Friday, August 30, 2013

Birds wearing clothes to help children learn to read in 1930

Here's the cover to a worn copy of New Progressive Road to Reading, a basal reader published in 1930 by Silver, Burdett and Company. Enjoy the well-attired turkey, chicken and duck.

The book, written by a quartet of New York City educators, contains stories with titles such as The Bad Old Fox, The Turkey Girl, The Silly Bantam, Dannie-no-bigger-than-your-thumb1, The Fairy Beggar and The Gifts of the North Wind.

If you want to see some more poultry in outfits — and who doesn't — check out the textbook's wonderful endpapers.2

There are student exercises after each segment of the book. The last exercise, on the book's final page, is called "IS IT SO?" These are some of the questions.

Finally, this book doesn't have anything in it indicating who owned it or what school district it was used in, but there's a wonderful surprise on the page preceding the title page — a color sticker for Delta Air Lines.

According to Delta's website, the "None Faster. None Finer. To and Through the South" slogan was first used in 1948.3

Want more School Days nostaglia? Check out this directory featuring dozens of archived posts.

1. This post represents the first appearance of "Dannie-no-bigger-than-your-thumb" on the Internet, according to a Google search. You're welcome.
2. We've had a nice run of awesome endpapers here in recent days, including those in Elson-Gray Basic Readers Book Six and Corporal Cameron.
3. My favorite Delta slogan is this one from 1959: "The Airline with the Big Jets."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

1897 Riverside book of works by Poe, complete with footnotes

What a neat and readable book this still is, 116 years after publication.

And practical! Wouldn't you rather have a collection of Edgar Allan Poe works1 that fits in your pocket instead of a sterile e-reader that you have to scroll and click through?

The staplebound booklet was published in 1897 as No. 119 in the Riverside Literature Series, and cost 15 cents.2

Within its 100 or so pages are eight poems (including "The Raven," "The Bells," and "To Helen") and these four tales:

"A Descent into the Maelström" is a story-within-a-story of man who survives a terrible shipwreck and whirlpool.3 Poe's primary inspiration was the Moskstraumen4 in the Norwegian Sea, which is featured — in quite exaggerated form — at the center of this 1539 illustration by Swede Olaus Magnus:

Another neat thing about this small 19th century volume is that it was edited and heavily footnoted by Columbia University's William Peterfield Trent. He displays a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for Poe with his long, sometimes rambling, footnotes.5

And so we are treated to insight such as this:
"Lenore is perhaps the best example of Poe's success in amending his verses by constant experiment, as well as of his pertinacity in clinging to a subject that suited him. We have already seen that he thought the death of a beautiful young woman the most poetic of all themes, so we are not surprised to find the nucleus of Lenore in the stanzas entitled A Pæan, first published in the collection of 1831."
Trent also informs the reader, through footnotes, that Poe's favorite words included tarn and phantasmagoric.

And he discusses Mad Trist by Sir Launcelot Canning, a book that is mentioned within the Poe tale "The Fall of the House of Usher":
"Professor Woodberry has not found this book, and it is more than likely that Poe invented both the titles and the extracts."
So that puts Mad Trist on a list of fictional books alongside such titles as the Necronomicon, The Navidson Record, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, Air Dance, The Combed Thunderclap, Chemical and Bacteriological Conditioning of the Embryo, Chicken Cat Ding, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, and Chaldean Roots in the Ancient Cornish Language.

Want more School Days nostaglia? Check out this directory featuring dozens of archived posts.

1. I wrote about a different volume of Poe works in September 2012.
2. That would be the equivalent of about $4 today. Still a bargain.
3. Interesting aside: "A Descent into the Maelström" is said by critics have some resemblance to "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," which was the subject of a School Days post last August.
4. In addition to the Moskstraumen, other famous whirlpools on our planet include the Saltstraumen, the Gulf of Corryvreckan, the Naruto whirlpools, the Old Sow whirlpool and the Skookumchuck Narrows. Unlike those others, however, the Moskstraumen is located in the open sea rather than in a strait or channel.
5. We don't know anyone like that, do we?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Colorful pictures and questionable passages from 1939 history textbook

As Back to School Week continues...

