Friday, June 27, 2014

Pics from the past #6: German girl from long ago

On the heels of yesterday's vintage cabinet card, here's another one from the Ludwig Orth photography studio in Giessen, Germany.

The belt is one of the more interesting aspects of this photo. It also seems like an anachronism; as if this late 19th century (or turn of the century) young lady is wearing one of those oversized fashion-statement belts.

And, as with everyone else pictured these week in this small handful of vintage photographs, we have no idea who she was.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quotes from our January 16, 2010, trip to the grocery store

Sometimes, when my wife and I are in the grocery store, I jot down funny things that we say or hear in the aisles onto the back of the grocery list. (I am in charge of the grocery list. And, yes, sometimes I keep the used grocery lists because, of course, they are ephemera. But that's an aside.) Anyway, I wrote down a particularly lengthy list of quotes from our trip on January 16, 2010, and subsequently posted it on Facebook. I thought it would be fun, for posterity, to also post the quotes here, 53 months after the fact. Perhaps a future historian, reading a hard copy or printout of this blog, will find it humorous. Or something.

  • JOAN (sternly, to me): "Where are you going? That's baby stuff."
  • JOAN: "What makes sense to buy and what fits in the cart are two different things."
  • JOAN (not to me): "Here comes the man I want."
  • JOAN: "Let's talk about why they don't have my kind of olives that I'm used to getting."
  • ME (consulting my list, long after we passed the honey): "We'll have to go on a honey mission."
  • JOAN (sternly, to me): "Do you want to wait there, out of the way, while I go get honey?"
  • ME (outraged at the store-shelf reorganization): "You can NEVER take ravioli away from the soups."
  • JOAN (after I told her something cost $5.80): "We don't do 80's. We do quarters."1
  • ME (having missed another item on the list): "Did we pass pretzels? .... (Long pause) .... I'm in trouble."

1. This was a time when Joan kept a running total of our purchases as we were making our way through the store. For the sake of convenience, prices were rounded to the nearest 25 cents. The rounding was a concept, however, that I sometimes struggled with.

Pics from the past #5: Young man at Ludwig Orth photo studio

This vintage photograph featuring a well-dressed young gentleman measures 2½ inches wide by 4⅛ inches tall. It was taken long ago at the Ludwig Orth photography studio in Giessen, Germany.

Giessen, in the central part of the country, began as a castle in the 12th century. Its University of Giessen dates to 1607. More than half of the town was destroyed by bombings during World War II. It is now home to about 76,000 residents and 24,000 university students.

This photograph — a small cabinet card, really — has pre-printed information about the photographer on the back. The largest text states "Ludwig Orth, Atelier Fur Photographie, Giessen." Atelier Fur Photographie translates to "studio (or workshop) for photography".

The rest of the German text on the back is much smaller and hard to read. Here are my best guesses regarding the text and translations:

  • Ehrenvolle Anerkennungen Se Kgl. Hoheit des Grossherzogs ["Honorable recognition from His Royal Highness, the Grand Duke." This is probably one of the Grand Dukes of Hesse (the German state Giessen is located within) — either Louis IV (1837-1892) or Ernest Louis (1868-1937), who was the final Grand Duke.]
  • Ernst Ludwig von Hessen, u.b. Rhein [The full name of the studio proprietor?]
  • Die Platten bleiben f. Nachbestellungen und Vergrosserungen aufbewahrt [Roughly: The plates remain available for reorders and enlargements.]

There is, however, no indication of who the young man in the photograph is or when the photograph was taken.

Tomorrow's final "Pics from the past" is from this same photo studio.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pics from the past #4:
Pleasant-looking gang

Today's vintage photograph is full of interesting mugs. It looks like the unidentified gang might be on or near a boat, but I can't tell for sure.

It's certainly possible that they are immigrants coming to America.

Look at the amazing faces, though. So many stories...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pics from the past #3:
Similar child, similar field

Well then. This 117-year-old photograph has some striking similarities to yesterday's photo. We have a young child standing in an unkempt yard or field. And, again, written on the back are 17 months and 1897.

I have a theory. I think these two photographs were taken in a studio with outdoorsy props and a backdrop. For one thing, the blurriness of the background looks a little off to me. Secondly, look at the position of the trees in the background, particularly the ones on the left. Here are both photos...

The trees are in fairly similar locations, but the props in the foreground are different. That makes me think there's a backdrop in use. But I could be wrong.

Next question: Is the same 17-month-old pictured in both photographs? Here are the faces, side-by-side...

What do you think?

