Saturday, July 18, 2015

Requiem for a 150-year-old McGuffey Reader

Time, the elements and some untoward mold have doomed this 1865 edition of McGuffey's New Third Eclectic Reader: For Young Learners.

This installment of the historic series of primers was published by Van Antwerp, Bragg & Company of Cincinnati and New York and entered, "according to Act of Congress," in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern District of Ohio.

Before this volume enters the U.S. recycling system and (hopefully) gets turned back into paper that someone from the 21st century can use for dreaming, imagining and creating, here's a final peek inside...


The water-warped inside front cover features the name Julie (or Julia) Miller and some nice drawings of birds (or perhaps chickens). The originals were done in red and then traced over with pencil.


Here's the title page, featuring what appears to be a lamb.

Some McGuffey Reader trivia, from Wikipedia: "The manufacturer Henry Ford cited McGuffey's Readers as one of his most important childhood influences. He was an avid fan of McGuffey's Readers first editions, and claimed as an adult to be able to quote from McGuffey's by memory at great length. Ford republished all six Readers from the 1867 edition, and distributed complete sets of them, at his own expense, to schools across the United States. In 1934, Ford had the log cabin where McGuffey was born moved to Greenfield Village, Ford's museum of Americana at Dearborn, Michigan."


This lesson revolved around learning to be kind to animals, by way of the tale of an upside-down turtle (or more likely a tortoise, which would have been a tougher word).

The good news is that is has a happy ending, thanks to Samuel, who makes these two speeches:

"Think, Robert. What if you were a turtle, and somebody should put you on your back, so that you could not turn over, and then go off and leave you? ... [A] turtle can feel. Besides, you say yourself, that you suppose he does not like to lie so. Now tell me, would you like to be treated so?"

"You know, Robert, that our parents and our teacher have always told us to treat others as we would wish to be treated, if we were in their place. And I am sure, if I were a turtle, I should not like it much, if some bad boy should put me on my back, and then go off and leave me so. Neither do I think you would. I think we should remember the GOLDEN RULE, 'Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you,' in our treatment of animals, as well as in our treatment of men."


The new words for this lesson include tardy, wrong, lessons, schoolboy, idler and knowledge.

So I think we understand what's going on here.


An old wooden guide-post rises up before a lone boy in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night. What could go wrong?


Here we go. A cat and a book. Everyone safe and sound and inside. Much better.


Here's the back cover. Thirteen cents in 1865 is equivalent to about $2 today. So I think it's fair to say these readers were reasonably priced.

Related posts

A long-gone motor inn, longer-gone ancestors and a sketch

Here's a fun piece of ephemera we came across while cleaning out 505 Oak Crest Lane. It's a piece of letterhead from the now-vanished Framingham Motor Inn in Framingham, Massachusetts.1

My grandmother used it, years ago, to write down notes from her voluminous genealogy research.2 It's filled with 18th century dates and names such as Hendrickson, Walraven and others that I cannot read because her handwriting was not stellar. There's a Sven (Swain) Walraven who married Cathrine (?) Hendrickson, and they had five children, one of whom died shortly after birth and another who didn't make it to his 11th birthday.3

Meanwhile, the reverse side of this paper features a partial sketch that was probably drawn by my mom...

As for the Framingham Motor Inn along Route 9 — "America's Finest Motor Inn" — I don't think it exists any more. I did find some interesting tidbits, though, while researching its fate:

