Saturday, July 19, 2014

Wonderful Book Cover: "The House of the Seven Flies"

  • Title: The House of the Seven Flies
  • Author: Victor Canning
  • Cover illustrator: Sadly, unknown. (I can't read the signature at the bottom. And I cannot find an online source that lists the illustrator of this edition. Any help out there? This artist needs credit.)
  • Publisher: The M.S. Mill Co. and William Morrow & Company, New York
  • Year: 1952 (Book Club Edition)
  • Notes: Before its publication as a book, this tale was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post. ... The cover shown above is the U.S. first edition. ... For a look at the other covers, check out this website, which is maintained by John Higgins. ... On that site, Higgins provides this tantalizing tidbit: "A notebook has survived which includes Canning's notes made while visiting Holland to research this book. He is fascinated by Dutch names and dress styles, and meticulous about transcribing public notices and official titles." ... This novel has been adapted for the radio and was also made in a poorly reviewed 1959 film that was retitled The House of the Seven Hawks. ... Another good source of information about the novel and the film is Dan Stumpf, writing on Mystery*File.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What new fiction are you reading this summer?

So many books!

I spent just a scant few minutes shuffling around a brick-and-mortar bookstore earlier this week, and it seems like the quality of the summer reading selections is quite high.

Pictured at right are some of the novels that piqued my interest when I read their dust-jacket descriptions.

A colorful tale of an isolated bookshop in the Welsh countryside. ... A woman inherits a mystery-filled old house outside London. ... A blind French girl and a German boy have their paths collide in occupied France during World War II. ... A 19th century tale of writers, high society and deadly games in England. ... A supernatural thriller that spans 200 years and is a race against time.

I'll leave it to you to match up the descriptions above with the books pictured at right. If you're as curious as I was and love to browse, you'll have fun figuring it all out and will probably lose yourself for a half-hour or more.

Meanwhile, some other new novels and story collections that are not pictured here but have caught my attention include:

What new fiction are you reading this summer? Let me know in the comments section or send a Tweet to @papergreat. (I might tackle new non-fiction next week, which is why I'm specifying fiction now.)

And what novel are you most looking forward to in the second half of 2014? For me, it's The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, which is due out in early September.

Now all we need is a month off to sit at the beach, or perhaps in a cabin in the woods, and read all of this great stuff!

Thoughts, speculation and hypotheses regarding High Rock

Last week I featured a postcard of "High Rock, York, PA" that had been originally mailed in 1910. It wasn't clear to me where this formation was located within York County, and so I asked some local experts for help.

Going into this, we knew very little for sure. Just that:
  • The postcard is from 1910 or earlier.
  • Printed on the front is "High Rock, York, PA."
  • It shows a large, white rock face, perhaps as tall as 30 feet.
  • There are a dirt path and a wooden fence next to the rock face.

Beyond that, we're in the realm of speculation.

One Pennsylvania gazetteer indicates that there is a geographical feature (a summit) in southwestern York County labeled High Rock. But that doesn't seem to be a location that is easily accessible, that ever had a walking path or that would be featured on a postcard.

High Rock, it turns out, is a fairly common and unspecific place name. There have been numerous spots dubbed High Rock in York County history. And some of those spots have surely been altered radically in the past 100+ years.

But our local historians and experts came up with a number of thoughts regarding the possible location of this particular High Rock. Here's what they shared with me:

Joan Otto (Only in York County): My wife believes this High Rock could have been in or near what was once known as Dogtown, a former community that was located in the West York area. Parts of that area now include a former quarry that has turned into a lake and a golf course. Is the site of this postcard now underwater? You can read about Dogtown in these three Only in York County posts from 2011: 1, 2 and 3.

June Burk Lloyd (Universal York): June generally agrees with Joan, stating: "I have always thought maybe it was along the creek west of Richland Avenue, after you go past the back of Bickel's chip plant, maybe as far as where Highland Avenue would intersect if it was extended. I've never explored there — it looks kind of inaccessible. Regent's Glen golf course would be right across the creek — I wonder what you could see from there."

