Saturday, December 28, 2013

Found photo: Blurry things piled high on shelves

I'm probably the only person who could ever love this blurry Polaroid snapshot.

Where was this room?
When was this taken?
Who sat in that chair?
What treasures are piled haphazardly on those shelves?

Something to ponder in the middle of a cold winter night.

Saturday's postcard: High mountain passage in Norway

How would you like to drive on this road?

This undated postcard, published by Normanns Kunstforlag, features a view of a "high mountain passage" in Norway. It states that the photograph was taken in June. (Presumably, this road becomes impassable during the winter.)

It's possible, though I can't be sure, that this was taken along the Sognefjellet National Tourist Route. According to, the Sognefjellet is the highest mountain pass in northern Europe. At its peak, the 67-mile route is about 4,700 feet above sea level. Along the way, travelers will see a fjord, mountains, rivers, waterfalls. And they can stay at historic hotels that date to the 18th and 19th centuries. Sounds like a pretty dandy vacation.

Here are some more links to help fuel your Norwegian travel daydreams:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas-themed QSL card from Appleton, Wisconsin

There's always room for one more Christmas post, right?

I got a chuckle from this vintage QSL card featuring an illustration of Santa Claus getting snagged on a ham-radio antenna (referred to here as a super-mag) while making his worldwide rounds. The card was issued by Harold and Agnes Welter1 of Appleton, Wisconsin, who had the call sign KLK 7037.

In ham-radio lingo, "73" means "best regards." So, if you want to be technical, the phrase "Best of 73's" would translate to "Best of Best Regards's."

But it's the holidays, so there's no need to nitpick. Cheers!

Check out Papergreat's other vintage QSLs here.

1. According to some genealogy websites, there was a Harold Welter from Appleton who lived from 1921 to 2000.

Summing up Christmas 101 years ago in Mason City, Nebraska

For the sake of efficiency, a mother and daughter used both sides of a single piece of paper to write their respective post-Christmas notes 101 years ago.

Here are the two sides of the letter, followed in each instance by a faithful transcription.

Mason City, Nebr.
Dec 29 1912

Dear Cousin
I was up to grandpapa Christmas. I got a glass and three book and doll and a ribbon and a handkerchief and two postcards and a pencilbox and a string of beads and piece of goods for a white apron and a box of candy.

We had a week of vacation and are school is going to start tomorrow.

We like are teacher and her name is Martha Whitehead.1

We are all well except cold.

Hope you are all well.

From your cousin

Dear niece
We recieved our box and many thanks
mine is just fine
how did you know I did not have any thing like it Ha Ha
The children think theirs is fine too.
I am in a hurry this morning trying to get the girls off to school and they are bothering me too
Write soon
Emma Hammer

1. I found a reference to Martha Whitehead in the NEGenWeb Resource Center. She was one of seven graduates at the Mason City (Nebraska) high school commencement in Custer County on May 21, 1897.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The American Gas Association's holiday lineup for 1971-72

Gaslight was a four-page pamphlet from Columbia Gas System that I'm assuming was included in the envelope with customers' gas bills about four decades ago.

One of these that I came across is from 1971 and includes tips for cutting heating costs in the winter, tips for using your dryer properly, a recipe for Italian Meat Loaf from someone named Betty Newton, and a guide to the 1971-72 television specials sponsored by various gas companies and the American Gas Association.

These were the six gas-sponsored shows that were set to air on NBC:

  • "Snoopy at the Ice Follies,"1 on October 24, 1971
  • "Festival at Ford's II," from Washington, D.C., on November 15, 1971
  • "The Little Drummer Boy," starring Greer Garson, Jose Ferrer and the Vienna Boys Choir, on December 14, 1971
  • "The Spring," a documentary about Africa, on January 16, 1972
  • "Bing Crosby Show," featuring Carol Burnett, Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason, on February 10, 1972
  • "Circus Town," documenting how a city stages a circus, on April 1, 1972

A newspaper article titled "Networks Plan wide Variety of 'Specials'" in the September 10, 1971, edition of the Arizona Daily Sun2 adds a bit more detail about "Festival at Ford's II," stating that is "the working title for NBC's sequel to last Thanksgiving salute to American music at historic Ford's Theater. [sic]"

Regarding "Circus Town," NBC first aired the documentary about circus performers in Peru, Indiana, in 1970. According to the Chronology of Clowndom page, its "featured performer was 'Joey' Kelly, son of Emmett 'Weary Willie' Kelly, Jr. and grandson of Clown and Circus Halls of Fame inductee Emmett 'Weary Willie' Kelly Sr."

I can't, however, dig up anything about the African documentary titled "The Spring."

1. This was the first of four Peanuts-themed ice-skating television specials. Here's the full list.
2. That 1971 newspaper article in the Arizona Daily Sun begins this way:
"A FCC ruling cutting prime-time network programming to three hours per night was almost certain to reduce the number of special telecasts this year — but it didn't. The list of specials is already lengthy and the political conventions, President Nixon's visit to China, the Apollo program, and Vietnam are naturals to add to the list."
And the article concludes with this throwaway sentence:
"A few other specials, including an ABC investigation of invasion of privacy by the government, will fill the special program season."
The invasion-of-privacy special referred to was hosted by ABC's Frank Reynolds. I found some more about it in the January 8, 1972, issue of The Morning Herald of Hagerstown, Maryland:
"The ABC News special, 'Assault on Privacy' ... details the many ways in which vast volumes of information are being gathered on millions of Americans. Hosted and narrated by ABC News special correspondent Frank Reynolds, the program focuses on two specific areas of privacy invasion — law enforcement and consumer credit reporting. Law enforcement agencies contend that surveillance and information-gathering are essential to their work. The growing number of consumer and credit reporting companies claim they are only providing a service to retailers, lending institutions, insurance companies and the consumer. The net effect is the compilation of a staggering amount of data — accurate, inaccurate, properly used, sometimes abused — on virtually all adult Americans. As correspondent Reynolds points out on the program, 'the invasion of privacy takes many forms. Some manifestations are the result of population — the pressure of people in our overcrowded cities. Some result from an affluent and automated society in which we choose to make a trade-off between personal privacy and the benefits of modern technology. But some deprivations of privacy are man-made. They have to do with Constitutional rights, with political beliefs, and with personal and commercial information about individuals."
That was four decades ago, but it sounds like it could have been spoken or written yesterday!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Vintage postcard of Abdul the camel in Tuxedo, New York

This post is a gift for my daughter, Sarah, because we want to let you know that today is more than just Christmas...

