Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 19)

On the heels of yesterday's post, here are some more photographs of children's games from 1929's The New Human Interest Library.

Regarding this "wooden spoons" game, the text states:
"A very good game for a large or small party is that of 'guessing with the wooden spoons.' One of the party — a girl, for instance — is blindfolded, and sits upon a chair. She is then given two large wooden spoons, such as are in common use in every kitchen. One after another, the other boys and girls come up to the blindfolded sitter and stand or kneel before her, and she has to guess who each one is by simply feeling him or her with the wooden spoons. ... The task is very much more difficult than it looks, and there is great fun as the spoons go over the face and body in the attempt of the blindfolded player to discover the identity of the other. ... Of course, any outburst of laughter when the spoons are going over our face would disclose our identity, so we must keep perfect silence. ... We must be careful when using the spoons to touch another player with them quite lightly, so as not to hurt him; and any player who wears glasses should remove them before going to be felt with the spoons."
Also, take care in which kitchen implements you use for this game. You definitely want wooden spoons, and not ice picks or knives.

And now for something completely different...

Did you now you could have this much fun with eggs?!?

The text states that the game requires "an ordinary hens' egg — not too large — which has been prepared beforehand by being blown — that is, having the contents removed without cracking the shell."

The egg race is pitched as a battle of the sexes: "Nothing must be used by the girl but the paper fan or her hand; and the boy, on his part, must simply blow with this mouth."

Monday, April 24, 2017

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 18)

I was wrong, way back in February, when I stated that we were at the end of the "The Do-It-Yourself Book" portion of 1929's The New Human Interest Library, our ongoing series that understandably ended up on the back-burner in late winter/early spring.

There is simply more cool stuff (to me) in "The Do-It-Yourself Book," so more posts it is!

On Page 137, a subsection deals with "Amusing Games for Halloween," and there are several pictures. The text states:
"Halloween, or All Hallows' Eve, is a festival that has long been observed, particularly in Scotland, and although many of the customs associated with the season are superstitious, yet there are also some interesting games which boys and girls have played for generations on Halloween, or the last night in October."
These first three photos and captions show some of the apple-based games that are illustrated on this page of the book...

And this is the caption that accompanies the following three photos: "These pictures show a boy and girl playing the Halloween game of dropping a fork to pick up an apple."

The text adds:
"Sometimes the fork is held by the handle in the mouth, and allowed to drop from there into the tub. This makes it harder to spike the apples. We must, of course, be careful not to overbalance the chair. Instead of the tub being nearly full of water and having apples floating in it, it is sometimes left dry, and in it are placed an apple, a potato, a carrot, and a turnip. ... The apple is the most sought after, and the turnip is regarded as the least desirable."
Come back to see more games from this section tomorrow!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter! ... Wait. What?

This vintage photo comes from the absolutely wonderful @HorribleSanity Twitter feed.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

From the readers: Thoughts on Mom, Norman Remington Co. and more

As I slowly get back into the swing of things here, it's time to play catch-up on some reader comments from the first quarter of 2017.

Mary Ingham Otto, 1948-2017: Thank you for all these kind comments when I announced the sad news...

  • Blakeney wrote: "I enjoy your blog and am so sorry to hear about your mother. Prayers to you and your family — may you see her again one day."
  • Tom from Garage Sale Finds wrote: "Sorry to hear of your loss, Chris. It's clear you had special bond and common love with her. No one well-remembered ever dies."
  • Joan wrote: "I was wondering what the Papergreat Tribute would be and this was perfect."
  • Art & Kevin wrote: "I was devastated to hear of your Mom's passing. My partner Kevin and I have cruised with your Mom several times and we always kept in touch. I am so sorry for you, and having lost my Mom a couple years ago, it is a very difficult journey in healing. Your Mom was so very proud of you, Adriane and her beloved grandkids. She was a dear friend and a fantastic lady. Be at peace knowing she is at peace. Art and Kevin, Vancouver, Canada."

"Jim and Judy," a 1939 grade-school textbook with a York connection: Anonymous writes: "When I was 6, we moved into a house in Texarkana and I found this book in an old cedar chest there. Mom was 7 months along, and she and Dad were discussing what to name the baby. I said, 'If it's a boy name it Jim, if it's a girl, name it Judy.' They liked it. My baby sister likes it, too."

Mystery real photo postcard: Man and two women: Tom from the Garage Sale Finds blog writes the following, with respect to "Balto.": "It's possible that's an abbreviation for Baltimore. There is a 425 East Baltimore street there. It's location of an 'Adult Entertainment Club' now."

