Saturday, July 22, 2017

Postcard to Mom and Uncle Charles from Indianapolis

My great-grandmother, Greta Chandler Adams, mailed this postcard of Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Hammond, Indiana, to "Mary Margaret & Charles Ingham" (my mother and uncle) in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. It's a timely post for this weekend, as NASCAR's Brickyard 400 is being held at this very speedway.

Here's what Greta wrote in fairly nice cursive on the back of this Curteichcolor 3-D Natural Color Reproduction postcard:
"Save this card for I did not see this this time. Thought you might like to get this view — different! I am wide awake at 2:15 A.M. Sat. I drank coffee at Clark's hence wide awake! Sorry I did. Had good fried-chicken, you would liked it! Be good. Grandma."
It's hard to read the date on the postcard. The card has a three-cent stamp, and that was the postal rate for postcards from August 1958 to January 1963, which fits the time frame I would have guessed for this card anyway.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mom and her brother in Texas

Today's family snapshot shows Mom (right) and her older brother, my Uncle Charles, playing together at the family home in Kingsville, Texas.1 Mom was born in January 1948, so I'm going to estimate this photo is from sometime in the first half of 1949.

Some observations:
  • What is that on the table between them? A terrarium?
  • The disorderly nature of the books and papers under the table makes me very uncomfortable.
  • One of the books features the works of Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • My uncle's socks seem to match his shirt.
  • I think my sister might now have the chair that my uncle is kneeling on.

1. Interesting related tidbit: Reality Winner, who has been in the news quite a bit this year, grew up in Kingsville, Texas, after being born in nearby Alice.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

1920s postcard: Weymouth, The Sands & Donkeys

This postcard, which appears to have a postmark of July 28, 1924, features the busy summer beach scene at Weymouth, Dorset, Jurassic Coast, England. Some of the signs you can see, if you magnify the image, are AMERICAN STUDIO, ICE CREAM WAFERS, and NOTED ICES.

Weymouth has long been a tourist destination and resort. And donkeys have long been a part of that scene and are still present today. This website tells you all about Gracy, Dolly, Jasmine, Dainty and other current donkeys. The donkeys are also available for weddings and corporate weddings, but the website is sure to note that "the donkeys work 6 days a week, they take it in turns to have their day off."

The current donkeys, while still indentured, seem to have it better than past donkeys. On Victorian Tales from Weymouth and Portland, Susan Hogben noted the following in a 2013 blog post titled "Weymouth 1866. A cruel life for Victorian beach donkeys":
"The [current] donkeys on Weymouth sands are well cared for and much loved, they have their own umbrellas for shade, a proper lunch break, lots of cuddles and snacks. But life hadn’t always been kind to these gentle souls of the sands.

"In the Victorian local papers were numerous cases of cruelty by the owners and many of the young lads who used to be in charge of the rides on the beach. One of the cases in 1866 concerned 14-year-old Samuel Vincent, who was hauled before the local magistrates for cruelly mistreating a donkey. ...

"One of the donkeys was dragging his heels that day, lagging behind the rest of the group. The lad, carrying a large stick with him, was seen repeatedly beating the donkey on its hocks as hard as he could. That still not achieving what he wanted, he then proceeded to pick up large pebbles from the beach, throwing them at the donkeys legs, hitting them hard, causing the donkey to go lame.

"It seems that this wasn’t the first time Samuel had been observed beating the donkeys, nor was it just Samuel who was guilty of doing so. Many of other boys who worked for the donkey proprietor were guilty of cruelty towards these gentle beasts of the sands and found themselves hauled before the courts.

"The proprietor himself had been warned numerous times about the cases of cruelty observed towards his herd of little donkeys. Even the goats which were used to pull the carts along the promenade didn’t escape the beatings."
So sad. Please be kind to animals, everyone.

* * *
As for the back of this postcard, it was mailed with a red, one-penny stamp featuring King George V. The recipient was Miss A. Henderson, Townhill [?] Cooperative Society Ltd., Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland. The short note states:
"Dear Friend we are enjoying ourselves ... and having lovely weather down here. it's such a lovely place. hoping all are well at home.
from A.D."
I'm guessing that A.D. does not stand for "A Donkey," because that would be something.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Charles Simmons' cabinet card

Here's a standard 19th century cabinet card that features Charles Simmons (1847-1916). We're related. Charles was a brother of Helen Gregg Simmons Chandler, who was my great-grandmother Greta's mother. So I think that makes him my great-great-granduncle. (Genealogists, please chime in and tell me if there's a better way to phrase that.)

Charles didn't seem to stray far during his lifetime. He was born and died in Wilmington, Delaware. That's also where this photograph was taken, at J. Paul Brown's professional studio.

Charles died on December 22, 1916, and his wife, Mary, died less than three months later, on February 27, 1917. I don't have the full extent of their family tree in front of me, but I believe that Charles and Mary, at the very least, had a daughter named Elizabeth.

Just a coincidence, of course, but Mom and her brother are named Mary and Charles, and my sister's middle name is Elizabeth.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 21)

Presented without commentary, these are the final two pages of puzzles and games from "The Do-It-Yourself Book" portion of 1929's The New Human Interest Library. The text doesn't provide any instructions.

Up next will be a section titled The Comradeship Book, which will include coverage of Boy Rangers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls and 4-H Clubs.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Plot thickens in Mom's attempts to escape summer camp

New evidence has emerged in the mystery of Mom's attempts to gain an early release from a summer camp nearly six decades ago.

Last week, I featured a cartoon postcard that Mom drew, pleading to her mother to come and rescue her from Camp Chesapeake in Maryland. That postcard, though compelling in its content, was never mailed.

But this newly discovered postcard was mailed.

Instead of using illustrations, Mom turned to prose to make her urgent case for emancipation from camp. Here's what her cursive note states:
Dear Mom
Please Come this sunday! I Want to go home! I get burns, sore throats, colds, horse throats and Lots of things like that! You gotta come I'm really getting more and More homesick each night. Please!
Mary M.
P.S. If you can't come I'll cry my heart out.
I'd say that's about a 9.5 out of 10 on the Child Melodrama Scale. Today, I reckon something like this would be sent in a series of text messages, with many emojis.

