Saturday, November 22, 2014

The pattypol, linking gloon, baggle, wogg, chingo chee and cantilunar dog

I had some fun during the past week with Pulitzer Prize winner Laura E. Richards' 1890 children's book In My Nursery, highlighting parts of the trippy poems and illustrations "The Owl and the Eel and the Warming-Pan" and "The Shark."

But I must admit that In My Nursery is a fabulously creative and imaginative book of poetry for children.

Perhaps there is no better example than "The Little Gnome," which features a set of creatures dreamed up by Richards and illustrated by an artist named Birch. It's full of fabulous language too; my favorite word might by sobbywobbed, which deserves a spot in the lexicon.

But don't take my word for it. Here, in all its glory and for your enjoyment, are the four pages of "The Little Gnome." And thank you, Richards and Birch. We won't let you be forgotten.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Late 1930s college expenses logged in The Scribble-in Book

The Scribble-in Book was a Self-Book™ produced by The Colonial Press Inc. of Clinton, Massachusetts, back in the day.

About two dozen pages of this thick blank book were used in the late 1930s to record the daily expenses (and other notes) of a U.S. college student. It's pretty fascinating. Almost all of the expenditures are itemized, so it offers a window into the cost of higher education and a glimpse of college life three-quarters of a century ago.

The book begins with the student's freshman year in autumn of 1936 (a few weeks after the Summer Olympics in Berlin).

On September 7, a $1 pass (to something) was purchased. I think the passes, which were a recurring expense, related to transportation. And, as it turns out, transportation costs are a major theme of the logbook.

Other expenditures in September 1936 included $23 in fees, 50 cents for a key, $1 for book rental and 27 cents for paper.

Here's a full look at the book's first page.

The student must have had quite a commute to college. The second page details 14 different days on which he logged trips of both 82 miles and 12 miles, which would be a total of 1,316 miles. (He botches the math, however, and comes up with 1,416 total miles.)

Late-September and October expenses included various small tolls and "car fares." Also, 10 cents for ice cream and a nickel for candy. In the winter, expenses included $2 for bus tickets, a $25.50 fee (tuition?), 25 cents for "Xmas seals" and a nickel for paperclips. Books for the semester included Hygiene, Science, Psychology and English. A history book was rented for a quarter.

The total expenditures for 1936-37 are listed as $139.82 on a subsequent page. A total of $140 in 1937 would be the equivalent of about $2,242 today, according to The Inflation Calculator. So that's not bad for a year of college.

Meanwhile, here's the final page of the mileage log for 1936-37...

Driving 16,404 miles over the course of a college year (although that math might be off, as we saw) shows a lot of determination. Assuming he averaged 45 mph on the roads, that's at least 364 hours behind the wheel.

Moving along to the 1937-38 school year, the student stopped indicating the dates for expenditures. But we can still find some insightful details about what money was spent on. Books included Psychology, Geography, Zoology, Chemistry and English. There was also a 75-cent lab apron, a 30-cent dinner, 25-cent Bible dues and a whopping $14.70 for a "Fraternity Party." There are two separate $23 payments for tuition.

Mileage for 1937-38 was 16,576.

Moving along to 1938-39, tuition payments remained $23. Textbooks included Algebra, American Literature, Physics and Geometry. There are some 25-cent lunches, but not many. (I'm guessing he packed lunch most days, if he was indeed commuting from home.)

Other expenditures included 40 cents for flowers (for someone special?), a nickel for Christmas decorations, $17.50 for a tuxedo, $2 for "Speech Prob. Book," 50 cents for Debate Club dues and $5.48 for a "Virginia Trip."

The student continued his logbook for his senior year and even went back to writing down dates for some expenditures. The first tuition payment for Fall 1939 was $23. The mileage log is gone, so it's possible he was living at the fraternity at this point. Expenditures show much more of a social life, including 35 cents for movies and ice cream on a Saturday night. He was also purchasing more food — lots of milk, cakes, ice cream and candy. Plus, a pecan roll for seven cents. There was a trip to Canada and Detroit for $5.91.

