Friday, December 25, 2015

Peace and Goodwill 2015

Peace and goodwill to all
السلام والنوايا الحسنة لجميع
La paz y la buena voluntad para todos
Мира и доброй воли для всех
和平與善意所有
سب کے لئے امن اور خیر سگالی


Raphael Tuck & Sons "Christmas" Series No. C. 5328
"Art Publishers To Their Majesties The King & Queen"
Chromographed in Bavaria
Postmarked at 7 p.m. on December 22, 1912, in Niagara Falls, New York
Mailed to Miss Edna Berger in Foltz, Pennsylvania
"a merry Xmas to all from brother Frank"

Previous postcards to the Bergers

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ruth Manning-Sanders' signature on Christmas Eve 1930


Eight-five years ago today, on Christmas Eve 1950, Ruth Manning-Sanders inscribed a copy of her verse novel Pages from the History of Zachy Trenoy with "To Sheila."

This book came into my collection this year, and I wanted to share the signature with you on this Christmas Eve. It's very similar to her signature from Christmas 1931 that I post previously.

I'll write more about this rare volume in a future post, but, for now, Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"Christmas Greetings" postcard mailed to Palmyra, N.J.


Today's timeworn vintage Christmas postcard features an elaborate border, a starry sky, a peaceful-looking forest church and snow, something that we won't be seeing any time soon here in the Northeastern United States.

The card was mailed about a century ago, but the postmark is only partially legible, and I cannot tell what the year was. It was mailed with the green, one-cent Benjamin Franklin stamp, which was part of the Washington-Franklin Issues that began in 1908.

It was mailed to Miss Anna Olson of Palmyra, New Jersey, in care of G.A. Peterson. The only thing written on the message side of the card is "From Home."

A couple of notable tidbits about Palmyra:
  • It was the northernmost tip of the colony of New Sweden (1638–1655), which stretched along the Delaware River.
  • Baseball Rubbing Mud is taken annually from the the banks of the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, near Palmyra.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Postcard: The helter skelter at Santa's Workshop in Colorado


This postcard, postmarked in 1972, shows off the Santa's Workshop village and children's amusement park, which is located near the base of Pikes Peak, Colorado, and has been in operation since the summer of 1956.

The card was mailed in October 1972 to an address in Baltimore, Maryland, with this note:
Hi Dear,
We made it to the North Pole. Amy & I came down Santa's Giant Slide twice & she rode everything in sight. Santa was a big hit c̅ her too.
1 We took lots of pictures — Amy feeding the reindeer & all — but the day was cold & cloudy so I don't know how they may turn out.
Love
Me & Amy
Didn't even get to see Pikes Peak from clouds
The Santa's Workshop in Colorado was modeled after the Santa's Workshop in North Pole, New York, which has been in operation since 1949.

You can read all about the Colorado attraction on its website. The ride featured in the center of this postcard is still there. The park refers to it as the "Peppermint Slide" on its website, and the 1972 postcard refers to it as "Santa's Giant Slide."

The spiral slide around the outside of a high tower is an uncommon U.S. example of a ride called a "helter skelter" in Britain. The name "helter skelter' dates to about 1905 in the UK and, yes, it inspired the song by the Beatles.

If anyone has been to the Santa's Workshop in Colorado (or in New York), share your thoughts and memories in the comments section.


Footnote
1. Yes, that's exactly what's written on the postcard: "Santa was a big hit c̅ her too." The letter C with the line over it is a shorthand abbreviation for "with" that is most commonly used by doctors when writing prescriptions. So it's possible this postcard writer was a doctor.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Embossed postcard: A hearty Christmas Wish


As we kick off Christmas Week in the soon-to-be-sweltering Northeast, here's a mystery vintage postcard (no date, no publisher indicated) featuring a well-dressed girl pulling a small sled that carries her doll.

She has what looks like a sprig of some evergreen tucked into her hat, which is a festive touch.

Almost everything on this "A hearty Christmas Wish" postcard — girl, sled, borders and text — is embossed. The longer piece of text states:

I wish you a Merry Christmas
Just as grown Folks do and
I wish that all your Christmas
Dream may really come true


The postcard was never stamped or mailed, but there's a short note written on the back, in light pencil. Something about William, a cousin and "he will be taken." The sloppy cursive is too difficult to fully decipher.

The only other clue on the card is the "C-174" in the lower-left corner on the front. Which is not much of a clue.

I did discover a postcard, on CardCow.com, that clearly came from the same series back in the day. That one was used and postmarked in 1915, which sounds about right for this one.

Kindertrauma to the rescue: It was Lon Chaney Jr., with a puppy*

Lon Chaney Jr. in Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)

On October 29, in the midst of Fortnight of Mild Fear, I wrote a post about a pair of hazy movie/TV memories that were lodged permanently in my brain and were driving me batty because I didn't have enough details to identify them.

Here's what I wrote about one of the mysteries:
There's very little to go by on this one. It's the ending of a horror movie from, I'm guessing, the late 1960s or early 1970s (based on my hazy memories of the production values and costumes). The "bad" guy, who is either a Frankenstein's monster type or a hunchback/Igor type, is trying to escape the police via a rooftop. But he is shot and falls to his death. Here's the part that stuck with me, though. He was carrying something bundled up in his clothes. As he lay dead on the ground, a few kittens emerge from his grasp and mew pitifully while walking around on his chest. That's it. That's all I have. I've long hoped that the moment involving the cats is specific enough to help lead me to answer. But, thus far, I've had no luck.
Tom from Garage Sale Finds recommended that I seek help from the brilliant and disturbed Kindertrauma website. I did, and Kindertrauma posted my two queries on November 9. That same day I got an answer to the above mystery.1

Turns out I was remembering 1971's Dracula vs. Frankenstein, a horrific dud of a horror film if ever there was one. I was correct about many of the details, too. And the Igor-like character was played by none other than the iconic Lon Chaney Jr. (1906-1973), in what was, sadly, his final film role.2

My biggest memory error involved the kittens. There were no kittens. It turns out there was only one animal, and it was a puppy — the only friend in the world that Chaney's character (named Groton) had.3

There are more than 40 online reviews of Dracula vs. Frankenstein, according to this index on imdb.com. Here's a representative excerpt from one of them, written by Nate Yapp at classic-horror.com:
"The mad scientist is developing a serum made from the blood of exceptionally traumatized women. His specimens are collected by his hulking, mute manservant Groton (Lon Chaney, Jr.), who clutches a puppy to his chest when he's not wielding an ax. ... His body bloated from years of alcoholism and his voice silenced by the ravages of throat cancer, Chaney is a pathetic figure who lumbers through the movie, desperation etched into the lines of his face. His character, Groton, spends much of the film in a child-like state, so Chaney mugs wildly and pets a puppy, a shadow of his Lenny from [1939's] Of Mice and Men."

Footnotes
*Sorry to plop this down right sugar plum in the middle of the Christmas season, but I've been itching to get this posted.
1. My other query remains open, as far as I'm concerned. Regarding my memories of a short tale of evil spirits and a burning inn, someone has suggested that I'm remembering an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. But I don't think that's right. The mystery lives on.
2. According to Wikipedia, Chaney Jr., who portrayed Larry Talbot/The Wolf Man in so many memorable Universal movies, died of heart failure at age 67 on July 12, 1973 in San Clemente, California. His body was donated for medical research and was dissected by medical students. The medical school kept his liver and lungs in jars as specimens of what extreme alcohol and tobacco abuse can do to human organs. There is no grave to mark his final resting place.
3. I might need a tissue now.