Saturday, September 13, 2014

1940 magazine advertisement: "Making Mighty Men"

I am working on a longer post about the magazine that this advertisement comes from — the 15¢ January 1940 issue of Strength and Health. It was published by Strength and Health Publishing Co. in York, Pennsylvania, and edited by bodybuilder and York Barbell owner Bob Hoffman.

The magazine is filled with stories and advertisements (almost all for York Barbell) about building the perfect physique, rejuvenating your sex life and techniques, weightlifting, the world's strongest men, personal success stories of everyday bodybuilders around the nation, and more. As I said, there's a lot of fascinating angles to delve into with regard to this 74-year-old publication.

But for now, this is just a little taste.

The above advertisement focuses on Bob Hoffman's course in dumbell [sic?] training. A book containing 48 exercises using these weights was available for just $1 from York Barbell Company.

The use of dumbbells is claimed to have helped such all-star bodybuilders as...

  • Arthur Saxon, nicknamed The Iron Master
  • Louis Cyr [pictured at right], who some claim to be the strongest man who ever lived
  • Eugen Sandow, a German who was known as the "father of modern bodybuilding"
  • Bobby Pandour, who was born Wladyslaw Kurcharczyk in Poland
  • George Hackenschmidt, who is credited as being both a strongman and philosopher
  • Hermann Görner, a German who wrestled elephants and performed various feats of strength

Some of those names might not mean much to us, by they were superstars in the world of bodybuilding and strongmen in the first half of the 20th century, and Strength and Health magazine knew that name-dropping those individuals would certainly help with the sales of Hoffman's various products from York Barbell.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Japan and Hong Kong on Five Dollars a Day" (1965-66 edition)

I'm currently reading Ian Mortimer's The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England and it certainly is quite a trip, catapulting the reader back into the sights, sounds, smells and tastes in the life of an everyday citizen in the 14th century.

I suppose Japan and Hong Kong on Five Dollars a Day (1965-66 edition), penned by John Wilcock, is now a bit of a time machine, too. Wilcock, a journalist who wrote for The New York Times and co-founded The Village Voice, paints a portrait of colorful and oftentimes kinky life in Asian half a century ago. It may as well be an alien planet to us, as it's a moment in a culture that no longer exists in quite this same way.

But we have Wilcock's detailed description of that moment, so we can still travel, through the pages of the book, to that version of Japan and Hong Kong.

Here are some excerpts. They are perhaps not indicative of the entire volume, because I chose them specifically based on how amusing or outrageous they are.

  • Shinjuku: "The Taie Stand Bar ... is a basement bar, fairly roomy, with a big jukebox and a fruit machine into which you put special coins (20Y apiece from the bar) and which pays off in beers if you win. Eighteen beers if you hit the jackpot. You might try a snack of shish-kebab in here: two small spears of barbecued beef and onion. Costs about 150Y."
  • Shinjuku: "If you leave Shinjuku by taxi, you'll see a castle-like hotel on the way back downtown. It's called the Hotel Honjin and is expensive. Its special feature, however, is that guests are treated like warlords, dressed in feudal warlord costume, with the maids all decked out as 'ladies-in-waiting' of high birth, with appropriate kimonos."
  • Roppongi: "Liveliest, of course, is Tom's ... where one of the two jukeboxes has technicolor rock-'n'-roll and twist movies, which always incite the groovier, uninhibited Japanese chicks to dance, despite the 'No Dancing' sign on the wall. Don't be alarmed if one of said chicks sits on your knee; she's only trying to be friendly, and if you want to follow this up, you'll certainly be encouraged."
  • Inuyama: "To the left of the steps is a small park (admission 30Y), which is the home of scores of allegedly tame monkeys. Don't try to pet them; they bite. You can buy bags of peanuts and the monkeys will take the nuts right out of your hand. One drawback is that their feet are very muddy and they'll jump all over you to get the nuts. Most of them are smart enough to leap up and grab the whole bag out of your hands."
  • Inuyama: "Ask somebody for the Obake-Yasaiki (ghost house)1, which has squishy floors, skeletons, grisly wax figures and all the other paraphernalia of contrived shock. Admission is free."
  • Sapporo: "Just about the cheapest restaurant in town must be a Russian place called the Amuru ... which has only six tables. Genuinely Russian, it also has a menu that has probably remained unchanged since it opened and, on the change it will remain unchanged, I'm listing the menu items by number because nobody speaks English. Number 1 is borscht (120Y), #4 is baifu sutoroganoff (beef stroganoff, 150Y), #7 is piroshkis2 at 30Y apiece, and #8 is shishkebab at 60Y per skewer. The last three items are Russian vodka, at various strengths, which some of the customers toss back while singing native songs."