Jim McClure (York Town Square): "That does have the look of the old Highland Park area, in the vicinity that June is describing."

Greg Halpin (firefighter and local history buff): "I always understood it was somewhere near Highland Park."

We do have a dissenting vote, though.

Jeri Jones, who is a local geologist and historian and serves as program coordinator at York County Parks, believes this postcard does show the geological feature in southwestern York County. He states:
"The High Rock I know is in the Pigeon Hills near the intersection of High Rock Road and Moulstown Road. The quartzite outcrop is behind the microwave tower that sits on the north side of High Rock Road on top of the mountain. I took a look at the rock structure on the postcard and it is not limestone as you would see near the Codorus Creek and Highland Avenue. I recognized the view of the rock in the postcard as it was taken from the west side of the High Rock exposure. Although it is now on private property, it once was a popular recreational spot. Until the trees got larger it was a fabulous view to the north to South Mountain in the distance. High Rock was a popular area about the same time as Indian Rock was a popular recreational area at the base of the same-named dam."
Jones makes a fairly compelling case. (And if you love geology, you should check out his Rocks Beneath Your Feet blog.) So that has things narrowed down, perhaps, to two strong possibilities for the "High Rock" location on the 1910 postcard.

But here's one more possibility from Jim Fahringer, whose knowledge of York County history never ceases to delight and amaze me:
"I am not 100% sure, but I think this rock formation is along the Codorus Creek. It is on the south side of the creek about a mile beyond the North Sherman bridge that crosses the Codorus just beyond the Springettsbury Township Sewage Treatment Plant. This rock formation is along the remains of the old Codorus Canal. You used to be able to get to it through a path off of Old Toad Road close to the legendary Mad Doctor's House or 'Gates of Hell.' My brother-in-law grew up in that area and his grandfather operated a sawmill along the Codorus Creek not far from this rock formation. The sawmill was located about 3/4 of a mile to a mile beyond the Sherman Street bridge. When my brother-in-law saw my exact postcard, he immediately recognized it, he told me about the stone and walkway and how he often walked there."
So that gives us three candidates within York County for the location on the postcard.

Maybe we can solve it once and for all with further research. Maybe not. If nothing else, we've given future sleuths something to work with, so they don't have to start from scratch!

* * *

P.S. - There is at least one other High Rock in York County, along the railroad in the southern part of the county. But some of our experts agreed that this postcard does NOT show that particular High Rock. Phew!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cover and more from Home Canners Text Book Victory Issue

I love this cover from the "Victory Issue" of Home Canners Text Book, which was published in 1943 by the Boston Woven Hose & Rubber Co. and sported a price of 15 cents. The 64-page staplebound booklet comes with this motto from Secretary of Agriculture Claude R. Wickard: "Food will win the war and write the peace."

You can read a good history of the Boston Woven Hose & Rubber Co. on the Cambridge Historical Society website. During its many decades of operation, the company's products included garden hoses, fire hoses, bicycle tires, rubber rings, rubber mats and tubing.

This booklet includes a wealth of canning tips, recipes and insight into the process of making and jarring jelly. It has you covered for everything from lima beans to elderberries to marmalades to mincemeat to piccalilli.

It even has a section with tips on canning meat, fish and poultry. For example, one should "kill chickens at least 6 hours before they are to be canned, in order to allow time for heat to the leave the body." The canning of live chickens is strongly discouraged.

Here's a recipe from the booklet for Cherry Marmalade.

  • Weigh out 2 pounds pitted cherries.
  • Add 2 cups water and 3 cups sugar.
  • Simmer 15 minutes.
  • Add juice and grated rind of 1 lemon and 1 orange.
  • Boil rapidly until syrup gives good jelly test.1
  • Adjust jar rings on clean, hot jars.
  • Fill marmalade into jars.
  • Wipe of jar wings with clean, damp cloth.
  • Seal.
  • Yield: 4 half-pint jars.