  • A Framingham Motor Inn menu from December 1954 featured fried filet of sole for $1.35, chopped sirloin steak for $1.50, baked stuffed schrod in Lobster Newburg sauce for $1.50 and half lobster thermidor for $1.85. The dessert menu offerings included ice cream puff, apple pan dowdy and baked Indian pudding.
  • The inn had its own china at one point.
  • A commenter on the post titled "Great Memories Of New England Restaurants That Are No Longer with Us" writes: "Framingham’s most romantic spot might have been La Rotisserie Normandie, at the Framingham Motor Inn, where you could get flaming food!"
  • A New England School Development Council Conference on "How to Save Money by Really Trying" was held at the Framingham Motor Inn in October 1970.
  • Donald R. "Bob" Nelson, who died in 2008 at age 80, was "An accomplished trumpet player and vocalist [who] was the leader of the 'Bob Nelson Orchestra'." The orchestra was once a featured group at the former Framingham Motor Inn.
  • A 2011 commenter on the This is Framingham blog writes that there was once a place called "Vibrations in the old Framingham Motor Inn in front of the Waterview apartments."
  • The 2006 memoir 40 Hour Man, by author Stephen Beaupre and artist Steve Lafler, contains the following passage:
    "I was about to graduate from high school and had made plans with friends to rent a house at the beach that summer. I needed a short-term job to hold me over. That job turned out to be working at the Framingham Motor Inn, a faded no-frills motel overseen by a shadowy figure in a white linen suit who had a hook for a hand.

    "I was hired to wash dishes, but was liberated from kitchen duty by the maintenance supervisor, an easygoing character named Tony. All the maintenance guys loved working for Tony, and it was easy to see why. There wasn't much work involved. Each morning, he would round us up, hand out paintbrushes, and then vanish for the day. We responded to this honor policy like any other self-respecting group of punks: We went up on the roof and smoked dope.

    "The big project that summer was painting the motel pool, and Olympic-sized monstrosity that hadn't been touch in decades. I'd like to say we rose to the challenge, but that's not quite right. Mostly we sat around in the deep end, paint scraper in one hand, beer in the other, keeping one eye out for Captain Hook."

1. Framingham, birthplace of Crispus Attucks, is situated along the Native American trail that became known as the Old Connecticut Path. In a related note, speaking of New England's oldest pathways, Joan recently sent me a link to a fascinating BLDG BLOG post titled "Lost Highways." Geoff Manaugh's piece discusses the "ancient" roads, some never built, in Vermont and the legal issues they have created in modern times. It serves as a companion post to Manaugh's article in The New Yorker titled "Where the Roads Have No Name." It's great stuff, partly discussing whether old roads have just as much of a right to be preserved (or at least marked and remembered) as certain historic buildings.
2. We also came across a 1978 notebook with a Battlestar Galactica themed cover that's filled with genealogy notes. That made me chuckle.
3. During this time, roughly, the Seven Years' War and its North American component, the French and Indian War were taking place.

Friday, July 17, 2015

1969 Ramada Inn newspaper ad to honor Apollo 11 moon landing

I thought this would be a cool item to post in conjunction with this week's dazzling flyby of Pluto by NASA's New Horizons probe.

Shown above is a Ramada Inn newspaper advertisement that came on the heels of the July 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. The advertisement was reproduced in the September 1969 issue of Luna Monthly, a sci-fi fanzine based out of Oradell, New Jersey.

The advertising copy states: "SOON ON THE MOON! Meanwhile Back on Earth ... RAMADA IS 27,795 ROOMS LONG AND 250 INNS WIDE!"1

And the Luna Monthly caption states: "One of the most imaginative ads which appeared in the newspapers in connection with the Apollo 11 moon landing, illustrating a complete Lunar Hotel, as designed by Ramada Inns. Units in the complex are inflated, set on telescopic legs, and joined by flexible tubular corridors. Ramada anticipates opening this Lunar Hotel by the time the first commercial flights to the moon begin."

Does anyone remember or know anything about this advertisement? My cursory Google searches didn't find anything.

The 32-page staplebound issue of Luna Monthly, in addition to providing coverage of the 1969 Trieste Film Festival2, book reviews and a listing of upcoming sci-fi book releases, contains a lot of news and commentary about the moon landing. Some of those tidbits:

  • David Charles Paskow, in a short essay, writes: "Let us not forget Willie Ley, a man whose dreams encompassed the conquest of the moon, but whose life ended so tragically short of the realization of this dream."3
  • "Planetariums and space science museums around the country were playing to full houses with special programs tied in to the moon landing. An interesting sidelight was the report a few days before takeoff that the Hayden Planetarium in New York City had lost some 50,000 reservation forms for trips to the moon and other planets collected in 1950."
  • "Among the more interesting publicity gimmicks are the free Rand McNally moon map from Brillo, available for 2 boxtops or labels and postage."4
  • "The McDonalds chain had 5 million moon maps for distribution at splashdown."
  • "And the U.S. Government is offering 12 full color 11" x 12" lithographs of the moon trip for $1.75, and a single 16" x 20" of Man on the Moon for $1.00."

