Friday, June 3, 2016

Postcard: Mixing Christmas thanks and an oil fire in Warren County, Pa.

We must thank the Berger family from the now-vanished locale of Foltz, Pennsylvania, for saving their postcards. Previously on Papergreat, we've had:

This time, we have a postcard mailed to a different member of the Berger clan — Miss Rhoda Berger. No year is indicated, but the card was postmarked on December 31 in Warren, Pennsylvania.

The note, in neat cursive, states:
Dear Rhoda, Thank you many times for the pretty remembrance at Christmas time. will write you soon, Anna

Paul has started a letter to you this evening but I fear he will not finish it.
This is certainly an odd postcard for a Christmas thank-you note. The photo was copyrighted in 1907 by N.K. Wendelboe of Warren and produced in Germany. (N.K. Wendelboe was a longtime department/hardware story in Warren.)

The featured imagine is the "5,000 barrel Tiona Oil Tank, on fire." Tiona is an unincorporated community located along Route 6 in Warren County, about 9 miles south of Warren.

There was a Tiona Oil Company in Clarendon — located about halfway between Warren and Tiona. I couldn't find any information about a circa-1907 oil fire there, but they had a hell of blaze in 1919. The following article is from a March 1919 issue of the trade journal Fire and Water Engineering:
Lack of Fire Wall Causes Loss of Oil Refinery
The largest fire in the history of the county is said to be that which recently destroyed the Tiona oil refinery, Clarendon, Pa., owned by the Union Petroleum Company, of Philadelphia. When a still exploded at 3 o'clock a.m., lack of a fire wall below it permitted the buring oil to run down into the barrel house where twenty-three pumps and other valuable machinery to be used in the contemplated $500,000 addition to the refinery were stored. From the barrel house it spread until filter, pump and boiler houses and twenty-four tanks filled with oil in various processes of refining were destroyed. The burning of the pump house prevented pumping oil out of the tanks and 4,000 barrels of Pennsylvania oil worth $4 each went up in smoke. Two employees were burned slightly while fighting the flames. The refinery occupied a block in the western part of the town and was of lumber construction, two stories high, and was 20 years old. When the firemen arrived, Chief C.L. McNett was in command, the entire plant was involved and as there was only one 4-inch double hydrant available and the department had no apparatus to work with, the destruction of the planet was inevitable. The loss, principally in oil was estimated at $500,000.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

What ever happened to the Forest Inn Motor Court in N.C.?

This old postcard features the Forest Inn Motor Court — "Your Home For To-night" — located on U.S. 301, four miles south of Wilson, North Carolina (home of the Wilson Tobs baseball team).

The motor court is described with the following printed text on the back:
"Attractive, Neat Units, Simmons furniture, the latest and best. Each room private bath, with shower and tub. Panel Ray Heat. Cooled by Air King. Mr. and Mrs. P. Speyser, Owners and Operators. On U.S. 301 — 4 miles South of Wilson, N.C. P.O. Box 69. Tele. Lucama 339."
The Silvercraft postcard, made by Dexter Press and published by Raines & Cox, was never mailed. However, someone wrote the following travel notes in pencil on the back: "Mar 1, 1953. $3.50 night. 4:45 time. 350 miles a day."

It's not clear whether the $3.50 refers to the cost of a room for one night at the Forest Inn Motor Court. I guess it's possible. That price in 1953 is the equivalent of about $31 today, adjusting for inflation. Cheap lodging.

When I went to do my research on the history and current status of this motel, I discovered that someone had already done the work for me! Dean Jeffrey, posting on his Dean-O-Matic blog, wrote about the Forest Inn Motor Court in the summer of 2011. He used the same vintage postcard as his jumping-off point, too. The blog post has photographs of the motel's big sign in 2002, 2010 and 2011. Here's Jeffrey's 2011 shot (used with permission), side-by-side with the how it looked in the postcard.

The sign has been put out of its misery, according to Jeffrey, who wrote this week that it was "dug up and removed about a year or so ago."

