Friday, October 9, 2015

Amazing house for sale in Montclair, New Jersey (in 1913)

Here's another post from the gift that keeps giving — the April 19, 1913, issue of The Outlook.1 The fascinating classified advertising section2 includes numerous real estate listings, many of which involved homes in New England that were available as summer rentals.

But there was also this sprawling house in Montclair, New Jersey, that was being offered for sale by Hughes & Whitby. The "PERFECT TYPE COLONIAL" house's attributes included:
  • Living room with unusually beautiful fireplace
  • Dining room with fireplace
  • Butler's pantry
  • Kitchen and refrigerator room
  • Four second-floor bedrooms
  • Two third-floor servants' rooms
  • Large guest or billiard room with fireplace
  • Sewing room
  • Solid brick construction
  • Hardwood floors
  • Steam heat, gas and electricity
  • Location combining "country life and city advantages"

Sadly, no price is stated.

If this house is still standing, I'm sure it wouldn't take much legwork to find it, given the quality of this photograph. (Of course, it could be fully surrounded by old trees at this point. Or maybe covered in ivy.)

Does anyone recognize it or have any leads? Is this your house? Comment below!

1. Previous posts from The Outlook this week were:
2. I might do an additional post on the jaw-dropping European vacation offers, including a 101-day extravaganza that cost $900.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

How to avoid bow legs, knock knees, weak bodies and much more

All you have to do, kids, is do what Mr. Codfish says!

(There's a line I never imagined I'd write.)

"Tails of the Sea" is a shameless, 16-page staplebound booklet that was published in 1930 by McCoy's Laboratories in New York. In masquerading as a children's lesson, its only goal is to pitch the virtues of "nice-tasting, sugar-coated McCoy's Cod Liver Oil Extract tablets."

The tablets are, as the cover states, "for boys and girls who don't want Bow Legs, Knock Knees, Flat Chests, Stoop Shoulders or Weak Bodies." (Or to be slaughtered by Native Americans. More on that in a bit.)

The tale begins with spectacle-wearing Mr. Codfish serving as the teacher of a classroom full of students, who at first want to know how he's surviving as an, ahem, fish out of water. Mostly dodging that question, Mr. Codfish goes on to explain how the "invisible ultra-violet rays of the sun" (and their healthful vitamins) end up inside codfish, which are then whisked away to McCoy's Laboratories in New York City and turned into the aforementioned tablets.

Barely addressed is how the creation of the tablets necessarily requires the slaughter of Mr. Codfish's species. He states, somewhat ghoulishly, "The next picture shows the barrels1 of golden-colored, sun-drenched cod liver oil that has been taken from the livers of my relatives and friends." If we weren't discussing fish, we'd be in full-blown Hannibal Lecter territory at this point.

To make things more disturbing, here are a pair of excerpts from the brochure. This was 1930, remember.
"Bobby, what does resistance to disease mean?"

"I don't know, Mr. Codfish."

"Well," said Mr. Codfish, "it means fighting against sickness with your back to the wall."

"Oh, you mean the way the cowboys fight the Injuns when they get cornered?" Johnny eagerly shrieked.

"That's about it, Johnny," Mr. Codfish agreed. "If you will take McCoy's Cod Liver Oil Extract Tablets regularly every day, the wonderful vitamins they contain will help your bodies to fight off colds and many other ills which make little folks feel awful."

* * *
"When disease germs attack us like treacherous redskins," Johnny replied, "lots of vitamin A in our bodies is like a Winchester repeating rifle in our hands. We blaze away out of both barrels and put the pesky Injuns to rout."

"A very clever answer, Johnny," Mr. Codfish said admiringly.

Cod liver oil remains a very popular supplement today. It is, however, hard to find unbiased information about its benefits because — surprise! — almost everyone who writes about it is pitching or recommending a product.2 Regarding the question "Is there any good reason to take cod liver oil?" Consumer Reports weighs in with "No" as its answer.

I'll leave you with the centerpiece illustration from "Tails of the Sea."

(The message on the chalkboard reads: "It takes 9 HENƧ — each hen laying 1 egg a Day or 1 COW chock full of milk and butter to give boys and girls as much health and growth vitamins as McCOY'Ƨ Cod Liver Oil Extract Tablets can give them.")

