Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cool stuff in the mailbox this week from Postcrossing

Here are a couple of dandy postcards that arrived this week from fellow Postcrossing users...

This postcard, from Zih-Ting (Julie) in Taiwan, features a small portion of the historic panoramic painting "Along the River During the Qingming Festival."

Zih-Ting doesn't specify whether this is the Song dynasty original by Zhang Zeduan or the remake by five Qing dynasty court painters in the early 1700s. Both are considered national treasures and are housed in palace museums.

Here's a detail from the postcard, which itself is just a detail of the sprawling painting. The original by Zhang Zeduan is 207 inches wide and features 814 humans, 28 boats, 60 animals, 30 buildings, 20 vehicles, 170 trees and a meandering river.

The second postcard, from Olga, features the ruins of Novogrudok castle in Belarus.1

The colorful reverse side of the postcard includes doodles, stickers and the exclamation "Spring."2

Here's a closer look at the 2015 Belarusian stamp.

1. Novogrudok is Olga's English spelling for Навагрудак. Other spellings include Navahrudak, Navaredok and Novhardok.
2. Which, to me, means it's time to starting mowing.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Great links: Garage Sale Finds

I've mentioned Garage Sale Finds — — in passing before, but today I want to give a very deliberate shout-out to this great blog by Tom from Missouri. (We ephemera bloggers have to stick together!)

Over the course of nearly 700 in-depth posts since 2010, he's written about the magazines (with a special affection for vintage TV Guides), action figures, Polaroids, postcards, toys, holiday decorations, mystery items, and so much more that he's picked up at yard, estate and garage sales over the years. I spend a lot of time diving into his wonderful rabbit hole of a blog.

Tom is truly living the dream, and we all get to share in the fun with the items and memories he's preserving digitally.

Last week, he piqued my interest with a post about a 1960s/1970s snack food that I had never heard of — Dippy Canoes from Quaker Oats.1 The corn chips were most notable, in my mind, for their now-unthinkable use of the clichéd image of a Native American to sell the product.

In his photo-filled post from last Friday, Tom writes about the can of Dippy Canoes that he discovered at an estate sale. If you're like me2, it will leave you wanting to learn more about all the crazy snack foods of that time period.3

Here are some other Garage Sale Finds posts that you might dig:

1. Dippy Canoes were once part of Quaker's short-lived and rarely mentioned Nibble Division. I love these little historical tidbits that Tom digs up.
2. And heaven help you, if you are.
3. I think this is a field of "social archaeology" in which the passage of time definitely helps. We might not be all that intrigued today by Starburst GummiBurst, Red Velvet Oreos, Hostess Chocolate Pudding Pies, or Salt & Seaweed Pringles, but give it 40 years and let's see what the bloggers of 2056 have to say.

Happy 16th birthday to Ashar!

Here in my little corner of the space-time continuum on Earth Zero, my groovy son Ashar turns 16 years old today.1 These days, his favorite things include Batman & the Joker, Lionel Messi, penguins, James Bond, zombies, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. We like to brainstorm and write fantasy and apocalyptic fiction; he is pen-pals with a teenage friend in Taiwan (thanks to Postcrossing); and we're in the final stretch (four episodes to go) of watching Friends, which we've done several nights per week since around Labor Day.

You can read about his further adventures, which include goats, on the latest Unschool Rules blog post by Joan.

Recently, I was ruminating about how "our online history is disappearing at an astonishing rate" and had the first post in a segment titled Lost Corners of the Internet. It turns out that Ashar created his own Lost Corner 3¾ years ago, and it's a Corner that deserves to be preserved!2

Ashar's Lost Corner involves (drum roll) ephemera! Taking after his father, he wrote a single entry in a blog titled Papergreat Junior.3

Here's a snapshot of the page...

And here's a closer look...

And here's the full text of that single post, for the archival record...
Papergreat Junior's First Post
I found this cool kind of gum called Glee Gum at Harpers Ferry. "Glee Gum is all natural chewing gum made with sustainably harvested rainforest chicle. It comes in 8 great flavors: cinnamon, peppermint, tangerine, bubblegum, spearmint, triple berry, sugar-free lemon-lime and sugar-free refresh-mint. Glee Gum is the #1 healthy alternative to synthetic chewing gum and bubble gum! No artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners (no aspartame). Chew with Glee, naturally!". This is from the Glee Gum Website, where you can go to read more. I went to the store with my mom and dad today and got two more packs of Glee Gum and the flavors I got were Bubble Gum and Peppermint. The Glee Gum company was founded in 1988. I really like the taste of Glee Gum.

Foot notes: I am doing this new blog Papergreat Junior because my dad has a blog called Papergreat, If you like this post then go to Papergreat to read more awesome posts.

Papergreat Junior was one of two single-post blogs (SPBs) by Ashar. His other one is at Dragons Are Awesome

Happy birthday, Ashar! I can't wait to see what you create next!

1. Fun coincidence: Ashar turns 16 on the day that the Sweet 16 portion of the NCAA men's basketball tournament gets underway. I did not fill out a bracket this year. If pressed, I could possibly name 10 of the Sweet 16 teams.
2. Because I'm his father, and I say so.
3. Ashar's other works include writing a Papergreat guest post in March 2012 and being the co-author of A Joint Archaeological Survey Concerning Old Artifacts in the Borough of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, on June 16, 2010, with Photographs and Annotations.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Comics nostalgia: 1978 Slim Jim advertisement with werewolf

Long before pro wrestlers "Macho Man" Randy Savage (1952-2011) and The Ultimate Warrior1 (1959-2014) were hawking Slim Jim meat sticks, the product, which dates to 1928, was being promoted with the help of a cartoon werewolf in 1970s comics books.