(That's what you get when Christmas is on a Wednesday, folks.)

This is a Dexter Press postcard from 1971. The caption on the front states: "'Abdul' the Camel and young friend."

According to the back of the card, "Abdul" offered gentle rides for young visitors to Sterling Forest, which is located on Route 210 near the town of Tuxedo, New York.

Since 1978, the same area has been host to the New York Renaissance Faire, which features its own camels.

But I can't find any mention of what became of Abdul. It's possible that he's still around, as a dromedary can live up to 50 years in captivity. But I don't know.

Vintage vernacular photograph of a boy with Christmas presents

Have you finished opening presents yet?

Here's a mystery vernacular photo of a young boy with his gifts on a Christmas of Days Past.

No date. No identification. Can anyone hazard a guess based on some of the toys that he's received?

(To see some old Christmas photos of Yours Truly, see this 2011 post.)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

God Jul!

Merry Christmas, all!

This vintage postcard features the phrase God Jul!, which is how you say "Merry Christmas" in Swedish and Norwegian.

Keeping up a tradition I started last year, here is how you say "Merry Christmas" in a few other languages, according to Santa's Net:

Armenian: Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
Cornish: Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
Frisian: Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!
Hungarian: Boldog Kar√°csonyt
Maori: Meri Kirihimete

And here's a closer look at the central illustration on this old postcard. Note that both the Swedish and American flags are at the top of the Christmas tree.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Vintage Christmas card from Father: "Bright Days Always"

I think this is my favorite illustration from the various Christmas cards and items that I have posted this month (although those that I have saved for Tuesday and Wednesday are fairly stellar, too).

This card, titled "Bright Days Always," is just wonderfully atmospheric, with its pockets of colorful holiday cheer punching through the cold and gloomy December weather. Plus, of course, full moons always make for dramatic illustrations and photographs.1

Inside the undated card, which was printed in England, is the following Christmas message, from Father to Anna and Earl...

And here's a closer look at the Victorian-era musicians and their portable lamp.

1. I have been stockpiling a nice little set of vintage "full moon" postcards that I plan to share in a gallery sometime in 2014. In the meantime, here are some previous posts featuring the moon:

Papergreat's Favorite Reads of 2013

This illustration, which was pasted into the pages of a decades-old scrapbook that I came across earlier this year, seems like the perfect accompaniment to this list of my favorite articles of 2013.

Vintage snapshot of a man, a woman and a snow shovel

Here's a fun vintage photograph. It features two well-dressed adults out in the snow, with the man holding a show shovel. The woman looks like she's either feigning alarm ... or possibly getting ready to toss a snowball at the gentleman. It looks like there might be something in her hand, but I can't tell for sure.

When you take a closer look at these two individuals, they appear to be quite amiable. Having some fun in the snow.

The back of the photograph does not contain a date or any identifications. And there doesn't seem to be enough in the background to determine a location. When do you think this was taken? The 1930s?

Looking even more closely, one final neat detail I discovered is that the man is holding a pipe.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Five awesome Christmas gift tags

I have no idea whether these small Christmas gift tags, seen below in closeup, were made in 2012 or 1952 or sometime in between. I don't know if you can call them vintage or old-fashioned or handcrafted or homemade. For all I know, they were stamped out by albino children using cutting-edge machinery in a secret factory in Capileira, Spain, last year.

But regardless of who made them, and when, and how, they're fairly awesome — a classy and creative alternative to those endless sheets of to/from stickers that are so common during this holiday.

And they're ephemera.

So enjoy.

The Cloud family and Frankford Memorial Methodist Church

It's "Christmas Greetings from the Clouds," an undated old card featuring the Rev. and Mrs. Douglas Ingram Cloud and their children Bruce, Judith, and Brian, sitting around the dining room table.

The "enclosed booklet" mentioned on the front of the card is absent, and the inside pages are blank. The back of the card, however, is an advertisement for the worship services at Frankford Memorial Methodist Church at Oxford and Dyre in Philadelphia.

Rev. Cloud was the son of Preston Ercelle Cloud and Pauline L. Wiedemann1, lived from 1908 to 1988, according to, and was a member of the Washington and Lee University Class of 1931.

At one point he called Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, home.

In 1959, he authored a tract called "How to Read Your Bible," and perhaps that is booklet that was included with this greeting card.

The church mentioned on the card dates to 1871 and is now called Frankford Memorial United Methodist Church. You can read more about its history here.

1. The following newspaper blurb is from the February 23, 1906, edition of The New York Times, according to
"WILMINGTON, Del., Feb. 22. -- It was learned to-day that Preston Ercelle Cloud, a midshipman in the United States Navy, and Miss Pauline Wiedemann came to this city unattended late last night and were married by the Rev. George Lewis Wolfe, pastor of the First Methodist Church, at his home. Both gave Philadelphia as their residence, and started for that city after the ceremony. The bridegroom, it is said, is attached to the cruiser Annapolis, now at the League Island Navy Yard, Philadelphia."