Finally, for fun, let's think about this kid and what her (his?) life was like. For the sake of argument, we'll say the child was born in January 1896 and lived a long, happy life. Here were some of the cultural milestones along the way.

  • Age 7 (1903)The Great Train Robbery, a key film in early cinema, is first shown to the public
  • Age 16 (1912)Titanic sinks
  • Age 18 (1914) — World War I begins
  • Age 23 (1919) — Boston Red Sox sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees (Ruth himself was 24)
  • Age 29 (1925)The Great Gatsby is published
  • Age 33 (1929)"Black Tuesday" stock market crash
  • Age 43 (1939) — World War II begins
  • Age 49 (1945)Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • Age 57 (1953) — Elvis Presley walks into the offices of Sun Records for the first time
  • Age 67 (1963) — John F. Kennedy assassinated
  • Age 73 (1969)Neil Armstrong steps on the moon
  • Age 73 (1969) — Woodstock Festival is held
  • Age 78 (1974) — Robert Redford and Mia Farrow star in a movie version of The Great Gatsby
  • Age 81 (1977)Star Wars is released in theaters
  • Age 84 (1980) — Philadelphia Phillies win their first World Series
  • Age 87 (1983) — Duran Duran releases the album Seven and the Ragged Tiger
  • Age 94 (1990)Goodfellas is released in theaters and one of its final shots references 1903's The Great Train Robbery
  • Age 100 (1996) — George Burns, who was also born in 1896, dies
  • Age 100 (1996) — The Nintendo 64 gaming system is released

Cool map featured on endpapers of "At Camp Kee Tov"

This is (most of) the illustrated map that adorns the endpapers of At Camp Kee Tov, a book subtitled "Ethics for Jewish Juniors" that was first published in 1961. The book was written by Helen Fine and illustrated by Seymour Fleishman.

Locations on the map, which is full of wonderful detail, include the Boys' Village, the Boys' Recreation Hall, the Girls' Village, the Girls' Recreation Hall, the Outdoor Theater, the Dining Hall, the Infirmary, the Indoor Chapel, the Universal Lawn, the Big House and — my favorite — the Thinking Place.

The chapter titles include "The Tree of Life," "A Disappointment for Steven," "Sara's Ghost," "A Moonlight Hike," "S'Goolo Says Thanks," "Operation Space Hat," and "Who Is the Bravest Hero?"

There are only a few online reviews for this book, but they all involve praise and fond memories. Here are some excerpts...

  • An reviewer wrote (in 2011): "I read this book when I was a kid, really liked it, but had forgotten the title later in life. In my memory of childhood it grew in impact as being a somewhat special and magical book, but I could not remember specific details, just the sense of it being wonderful with a sense of adventure. When I rediscovered the title, ordered and read it, I found that it was quite enjoyable reading as an adult as well. It was written in 1961, and reflects some of the understanding of that age less jaded than the culture surrounding children today. The book relates the experience at a Jewish childrens summer camp of a brother and sister. Each chapter finds their fellow campers having normal issues of behavioral conflict, which usually gets resolved by the wisdom of the staff members using stories, examples or insight from the Torah or Talmud."
  • Goodreads reviewer Zoe wrote (in 2014): "I salvaged this book from a synagogue book sale a few years ago in Portland. It is a beautiful hardcover 1970 edition of this 1961 book. We read it aloud to the kids at bedtime and while we all got many laughs out of the now-antiquated figures of speech; obsession with rockets and moon men; and gender stratification, we also came to really appreciate and enjoy the chance to discuss ethical dilemmas that face kids in everyday life."
  • Goodreads reviewer Rachael wrote (in 2009): "This is one of my most beloved books of my childhood. Aside from being a wonderful author, Helen Fine was also my beloved 5th and 6th grade teacher. She taught me the true meaning of the word 'empathy', which I have in turn tried to lovingly pass on to my daughter. The book is about a set of twins and their first summer at overnight camp. It is text book about ethics, but each chapter tells a wonderful story from which a lesson is gleaned."

Related posts (endpapers illustrations)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Pics from the past #2:
Child in late 19th century

This is the image from a 19th century cabinet card. The only two things I can make out on the back are these two notes, written in pencil:
  • 17 months
  • 1897

This cabinet card (and the one that I'll post tomorrow) come from the same source as the photo of Uncle Willie in the hay that I posted last autumn. That picture was also from 1897, so it's likely all of these photos are from the same family.

My favorite part of today's photo, by the way, is the axe in the stump.

Excerpts from a 1911 National Education Association conference

The large tome pictured at right is, per the title page, the National Education Association of the United States' Journal of Proceedings and Addresses of the Forty-Ninth Annual Meeting Held at San Francisco, California, July 8-14, 1911.