As I mentioned, this one was mailed successfully to their home in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. It was postmarked in North East, Maryland, on August 1, 1958 (a Friday). Mom was 10½ at the time.

I no longer have any way of confirming if Mom's pleas worked and earned her an early retrieval from camp. But I do believe that the following summer (1959) was her first year at Camp Lochearn, which she went on to love and enjoy for several years as a camper and counselor. So it's possible that Camp Chesapeake represented a single summer's discomfort before Mom found her perfect camp fit.

Uplifting notes from across the globe, via Postcrossing

Here's my latest roundup of some of the goodwill spread through Postcrossing, the international postcard exchange that reaffirms that it's just as much fun to give as to receive. It's a constant reminder, too, that the world is filled with wonderful and kind people. They're just not the ones in the key positions of power.

The postcard at the top of the post came to me from Alice in China, and it features the breathtaking Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Alice's note to me says, "I think work as a UNITED STATES OF AMERICA sports editor is very cool." I laughed a bit.

I was also cheered by the postcard I received from Felicity in Germany. She recently became a mother and is working on something for her daughter. She writes: "In February this year, I get the first time mother and I will collect 150 or more postcards from all over the world, for my daughter, to make a special present in the future. That's the reason I do Postcrossing." Of course, I asked Felicity for her address and will be sending something for young Adriana's future collection.

Meanwhile, here are some of the (lightly edited) email messages that I have gotten, over the past half-year, from international Postcrossers who have received my postcards in their faraway mailboxes. (These are chronological, with the oldest emails first.)
From "Alpha133" in Belgium
Hello Chris. Glad to meet you by Postcrossing. Reading books is my passion. I believe in respect of the human and in the freedom of expression, very important. Thank you for the postcard and the beautiful stamps. ... I hope everything goes well for you and your family and cats and dog.

From Christina in the United Kingdom
Thank you very much for the lovely postcard; the photo is so cool. Looking at it reminds me of the joy of the freedom and imagination of childhood. Don't worry, I (and many other British people) understand that the new President does not represent the majority of decent American people. He lost by 3 million votes, after all! We know that there is a certain demographic of very Conservative Americans who seem pretty unhinged to us Brits, but also that they are a minority. We won't judge a whole country by who your President is, you have our support and understanding! If only everyone participated in Postcrossing and indulged in the principle of spreading love and friendship across the World, I believe the World would be a more peaceful and tolerant place. As someone who voted (strongly) to remain in the European Union, I understand some of the frustration you must be feeling. All we can do (as our Queen advised us last Christmas) is to keep sharing small acts of love to help us cope in these difficult times. Very Best Wishes.

From Alex in Russia
Hello Chris, thank you for lovely postcard. I don't really read comics, I was born in the country and in the times when there were no comics at all. Most of my knowledge of comics come from films. However, I like postcards with comics on it. I've seen Marvel comics in Russian in the shops, now they are available. I fully agree with you, peace is what we need now. Thank you. Best wishes, Alex.

From Victoria in Russia
Good day, Chris! Thank you for such interesting postcard! I agree with you and I also believe that our world really can move toward greats peace!

From Jan in Thailand
Thank you so much for the lovely postcard and colorful stamps. I love it so much. And I love your handwriting. It's lovely. I saw alpacas once when I travel to the northeast of Thailand. There's one alpacas farm there. I hope you have a wonderful day.

From Babs in the Netherlands
Hello Chris. Thank you for the card. I have seen a movie about the Amish. Some are pleasant and some are very dominant and extreme. But in every religion you have nice and extreme people. Have a nice day and enjoy your life and work.

From Roo in Singapore
Hello from Singapore. I just received your postcard. It was such a pleasant surprise to find your card in the mailbox. Oh, happy birthday to your daughter! I wish her all the best. As for you I wish you a wonderful life and all the best for your country. Take care.

From Sally in the United Kingdom
Hi Chris. Thank you so much for my postcard. I am loving the girl reading to the chicken!!! I am also a book lover. I go on holiday tomorrow and I just can't fit enough books in my case! Anyways I hope you and Huggles are well. (What a cool cat name!)

From Mawar in Malaysia
Hi dear, thanks for the wishing. I will study hard as this is my last semester. I agree with you about the history and yes, we need more smart people with good attitude. Honesty must come first and make our earth sustain for future. Lots of love from malaysia.

From Sasa in China
Hello Chris, I'm Sasa. I'm glad to receive your postcard and I super like the stamps! Editor is one of my favourite job! Thank you for your card and nice to meet you!

From Barbra in Canada
Hi Chris! Thanks for the great card! I've actually spent some time in the Lancaster area, many years ago. It's beautiful there. And yes — working as editor of a newspaper, especially in the U.S., would definitely be an interesting line of work at this point in our history. Thanks again for the lovely note.

From Gabriele in Germany
Hi Chris, I was thrilled to get your lovely card. The stamps are amazing, thank you! We have a lot in common — my husband is a journalist, I write articles and books, and we have cats as well: Brooke, Humphrey and Yuki. And a dog, Zoe. My son wanted to breed alpacas, now settled for bees instead. They need a lot less room. Tomorrow will be extremely hot, 36°C are promised. I have to work, will probably melt away at the computer. All best wishes for your and yours, enjoy life!

From Erna in Holland
Thanks a lot for the two postcards we received from you. How nice your daughter is being homeschooled, too. Wishing her all the best for her studies and thanks a lot for the nice stamps you picked!

From Elke in Germany
Hello Chris! Today your letter arrived here in Germany! What a gem between ads and bills! It made my day today! THANK YOU so much for the two historic postcards you sent — they are so beautiful! Another big THANK YOU for the stamps you put on the envelope. I usually soak off stamps and keep them in albums. But some postcrossing envelopes (like yours) are too beautiful so I started to collect them whole and undamaged (I am not sure if "postal stationery" is the correct word). Where did you find all those old stamps — some of them older than you?! VIELEN DANK! Wish you all the best — enjoy LIFE!