His senior year expenditures totaled $150.20. The next-to-last purchase noted in the book is a gown, for $2.50.

I feel like we just went through four years of college in two dozen pages.

But who was this person?

There's no name anywhere in The Scribble-in Book. But a single loose item was tucked away inside, and it gives us the answer we're seeking. It's a receipt for $1 for "Freshman Class Dues," written out to George Miller from treasurer Edith Gallager on April 27, 1937. That corresponds perfectly with a line item of $1 for "class dues" on April 27, 1937, according to the freshman-year expenditures log.

So George Miller is our man. Unfortunately, that name is far too common to figure out where he was from or what college he attended, and there's nothing online that cross-references with an Edith Gallager.

If Miller is still alive, he'd be in his mid 90s.

Seeing that 90 percent of the pages in this book are still blank, I think it would be fun for a modern college student to use it in the same way Miller did. Then, someone in the future could compare and contrast two very different generations of college students.

In fact, you could probably get at least a half-dozen other students' expenditures into the book. It would be beyond awesome if you could get snapshots of college students from, say, the 1930s, the 2010s, the 2080s, the 2150s, the 2220s, the 2290s and the 2360s into one book, and then preserve it for eternity at some library or archive of the far future. (Perhaps Papergreat could even be mentioned in the small print on the nearby bronze plaque.)

So, if anyone out there wants to do the 2010s "chapter" of The Scribble-in Book, drop me a line!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A web page worth saving forever...

Yes, it's more than a year old.
And it's just a screen grab of web page.
But it's so worth saving. Like those odd newspaper clippings from decades ago found tucked away inside your grandparents' books.
Who's going to be in charge of saving this stuff??

Other posts featuring goats on a roof

Book cover: "Three Boys and a Lighthouse"

  • Title: Three Boys and a Lighthouse
  • Co-authors: Nan Hayden Agle and Ellen Wilson
  • Illustrator: Marian Honigman
  • Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons
  • Year: 1951
  • Excerpt:
    "Silently Abercrombie, Benjamin and Christopher ran up the steps, up and around, up and around, as they had a hundred times before. But this time it was different. This time they were all alone. This time Father would not be there to tell them what do do.

    "Whaa— Whaa— Whaa!

    "The horn sounded twice as loud now that Father was gone."
  • Notes: The cover illustration of this 63-year-old hardcover children's book was too wonderful not to share. Unfortunately, there's not much online about artist Honigman, who was also credited with the covers of these Agle/Wilson books from the Three Boys series — Three Boys and Space, Three Boys and H2O, Three Boys and a Helicopter, Three Boys and a Mine, Three Boys and the Remarkable Cow, Three Boys and a Tugboat, and Three Boys and a Train. Honigman also illustrated 1972's Nicky's Football Team. ... This book was in fair to good condition except for the sad fact that someone wrote DISCARD in big black marker across the illustration on the front endpapers. ... It was once part of the Northern York County Joint School System in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. ... As far as the authors go, Nan Hayden Agle was 100 years old when she died in 2006 in Maryland. According to her obituary in The Baltimore Sun, she once had a dog named Toulouse Lautrec, who slept "on a pink blanket in the living room with a pillow for his head." ... Here's an interesting tidbit about Agle and Wilson from a September 15, 1964, article in The Gettysburg Times:
    "Mrs. Agle writes from a forest retreat along Lake Roland near Baltimore. She co-authors a series dealing with three boys in collaboration with Ellen Wilson, who is the wife of William Wilson, a professor in Bloomington, Ind., who was formerly a Baltimore newspaperman. ...

