Friday, November 11, 2016

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 5)


This illustration comes from a chapter of The New Human Interest Library titled "Sophy's Birthday Party (A Truthfulness Story)" and — because of the weird, weird way my brain works — when I first saw it, I thought of the Bell Witch legend. Yes, that early 19th century Tennessee tale of John Bell, Betsy Bell, Kate Batts, witchcraft and, perhaps, murder.

There are myriad versions of the Bell Witch story and the already-questionable narrative has been further muddied and augmented over the years by those seeking to turn it into a paranormal thriller with modern-day themes. But one of the small details I remembered is that, in the very early part of the haunting, there is a mysterious girl either sitting in a tree or swinging on a tree branch.

I believe this illustration is from the 1894 book An Authenticated History of the Bell Witch,
by Martin Van Buren Ingram.

The post "Who Haunted Betsy Bell?" on Victorian Gothic begins: "The visitations began with sightings of strange animals about the Bell homestead, and of a unknown girl in green swinging to the limb of a tall oak. Soon there came an unaccountable knocking about the door and exterior walls of the house, followed by scratching and gnawing sounds that searched from room to room."

Meanwhile, the 1997 novel The Bell Witch: An American Haunting, a fictionalized account by Brent Monahan, contains this short passage: "The stage had been set in Red River for a supernatural visitation by a series of strange events. First, a large black animal chanced into the area. Then a large, unknown type of bird. Finally, some girl in a green dress was seen by Betsy swinging from a tree, and she vanished. She might simply have been from a pioneer family passing through the area, pausing to water their horses in the Red River."

Sweet dreams!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Inscription: "He had my name, and I had his name."


Hats off to Joan, who discovered this amusing inscription inside a copy of the wonderfully titled Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch1 while browsing through books recently at The York Emporium:
"From Wayne Bushey,
He gave it to me at our Sunday School party on December, 1965. I had his name and got him a Slinky. He had my name, and I had his name. We exchaned [sic] gifts."
The name of the person who wrote the red-ink inscription 51 years ago didn't put his or her name anywhere else in the book, so that part remains a mystery.

By the way, here's the last line of the book: "Looks like ever'thin' in the world comes right, if we jes' wait long enough!" That's perhaps some good, if slightly depressing, advice these days.

Footnote
1. It will likely be shelved alongside Nobody Plays with a Cabbage in Joan's cabbage section.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Eloquent words on the morning after


I'm not a very eloquent writer or communicator, especially during historic moments. But I have many friends who are incredibly eloquent. These days, their most passionate posts end up on social media. And that means their words won't last. They'll scroll away in 12 hours and be difficult to excavate for future generations. But the words are important. The passion is important.

I'm going to repost some of their morning thoughts and messages on this presidential election, in the hopes that it makes it just a tiny bit easier for these words to stand the test of time and be shared with future generations.

  • After having my daily pep talk with the boys before dropping them off at school, I logged on here and was immediately struck by some commentary. From adults. I don't discuss my politics. Ever. And that's not going to change today. This will be the only message I post and I ask that you think before you post something about how we are treating one another.
    So, this feels a little necessary this morning ... What I shared with my boys:
    "Be kind to each other. There are people in your life today who will be devastatingly sad. There will be people who will be satisfied. Treat them all with grace. Treat them as you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes. We handle each other with love and respect. In this house and out."
    They are too little to understand some of this message, but you're not!!
    For better or worse, this is where we are. If your choice won, be a gracious winner and remember that for every one vote in one direction there was one in the other. And those people are hurting just like you would be. Their fear is real, just like yours would be. Their passion is palpable, just like yours would be. And their sadness might feel crippling - just like yours would be.
    If your choice lost, remember how you would feel if the situation was reversed and were being name called or treated with disdain/disgust. People voted how they felt they needed to for their families and their future. And that might not be what you determined was right for you. Or for this country. But that's how we are built.
    We don't always agree. But we can always choose love over hate. Let's practice that today and tomorrow. That's all we can do.
    — Chrissi
  • Today, please, check in with your non-white friends, your non-Christian friends, your POC and LGBTQ+ friends. Let them know that you care, that you support them, and that you are a safe space. I don't really know what to say right now. I'm devastated. I have to raise my children during their formative years in this nation, so I'm girding my loins to be a badass bitch mother.
    — Megan
  • I just wanted to share a quick moment that speaks to the humanity of people from last night's election.
    I stood on a ladder (yes, it's true) to take a photo of a line of voters that wrapped around a church twice. A line that resulted in people waiting over two hours to vote.
    A woman came out of the church after she voted with her son.
    His name is Noah.
    He has autism.
    Apparently, she was concerned that he would not be able to wait 2-3 hours in the dark.
    That the police lights and the noise from the crowd would overwhelm him.
    Due to the kindness of people. She was allowed to jump to the head of the line into that church and cast her vote. Here is a short video from my conversation with her.
    I would ask that, regardless of your feelings about yesterdays results, that comments are civil and decent. This was a moment of kindness and I'd like to keep it that way.
  • — Jason
  • I'm choosing faith. Vibrant, bold, fierce faith that embodies what I know to be true--that kindness is powerful, that compassion is humanity, that love is a choice, that I don't know how to get to the happily ever after but that's how this ends. This election and its result shattered me. So I'm going to make a mosaic out of the best pieces.
  • — Beth
  • Part of Byron's text to our beside-herself-sobbing daughter this morning:
    "My sweet Gracie,
    I feel so bad about the election, and I know you do too. Mommy and I were so excited for you to see a strong woman become our nation's leader, especially at this time in your life...
    Our nation has always favored white men in myriad ways, legally and culturally. The strength of our nation however is in the idea of equality and opportunity for all. These ideals are still strong. There are just many many white people who are angry that they are losing their privileged status. It is inevitable that whites lose this special status; no election can hold back the tide of change. This is a step backward in an otherwise forward trend.
    I love you so very much, please don't despair. America is better than this. We are experiencing the last furious screams of spoiled children who have been made to share their toys. Growing up is hard, even for a nation. I love you."
    — Jessica
  • If you know me well, you know I don't really put my political views out there. Chalk it up to too many years of journalism training. Here's what I want you to take away from this post: Hope. It's a word I've seen over and over again this morning, from voters on all sides. With hope, anything is possible. Remember that.
    — Amy


The Day After: Sending postcards of peace, positivity & promise


Well ... this is a 24 hours that will be remembered and written about forever.