Finally, what would a self-respecting 1969 sci-fi fanzine be without some Star Trek content? This issue has articles titled "Star Trek Goes to Church" by Chris Steinbrunner and "Humans and the Vulcan Ideal" by Sherna Burley. Plus, there is this cool caricature of Spock...

1. That would be an average of 111 rooms per hotel, which seems like a lot but I guess could have been feasible.
2. Some of the films noted in the Luna Monthly recap of the 1969 Trieste Film Festival are Le Dernier Homme, A Time of Roses, Tu Imagines Robinson, Az idö ablakai (Windows of Time), and The Illustrated Man.
3. Paskow himself died in 1971, but his contributions live on in the Paskow Science Fiction Collection at Temple University.
4. It's unclear to me whether Brillo's promotion was for a moon map or moon globe. This photo and article on Worthpoint indicate that a globe was available at some point. But I don't know if that's what you got for just two boxtops and postage.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Vintage luggage tag for Norwegian America Line

Here's a nifty old luggage tag for Norwegian America Line. It was used by my grand-grandmother, Greta, on one of her mid-century travel adventures.

Printed on the reverse side is "Pier 42, North River, New York, N.Y."1

"Seamanship & Service in the Scandinavian Tradition" is the slogan on the front of the tag. No specific cruise ship is indicated anywhere on the tag.

Norwegian America Line operated from 1910 until 1995. Over the decades, its focus shifted from cargo to passenger cruises and then back to cargo after airlines began to dominate the travel industry in the 1960s. Here's an excerpt from the cruise line's detailed history on The Ships List:
"Established in 1910 to operate passenger and cargo services between Norway and the USA. In 1914, cargo ships were chartered to supply grain to Norway, which although a neutral country during the Great War, suffered from a lack of foreign imports and also lost many ships to U-Boats and mines. Before the end of the war, the company had purchased several other cargo steamers and even a sailing ship. The company then expanded and in 1920 owned 12 vessels and by 1923 grew to become one of Norway's largest shipping companies with 19 vessels. The economic collapse of the 1920's and new United States emigration regulations caused the company to diversify into other routes and also into pleasure cruising."
Some passenger lists from NAL cruises in the 1920s and 1930s are available from the Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives. One Oslo to New York cruise in 1937 was headed by Captain Ole Bull, who should not be confused with violinist Ole Bull.

The website also has some interesting background and details about NAL's cruise ships. A few tidbits: "On the Promenade Deck there was a handsomely appointed Lounge, a Music Room, as well as Reading and Writing Rooms. The smoking saloon on the Upper Promenade Deck was finished in Australian oak, and was arranged in cozy alcoves."

As you might imagine, given the history of the 20th century, some Norwegian America Line ships met ill ends. A sampling, again from The Ships List:

  • Kongsfjord: Seized in 1940 by the German Navy, refitted as a blockade runner and renamed Sperrbrecher 15 and then Gonzenheim. Sunk in 1941 by the HMS Neptune.2
  • Kristianiafjord: Wrecked near Cape Race, Newfoundland, in 1917.3
  • Larviksfjord: Caught fire at sea in 1931. The ship, along with its tugboat, then ran aground and wrecked near Stockholm.
  • Randsfjord: Torpedoed and sunk off Queenstown by German submarine U-30 in 1940. Three men were killed, including Captain Halvor Pedersen. The sinking is documented on
  • Tønsbergfjord: Torpedoed and sunk by the Italian submarine Enrico Tazzoli in 1942. There were no casualties.

1. Pier 42, circa 1951, is shown in this photograph from the Digital Public Library of America. Does anyone remember it?

2. The HMS Neptune was then sunk December 1941, resulting in the deaths of 764 seamen, who are remembered by The Neptune Association.
3. From 1859 to 1866, the Associated Press kept a newsboat at Cape Race to meet ocean liners passing by on their way from Europe so that news could be telegraphed to New York.