This "satisfy your meat tooth" ad comes from a 1978 issue of Marvel Comic's What If...? series. Upon seeing it again, decades later, I remember it as being fairly ubiquitous during that era. And I'm still wondering why the full moon is sticking out its tongue.

The advertising copy states "one bite will have you absolutely howling with delight" and touts the different Slim Jim flavors that were available, including mild, spicy, pizza, bacon, salami and pepperoni. I'm not sure if all those flavors are still available today, but I do know that the "meat stick" and beef jerky industries remain as strong as ever, even though I, as a pescatarian for nearly three years, am no longer contributing to their bottom lines.

Other meaty Papergreat posts

1. Speaking of The Ultimate Warrior, I stumbled upon the strangest video recently: The Ultimate Warrior in a pro wrestling bout against ... Phil Collins. Watch, if you dare.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Thank-you postcard to Taiwan with $1.20¼ of colorful postage

I hope this postcard makes it to Taiwan.

Last week, I received a very nice Postcrossing card from a young person in Taiwan who loves to collect stamps. To thank her, I am mailing her a postcard on which the back is nearly filled with small-denomination stamps from the 20th century. I use multiple stamps all the time on postcards, but this one takes the cake. So I hope it makes it through.

And, yes, it comes to $1.20¼ (international postage is $1.20 for now) because I capped it off with a 1¼¢ stamp featuring the Palace of the Governors1 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The turquoise stamp was issued on June 17, 1960. (First-class postage was 5¢ at the time, so you could mail a letter with four of these stamps.)

1. Built in 1610, the Palace of the Governors is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States. I learn something new every day! (It's the remembering that's the problem.)

1907 postcard: Stark Spring in Manchester, New Hampshire

Here's one more vintage postcard that I couldn't quite squeeze into the weekend's utterly arbitrary Modest Postcard Marathon.

It's an attractive, hand-colored card that was mailed by "Clara" back in October of 1907. The label on the front simply states: "Stark Spring, Manchester, N.H." My best guess is that this is Stark Park, which was established in the 1890s in honor of American Revolutionary War hero John Stark (1728-1822). It was Stark who gave New Hampshire its famous motto, with his full quotation being "Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils."

Stark Park was, according to Wikipedia, "originally designed as a typical Victorian-era park, with winding lanes, and a mix of woodlands, lawns, and gardens." That certainly seems to be reflected by this postcard, which shows a woodsy, pastoral setting.

Here's a closer look at the young girl, sitting at what appears to be a well.

There is no message on the card, other than the name Clara on the front. It was mailed to Miss Addie Allison in South Danville, New Hampshire.

It was mailed with this one-cent Capt. John Smith stamp, the second one I've come across. These Smith stamps are, according to Hobbizine, worth $40 in mint condition and $4 used (assuming good, well-centered condition).

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Postcard of Harrisburg (with a minor mystery) mailed in 1922

This old postcard, which is a bit rough in spots, features the "Masonic Temple and West State Street from Capitol steps, Harrisburg, Pa." It would be fun to do a compare-and-contrast with a modern photograph, but I can't find any current images taken from a similar perspective. (Help is always gladly accepted.)

A modern photograph would not show the Dauphin County Veteran's Memorial Obelisk, the 110-foot tribute to Union Civil War soldiers that can be seen in the distance at the center of this postcard. In 1960, it was moved from its original location to Third and Division streets, in uptown Harrisburg.

As for the back of the card, it was postmarked on August 23, 1922, in Harrisburg, and mailed to Miss Alice Parsons in Cliftondale, Massaschusetts (a neighborhood within the town of Saugus.)

I can decipher most of the message. It states:

How is Winfield? Don't get married before I get back. I want to attend the wedding. Wish I was in [?] at the beach.

I can't decipher the location where Reg (or is it Peg?) wishes he/she was. Here's a look at it...


Modern postcard: The great stairway in Odessa, Ukraine

This late-Soviet-era postcard was published in 1989, which is pretty "modern" compared to most of the stuff here on Papergreat.

It highlights the great stairway — originally 200 steps when first constructed between 1837 and 1841 but now 192 steps — that leads from the steppe down to the Black Sea in the port city of Odessa, Ukraine.

There have been many names for the stairway, including:

  • Potemkin Stairs (perhaps the most common name)
  • Odessa Steps
  • Boulevard Steps
  • Giant Staircase
  • Richelieu Steps (named for Odessa's first mayor)
  • Primorsky Stairs

I think of them most often as the Odessa Steps, because of their place in cinema history. It is here that Sergei Eisenstein filmed the iconic "Odessa Steps" sequence of his 1925 film Battleship Potemkin. The scene, shown below, features troops from the Imperial Russian Army firing upon unarmed civilians to quell an uprising.

(A longer version of this clip, with about three minutes of setup before the massacre, can be seen here.)

The Odessa Steps sequence, even though it never happened in real life, is important both as a centerpiece of the film's role as revolutionary propaganda and because of its place in the evolution of Soviet montage theory, an approach to film editing that helped to create the "language" of cinema that we understand today.1

But I'm not going to go off on a tangent about film theory. I just want to note that my introduction to movie history and the Odessa Steps sequence came as a student at Penn State, circa 1990. Some of the films we watched in William Uricchio's class, in addition to Battleship Potemkin, included Kiss Me Deadly, Gates of Heaven, Stroszek and The Great Train Robbery (that's just a small sampling, off the top of my head).

1. For more, you could start with Roger Ebert's commentary on Battleship Potemkin.