Saturday, January 5, 2013

Punch-card bill for The American Garden Guild Book Club

The above bill from The American Garden Guild Book Club and its accompanying envelope were tucked away inside a pristine hardcover copy of 1955's "Cooking by the Garden Calendar" by Ruth A. Matson.

The bill is addressed to Mrs. A.K. DeHoff of Dallastown, Pennsylvania.1 She has been charged $1.00 for "Introductory Books" and $2.95 for "Cook Garden Calendar," which I assume is mangled shorthand for "Cooking by the Garden Calendar."

The punch-card bill also includes the following pieces of text:
  • Please return this invoice with your remittance within 5 days
  • You may deduct any items included in this bill for which you have recently paid.
  • It is not necessary to write us unless such items appear on your next bill.
  • FOR QUICK REPLY use back of card when necessary to write to club.
  • Please do not clip, staple or fold

I'm guessing that this bill is from 1955, because that is when the book, a stated first edition, was published. But I reckon it's possible that it's from a couple years after that.

The American Garden Guild Book Club, based in Garden City, N.Y.2, was an imprint of Doubleday. It was a Book of the Month Club type of operation.

I found evidence of American Garden Guild editions as early as 1945 ("10,000 Garden Questions Answered by 15 Experts") and as late as the mid-1970s.

I guess the only question I have left is this: Was the bill ever paid?

1. Dallastown is about 12 miles from Papergreat World Headquarters in West Manchester Township, York County, for those of you in Wisconsin, Jilin City and Bydgoszcz who aren't familiar with southcentral Pennsylvania.
2. Journalist Bill Moyers once lived in Garden City. I highly recommend his 1988 documentary "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth."

5 vintage postcards from the central United States

Happy Saturday! Here are five 20th century postcards from the central United States, most of which feature buildings or streetscapes.

1. World's Only Corn Palace

Ever hear of the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota? Here it is, in its blazing evening glory, in this undated postcard.1

The caption on the back of the postcard states:
"One of the most unusual buildings in the world. Redecorated annually at a cost of over $10,000.00 with natural Colored Corn and Grasses. Open free to visitors."
Some more history, from Wikipedia:
  • The original Mitchell Corn Palace (known as "The Corn Belt Exposition") was a wooden "castle" structure built in 1892. The Corn Palace was rebuilt in 1905 and again in 1921. The modern Moorish domes and minarets were added in 1937.
  • The exterior corn murals are replaced and redesigned each year with a new theme, and it costs $130,000 annually to decorate the Corn Palace (substantially higher than the figure of $10,000 cited on the postcard).
  • The palace hosts basketball games, the local high school prom, trade shows, staged entertainment, a rodeo, a polka festival, and the Shriner's Circus. It is home to the Dakota Wesleyan University Tigers and the Mitchell High School Kernels basketball teams.2

Here's a link to a neat photo of the Corn Palace in 1907. The prominent swastika featured did not, of course, yet have a stigma associated with it.

If you can't get enough of the Corn Palace, it has a live webcam that you can watch all day long.

2. The Stevens Hotel and Michigan Avenue

This postcard itself was mailed and postmarked in 1951, but the black-and-white photograph of Chicago is obviously much older than that, given the look of the vehicles on busy Michigan Avenue.

The Stevens Hotel is now the Hilton Chicago and has a long history filled with numerous ownership changes. According to this 2008 article, the hotel has housed every president of the United States since its opening in 1927.

Some interesting historical tidbits about the hotel:
  • Ernest James Stevens, who served as a developer of the hotel, is the father of former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens.
  • When the hotel opened in 1927, it had its own bowling alley, barber shop, rooftop miniature golf course, movie theater, ice cream shop, and drug store.
  • The Great Depression ruined the Stevens family, and the hotel went bankrupt.
  • In 1942 the U.S. Army purchased the Stevens Hotel for use as barracks and classrooms for the Army Air Force during World War II.
  • In Bernard Malamud's novel "The Natural," Harriet Bird shoots Roy Hobbs in a room at the Stevens Hotel.

3. South Burdick Street in Kalamazoo

Here's one you need to magnify on your screen, because there's so much cool stuff to look at in this vintage snapshot of Kalamazoo, Michigan.3

I see signs for Nobil Shoes, Florsheim Shoes, Woolworth's and W.T. Grant.

This postcard was mailed in July 1960 with a 3¢ stamp. It was published by the Water Wonderland Card Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is a Mirro-Krome card by H.S. Crocker Co. of Chicago.

