Friday, October 31, 2014

With apologies in advance...
Happy Halloween!

ABOVE: Hey, it's just a vintage postcard. That's what we do here. It just happens to be a vintage postcard that shows Quacky Duck, who was the "Magical Balloon King" and "The Clown All Youngsters Look Up To," according to the text on the back of this Curteichcolor postcard distributed by Buckeye News Co. of Toledo, Ohio. Regarding Quacky, the text further states: "Featuring magic productions and balloonology. His entire career has been devoted to good wholesome entertainment. Featured on radio, TV, state and county fairs, trade shows, country clubs, shopping centers, private parties, picnics, and circus." Quacky was based in Toledo.

ABOVE: This advertising postcard for something called Expo '70 is autographed by "Wimpey," who I presume to be the clown in the center. The rest of the postcard, front and back, is in Japanese (I think), so I'm really not sure what's going on here. The rainbow is a nice touch, though.

Finally, for this Allhallowe'en, here's a spooktacular vintage postcard featuring one of the most haunted buildings in the United States...

Still in the mood for spooky stuff? Here's a launching off spot for Papergreat's Halloween-themed posts.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Covers from three 1950s issues of Cats Magazine

On one hand, this post is a day late, because yesterday was officially National Cat Day. But let's face it. Pretty much every day is National Cat Day. It's all about them. So here you go, fellow cat lovers. Enjoy these three covers from 1950s issues of Cats Magazine.

This magazine was, according to its masthead, combined with Alice Graydon Phillips' Our Cats. It was published out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by Raymond D. Smith, who also served as editor. These issues include advertisements for products such as 3 Little Kittens All-Fish Cat Food, Cat Comfort absorbent litter, Felix's Maltolatum (for hairballs), Puss 'n Boots cat food, and Pet Pamper cat litter from the Southern Ezy-Mix Co. of Memphis, Tennessee.

Some of the article titles include "Cats' Bill of Rights Year," "Breeding Possibilities Inherent in Longhairs," "The Meowless Kittens," "Summer and Your Cat," "School of Feline Drama," and — gasp — "Cats Are Stupid."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pride, coal and clocks: Ads from 1981 issue of National Geographic

National Geographic remains one of my favorite magazines. Some articles that you won't find anywhere else that I've really enjoyed in the past 12 months include pieces on nuclear tourism, Svaneti (Georgia), and hay farmers in Transylvania. And there are a bunch of articles from 2014 I still need to go back and read, too. So little time!

I also enjoy reading the (way) back issues. The articles don't get too dated, but the advertisements can provide an interesting look back in time.

These are three advertisements the piqued my interest from the November 1981 issue, which has stories about pandas, Mount St. Helens and Orange County in California.

"Is this country in the autumn of its time?" is an interesting way to begin an advertisement for home appliances. Whirlpool was asking Americans to renew their faith in the United States' heritage of pride and quality at a time when the Reagan Era was in its first year (and had already included an assassination attempt), Three's Company and The Dukes of Hazzard were among our most popular TV achievements, and the early 1980s recession was underway.

"Whirlpool believes that this is not the onset of winter but the advent of spring."

The less I say, the better about the 33-year-old advertisement from Atlantic Richfield Company. I'll let it speak for itself.

GE Computer Radio
And here's a great example of how far technology has come in one-third of a century. This was the cutting-edge clock in 1981. Program your favorite radio stations! Deploy the Snooz-Alarm®! Enjoy the faux-wood design! "The Great Awakening Computer Radio is so smart it even tells you when you've made an error." It's like having HAL 9000 by your bedside!

1971 advertisement for issue #2 of "Balthus" fanzine

Here's a neat piece of ephemera, just in time for Halloween.

It's a classy, seven-inch-by-nine-inch advertisement for the second issue of Jon M. Harvey's "Balthus" fanzine. I found it tucked away inside a copy of David A. Sutton's July 1971 fanzine "Bibliotheca: H.P. Lovecraft."

Harvey, of Cardiff, Wales, only published four issues of "Balthus" — two in 1971 and two in 1972. It is documented online only briefly, at Fancyclopedia 3 and the British Fanzine Bibliography. In 1975, Harvey served as editor of a 24-page publication titled Cthulhu: Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos.

The flyer, however, provides a nice amount of detail about what he had planned for "Balthus" #2. Here's the text:
If you like folk-lore, the supernatural, horror and the fantasy of Abraham Merritt then the second issue of BALTHUS is for you! The contents of this issue consist of:

THE ETERNAL HUNTSMEN, a look at some of the many legends surrounding the lore of the Wild Hunt by Jon M. Harvey. Illustrated by Rick Scollins.

THE SMUGGLERS OF PENROSE, a ghost story from old Cornwall by Sarah L. Eneys.