From Miwako in Japan
Hello! Thank you for the beautiful postcard and stamps. I really like it! May the world be 平和. Best wishes and happy postcrossing!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Photos of family members reading

On the heels of yesterday's photo-sorting (more of a photo-pruning) marathon, here's a little collection of old photographs of family members reading books.

First up is an old AZO real photo postcard that has been trimmed down to a snapshot that's just under 3 inches by 4 inches. My best guess at the handwriting on the back says this is Aunt Gertrude Horsey and James Adams, her nephew. The photo was taken in either Laurel or Seaford, Delaware, in the 1910s.

Next up is my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams (before she was Helen Chandler Adams Ingham). According to the back of the photo, this was taken on New Year's Day in 1934.

Here's another shot of Mom, Mary Margaret Ingham, before she was Mary Margaret Ingham Otto. It's similar to this photo, but she's wearing a different dress, and it looks like she might be just a little bit older here. (How awesome would it be to identify that book from just those two open pages?)

BONUS PHOTO: Here's me at the beach in 1975, probably wishing I had a book instead of sand between my toes.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The best thing to do at summer camp

I have been sorting through so many family photos today. Nineteenth century photos. Baby photos. Photos of me with really awful hair. Wallet photos. Mom's summer camp photos. Mom's college photos. Mom's many, many world-travel photos. So many photos.

This is one of my favorites.

And we don't even know for certain who is pictured. Never will.

It's a girl reading a book while laying in bed in her cabin at Camp Lochearn in Vermont. A round suitcase sits at the side of the bed, as do a pair of shoes (the girl has only socks on her feet).

I'm assuming that Mom took the photo; she's in very few of the Lochearn photos. Here's the caption information on the back:
Carol Shamberg just before leaving Lochearn Camp 1960.
Cabin 7
No it's not. It's Linda Barnett just before she left Fest [first?] month.
The first part was written by a young girl, based on the handwriting. The "No it's not" part was written later, in a more-assured cursive script. Both captions are by Mom, I'm guessing.

Carol ... Linda ... either way, it's a girl — 57 summer ago — enjoying a book, which is just about the best thing to do with your free time during a lazy summer day.

More images of girls and women reading books

Thursday, July 13, 2017

1960s science-fiction book cover: "The Non-Statistical Man"

  • Title: The Non-Statistical Man
  • Cover blurb: "One man's mind spins a taut and eerie arc from the dark past into the distant future — and suddenly the world looks different"
  • Cover typography: Absolutely awesome
  • Author: Raymond L. Jones
  • Cover illustrator: Unknown (one Amazon reviewer of this book believes it might be the work of Richard M. Powers)
  • Publisher: Belmont Books (Belmont Future Series, L92-588)
  • Date of publication: May 1964
  • Price: 50 cents
  • Pages: 158
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back-cover blurb: "One of the undisputed masters of science fiction creates a weird new universe. Logic becomes a hindrance and intuition a precision tool. A trip to the moon is a trip into the past and on a distant planet mankind conducts an experiment in prehistoric jungle life. For anyone who reads this book the world will never quite look the same."
  • Contents: Although it's not made clear on covers, this book actually contains a novella ("The Non-Statistical Man") and three short stories ("The Moon is Death," "The Gardener," and "Intermission Time"). All were originally published in the 1950s.
  • First two sentences of "The Non-Statistical Man": Charles Bascomb was a man who loved figures — the genuine, Arabic kind, that is. Not that he didn't appreciate the other kind, too.
  • Wait, does that mean the third sentence is sexist? A little bit, yes.
  • Random paragraph from middle: He was called almost as soon as he arrived to the office of Farnham Sprock, Second Vice-president of New England. Sprock was a small, mealy old man who had been by-passed sometime ago for the top post in the Company. He had been relegated to office administration, even though it was known that all who felt his judgement would suffer for his failure.
  • Is Farnham Sprock a silly name? Yes.
  • Will this blog post now become the No. 1 result in Google searches for "Farnham Sprock"? I certainly hope so.
  • About the author: Raymond F. Jones (1915-1994) was a prolific American science-fiction author who mostly wrote short stories. His 1952 novel This Island Earth was turned into a 1955 movie with the same title. That movie, though considered quite respectable, was later ridiculed in 1996's Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

    Here's an excerpt from an autobiographical piece that Jones wrote in 1951. It's about his early life, before his writing career took off:
    "Science fiction inspired the course of my studies through high school and college. I ended up in radio engineering as a result, but in the dim days of the '30's radio operators were quite unneeded.

    "I left my home town of Salt Lake City and wandered around Texas a bit. Later I took up the nomadic life of an installer of telephone exchange equipment for Western Electric. That was too nomadic for a married man, which I became in 1940, and I settled down with the Weather Bureau. During the war, I returned to electronics in the engineering department of Bendix Radio at Baltimore. Afterwards, I returned to Phoenix, Arizona where the climate is more amenable."
    You can find that entire essay, and much more, at an excellent website — — about Jones' life and works that Richard Simms has lovingly put together. Also of note is that Jones' interests also included genealogy, meteorology, model railroading and photography. I think we would have gotten along swimmingly.
  • Review excerpt [with spoilers]: Here's a portion of Kelly Libatique's three-star Amazon review of the title tale in The Non-Statistical Man:
    "It is thought provoking, I'll give it that. The main character is a statistician who zealously embraces his techniques and practice as an employee of a big insurance company. But then, with the help of another main character we are introduced to, he discovers that he has a greater power than just a talent for numbers. He is dragged, painfully at times, into the world of intuition. But really, in my opinion, it was more like discovering one has the ability to foretell the future, almost the way a palm or crystal ball reader would. I'm exaggerating, but so did Jones.

    "The other main point that Raymond Jones was perhaps making was what sort of impact this would have on society should individuals start tapping into it. With our main character's "former powers" as a statistician, he was deliberately doing wrong to people for the sake of making money for his employer. But as his newly discovered abilities in intuition evolve, he becomes more, well, moral."
  • Final thought: The Non-Statistical Man would also be a good title for a contemporary novel about an old-school front-office baseball employee who can no longer get jobs from Major League Baseball teams that are instead seeking SABR-savvy whiz kids using newfangled computer-based analysis."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"And you are sad that you have no friends."