4. Amarillo Texas Pioneers

This unused postcard is a bit of a mystery. The front features the black-and-white photo shown above.

The text on the back simply states: "Amarillo Texas Pioneers - to New York Worlds Fair."

My educated guess is that it refers to 1964 New York World's Fair, and not the 1939 New York World's Fair. The look of the partial vehicle that can be seen on the left clinches it for me.4

Here's a closer look at the four people in the center of the photograph...

5. Maple Hill Motel in Cadillac, Michigan

This postcard, which was mailed and postmarked in 1967, has an AAA logo on the back and the following text:
Cadillac, Michigan
U.S. 131 South
Next door to State Police Post.5 Within one block of two restaurants and only two blocks from Cadillac Square Shopping Center. 20 ultra modern units - carpeted - ceramic tile showers. T.V. and phone in every room. Individually controlled hot water heat. 250 ft. from highway. Beautifully illuminated fountain. For reservation write or call Area 616 - 775-5267.

Your hosts - Eugene and Marion Schermerhorn6

I cannot find any evidence that the Maple Hill Motel or its illuminated fountain still exist. Can anyone in the Cadillac area confirm this or provide more information?

1. The Corn Palace postcard features a photograph by Dorothy Prather, was published by Dan Grigg Enterprises and was printed by Dexter Press of West Nyack, New York.
2. The Kernels is one of the best high school nicknames I've ever heard. And we have some good ones here in southcentral Pennsylvania, including Canners, Steamrollers (Rollers), Polar Bears, Thunderbolts and Shamrocks.
3. Fun fact: The family of New York Yankees all-star Derek Jeter moved to Kalamazoo when he was 4 years old and he is a graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School.
4. Also, there are a number of eBay listings for postcards similar to this one, and those listings all refer to the item as being connected to the 1964 New York World's Fair.
5. It's interesting that you would tout your proximity to State Police in your postcard advertisement.
6. I doubt this photo pictures the same Marion Schermerhorn, but it would be really cool if it was indeed the same woman mentioned on the postcard.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Two pieces of cat ephemera and some #FridayReads

Those dressed-up cats are back! The above photo from 1939's "More about the Four Little Kittens" by Harry Whittier Frees could be titled "Gratuitous Photo of Two Cats Performing 'Romeo and Juliet.'"

The actual passage for this page reads:
Fuzz scampered to the porch. It was
their friend Purrsimmon.
"I want you all to come to my picnic
in Caterwaul Park today," said Purrsimmon,
his whiskers jiggling happily. "Ten A.M. is
the time."

If you have a hankering for more of these kitties, check out these previous posts:

Meanwhile, here's a vintage postcard my wife got me for Christmas:

"Keep A Little Cosy Corner In Your Heart For Me" is a song that was published in 1905. It was written by Jack Drislane (lyricist) and Theodore Morse (composer).

The back of the postcard doesn't have any information about the company that published it. The postcard was never mailed, but there is a name and a town written in cursive:

Mrs. Lena Fessenden

Birchardville is a small unincorporated community in northeastern Pennsylvania, along Pennsylvania Route 267. It boasts The Olde Birchardville Store, which has its own Facebook page.

The only online reference I found for Mrs. Lena Fessenden was in the Susquehanna County Historical Society's archives of old newspapers. For April 5, 1912, there is the following mention:
"Birchardville - Birchardville can boast of two millinery shops, one at Mrs. Lena Fessenden’s and the other at Slauson & Robinson’s."
(And I learned today that a millinery is a hatmaking shop.)

Today's #FridayReads links

Finally, here are some interesting articles I've come across this week. Share your favorite reads (short or long) in the comments section.

  • The New York Times: "Handled With Care" by Andrew D. Scrimgeour. (Summary: "One of the little-known roles of the academic librarian is bereavement counseling: assisting families with the disposition of books when the deceased have not specified a plan for them.")
  • The Atlantic: "Where the Streets Have No Name: West Virginia aims to put its residents on the map" by Deirdre Mask.
  • The Atlantic: "The Beatles of Comedy: Monty Python's genius was to respect nothing" by David Free.
  • The Associated Press: "Icelandic girl fights for right to her own name" by Anna Andersen. (Iceland has a Personal Names Register. It's a list of 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names that fit Icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules. Citizens must chose their baby's name from those lists.)
  • Mental Floss: "Did Blowing into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help?" by Chris Higgins. (This was not greeted kindly by my wife.)
  • Rough Type (blog): "Will Gutenberg laugh last?" by Nicholas Carr. (An excerpt: "We may be discovering that e-books are well suited to some types of books (like genre fiction) but not well suited to other types (like nonfiction and literary fiction) and are well suited to certain reading situations (plane trips) but less well suited to others (lying on the couch at home). The e-book may turn out to be more a complement to the printed book, as audiobooks have long been, rather than an outright substitute.")
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Secret Lives of Readers" by Jennifer Howard. ("Lately, scholars have stepped up the hunt for evidence of how people over time have interacted with books, newspapers, and other printed material.")