ASH SHADOW, a short fictional horror by Mark Adlard. Illustrated by David Lloyd.

ABRAHAM MERRITT, a look at the man and his works written and illustrated by Brian J. Frost.

ASHES TO ASHES; printed separately from the rest of the magazine it contains an edited selection of letters on the first issue of BALTHUS.

Cover illustration by Jim Pitts; an adaptation from Clark Ashton Smith's "The Maker of Gargoyles".

Price per copy is 20p (60c). Reduced rates for bulk orders. There are a few copies of the first issue available also priced 20p. The second issue will be out late October, so order copies from:

jon m. harvey, 18, cefn road,
cardiff cf4 3hs
If any of that piques your interest, as of this writing, one copy of "Balthus" #2 is available from an AbeBooks UK seller.

Vintage autumn postcard: Portuguese Point in Missouri

Autumn-themed postcards are just plain cool. Here's another one I dug out...

This postcard was never mailed. The caption on the back states: "Portuguese Point, near Waynesville, Missouri, an awe-inspiring view of the Gasconade River."

According to The State Historical Society of Missouri website: "Portuguese Point is a cape on the Gasconade River northeast of Waynesville, Missouri. It is northwest of Hooker and Devil's Elbow. Hooker is two and a half miles away and Devils Elbow is three and a half miles away as the crow flies. It is very near Low Gap and is across the river from it. Named for Portuguese settlers in the area."

Hooker, by the way, is a ghost town. According to Wikipedia, it was "in Pulaski County, Missouri, United States, along the former U.S. Route 66 (now Missouri Supplemental Route Z). Built on a new alignment of US 66 (which bypassed the town of Devils Elbow), nothing remains of the town."

Pulaski County sounds like it's a fabulous place to just drive around, get lost and find cool remnants of the past. Not exactly a day trip for this Pennsylvanian, though.

Getting back to the postcard, it features "Kodachrome photography by Gerald Massie." It is a Tetricolor card published by J.E. Tetirick of Kansas City, Missouri.

Massie wasn't just any old photographer taking pictures of women in red jackets atop Portuguese Point. Here's an excerpt from the an article by Carolyn Collings and Lynn Morrow in the Fall 1992 issue of the White River Valley Historical Quarterly:
"Gerald R. Massie (1911-1989) was Missouri’s first official state photographer, holding that position from 1945 to 1974. His interest in photography developed early in life as a youth in his native Clinton, Missouri, when, at the age often, he won a July Fourth bicycle race around the courthouse and as a prize, his first camera, a $1.98 Brownie."
Massie served as an aerial photographer during World War II, documenting bombing missions. Returning home after the war, he became his state's first official photogapher, producing about 1,500 images per year for various promotional publications. His favorite and most famous photo was “The Missouri Dragon,” a black-and-white image of Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks from 10,000 feet up. You can see that photograph and others by Massie on his Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame webpage.

In 1991, Massie’s widow donated 3,500 photographs and negatives to the Missouri State Archives.

I had less luck finding anything about J.E. Tetirick and his Tetricolor postcards. If anyone knows anything about that company and when it operated, please pass the information along in the comments section.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Scholastic Fest: #1, Lost Race of Mars

This is it, folks. We've come to the last installment of this October series counting down my favorite Scholastic covers. (As those of you from my generation know, these were some of the books we grew up with. We'd get the Scholastic Book Club brochure in our language arts class, place our orders, and then anxiously await the arrival of our books.)

So here is the final gorgeous cover...

  • Title: Lost Race of Mars
  • Author: Robert Silverberg
  • Illustrator: Leonard Kessler
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: Second printing, March 1964
  • Excerpt:
    "It was another hour before the Mars kitten was officially theirs. First Dr. Chambers gave the little creature a thorough examination to make sure it had no concealed poison fangs or other harmful features. Sometimes the most innocent-looking animals contain deadly poison. But the Mars kitten got a clean bill of health. It was as harmless as it looked. And it seemed to take to Jim and Sally at once. Because the air in the laboratory had almost ten times as much oxygen as the Mars kitten was accustomed to breathing, it got 'oxygen drunk' and wobbled about in a silly way."
  • Notes: What a wonderful cover this is for the grand finale! It this doesn't stir your nostalgia for Scholastic books then I probably cannot help you. It takes you decades back in time with its innocent design, straightforward approach and hilariously fabulous illustration by Leonard Kessler. ...
    The clincher is the cat. Because of course a science-fiction tale about a trip to Mars, aimed at a juvenile audience, would include a cat along for the ride. That's an absolutely logical plot development, within a framework of fantasy fun and adventure.1 ... Author Robert Silverberg, now 79, is a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master of science fiction. Even a partial bibliography of his works scrolls on and on. If you're a reader, he's a writer worth discovering. In this 2009 Los Angeles Times profile by Scott Timberg, which begins with a discussion of Silverberg's 1972 novel Dying Inside, Silverberg states, "I was getting tired of what the academics call the tropes of science fiction. I didn't want any more space battles or aliens." Also in that article, fellow author Jonathan Lethem says, "Silverberg's only hallmark is quality. And in a crowded literary world, that may be the most difficult thing of all."2 ... Lost Race of Mars, originally published in 1960s, is well loved. One reviewer wrote this in 2002: "This is the first science fiction book I ever read! It changed my life as I read about the expolits of two children living in a Mars colony. The young boy and girl discover that there is, indeed, life on Mars. This is an excellent book to introduce science fiction to a child. Well-written with science facts yet the two protaganists are likeable and interesting. If you love science fiction, share this with your children and spark that same love in them!" ... As far as the creator of the illustration that helped to land this book in the #1 slot, I am happy to say that Kessler has been featured previously on Papergreat. He was the topic of the May 2012 post "Kessler's sports books touted on Greenwillow Books bookmark." He remains a featured author at Purple House Press, which, by the way, has issued reprint editions of several of the Scholastic books in this series. ... Final note: I purchased this book for $1.50 earlier this year at the York Emporium. (The Scholastic title I've written about this month were acquired on the cheap at local bookstores, books sales and yard sales.)