I just want to document for the historical record that Siri, the iPhone's AI Personal Assistant, claims that I have no friends.

Sarah takes great pleasure in listening to Siri crack various jokes at my expense, but I think this one is our all-time favorite. Jess Bolluyt at CheatSheet did a great rundown earlier this year of many of the amusing ways in which you can interact with Siri. You will probably not be surprised to see that many of them center around Geek Culture: Blade Runner, Monty Python, the Three Laws of Robotics, Douglas Adams, ELIZA, Star Trek, Star Wars, Jon Snow, etc.

Emanuel F. Ness' 1924 guide to perfect poultry

(Note: This is a version of a post that was originally written for Capper's Farmer in 2013, when I was a blogger for them for a very short period. Check out all of their current bloggers here.)

When Sarah was a little younger, one of her wishes was to own a farm some day. She wanted it to be filled with goats, cows, chickens, pigs, certainly some alpacas, and other farm animals. She wanted for the farmhouse itself to be a great big castle, as she has a wonderful imagination.

And she wanted for me to live on the property and take care of all the animals and farm/castle chores for her. She's good at delegating like that.

But to be clear, I am NOT a farmer. Or even much of a gardener, really.

I’m not the fella with the pitchfork from American Gothic. I’m just a guy who works at a newspaper and has a strong side interest in books, ephemera and history. Tied in with that, I’m a Pennsylvania boy who has a great interest in and appreciation for farming history and culture.

I would like to think that all of the farming-themed books and ephemeral items that I come across are preparing me — perhaps through a type of osmosis — for that day when Sarah wins Powerball and expects me to run our new family farm.

One thing that might help, in that regard, is a neat old book about poultry that I came across a few years ago. It's called The American Standard of Perfection, and it was published in 1924 by the American Poultry Association. Here’s the cover.

Actually, I only gave you the partial title. According to this book’s first page, the complete title is (deep breath) The American Standard of Perfection, Illustrated, A Complete Description of All Recognized Varieties of Fowls, As Revised by The American Poultry Association at Its Forty-Seventh Annual Meeting at Knoxville, Tenn., Nineteen Hundred Twenty-Two.


Meanwhile, this particular volume is stamped on the inside front cover with the former (original?) owner’s name:

Dallastown is a borough here in York County. I believe, thanks to a little amateur genealogy work, that I have tracked down a solid candidate for who Emanuel F. Ness was — and it’s a bit of a sad story. Emanuel was born in 1878. In 1910, he married Minnie Floyd. In 1911, their infant son, Marvin, died. And in 1912, Minnie herself died at about age 23.

Assuming that he acquired The American Standard of Perfection the same year it was published, Emanuel was about 46 years old when he put his stamp inside the book.

And what was the 427-page book used for? Just what it says. It provides the official breed standards for all North American poultry. The classifications and descriptions of physical appearance, coloring and other attributes are used as a measuring stick for, among other things, the competitive judging of chickens, ducks, turkeys and other poultry.

The first edition of the book was published in 1874, and the most recent edition, still published by the American Poultry Association, was the 44th and was published in 2015.

The introduction to the 1924 volume states: “For more than seventy years prior to the appearance of the first American Standard, poultrymen had been trying to make such blends of European and Asiatic races of fowls as have produced the Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte and Rhode Island Red; yet had failed to produce a breed that could gain wide or lasting popularity. Nor, in all that time had any old, established breed been so improved that it could win and hold the favor of those who kept poultry for eggs and meat.”

It’s filled with finely detailed illustrations of poultry, ranging from the Silver-Penciled Wyandotte Female to the Bourbon Red Turkey Male to the slightly silly looking Black-Breasted Red Game Bantam Male.

Other illustrations, such as this one, hone in on elements of poultry anatomy:

A typical entry describes the following characteristics of a given bird: standard weights, comb, ear lobes, beak, head, eyes, neck, wings, back, tail, “body and fluff,” breast, legs, toes and “under-color of all sections.” In 1924, a beak might be described as being “of good length, stout, well-curved.”

And ear lobes, of all things, get this level of descriptive detail in the entry for the female Minorca: “Large, almost-shaped, smooth, thin, free from folds and wrinkles, fitting closely to head.” And that’s the most I’ve ever written or thought about ear lobes.

I think my favorite thing about this book, though — and the reason I held onto it for many years even though I’ve never had a Poultry Farming Moment in my life — is the wonderfully detailed illustrations. I’ll leave you with two more of them:

Above: Illustration of the regal-looking Silver-Penciled Wyandotte Male.

Above: Illustration of the Silver-Spangled Hamburg Male.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The end of another bookstore

Source: Canaday's Book Barn Facebook page

A beautiful bookstore is preparing to close its doors here in southcentral Pennsylvania. The owner of Canaday's Book Barn in Carlisle announced that the store will be winding down its business in the coming months. There are different and complex reasons for the success or foundering of any bookstore, of course. Each real-life tale is unique. But I think there are some thoughtful and distressing points to be taken from the closing of Canaday's.

I'm sharing here the note that Ted L. Canaday posted on his bookstore's Facebook page two days ago. It's a detailed summary of the end of a bookstore and, as such, something that shouldn't become a Lost Corner of the Internet. If you're anywhere near Carlisle (a little west of Harrisburg), maybe you can get to Canaday's this summer. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Here's the website and the Facebook page.

Ted's post:
Canaday's Book Barn Liquidation Sale in Carlisle, Pa.

Everything must go! Books 50% off thru the end of July!

An Amazing Collection of Antiquarian, Out-of-Print, Collected, Distinctive & Rare Books!

Well Worth the Trip!!

It is with sadness that we must close the store that has been our labor and love for the past 15 years. A dramatic decrease in customers and the growing tendency of visitors to treat the store as a museum has made it impossible for the Book Barn to continue to support our family. We hope that you will visit and take advantage of the sale. It will help our family and hopefully provide you with a little treasure of your own.