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Illustrated map of Teotihuacan (paired with a newsy angle)

I love this illustrated map of the first century pre-Columbian city of Teotihuacan, which is featured on the back cover of an undated (1960s?) tourist guide to the central Mexico location.

The guide had been sitting in the on-deck circle of my "To Blog" pile for months, but I couldn't come up with anything interesting to say about it, other than "Look! Pretty!"

Fawning over images doesn't make for the world's most compelling blog (even though I am guilty of doing essentially that at times).

Unfortunately, there's now a news peg for writing about Teotihuacan. The New York Times published a story last month with the headline "The Bribery Aisle: How Wal-Mart Got Its Way in Mexico."1

The investigative piece by David Barstow and Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab examines how Wal-Mart used "aggressive and creative" bribes to skirt zoning laws and build a Bodega Aurrerá supermarket2 barely a mile from the Teotihuacan archaeological site.

Through this corruption, Wal-Mart was able to crush local leaders' hopes for limiting growth and capping congestion near the pyramids.

And so now one of Sam Walton's super structures sits just a hop, skip and jump from the 1,800-year-old Temple of Quetzalcoatl (now referred to as the Temple of the Feathered Serpent).

1. This article came on the heels of an investigative series in April 2012 titled "Wal-Mart Abroad: How a retail giant fueled growth with bribes." (And, as an aside, Reuters' Felix Salmon subsequently asked "Could the NYT make money from its scoops?")
2. At Bodega Aurrerá, you can "buy everything from tortillas to tires, almost always at a substantial discount from local shops," according to the Times story.

Happy twelvety-first birthday,
J. R. R. Tolkien!

Today is John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's 121st birthday. (Also known as his twelvety-first!)

Above is an illustration of Bilbo Baggins with the Arkenstone from the 1976 French-language edition of "The Hobbit."1 The illustration appears in "The Annotated Hobbit" by Tolkien and Douglas A. Anderson.

My wife, daughter and I saw "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" on New Year's Eve and greatly enjoyed it. Sarah's favorite character was Thorin Oakenshield, and her favorite moments were (1) when Thorin came out of the tree to attack Azog and (2) when Smaug opens his eye at the end.

For more on Tolkien, including additional international illustrations, check out last year's post on his 120th birthday.

1. I hope that doesn't spoil anything for those of you who haven't read the book and are awaiting the second and third movies.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"Prinzess Victoria" and a tiny old package of sewing needles

Part of the fun of modern computing is having the ability to scan old items and magnify them many times in order to see details that might not have been apparent to the naked eye.

I have an old package of needles that I picked up at a yard sale. The package is no bigger than my thumb.1 So I thought it would be interesting to scan it and present it here, magnified for posterity.

The name "PRINZESS VICTORIA" appears above the line drawing of the woman wearing a crown. I suppose two options for who that might be are Victoria, Princess Royal (1840-1901), who was the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom (1868–1935), who was the fourth child of Edward VII.

Or perhaps it's a botched attempt at referencing Queen Victoria. While this package clearly states that it was "Made in Germany," it's possible that similar packages — minus the "Made in Germany" — were created in an attempt to misrepresent the country of origin and gain access to various lucrative European markets.

The following passage is from the November 18, 1899, issue of The Economist, and lends credence to this theory:
"A deputation of cravat manufacturers was received this week by the Minister of Commerce of make representations on the use of false trade-marks on importations of the articles they sell from Germany, Austria, Belgium and Italy. These goods, the deputation declared, are marked with the words 'Made in London' or other words imply that they are of English origin, which appears to be a recommendation with buyers ... It is, however, a common practice to import German goods marked as English, and recently the attention of the British Chamber of Commerce was called to the sale, in France, of packets of needles bearing a portrait of the Queen, with the words 'Prinzess Victoria Needles' and the name of a fictitious manufacturer at Redditch. The spelling of the word princess betrayed the origin of the article, but would escape the attention of the buyer."
So there you have. Cravats, chicanery and Prinzess Victoria.