Related posts

1. According to Wikipedia: "Cod liver oil was traditionally manufactured by filling a wooden barrel with fresh cod livers and seawater and allowing the mixture to ferment for up to a year before removing the oil."
2. Mr. Codfish, however, is long since retired from his job as spokesman.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Guide to American summer camps from 102 years ago

As a bonus addendum to this afternoon's baseball-themed post, here is a rundown of all the summer camps that are listed in the classified-advertisement section of that April 19, 1913, issue of The Outlook.

It's broken down by boys' camps and girls' camps, and includes some of the details presented in the advertisements.

  • Camp Riverdale (Long Lake, New York): "Wilderness camp for boys in a famous hunting and fishing region. Mountain climbing, mastery of the woods, of the water, and of boats." [This camp closed in 1964, according to this website.]
  • Camp Wonposet (Bantam Lake, Connecticut): "Write for booklet." [Camp closed in 1997, but there's a Facebook page.]
  • Camp Oxford (Oxford, Maine): "A healthful, happy, helpful summer place for boys."
  • The Gilmanton Camp (Gilmanton, New Hampshire): "Equipment unsurpassed. Expenses moderate. Impossible to describe here."
  • Camp Wampanoag (Cape Code, Massachusetts): "Scouting over old Indian trails, land and water sports, prizes."
  • Navajo Camps for Boys on the Maine Coast: "Mountain climbing, boating, wonderful motor-boat and sail cruises, swimming, fishing, athletic sports."
  • Camp Winona (Moose Pond, Maine): "For boys, 8 to 15 years of age." [Still around!]
  • Minne-Wawa (Algonquin National Park, Ontario, Canada): "Booklet."
  • Camp Katahdin (in the Maine Woods): "The place to make boys manly."
  • St. Regis Camp for Boys (the Adirondacks): "Free tutoring in all subjects by experienced graduates. All land and water sports. Character building. Terms moderate."

  • Camp Ken-Jocketee (Vermont): "Riding, swimming, boating and mountain climbing."
  • Sargent Camp (Peterboro, New Hampshire): "On our own lake. ... Amateur theatricals, music. Food from farm. Songs and stories around the camp fire." [Still around! Called Sargent Center.]
  • Camp Eagle Point (Stinson Lake, New Hampshire): "The fields, woods, and waters. Athletics, water sports, horseback riding. ... Real camp life without discomfort."
  • Camp Fairweather (Francestown, New Hampshire): "Field and water sports, nature study, mountain climbing, dancing, elective instruction, tutoring."
  • Camp Wabanaki (Lake George, New York): "Instruction by a specialist in arts and crafts. Designing, out-of-door sketching, basketry, stenciling and leather work, water sports, tennis and nature study."
  • Wyonegonic Camps for Girls (Moose Pond, Maine): "Three separate camps, ages 9 to 21" [Still around! Is the "oldest continuously-run camp for girls in America."]
  • Kill-Kare Kamp (Mount Vernon, Maine): "Practical domestic science if desired." [This is a Kill Kare Kamp cottage that was established in 1917 and is still in operation. But I don't see anything about the Kamp itself.]
  • Camp Teconnet (China Lake, Maine): "On our own island. ... New dining hall, assembly house and tents. Swimming, fishing, canoeing, motor boating."
  • Quanset (Cape Cod, Massachusetts): "Swimming, canoeing, sailing, taught under the safest conditions. ... Original musical comedy under able leadership. Weaving."
  • Chatham Woods Camps (South Chatham, New Hampshire): "Fourth season. Booklet."
  • Alford Lake Camp for Girls (South Hope, Maine): "Bungalows and tents among the woods. Outdoor and indoor dining rooms, swimming, tennis, basketball, horseback riding, mountain trips." [Still around! Here's their Facebook page.]
  • Pine Tree Camp for Girls (on the summit of the Poconos, Pennsylvania): "Outdoor sports, carefully supervised. Swimming, canoeing at option of parents. Nature study."
  • Camp Winnecomack (Munsonville, New Hampshire): "All land and water sports, horseback riding."
  • Camp Setag (the Adirondacks): "Booklet."

1913 essay on the baseball box score

Here's a baseball-themed post, as the Major League Baseball playoffs are now underway. The Pittsburgh Pirates (est. 1882) are set to do battle with the Chicago Cubs (est. 1871) in tonight's National League Wild-Card Game...

Baseball box scores printed on dead trees are becoming a bit of an endangered species these day. I've been directly responsible for some tough decisions to decrease the number of published box scores, over the past decade, in my oversight of various newspaper sports departments.

The decline has been happening for decades, though. It started, perhaps, when the Sporting News stopped publishing every MLB box score in its weekly edition and has continued to the present, when some newspapers run no box scores at all. The platform on which you're reading this post is, of course, a primary culprit.

