Saturday, April 12, 2014

1955 linen postcard: Boxwood Court & Restaurant along U.S. 15

Countless American roadside motels came and went during the 20th century, fading quickly from memory and the landscape. But their advertising postcards remain, reminding us that they existed.

This never-used linen postcard is a "Genuine Curteich" card and was produced in 1955. (I was able to determine the date thanks to this wonderful post on The stamp box on the back contains the designation 5C-H258. The "C" indicates that it was produced in the 1950s and the 5 tells us that it's from 1955.)

From the front of the card, we can see that Boxwood Court & Restaurant had gasoline pumps and cozy little cabins, each with a small porch and red chairs out front. This is what's printed on the back:

Boxwood Court & Restaurant
3½ Miles South of FARMVILLE, VA.
On U.S. Highway #15
All Units Air-conditioned, Radiant Heated
Individual Thermostat Control
Private Showers or Bath
Excellent Food at Moderate Prices
MR. & MRS. F. LEVEQUE, Owners & Managers

Farmville is a tiny town along Route 15 in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Rapper Lady of Rage (Robin Yvette Allen) and Vince Gilligan, the creator/writer of Breaking Bad, are among Farmville's former residents.

U.S. Route 15 dates to 1926 and was one of the country's original highways. It runs from New York to South Carolina, and you can imagine why so many motels and restaurants must have sprung up along its path in the middle of the last century. The highway has changed a great deal over the decades and parts of it are now recognized as a National Scenic Byway. One book that documents its history is Along Virginia's Route 15 by Josie Ballato.

Friday, April 11, 2014

These #FridayReads range from serious to offbeat to plain silly

More stuff to read! Because you needed that, right?

I guarantee you there's something for everyone in this collection of nearly three dozen links and articles that have caught my eye over the past few weeks. Enjoy!

1906 postcard: "Lovers Lane, Bronx Park, N.Y. City"

And this morning we have two well-dressed gentlemen taking a stroll down Lovers Lane a century ago...

This postcard is marked as "H 33a" and has a 1905 copyright by The Rotograph Co. of New York. (But it was produced in Germany, according to the back.)

Pictured on the hand-colored card1 is Lovers Lane at Bronx Park in New York City. The park dates to the late 19th century and is home to the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo.

As this predates split-back postcards, the message is written on the front. It states: "Edyth was sorry she did not have more time at camp. Rena." There is also an address written on the front: 540 West 146th Street. That address, I believe, is now home to apartments in the Hamilton Heights section of Manhattan.

The postcard was apparently not mailed until after Rena returned home from her visit to New York City. (Have you ever done that?) The first postmark is at 8 a.m. on August 9, 1906, in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania. And the second (the "received" postmark) is at 3:30 p.m. on August 9, 1906 in Baltimore, Maryland.2 (How's that for same-day service?) The card was sent to:

Miss Georgia B. Klinefelter,
Mt. Washington,
Balto. Co.,
c/o Mr. Jos. Brenize

1. Kooky Kitsch has a copy of the black-and-white (uncolored) version of this postcard.
2. The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 4-2, on August 9, 1906. The Phillies' best hitter that season was Sherry Magee, who hit six of the team's 12 home runs. (It was the dead-ball era.)

What is the man on the left doing?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ink blotter for Cook, Watkins & Patch memorials

"If a man make a better Mouse Trap than his neighbor, the World will build a beaten path to his Door though he build his House in the Woods!"
That's the phrase printed on this old ink-blotter advertisement for Cook, Watkins & Patch. It's actually a corruption of this passage, which was written by essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson:
"I trust a good deal to common fame, as we all must. If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods."
As you can see, Emerson's passage never even mentioned mousetraps! That might be because he died before what we know as the modern mousetrap was invented.

But I digress. This ink blotter, which features an illustration of some sort of hobo or tinker, is promoting the cemetery memorials produced by Cook, Watkins & Patch. The business office was in Boston, Massachusetts, but the "Technacraft-carved" memorials had their origin in Barre, Vermont.1

Cook, Watkins and Patch was in business from 1891 until about 1985. I came across numerous obituaries for men and women who had worked there as foremen, designers and laborers during the 20th century. The company's beginnings are described in 1913's History of the Granite Industry of New England, Volume 1 by Arthur Wellington Brayley:
"The Firm of Cook, Watkins & Co., 219-223 Columbus avenue, Boston, dates from 1891, at which time John F. Cook and George R. Watkins became associated in business under the firm name of Cook & Watkins, with offices at 120 Boylston street. At the time they operated cutting plants at Quincy and Barre, with offices at Aberdeen, Scotland, and later controlled the output of the Pleasant River Quarries at Addison, Me. They now have a large wholesale business in Barre, Quincy, Westerly, and other New England granites and marble, and are large importers of Scotch and Swedish monuments and Italian marble statuary. Their monuments and statuary are sold to the trade all over the United States, they employing a large force of traveling salesmen for this purpose. Their output is large, and includes everything in their line from the simplest markers to military and other public memorials. The soldiers' monuments at Morgantown, West Virginia, and Bar Harbor, Maine, are examples of their work in that line.