There are, by the way, three needles left in the Prinzess Victoria package. Maybe I can use them with my colorful embroidery thread.

1. I'm serious. It's the size of my hideously scarred left thumb.

The third rule of the Spottswood-Greenville Book Club is...

... Lending books outside of Club membership is forbidden.

But let's rewind a little bit and start from the beginning.

A while back, I came across a beaten-up hardcover copy of the 1915 novel "The Seven Darlings" by Gouverneur Morris IV.1 It seemed destined for the donation box or, to be honest, the recycling bin.2

So I carefully flipped through it, of course, and there was a folded-up sheet of paper attached to the second page. Unfolding the paper revealed a stained page with the typed title:

1934 RULES

(Actually it looks like SPOTTSWOOD*GREENWOOD is what was typed at the top, which doesn't make sense from a punctuation standpoint.)

Spottswood and Greenville are tiny communities located about seven miles apart in west-central Virginia. Greenville is census-designated place, while Spottswood shows up as a tiny blip on Mapquest but gets no mention in Wikipedia.3

But those communities were big enough to have a book club 79 years ago. And the club had some slightly Draconian rules.

1. Books shall be exchanged at the monthly club meetings and no book kept longer than one month.

2. If a book is damaged or lost, it must be replaced.

3. Lending books outside of Club membership is forbidden.

"The Seven Darlings" didn't prove to be too popular with club members. There are only two sets of notations under the rules. One that the book was received July 26 and returned September 27, which would be a violation of Rule #1. And one that Mae Williams received the book on November 22, with no return date listed.

The book was owned at some point by Bessie Virginia Fravel (1898-1975) of Spottswood. Perhaps she's the one who provided the book to the club.

1. Pulp novelist Gouverneur Morris IV (1876-1953) was the great grandson of Founding Father Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816). Here are some interesting facts about the older Morris:
  • He is considered to be the author of the Preamble to the United States Constitution.
  • In 1780, his left leg was shattered and replaced with a wooden pegleg.
  • He was one of the few delegates at the Philadelphia Convention who spoke openly against domestic slavery.
  • He died in 1816 after sticking a piece of whale bone through his urinary tract to relieve a blockage.
2. I outlined my stance on books that shouldn't be saved in a footnote to this February 2011 post.
3. Spottswood and Greenville are both located a little south of Staunton, a Virginia city that gets frequent mention here on account of my purchase of a batch of old books from that area a few years ago. Previous posts about Staunton include:

Secondary footnote
1. Nobody has yet.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year Greetings: "The candy will come before long."

Happy 2013!

For the first piece of ephemera of the year, I have an old postcard that was printed in Germany and published by J.B. & Co.

It's postmarked December 27, 1916.1

The card was mailed from Galena, Illinois, (located in the extreme northwest tip of the state) to Truman, Wisconsin. Truman is an unincorporated area within the town of Kendall, Wisconsin.2 Galena and Truman are about 30 miles apart.

The message on the postcard, from Helene, reads:
"The candy will come before long. I'm too busy having a good time."
I wonder what the Finks thought of that.

1. I had to scrounge around a little bit. But I found something else that happened on December 27, 1916. Efrem Zimbalist and his wife, Alma Gluck (pictured at right), made a number of Victor recordings, including "Massa's in da cold, cold ground" and "Old Black Joe" by violinist Zimbalist and "Sweet and Low," "Der Spielmann," and "Roses in June" by soprano Gluck.
2. Kendall only had about 320 residents in the 2000 census. It is located within Lafayette County, which also has locations named Argyle, Cuba City, Hazel Green, New Diggings, Avon, Elk Grove, Etna, Five Corners, Lead Mine, Meekers Grove, and Red Rock.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

From the readers: Christmas 2012

Christmas begins: Peter Pan recipe for peanut butter cookies: Wendyvee of Wendyvee's writes: "Wow, I would have guessed earlier [than 1988] on the switch to plastic [peanut butter] jars! Mr. Scrooge is such a creeper. We may have to launch a Scrooge meme."

And Justin Mann of Justin's Brew Review, who can't leave this topic alone, adds: "I still think the 1 egg + 1 cup of sugar + 1 cup of PB recipe trumps all. However, I will eat any PB cookie you put in front of me. I love peanut butter!"