The 1,172-page volume was published by the NEA and printed by The University of Chicago Press.

So, what was on the NEA's mind 103 years ago, with regard to the education of this nation's youth? Here are some excerpts:

  • Keeping up with the Germans: In an address titled Can We Shorten the Term of Years Without Decreasing Efficiency of Education in American Schools?, Samuel Avery argues that the United States can achieve the same quality of college graduate as European countries, but at the expense of time:
    "If an American boy enters a public school at six, spends eight years in the grades, four years in the high school, four years in the general literary college , and then four years in a medical, law or graduate college, he will be twenty-six years old before his education in the schools is completed. If his college and university work are combined in a six-year course he will be twenty-four years old.

    "I think that no educator in America would make a serious claim that such a young man is better educated, either culturally or professionally, than the German who has taken a course consisting of the gymnasium and the university, losing a year in the army, and graduating at the age of twenty-two. As a matter of fact, I think I am safe in saying that the American at twenty-four is about as well educated as the German at twenty-two, except that the latter has a far better command of his native tongue and of foreign languages."
  • Sunshine and fresh air: In The Kindergarten of the Future, Frank Edson Parlin states: "In the first place, the kindergarten of the future will be true to its name, a garden of children, a place especially adapted to the nurture of children and in charge or those who understand their condition, their needs, and the laws of their growth. If it is to be a garden and not a hothouse, it will generally by out of doors, in the sunlight and open air, among the trees and flowers, associated with the birds and animals, providing healthful conditions for the body, appropriate food for the hungry senses, abundant exercise for the growing muscles, ample scope for the imagination, and unfailing topics for stories and conversation."
  • Labor omnia vincit: In Latin in the Lower Grades (Below the High School), H.C. Nutting argues: "I advocate beginning Latin in the lower grades, not because I believe that the work so undertaken will prove easier and more attractive (tho there is no doubt that it will prove so), but because I am convinced that, on the average, the foundations of Latin can be laid more firmly and securely in the seventh and eighth grades than in an early year of the high-school course. I have not a shred of sympathy for weak-kneed, wishy-washy, compromising methods."
  • Insert your own joke about the NCAA: In The Future of Intercollegiate Athletics in the Western States, P.L. Campbell summarizes his report as follows: "We have passed in the West pretty well beyond professionalism in college athletics, unless possibly it be in the playing of summer baseball; we have eliminated the tramp athlete; thru more rigid rules regulating scholarship and attendance, we have removed 'flunkers' from our college teams, so that the average standing of the university athletes compares favorably with that of any other equally large body of students; we have reduced our schedules in numbers of games; and brought down to a reasonable limit the time a student may lose thru being absent on trips..."
  • I wish I had this teacher: Finally, in What Has Art in the Schools Done to Preserve and Cultivate the Imagination?, May Gearhart ends her speech thusly: "Our pupils like to hear about the fairy with the enchanted green hat in The Blue Bird:
    'Human beings are very odd. Since the death of the fairies they see nothing at all and they never suspect it. Luckily I always carry with me all that is needed to give new light to dimmed eyes ... a dear little, green hat. When you've got that hat on your head ... it's enchanted ... you at once see even the inside of things.'
    Imagination, children, is like an enchanted green hat."

Other topics addressed at the conference included simplified spelling, a plea to include Native Americans in the public school system, teacher salaries, year-round schooling, the efficiency of school janitors and numerous discussions related to hygiene and open-air schools.

Finally, there was a presentation titled Child Protection and the Social Evil. Here's an excerpt:
"So long as the hearts of men are bad, so long as men are the chief offenders, as they are, there is going to be more of less of a residue, even if we carry on a campaign of repression. I say again, in this my impromptu address to you, that the ultimate goal to which we must all point is a religious and moral solution to this question. We may approach the problem from an economic or social point of view. Such an attitude will help. But the final solution will come only in the raising of the public conscience to a certain ideal of morality..."
Did you guess the Social Evil being discussed? It was prostitution.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pics from the past #1:
A trio of men

I recently came across a fabulous small cache of old photographs, and they're too cool not to share. So I'm going to post one of them at noon each day this week (in addition to some regular posts).

I think you'll find them to be interesting.

This first one measures just three inches wide by two inches tall and is pasted to a larger piece of cardboard. There is no date and no indentifications.

Who do you think these fellas are? What's their story? Is it just me, or is there something odd about the way the guy in the middle is sitting and is propping himself up by putting his arms around the other two?

So many things we'll never know...