The most interesting things about this old history textbook are the design of the front cover, the inside illustrations and the unfortunate descriptions of slavery in the United States.

The book, 1939's "A Full-Grown Nation," was written by Edna McGuire and published by The Macmillan Company.

In a preface, McGuire writes:
"Dear Boys and Girls:
During the Century of Progress World's Fair held in Chicago in 1933 and 1934 a pageant called 'The Wings of a Century' was presented. It showed many vivid scenes from American history. Actors dressed in the costumes of long ago rode on the great outdoor stage in covered wagons, stagecoaches, automobiles, and trains. Indians made an attack on a party of pioneers. A gay group went through an old-time dance while a fiddle played. Ladies in hoop skirts bowed to gentlemen in long-tailed coats. ...

As I watched that pageant, I determined that some day I would write a book which would make the events of the past come alive for boys and girls as the pageant had made them come alive for me."
While I understand that it must be taken in the context of the times, it was jaw-dropping and disappointing to see how slavery in the United States was described in portions of the textbook.

Passages go out of their way to describe slaves as being content, well-treated and happy with their place in the world. While there is no doubt that there were "well-treated" slaves and that some of their days had joyous moments, some of these excerpts from "A Full-Grown Nation" are unconscionably misleading ... or even cheery:

  • "In the South there were planters who owned great plantations and many slaves, but there were also farmers who owned few or no slaves and who did much of the work of their small farms with their own hands. There were some free Negroes, and a large number of very poor white people sometimes scornfully called 'poor white trash' by their more fortunate neighbors."
  • "Glimpses of country life in the South. — When we reach the plantation on a pleasant summer morning we find everyone bustling about the place. A barbecue is to be given that day, and the preparations for this gay event keep both the slaves and their owner busy."
  • "Toward noon carriages roll into the driveway. Out of these pour people of all ages — older gentlemen leaning on their canes, pretty girls in hoop skirts, older women, fat black 'mammies,' and children."
  • "Soon the great white house and the shaded grounds around it are filled with groups of gay, laughing people. ... The slaves are as happy as their master and mistress at thus entertaining company. Not only does a barbecue mean a change from the usual daily work, but it brings their black friends from all the neighboring plantations. They too exchange news with old friends. Especially happy today is Mose, the coachman, for his broad wife, Nancy (a wife living on another plantation), has come with her mistress to the barbecue. When Mose took a wife on a neighboring plantation he knew that he could see her only now and then, but his master has promised that if cotton brings a good price this year he will purchase Nancy."
  • "The day after the barbecue we are surprised to find our hostess still busy. Instead of having nothing to do because there are nearly a hundred slaves on the plantation, the mistress finds that each new slave adds something to her cares."
  • "We find that on this plantation any slave who cares to is allowed to grow a little patch of cotton. When this is sent to market the money from its sale belongs to the Negro. Not all planters permit their slaves this privilege, but it is common on many plantations."

If you still have the stomach for it after those passages, here are some of George M. Richards' colorful illustrations from the pages of "A Full-Grown Nation."

Want more School Days nostaglia? Check out this directory featuring dozens of archived posts.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vintage photo: Learning practical design in Boston

For Back to School Week, it doesn't have to be all about the kids. The caption on this photo from a 1908 book states: "Students of practical design at work-school of industrial art, Boston."

All of the students shown in the photo are women, with the except of one young man on the left.

Clearly, he either flunked out of law school or was smart enough to realize how great the female-to-male ratio of students was at this place.

There is no mention of the specific name of the school. I wonder if it's the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, which opened in 1873 and is located in Boston. It was originally called the Massachusetts Normal Art School and was founded in the same general time period when MIT first opened its doors. These days, MassArt offers degrees in studies ranging from animation to architectural design to photography.

This crop and enlargement provides a closer look at some of the students working at tables.

