Saturday, June 11, 2016

1921 postcard: Gute Freundschaft (good friendship)

This black-and-white postcard features a young girl and her cow. The German caption Gute Freundschaft (Jungfrau) translates to "Good Friendship (Maiden)".

I can't tell for sure, but it looks like this photograph might have been taken in front of a painted backdrop. If so, the effect and perspective were done very well.

The postcard was mailed in 1921 and was stamped at the Hotel Savoy in Interlaken, Switzerland. The note on the back states:
"Have been doing the lakes and mountains. Alpine climbers and campers interesting. Enthusiasts all ages and sex. Snowed four inches last Friday. Ski-racing today and tomorrow. J.C. [illegible last name]."
Sounds like a very vigorous outdoors-themed vacation!

Previous bovine-related posts

Friday, June 10, 2016

Another old postcard of a somewhat alien-looking landscape

One month ago, I shared a postcard of the otherworldly cave homes in Guadix, Spain. Here's another postcard that looks more than Bizarro World than the Earth we know.

But it's a real place. Here's the caption from the back of the undated and unused C.T. Art-Colortone linen postcard:
Ames Monument commemorates the Ames Brothers, whose financial backing enabled the Union Pacific to first span America with a railroad. Sherman Hill is the highest point between the Coasts for both railroad and highway.
OK, sure. To me, though, it looks like something out of Land of the Lost. I bet that monument is full of light crystals.1

The Ames Monument is quite real, though. It was constructed in 1880 and, though it's needed some TLC and restoration over the years, you can still visit it year-round. According to Wikipedia:
"The Ames Monument is located about 20 miles (32 km) east of Laramie, Wyoming, on a wind-blown, treeless summit south of Interstate 80 at the Vedauwoo exit. The monument is a four-sided, random ashlar pyramid, 60 feet (18 m) square at the base and 60 feet (18 m) high, constructed of light-colored native granite. The pyramid features an interior passage, now sealed, alongside the perimeter of the structure's base."
Sealed interior passage, huh? So maybe it is a pylon, with a secret matrix table inside. If you ever happen upon it, a word of warning: don't put two green crystals together.

Pakuni-themed footnote
1. Fun aside: Did you know that you can follow Cha-Ka on Facebook? And then you can get marvelous posts such as this one:

Real estate steal: Scottish cottage where you can get away from it all

Here's a summer vacation special for you — a "Highland Cottage" in Aberfoyle, Scotland. Plumbing and electricity not included. As in, there is none.

As a bonus, though, he you might see some fairies and other magic folk.

One of the most famous residents of Aberfoyle (Obar Phuill in Scottish Gaelic) was Robert Kirk (1644-1922), who was the author of The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies. According to Wikipedia:
"Kirk had long been researching fairies, and the book collected several personal accounts and stories of folk who claimed to have encountered them. ... Kirk had long believed that the local Doon Hill was the gateway to the 'Secret Commonwealth', or the land of the Fairies. It was a place that Kirk visited often, taking daily walks there from his manse. The story goes that the Fairies of Doon Hill were angry with the Rev. Kirk for going into the domain of the Unseelie court, where he had been warned not to go, and decided to imprison him in Doon Hill — for one night in May 1692, the Rev. Kirk went out for a walk to the hill, in his nightshirt. Some accounts claim that he simply vanished, however he suddenly collapsed. He was found and brought home, but died soon afterwards. He was buried in his own kirkyard, although local legends claim that the fairies took his body away, and the coffin contains only stones. The huge pine tree that still stands at the top of Doon Hill is said to contain Kirk's imprisoned spirit."
So, don't be surprised if you hear some bumps and noise while staying in this cottage. And if a few coins and baubles going missing, it might be best not to investigate.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Florence Darlington: Without her, there would be no Papergreat

In the still-ongoing sorting and assessment of family items, Mom and I recently came across this old photograph. Written on the back is the following:

Florence Darlington
Wilmington, Del.
Introduced Greta Chandler
to Howard Adams

Howard and Greta are my great-grandparents. After being introduced, they were married within about two years. Their daughter, Helen, is my grandmother. And Helen's daughter is Mom. So, it's pretty crazy to think this, but without Florence Darlington, there would be NO PAPERGREAT. (Additionally, I would be gone from the space-time continuum, along with my grandmother, mother, uncle, sister, cousins and nephew. But let's keep the focus on the blog.)

We definitely owe a lot to Florence Darlington ... but I have no idea who she was. I would love to learn and share her life story.

Her name is a bit too much on the generic side to find any hot leads in Google or Find a Grave and I don't have an subscription, so I'm stymied at the moment.

Additional details: When Howard and Greta first met in 1914, it was at the New Century Club building, which was used for concerts and dances at the time. (The building is now the Delaware Children's Theatre.) Howard was serving as the manager of the Delaware College orchestra at the time.

If you have any leads on Florence Darlington, share them in the comments section or email me at chrisottopa (at)

1970s summer comics nostalgia with Thing and Vision, Episode I

If you're a member of my generation (I'm 45)1, comic books from the 1970s are one of the best sources of a true nostalgia fix; they can catapult you back to the days of Shaun Cassidy and Star Wars figures and the after-dinner ice-cream truck coming down the street.