I'm pulled simultaneously this rainy morning between the desires to read everything, curate everything, save everything for history, hug my daughter when she gets up1 ... and share messages of reassurance and hope.

I would really like to send out some Random Acts of Postcarding today. If you know someone who could use a smile, a message of hope and a bit of positivity, please send me an email — chrisottopa@gmail.com — with their snail-mail address (anywhere in the world). I'll get something out today.

We have to show that we're in this together and are there for each other. And we're not defined by our leaders. We are defined by how we treat each other, not just in America, but worldwide. On Monday, I received an email from a Russian citizen who was thanking me for the Postcrossing card that I recently sent her way. Her message:
"Many thanks for your wonderful card! No, it's not wonderful — it's amazing! And I also like the stamps (I read a lot about Lincoln) ... and I appreciate the way you wrote PEACE in Russian МИР!!! Thanks again from all Russian teachers for your warm words."
That's what matters. How we relate to each other. Send Sarah and I some mailing addresses, so we can spread some more tiny messages of peace during these uncertain times.

Footnote
1. Sarah and I were up past 3 a.m., EST, watching Chuck Todd, Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Tom Brokaw and Richard Engel on NBC.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Best wishes, America


In just a few hours, we'll know how it all turned out...

In the meantime, enjoy this cheery and colorful vintage "Best Wishes" postcard, featuring the magic realism of flower-covered homes. We should all live in flower-covered homes. Unless we have allergies. In which case we should not do that.

The card was postmarked on August 31, 1910, in Vandervoort, Arkansas, which is about a half-hour southwest of Ink, Arkansas. The card was written to a man named Willis, and this is my best guess as to what the note states:
Hello! Mr Willis Roeber. I will answer your most welcome Post card I rec'd yesterday morn. I guess the people did have a glorious time at the meeting. I certainly wish I could have attended the meeting. Oh! Say you ought to come up and see how Vandervoort is progressing. They have the new concrete building just about completed and they are starting on a new brick building this side of the bank.
From A True Friend
[unreadable word, possibly "Emma"]
Hmmm. Part of that message reads like it was written by a Bot. And the other part is super strange in its non-specificity. Am I missing the true point?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 4)

For today's moment with this 1929 book, we have two more Herbert N. Rudeen illustrations. (I'm going through the book from front to back, rather than skipping around, so we'll have a lot of thematically similar posts in a row.)

Both of these amusing drawings feature animals. They came from a section titled "When Georgie Was Hungry (A Table Manners Story)." Georgie, without the help of mind-altering substances, learns An Important Lesson about the proper ways to eat from talking dogs and pigs.

I especially like the illustration with the dogs. It looks a bit like Little Orphan Annie starring in Seems Like Old Times.


Another day, another mystery ancestor photograph


Here's another History Mystery photo that Mom found in the family archives. It's just 2⅜ inches wide. We have no clear idea of who this person might be, because the various writing on the back is as follows:

Gregg Yarnal
Abraham Jackov
Chandler
California

And that's our best guess on the last letter of Jackov. It could also be Jackob.

Who are you, Bearded Mystery Relative?


* * *

In unrelated family history news, Mom recently shared with me this England Forever video, which explores historic Sherborne Abbey (aka "The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin at Sherborne") in Dorset, England.

The video, which is nearly 10 minutes long, explores the various corners of the structure and includes a short moment at the tomb of two of my oldest known likely ancestors, Sir John Horsey and his son, also Sir John Horsey.1 According to Wikipedia, the son "was regarded as untrustworthy. He eventually became addicted to gambling, and this along with his extravagant construction projects was a large drain on the family coffers." His son was also named Sir John Horsey.

Here's are two screen shots from the England Forever video.


Footnote
1. So, yes, it would appear that I am a descendant of one of the knights of Henry VIII. But I'm not going to let it go to my head. Also, these two Horseys were alive at almost the precise period when the awarding of knighthood was more honorific than related to military service.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 3)

OK, we're getting back on track with this series, after getting waylaid a bit by Halloween.1 Once again, I'm planning to share, from front to back, the vintage photos, diagrams and illustrations within 1929's Volume I of The New Human Interest Library. It's going to take a while.

We're back today with another trio of illustrations by Herbert N. Rudeen, whose middle name was Navigius. These illustrations accompany a story titled "Getting Ready for Santa Claus" from the "Helpfulness" chapter of the book. It involves a group of siblings cleaning each other's play areas. (And you thought it was hard to get kids to clean their own rooms.)

"It's such fun to do things for other people," Georgie says.

"When you do things for other people, it makes you nice, so that everybody likes you and wants you to be with them, and wants to give you things," adds Teddy.

Well ... maybe that's not a 100 percent altruistic reason to help others, but it's not a bad start, logic-wise, for a kid.




Footnote
1. "Waylaid by Halloween" has 844 Google search results, most of which involving crafts.