Please pass along notice of our sale! A personal note or plea is recommended when forwarding, otherwise most items are never opened or read.

Below is a copy of the Press Release distributed by the family. It provides insight into the demise of the Book Barn.

Local Bookstore Latest Victim in Amazon's Relentless Drive to Change America's Buying Habits. Liquidation Sale Begins on Amazon Prime Day.

What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago Canaday's Book Barn in Carlisle, Pa. celebrated the grand opening of its new and bigger store in a completely renovated stone barn offering over 70,000 old, out-of-print and rare books. Now, owner Ted Canaday will oversee the liquidation of this collection of books that he lovingly curated over the past 20 years. Because of the precipitous decline in in-store customers over the past two years and the tightening margins associated with on-line sales, Canaday's Book Barn will join other brick-and-mortar retailers in Carlisle, like Old Navy and Pier One Imports, that have not been able to survive the change in consumer's buying habits that has been shaped by on-line giants like Amazon.

As a Marine Captain and book lover serving in Japan in the mid-1990s Canaday became one of Amazon's first on-line customers. He even received a mouse pad that Amazon gifted to charter customers after their first year in business. Amazon built their business by developing an on-line marketplace that showcased the diverse offerings of independent booksellers. Canaday joined the Amazon seller ranks following his 10 years service in the Marine Corps and the opening of his first bookstore in Midtown Harrisburg. Business was good both in-store and on-line. The success he enjoyed allowed Canaday to move his store to and renovate the 200 year old barn from which he now operates. With seven times more square footage he was able to expand his selections and create one of the best browsing experiences on the East Coast.

But then came the 2008 recession and the rise of social media. Despite a soft economy and an ever-growing list of distractions pulling consumers away from books Canaday was able to adapt and survive. However, it had become increasingly difficult for the business to support a middle-class existence for his family. Amazon had purchased Abebooks which was the primary marketplace for antiquarian books. This together with Amazon's aggressive move into the “print-on-demand” market for out-of-copyright books and subsequent changes in product placement on their website decimated the out-of-print and antiquarian market. Independent sellers were squeezed ever tighter with each new internal or systemic change to the Amazon selling platform.

Amazon used books as a springboard to expand into other markets and as a means to influence customer's buying habits. Amazon's free shipping for orders over $25 gained popularity and provided the catalyst for Amazon Prime membership. Without even knowing, people were shifting their purchasing allegiance from Main Street to on-line retailing dominated by a few massive multinational corporations headquartered in Seattle and San Francisco. The result has been a “retail apocalypse” for local brick-and-mortar stores nationwide. Tens of thousands of middle-class business owners face financial ruin in the unprecedented redistribution of market share and wealth to the “super platform” providers.

Local communities suffer as profits are sent out-of-town, store fronts sit empty and the tax base crumbles. Amazon's vision, increasingly seems to be a world where most people's labor is superfluous, and where customer's can have Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa order groceries delivered by a drone from an automated warehouse. The future will be grim for the dispossessed. It may be to late for Canaday's Book Barn. Only a miraculous outpouring of good will in the form of book purchases could save the store, but perhaps those reading this will be reminded to patronize their local businesses before it is too late.

Canaday's Book Barn will start their liquidation sale on Tuesday, July 11th, Amazon Prime Day. A 50% discount on all books in the store will be offered through the end of July. In August, Canaday will begin offering increasing discounts each week until all of the books are gone. A “Go Fund Me” campaign has been established to allow those wanting to help the family, but who are unable to physically participate in the sale. Use to contribute.

Canaday hopes to raise enough money from the store liquidation sale to save his family's home from foreclosure and to give the family a cushion on which to survive until Ted can find and take advantage of any new opportunities that arise. The alternative could result in bankruptcy, the loss of his family's home and a fall from the middle class for the family of four. Perhaps he will be forced to seek employment as a “picker” in Amazon's huge warehouse distribution center just 5 miles from his home. This could likely result in an Amazon press release touting their commitment to hiring veterans.
Here's one other passage. The enticing description for potential bookstore visitors on the Canaday's website:
"Old bookstores are best enjoyed by leisurely browsing. For this reason, we hope you can plan to spend an afternoon. We have over 75,000 volumes covering just about every subject.

"The bookstore resides in a historic limestone Pennsylvania Bank Barn built in 1800. The original architectural features of the barn have been retained and highlighted, blending harmoniously with the fine selection of old and antiquarian books. Leather volumes feel at home between hand-hewn chestnut beams, 18-inch-wide oak floor planks and 2 foot thick stone walls.

"The barn is heated by a turn-of-the-century antique pot-bellied stove salvaged from an old railroad station. Even so, standards of heating from that era don’t quite meet modern expectations. We recommend a good sweater (and sometimes a hat or gloves) during the colder months, so that you may better enjoy your browsing. Lighter clothing is recommended during the 'Dog Days' of summer, especially if you will be browsing in the loft."

Wonderful walkable streets on Instagram

When it comes to postcards and photographs, one of my favorite themes, as longtime readers know, is walkable streets and communities. Streets that are built at the human scale and not designed around automobile culture. Some people that I follow on Instagram occasionally offer some great street shots. Here are two that popped into my feed recently...

Above: This shot of a street in Bratislava, Slovakia, was posted by Alena Kolbert. Here's a website that shows you what you might see if you traveled there and took the three-hour "Old Town of Bratislava Self-Guided Tour."

Above: This shot of a narrow street somewhere in Italy was posted by Pete Souza, who was the Chief Official White House Photographer for Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

Walkable streets presented by Papergreat

Oh, the places Papergreat pops up!

In doing some Google searches, I found a couple of places where Papergreat has infiltrated other segments of our culture...

Papergreat is cited in the end notes (shown above) of One-Year Dynasty: Inside the Rise and Fall of the 1986 Mets, Baseball's Impossible One-and-Done Champions, a 2016 book by Matthew Silverman.

The post cited is "Important message from Papergreat and some 1980s baseball players," from March 25, 2014. It discussed a 1986 activity book for kids titled The Pros Say It's O.K. to Say No to Drugs! Many Major League Baseball players, including one at least one key member of the 1986 Mets, were featured in that book.

