Saturday, October 11, 2014

Scholastic Fest: #15, By Secret Railway


  • Title: By Secret Railway
  • Author: Enid LaMonte Meadowcroft (1898–1966)
  • Illustrator: Dom Lupo
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: First printing, January 1963
  • Excerpt:
    "Footsteps creaked across the barn floor. Bill began to whistle 'Dixie' under his breath. Jim stirred in the hay and made a little noise in his sleep. And David, who was wishing with all his heart that Bill would get out of the barn, so that he and Jim might sneak away, smothered a sneeze. Just at that moment Mr. Peck's voice came from the direction of the barn door. He sounded bewildered and a little disturbed."
  • Notes: This is the Scholastic version of the 1948 hardcover published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company. ... In addition to this volume about the Underground Railroad, Meadowcroft wrote a number of historical fiction titles aimed at juveniles, including books about George Washington, Davy Crockett, Crazy Horse, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and the Erie Canal. HistoryAccess.com has a little bit about the life of Meadowcroft. Here's an excerpt:
    "[Meadowcroft] hated history as a student — it consisted, she believed, of 'dull stuff' such as 'wars, politics, and dates.' But later, as a teacher, she discovered that history could also be 'a story of people' and 'because I like people I could not get enough of it.' She embarked on a new career, writing history books for young people, including the novel Silver For General Washington, an adventure story set in the American Revolutionary War, published in 1944 and widely read for years. ... Meadowcroft contracted hepatitis in 1966 while traveling in Greece doing research for a children’s book about the ancient world; she died of the disease on Nov. 23, 1966. Her books live on, but barely — many or most of them are out-of-print."
    Meanwhile, Illustrator Domenic “Dom” Joseph Lupo lived from 1919 to 2013. According to this obituary, he was born in Massachusetts, served with the Marines during World War II, was an avid tennis player, did some of his most noted artwork as the lead illustrator for Golf Magazine for a quarter-century, and had a dog named Binky. He and his wife also dealt with this devastating event late in his life:
    "In 2003, Dom and Maxine's house was lost completely in the San Diego cedar fire where they lost everything, including all of Dom's beautiful paintings. Their strength and determination, however, got them through that difficult time and they rebuilt their home exactly as it was. When Dom retired from illustrating, he continued to enjoy the world of art by doing watercolors and portraits. 'I've made a living out of something I love that they've paid me to do.' Dom woke up every morning with a smile and so much enthusiasm to tackle the day. It was a true gift that he passed on to his family."

Friday, October 10, 2014

The 1929 version of a cranky email from the boss


Here's a piece of historic ephemera that might hit a little too close to home for some of you, especially the middle management types. I picked this up at a junk shop during the eighth anniversary trip that Joan and I took to Coudersport and other small towns across Pennsylvania in 2013.1 (That's how we roll.)

It's from the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway Company (BR&P), which operated from 1869 until 1932, when it was absorbed into the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

For more historical context regarding this memo on the topic of decreasing overtime, I think it's important to note that H.E. Patterson send this on November 25, 1929, mere weeks after the stock market crash of 1929 that sent many American companies into a panic. Cutting costs would have been at the forefront of everyone's minds. While we don't know for sure that this railroad memo is related to the happenings on Wall Street, it's a reasonable assumption.

Footnote
1. This memo is from the same place where we discovered these freight waybills.

Scholastic Fest: #16, The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit


  • Title: The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit
  • Author: Carol Ryrie Brink (1895-1981)
  • Illustrator: Robert Henneberger
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: First printing, November 1964
  • Excerpt:
    "The courtroom was crowded when Willie and the four dogs entered. Willie had carefully brushed and groomed the dogs and put on their costumes, so that they would look their best in honor of their master. They came down the aisle behind Willie, wagging their tails and hanging out their tongues, for they confidently supposed that this was some new sort of performance. The people in the courtroom all turned around and craned their necks to see. Some jostled and others stood on tiptoe to look at the marvelous dogs."
  • Notes: The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit was first published in hardcover in 1953 by Macmillan. This 143-page paperback edition (which cost just 45 cents!) was published more than a decade later, through an arrangement between Macmillan and Scholastic Book Services. ... Author Brink wrote more than 30 books in her career and won both a Newbery Medal and the now-defunct Lewis Carroll Shelf Award for 1936's Caddie Woodlawn. ... Brink was sadly orphaned at age 8 following her father's death from tuberculosis and her mother's suicide. After that, she was raised by her grandmother, whose storytelling skills helped to inspire Brink to be a writer. ... The 1953 Kirkus review of The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit begins: "Humdrum nineteenth century life in the town of Puddling Center changes for the better in a humorous story of people and animals." ... The book's dedication reads: "For Anne and Scotty, and their dogs, Tiger and Troubles, with love."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Scholastic Fest: #17, Mystery of The Haunted Pool


