Saturday, April 13, 2013

1955 postcard advertising sale at Wolfgang's Shoe Store in York



This postcard was tucked away inside of the 1953 hardcover "Food Guide to Better Health." It was mailed in January 1955 to Howard Myers, who lived on West Philadelphia Street in York.

It advertises a sale at Wolfgang's Shoe Store, located at 1121 North George Street in North York. Some of the sale prices include:
  • Twenty percent off Portage, City Club, Boy Scout, Play Poise, Weather Bird and Velvet Step shoes.
  • A special table of ladies' and "GROWING FIRLS" [sic] shoes for $4 per pair.
  • Discontinued styles of Oxford shoes for $5 per pair.
One of my wife's blogs, Only in York County, features a wealth of information (from commenters) about Wolfgang's in this November 2011 post and this February 2012 post. Its full name at the time was Wolfgang's Shoe & Sporting Goods.

Here is some more history on the business, from Joan's readers:
  • Donald Wolfgang: "Wolfgang's began as a shoe store only in 1918 by my grandfather. The building was added onto in 1940 for the sporting goods department. The business was owned by Millard Wolfgang Sr., Millard Wolfgang Jr. (Bud) & Donald Wolfgang. ... The store was at 1121 N. George St. for the entire 73 years of business. ... Wolfgang’s did have a postal substation, lay-a-way & a 'point system'. Wolfgang’s 'traded' ice skates, sold American made footwear & performed full services for the hunter & fisherman. Wolfgang’s was also the headquarters for North Hills Jr. High & Central High gym uniforms."
  • Jason Gross: "According to the Central HS yearbook of 1964, Wolfgang’s Shoes & Sporting Goods at 1121 N. George St. was 'Selling Quality Footwear for 45 years'. In the 60′s my dad bought all his and my shoes there. I don’t think he bought many sporting goods there. He bought our fishing gear at J.W. Crone Grocery and Sporting Goods near the square in Dover."
  • Dale Boyce: “Back in the '60s there was a Wolfgang’s Sporting Goods on George St. in North York. Right next to it was a soda fountain store called Baylor’s. They had a pool table and sold magazines, papers, etc. They sold root beer floats and real cherry cola!”
  • Jane Duke: "My parents knew both Wolfgang families — one side was the candy company folks (who every year bought back their chocolate from me to support St. Mary’s Catholic School and then York Catholic High School). The other side of the family owned the sporting goods store — they carried everything and were the frontrunners for Dick’s & Gander Mountain."

For more great memories of York County, always be sure to check out Only in York County. You might also want to check out the Preserving York group on Facebook and Blake Stough's fine blog.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Some ephemera within the Chemical Heritage Foundation museum

There's a fabulous science museum tucked within the historic section of Philadelphia, within walking distance of Independence Hall, Christ Church Burial Ground, the United States Mint and many other well-known tourist destinations.

The museum is located within the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

While that name — it sounds like it could be the lobbying arm of Alcoa — might not scream far-out field trip!, don't let it fool you. The CHF museum is intellectually rewarding and full of surprises for those with an interest in science, history or both.

Oh, and admission is free.

We took Sarah there last month for her birthday. Her original desire for going centered around the museum's alchemy exhibits, as that topic has been of great interest to her. But we found much more that fascinating her (and us!) during the visit, including a towering periodic table video screen [see video].

Even better, we got to meet Manager of Museum Programs Gigi Naglak. She gave us a tour of some areas that aren't always open to the public and helped to further stoke Sarah's interest in alchemy, science and history. She really made Sarah's day, and we greatly appreciated how she took time out of hers.

Here are some snapshots I took of some of the historical ephemera that is featured in various museum exhibits. Maybe these will help stoke your interest in visiting this Philadelphia attraction.













Finally, here's a detail from Mattheus van Helmont's 17th century oil painting "The Alchemist." I don't think I need to explain what drew me to this piece, which is part of a CHF exhibit on artistic depictions of alchemy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

1962 Armstrong advertisement: Teddy and Turtle on the floor



This full-page advertisement was featured in the March 1962 issue of House Beautiful magazine.1 The page was too big to scan — measuring about 9¼ inches by 12¾ inches — so I had to photograph it instead.