Finally, here's an image from an advertisement for Bull Dog Jar Rubbers that appears on the inside back cover of the booklet.

The advertising text states:
"Our Bull Dog Rubbers are made to conform with Government restrictions on use of rubber and are perfectly satisfactory for all known methods of canning. When you buy Bull Dog rubbers you are sure of getting the highest quality of jar rings which it is is possible to make."
1. Here's the Jelly Test: "Dip the spoon in the jelly mixture, then let the mixture run off the side of the spoon. At first it will act like water, running off in a single stream. Later, two streams will form. Finally the two streams will merge1 and form a 'sheet' which will shear away from the edge of the spoon. When this stage is reached remove the kettle from the heat, skim, and pour into glasses immediately."

Secondary footnote
1. You'll have to disregard the fact that I told you to never cross the streams.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More neat stuff from "A Dictionary of American Antiques"

Earlier this month I shared a handful of entries from Carl W. Drepperd's A Dictionary of American Antiques. Quirky stuff like eftirtemsin bread, gallybagger and nicknacktory.

The paperback book is just a treasure trove of words, definitions and language history. And so, if only for my own amusement, I wanted to share another batch of entries.

  • Bustanoby: A large globular or spherical bottle.
  • Catmallison: Chimney cupboard to store smoked and dried meats.
  • Daisy cats: Mechanical toys operated by a crank, giving motion to cats in costume.
  • Diorascope: A drawing machine with a scanning screen divided into 20 rectangles by cords. Invented by Simeon DeWitt of Albany, N.Y., c. 1810. [The diorascope is described in Marguerite Holloway's book The Measure of Manhattan: The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel, Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor.]
  • Fate lady: A spinning top in form of a Turkish lady with wand, whirling on a rouletted disk. When coming to rest, the wand of the figure pointed to a fortune on the wheel. Commercial examples date from early 19th century. Homemade ones date as late as 1880s.
  • Garf angyl: An eel spear.
  • Gayetty paper: Medicated paper binding for minor cuts, wounds and sores. [See Joseph Gayetty]
  • Jack bed: The one-post bed, rails from post to walls. This bed was a corner piece. Date is from 17th century.
  • Magic gold: If you care to make it, here's how (recipe not tested by author). Dissolve gold in aqua regia and let it crystallize. Next dissolve crystals in vinegar. Let crystallize, remove, and dissolve in rain water. Crystallize again and grind to impalpable powder. Put in a hard-boiled egg from which yolk has been removed. Let stand until a "water of gold" or "oil of gold" forms. Paint any silver with this oil and it turns golden.
  • Night crow: Chamber pot, thunder mug; in colonial Virginia, "Oliver's Skull."
  • Poikilographia: The art of penmanship.
  • Witch balls: (1) Hollow spheres of glass in whorls of color, said to have been made by superstitious workers in glasshouses, who used them in homes as "witch warners." From this custom came that of hanging the balls on candle trows at Epiphany, and so came the "Christmas balls." First made in England. (2) Fancy balls of glass, made in various colors and combinations, generally with a vase-form holder, for use as a decorative element and not as a witch warner. These date from 1820s and seem to have been made to 1900s as art novelty glass.

Terry S. McMahon, ham-radio operator, drops Papergreat a line

There are few things I enjoy more than when I can make a connection with someone with regard to a piece of ephemera featured on this blog. For example, there was the time some relatives claimed Bessie Carrier's old mail, and I happily returned it.

I am pleased to report another successful connection. I heard recently from none other than Terry S. McMahon, whose 1967 QSL card appeared on Papergreat a mere six weeks ago.

