Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy birthday to Master Robert Jones of York, Pennsylvania

This ornate postcard was mailed to Master Robert Jones of 433 South Duke Street in York, Pennsylvania. It was postmarked on September 5, 1922 — nearly 94 years ago. The message on the back, in flowery cursive, states: "May you live too [sic] enjoy many more happy Birthdays. From Mrs. Shaffer Supt. of Cradle Roll."

Cradle rolls are lists of the babies and toddlers of a church's members and have often been used for precisely this purpose — to send out birthday greetings.

While it was mailed in 1922, the postcard itself is copyright 1913 by artist C.M. Burd. That's Clara Miller Burd, who lived from 1873 to 1933. More of her work can be found at, Pinterest and this website by Denise Ortakales.

Here's the full text from the front of the postcard, which was published by The Westminster Press of Philadelphia:

"First Birthday
Member of
The Cradle Roll

Dear little burden,
light and warm,
So soft against
my shoulder curled;
Strange, I should bear upon one arm
The weight — in love —
of all the world!"

The verse portion of that is attributed to Nancy Byrd Turner.

The Moorestown Mall and its questionable Monkey Cage

Here's a postcard, probably from the late 1960s, showing the Monkey Cage at the Moorestown Mall in Moorestown, New Jersey.1 A group of shoppers is staring intently at the monkeys, while another group of shoppers is contemplating the existential pros and cons of entering Florsheim Shoes. The text on the back of this unused postcard states:
"Always a pleasurable point for a moment of leisure2 is the Monkey Cage where a number of amusing monkeys are in residence to provide continuous entertainment for young and old alike."
The Moorestown Mall, which opened in 1963, is still in existence, having survived, so far, our country's ongoing Mall-pocalypse.

The monkeys are, of course, long gone. We're no longer quite that horrible as a society in our treatment of wild animals.

Here are some (lightly edited) tidbits I found about the Monkey Cage:
  • John on Flickr: "This Monkey Cage was located in the central court at Moorestown Mall until the early 1970s."
  • Malls of America website commenters: "They were Gibbon apes. I worked @ Flagg Bros.from 1968-1972." ... "We used to go to the Moorestown and Cherry Hill malls all the time when I was a kid. One time the monkeys (actually, I believe they were gibbons) escaped from the cage, and some people were bitten. I think the monkey cage was taken out after that incident."3 ... "My father and I used to go to the Harvest House to eat and see the monkeys."

For more on the topic of American Mall Monkey Cages, check out this 2005 Malls of America post.

Finally, in case you're scoring at home, this postcard was published and distributed by WYCO Products of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.

1. Moorestown has been home to many Philadelphia pro athletes over the years, including Bobby Clarke, Jevon Kearse, Tim Kerr, Donovan McNabb, Freddie "4th and 26" Mitchell, Terrell Owens, Jeremy Roenick, Ulf Samuelsson and Jon Runyan.
2. But only a MOMENT of leisure. It is your duty as a American to get back to shopping.
3. I tried and failed to find additional confirmation of the monkeys-escaping-and-biting-people incident. Anyone know anything?

Old postcard: "The Mysterious Hanging Boulder" in Polar Caves

Continuing with the (Very) Modest Postcard Marathon, here's an unused black-and-white postcard for which the credit on the reverse side is "Atkinson — PHOTO REPROS — Laconia, N.H."1 The text on the front of the card states: "The Mysterious Hanging Boulder, Polar Caves, Near Plymouth, N.H."

The Polar Caves, officially located in Rumney, New Hampshire, about a half-dozen miles northwest of Plymouth, are still a big attraction. They're closed for the season at the moment. But, according to the website, Polar Caves Park will have its 2016 opening on May 7. Admission will be $13.50 for kids and $17.50 for those age 13 and up. According to the website:
"The Polar Caves were formed about 50,000 years ago as the third continental glacier descended over New Hampshire’s White Mountains. When the ice retreated, it left behind an amazing series of caves and passageways to explore! A self-guided tour through Polar Caves will take you to the rock garden, on the nature trails and through the nine caves in the park."
You can read a good description of what Polar Caves Park has to offer in this 2011 article by Christine Randall of "The Mysterious Hanging Boulder" is still there and still hanging. Randall writes:
"[T]he 'Mysterious Hanging Boulder,' an 80-ton boulder which rests on three contact points in the back. If you stand under it, about 75% of the boulder’s weight is over your head. It’s not a place that many people linger!"
Here are links to a couple current pictures of the boulder: #1 and #2.