The advertising copy states:
See the boy. His name is Teddy.
See the turtle. Its name is Turtle.
See the floor. Its name is Tessera.2


Teddy likes to play on the Tessera floor. He likes the Tessera's little chips, everywhere. He likes to push finger along the Tessera. He says it feels knobby like Turtle's back. Teddy likes to look down between the little chips of the Tessera. Teddy looks into everything. Why don't you look into Tessera? Send for a free sample of Tessera Vinyl Corlon. Write Armstrong, 6203 Atkins Ave., Lancaster, Pa. In Canada, Dept. 32-H, Box 919, Montreal, P.Q.

Tessera Corlon is one of the famous Armstrong Vinyl Floors

I was going to quip: "I wonder if Teddy is pretending that his pet turtle is Gamera, stomping along an alien landscape." But this advertisement is from 1962, and Gamera did not make his film debut until 1965, so that would not have been possible without time travel. So there.

I do wonder, however, how Teddy's mother felt about having Turtle walk across her nice, clean Armstrong floor.

Armstrong World Industries, which has its headquarters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is a flooring and ceiling company that was founded in Pittsburgh in 1860 by Thomas Armstrong and John Glass. It was incorporated in 1891.

If you're interested in more about Armstrong, LancasterHistory.org, located at 230 North President Avenue in Lancaster, has a seven-box collection of historic materials about the company.

Its voluminous and varied contents include:
  • Certificate of registration for trademark for linoleum and felt-based floor coverings made by Armstrong Cork Company, Pittsburgh. Application number 231720. Filed 1927, granted 1927.
  • Sheet music. “Sweet Quaker Maid,” words and music by James L. Knipe. Introduced by the Armstrong Quartet at the Eleventh Annual Convention of Armstrong Jobbers. . “He’s Cuckoo (He’s a Member of the Koo Koo Klan),” words and music by James L. Knipe. Published by Armstrong Cork Company, Linoleum Division, Lancaster. 1927.
  • Brochure for Armstrong’s Idea House. Lincoln Highway, one mile west of Lancaster. 25 March to 30 September 1953.
  • Interoffice communication from R. H. Caldwell to G. F. Johnston thanking George for inviting him to the convention. 8 December 1971.
  • Communication to Wholesale Salesmen regarding the article in Modern Floor Coverings about resilient flooring. March 1973.

Footnotes
1. This is the second advertisement from this issue of House Beautiful that I have featured. See the "What the hell is that on the wall??" post from February 2011.
2. Not to be confused with tesseract.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rupert Croft-Cooke observes Ruth Manning-Sanders with the circus

Although her writing output was prodigious, Ruth Manning-Sanders was fairly private when it came to her own life.

I'm not aware of any autobiographical essays that she wrote. Most of what we know about her is cobbled together from a wide range of sources and is frustratingly incomplete.

It's frustrating, because the small morsels of her life that we are aware of are tantalizing. She spent her childhood summers with her sisters in the Scottish Highlands. She and her husband traveled across Great Britain in a horse-drawn caravan (likely in the 1910s). She was an acquaintance of Virginia Woolf. She traveled and worked with the circus at various times in her life.

It's frustrating, and we're left wanting to know a little more.

In a stroke of great research fortune, I recently stumbled upon "a little more."

A hunch led me to pick up a copy of the 1950 "revised and augmented" edition of "The Circus Has No Home" by Rupert Croft-Cooke. (The book was first published in 1941.)

Croft-Cooke (1903-1979) was an English author of biographies, screenplays and detective stories. According to Eric Brown, Croft-Cooke wrote "on such diverse topics as Buffalo Bill, Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas, Victorian writers, criminals, the circus, gypsies, wine, cookery, and darts."1

"The Circus Has No Home" documents Croft-Cooke's time with the English circus. And what makes it so valuable (to me) are all of the references to Manning-Sanders. Combined, they create a fascinating portrait of that side of her life, through another writer's eyes.

