Friday, July 8, 2016

Mystery photo: Going on a bus trip

There are so many photos and snapshots out there in the wilderness that are detached from their original families. Most of them without IDs. I reckon that most of them end up in landfills. But a significant percentage of them end up in estate sales, flea markets, junk stores and the like. And a teeny-tiny percentage of them are documented on blogs such as this one.1

Today's slightly blurry photograph features an old couple who are just leaving on or arriving from a bus trip. We can only imagine where they went and how much they enjoyed their vacation. Perhaps they took the bus to go see family members across the country.

Nothing is written on the back of the snapshot. In the lower-right corner of the photo, "MAR 85" is printed. So the photo was either taken or developed in March 1985 — just over three decades ago.

As always, if anyone recognizes these two, I'd be happy to get the photo back to family members...

1. But I'm hardly the only one. Here are some other Found Photo Blogs, some of which are already themselves abandoned:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Travel tips for West Germany from 60 years ago

This is the cover of Travel Tips for Germany, a pocket-sized staplebound book published by Trans World Airlines (TWA) in 1956. The 88-page book, which measures about 4¼ inches by 6 inches, contains information on hotels, restaurants, shopping and sightseeing.1

To be sure, these are tips for West Germany, our English term for the post-World War II Federal Republic of Germany. The only mention of East Germany comes in a short section about Berlin, which in 1956 was divided politically but not yet literally by the Berlin Wall (which didn't come until 1961). Here's what Travel Tips had to say:
"Berlin is one of the two western outposts behind the Iron Curtain (the other being Vienna) and it's possible to go into the Communist-run sector of the city to see how the other half lives. They live rather badly in contrast to the Allied sectors of the former German capital, which was progressed economically despite being cut off from the rest of Western Germany. Berlin was once one of the world's most beautiful cities. Now it still has acres of bomb ruins."

But enough about bombs and destruction. This guide wanted to focus on the fun side of traveling to Germany in the mid-1950s. The introduction focuses on the country's re-emerging prosperity, its reasonably priced and excellent restaurants, and its desire to become an international tourist destination. American dollars stretched quite well there at the time; one dollar equaled about 4.2 Deutsche Marks.

Here are some interesting tidbits from the booklet:

  • Travelers are discouraged from using the Autobahns, because they "do not pass through the picturesque villages."
  • A special section offers tips for women travelers. It has instructions on what to do if you've "done more shopping than you'd planned." It stresses that it's OK for women to eat alone in restaurants and dining rooms. And it suggests that women not go out at night after 10 p.m. without an escort.
  • Rooms in the best German hotels cost about $8 per day, the equivalent of about $70 today.
  • In the "What to Buy" section, the following German goods are praised: cameras, binoculars, Hummel figurines, Hanau silver2, Märklin toy trains, Black Forest cuckoo clocks and 400-day clocks, and garnets.
  • But, regarding German antique furniture, the guide states: "A large revolving population of Armed Forces personnel has taken a lot of Germany's best antiques back across the Atlantic. They're still to be had, but not always at bargain prices."

Finally, here's a map of Frankfurt from the guide. Note where it says "To the Romantic Road" in the lower-right corner. That would be a cool trip.

1. Unfortunately, there is no credit given anywhere for the artist who created the cover illustration.
2. According to the booklet, a complete Hanau silver coffee service with tray cost about $200.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

When presidents go very, very bad

Today is the two-year anniversary of this terrifying tweet from the "Teddy Roosevelt" account with baseball's Washington Nationals.

Besides the fact that oversized heads are inherently scary, do we really need this kind of mascot violence in the world of baseball?

More importantly, has anyone yet scripted a horror movie about huge-headed U.S. presidents enacting a reign of terror across the nation?

This could be the poster...

1966 advertising card for Crystal Cave in Kutztown, Pa.

This advertising card1 from fifty years ago urges you to SEE INSIDE THE EARTH at Crystal Cave in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

The natural attraction, which was "discovered" in 1871, was celebrating its 95th "anniversary" at the time (although, technically speaking, some of its rock formations and passages are more than 500,000 years old). The front of the card touts the joys of Crystal Cave as "An ideal vacation stop off — Entire cave well lighted — Paved walks and no hard climbing — Free Picnic Parks."

The back of the card is text-heavy and contains directions to Crystal Cavern, some history of the site and general information for visitors. It states that the cave is open from February 15 through December 1. Here in 2016, there are slightly fewer days of operation; it's open from a March 1 through November 30 (with special "ghost lantern" tours in October).

I'm guessing there are many, many folks in central and eastern Pennsylvania with fond memories of a trip to Crystal Cave. School field trip? Summer vacation? Share you memories in the comments section.

I've only ever been to one cavern in Pennsylvania — Indian Echo Caverns in Derry Township. I'd like to venture into more of them, with Crystal Cave and the water tour at Penn's Cave in Centre Country topping the list.2 (You can't drive around central Pennsylvania without seeing the signs advertising Penn's Cave.)

Outside of Pennsylvania, I've been to the impressive Luray Caverns in Virginia3, but that's pretty much it. My Caverns Bucket List would include Mammoth Cave National Park4 in Kentucky and — OK, this is an extreme long shot and I'm probably not physically fit enough for it — the Sarawak Chamber in Malaysia.