  • Title: Mystery of The Haunted Pool
  • Author: Phyllis A. Whitney (1903-2008)
  • Cover design: Charles Liese
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: Third printing, February 1967
  • Text on back cover:
    "A string of carved wooden beads...
    A ship captain's log...
    A strange face that appears — then disappears — at the bottom of a pool.
    What is the secret of the old sea captain's mains?
    Susan Price and her brother Adam unravel the clues to a century-old mystery ... and discover a fortune!"
  • Notes: Whitney, whose full name was Phyllis Ayame Whitney, is the most famous author that we've encountered thus far in the Scholastic countdown. She penned mysteries for both adults and young adults during her career, which featured more than 70 novels. And, yes, your math is correct. Whitney lived to be 104 — two years longer than Ruth Manning-Sanders (1886-1988)! ... This novel, which runs 219 pages in Scholastic Book Services paperback format, was originally published in 1960 and won an Edgar Award (named for Edgar Allan Poe) from the Mystery Writers of America for best juvenile novel. ... Read more about Whitney at this official website, which is maintained by Philip Tyo, who writes: "Over the years Phyllis A. Whitney's books have brought reading pleasure to me and my family. ... The Official PHYLLIS A. WHITNEY Web site gives me the opportunity to give something back to my favorite author and to meet those of you who share the same affection for her work." ... Mystery of The Haunted Pool opens with a chapter titled "Something Fishy Going On." ... Cover designer Liese did other work for Scholastic, including illustrations for several volumes of The Three Investigators (one of my childhood favorites), according to www.threeinvestigatorsbooks.com.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Another Papergreat happy ending

I received an email this week from a man named Nick in Washington state.
"Hi Chris — Quite by accident, I happened upon a post you made to your blog back on 1/17/13."
It's a post titled "Very old book containing a birthday card and neat inscriptions." For some reason, I used a banana to help show the size of the slim volume, which is titled Narratives of the Swedish Nurse-Maid, The Swiss Peasant, Mary Eliza, The Rescued Brand, The Bayman's Wife, and Muckle Kate. One of the coolest things about the 19th century volume is the set of inscriptions on the inside front cover, which detail both the book's provenance and a small slice of one long-ago family's history.

Nick, it turns out, is one of that family's descendants. His email continued:
"I found this while doing some follow research on my great-great-great grandfather, Nathaniel Keller. Very interesting find! Nathaniel was born and died in York, PA, and is buried at Canadochly Cemetery. He also died on 9/16/28, so he must be one and the same. Mrs. Nathaniel Keller would have been his wife Annie (Fauth). I was born, raised, and live on the West Coast, but I visit the graves of Nathaniel and Annie whenever I visit the York area (which is usually once a year, my next visit coming in November)."

Also ... 'Frances Keller,' as mentioned in one of the inscriptions, was Annie and Nathaniel's granddaughter, although they raised her. Frances would go on to marry Milton Crumbling and they had a daughter Carry Crumbling. Carry gave birth to my grandmother, Anna Cox. My grandmother used to tell me many stories of visiting Annie and Nathaniel when she was young."

Whoa! One of my favorite things about this blog is when I can connect a book or piece of ephemera with its original family. And that is clearly the case again in this instance.

This book obviously belongs in Nick's hands. The only question was whether I was still in possession of it, more than 20 months after the original blog post. I'm trying hard not to be a hoarder, and I have found other homes for many of the books and pieces of old paper that I've written about here. Especially the books. I have pruned them several times, and I had little hope that Narratives of the Swedish Nurse-Maid, The Swiss Peasant, Mary Eliza, The Rescued Brand, The Bayman's Wife, and Muckle Kate would still be in the Otto residence.

But, against all odds, it was! And now it's on its way to Nick. It's sort of like it was supposed to turn out this way, and I couldn't be happier.

I'm officially 1-for-1 on blog posts featuring bananas.