1. I wonder if Matthew McConaughey takes a cat along on his trip in Interstellar?
2. Here are some more Silverberg links, if you want to dive into the rabbit hole...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Scholastic Fest: #2, The Ghost that Came Alive

  • Title: The Ghost that Came Alive
  • Author: Vic Crume
  • Illustrator: Ethel Gold
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services
  • Year: 1975
  • Excerpt:
    "What do you think you're doing here?" Miss Cliff rasped.

    Jenny thought fast. "Actually, we wanted to get ready for lunch — brush our hair and see if we looked okay. But with those shutters closed in our rooms we couldn't see ourselves in the mirrors. So we thought we'd look for a room that isn't closed up."

    Before Miss Cliff could reply, Chris spoke. "Do you happen to have a match for candles, Miss Cliff? That would be a big help."

    "Botheration!" But she reached into her apron pocket and brought out several kitchen matches.

    "If you hadn't put us in a room with nailed-up shutters we wouldn't be such a botheration, I guess," Jenny replied, holding out her hand for the matches.

    Miss Cliff scowled. "I shall light the candles myself, and shall wait for you to brush your hair."
  • Notes: You shouldn't be surprised to find this Scholastic book occupying the #2 spot in the countdown. Spooky covers will always have a spot close to my heart. This one, by illustrator Ethel Gold, was obviously a labor of love, with its level of detail. And are those two eyes above the house, just to the left of the lightning strike? Or maybe I'm just seeing things. This is Gold's second appearance in the Scholastic Fest Top 25. I believe she is alone in that honor. Sadly, however, I don't know anything more about her life than I did a week ago, when Mystery by Moonlight was featured. Someday, maybe, someone with information about Gold will stumble upon one of these blog posts and drop us a line. ... I am sorry to say that we also know very little about the author, Vic Crume. We do know that he or she wrote numerous novelizations of children's movies, including The Parent Trap, Unidentified Flying Oddball, Million-Dollar Duck1, The Mystery in Dracula's Castle, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, The Billion Dollar Hobo and C.H.O.M.P.S., which was one of the oddest and most memorable movies of my childhood and starred Wesley Eure of Land of the Lost fame. ... The Ghost that Came Alive appears to be one of Crume's few original titles (as opposed to novelizations). In the excerpt above and in the bits of the book that I have read, it has a bit of a Scooby Doo vibe, with its teenagers in jeopardy and a mystery involving a house that might or might not be haunted. ... But who was Crume? The closest I've come to an answer thus far is courtesy of 2004 post on a Google message board. Here it is:
    "I wasn't able to come up with much, but I was able to find out that Vic Crume could have been Victoria Crume (who has authored some books and can be found on various websites). I can also tell you I was able to find out that 'a' Victoria Crume died in 1979. Whether it's the same Victoria Crume as the author and whether Victoria Crume & Vic Crume are, in fact, the same people I don't know. Maybe it's a start though? Hope that helps. Allen."
    So if we ever crack this mystery, we'll have to be sure to give Allen credit, too. ... However it all turns out, we can thank Crume and Gold for the existence of this mid-1970s Scholastic paperback.

1. The 1971 Disney movie starring Dean Jones and Sandy Duncan is titled The Million Dollar Duck. The Scholastic novelization by Crume is titled Million-Dollar Duck, with a hyphen. And in the "Other Books by Vic Crume" section of The Ghost that Came Alive, the book is incorrectly referred to as The Million-Dollar Egg. I just like pointing these inconsequential things out.