"Mr. Watkins died in 1896, and Mr. Cook carried on the business under the same name, until 1907, when he retired from active business, and Bradford C. Patch took its management. In 1910, Mr. Patch was admitted a partner, and the firm name changed to its present title."

Current granite broker Cochran's Inc. states on its website that, in 1984, it "purchased several sections of the former Cook, Watkins and Patch granite plant for their new location."

One of Cook, Watkins & Patch's longtime employees was designer G. William Patten (1907-1986), who began working with the company in 1924 and whose career is detailed in this post on the John J. Burns Library's Blog.

While the company's memorials will last for centuries and centuries, I can't find very much online in terms of its ephemera. One AbeBooks dealer is offering for sale these items, which were once used by salesmen: "20 LARGE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS OF TOMBSTONES OFFERED BY THE COOK WATKINS & PATCH, INC. ... Illustrations are 9 x 12 inches and are mounted on heavy cardboard stock 14 x 11 inches. Each illustration shows a single tombstone in a finely landscaped cemetary [sic]. The Illustrations are individual and not bound together, as issued, and were used commercially to sell the tombstones."

Vintage Ads and Books, meanwhile, offers one of the company's catalogs from 1931. It includes a photograph of the E.F. Albee Mausoleum at Kensico Cemetery in New York.

1. Some of the company's memorials were almost certainly made from Barre Granite, which I wrote about in this November 2012 post.

See these old milk caps and share your morning-delivery memories

Time for some milkman memories!

Pictured below are three old milk-bottle caps. They're all of a smaller size — about 1½ inches wide. Now, I'm too wee young of a lad to remember milk bottles. So I'd love to hear people's memories on the topic.

  • What are your memories of the milkman's daily deliveries?
  • What were your favorite things to get other than milk?
  • Were you or someone in your family's history a milkman?
  • Are you a collector of milk bottles or milk-bottle caps?

Comment at the bottom of today's post or email me at to share your stories.

This first cap is from Day Dairy in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Its slogan was "The Milky Way to Health."

Up next is a generic milk cap that features a message encouraging customers to wash and return their empty bottles each day.

Finally, here's a cap for Good Leschi Milk. Note that the cap states "Thursday." I'm guessing there was a different cap for each day of the week, so that customers could keep track of which milk was the freshest.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mystery snapshot: Gone fishin'

This photograph is stamped with a date of July 31, 1946, on the back.1 It also features the stamp of the James Lett Co., a long-closed photo supply business that was located in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania. So there's certainly a good chance that this picture was taken in this state.

But who is the boy? And where is he fishing?

And another question — one we sometimes forget to ask with these mystery snapshots: Who took the photo? A friend? His father? A stranger?

Regardless, the boy looks quite content and focused on his line. I fear that too many young people in this generation won't ever experience the peace, fresh air and opportunity for reflection that angling provides.

1. On that same day, in a very different part of the world, American cryptanalyst Meredith Gardner was, according to Wikipedia, "able to make the first breakthrough in a team project to crack the secret codes used by the Soviet Union in its espionage activities in the United States." It was part of the work done by the Venona project.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Outing everyone in 1917 Franklin County liquor license petitions

This is a curious item. It's a staplebound pamphlet — presumably produced by a temperance or prohibitionist group — naming the individuals associated with every liquor license petition that had been put forth for approval in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in February 1917.

As you might tell from the skull and crossbones on the front, the makers of the this pamphlet did not have a high opinion of those involved with the petitions. The pamphlet served as a means to publicly "out" them and perhaps even shame them into disassociating themselves from the business of bottling, serving and selling alcohol.

I doubt it worked.

In addition to the list of all the petitioners (including certifiers, bondsmen and attorneys), the booklet is filled with anti-drinking evangelism, mostly in the form of Bible passages.

The small text at the top of the front cover states:
"Does it pay to license a traffic which breeds idiots, paupers, criminals, lunatics and epileptics and casts them upon society to be supported by decent, honest industrious people?"
Indeed, there were no shades of gray for these folks.

