Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mystery real photo postcard:
Family from 100-plus years ago

This old real photo postcard was never used and comes with absolutely no information regarding who these people were. Is this a husband and wife and their three children? That could be the most likely scenario, but it's hardly the only one.

The stamp box on the back indicates that this was a Velox postcard and its design, according to, indicates that this from "Pre-1907-1910." There is also a line reading "This Side For The Address" on the back, which further supports this being from that period. (Divided-back postcards didn't emerge until 1907. Before that year, you couldn't write anything but the address on the back.)

So this photo is from at least 109 years ago. Possibly more.

Wouldn't it be interesting to know who they were, where they lived and what they did, presumably here in America?

Other mystery real photo postcards

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 2)

For the second installment in this new series showcasing cool stuff inside 1929's Volume I of The New Human Interest Library, here are some additional illustrations from the first section of the book, which is titled "The How-You-Grow Book." I believe that all of these were done by Herbert N. Rudeen; the first one was, for sure.

These illustrations feature Little Georgie, a very non-threatening-looking Sandman, Tommy Tumble, a roster and a gray "a grey kitty, with green eyes."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fascinating peek into early 1970s world of Long John Nebel

I'm about a third of the way through Long John Nebel: Radio Talk King, Master Salesman, and Magnificent Charlatan, a biography by Donald Bain that was published in 1974.

So far, to be honest, it's not very interesting. The book has been dominated thus far by the "salesman" portion of Nebel's life. That's not what I came to the book wanting to read about. I'm more interested in his many years as an overnight radio talk-show host who dabbled in bizarre and paranormal topics, bonded with Jackie Gleason, and influenced the likes of Art Bell.

The best part of the book so far has been the opening section, which describes Nebel's whirlwind marriage to Candy Jones and his home and lifestyle in early-1970s Manhattan. (Nebel died of cancer in 1978 at age 66.)

These are some of contents of Nebel's cluttered apartment on Manhattan's East Side, as detailed by Bain:

  • massive professional tape machines
  • a Musser vibraphone
  • expensive stereo equipment
  • books stacked in every room and corner, including the hallways
  • guitars
  • banjos
  • magazines
  • top-of-the-line cameras, never used2
  • thousands of record albums
  • multiple telephones
  • multiple answering machines
  • machines for taping phone calls
  • telephones that automatically dial when a pre-punched card is inserted3
  • automatic clothes presser
  • portable TV
  • radios
  • six bedroom copies of Overcoming the Fear of Death by Dr. David Cole Gordon

The living-room furniture consisted of "a couch, some chairs, and a few tables," none of which were accessible because of all the stuff.

Part of Nebel's "stuff" problem was that he had previously occupied two side-by-side apartments at the end of his hallway, with one serving as his office and recording studio. But, at the time this book was written, he no longer had the office and thus had crammed everything into the single apartment.

But, no matter how much available space he had, I think it's clear that he had some hoarding issues, and this section of Bain's book provides a kind of time capsule of his existence in Manhattan four-and-a-half decades ago.4

1. Other current reads:
  • The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape, by James Rebanks (just finished yesterday!)
  • Time and Again, by Clifford D. Simak
  • Latest issues of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Captain America: Steve Rogers
2. Bain writes: "the best cameras, none of which has ever had a roll of film run through it because Nebel, the former professional photographer, doesn't want to risk scratching them."
3. Some telephones of this type, called Western Electric Automatic Dialers, can be seen here.
4. For a description of some other eccentrics crammed into a different Manhattan apartment, circa 1992, check out "The Mountains of Pi," an article in The New Yorker by Richard Preston.

Mild obsession with typographical variants on Manning-Sanders covers

For some reason, I have only recently started noticing that there are some significant differences in the typography on the dust jackets of some of Ruth Manning-Sanders' fairy-tale books. I assume that the difference is because of the various design choices made by her United Kingdom publisher (Methuen) and her United States publisher (E.P. Dutton). But it's still interesting. Here are a couple of the bigger examples I found...

My 1977 Kindergarten diploma

For all of you Truthers out there who question whether I, in fact, have the proper academic credentials for authoring a blog about books and ephemera, I present to you this irrefutable proof — my Kindergarten Diploma.

You can see with your own eyes that 14,373 days ago — on June 10, 1977 — I was recognized for my achievement in Kindergarten skills.1 Full disclosure, though: While the illustrated diploma cites science, social studies, social interaction, art, language, reading readiness, rhythm, music, math and creative dramatics as kindergarten topics, the only thing I can definitely recall from those days is learning the alphabet. Certainly, I had no rhythm. And I'm still waiting to pick up the concept of social interaction.

The diploma is signed by my teacher, Mrs. Bonazzi, and stamped by my principal, Henry J. Wenzel Jr. While it indicates that the kindergarten was part of Lyter Elementary School in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, my recollection is that the actual classroom was located in the rear portion of C.E. McCall Middle School (which I later attended).

This diploma was produced by the Hayes School Publishing Company in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Some of that company's other 1970s work was featured in the November 2011 post "Some bulletin-board material for Thanksgiving."

So there you have it. I officially graduated from kindergarten.

1. This also happened on June 10, 1977: The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Atlanta Braves, 7-5, thanks to two home runs and five RBIs by Mike Schmidt and Gene Garber's seventh save of the season. The Braves used pinch-hitters named Biff and Rowland in the game. ... Also on that busy day, the first Apple II series computers went on sale, and James Earl Ray escaped from Brushy Mountain State Prison in Petros, Tennessee.