1. Ghost houses are still very popular in Japan. Here's an article by Shizuko Mishima highlighting some of the modern attractions.
2. Russian piroshkis are baked or fried buns stuffed with an number of fillings. They are, Wikipedia cautions, "not to be confused with pierogi (stress on "o" in Polish and English) in Polish cuisine, which are similar to the Russian pelmeni or Ukrainian varenyky."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mystery photo: Mid-century group of schoolgirls

This old snapshot of a happy-looking group of schoolgirls comes with absolutely no identifying information. I think the 1950s would be a good guess.

This is one of those pictures where you wonder about how all of their lives turned out and if any of them remained friends. Assuming this is from the 1950s, we certainly know now what United States and world events they lived through.

If you know any of the young ladies in this photograph, drop me a line!

Here's a closer look at the gang...

From the readers: Mt. Gayler in Arkansas, sweets, trolls and more

Good morning! Here's the roundup of the newest reader comments on Papergreat posts. Continued thanks to everyone who takes the time to leave comments, questions and insights!

Old postcard: Twilight in the Ozarks: Velda Brotherton, whose news article I excerpted in the post, writes with this update: "I found it fun to read your article and your thoughtful excerpt from my article about Ruby Jo Bellis. She has since sold the property and left her beloved home. Work appears to be underway to do something up on Mt. Gayler, and thanks for seeing the name was spelled correctly."

Vintage wrapper for a Milk-Nickel: Nathan K. Wright writes: "I remember eating Milk-Nickels up to the late 60s. Loved 'em. But the event I couldn't wrap my third-grader mind around was when they raised the price to 7 cents. It wasn't a Milk-7-Cents at all ... it was a Milk-NICKEL!"

Klein Chocolate Co. of Elizabethtown analyzes Fannie's butter fat: An anonymous reader had his or her own Tucked Away Inside moment and writes: "I was posting some old books for sale on eBay and noticed something sticking out of one of the books. It was a candy wrapper, I guess used for a book mark, from Klein's Lunch Bar, Milk Chocolate and Peanuts, price 3 cent, manufactured by Klein Chocolate Company, Elizabethtown, Pa."

Theodor Kittelsen postcard: Trollkjerringer på Norefjell: Author Karen Hokanson Miller writes: "I have just finished writing a book for children about a troll girl. May I use this postcard on my website?"

Of course I said yes! I'm all for more children's books and more books about troll girls, an underrepresented portion of the greater troll population.

1970s Woodsy Owl bookmark: "Give a Hoot! Don't Pollute.": Anonymous writes: "When I was in grade school I remember this contest. I also remember the girl who came with 'Give a Hoot don't Pollute." Her first name was Debbie."

Does anyone else have any recollection of Debbie?

Coupons from the E.H. Koester Bakery Co.: Frank Remmell writes: "If I remember correctly I used to work on a Koester's Twin bread truck when I was a young man in Maryland. It was a great job and a great source of goodies that were always readily available in the back of the truck."

Thanks for the memories, Frank! Readers: If you check out the original Koester's post, you'll see that it has been one of Papergreat's most-commented-upon posts. Many great stories shared.

A photograph I think may be worthy of A Pretty Book: JT writes: "Thank you so much for highlighting my little blog and Instagram feed. I'm thankful for booklovers like you who follow my bibliomaniac musings. I'm still on the lookout for a pamphlet that can stump the Great Papergreat since you so handily wrote about scaly leg. Thanks again for the kind words."

Cheerful Card Company can help you earn extra money for the holidays: Anonymous writes: "I am 68 (almost 69) and Cheerfully sold my cards from the Cheerful card company to friends and relatives. My mother was shocked when the box came to our door with my 'first business venture' enclosed. I was very proud to won my own business. Fond memories."