Box scores date back to 1859 and are credited to Harry Chadwick. By the 20th century, they were a firmly entrenched part of the baseball scene.

Today, many older fans lament the disappearance (in printed matter) of box scores. A century ago, however, there were some who felt there was an overabundance of time and resources spent on box scores. That's the interesting topic of "The Baseball Fan and the Box Score," by Frank B. Elser1, in the April 19, 1913, issue of The Outlook magazine.2

Here are some excerpts from Elser's amusing-at-times essay, which starts by focusing on all of the behind-the-scenes work necessary for a boxscore to even appear in a newspaper. (I think my friends in the industry will get a special chuckle from this.)

  • "[B]aseball is a burden! It is a burden to the newspapers and press associations, and a heavy one. Each year, the army of American 'fans' grows larger and more fastidious in its demands for baseball news, until, like the Old Man of the Sea, the Twentieth Century Old Man of the Diamond has a strangle-hold on the 'sporting desk' of the newspapers."
  • "It is true that baseball reports are circulation builders and that 'the people just will have it,' but it is doubtful if there is a newspaper owner in the country — owner, not sporting editor — who would not gladly be rid of the box-score burden if he could. Certainly the news associations would. Several years ago the Associated Press, whose religion is facts and whose watchword is conciseness, seriously considered eliminating box-scores from its service. Immediately there was a protesting flutter from the pulse of fandom, and the idea was abandoned."
  • "[D]uring the playing season, the Associated Press is carrying over its forty thousand miles of leased wires full box-scores of every game in the National and American Leagues to approximately two hundred and fifty morning papers!"
  • "What other activity of man is as thoroughly reported?"
  • "It takes a good [wire] operator just seven minutes to copy a box-score; hence, with sixteen major league teams playing, this means eight games, or fifty-six minutes of wire time taken up every night during the season with the big-league box-scores alone. On circuits where there are minor league box-scores to be sent, it means double that time, or nearly two hours. On 'double-header' days multiply this by two."
  • "Now let's go behind the headlines and talk things over with the newspaper owner or managing editor. His3 first desire is to give his readers what they want, at the same time maintaining a decent average with proper regard for news values, in order that his paper may not be top-heavy in one thing or shy in another. How many editors have held to this idea? Very few. The baseball mania has upset all standards of newspaper proportion. Nothing in the history of newspapers, or in the history of the world for that matter, has so caught the public fancy as to call forth special editions daily devoted to one thing exclusively. But the afternoon baseball extra now runs through three editions up to the 'Final,' and, deprived of it, the 'fan' would howl like a man who had lost his leg."
  • "Where will it end? 'Fans' are being born faster than P.T. Barnum's proverbial suckers, and each succeeding season finds them more familiar with the game, and demanding more and better news of it. Any old account of an ordinary news event, such as the Balkan War or the assassination of a Mexican President, will do; but baseball, goodness me! we want that written by an expert. We want his4 picture at the head of his column, embellished, if possible, with a facsimile of his signature."
  • "All this costs the newspapers money. Special baseball writers receive big salaries."
  • "Why is baseball so popular? We all know the answer — because it's 'on the level' — and against just because it is baseball. ... Baseball you can enjoy free of cost. If you can't afford a seat in the bleachers even twice during the season, you can watch the bulletin-boards, hang over the ticker, and read the newspapers. And between times you can talk about it."

And then there's this unexpected twist ending to Elser's essay...

  • "Not so long ago, several ambitious gentlemen in Kentucky sent to sporting editors and others throughout the country an announcement that they were prepared to lay odds and make book on the major league contests. Did they? The did not. Immediately there were flashed from coast to coast stories of the threatened injection of gambling into the National diversion as forecasting its decay and downfall. The press was universally outraged. Sporting editors ... rose as a man in condemnation of the proposal. ... After a week of excitement in 'fandom,' nothing more was heard from the gentlemen in Kentucky. Publicity had killed the scheme, and baseball remained clean."5

The article in The Outlook concludes with this tagline:
"A second article on baseball will follow. It is written by Mr. H. Addington Bruce, and its subject is, 'What's the Use of Baseball?" 6
By the time Bruce's essay was published, it had been renamed "Baseball and the National Life." You can read it here.

