Friday, September 25, 2015

#FridayReads and a vintage photograph of women in prison

OK, OK. They're not really in prison. I'm actually not sure what's going on here. But it is a vintage photograph, measuring 3½ inches by 5 inches. Written on the back is the date of September 11, 1952. But there's nothing else about these two smiling criminals.

In the meantime, here are some links to a wide and rambling and eclectic variety of great things to read. I promise y'all will find a few things here that pique your interest. If not, I'll mail you a vintage postcard to compensate you for your lost surfing time.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Advertising card: Autumn greetings from Rices Landing

Warning: This post rambles in many different directions. But they're mostly interesting ones

This undated vintage advertising card, which is about the size of a baseball card, celebrates autumn with an illustration that features two people dressed as if they're going to appear in a Shakespeare production, a large pumpkin and a platter filled with harvest goodies.

A short verse underneath states:

In the cool, dark days of autumn
when the earth is damp and cold,
we should wear out "Candee" rubbers,
they are "worth their weight in gold."

That verse, of course, is not Shakespeare. And, as a lover of autumn, I would disagree with characterizing it as cool, dark, damp and cold. It's a cheery time of beauty and warm colors, as I documented in a photo essay last photo.

Way back in the day — we're talking the 19th century — Candee rubbers were pioneering footwear invented by Leverett Candee (1795-1863). After a long career manufacturing other items, Candee, in the 1840s, licensed Charles Goodyear's rubber vulcanization process and became the first to manufacture rubber shoes. Those shoes are being advertised on this trade card.

Here's the back of the card:

We see that the particular Candee rubber shoe being advertised was The Belle, "a light croquet Alaska for ladies" with a "fine cloth top."

[Full disclosure: I have no idea what "croquet Alaska" means, in terms of shoe design. Or in terms of anything, really.]

These rubber shoes were available from Thomas Hughes in Rices Landing, Pennsylvania. The trade card states "Rice's Landing," with an apostrophe. There are numerous examples online of the town name with and without the apostrophe. I believe, however, that the correct name of the tiny borough in Greene County, southwestern Pennsylvania, is Rices Landing, with no apostrophe. That's how it's spelled on the official borough website and on the Wikipedia entry.

Rices Landing has an interesting history that dates to the 1770s and includes visits from George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, and important trading post at the then-edge of the Western frontier, and a stream named Pumpkin Run. It was officially incorporated in 1903 and saw its population swell to nearly 1,000 in the 1930s and 1940s before falling to fewer to 500 today.

Its most famous resident is Pennsylvania wrestler Cary Kolat, whose many athletic achievements include one of the most amazing mat moves you'll ever see on the high school level.

In 2009, Rices Landing elected Ryan Belski, who was then 20 years old, as its mayor.

The Thomas Hughes store were the Candee rubber shoes were sold still exists and is part of the Rices Landing Historic District, which was was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

For more on the colorful history of Rices Landing, check out this 2008 post on the Ten Mile Creek Country blog (which I hope someone preserves in one form or another before it vanishes).

Finally, here's the front of one more trade card for Candee rubber shoes, this one featuring Summer as its theme...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Today's work of art: Page from an old library book

If you can see the beauty in this page from the front of a discarded library copy of The People of Montana, we're kindred spirits and you're definitely on the right blog.

There's so much of interest here. So much of the story of where and how this book was used ... a tale told by its stamps, stickers, circulation-card pocket and more.

Let's start with the book. The People of Montana was written by Ralph C. Henry1 and published in 1958 by the State Publishing Company in Helena, Montana. The 237-page volume was used as a civics and social studies textbook for public-school students in Big Sky Country. It includes chapters on Montana's history, climate, geography, cities and towns, government and school system.

The circulation-card pocket tells us that the book was shelved in the Carnegie City Library in Kalispell, Montana.2 The Carnegie City Library, constructed with a $10,000 grant, was one of 17 Carnegie libraries built in Montana between 1901 and 1918. It is now, appropriately, Kalispell's Hockaday Museum of Art.

The Carnegie City Library was part of the Northwest Montana Federation of Libraries, a regional cooperative that was formed in 1945 and provided book-lending and bookmobile services to the region.

The People of Montana was given the number 978.6 — the designated number for general Montana history — in the Dewey Decimal System. It was, according to a hand-written note, shelved in the Juvenile books section.

At some point later in its life, the book became part of the Flathead County Library System3 and received a barcode. It was checked out in February 1993 and March 1995, according to a pair of stamps. And then, at some unknown point, the book was stamped WITHDRAWN. It eventually found its way to at least one used-book store before ending up in York, Pennsylvania.

The Flathead County Library System, by the way, has also gone by the wayside and been renamed as (or replaced by) ImagineIF Libraries. The ImagineIF collection includes several books on Montana history by Ralph C. Henry, whose middle name, it turns out, was Chester. Those titles include Treasure State: The Story of Montana for Junior Montanans and Our Land Montana: The Story of Our Treasure State.

As a final fun note, here's a closeup of the tiny logo at the bottom of the circulation-card pocket. I wonder what company that is.

Thematically related posts

Also, I've recommended it before, but you should absolutely check out Kerry Mansfield's portfolio of images of old and discarded books.

1. Ralph C. Henry also used the pen name "Eric Thane" for some of his other history and non-fiction writing, according to a note at the beginning of the book. That's a bit interesting, because you don't see many non-fiction authors using pen names.
2. Kalispell is the birthplace of Brad Bird, director of The Incredibles.
3. Flathead County was founded in 1893 by Wurb Flathead, a descendant of Dimwit Flathead.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pretty maids all in a row — literally

This vintage postcard features an illustration of the nursery rhyme "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary." The rhyme dates to the 18th century and there is little agreement over the meaning of its lines. Some think it refers to the 16th century's Mary, Queen of Scots, but there is dispute on that point.

There are also multiple versions of the rhyme, and it's the last line that seems to vary the most. Some of the different final lines include:

  • And pretty maids all in a row
  • And so my garden grows
  • Sing cuckolds all in a row
  • Cowslips all in a row
  • With lady bells all in a row

This postcard goes with the most traditional final line, but the illustration takes it a little too literally, giving us the somewhat disturbing image of maidens sprouting out of the dirt...

The card was postmarked on July 28, 1910, in Brooklyn, New York.1 It was mailed to a woman named Gladys in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The note is a bit hard to decipher, but I think it reads:
"Dear Gladys
Mama's letter received & beg [?] to say little Marnie and I are going up to see Auntie May on Sunday. Boat leaves Battery at 9 a.m. Red Bank Boat. Regards to Papa and love to Maura [?] and yourself. Auntie Em."
(Probably not that Auntie Em.)

1. On July 28, 1910, President William Taft arrived in Biddeford Pool, Maine, aboard the presidential yacht Mayflower. See this photo from the Maine Historical Society. (The Mayflower, by the way, had a fascinating history, eventually ending its career as INS Maoz in the Israeli Navy.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

2015 York Fair: My favorite photos

The York Fair, which was celebrating 250 years of existence, wrapped up yesterday. Here are some of my favorite Instagram shots from this year's festivites.