1. Actor Claude Rains died in Laconia in 1967, at age 77.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Old postcard: Moonlit Montreux, Switzerland

To cap off the day, here is an unused postcard showing a beautiful full moon over Montreux, Switzerland, which is located on Lake Geneva, at the foot of the Alps. The area's history as a human settlement dates to at least a few hundred years BC. Montreux's beauty has drawn many creative figures, including David Bowie, Noël Coward, Zelda Fitzgerald, Freddie Mercury, Igor Stravinsky and Shania Twain, to its shores over the years.

The caption on the back of the postcard, written in French, states "Montreux au clair de lune," which is pretty straightforward — Montreux in the moonlight or Montreux by moonlight.

The tiny logo on the back of the card, shown magnified at right, appears to be for a publisher called "B & Co." The additional information printed on the back is: "Nr. 351 G. Anderegg, édit., Chillon." Any additional information on this publisher would be appreciated.

This postcard is too cool to go back into a box, unused. If you'd like me to mail it to you, be the first to drop me a line at chrisottopa (at)

Previous posts featuring moonlit skies

Wonderful sentiment on a vintage postcard (probably showing Italy)

On the heels of this morning's post, here's another vintage pastoral image, which appears on an undated, unused postcard1. I'm guessing that this is one of the mountainous regions of Italy, given that the text on the front of the postcard is in Italian. That text states:
"Oh, qui nel forte e libero amor della natura dolce, i meschini affanni dell'animo obliar."
Taking a few liberties with the translation, I believe the English-language version would be something like:
"Oh, here in strong and free love of gentle nature, the petty worries of the soul are surrendered."
I think that's a sentiment that we can all agree upon, especially now that Spring is starting to spring in the North Hemisphere.2 Plus, here in the eastern United States, it's now 4 p.m. on Friday, which means the work week is just about over for many people.3

Perhaps this postcard inspires you to grab your favorite book (or comic book), put some Brian Eno ambient music on your iPod, and find a nice sunny hill to relax upon. Or something like that. Either way, what are you still doing on the Internet? Go enjoy your extra daylight, Americans, now that your bodies have finally adjusted to DST.

1. The name printed on the front is G. Bertacchi. I'm assuming that's either the photographer or the publisher. The only thing printed on the back is "No. 477-31".
2. Never mind that the forecast is calling for 2-to-4 inches of snow here in southcentral Pennsylvania on Sunday.
3. Never mind that, for many, work and productivity ceased when the the March Madness men's basketball tournament tipped off at noon yesterday. We're an easily distracted nation.

Postcard mailed in 1934: Tropical Country Scene in Barbados

Welcome to a Modest Postcard Marathon I'm going to have over the 48 hours or so, as I try to get back on track with my 2016 posting goals...

First up is this pastoral postcard, a "Tropical Country Scene," from Barbados1, back when it was part of the British Windward Islands (1833-1960). In addition to the grazing animals, note the windmill (which appears slightly dilapidated) and the tower or silo that is now half-covered with vines.

It looks like a great place to just find a spot in the sunshine and read a book, or stare at the clouds. I wonder if any of those structures are still there.

This card was postmarked on February 22, 1934,2 with a stamp that also states "BARBADOS ALL-YEAR SUNSHINE." It was mailed to someone living on East King Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The card was published by Knight's Ltd., Barbados.

The message states:
Feb 22nd
Nell [?] and I are enjoying the cruise immensely — These islands are fascinating and a day is all to [sic] short to see their beauties — Hope you are feeling fine.