Cheerful Card memories just keep rolling in! I tried to stay ahead of the wonderful flood of comments with this wrapup post back in March.

A Tyrannosaurus matchbox label, phillumeny and thoughts on Godzilla: Flemming Henningsen writes: "Hi, I just jumped into this blog, searching for phillumeny. I´m from Denmark and I´m a phillumenist since the 1960s. Please take a look at a part of my collection on my website:"

Delving into Henry K. Wampole & Company: DArsie Manzella writes: "We found a bottle from JK Wampole. Any relationship to this company?"

That's a great question, and one that has stumped me. While it seems that there would be, I do not know for sure if there was a specific relationship between H.K. Wampole and J.K. Wampole. Can anyone out there shed any light? If you can, please reply to Manzella's comment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Edmund Giesbert's wonderful artwork from 1943 German reader

Basic German Reader is an American school book that was published in 1943 D.C. Heath and Company. The book presents for pupils "1052 German words of highest frequency and 90 idioms." On this particular copy, a student named Jeanne Wilhelm wrote her name on the first page, decades ago. And someone wrote on the cover, adding the words "BLUE BOY."

The cover features one of the illustrations by Edmund Giesbert (1893-1971) and they are the best thing about the book.

Here is a collection of Giesbert's other artwork from the book.

A little more about Giesberg: He was born in Neuwied, Germany, but later came to America. He served as an art professor at the University of Chicago and was an artist who worked in many different mediums. Here's a picture of him from the University of Chicago photographic archives.

Monday, September 8, 2014

1912 postcard: "The girls wish to be remembered."

I'm assuming this is a real photo postcard, featuring a hillside house with three people standing in front of it. It was postmarked at 9 p.m. on September 23, 1912, in Conneaut, Ohio, a small city along Lake Erie, and mailed to Mr. Ralph Kurtz1 in Carey, Ohio, a village nearly 200 miles to the west.2

The note, in cursive writing, on the back of the card states:
"Dear Ralph, How did your pictures come out. Mama said to be sure and send her some of the pictures you took when she was home. What was the trouble your mother and Hugh did not come for a nice, quiet time. The girls wish to be remembered. Edith."
Meanwhile, here is a magnified look at the three individuals on the front of the postcard.

Is one of them Edith?
Who are the girls who wish to be remembered?
Where was this house?

So many questions...

1. It's very possible that this is the Ralph Kurtz referred to the postcard. He lived from 1891 to 1980.
2. Carey's motto is "Rock Solid Since 1858!"

Sunday, September 7, 2014

1953 envelope from the Around-The-World Shoppers Club

This illustrated envelope for the Around-The-World Shoppers Club is stamped November 6, 1953, on the back.1 The club was based at 71 Concord Street in Newark, New Jersey.

(The envelope itself, in case you're wondering, was a trademarked Pennysaver Envelope produced by Samuel Cupples Envelope Co. of Brooklyn, New York.)

I found a full-page advertisement for the Around-The-World Shoppers Club in the January 25, 1954, issue of Life. There's a picture of a wrapped box with the text: "This surprise gift mailed direct to you from a foreign land to demonstrate the beautiful gifts you will receive from all over the world for about $2 each, postpaid, duty free!"

After that, there's A LOT of small type about how wonderful this program is and how you could be eligible to win a trip around the world by Pan American Clipper or a 1954 Studebaker Ranch Wagon or "Any One of These 475 Magnificent Prizes."

The whole "duty free!" aspect of this operation became controversial. The Around-The-World Shoppers Club was charged a federal excise tax for the merchandise that was purchased by by club members and shipped by international third parties. The Club took the United States to court on that issue and lost. Around The World Shoppers Club v. United States was decided in the defendant's favor in United States District Court on October 31, 1961. An appeal to the United States Courts of Appeals, Third Circuit, was heard and denied very quickly in October 1962.

It's fairly interesting legal reading, if you're jazzed by that sort of thing. And it's easy, too, to see how Around-The-World Shoppers Club lost its argument.

But at least, during the company's existence, it produced some attractive pieces of ephemera.

1. On that same date, composer Masao Oki premiered a symphony titled "Atomic Bomb." This premiere came approximately one year after the first "successful" test of a hydrogen bomb during Operation Ivy in the Enewetak Atoll.