1. The card is 6¼ inches by 3½ inches.
2. Check out Jim Cheney's Uncovering PA review of Penn's Cave.
3. My Papergreat to-do list includes a post a little collection I have of Luray Caverns ephemera from over the decades.
4. Mammoth Cave National Park inspired the pioneering 1970s text adventure Colossal Cave Adventure, which in turn inspired the likes of Zork and Mystery House.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Have fun at the July 4th ball tonight!

James and the Giant Grasshopper

It's the two-year anniversary of one of my favorite sports moments and photos. During a World Cup soccer game on July 4, 2014, Colombian star James Rodríguez had a giant-insect encounter for the ages.

The incident is nicely summed up in this headline from MailOnline, the online version of the British tabloid Daily Mail: "James Rodriguez gives grasshopper a lift as huge insect leaps on to Colombia star during defeat by Brazil."

If you haven't already clicked on it — and why not? — that article also includes an image of a grasshopper-covered Paul McCartney! (Bugs on a Beatle?)


While the James Rodriguez photo is a real, this old postcard is decidedly fake:

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Be careful looking through those Greycliff Girls books

One day last month, I was sorting through numerous boxes of old books1 and, at one point, I was leafing through a copy of The Greycliff Girls Ranching, a 1925 novel by Harriet Pyne Grove.2

According to the foreword, this is the eighth volume in the series, which also includes such titles as Cathalina at Greycliff, Greycliff Heroines, and The Greycliff Girls in Camp.

(The foreword also states: "an effort has been made to comply with requests from young readers to 'marry them all off, at least the most interesting girls.'" Oh my.)

Before it came into my hands, this book was owned by Mary McKay Shuford3 and John Brake, according to separate inscriptions on the first page.

Anyway, I was leafing through the book, and this piece of paper popped out...

Apologies for not giving you a Clown Trigger Warning beforehand, but I didn't get one, either.

I suppose it's possible that Mary McKay Shuford drew this little sketch, but there's no way to know for sure. And we'll never know why this particular clown doesn't have any feet. The good news is that, with no feet, it will be very difficult for this clown to chase us. I hope.

If you're a clown-fearing masochist and that wasn't enough content for you today, here are some past posts to check out:

1. This sorting expedition is the subject of a longer post that I haven't yet finished. So this post is kind of getting ahead of itself.
2. On the cover, you can see that the title is printed as The Greycliff Girls' Ranching, with an apostrophe after Girls. The apostrophe is a typo.
3. According to A Guide to the Wine Family Papers, 1899-1943: "Mary McKay Shuford (b. 1920) grew up in Harrisonburg, Virginia, raised by her aunt and uncle, John E. Wine and Nell Wine. Mrs. Wine and Mary Shuford's mother were sisters. Mary Shuford's father was Dr. Edward L. Shuford a veterinarian in Asheville, North Carolina. In 1925 Mary's mother, Jean Fennell Shuford, died, and Mary went to live with the Wine family. In 1943 she married Dr. John J. Dobbie of Richmond, Virginia."

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

There are many websites that feature fond memories of the short-lived Marvel magazine Pizzazz, but I haven't seen many references to this full-page advertisement, which appears on the inside front cover of the May 1978 issue (#39) of "Marvel Two-in-One." It deploys Sue Storm, Steve Rogers, Ben Grimm and Peter Parker to make a pitch for the magazine's merits as a boredom-buster.

But the boredom-buster went bust quickly. Pizzazz lasted for just 16 issues, from October 1977 through January 1979. It was essentially going up against the juggernaut that was Scholastic's Dynamite magazine, which is likely one reason it never gained a foothold. (Scholastic's publication had a huge advantage with those monthly book club brochures and order forms that were distributed in classrooms across the United States.)

Still, Pizzazz gave it the old college try, mixing together its Marvel superheroes with the biggest pop-culture sensations, from Star Wars to Shaun Cassidy (I spotted him on at least three covers) to Linda Ronstadt, who was featured on one of the oddest mash-up covers you'll ever see...

... a band featuring Ronstadt, Doctor Strange, Captain America and C-3PO (on drums). Because why not?

The advertisement at the top of this post was trying to convince kids who were presumably already Marvel fans to pick up Pizzazz on the newsstand each month for 75 cents. And it's clear they were doing their best to appeal to both boys and girls. Here are some excerpts form the ad copy:
"Sometimes you've had it with everything, even TV, and you're up to your eyeballs with your friends, you mom and dad, the world. Wham! The blahs set in. And the blahs can be hard to shake. That's when you need something different, exciting and fun. Have we got a deal for you! ...

"We've got parodies of commercials, superhero jokes and caricatures of famous stars. 'Dream Dimension' analyzes your dreams; 'Dear Wendy' solves your personal hangups. There are short stories, comic strips, cooking and magic lessons, reviews of new movies, rock stars, TV shows, books, sports and records, pull-out calendars, games and puzzles. Pizzazz will make you laugh; it might even make you smart."
Here are links to some articles with more history and memories of Pizzazz:

Finally, I also came across a different comic-book advertisement for Pizzazz, one that features a very robust- and virile-looking version of Stan Lee..