As a final note, Jeffrey, in his research, found a December 1985 Associated Press article in The News-Times of Hendersonville, North Carolina, that discusses the history of the Forest Inn Motor Court. The headline says it all: "Former brothel undergoes a drastic change of heart, Word of God Tabernacle now calls it home." The article includes this amusing anecdote about the jarring conversion that took place in the 1980s:
While the inn has undergone a facelift, apparently not everyone knows it.

One day last summer, West looked out of the window of his cabinet shop office as the preacher, one or two deacons and several women worked in the church yard. He also noticed an elderly man in an expensive new car drive by the motel several times.

"He rode by 20 or 25 times before he got the nerve to stop," he said.

The man asked the preacher if the place was open and if he could go in. Thinking he wanted to pray, the preacher gestured toward the open door. But before the man got inside, the preacher realized his mistake and explained that the motel had been converted into a church.

"Well, I'll be damned," said the man, who got in his car and drove away.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"Magic People Around the World" and Vera Bock's artwork

I recently finished the short read that is Magic People Around the World, a children's book by the late Barbara Softly that was published in America in 1970. (Its original title in the UK was More Magic People.)

I learned about a few folklore legends that I wasn't previously aware of, including the Nain Rouge (a red dwarf who originated in France and became an urban legend in Detroit) and the bizarre and diverse kappa of Japanese folklore.

But the biggest delights in the book are the illustrations (including the cover) by Vera Bock (1905-1973), who was born in Russia and moved to the United States at a young age. During her career, she made posters for the Works Progress Administration1, illustrated numerous children's books, and worked at Life and Coronet magazines. To read more about Bock and see more of her incredible work, check out these links:

In Magic People Around the World, Bock adds her own dedication at the beginning of the book, and it sets the tone nicely for what's to come: "To all those who, at times, do forget to set out that nightly bowl of milk — the pictures in this book are dedicated. V.B."

Here are a couple examples of Bock's interior illustrations. The reproduction isn't perfect, because I couldn't lay the book flat on the scanner and had to snap photos instead. If you like her work, used copies of this book are very inexpensive on Amazon right now.

And here's a closeup look at part of the cover illustration. I'm not even sure what piece of folklore this refers to, but it's awesome.

As one final bonus, my copy came with the circulation card and card pocket, from R.K. Webb School Library Media Center, still intact. Sadly, however, nobody ever checked the book out! They didn't know what they were missing.

1. One of Vera Bock's WPA posters lives on and can be purchased at

Lost Corners of the Internet:
Reggie Nalder's movie idea

(This is a little tidbit that I had tucked away while working on the "Hutter had my dream bedroom" post in April. It shouldn't be hard to see how I wandered from Hutter to Reggie Nalder in my Google searches.)

Actor Reggie Nalder (1907-1991) was perhaps best known for his roles in 1956's The Man Who Knew Too Much, the 1979 Salem's Lot TV miniseries, and on an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series as a blue-skinned Andorian ambassador.

If you're a fan of any of his works, the "Lost Corner of the Internet" that you should check out is his 1989 interview with David Del Valle, as featured on Kinoeye. The entire interview is fascinating, as he discusses his long career as a character actor and his interactions with the likes of Vincent Price, Alfred Hitchock, Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Boris Karloff, Federico Fellini, James Mason and Bill Cosby.

But the little gem that stood out to me was this question and answer:
You once wrote a treatment for a film you would like to see produced. What was it?

It is entitled "Forgotten Idols" and it is based somewhat on my mother. It takes place in the 1920s, and the lead character is a celebrated stage actress who retires at the height of her career. It is a mystery. No one makes this type of film nowadays. I will keep offering until someone is intrigued.
I'm intrigued! What I want to know is if this treatment/script still exists. Does a family member or someone else associated with his estate have it? Did it end up in an auction? Or did it — and I hope this isn't true — get dumped in a landfill. I would love to read Nalder's script, and I bet a lot of other people would, too.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Did your vacation flight look like this postcard?