Regarding Silverman's book on the Amazins, one Goodreads reviewer states:
"Enjoyed this very much. Lots of great detail that I've not previously heard, which is impressive considering the topic of the '86 Mets has been extensively researched and covered over the years. I especially enjoyed learning more about Gary Carter."
You can purchase Silverman's book on I'm available to autograph the end notes, if you pay return shipping.

* * *

Arthur Chiaravalli wrote an article titled "Why Teachers Are Going Gradeless: Toward a future of growth, not grades" that was published this past April on The article is illustrated with an image of an old teachers' gradebook from the 2011 Papergreat post "Peeking inside a circa-1940 Shippensburg High gradebook."

Here's an excerpt from Chiaravalli's thoughtful article:
"For others, gradeless means without grades, that is, avoiding the damaging and demotivating effects of grades entirely. These teachers are trying to put the focus squarely on learning, eliminating grades in favor of feedback and growth. Some may even work in schools that have replaced traditional report cards altogether, using portfolios or descriptive evaluations instead."
There is a Facebook group called "Teachers Going Gradeless - TG²" for ongoing discussion of this education topic. If you're a teacher, you might be able to request an invitation to join the closed group.

* * *

So, those are pretty cool. Of course, the all-time most famous and prestigious mention of Papergreat is still the August 2011 article in The New York Times headlined "Shopper Receipts Join Paperless Age."

Monday, July 10, 2017

Mom's postcard from camp: "Please come and get me"

It's possible that Mom didn't enjoy every camp she attended when she was young. I know that she loved her summers as a camper and then counselor at Camp Lochearn in Post Mills, Vermont. Before that, however, here's some possible evidence of a camp experience that she was not fully enjoying.

She took the time to draw and write this message to her mother on a blank postcard:
Dear Mom
I know you won't get this until Saturday or Monday, but Please come and get me. And Marjo.
The seemingly urgent message is accompanied by illustrations of Mom, Marjo, a cat on a leash named Mittens, and something that looks like a hamster, gerbil or guinea pig and goes by the name Elvis.

The front of the postcard is addressed to Helen Ingham, her mother, at the house on Oak Crest Lane. The return address is "Camp Chesapeake, Northeast, Maryland." The postcard is stamped, but there's no postmark, so it's possible that the distress call was never mailed. There is no date on the front or back of the card, which is a bummer.

There's a small town in Cecil County, Maryland, called North East (two words). That's probably what Mom was referring to. And there was a Camp Chesapeake there in Cecil County. According to a 2005 article in the Cecil Whig, it was sold in 2005. Here are some excerpts:
Campfire songs and laughter used to rustle through the trees in Happy Valley.

Each summer since the 1950s, kids attended Chesapeake Center Camp, off Happy Valley Road in Port Deposit to play games, be at one with nature and develop a deeper relationship with God. ...

Since 1955, the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, the Virginia-based governing board for Presbyterian churches of this region, has owned the 115-acre campground. In its prime, each summer from June through August, Chesapeake Center Camp hosted more than 1,000 kids of various faiths, from Wilmington, Baltimore and areas and in-between. ...

At camp, the children learned team- and confidence-building skills. They learned how to get along with kids from other ethnic and economic backgrounds. ...

But in the early '90s, Chesapeake Center Camp attendance started to drastically decline along with the advent of more specialized camps for kids.

"Young children and teens today have many more choices for how to spend their summers," said the Rev. Jim Moseley of the New Castle Presbytery, the member branch of the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic that oversees the camp. "Now, there are computer camps, sports camps, arts camps -- a whole variety of choices."...

The Synod started accepting sealed bids from all groups interested in buying the campground. New Castle Presbytery bid $2 million. Three real-estate developers bid more. The highest bid was $2.5 million from a real estate developer. Members of the Synod's Board of Trustees, chief overseers of the sale, accepted the bid. Contract negotiations for the site are still under way.

The property that once fostered love among generations of camp-goers now remains a bruise as locals and former campers wait to see what it will become. ...

On Friday, July 8 from 2 to 4 p.m., the Synod will hold a public sale of items remaining on the campground. Items listed for sale include fans, coffee pots, an air hockey board, camping lanterns, picnic tables, a tub of old life jackets, metal bunk beds and a piano with sticky keys.
There's a YMCA Camp Chesapeake in Cecil County these days, but I don't know if it's related to any of the elements of the old camp that Mom and Marjo attended.

Mom's drawing of herself, by the way, is pretty good. It reminds me a bit of this photograph. She would go on to become quite the talented artist.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

An odd warning on Page 1 of "The Midwich Cuckoos"

The Midwich Cuckoos, published in 1957, is one of the best-known novels by English science-fiction writer John Wyndham.1 It stands quite well on its own as an Important Sci-Fi Novel, to be sure. But another of the reasons for its fame is the 1960 film adaptation of the novel, which was given a much more alarming title: Village of the Damned.

You can see why they gave the movie a different title. The Midwich Cuckoos sounds like it could be a wacky Disney comedy with Fred MacMurray or Barbara Harris. But Village of the Damned clearly does not sound like a movie you could take the kids to on Saturday night. It's a scary date movie for grownups — a Bruised Forearm Movie, as Roger Ebert would have written.

But Wyndham's original novel didn't have the luxury of a Damned title or literal images of terrifying little kids running around while wearing glowing white contact lenses. So, I reckon this Ballantine Books paperback — one of dozens of editions over the years — needed some way, beyond just the sci-fi version of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg's eyes in the cover illustration2, to warn off readers who might be too young, or too "unimaginative," for Wyndham's tale.

Thus, we have a long book-splaining note to teachers and parents on the first two pages. It was penned by Richard H. Tyre, chairman of the English Department at the Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, and here is how it starts:

"Very young children will not appreciate the catastrophe of every woman in a small English village suddenly becoming pregnant" is one of my new favorite lines.