1. Coincidentally, Sarah and I just finished watching the Season 9 finale of Friends, ""The One in Barbados," which was clearly not filmed in Barbados.
2. Also on that date, It Happened One Night, with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, was released in theaters.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Taking a train trip from Paoli
to San Francisco in 1962

Shown above are the front and back (cropped) of the Pennsylvania Railroad envelope that held my great-grandmother Greta's 1962 "Pennsyliner" train ticket from Paoli, Pennsylvania, to San Francisco, California.

The trip went like this:

The ticket does not indicate what date she arrived in San Francisco. We do know that the total cost of the cross-country train trip, tax included, was $153.87. That would be the equivalent of about $1,218 today.

This was the very beginning of Greta's around-the-world trip in 1962. She didn't want to fly and thus wanted to do the entire trip by trains, boats and cars with hired drivers. She needed to get to the West Coast so that she could board a boat to take her across the Pacific Ocean.

However, upon arriving, she discovered that there was a stevedore (dockworker) strike in San Francisco, and no boats were going anywhere. She called my great-grandfather and asked him what she should do. He told her to either turn around and take the train home or catch a flight to Hawaii (and then Japan).

She chose to fly and continue her round-the-world trip. Turns out, she loved air travel. Which helps when you want to circle the world.

1. Meanwhile, on that same date, the U.S. government was mulling Operation Northwoods, a proposed false-flag operation to commit acts of terrorism against America and blame Cuba, thus "justifying" a war.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

1954 Avon paperback: "Out of This World to Forbidden Tibet"

  • Title: Out of This World to Forbidden Tibet1
  • Author: Lowell Thomas, Jr. (1923-present)
  • Publisher: Avon (Illustrated Giant, G1010)
  • Year: 1954
  • Pages: 303
  • Cover price: 50 cents
  • Back-cover blurb: "Here is your invitation to high adventure. Over 145,000 copies were sold at $3.95 in the original hard-bound edition. It is Lowell Thomas Jr.'s exciting story, in words and pictures, of the dangerous journey he and his famous father2 made over the towering Asiatic peaks of the Himalayas, and into an amazing real-life Shangri-La — the Forbidden Land of Tibet."
  • Dedication: "To his holiness the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet who '...are earnestly praying that God will grant happiness and everlasting peace to all humanity.'"
  • About This Book blurb: In a preface, Lowell Thomas, Jr., writes: "Out of This World is the story of the trek my father and I made to the Dalai Lama's throne at Lhasa. This journey came as a climax to my father's life time of adventure. For me, it was probably the greatest travel adventure I will ever have, unless, some day, it will be possible to journey by space ship to another planet. As for returning, that is out of the question for the foreseeable future, now that Tibet has been swallowed up by Communist China."
  • Beginning of Chapter 1: "'THE MIRACLE HAS HAPPENED. MEET ME IN CALCUTTA. WE ARE ON OUR WAY TO LHASA.' With this breath-taking wireless, my father greeted me in Teheran on July 14, 1949, upon my return from a week's expedition among the Bakhtiari tribesmen of Eastern Iran with United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas."3
  • Appendix, When you go to Tibet: Here are some of the items that the author recommends that you take if you are going to travel to Tibet: Sleeping bags, folding cots, air mattresses, tent, gas lanterns, radio, flashlights, saddles, toilet paper, powdered milk, cheese, bacon, Scotch whiskey and Jamaican rum4, cigars, Kleenex, books to give as gifts, "a complete kitchen," rubber boots, sunglasses, warm socks, a complete medical kit, a variety of laxatives, and 16mm films of Tarzan or the Marx Brothers, for the Dalai Lama to watch. That's just a very small portion of the list, which runs for five pages at the end of the book.

Here is the map that's featured on the inside front and inside back covers...

1. Alternate titles to various hardcover and paperback editions include Out of This World: Across the Himalayas to Forbidden Tibet and Out of This World: To Forbidden Tibet
2. Lowell Thomas (1892-1981)
3. Generally speaking, U.S. Supreme Court justices no longer vacation in Iran.
4. For the Tibetan nobles.