* * *

Very old Christmas card (and more) inside 1890's "Triumphant Songs": Jayne B. Lyons writes: "Great score, Chris! I enjoyed reading about the extra 'goodies' found inside the book, along with the history of the book and ephemera!"

* * *

Kids Say the Darndest Things, Holiday Edition: Wendyvee writes: "I can't get past a boy named Elfis ... I'm dying here!"

And Susan Jennings, who authors the My Inside Voices blog, writes: "I love the kid who stuck with the tried and true 'once upon a time' and then killed off the reindeer. Fantastic."

* * *

1960s Russian С Новым годом postcard ("Happy New Year!"): I asked readers if they could translate the Russian word written in cursive on the red ornament on this postcard. I received two helpful, greatly appreciated and anonymous replies:
  • Поздравляем kind of means "we wish you all the best". I have a different question: what role does the rabbit play in stories about Ded Moroz? In Russia, you can buy chocolate rabbits for New Year's, that are sold in Europe for Easter.
  • The two phrases go together: поздравляем с новым годом! поздравлять means "congratulate".

Ded Moroz (Дед Мороз) is, per Wikipedia, a folklore character who plays a role similar to that of Santa Claus in some Slavic cultures. His name translates to Old Man Frost or Father Frost.

I haven't yet found any specific connections between Ded Moroz and rabbits. Just this one small item of interest: In the 1978 animated film Дед Мороз и серый волк (roughly, "Santa and the Gray Wolf"), rabbits figure into the tale. Here is that film's plot, according to the Voices from Russia blog:
"Ded Moroz prepares New Year’s gifts for the young forest animals. A grey wolf and raven come up with a plan to kidnap the rabbits. The action centres on the kidnapping of the rabbit children … but have no fear; the plot has the obligatory [Soviet] happy ending. Everyone celebrates the New Year and all the young forest animals get their presents."
* * *

Christmas-themed cover of the December 1979 issue of Cricket: Janelle Neithammer Downey writes: "I bought a subscription to Cricket for my daughter when she was in elementary school. She loved it!"

And Wendyvee adds: "I remember Cricket! Our family doctor always had it in his waiting room."

* * *

Festive Christmas matchbook from D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Co.: Sean Kelly writes: "Let me know if you would like a walk down memory lane about the D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Co. I have quite a collection dating back to nearly the founding days when my great, great, great grandfather started the company downtown [in York] on George Street, where the McDonald's stands today. There is also a similar matchbook from that period, too. I believe that they were made in the mid to late 30's, but could have been into the early 40's. Unfortunately, my great grandfather would have known for sure, but he passed away in 2005, just short of his 104th birthday."

And there was also a fun discussion about this matchbook on the Preserving York Facebook group. Some highlights:
  • Blake Stough: D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Company has a trademark on "NIF=TY" dated May 19, 1923, not that it's much help. I notice the original word/phrase uses an equal sign instead of a hyphen. I have no idea if that's significant, but if that was changed over the years, it may help determine a date for this piece.
  • Jaclyn Helzer Sallade: Think these matches were popular among local businesses. Have one from another place I will post. I found it among family items and always guessed it was from the 30's or 40's. Will post soon. Have seen the Stauffer logo before, maybe on a tin.
  • JoAnne Everhart: I can remember seeing the NIF=TY logo in the late 1950's. I used to go into a corner grocery near the McKinley Elementary School and they had big boxes of bulk cookies with glass lids. On the front of those boxes it said NIF=TY.

* * *

A merry Christmastide to you, Marguerite E. DeWitt: My wonderful wife Joan writes: "This is one of the most beautiful Christmas tributes I've read this year, or in fact any year. Thank you for always caring about the little things, the postcards and the small gestures that other people would miss. I love you, husband!"

And Wendyvee adds: "This is such a sweet post. Thank you for all of the cool stuff, the great examples of graphic design, the head-scratchers, and for going the extra mile of researching the wonderful things you find."

As I've said many times, I never know where I'm going to end up when I start researching something for a post. As I discovered a little bit about the life of Marguerite E. DeWitt and started putting it all together, I realized that it had become one of my favorite posts of 2012, quite unexpectedly. And that's one of the big reasons I spend so much time on this hobby. You never know what story you're going to uncover. (Almost) no one else is tracking these things down.

Thanks to all of you for your comments and participation this month! I think it was another very enjoyable collection of Christmas-themed ephemera. And I never even got to Krampus. He'll have to wait until December 2013!