This postcard is much more restrained than the wacky-sitcom airplane postcard that I featured last November, but it's still a little bit on the silly side and represents an era of relaxed, stress-free air travel that probably never existed and certainly doesn't exist today. (I mean, you can't even get to your flight these days.)

The postcard was mailed from Italy to Yonkers, New York. It touts the new 747 in the fleet of Pan Am (1927-1991). It is "the plane with all the room in the world," the text on the postcard states. Pan Am, in fact, was the airline that introduced the Boeing 747 to passenger air travel in January 1970.

The folks who mailed this postcard were happy with the Pan Am experience. Their short message states:
Hi Bev & Aldo,
Arrived Rome this P.M. Having a wonderful flight. 747 is something. Food is delicious. Next on to Beirut. Will write more later.
Love, Pat.
This is almost certainly the same Pat whose postcard from Jeita Grotto in Lebanon was featured on Papergreat in March. So now we know that particular trip started in Rome. And that Pat had a friend named Aldo.

Now, if we could just do a "Where are they now?" with these two...

"Oh! how I wish we never had another war!"

For Memorial Day, this is another unmailed postcard upon which Vera R. left a note for her friend Gertrude J. (The first was last week's Rangeley Lakes postcard.)

The Tichnor Quality Views postcard shows the World War Memorial in tiny Farmington, Maine. The memorial arch to soldiers who died in the First World War still stands, just a bit north of downtown Farmington. The most recent photograph I could find (around 2003, I believe) shows it surrounded by much more green.

Source: Wikimapia

Vera's cursive note on the back of the postcard states:
This memorial was for first World War. Oh! how I wish we never had another war! I worked in a home near this place for awhile in 1949.
Vera would certainly be distressed by the post-9/11 world in which we live. David Barno and Nora Bensahel detail this somber new reality in "The Price of Perpetual War" on the War on the Rocks website:
"The United States has entered an era of perpetual war. The U.S. military has been at war for 15 straight years with no end in sight. ... The traditional logic of American wars — that the United States would mobilize, fight, win, and end its wars through overwhelming force of arms — no longer seems to apply. Today’s wars can be characterized more as conflicts in the gray zone, ambiguous battles with less-defined shapes and even less-clear outcomes. This increasingly blurred line between peace and war is posing a range of new challenges for the U.S. military, for elected officials, and for the nation as a whole. ... What does this era of perpetual war mean for the U.S. military? First, “war” and “peace” are no longer binary conditions, as they had been for much of the nation’s history. This is one of the few times that the U.S. military has had to undertake the demands of continuous warfare while at the same time rigorously preparing for a wide range of potential future threats. ... [T]his era of perpetual war places significant stress on the force – not only because of the unending operational demands, but also because there is little national recognition that we remain at war. ... The men and women of the armed forces are willing to fight — and die, if necessary — to defend the nation. But asking them to do so without acknowledging that they are at war is simply wrong."
Indeed, let us not forget or minimize the reality that Americans are currently at war in Pakistan, against ISIL, and in Afghanistan.

* * *
Related post: The poignant letters left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hats off to Goodman Games for their envelope illustrations

Quick post...

In the category of "Cool Stuff That Still Comes Through the Mail," I want to give some props to Goodman Games. Last year, I ordered a reprint of an old Judges Guild role-playing module from them, and the product arrived in packaging adorned with the sorcerer-themed illustrations shown above. I liked them so much that I cut them off the envelope and kept them around.

It's a minor thing, for sure. But one that makes a good and memorable impression with customers. And you get folks like me writing about you and giving you free advertising. In these days, when there are countless choices for consumers, you have to find a way to stand out.

Take note, fledgling businesses!

Great reads: Books, bags, Darger, sea monkeys, Kamala Khan & more

Whether or not you hit the open road for Memorial Day weekend — and that's Route 66 through the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico on the above linen postcard — you'll probably find yourself needing something to read at some point. As always, Papergreat has you covered with a wide range of interesting articles to expand your mind, tickle your fancy (which is still legal in 16 states) and/or prepare you for the next night of bar trivia. Without further ado...

Books and reading

Current events


Miscellaneous and marvelous

Pop culture