Scholastic Fest: #18, Sad Day Glad Day


  • Title: Sad Day Glad Day
  • Author: Vivian L. Thompson
  • Illustrator: Lilian Obligado
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: Third printing, February 1971
  • Excerpt:
    "Kathy ordered her own lunch. She had chicken salad, on on a pretty plate — and milk, in a blue glass. And candy-crunch ice cream!

    "'It's fun to eat outside,' she said."
  • Notes: This thin volume doesn't look like the kind of book that you would buy of your own accord after browsing through the latest selections in a Scholastic Book Club brochure. But it's actually a fairly beloved title for the small group of readers who remember it. Used copies sell on Amazon for decent prices. One reviewer who remembers its fondly writes: "What a beautiful book! It's about a little girl who mistakenly leaves behind her cherished doll on moving day. But not to worry — there's a happy ending." ... The book was originally published by Holiday House in 1962 as a hardcover. ... Author Thompson, whose middle name is Laubach, wrote a number of children's books, including Hawaiian Legends of Tricksters and Riddlers and "Neat!" Said Jeremy. ... Illustrator Obligado was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2011, members of a Google message board wished Obligado a happy 80th birthday. Eventually, Obligado herself replied on the message board, indicating that she was living in Switzerland and that her mother, who had the same name, was "a bit over" 100 and was living in Lake Mohegan, New York. That's a lot of Glad Days!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Scholastic Fest: #19, Selected Stories from The Enchanted Island


  • Title: Selected Stories from The Enchanted Island
  • Author: Ian Serraillier (1912-1994)
  • Illustrator: Peter Farmer
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: Third printing, February 1971
  • Excerpt:
    "Suddenly a window opened and Puck leaped in, a birch-broom in his hand. Smiling and chuckling, he began to sweep the floor. When all the dust was gone, Oberon and Titania and the fairies trooped in, the moonlight glimmering on their wings. They filled the hall with their song and gentle laughter, as the huntsmen had filled the woods with the ring of the horn and the thunder of hooves when Theseus and his court went hunting."
  • Notes: This is, as the title suggests, an abridgement of Serraillier's 1964 book The Enchanted Island. The book features prose retellings of some of William Shakespeare's most famous plays, in language that can be understood by schoolchildren. ... Selected Stories from The Enchanted Island includes versions of The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear and three other plays. ... One Goodreads reviewer wrote: "I personally owe a lot of my initial grasp and understanding of many of Shakespeare's plays to Serraillier's The Enchanted Island, and I have no doubt that many others do as well. I definitely do recommend this book for all those parents who wish to start engaging their children to literature at an early age. You will not believe that what you are reading is a Shakespeare play, as its language and themes are adapted accordingly." ... British novelist and Quaker Serraillier also retold Greek and Roman legends in modern language. He is perhaps best known for 1956's The Silver Sword, which was based on a true, published in the United States under the Scholastic Book Services title Escape from Warsaw, and adapted into a BBC miniseries.

Monday, October 6, 2014

"Inherent Vice" — Gathering the early opinions and analysis

Like most people, I won't see Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel, until December at the earliest.

But last week was a big moment for the film, as it debuted at the New York Film Festival and the embargo on critics' reviews was also lifted.

I am not going to read everything right now. That's my plan, at least. But I am scanning headlines and opening paragraphs of reviews because I'm interested in reading what people have to say about Inherent Vice while also avoiding as many spoilers as possible.

I find all of this fascinating, because Anderson is a much-beloved, very divisive and deeply analyzed filmmaker. The level of writing and analysis that surrounds his films is unlike that of most other directors. So I enjoyed checking out the reactions that flowed onto websites, Twitter accounts, comment sections and message boards after the festival showing.

If you're interested, too — and you probably are if you bothered to read this far — here's a collection of links and other interesting stuff that I've come across. This will serve as my set of bookmarks and I plan to come back and read this from top to bottom after I finally see Inherent Vice some day.