Here are some of the Manning-Sanders passages in the book:

  • [Page 15] But I still had not met the Count, the father of the eight Rosaires. 'He's in town with Ruth,' explained the Countess. 'Do you know Ruth Manning-Sanders? She's a writer, too.' No, I did not. I knew her name, but it was not a very welcome one at that moment. I had never found myself much at ease among members of my own profession, and for the most part had lived without acquaintance with them. ... So it was anything but reassuring to hear that the Rosaires, who were so far removed from all of the nonsense of the literary business, had a writer with them. It says all that one human being can say for Ruth Manning-Sanders that within twenty-four hours I was glad she was with the circus, and within a week or two could scarcely think of it without her. Wholly unpretentious and unliterary, she insisted on justifying her presence with the show by selling programmes or chocolates from a tray slung over her shoulders, and wandered round the seats casually and happily. Such a gesture could in itself have smacked of affectation or masquerade. Not so with Ruth. She was as incapable of a pose as she was of pomposity. I shall always think of her, a gentle auburn-haired woman in her earliest forties2, with a quiet friendly voice and kindly beautiful eyes, walking with a chocolate-tray before her among the children and soldiers and workers in the Rosaires' audience.3

Monday, April 8, 2013

From the readers: Old towns and buildings, history and memories

Memories are a big focus of this roundup of recent comments. Memories of buildings, the places where we grew up, the places where we played...

That's one of the neat things about ephemera. How a single photo or piece of paper can evoke a flood of recollections.

10 more marvelous meat treats from 1952 issue of Woman's Day: Anonymous writes: "I believe all this canned and processed stuff was still purchased and used a lot in the 1950s because of [the lingering effects of] World War II. Fresh food was often not available so canned food was all we had ... and we had to make the best of it. So the advertisers did their best, I guess!"

* * *

Photos of Taftville/Ponemah Mill in eastern Connecticut: Anonymous writes: "Thank you for posting these pictures! My grandmother grew up in Taftville. Her father was a boss in the mill and she was a secretary."

* * *

So much time for researching and writing, but so little ephemera: PostMuse writes: "Oooo ... mystery photos and computer magazines! Someday some future Papergreat is going to find my collection of letters and postcards and have a field day sharing it in whatever form of media of the day. I hope it is holographic, at least. My mountains of written correspondence needs to be 3D."

Of course, PostMuse's ephemera, including the archives of the Orphaned Postcard Project, will be well worth writing about 100 years or more from now. So I, too, hope this is all true!

* * *

Inscription: Grandma doesn't approve of cutting cane as a career: Wendyvee of Wendyvee's RoadsideWonders.net writes: "Grandma knows what's best."

Indeed. I sure hope Elsa listened to that advice!

* * *

Card: Domestic Sewing Machine and J.A. Altland of Farmers: This Victorian trade card sparked a nice discussion on the Preserving York Facebook page. Some excerpts:
  • Regina Kline Tufarolo Altland: "Have several J. Altland's in family tree in this era in Paradise Township - also Jacob Altland's farmhouse in Farmers was used by Confederate Gen. Gordon during Civil War (would like to know exactly where it is - think it's still standing). Philip Altland (1737-1804) was progenitor of most Altlands in that area; hence Altland Meeting House, Altland Cemetery - so Altland House at least carries the name - not sure of any connection without more research. Neat card!"
  • Blake Stough: "Christopher, I just realized that I obtained one of these today at the auction, but mine is stamped for the business of M.E. Hartzler, which was in the Odd Fellows Hall in York. Guess we both win!"

* * *

Reader memories of West Pittston, Pennsylvania: Reader Jo Ott, the original guest author of this post, was kind enough to get in touch again and share the following:

"A few good things have happened since I posted that over a year ago. I joined the WP Historical Society and posted my family's history living there on their forum. In the meantime I looked up WP in the 1940 census which became available last year and specifically North St. where we lived. There I was able to locate names that were so familiar and some less so. I have heard from the son of one of the families who read my post in the forum. He must have been very young when we left for York as I do not remember him even though he remembers my family. He lives in Plains, PA, not far from WP and yesterday sent me a photo and asked if I knew who the people in it were. I sure did -- it was the little boy who I used to pull around in his little red wagon and his grandparents, sitting in front of the Christmas tree with the train underneath. In this photo Bobby is about 7 years older than when I pulled him in the wagon. (Google Dr. Robert A. Barnhart to see what an interesting career he has had.) I asked Jack to send more photos and unfortunately, many of the family and other photos were destroyed during Hurricane Agnes' flooding in 1972. We'll stay in touch with each other, possibly meet over the summer."