Terry contacted me through Facebook with the following note:
"Chris, I enjoyed discovering the post you had on June 2, 2014. That was me back in the mid '60s enjoying my ham radio activities, which included passing messages along when regular communications were down. I was also active in MARS (Military Affiliate Radio System) and was the president of the local ham radio club, although initially I was not yet legal to drive! My bus driver was a best friend of Burt Reynolds and his son was a good friend of mine. Thanks again for your post! I haven't been able to find a physical copy of my old QSL card for some time."
Terry added some more details on his Facebook page. I had mentioned the 1964 Alaska earthquake in my post and it turns out that Terry was indeed involved in some of the post-earthquake emergency communications. He wrote:
"I have been looking for one of my early ham radio QSL cards and I haven't been able to find it physically. Suddenly today, here it is found by me on the internet and in the context of one of my favorite memories. I was relaying messages to and from Alaska after an earthquake there. A card was sent originally most likely to one of those contacts in 1964 and another communication in 1967. ...

"The transmitter on the left was a Heathkit DX-40 and I primarily used Morse code. The electronic box on top of my receiver was a SWR Bridge which means Standing Wave Ratio. I used it to fine tune my dipole antenna (a long wire cut to a specific length). I recorded many of my ham radio transmissions with an early reel to reel audio tape recorder."
Terry and I have since been in further touch via email and I will be mailing his QSL back to him — 47 years after it originally went through the postal system. He told me that this QSL card was crafted by the Superintendent of Schools in Clintonville, Wisconsin. ("He was one of my favorite hams to talk with through Morse code.") And he shared a bit about his further experiences with the hobby as he got older:
"My days as a ham radio operator continued as I went to the Opera Program at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. When I went to the University of Michigan, I joined the Ham Radio Club and did phone patch traffic at the location of the station (the tallest building on campus) with a super fancy Collins S Line and a triple stacked Moseley Beam antenna at full legal power."
As someone with no ham-radio experience, I have no idea what that last sentence means. But I love Terry's enthusiasm for this topic, the fact that he took the time to share his memories and, best of all, that one not-insignificant piece of paper is on its way back home.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The delightful etegami of Dosankodebbie

It was a banner week at the Otto Mailbox last week. I received several Postcrossing cards, including one from Onni, a tiny dwarf hamster who lives with his family in the Arctic Circle region of Finland. Onni "writes": "I love eating, sleeping and running in my runwheel. Here at my home live also four gerbils and our mom. She plyas with us and studies to be a primary school teacher."

I also received in the mail an unexpected surprise from Japan. Artist Debbie Davidson (aka Dosankodebbie) mailed me a pair of her original etegami creations, including this jaw-dropping, hand-painted owl...

What is etegami? I'll let Dosankodebbie describe it herself, in this excerpt from her blog:
"Etegami (e= 'picture'; tegami= 'letter/message') are simple drawings accompanied by a few apt words. They are usually done on postcards so that they can be easily mailed off to one's friends. Though etegami has few hard-and-fast rules, traditional tools and materials include writing brushes, sumi ink, blocks of water-soluble, mineral-based pigments called gansai, and washi postcards that have varying degrees of 'bleed.' They often depict some ordinary item from everyday life, especially items that bring a particular season to mind."
Check out Dosankodebbie's fine blog for more information and wonderful examples of etegami. She has even written A Beginner's Guide to Etegami, which is available for purchase as a traditional book or e-book.

Here's the other etegami postcard that she sent me.

On the back of this one, she added: "Meaning of this Japanese saying: don't let the euphoria of victory make you careless."

If you're interested in purchasing some of Dosankodebbie's artwork, check out her Etsy Etegami Emporium. And you can follow her on Twitter, too —@dosankodebbie. Let's support talented independent artists!

Good morning! Time to drag yourself out of bed and start the work week

*Helpful dog not included.

This seems like a good illustration for the (traditional) start of the work week. It's featured on an unused postcard by Ullman Mfg. Co. of New York City. Ullman was in business from 1901 to 1915. (Read more about it on the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City website. Also, Moore's Postcard Museum features a number of Ullman cards.)

That bed looks pretty comfortable. It's a shame that dog doesn't come with a snooze button.

The artist was Dorothy Dixon. She illustrated numerous cards for Ullman, but I can't uncover much about her beyond that.

