Saturday, December 15, 2012

From the readers: York Opera House, a cemetery, Elton John and more

Every time I do one of these roundups of reader comments, I think of those wonderful old David Letterman reader-letter segments.

Maybe I'll do this feature in high-definition video format one of these days, reading your comments into the camera while beads of perspiration form on my forehead. That would be a blast, eh?

Until then, here you go...

1962 pocket calendar tucked away inside a book published in 1893: Justin Mann of Justin's Brew Review writes: "Your 'tucked away inside' posts are among my favorite. I like to imagine who the reader was and why s/he used that particular item for a bookmark. Perhaps in this case, the reader wanted to keep track of how long it took to finish the book. Or maybe — and more likely — it was the nearest small, flat item on-hand when a bookmark was needed. Also, it always amazes me how some old pieces of paper can be so well-preserved. I like how you put things in perspective for your readers: '...(and two world wars) later...'. Thank you for this post, Chris, and keep up the (paper)great work!"

Awww, shucks. I'm blushing. Also, your check is in the mail, Justin. Thanks.

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1897 York Opera House program, Part 1: Wendyvee of Wendyvee's writes: "Blake Stough's new post, including a postcard of the Opera House, brought me to this entry. I think this was posted before I started stalking your site. I'm a nut with The Inflation Calculator. ... I'm forever using it when looking at old ads or watching programs that mention prices. Thank goodness I watch Mad Men on my computer; I'm forever flipping back and forth to adjust for inflation."

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Perhaps the most ridiculous book cover produced in the late 1970s: This terrifying illustration spurred a number of responses:
  • "I VOTE YES!" — Wendyvee
  • "Wow, that IS a lousy cover, Chris! Haha! Yes, use Creepy Guy as your avatar." — Jayne B. Lyons
  • "At first glance at the face I thought it was a woman!" — Anonymous
  • "Looks like Elvis in the Twilight Zone!" — Leslie Ann
  • "He needs more bling. Where's the gold chain?" — Anonymous
  • "So goodbye yellow brick road
    Where the dogs of society howl
    You can't plant me in your penthouse
    I'm going back to my...weedwhacker..." — J. McMahan

Well played, McMahan!

* * *

Stock photo of pilgrims and a dead turkey from a 1940 magazine: Mom writes: "If that turkey was shot by that blunderbuss I don't think it would be in that good a shape. And after it's cooked, look out for those little lead balls hidden in the breast meat. There's your lead issue again."

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Phonic Talking Letters from 1941: Kim Strain writes: "1972-73 I was taught how to read with phonics.I remember my mother talking about it with my father and other mothers because at the time the school systems were going to quit using phonics and move to another technique. They were all discussing what a great program they believed it was and how they would be creating a nation of complete dunces if they quit using it. Hmmmm."

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1910 advertisement for West Laurel Hill Cemetery (Wanamaker Diary): Mom writes: "West Laurel Hill Cemetery has many more 'famous' people interred in its grounds. The Wanamakers are there, as are the Strawbridges, Dave Garroway, late of The Today Show, and the Dorrances (Campbell's Soup). On another note, when Laurel Hill first opened, several Civil War generals and heroes were moved from other cemeteries and reinterred there to promote visitation and burial plot sales. It was a place where people took the trolley on weekends to get out of the city and to to walk and picnic."

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Holiday gift ideas off the beaten path: PostMuse of the Postcrossing blog writes: "Anima Designs is similar to Manto Fev and quite wonderful, too. I used to spend a lot of time shopping for ephemera, but these days I'm trying to spend less time shopping and more time writing. And the Forgotten Bookmarks book is on my Giftmas list for a couple friends. I love the blog."

Thanks for passing along the Anima Designs suggestion!

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Gratuitous photo of a dog pushing a cat and baby doll in a cart: Wendyvee writes: "There was an old photobook at my grandmother's house that featured real photos like this (but with puppies). It makes me wonder if it was the same author or if it was just a trend at some point. I wish that I had it because it was adorable."

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Saturday's postcard: Aerial view of Wrangell, Alaska: Anonymous writes: "In 1979 my husband and I spent the summer in Wrangell, working at Harbor Seafoods. I sent my parents the postcard in your blog. Wow, thanks for the memories!"

Thanks for all the comments! Around New Year's Day, I'll round up all of the Christmas-ephemera-related feedback that's been sent to Papergreat this month.

Five holiday recipes from your friendly neighborhood gas company

Earlier this week, I wrote about "Holiday Recipes," 1951 staplebound booklet from the Pittsburgh Group Companies of the Columbia Gas System. I asked which recipes you wanted me to share from the booklet, and here are your requests (plus one bonus recipe that I selected):

Apricot Nut Loaf
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup chopped nut meats
  • 1 cup finely-cut dried apricots
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup melted butter
1. Sift all dry ingredients together
2. Add beaten egg to milk and stir in dry ingredients — only enough to moisten
3. Have apricots washed and cut into long narrow strips with kitchen scissors
4. Add apricots and nut meatss to mixture; then add melted butter
5. Bake in loaf pan 1 hour at 350º F.