•HitFix's Drew McWeeny: "Review: Joaquin Phoenix dazzles and delights in warm and woozy 'Inherent Vice'"

•The Playlist's Rodrigo Perez: "NYFF Review: Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’ Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson & More"

•The Guardian's Xan Brooks: "Inherent Vice review: a free range freak-out for California dreamers"

•Some Came Running's Glenn Kenny: "A Few Early Notes On The Film Version Of 'Inherent Vice'"

•Variety's Scott Foundas: "Film Review: ‘Inherent Vice’ — The '60s are over, everyone is on the run, and there's nowhere to hide in Paul Thomas Anderson's audacious, fiercely funny Pynchonian stoner noir"

•Little White Lies' David Ehrlich: "NYFF 2014: Inherent Vice"

•The Telegraph's Robbie Collin: "Inherent Vice, review: 'blissed-out bamboozlement'"

•Huffington Post's Matthew Jacobs and Erin Whitney: "Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' Is A Crazy, Complicated Stoner Noir"

•Los Angeles Times' Steve Zeitchik: "NYFF: 'Inherent Vice' and the contemporary cult hit"

•Times' Richard Corliss: "Review: Inherent Vice: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Druggy Nights"

•New York Post's Lou Lumenick: "‘Inherent Vice’ an Oscar non-starter"

•Indiewire's Eric Kohn: "Review: Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' is a Faithful and Endearing Thomas Pynchon Adaptation"

•Cinema Viewfinder's Tony Dayoub: "NYFF52 Centerpiece Review: Inherent Vice (2014)"

•The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy: "'Inherent Vice': Film Review — The first Thomas Pynchon novel to hit the big screen gets uneven handling by Paul Thomas Anderson"

•The Film Stage's Nick Newman: "Inherent Vice: NYFF 2014 Review"

•Slant Magazine's Chris Cabin: "Inherent Vice"

•The New York Times' Logan Hill: "Pynchon’s Cameo, and Other Surrealities — Paul Thomas Anderson Films ‘Inherent Vice’"

•Flavorwire's Jason Bailey: "Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’ Is a Breezy, Bizarre Blast"

•Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells, Part I: Excerpt from post titled Trippy, Woozy ’70s Sink-In…Texture, Man…Dirt and Scratch Marks…Whoa: "I need to think about Inherent Vice a bit before writing anything. ... One thing is for sure and that’s that tonight I just wasn’t hip or smart or observant enough to really get down with Inherent Vice. I kinda got where it was coming from but I couldn't get to a place of delight. I certainly got portions of it. I know I chucked at a few lines. But I'm basically too fucking stupid and my ears are too full of wax or something. So it's me — I'm the problem and not PTA."

•Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells, Part II: The previous post was followed up with one titled Morning-After Respect. An excerpt: "I said a couple of times that it was probably more my fault than Paul Thomas Anderson's that the film didn't turn me on that much (although some of it definitely made me feel spacey and swoony and half-baked) and…you know, tested my patience and all. But that's almost par for the course. ... But you always have to come to them — they never come to you. And that's cool."

•A Twitter take: Here's a string of October 5 tweets from Cory Everett (@modage): "#InherentVice is completely unlike any film Paul Thomas Anderson has ever made. And yet could not have been made by anyone else except PTA. ... As a mystery, #InherentVice is nearly incomprehensible (on 1st view anyway) but as a mood piece/time machine, it's pretty much unparalleled. ... #InherentVice may be PTA's least accessible film for general audiences but for those willing to get on its wavelength, def worth the trip."

•Finally, a Xixax commenter: Xixax is a fairly obscure movie message board that I used to frequent in the early 2000s (with a somewhat pretentious user name that referenced an Italian neorealism classic). A board member named wilder wrote an amazing stream-of-consciousness piece about Inherent Vice on October 5. I don't think it really spoils anything.

So I'll leave you with most of wilder's piece, and if it doesn't whet your appetite for the movie, then I'm definitely not sure why you read this far...
First thing I want to say is that I think this movie is virtually un-spoilerable.

If someone put a gun to my head and asked me to give a play-by-play of IV’s plot I’d be a dead man. I’ll need to watch it at least seven more times with subtitles before I’ll have the vaguest idea what was going on (mod was right to see this 3 times in one day). Even beyond the plot the movie is difficult to describe. The word “beguiling” has been used and is actually pretty apt. It’s hard to put your finger on, but that’s maybe the point, because Doc has a hard time putting his finger on anything beyond his lost love for the duration of Inherent Vice’s running time. The beauty is that it doesn’t even matter if you’re able to follow the story — what was most compelling to me was the always unexpected, dissonant ways the characters Doc comes across behaved within their vignettes. A scene is moving “this way” and a character is moving “that way” instead. Their life, their full, fleshed out life, memory, experience, all that, is what you’re watching, a specific slice of it shown just because it happens to coincide with the plot’s need to show a character at that moment, but their helping to unravel the mystery doesn’t really seem to matter. We get to see them, instead. This has to have the best acting in any PT movie, often Cassavetes level, an unprecedented immediacy in comparison to his previous films, and the detective story seems more an excuse for observation, a way to get Doc mobile running around Los Angeles and into the presence of all these insane characters to fix his eyes on what’s-going-on-with-them as humans regardless of their part within the crime thread.

