Saturday, May 9, 2015

Unmailed vintage postcard to "soldier boy"

For our Saturday afternoon "Intermission," here's an old postcard that was written out, but never stamped or postmarked. Perhaps it was hand-delivered. Perhaps it went into a drawer and was utterly forgotten ... until now.

The front of the card features a photograph of a woman playing a piano while a man sits and listens. They are in a well-furnished and well-decorated room. An odd filter has been applied to the image. It's green at the top and red at the bottom, and neither color does much to enhance the photo. It reminds me of stories I've heard about three-color filters that people could apply to the front of their black-and-white televisions, to make the broadcast appear in "color."1

The postcard was addressed to Mr. R.R. Daire (or possibly R.R. Gaire) of 843 West 34th Street in Baltimore, Maryland. The cursive note on the split-back card states:
"Dear Friend - I rec'd your card was very glad to hear from my soldier boy Lovingly Yours Virgie"

1. Tiffanie, writing on her Truly Skrumptious blog in November 2012, discussed the "Instant Color TV Screen." An excerpt:
"It actually sort of worked for scenery, but obviously failed with people, especially close ups of their heads! It was a lot of fun trying though, and we were actually happy to have ours, over plain black and white. Many of you may not believe that, but it’s true, as kids we had a lot of fun with it. The same way kids these days love playing with cell phones to be like adults, we liked to pretend we had a real color TV."

Friday, May 8, 2015

Illustration: "Revolving Poker Rack" from Pacific Game Company

This is the groovy illustration, chock full of card players in period attire, that's pasted to the top of a box that once held a poker rack and 200 chips. "Revolving Poker Rack" was sold by Pacific Game Company of North Hollywood, California — sometime in the early 1970s, I'm guessing.

I don't think Pacific Game Company is still in business. The latest reference I can find to it is around 1980. Some interesting chapters of its history include an elaborate 1973 game called Columbus Was Wrong and an early 1960s chess set that featured pieces (designed by Peter Ganine) that were also used as props on Star Trek, for its famous Tri-Dimensional Chess.1

People selling this vintage poker rack these days try to woo potential buyers by labeling it as a "Mad Men Era Poker Rack." I guess this time period isn't simply the late 1960s or early 1970s any more. It's just The Mad Men Era.2 Redo the history books.

This box also came with a little slip of paper telling people to address any issues they had with the poker rack to A. Kray of Pacific Game Company.

I wonder how much weekly mail Kray received. And if it included the "complete facts," as requested. And if any of it still exists.

1. The Pacific Game Company chess set in question was called "Sculptured Chess" or "Gothic" and was issued in 1961. On the website, the author lambasts Peter Ganine's design not once, but twice.

On a page titled "Chess Sets From Hell," the writer states: "At the top of my list is an aberration I call the Gothic, after its most ubiquitous and egregious incarnation, Sculptured Chess by Ganine "Gothic" (# 1475, the Salon Edition), from Pacific Game Company of North Hollywood. ... Pacific Games must have sold buckets of these, as they're thick as cockroaches on eBay."

And on a page titled "'Gothic' and similar busts," the writer, while also giving a detailed history of these chess pieces, states: "These seem to have been popular, but they always gave me the nerdles. ... The basic design is still as ugly as the aft end of a baboon, no matter what they colored it (remember, fancy colors didn't help the baboon's image either)."

Meanwhile, for a great history of the use of these Pacific Game Company Gothic chess pieces on Star Trek, check out this page from Carolus Chess.

2. By the way, as we near the final episode of Mad Men (which I don't watch), the most far-out fan theory is that Don Draper will morph into D.B. Cooper in the finale. That would be something.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rocketing York's hopes, dreams and ephemera into outer space (sort of)

During one of my lunch-time breaks from jury duty this week in York1, I came across a curious storefront a few doors down from York's Continental Square.

The makeshift banner read "Spaceship York." Inside, the walls were covered with white sheets of paper filled with people's hopes, dreams and outer-space drawings.2 On a tabletop, there were articles about some of the crazier and more far-out episodes of humankind's history of reaching for the stars.3

Oh, and there were free postcards (pictured at the top of this post). So I thought that was super cool, of course.

In the back of the small room, surrounded by carpentry tools, was The Spaceship, which is nearing completion.

It's not a functional spaceship. At least, I don't think it is. The mostly-wooden craft — which looks inspired by the likes of Jules Verne and Georges Méliès — is the artistic creation of "Chief Astronaut, Engineer, Mechanic, and Director" William Chambers, who is in the midst of a 2½-month project to launch the spacecraft and his collected ephemera into orbit.

When I visited on Tuesday, Chambers was working on the hatch and windows. Because if you're getting shot into space, you kind of want to see where you're going4, lest you crash into Jupiter or something.

Actual space travel isn't the point, of course. Mostly, Chambers is interested in where people are hoping to go. Their dreams for themselves and their city.

"In our world today, people don't go to school to dream anymore," he told The York Dispatch last month. "And sometimes, as adults, we're out of practice."

These are some of the dreams that children and adults have written down on those big white sheets of paper while at Spaceship York:
  • I Dream of A world where Our Eyes Can Meet In Trust And Love, And The Warmth of our Greeting Matches The Depth of our Souls.
  • MY Dream is that one Day Man Kind will realize we are all we have and there is no Help coming from anyware Else any time soon.
  • My dream is that my son lives a happy full life. And follow all his dream's where ever they may take him.
  • My Dream is to met an alein
  • My dream is to write A Novel.
  • I want to see the world's priorities shift from a love of things to a love of people, thus ensuring safety, health, and abundance for everyone.
  • stuff would cost less for everybody
  • My Dream Is To Ride A Dragon
  • To find life in other worlds. To learn about other life systems. To use that knowledge here.
  • I want to know that the pursuit of space exploration isn't driven because we're running out of natural resources ... Instead, I'd love to know that we're going to show our mistakes & how we managed to 'Fix' Them so that others don't Fall in the same hole ... go vegan!!

All of the dreams are scanned and posted at the Spaceship York website — But, if you're a southcentral Pennsylvanian, you should really go see it in person if you have a chance this month. Spaceship York, supported by the Cultural Alliance of York County, is located at 9 West Market Street in York.

"Lift off" is scheduled for June 5.

According to an article in the York Daily Record/Sunday News:
"After the spaceship launches, Chambers hopes it lands somewhere where he can find it. He wants to take the crashed remnants with him on the road, and maybe start conversations with people about the project itself. He hopes, if nothing else, Spaceship York encourages people to reach for the stars."


Related: For students and dreamers

1. Days of jury duty: Four. Number of trials chosen for: Zero. So I didn't get to live out any 12 Angry Men moments. ... I was, however, able to finish reading both The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash during my many hours in the jury waiting room.
2. Many of which featured Cat Astronauts. Because why not?
3. Yes, we're talking about you, Wan Hu.
4. Even if you're a Cat Astronaut, you'd want a window.