Norwegian Christmas Bread (aka Julekage)
  • 2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup soft shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cardamon
  • 2 cakes compressed yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 6½ cups flour, sifted
  • ½ cup chopped citron
  • 1 cup raisins
1. Mix together milk, sugar, shortening, salt, and cardamon.
2. Crumble yeast into mixture. Stir until yeast is dissolved.
3. Stir in unbeaten egg.
4. Beat flour and fruit into mixture until dough is not sticky.
5. Turn dough onto floured board, cover, and let stand 10 minutes to tighten up.
6. Knead lightly until smooth (this is a very soft dough).
7. Round up and place in greased bowl.
8. Cover; let rise in warm place until double in bulk, about 1½ hours.
9. Punch down dough; round up and set to rise again until not quite double in bulk, about 45 minutes.
10. Punch down dough. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
11. Divide into two parts. Shape into two round loaves; place into 2 greased 9-inch pie pans.
12. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
13. Bake at 350º F about 45 minutes.

Bohemian Kolatchen
(Alternately kolatschen, kolatsche, kolache or kolacky)

  • 1 cup margarine
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 yeast cake
  • ¼ cup warm milk
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • 6½-7 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon filling for each Kolacky (mincemeat, cranberries, apricot halves)
1. Cream margarine; beat in egg yolks one at a time.
2. Dissolve yeast in warm milk; add to egg mixture.
3. Add milk, sugar, lemon rind, and salt.
4. Beat flour into liquid mixture until dough is not sticky.
5. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.
6. Shape in balls about 2 inches in diameter; place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet.
7. Flatten balls to about ¼ inch thick and fill centers with fruit filling. Push up sides to hold fruits.
8. When dough doubles in bulk, brush with egg white.
9. Bake at 375º F for 10 to 15 minutes.
10. Makes 3 dozen.

Christmas Broccoli

(Ready for it?)

Top bright green broccoli, cooking in small amount of water, with pimiento stars.

(Yep. That's it. Someone contributed that to "Holiday Recipes" and got it published. Your gas company, folks.)

  • 6 egg whites
  • 3½ cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 pound unblanched almonds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Beat egg whites very stiff.
2. Slowly add sugar and lemon rind. Reserve ⅓ cup of this mixture for top of cookies.
3. Add almonds and cinnamon.
4. Chill in Servel Gas Refrigerator.
5. Roll ¼-inch thick on surface covered with confectioner's sugar.
6. Cut with star-shaped cutter.
7. Top each star with some of the reserved egg white mixture.
8. Bake at 325º F for 10 to 12 minutes.
9. Makes about 4 dozen.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Today, please, let there be...

Colonel McCormick from Cantigny Farm wishes you a Merry Christmas

This Cantigny Farm Christmas card from Robert Rutherford "Colonel" McCormick was issued prior to 1955 (as McCormick died in April 1955).

Here's a short history of Cantigny:

The 500-acre tract, located west of Chicago, was the country estate of publisher/politician Joseph Medill in the 1800s. Medill's name for the estate was Red Oaks.

After Medill's death in 1899, Red Oaks was passed to McCormick, his grandson.

"Bertie" McCormick (1880–1955) spent the early part of his being raised in London, working as a lawyer and serving as editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune.

He worked as a war correspondent for the Tribune early in World War I, but then returned to the United States and joined the Illinois National Guard in 1916. By 1918, he was a full colonel in the field artillery for the U.S. Army.

In May 1918, he took part in the Battle of Cantigny, the first American offensive of the Great War. The attack was a success, but at the cost of 1,600 casualties (including 199 killed) for the Americans.

The battle left a lasting impact on Colonel McCormick, who changed the name of Red Oaks to Cantigny Farm after returning home.

After his death in 1955, Cantigny was transformed into a public park. And that's what it remains today, as part of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

The 500-acre park features gardens, two museums (the Robert R. McCormick Museum and the Cantigny First Division Museum), a golf course, a playground, hiking paths and more. Colonel McCormick and his first wife are buried on the grounds.

The park and museums will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

You can read more about Cantigny Park's history on the official website.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I think Santa Claus just told him he's not getting a Red Ryder BB Gun

This "Photo with Santa" card is dated December 1962 (a half-century ago!) on its tri-fold envelope. The young man on Santa Claus' lap does not look terribly happy to be there.

There's no indication on the photo or envelope of where this photo was taken. Across the bottom of the photo, though, is a white card that states W2P 1636.