The Master was beautiful but visually this is another horse entirely, a step beyond. It LOOKS like a movie straight up made in the 70s even moreso than Boogie Nights, and if I was unfamiliar with all names involved and happened to see it I’d probably think it actually was. The lighting, the textures, the furniture…how did he do that? It boggles my mind. I wasn’t alive 40 years ago, but even if it isn’t period accurate it definitely doesn’t look “like now”, and it doesn’t look like a pastiche. I need to rewatch the trailer but I feel like it was color timed to appear more like a normal movie, the picture I saw up on that screen felt such a departure from it. Maybe the trailer difference was my imagination. Whatever.

Inherent Vice starts off like something in the tonal vein of Love Streams and morphs, with the momentum of a hawaiian slide guitar, into a mad, mindblowing labyrinth of cryptic doublespeak and double entendres. It’s perverted as hell, thank god (Thank GOD), and DENSE, so many things going on and to pick up on repeat viewings. It’s a slipstream of madcap antics and unbeatable melancholy. Who is who and why is why and how is what I couldn’t tell you. I don’t think I care that I couldn’t tell you. The acting is SO GOOD though, that even when you’re bewildered, when characters like Martin Short’s Doctor Blatnoyd are speaking almost incoherently but Doc seems right there with them and to have some clue what’s going on, you believe them so fully as people, their renderings feel so real, that it doesn’t feel like the scene doesn’t make sense, but that you’re privy to an actual event that took place and just haven’t cracked the code. I loved that. Even if I never make sense of it I could watch it again and again — an endless supply of deranged company to hang out with.

In some ways Inherent Vice feels like a fraternal twin of The Master, conveying similar skepticism about America’s ideals, about its skeptics alternatives, and of any answers in general, and like The Master, at its core the movie is about a love that got away - love the only thing that will save you, and love as a drug that’s worth taking because sobriety in this life without a point doesn’t seem to be worth it. Love as a drug…a loved life worth living…sobriety as a life without love…drugs as a substitute for that lacking love…something or other…

Ironic that this is the film of PT’s that has big studio backing behind it — WB is out of their minds. Yeah it has humor, but it’s his least commercial movie by a mile, and I wonder what the fuck is going to happen come day one of its wide release when word of mouth spreads. The trailer is SO OFF — I don’t even know what to relate the movie to as I’ve never seen anything else like it. Long Goodbye this Big Lebowski that — not even close. I’ll say this - the movie makes you feel like PT is the only real filmmaker out there right now making anything new or pushing any boundaries to show you something you haven’t seen before. You realize how rote everything else is in comparison, how many patterns most movies follow even in terms of “art film” style. ...

Going to have to edit this a bunch of times because my mind is still swirling and I have no idea how long it’s going to take me to wrap my head around something concrete. I know my comments are vague but atm I don’t know how to describe my feelings or really what I saw. The movie is so so original, and will rekindle your love of film and belief in its future possibilities even more than The Master, I think. IV goes into fever dream territory and never comes out.

Related posts

Scholastic Fest: #20, The Lemonade Trick


  • Title: The Lemonade Trick
  • Author: Scott Corbett
  • Illustrator: Paul Galdone
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: Fourth printing, February 1970
  • Text on back cover:
    "It is a strange present from a strange old lady.

    "It looks just like an ordinary chemistry set.

    "But it doesn't take Kerby long to find out that it is anything but ordinary. Kerby mixes two drops of a chemical, adds some water, and takes one sip. POW!

    "He is a changed boy.

