Saturday, February 6, 2016

Glow Spokes will make your bicycle totally rad!

This half-page advertisement is from the November/December 1973 issue of DC Comics' short-lived "Sword of Sorcery."1 The fine print states:
HEY KIDS!! Spark up your bike! Be the first on your block with Glow Spokes!

"Glow Spokes" snap on to the wheels in seconds — no tools needed — and what a sparkling effect! Standing still or riding around, you flash a dazzling display of color that makes your bike stand out from all the rest. Brightly colored by day, "Glow Spokes" make you safer and more visible by night.

Money back guarantee if you are not delighted.

One dollar was no small investment 43 years ago, especially when all it bought you was a few strands of colorful plastic. It would be the equivalent of more than $5 today. For bits of plastic that will probably just end up in the Great Pacific Gyre. But, hey, it made you safer at night, so maybe it was a good investment.

The Jart In My Head blog (author: Chris Jart), which ran for nearly 150 posts from 2005 to 2007 and will hopefully be archived for posterity, had the following snark for Glow Spokes:
"We didn't need no stinkin' glow spokes. We attached playing cards to our back wheels with clothes pins so they'd sound like a motorcycle...well, to a kid it sounds that way. The ad shows a teenage boy with Glow Spokes on his wheels and talks about their 'dazzling display of color.' But I'd be willing to bet that any boy who put these on his bike would be taunted so unmercifully that the things would be in the trash by the end of the day."
Yep. We used playing cards or, even better, common Topps cards featuring stinkin' New York Mets. Anything to make our bikes cooler as we sped home to watch Battle of the Planets.

Related posts (Comic Books Division)

1. "Sword of Sorcery" featured tales of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, a pair of iconic fantasy heroes who almost certainly never used Glow Spokes.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Linen postcard: Parachute jump at Steeplechase Park, Coney Island

This colorful old postcard shows the iconic Parachute Jump at Coney Island's Steeplechase Park. Though the ride ceased operations more than a half-century ago, the structure remains in place today, the only remnant of Steeplechase still standing.

Steeplechase, which was in operation from 1897 to 1964, was Coney Island's longest-lasting amusement park. The Parachute Jump made its debut at the 1939 New York World's Fair.1 Afterward, it was purchased by the park owners2 and moved to its current location to become a Steeplechase attraction starting in 1941. It ceased operations in 1964, when the park closed.3

Here is a description of the ride from the World's Fair guidebook:
"Eleven gaily-colored parachutes operated from the top of a 250-foot tower, enable visitors to experience all the thrills of 'bailing out' without the hazard or discomfort. Each parachute has a double seat suspended from it. When two passengers have taken their places beneath the 'chute, a cable pulls it to the summit of the tower. An automatic release starts the drop, and the passengers float gently to the ground. Vertical guide wires prevent swaying, a metal ring keeps the 'chute open at all times, and shock-absorbers eliminate the impact of the landing. One of the most spectacular features of the Amusement Area, this is also a type of parachute jump similar to that which the armies of the world use in early stages of training for actual parachute jumping."
Here are some additional links and memories of the park and Parachute Jump:

And then there's this video, titled "Climbing the Parachute Jump," which is, terrifyingly, precisely what you would think:

But wait, there's more!
Now on to the back of this postcard. It was mailed with a one-cent stamp, postmarked on June 17, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York, and cancelled with a "BUY WAR SAVINGS BONDS and STAMPS" stamp. It was mailed to a Mrs. A.B. Banker in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

The message, written in pencil in what looks like a child's cursive writing, states:
Dear Gram,
I am having a fine time. I am having alot of fun with Judy. She wants to come home with me. Anna said to tell you she will be expecting you for dinner at about 5 o'clock. Come before if you can. Read mothers card and let her read this. I found your gift but I will not open it until June 18th. Love, Terry.

1. Previous Papergreat posts about the 1939 New York World's Fair:
2. It was purchased for a whopping $150,000, the equivalent of about $2.5 million today.
3. The closing date of the Parachute Jump was a point of contention, but Wikipedia seems to have gotten it straightened out.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

1907 postcard: "How is Maud and the cat since?"

This well-worn postcard was sent to Mr. Percy C. Miller of Hellam, Pennsylvania, nearly 109 years ago. It's a view of York, Pennsylvania, from Reservoir Park.1

The note, written across the front of the card, states:
"April, 24, 1907; Dear Brother How did you get home, and what time was it. How is Maud and the cat since? Did you see anything of Nellie? Answer soon. Your Brother Oliver."
Well, we'll certainly never know what that business involving Percy and Oliver was all about.