Tyre is a fan of the book, though, and goes on to pose some "cosmic" discussion questions for readers, including:

  • Supposing that there were some vastly superior race in the universe who wished to take over the earth, might it not be much more efficient and possibly even "kinder" for them to do so by harnessing the maternal instinct in the human female (or some other equally powerful and basic force already extant), than by attacking the earth with superior military technology, destructive weaponry and all the devastation that that implies?
  • One of the great recurring themes in folklore is the "changeling," the baby who is actually alien but raised by parents who at first believe it to be theirs. But isn't there a way in which every child can be considered a changeling? After all, in one way Freudian psychology suggests that parents and children are mutual enemies.
  • Aside from the organic, what is the basic difference between men and women?
  • And finally, is it possible that we are a seriously flawed and inadequate race, that there are races morally and physically superior to ourselves in the universe? Granting this, do we still have the right, when put to the test, not to care about perfection, or morality, or even God's plan, but to pursue at any cost the continuation of our own puny race?

Essayist and book critic Evelyn C. Leeper has written an essay about The Midwich Cuckoos that folds some of Tyre's larger questions into the discussion. You can read it here.3

1. His full name: John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, which is still far shorter than Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm.
2. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database does not know the name of the artist who did the cover illustration for this edition of The Midwich Cuckoos, Ballantine Bal-Hi #U2840 of 1966.
3. Leeper, according to her own website, has been "nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times." She has her own entry on Wikipedia, which I hope means her works and criticism will be preserved and studied by future generations.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hotel postcards of the past: Summertime road trip nostalgia

On my endless list of projects, I really need to index all of the Papergreat posts on the topic of old hotels and motels. There are more than you could shake a stick at. You can't swing a dead cat around Papergreat without hitting a post about an old motel. You get the drift...1

Here are two more to add to that collection of posts. At some point, I'll probably accidentally blog about one of these hotels or motels for a second time, but today is not that day.

First up is this unused postcard — no year or publisher is indicated — for the Ocean Grove Motor Inn in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Ocean Grove is an unincorporated place a little bit south of Asbury Park.2

The back of the postcard touts the very-pastel Motor Inn as being New, Modern, Complete, and "Open All Year." The hotel was, at the time of this card, owned and operated by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. The OGCMA was founded in 1869 and is still going strong today.

Here's an excerpt from an article in the September 14, 1975, issue of the Asbury Park Press with the headline "Summer's Twilight Falls on the Grove":
Ms. Victoria Davis, manager of the almost-always-full Ocean Grove Motor Inn came by and talked of the golden days, finally offering her definition of the community:

"Ocean Grove is not for subways. It's for strolling. And I like that."

Next up is this undated, unused postcard for the Mammoth Cave Hotel at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.3 The color photo is by W. Ray Scott4 and this postcard was published by National Park Concessions Inc. of Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

This room really has it all — brick walls, faux-wood paneling, heavy drapes, reddish-orange vinyl chairs and what appears to be an autumn-themed bedspread that "ties" everything together in a way that I'm sure would have given Walter Gropius a seizure.

The text on the back of the postcard adds this description:
"The Mammoth Cave Hotel Rooms are furnished for comfort and convenience. There are Studio Rooms as well as double and single bedrooms. Each room has Patio or Balcony. Air Conditioned — Open all Year."

1. That whole paragraph would be a nightmare for ESL students. My apologies.
2. I once spent an hour in the newsroom of the Asbury Park Press, prior to covering the 1990 Atlantic 10 men's soccer championship game between Penn State and Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights, whose roster included Alexi Lalas, won the game, 3-1.
3. It was almost precisely one year ago that I wrote about Crystal Cave in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.
4. According to this Flickr site maintained by Jeff Kubina, "W. Ray Scott (1913-1987) was National Park Concessions photographer and public relations director from 1946-1967. ... He was renowned for his skill at cave photography." That also tells us that his postcard is likely from no later than 1967.

Happy Fourth of July
(Post No. 2,200)

Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans and hoping-to-become Americans! (Feel free to use me as a reference.) For Papergreat's milestone 2,200th post, here's a clip show featuring links to some of the blog's past content related to Independence Day and nostalgic summer-ish themes.

Enjoy your day safely and responsibly, and heed these wise words:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Tattered dust jacket: "The Mercer Boys at Woodcrest"

This colorful maritime-themed dust jacket, with a trio of guys who look like they need some Fisherman's Friend lozenges, was wrapped around The Mercer Boys at Woodcrest, which was first published in 1929 as the second book in the 10-book Mercer Boys series. This was the jacket for The World Publishing Company's edition of the book, which was published about two decades after the original A.L. Burt edition.

Here's an excerpt from the promotional text on the back of the dust jacket:
"The dangerous and unusual adventures of the Mercer boys with their friend Terry Mackson while exploring strange a strange island; cruising in their boat the "Lassie" and solving mysteries at Woodcrest Academy, yield many thrilling moments. The encounters of the three lads with smugglers and pirates, and their quest for a phantom treasure galleon, makes this an exceptionally entertaining new series of books for boys."
That blurb could have used a copy editor.

A Goodreads reviewer wrote this very short review of The Mercer Boys at Woodcrest: "Opa's book when he was a kid. Interesting adventure. I liked the game they played — hare and hounds."

Here are some facts about Albert Capwell Wyckoff (1903-1953), who penned The Mercer Boys Series:

  • His father died when he was young, and so he wrote to help support the family.
  • Early in his career, he had two stories published in Weird Tales magazine: "The Grappling Ghost" (July 1928) and "The Guillotine Club" (July 1929).
  • He followed The Mercer Boys Series with The Mystery Boys Series, which included four books. 1934's The Mystery Hunters at Old Frontier is described thusly: "The Mystery Hunters become students at Frontier College in New York and investigate a nearby abandoned hospital rumored to be haunted."
  • He used money from his books to help finance missionary work and became and ordained minister later in life.
  • There is a Capwell Wyckoff Fan Page on Facebook. The administrator notes that, when The Mercer Boys Series was revised and republished in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the books "were updated. For example, lanterns became flashlights, a horse-drawn wagon becomes a station wagon, etc. Search out the older A.L. Burt editions for the original words of the author."

Sources for the above include and Terence E. Hanley's Tellers of Weird Tales.