The book that contains this photograph was compiled by a man whose name is familiar here at Papergreat — Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D., The Well Known Author. Henry, of course, specialized in books with long titles. And this 700+ page volume was no exception:

"The American
Home Educator

Book of Universal Knowledge

Concise and Exhaustive Articles Upon Science, Arts and Mechanics — Automobiles, Aerial Transportation, Cinematograph, Liquid Air, Submarine Navigation, Pneumatic Tubes, Wireless Telegraphy, War Balloons, Etc., Etc.,
All The latest Discoveries and Inventions
Ship Building; Petrified Forests; Gold Products of the World; Curious Facts; Wonders of Electricity; History and Travel; The X-Ray, Etc., Etc..
Being A
Complete Treasury of Knowledge
on Scientific, Historical, Artistic and All Important Subjects, the Whole Forming a Superb Library of the Most Valuable Information
including the
Best Selections from the Writings of Hundreds of Men Renowned in Science, Invention and Discovery, such as Edison, Marconi, Tripler, Mergenthaler, Tesla, Roentgen, Bell, Proctor, Morse, Etc."

That's five uses of "Etc." in one title, if you're scoring at home.

Want more School Days nostaglia? Check out this directory featuring dozens of archived posts.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dubble Bubble Quiz tucked away inside an old schoolbook

Welcome to another Back to School Week on Papergreat! Have you memorized your new locker combination yet? And did you remember your lunch money?

Please remember that there's no gum-chewing on school property. All that nasty chicle ends up underneath the desks or in other unseemly locations, which is just grody to the max.

Today's find is an old Dubble Bubble gum wrapper that was tucked away inside the handsome 1936 textbook "Elson-Gray Basic Readers Book Six." The book, published by Scott, Foresman and Company, features 400+ pages of reading selections, including "Starting a Wild-Life Sanctuary" by Dallas Lore Sharp, "Pandora's Box" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and "The Village Blacksmith" by Henry W. Longfellow.

The flattened gum wrapper measures 2½ by 1¾ inches. In addition to the cartoon representation of Jonah and the whale, which serves as the Dubble Bubble Quiz, some of the text includes:


There's also an offer for six personalized pencils, which can be obtained by sending five Dubble Bubble outer wrappers (not the comics, of course!) and 25¢ to an address in Philadelphia.

Finally, the number 1 appears in the lower-right corner, possibly representing the first in this particular series of Dubble Bubble quizzes.

Dubble Bubble dates to 1924, when it was first produced in Philadelphia by Fleer. It was invented by Walter Diemer, and here is its origin story, via Wikipedia:
"[In 1928,] after four months of trying to mimic his first success he finally made a 300 pound batch of what would become Dubble Bubble. The only food coloring available at the factory was pink, so Diemer had no choice but to use it, and the color would go on to become the standard for gum for the world over. Using a salt-water taffy-wrapping machine Diemer decided to individually wrap 100 pieces and brought the stock to a local candy store. The gum was priced at one penny apiece and sold out in one day. Before long, the Fleer Chewing Gum Company began making bubble gum using Diemer’s recipe, and the gum was marketed as 'Dubble Bubble' gum. Diemer’s bubble gum was the first-ever commercially sold bubble gum, and its sales surpassed 1.5 million dollars in the first year."
Apparently, comic strips were included with Dubble Bubble from almost the very beginning, and more than 1,000 different comics have been published over the decades.

A terrific website called Bubblegum Comics details the histories of the Fleer Funnies inside Dubble Bubble, Bazooka Joe, Tommy Swell's Gang and Archie and His Pals. The page featuring the Fleer Funnies has about two dozen examples from over the years. Reading that history and looking at the samples, I believe the Dubble Bubble wrapper featured today might only date to the early 1970s. (The reference to sending 25¢ also factors into that.)

This 1992 article from The (Allentown) Morning Call by Harry L. Rinker has a few additional details on collecting Dubble Bubble comics.

As a final treat, here's a look at the awesome endpapers illustration from "Elson-Gray Basic Readers Book Six."

Want more School Days nostaglia? Check out this directory featuring dozens of archived posts.