1. According to the online History of The York Water Company, Reservoir Park was opened in 1903. Bounded by Grantley Road and Country Club Road, it was "made available to the public as 'a public breathing spot' to relieve the stress and strain of modern life."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Water-stained work of art III:
Mt. Washington Club, Maryland

The first two installments in the infrequent Water-stained Works of Art series featured the Hudson & Manhattan Subway Terminal and Princes Point on Orr's Island.1

This undated and damaged postcard is labeled "MT. WASHINGTON CLUB MD." On the reverse side, in the spot typically used for the publisher on vintage cards, is "H.R. Gwynn, 617 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md." The card was postmarked in 1909.

It appears that this crowd is watching a sporting event, and therefore my best guess it's a photograph of a lacrosse contest at the Mount Washington Athletic Club. The club traces its origins to 1876, according to its website and was officially founded and played its first game around 1904.2 The club has focused exclusively on lacrosse since 1906, and is one of the most successful organizations in the sport's history.

The fact that the photo shows a couple of young fans wearing Native American headdresses seems to add support to the idea that they're watching a lacrosse match. According to Wikipedia: "Lacrosse has its origins in a tribal game played by eastern Woodlands Native Americans and by some Plains Indians tribes in what is now Canada. The game was extensively modified by European immigrants to North America to create its current collegiate and professional form."

This card was mailed to Miss Georgia B. Klinefelter3 in York and was postmarked on December 4, 1909.

The message states:
Dear Cousin,
Mama received your letter this am [a.m.] and I will look your you Monday. Do you recognize our summer residence?
Tom Bee.

"Tom Bee" might well be Baltimore Sun cartoonist Thomas Pollard Barclay. Here's an excerpt from a piece titled "A century of Sun cartooning":
"The Sun's first political cartoonist was McKee Barclay, a Louisville, Ky., native whose editorial cartoons and caricatures began appearing in the paper in 1908. His work appeared on the front of the newspaper's second section, which would be the equivalent of today's Maryland section.

"His younger brother, Thomas Pollard Barclay, whose signed his cartoons 'Tom Bee,' began working for the newspaper the same day. The brothers' work alternated in the same space while McKee contributed a series of illustrated articles titled 'Thumbnail Sketches' to The Evening Sun, which had been founded in 1910.

"Tom Barclay died during World War I, and McKee left The Sun in 1920 to work in advertising. He died in 1947."
And here's a short biography of "Tom Bee," also from The Baltimore Sun.

1. Reprints of the Princes Point on Orr's Island postcard are available on Redbubble, if you're interested.
2. In addition to the club website, I used this Wikipedia page as a source.
3. This is at least the seventh Georgia Klinefelter card featured on Papergreat. I most recently documented her postcards in November 2014.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Great stuff to read and unrelated historic illustrations of UFOs

1561, celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg (Wikipedia entry)

OK, the Northeast blizzard is now (literally) water under the bridge. But someday there will be another blizzard. And you'll need things to read. So here's my latest roundup of about two dozen links to articles, essays and journalism you might find interesting. Bookmark them for an emergency! Print them out and stash them in your drawers! (Final note: Not all of these are from the past two months. But a great read is still a great read.)

Books & reading and writing


1783, luminous UFO seen from Windsor Castle (UFO Evidence website)

Current affairs

Arts & culinary

A great read that will make you cry

1803, Utsuro-bune ("Hollow Ship") on the eastern coast of Japan (Wikipedia entry)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Vintage advertising card: Dr. A.C. Hoxsie's Certain Croup Cure

This Victorian trade card, which measures 3⅛ inches by 5⅜ inches, touts Dr. A.C. Hoxsie's Certain Croup Cure. I'm sure the Cure was anything but Certain, but Dr. Hoxsie was bold and firm with this product's pitch. According to the back of the card, it "strikes at the root of the disease" and thus "Croup Ceases to be a Terror."

Doubling down, the advertising text claims:

  • It is positive, swift and sure to save life.
  • There is no remedy known that acts with such certain results.

And, importantly, the product claims to contain no opium.

The card suggests that if you took Hoxsie's Certain Croup Cure, you would then be healthy enough to go gallivanting across streams with a cat in tow. (Ruby red slippers not included.) However, it was almost certainly quackery. You could even call it in-your-face quackery, because it doesn't take a great leap to get from Hoxsie to Hoax.

We can't make too much fun of these circa 1900 "medicines", though. Our current era of U.S. government-protected homeopathic supplements and remedies and popular products like Airborne and Zicam will likely have future historians chuckling just as much as we chuckle at Dr. Hoxsie.

Related posts