The Mercer Boys Series, as a mystery-focused set of books, was a predecessor to The Three Investigators series, which I last wrote about in October 2015. A good article about this genre of juvenile literature is "Series Books: Through the Lens of History," which was published in 2010 by by David M. Baumann

Note: No monies were paid to Papergreat by Lofthouse in exchange for the Fisherman's Friend mention in this post. No lozenges, either.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 20)

(This series might end up taking longer to finish than The Winds of Winter.)

When we get the inevitable rainy day this summer, and the kids are bored of playing the Atari 2600, Mouse Trap, and the Castle Amber module, here's 1929's The New Human Interest Library to the rescue!

Print out these four vintage puzzle pages, along with the handy answer sheet for yourself, give them some old-fashioned writing devices called pencils, and let them have hours of fun. The puzzles involve all sorts of wordplay and even some rebuses, with pigs and goats and bunnies and ducks mixed in.

In some cases, past readers have written in the answers (which just shows you how loved this book was), so you'll need to use Wite-Out or Photoshop to clear those away and let your kids start fresh. No biggie.

It looks like all of these puzzle illustrations were created by Conrad (Cobb) X. Shinn, whose name has come up a lot during this series.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Delightful illustrations from "The Blue Domers in the Deep Woods"

The Blue Domers in the Deep Woods was written by Jean Finley and published in 1928 by A.L. Burt Company. It was the third book in an eight-book series, with all eight books being published between 1928 and 1930.

Mary Crosson's "No Frills" Juvenile Series Book Information Site, describes the Blue Domers books: "This series follows the mild adventures of a group of children who love to play outdoors under the sky (hence 'blue domers.') The books are aimed at the same age audience as the Bobbsey Twin series, but the plots are somewhat tamer and more slowly paced. ... The illustrations are charmingly drawn in shades of black and orange, and the full-color appliqué covers are beautiful."

It's those illustrations that spurred this post. They should be saved for posterity. Plus, there are elephants! Here are three pieces of artwork from this book...

In addition, this hardcover book has endpaper illustrations, with separate artwork at the front and the back (which is really uncommon, in any era). Click on the images to view larger versions.

If you're interested in collecting this series, either for the stories or the illustrations, prices range from about $5 to $25 per volume, from the standard online sellers. Conditions will certainly vary greatly. This is a cute little book, though. Crosson was correct when she described the adventure as "mild." There's not much at stake or in jeopardy. And there are characters with names like Barney, Bert, Zed, Big Tim, Marietta Pancake, Percy Pickle, Bingo and a gnome named Paddy McQuoddy.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Want some ephemera?
Course you do!

Pardon my "wry" sense of obscure Return to Zork humor there.

I have been mentioning, perhaps ad nauseam, that I'm in the midst of trying to downsize my Stuff Situation this summer. Books can be donated to book sales and charity. But then there's the more delicate matter of ephemera — inherited papers from the three-plus generations that came before me.

Some of it (gasp) can just be recycled.

Too much of it, I'm keeping.

And then there's a third category: Miscellaneous ephemera that doesn't interest me, but that others might find interesting. Cool old paper, for sure, but paper that just doesn't make the cut here in the land of Too Much Stuff.

So I'd like to find it a new home.

If your lifelong dream is to be mailed Random Old Ephemera from a family you do not know, it might just be your lucky day.

Send your name and snail-mail address to me at chrisottopa (at), and I'll send you a lovely package that will have the others in your household exclaiming, "Why, exactly, did you want that stuff?" First come, first served.

* * *

Unrelated to this post, I received an email today from an awesome reader named Lisa who wants to send me some interesting ephemera that she came across. This isn't helping the downsizing, I know. But how can I resist such a nice offer? Lisa's hobby is postcards, and you should check out her website, where many nifty cards are featured.

Good morning. Here's a postcard for this fine morning.

It won't last, but we're in the midst of a beautiful stretch of midsummer days in which the temperature is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and it's sunny with a perfect light breeze. No need for it ever to be any hotter than that.

So here's an old "Good morning glory" postcard for you to enjoy. I'm assuming she didn't wear those slippers to bed, and has just put them on, so that she can trod downstairs and have some cantaloupe and corn flakes. Or perhaps some Egg-O-See cereal.

This postcard has never been used, and it has a big pink blotch on the back. A tiny logo indicates that this was a Bergman Quality postcard. That New York company was only in business in 1912 and 1913, according to Alan Petrulis' magnificent

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pair of York County QSL cards

Here are a pair of York County QSL cards that I picked up, I think, within the past year at the store in York New Salem. The first one is from my new "town" of residence — Dover. (Technically, I'm in Dover Township. There is also a borough called Dover, with the township and borough being adjacent. Pennsylvania small government is weird. Actually, there is technically only one town in all of Pennsylvania — Bloomsburg. But even though it's incorporated as a town, it's treated like a borough. So there.)

The above card was for David Baker, whose call sign was 3W1763. There is no date anywhere on the front or back; this card was never used or mailed. Best guess for this QSL would be the 1950s or 1960s. I think my favorite part of it is the font used for PENNA.

This is a postcard that was turned into a makeshift QSL for Ernie from Dallastown. The black-and-white postcard shows St. Joseph's Roman Catholic School and Rectory, a parish that dates to 1850, according to its website.

Written in cursive on the front of the card is:

3W3834 - Base
128 W. Maple St.
Dallastown Pa.

I like how Ernie dots the I in his name with a circle. The back of the postcard has never been written on. It was published by The Tecraft Company of Tenafly, New Jersey.

* * *
I recently mailed an old QSL card to a Postcrossing card recipient in Japan who had mentioned, in his profile, that short-wave radio was one of his hobbies. After receiving it, he emailed back:
I appreciate your mail. I have never seen such an old QSL card! To tell you the truth, I was a ham radio operator... I got a license over 20 years ago when I was high-school student, but I stopped doing so because I was too busy for study. Newspaper business is changing in Japan too, as young people are not interested in reading it. It is hard to survive, but still journalism is important job, so good luck for your job!
Have a nice day,