    "She and Ellen Wilson literally write their books by mail. Mrs. Agle cannot define which chapters of [sic] lines she wrote but they work from an outline they conceive together and the finished product is as smooth as if it had one author and no intermediary postoffice."
    From this excerpt, I found Ellen Wilson's husband, William E. Wilson. His Wikipedia biography states that she was born Ellen Janet Cameron and died in 1976. Some of the books she wrote on her own included biographies of Annie Oakley and journalist/women's rights activist Margaret Fuller.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Old keno pamphlet from the Stardust casino in Las Vegas

This foldout pamphlet, which I believe is circa 1970, advertises and explains the popular keno game at the now-vanished Stardust Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Much of the 10 pages is taken up by a keno primer and charts indicating ticket costs and payoffs for various wagers.

My favorite part of the pamphlet is the two pages of advertisements for food and shopping within the casino.

They're an interesting snapshot of that time at the iconic casino, which was in operation from 1958 until 2006.

Some fun historical tidbits:
  • The Cafe Continental was a theater-restaurant offering dinner and "the lavish Lido de Paris Revue." The extra Saturday night show began at 2:15 a.m. Reservations were recommended.
  • The Aku Aku restaurant offered Polynesian food and drinks from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. (It opened in 1960 and cost $620,000 to build and decorate, according to Classic Las Vegas.)
  • The Moby Dick restaurant had a multitude of seafood options, including live lobsters, Chesapeake Bay oysters, Louisiana frog legs and Lake Superior trout.
  • The buffet brunch cost just $1.99!!!
  • The Platter was an "exciting" but "moderately-price" dining room that featured complete dinners starting at $3.95.
  • The Palm Room was open 24 hours per day for your dining needs and offered a round-the-clock breakfast special for $1.19.

From the pamphlet: "You can play Keno anywhere on the main floor of the Stardust without coming to the Keno counter. Just ask any employee to ring for a Keno Runner. She will pick up and deliver your tickets. Keep in mind that we run games every few minutes, so please get your ticket in early. We are not responsible for runners failing to get tickets written on a particular game."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

From the creators of "The Owl and the Eel and the Warming-Pan" ...

A shark.
With legs. (And shoes.)
And arms.
And a monocle.
Sitting atop a tall building.

From 1890's In the Nursery, by Pulitzer Prize winner Laura E. Richards
Sharknado has nothing on this guy.


Saving "Sam The Man"

This photograph had no business being saved. It had major rips and major creases and was extremely curled. And it was outside in the elements. It should have been in a trashcan, gone forever.

But I guess I came along at the right time. Just like Charlie Brown did with his Christmas tree1, I gave it some love and attention — just enough so that I could scan it for posterity. Here it is...

Written in large cursive writing on the back of the photo is "Sam The Man." There is also a stamp for River's Edge Studio on Front and Market streets in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I don't think that business is around any more. There are also some pencil notes pertaining to the price of additional prints.

So, we're left wondering about a number of things:

1. Is the smiling gentleman in the photo "Sam The Man"?
2. What bar was this, and where was it?
3. When was this photo taken?
4. What do Jeri Carter and "Exotic" refer to?
5. Whose picture is this, on the shelf?

The bar served an interesting mix of beverages. I see Seagram's 7, Piel's Beer (a regional lager out of Brooklyn)2, National Bohemian, and Würzburger Hofbräu. Plus some other standard hard liquors.

If this photo rings a bell for anyone, let us know in the Comments or email me at chrisottopa (at)

1. I have used this analogy before, in December 2011. I might be starting to repeat myself.
2. According to Wikipedia, Piel's, now owned by Pabst, continues to be sold on a limited basis in New York, New England and, somewhat randomly, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

Scholastic Fest postscript:
A book that didn't make the cut

While putting together last month's Scholastic Fest, in which the top-ranked book, as decided by me, was Lost Race of Mars, I did encounter a small handful of books that were clunkers.

And this was the biggest clunker, with its scary-awful illustration and scary-awful theme.

I have no idea how a book titled 4 Desperate Days, with a cover showing children being bound and kidnapped, would be of interest to schoolchildren. I rather think it would give them (and their parents) nightmares.