Related posts: Don't forget breakfast before work!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Reader shares memories of York's Christian Book Shop

I have received some great leads and feedback from yesterday's post about High Rock in York County. I'm still sorting through all of it and will prepare a followup post for the first half of this week.

In the meantime, here are some memories that Jim Fahringer shared of the Christian Book Shop, which I wrote about a week ago today:
"The 1970 Christian Book Shop calendar brought back many memories. I had several of those calendars.

"I remember the Christian Book Shop quite well. Before the Christian Book Shop opened in that location at 255 West Market Street, there was a neighborhood grocery store located there — at least from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, but it may have been there longer. It was known as Yost's Store. Mr. Yost not only operated the store, but also owned the building. My grandmother lived on the third floor and rented from him. I believe the store stood empty for a number of years after the grocery store closed and until the Christian Book Shop opened.

"While the store was rather small, it was jam-packed full of Christian books, awards, jewelry, records, tapes and other items. Eventually the Christian Book Shop store at 255 West Market Street was too small to conduct a growing business and they moved about two blocks east toward the square. They moved into the former Cut Rate and later known as Super Shoes building, which is today occupied by the pawn shop [Pawn Plus].

"Actually, up until the early 1970s, Thompson's Book and Stationery Store at 35 West Market Street had a monopoly on Christian books, awards, Sunday School and Bible School curriculum, as well as business supplies, secular books, cards, and just about any stationery or office supply you needed. Starting in the 1970s, their business began falling and they eventually closed in the mid 1970s.

"For years, the Christian Book Shop operated where the pawn shop is today. Because of a deteriorating business atmosphere in the city of York, the Christian Book Shop moved to their location on Industrial Boulevard and were there for many years. About two years ago they moved to their current location off Concord and Mt. Zion roads in the strip shopping mall. Of course, the store changed owners and names quite a few times. [In fact, it is now called York LifeWay Christian Store.]

"When the the Christian Book Shop was located at 255 West Market, they were a much friendlier and quaint Mom-and-Pop style store. Whenever stores become large, they lose that customer friendliness and camaraderie."
Thanks for sharing, Jim! Your memory for these kind of details never ceases to astound me.

As a final note, I discovered some more of Fahringer's comments about Thompson's Book and Stationery Store on my wife's blog. Here's some history of that bookstore that he provided in 2012:
"Often billed as York’s Oldest Bookstore, Thompson’s originally opened on August 25, 1899, at 49 West Market Street by Henry C. Barnhart and was known as 'Barnhart’s Book Store.' Mr. Barnhart was previously associated with John Baer and Sons, publishers of the Lancaster Almanac. The store moved to 35 West Market Street in August of 1915 when the Rosenmiller Building was completed. The store remained in this location until it closed in 1974. On March 15, 1935, Henry C. Barnhart died and a partnership was formed by Miss Helen L. Barnhart, daughter of the founder, and Arthur B. Thompson. On January 1, 1949, another change of ownership occurred when a new partnership occurred with Arthur B. Thompson and G. Marie Fetrow. The name of the store was changed to Thompson's Book and Stationery Store that same year. Arthur B. Thompson retired in 1955 and G. Marie Fetrow became the sole owner."

Come listen to Rev. Hess, and don't forget Martha's coat!

Here's an odd postcard from September 1907 that features an illustration of a hobo-type character sniffing out the chow at a nearby cookout.

The message on the front of the card isn't the easiest thing to read, but it looks like it states:
Come down Sunday and E. W. M. W. M. W. and I will take you & Florence to here Rev. Hess preach. Bring Martha's coat along. I have Mother's soap [?]. Tillie was to see Mary yesterday they were at [indecipherable]. She is going up to-day. She is getting come [some?] grapes of her farmer.1 Come Sat. evening if you can.
The postcard was mailed to Miss Anna R. White of Richland Center, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated community located a bit east of Quakertown.

We have no way, of course, of knowing if Anna remembered Martha's coat.

1. Before this post was published, there were no Google results in a search for the exact phrase "grapes of her farmer." So I've contributed that today, at least.