Related posts

1. Frank B. Elser (1885-1935) was a contributor to The New York in the 1930s and penned the play "The Farmer Takes a Wife," which was twice made into movies — in 1935 with Janet Graynor and Henry Fonda and in 1953 with Betty Grable and Dale Robertson.
2. March 2011 and May 2011 posts featured advertisements from a 1905 issue of The Outlook.
3. Sigh.
4. Sigh.
5. Sigh.
6. Coincidentally, I own a reprint of one of Bruce's books, titled Historic Ghosts and Ghost-Hunters.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Discuss: A blurry old snapshot of a foot and shoe

This 5-inch by 3½-inch photograph was printed on Kodak Velox paper. It is stamped "841D" on the back. That's all we know.

  • Why was this snapshot taken?
  • Was it intentional, or a mistake?
  • Why did the photograph survive all these decades?
  • And why did I acquire it?
  • What kind of shoe is that?
  • What color is it?
  • Whose foot is that?
  • What does the shadow tell us about this woman?
  • What does the shadow tell us about the time of day?1
  • The time of year?
  • How can we be sure this photograph was taken on Earth?2
  • Could this photograph be considered an abstract work of art?
  • Discuss.
  • What type of frame would be best for displaying this photo?
  • Wait. Why are you framing this photo?
  • Seriously.
  • OK. Getting back on point: What size is this shoe?
  • What does the design of the shoe tell us about the cultural mores of that time?
  • Do you think German Expressionism influenced the photographer's angle for this photo?
  • What does it all mean?
  • Is this Papergreat's worst post ever?
  • Seriously.

1. Be sure to show your work for full credit.
2. Sponsored footnote: Maybe it was taken on Mars. By Matt Damon. See The Martian, now playing in theaters everywhere.1

Secondary footnote
1. OK. That footnote wasn't really sponsored. But it could have been, for the right price.1

Tertiary footnote
1. $1.75 is my final offer.

Are your chickens ready for the autumn and winter?

Now that the nights are getting colder, the leaves are changing color, and winter is on the horizon, it's time to check on the chickens' well being.1 (If you have chickens.)

This handsome staplebound volume from 1932 is titled "Hens and Pullets, Care and Management During Fall and Winter." The 24-page guide was published by the Ralston Purina Company of St. Louis.2

One of the things I like about the cover is how much space and freedom the chickens have in their indoor habitat. You don't see that nearly as much in these sad days of factory farms for egg-layers. More than 90 percent of hens in the United States "live" their lives inside battery cages; worldwide, the figure is about 60 percent.

These hens of the 1930s had it great, by comparison, getting to walk and bounce around indoors. I guess it's too bad the farmers of the past were so thoughtfully inefficient.

Here are some tips and tidbits from Ralston Purina back in the day:

  • Big-framed, well-developed pullets will lay larger eggs than poor-developed pullets, so it pays to grow and develop your pullets properly.
  • "Give Layers the Right Kind of Care!"
  • Hens can't do much unless they have a comfortable, warm and dry house to live in. It should be well insulated to protect the birds from sudden drops in temperature.
  • Other factors affect moisture conditions. One is the number of birds to the house. Don't overcrowd them. A standard 20 x 20 house will hold 100 to 125 bird comfortably.
  • Four inches of bright, clean straw makes a very good litter.
  • Provide plenty of roosting space for the birds. Allow 6 to 7 inches of roosting space for light breeds, and 8 to 10 inches for the heavier breeds. The perch poles should be placed from 12 to 15 inches apart. Have the poles running from the rear wall, toward the front, not from side to side in the house. This prevents jostling and crowding and makes it easier for the birds to get on the roosts.
  • Next to water, the cheapest egg-making material is the lime for egg shell. The best source of available lime is oyster shell. A pullet will eat about five cents worth per year.3
  • The best way to prevent disease and control parasites in the laying house is to keep things clean. ... Clean the house thoroughly in the fall just before the pullets are brought in off the range. Burn the droppings or put them on land that is not being used for poultry.

So much common sense! Where did it go? These hens would love to know.

By the way, even as this 1932 booklet was being produced, change was afoot in the United States. According to Wikipedia, Milton Arndt's 1931 book Battery Brooding began to spread the idea of creating more "efficient" ways of containing hens and gathering their eggs.

1. One option is to bring your chicken inside for the winter and read to it by the fireplace each night.
2. Ralston Purina is no more. In 2001, one of those big mergers turned it into Nestlé Purina PetCare.
3. Five cents a year in 1932 is the equivalent of about 86 cents a year, per chicken, today. Still a nice bargain. Back then, of course, the writers of this guide wanted farmers to use Purina Crushed Oyster Shell.