I also associate comic books with summertime (and trips to the beach), even though they are obviously published year round. We had more time, of course, to read comics in the summer than during the school year.

Anyway, I was leafing through the May 1978 issue of "Marvel Two-in-One," featuring the Thing and Vision, and I realized that I could get a bunch of blog posts out of just this one issue.2

So we'll make it a summer series, revisiting the late 1970s with a couple of Marvel superheroes. I think that can take us into August, as a weekly feature here at the Papergreat home office.

First up is this advertisement from comic-book dealer Robert Bell of Hauppauge, New York.

If you read comic books in the 1970s, you certainly remember this ad and its Thor-like character, which made it stand out from the other dealers. (The page featuring this advertisement has three dozen small ads3, including 10 other comic-book dealers. Bell's advertisement is the only one with an eye-catching illustration. Smart advertising.)

Robert Bell was, indeed, one of the big-time comics dealers in the United States. If you want to know about Bell's time in the business (which spanned 1961 to 1986), you should check out Lewis Forro's interview of Bell, which was published in Comic Book Marketplace in 1996. It's an interesting read that includes this historical tidbit:
"The only idea of mine that was copied, and it still upsets me today, was my invention of the comic bag. I was only 18 years old at the time, so I didn't know any better. But I did invent the comic book bag. ... It all started when I would put more expensive issues in shirt bags or whatever kind of plastic bag I could find. I would fold it over three times, tape it up, and put the comic book in it. It protected the book pretty well. So then I thought, 'Hey you know maybe I can find a bag that would fit a comic book?' I went to a manufacturer and asked how much it would cost to manufacture bags. He gave me a price and the rest is history."
Related comic book posts

Cranky footnote
1. Speaking of generations, and generation gaps, one of our favorite pastimes at the office is quizzing the youngest staffers and interns in our office about their knowledge of pre-Justin Bieber pop culture. We hit a new low, I think, earlier this week when the summer intern admitted to having no knowledge of who Robert Redford was. My daughter, at the very least, knows him as The Old Guy in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Non-cranky footnotes
2. Specifically, it is issue #39 of the magazine, which ran for 100 issues from 1974 to 1983. This one was written by Roger Slifer and illustrated by Ron Wilson and Pablos Marcos.
3. And we'll certainly get to some of those other ads over the summer. I almost got pulled away on a rabbit-hole tangent when I tried to research the classified ad "'MUNICH' by Jones. $3.95. Dorrance, 35 Cricket Terrace, Ardmore, PA 19003." Turns out it's a book. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Two more old postcards featuring the beauty of Italy

Back in March, I featured a postcard showing a breathtaking view in one of the mountain regions of Italy. Here are two more postcards from that same set, featuring monochrome images that are just as jaw-dropping. Wouldn't these be wonderful places to live?

Italian caption: Oh, qui nel forte e libero amor della natura dolce, i meschini affanni dell'animo obliar.

English translation: "Oh, here in strong and free love of gentle nature, the petty worries of the soul are surrendered."

(This is the same caption as the first postcard I wrote about.)

Italian caption: O pace, o solutudine, o dolcezza!

English translation: Oh peace, Oh solitude, Oh gentleness!

OK, you may now return to thinking about your evening commute home.

1955 booklet: "Poodles as Pets" from T.F.H. Publications

  • Title: Poodles as Pets
  • Subtitle: A Guide to the Selection and Care of Poodles
  • Author: Madeline Miller
  • Cover and interior illustrator: Three Lions, Inc.
  • Publisher: T.F.H. Publications of Jersey City, New Jersey
  • Year: 1955
  • Price: 35 cents
  • Pages: 32
  • Format: Staplebound booklet
  • Notes: More than 60 years ago, T.F.H. Publications offered dozens of 35-cent booklets like this for a wide range of pets, including guppies, seahorses, bunnies, ducklings, monkeys, ants, beagles, parakeets and pigeons. Here in 2016, TFH Publications is still in business, selling guides to pets and farm animals of all types. They even have a book titled Bugs as Pets.

Here are some photos and illustrations from Poodles as Pets...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Real photo postcard: Glass-bottomed Miami Beach Show Boat

This black-and-white real photo postcard of the Miami Beach Show Boat was produced by EKC. The stamp box on the back indicates it was published sometime between 1930 and 1950 (according to And the note written in cursive on the back gives us a nice pinpoint of when it was used: "Boat Jim & I went on a sightseeing tour on while in Miami Florida In Sept. 1945."

If you click on the postcard to make it larger, you can read all of the text on side of boat. But I've also transcribed it here for you...

1. The text across the top of the boat states: "WORLD'S LARGEST GLASS IN BOTTOM BOAT — UNDERWATER ILLUMINATION."

2. On on the side, the larger text states:

I can't find much in the way of additional history on this Miami Beach Show Boat. It would be great to hear some memories of traveling on this, but, depending on how long it remained in service, it might just be too many decades ago for us to have first-hand tales.

I did, however, find (on Pinterest) this nifty vintage brochure for the Miami-based glass-bottom boat Mermaid.

That led me to the amazing history-and-ephemera blog Old Florida, authored by Rick Kilby, and his 2012 post titled "Mid-century mermaids in Florida." You should check it out and dive into all of the cool stuff on Kilby's blog, which has nearly 450 posts on Florida history.