Here, for the historical record, is a list of the Franklin County individuals and establishments that were seeking liquor licenses at this time:
  • George Zullinger, National Hotel in Chambersburg
  • Wm. Laird, Hotel Montgomery in Chambersburg
  • Albert C. Breniser and Harry E. Frank, Hotel McKinley in Chambersburg
  • Max H. John, Hotel Wallace in Chambersburg
  • Otto E.R. John, retail liquor license in Chambersburg
  • Isaac D. Ivison, Hotel Washington in Chambersburg
  • James Vanderau, Jim's Place (restaurant) in Chambersburg
  • Harry A. Burgner, Indian Queen Hotel in Chambersburg
  • W.M. Ensminger, wholesale liquor license for borough of Chambersburg
  • Harry Marshall, wholesale liquor license as bottler in the borough of Chambersburg
  • Albert Spital and Frank Spital, wholesale liquor license as bottlers in the borough of Chambersburg
  • LeRoy Evans, wholesale liquor license for borough of Chambersburg
  • Harbaugh Brothers (Maurice and Peyton), retail liquor license in Waynesboro
  • John R. Lashley, retail liquor license in Waynesboro
  • Charles W. Huff and Clinton J. Huff, retail liquor license in Waynesboro
  • Fred O. Bartholow, retail liquor license in Waynesboro
  • Pen-Mar Distilling Company, wholesale liquor license as distillers in Waynesboro
  • A.R. Frantz, wholesale license as bottler in Washington Township
  • Buena Vista Spring Hotel, retail liquor license in Washington Township (That place sounds like a good story for another day.)
  • John Welty and David M. Welty, wholesale license as distillers in Washington Township
  • H.W. McLaughlin, retail liquor license in borough of Greencastle
  • Robert E. Miller, retail liquor license in borough of Greencastle
  • J.R. Wortman, retail liquor license for National Hotel in Greencastle
  • Geo. M. Johnston, wholesale liquor license as distiller in Antrim Township
  • William F. Vanderau, retail liquor license in borough of Mercersburg
  • Charles W. McLaughlin, retail liquor license in borough of Mercersburg
  • David W. Unger, wholesale liquor license as distiller in Peters Township
  • S.E. Martin, retail liquor license for Upper Strasburg
  • J.F. Miller, retail liquor license for Fort Loudon in Peters Township
  • John W. McClain, retail liquor license for Roxbury in Logan Township
  • Harry W. McClain, retail liquor license in St. Thomas
  • Robert G. Jones, retail liquor license for, amusingly, a place called "Dry Run" in Franklin County

Many names of signers crop up on multiple petitions, a fact noted within the pages of the pamphlet: "Of the 3000 taxpayers, 160 names include all the signers of the Chambersburg petitions, some names having appeared six and seven times. 'Shall we sit idle while Satan works?'" In addition, some attorneys are associated with multiple petitions; the name Garnet Gehr pops up the most often.

Here are a couple more propaganda tidbits that are sprinkled throughout the booklet. Their veracity, of course, cannot be confirmed:
  • "Kansas has the lowest death rate in the world. The lowest percentage of illiteracy in the United States, largely as a result of its 30 years of prohibition."
  • "Of the 1000 men in our Eastern Penitentiary, 899 gave liquor as the direct cause of their downfall."
  • "The most dangerous classes of ruffians in our cities are beer drinkers."

We know who got the last laugh. Two years after the publication of this pamphlet, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified (in January 1919), and the U.S. prohibition officially began in January 1920.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

More colorful international stamps from Postcrossing exchanges

Here's another small collection of international stamps that have come to my mailbox in recent weeks from Postcrossing exchanges. And there are some links at the bottom of the post if you want to see even more.

Troitsko-Aleksandrovskaya Cotton Mill of Baranovs
This triangular Russia stamp was issued last July and is from a series titled "Arts and crafts of Russia — Shawls." There were four different stamps and each came in sets of four. Regarding this stamp, Marka states:
"Scarves and shawls of Baranovs’ Troitsko-Alexandrovsky manufactory can be traced back to 1846. The main space in the products is occupied by multicolored floral patterns. Red, being present in every element of the pattern, unites centerpiece, hem and background. Geometric and oriental (‘cucumber’) motifs are present on the scarves along with the floral patterns."
You can also see the other three stamps in this series on that Marka page.

Élysée Treaty commemorative
This stamp was issued jointly by Germany and France last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty between those two countries. There was also a commemorative coin issued jointly by the two countries. Read all about it in this news release.

Mystery stamp from China
OK, I'd love to know more about this one. Can anyone help with translation and/or tell me what the significance is of this stamp, which features what appears to be a junk.

Belarus celebrates Postrcrossing
I think it's pretty cool that Belarus issued a stamp to celebrate the Postcrossing phenomenon. And it's even cooler that I got one in the mail, courtesy of Tanya in Minsk. We definitely need to get the U.S. Post Office to do one of these, too.

Other posts featuring international stamps

1976 advertisement: A Leibniz butter biscuit for the road

Bahlsen-Keks für unterwegs
translates to
"Bahlsen biscuit for the road"

And that hair and mustache clearly translate to the 1970s. Indeed, this advertisement comes from an almanac that was published by Staats-Harold in 1976 to celebrate the German-American aspect of the bicentennial.

The Staats-Harold is now known as the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung, which is one of the leading German-language newspapers in the United States. It dates to the 1830s.

The almanac is filled with (mostly) German-language advertisements for pumpernickel, sausage, and numerous businesses and restaurants in New York City and the surrounding region.

This advertisement for Bahlsen, a Germany-based food manufacturer, focuses on one of the company's most famous products — the Leibniz butter biscuit. According to the company's website:
"After more than a century of tradition and family history, Bahlsen's original all-butter Leibniz biscuit is still the same simple pleasure it has always been: its charming shape, golden color and classic butter biscuit taste stand ready to enchant a new generation of biscuit lovers."
(Mustache not included.)