    "Before this dizzy tale is done, the mysterious chemistry set changes lots of other people — including Bumps, the town bully."
  • Notes: This book had a pretty good run of being in print in several editions between the early 1960s and mid 1990s. Younger Papergreat readers might remember the 1988 paperback edition, which is available as a penny book on Amazon. ... I like the cover. The style reminds me of the Henry Huggins paperbacks of that era (which I might need to gather in a vintage collection some day). ... The book is a quick read at just 94 pages. ... This is probably the best-known book by Corbett (1913-2006), a journalism graduate from the University of Missouri and World War II veteran who wrote books aimed at both adults and children. According to Wikipedia, "many of Corbett's books were written while at sea, as he and his wife traveled extensively via freighter." He wrote other books about Kerby's magical adventures; a full Corbett bibliography can be found at Damfino.com. ... Meanwhile, illustrator Galdone (1907-1986) was also a World War II veteran and had an extensive list of illustration credits, including Basil of Baker Street, which became the movie The Great Mouse Detective.

First grade Saint Peter's classroom photo from 1955


Here, for your Monday morning enjoyment, is the first grade class photo from Saint Peter's in 1955. The shot was taken by The Palomar Studios of Chicago, so I'm assuming that Saint Peter's is (or was) located somewhere in northeastern Illinois.

This was only 59 years ago, so your homework for the week, gang, is to track down someone who appears in this picture. Use the power of social media and networking. I have faith in you!

It's truly a fantastic photograph, and one that you can appreciate even more if you zoom in and start looking at some of the faces and other details of the high-resolution image (which you can do by clicking on it).

Here are some magnifications I made of parts of the photograph...

Missing teeth. Lovely smiles. And someone caught itching her nose.

White shirts. Some bowties. Amusing mixture of expressions.

Someone didn't get the memo about wearing a white shirt.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Scholastic Fest: #21, Lucy and the Merman


  • Title: Lucy and the Merman
  • Author: Audrey Brixner
  • Illustrator: Joan Berg Victor
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: 1977
  • Excerpt:
    "All the mer-people seemed to want to come up and speak to Lucy. It was nice to feel so important. One little merman who was about the same size she was kept swimming around waiting for a chance to speak to her. He had a tan body and a blue tip to his tail. He and Lucy were the only ones with the tips of their tails a different color from the rest of the their tails."
  • Notes: Mermaids remain very popular in literature. A Book of Mermaids has long been one of Ruth Manning-Sanders' most-expensive used books. And while most Scholastic Book Services paperbacks from the 1970s cost less than a dollar used, Lucy and the Merman, as of this writing, goes for a minimum of $6 on Amazon. One reviewer there wrote: "This was a book that I read over and over again, and it never got old! Loved it!" ... I cannot find much online about author Brixner. It's not immediately clear if she had any other books published during her career. There is an Audrey C. Brixner who lived from 1915 until 1996 and might be the same woman as the author of this book; she would have been in her early 60s when this book was published, so perhaps it represented the culmination of some lifelong dream for her. ... Meanwhile, there is a blog for artist Joan Berg Victor, a Chicago native who has a Master of Fine Arts from Yale. ... The book is dedicated to Jane Amber Copilow. ... The final seven pages of the book feature a poem by Matthew Arnold titled "The Forsaken Merman," which you can read here.

From the back cover...

Weekend smile: Vintage postcard filled with St. Bernards

You're welcome...


This uber-awesome postcard has the following text on the back:

Flüelen (Schweiz)
St. Bernhard-Zwinger Zwing-Uri


To the right of the text, there is a stamp for Hotel Stern & Post, Amsteg. Additionally, someone wrote the following in pen: "July 25, 1963. Lucerne, Switzerland." (The postcard itself was never mailed.)

Flüelen is a small municipality, with a population of about 2,000, in Switzerland. I guess it was once home to a St. Bernard kennel. (Zwinger is a German word that translates to kennel.) The St. Bernard is, of course, a huge breed of dog that is famously known for its use as a rescue dog in the Swiss Alps.

(The image we have in popular culture of a brave St. Bernard with a small barrel of brandy around its neck is, by the way, a historical fabrication, according to Mental Floss. But, brandy barrel aside, the dogs rescued many travelers over the centuries. Barry der Menschenretter (1800–1814) was one of the most famous St. Bernards in this respect.)

Getting back to the postcard, Hotel Stern and Post is located in Amsteg, Switzerland. Amsteg is just a tiny village within the 2,200-person municipality of Silenen. Hotel Stern and Post is one of Switzerland's oldest hotels, dating to the 14th century. You can learn more about it on the English-language version of its website.

Or, if you'd rather just look at the St. Bernards in more detail, here you go...