1st is a Friday — the same as we have in 2012. But that's not necessarily enough information to help us nail down the year.

Then there's the text across the bottom:

The University of Virginia's website provides some good information about Nister. Here's an excerpt:
"Though primarily involved with his successful color-printing business, publisher and printer Ernest Nister (1842-1909) specialized in colored toy and movable picture books. Operating in both Nuremberg and London in the 1890s, this entrepreneur developed a distinctive style firmly lodged within nineteenth-century aesthetics. However, Nister's images outshine those of his contemporaries by epitomizing an exquisite, sentimental beauty. His artistic vision guides all the works regardless of pop-up mechanics and even of illustrator. In fact, we are uncertain to what extent Nister contributed his own illustrations to these books. In many cases, he imposed his own monogram on images in his imprint, dropping the artist's signature in the course of the production process."2

Based on all of this information, my best guess is that this page is from an 1888 calendar.

That fits the timeframe of Ernest Nister and E.P. Dutton. And 1888 included a May 1st that fell on a Tuesday.

Too bad I don't have the entire calendar!

1. The full title of the book is "Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation."
2. For more about Nister's creative children's books, see this page on the University of North Texas' website.

Advertisement for 1934 Nash models

This is a full-page magazine advertisement (probably from National Geographic) for the 1934 automobile models offered by Nash Motors, which was in existence from 1917 to 1954.1

No prices are listed. But these vehicles were not inexpensive.

Here are some excerpts from the advertising copy:
  • "At the very beginning of Nash Motors, C.W. Nash said, 'I will never build a cheap motor car.' Today, with more than a million Nash cars upholding that pledge, C.W. Nash repeats, 'I will never build a cheap motor car.' With Nash, it continues to be ... Quality first, last and all the time!"
  • "To celebrate the first million cars, to reveal far and near the new heights of quality attained in the 1934 Nash and its companion car, the new LaFayette — Nash dealers are giving a million demonstrations in 30 days!"
  • "Individually-Sprung Front Wheels Optional at Slight Extra Cost"
  • "New Nash-Built LaFayette, the Fine Car of the Low Price Field, Five Body Styles"

1. One of its final models was the Nash Rambler (1950-1954), which was produced by the Nash Motors division of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. The Nash Rambler plays a key role in the plot of the 1958 song "Beep Beep" by The Playmates.