* * *

1916 postcard from Norristown's State Hospital for Insane: This one got a lot of responses:
  • Cheema, a resident of Pakistan, author of My Cool Postcard Collection, and someone I became acquainted with through Postcrossing, writes: "Hi! You have a very fine blog and lovely posts. I saw it for the first time today and am an instant follower of your blog. Keep up the good work!"
  • Randy Parker, the hard-working managing editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, writes: "I have a friend who volunteered there in high school. Mostly, he'd sit and visit with patients. He liked to tell about one gentleman who loved to play chess. My friend, a very good chess player himself, would sit down and the gentleman would ask, 'How many moves?' Whatever number my friend gave, that's exactly how many moves the gentleman would take to win the game."
  • Schuyler L writes: "Hey thanks for the history, it's very fascinating! I took a few pictures of the hospital in its current state. Check them out if you have a minute: schuylerL.tumblr.com"
I can confirm that there are some great photographs of Norristown State Hospital on Schuyler's website. Meanwhile, I don't believe that the facility is still fully in use, as I suggested in my original post. Clearly, some of the buildings are now abandoned. Here are some additional photos. Can anyone out there provide some more clarity regarding what is being used and what is closed on the hospital grounds?

* * *

Photos of the abandoned Great Barrington Fairgrounds: L Najimy writes: "Greetings. I am working with the new owners of the Great Barrington Fairgrounds and would love to connect with you re: your photos. Please check out https://www.facebook.com/GreatBarringtonFairgrounds. ... Exciting things are happening!"

Here are two articles from the Berkshire Eagle on what's going on up there:

* * *

Eventually it will be warm and we can all do the Schuhplattler Dance: Wendyvee writes: "'Let's Schuhplattler like it's 1906' is my new mantra. Also, now I'm terribly worried that Miss Gladys really didn't know the whereabouts of the aforementioned skirt, bodice, and belt. I NEED answers. For, like, closure 'n stuff."

My reply: 107 years later, and with this postcard as our only clue, I would say the odds of getting closure on this are grim. I guess we'd start by trying to track down the W.H. Johnson clan that resided in the Woodleigh section of Altrincham.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday postcard splurge
in York New Salem

After church today, Joan and I went to the one-of-a-kind antiques store in York New Salem. Its primary trade is in small antiques and furniture. But what keeps drawing me back is that the tight aisles are filled with box after box of ephemera — magazines, envelopes, playbills, advertising, brochures, photographs...

And postcards.

Zillions of postcards.

I went a little overboard on the postcards today.

Came home with about 75 of them.1

(Hey, at least they're way lighter than books. And they take up way less space than books. Joan, looking sternly around the Book & Ephemera Room in the basement today, was telling me that I have too much stuff. Which is true. But at least I keep setting my sights on smaller and smaller collectibles. I've downsized from books to postcards. I figure stamps will be next. After that, maybe I'll just collect electrons or neutrinos. Especially neutrinos from 19th century Europe. Those would be really cool. Yes, I'm losing my bleeding mind.)

Anyway, one type of recurring postcard today was the moonlight illustration.



Another theme was cats.2



Finally, I think it's neat that I came across an old postcard of Mont Saint-Michel (and sheep). Roger Ebert's final review was published posthumously today, and it discusses Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder." An excerpt:
"The movie stars Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko as a couple who fall deeply, tenderly, transcendently in love in France. Malick opens as they visit Mont St. Michel, the cathedral perched on a spire of rock off the French coast, and moves to the banks of the Seine, but really, its landscape is the terrain is these two bodies, and the worshipful ways in which Neil and Marina approach each other. Snatches of dialogue, laughter, shared thoughts, drift past us. Nothing is punched up for dramatic effect."



Look for these postcards, and many more, to be featured in the coming months here on the blog. If Joan doesn't draw the line. In which case you'll have to settle for reading about old Pomeranian subatomic particles.

Footnotes
1. I need to make sure I'm properly stocked up for this summer's Postcard Blogging Marathon, which I first mentioned in January.
2. Big cat tangent: I learned for the first time yesterday of the Lujan Zoo in Argentina, where you can hold, pet and interact with lions and tigers and bears. This has always been a dream of mine. But I'm a bit torn about how enthusiastic I should be about this zoo, as there are some questions about how they raise the animals and keep them from biting people's heads off, which would, of course, deter business.