Once the photo was inserted inside the envelope, all you had to do was fold it closed, address it and mail it. Here's a look at the outside of the envelope:

If this stirs your abnormal interest in Santa photos, here are a couple more websites you can check out:

1. On its "About" page, Creepy Santa Photos includes the following disclaimer: "Don’t let our *CREEPY* name fool you. We are in no way suggesting any person or Santa Claus featured on this website is creepy, a creep, or a bad person in any way! We do our best to keep the humor light and non-offensive. The origin of the name, 'Creepy Santa Photos' arrived from Googling several phrases. People worldwide simply prefer the term 'Creepy Santa' to find photos than they do 'Scary', 'Silly', or other such descriptors." So there.
2. Joan and I found this photo on The Santa Blog to be extremely disturbing.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things, Holiday Edition

When I worked at The York Dispatch in the mid-1990s, the newspaper invited its youngest readers to write stories about the holiday season. Many turned in tales about catching a peek at Santa on Christmas Eve or visiting the North Pole or discovering what the spirit of Christmas is truly about.

I saved excerpts of some of the kids' most humorous submissions. Here they are, for your enjoyment this afternoon:

  • "How do reindeer fly? Do they need special rabbit food?"
  • "Santa needs a brand new bag. Because somebody stole it."
  • "What is misoltoe? Do you have to kiss if you stand under it? Will dirt fall on you?"
  • "When Santa got back to the North Pole, he was so tired. He layed on the couch and watched an hour of football. The Eagles vs. the 49ers. He wished that there was a North Pole team."
  • "Once upon a time Santa Claus had a problem. His reindeer were dead."
  • "When it was Christmas, my sister got the chicken pox under her nose and it look like bugger."
  • "Once upon a time there was a boy named Elfis."

And this short-story submission, penned by a third-grader, was my favorite:
Christmas Toys
There once was a santa who never brought clothes.
On Christmas he only brought toys.
He had brought toys that kids didn't ask for.
He had not even brought the toys that kids asked for.
Sometimes he had even missed kids that were on his list.
He did not check for naughty kids, bad kids, and good kids.
The kids told the police.
Santa said "I must of missed them."
The End

Your gas company would like to share some holiday recipes with you

"Holiday Recipes" is a staplebound booklet that was published in 1951 by the Home Economics Department1 of Pittsburgh Group Companies of the Columbia Gas System.2

The preface, which is filled with Gratuitous Capitalization, states:
"Here are some suggestions for the simplest Yuletide Teen-Age Get Togethers to the most elaborate round of Eggnog Parties. We've included our favorite Christmas Recipes and hope that soon they will become yours.

"May the fragrance of Holiday baking and the rush and excitement of Holiday preparations combine with all the cheer and good will that Christmas inspires to make this the merriest of Holidays."

Here's a list of some of the many recipes that are included in the 24-page booklet. Let me know in the Comments section which ones interest you most, and I'll share a few later this week — in plenty of time for you to whip them up for your Yuletide Teen-Age Get Togethers.
  • Marshmallow Nut Puffs (which should be chilled in your Servel Gas Refrigerator)
  • Candy-Coated Nut Meats
  • Butterscotch Lolly Pops
  • Candied Orange Peel
  • California Brandy Snaps
  • Dark Fruit Cake
  • Fruit Cake Encore
  • Eggnog Ice Cream
  • Nesselrode Pudding
  • Peppermint Candy Crunch Cake
  • Apricot Nut Loaf
  • Cinnamon-Apple Dessert Salad
  • "How To Make A Cookie House"
  • Cranberry Christmas Trees
  • Christmas Package Salads
  • Popcorn Balls3
  • Hot Oyster Canape
  • Christmas Broccoli4
  • Lime-Cranberry Salad5
  • Swedish Christmas Cookies
  • Rolled Swedish Wafers
  • Pfefferneusse
  • Fattigmand
  • Norwegian Kringle
  • Dutch Lebkuchen
  • Swedish Pepparkakor
  • Eier Platchen
  • Zimmetstern
  • Bohemian Kolatchen
  • Norwegian Christmas Bread (aka Jule Kage)
So, go ahead and let me know what Gas Company Recipes pique your interest!

1. Yes, I agree that it's kind of a disturbing for the gas company to have a home economics department.
2. The "Pittsburgh Group Companies" were The Manufacturers Light and Heat Company, Natural Gas Company of West Virginia, Cumberland and Allegheny Gas Company, The Keystone Gas Company Inc., and Binghamton Gas Works.
3. I was just telling my family that you don't see popcorn balls any more these days. But I'm kind of nostalgic for them, although we all agree that the memories are probably better than the actual taste.
4. Go ahead and request this one. I guarantee you will be underwhelmed.
5. Warning: Contains gelatin.