But child-kidnapping is indeed the plot of this 1974 Scholastic Book Services paperback by Richard Parker. The original title was apparently Three By Mistake, which isn't much better. The blurb on the back of the books begins:
"Run, Simon! Get help!" shouts Neil as the kidnappers drag him away.
Well, doesn't that just sound like barrels of fun?

And it wasn't just books. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, there was a spate of movies — Savannah Smiles, The Little Dragons and No Deposit, No Return come to mind — that turned child abduction into wacky cinema fun. Maybe it was the real-life Atlanta Child Murders and/or the Adam Walsh case that started to slow down that rush of screenplays.

Sorry. I digress.

Anyway, I wouldn't have bothered bringing up 4 Desperate Days if I didn't have a few other related notes to bring to the table.

1. This copy has a non-ironic unicorn-and-rainbow bookplate indicating that it once belonged to a girl named Cheryl.

2. It was awarded "Compliments of the Hopewell Junior High P.T.S.A. - R.I.F."

3. Richard Parker, the author of 4 Desperate Days, also penned one of the Scholastic books that I have the fondest memories of, 1971's M for Mischief.

That book involves a group of children finding a mysterious old oven and cookbook and having some magical adventures. No abductions needed!

If I still had a copy, it would have easily made it into the top five of last month's countdown. It's far, far better than a book featuring this guy...

Monday, November 17, 2014

"The Owl and the Eel and the Warming-Pan" (1890)

You might not be able to handle this on a Monday afternoon.
For that, I apologize in advance.

"The Owl and the Eel and the Warming-Pan" was written by children's author Laura E. Richards and is part of 1890's In My Nursery, which was published by Little, Brown and Company.

To recap, the above poem and illustration feature:
  • An anthropomorphic warming pan
  • An owl wearing a hat
  • An eel with legs (and shoes on the feet it should not have)
  • A mysteriously absent character known as "the soap-fat man"...
  • ...who rides on a rolling pin
  • Bad things happening at the meeting house, in an abrupt ending.

Trying getting the warming pan's face out of your head. I dare you.

Oh, by the way, Richards has a Pulitzer Prize. And you don't. So get back to work.

Book cover: "The Frozen North" (1911)

This seems like an appropriate vintage cover to feature as we head into a forbidding bit of wintry weather to start the week here in the Northeast.

  • Title: The Frozen North
  • Author: Edith Horton (Principal, Public Schools, City of New York)
  • Illustrator: None credited
  • Publisher: D.C. Heath & Co.
  • Year: 1911 revised edition (first edition was 1904)
  • Excerpt from preface:
    "It is hoped that this book may give our young people sufficient knowledge of the subject to enable them to read farther with intelligence, and that it may also inspire them with interest in the many expeditions that are being sent out.

    "The descriptions of the strange people who inhabit these cold countries, their dress, their ways of living, their customs, and their manners, all interest the child, and meet his natural desire to hear about other people than those living in the part of the world about him."
  • Notes: This 169-page book is subtitled "An Account of Arctic Exploration for Use in Schools." ... It contains sections about Sir John Franklin, the doomed voyage of the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror, Elisha Kent Kane, Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld, the USS Jeannette, Frederick Schwatka, S.A. Andrée's ill-advised Arctic Balloon Expedition of 1897 and more. Horton is too modest. It's much more than a cursory overview. ... As a final note of ephemeral interest, here's a look at the Pottsville, Pennsylvania, Free Public Library card pocket from the inside back cover of the book.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A good day for the acquisitions department

These folks know how to have an easygoing afternoon

Good people. Good music. Good conversation. Good drink. Fresh air. These people in this vintage postcard from Austria seem to know the secret of having a good time.

The caption on the back states: "Der Wiener Heurige," which I believe translates to something along the lines of "Vienna wine tavern." (The first translation option given, though, was "The Year's Wiener." Nope.)

The postcard was produced by PAG, which stands for Postkarten Industrie, AG, of Vienna.