Bookseller's label for The Norman Remington Co. of Baltimore: Anonymous writes: "I am also proud to see my great great grandfather Stanley G. Remington (whom I am named after), my grandfather John T. Remington and uncle John C. Remington — how they were part of American History of the book business! To see the dates that Stanley started in the late 1800s makes me glad that I am part (only a small part) of this family's History! My Dad was active duty Navy, so we were not in Baltimore but twice a year to visit with the Remington family and I as a little boy got to see the Charles Street offices and store before it closed 1979. I thought it was a cool place hanging in the history and stories of the location. Also the example of their work ethic. They did Baltimore proud! Thank you!"

Miniature photographs from 1930s New York City: Wolfgang Schindler writes: "My grandfather had bought a set of exactly these photographs (12 to 16) while staying in NYC in late 1937. I still have most of them."

The Dude's QSL card and some groovy 1970s swap-club stamps: "Unknown" writes: "Space Patrol was a QSL swap club. It was started by the same person who started Canadian Goose, I think."

Monday, April 10, 2017

Two postcards purchased at Griffis Grocery in Lawtey, Florida

The past five weeks have been a whirlwind, as you might imagine. In the midst of everything else that I've been dealing with, my 190,000-mile vehicle was mortally injured by miscreants1 while it was parked in the public garage at my workplace. The extent of the damage is such that it doesn't make any sense to put money into fixing it up and removing all of the poorly-drawn phallus graffiti from the sides and the hood.

So I had to remove my belongings from the car in advance to driving it to the salvage yard. The last thing I discovered was in the glove compartment — the two vintage postcards that I purchased in February 2016 at a tiny grocery store [pictured above] near Lawtey, Florida.2

Here's what I wrote last summer about the store:
"To be clear, though, Lawtey isn't a ghost town. It has a population of about 700 and has been well-known in recent times for using a speed trap on U.S. 301 as a source of local revenue. I stopped at a tiny grocery/antiques store called Griffis Grocery ... and purchased a bottle of soda and a pair of early 20th century postcards from a sweet old woman who told me she was legally blind."
The postcards went into the glove compartment on that day and came out yesterday, as I was emptying the Ford Taurus in preparation for its farewell.

So here's a look at those two postcards. I think I'll use one of them for Postcrossing and retain the other one as a keepsake of that afternoon driving through Lawtey.

R.R.Y.M.C.A. Building, Brewster, Ohio
That stands for Railroad YMCA. The Brewster Railroad YMCA/Wandle House, located on Wabash Avenue in Brewster, started as a railroad dormitory constructed in 1916 by the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway. The building now houses the Brewster-Sugarcreek Township Historical Society Museum and The Station Restaurant.

Chalmers Motor Co., Detroit, Michigan
Short-lived Chalmers Motor Company was established in 1908, struggled with business after World War I, and merged with the Maxwell Automobile Company, forerunner of Chrysler, in 1922.

1. Hooligans, vandals, juvenile delinquents, mischief-makers, hoodlums ... kids who should have been inside reading books.
2. You can see the grocery store's sign in this 2011 post on The Goat.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

1958 photo of Mom & friend

This photograph, marked as being from 1958, shows Mom (right) and a friend named Charlene sitting in the den of the family house on Oak Crest Lane in Wallingford.

As I write this post, I'm sitting in the same chair that Charlene is sitting on in this photo; I've used it as the chair at my computer "desk" for a couple of years now. I think it will easily outlast all of us.

Mom, meanwhile, is sitting on a mattress that might well be the same one that's currently in the guest bedroom of her house in Aspers — the house she didn't get to live in nearly long enough following her retirement and move away from Oak Crest Lane.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

St. Peter's Church in the Great Valley

This old postcard, from the family collection, shows St. Peter's Church in the Great Valley, where we are laying Mom to rest beside her mother and grandparents on this windy but sunny Saturday morning, with a graveside service by the Rev. Abigail Nestlehutt.

St. Peter's, in Malvern1, was founded in 1700 and, according to this mid-century Dexter Press postcard, the present church was constructed in 1744 and the oldest legible tombstone dates to 1703.

Mom rarely let one of my visits to her house pass without reminding that the information about the family's burial plot at St. Peter's was located within one of the middle drawers of the old living room. And, indeed, everything I needed — including the original receipt from 1958 — was there and ready to go. The church official handling the interment was impressed.

Today, the oldest section of the cemetery, right beside the 1744 church, is contained by a stone wall and has, as its "groundskeepers," a small flock of sheep. They keep the grass short without the church having to deploy the services of a nasty lawnmower near the fragile old stones.

It's a beautiful spot for Mom.

1. Because the church is centuries old and because the towns and communities of southeastern Pennsylvania have gone through numerous and overlapping nomenclature and post-office changes over the years, St. Peter's "location," within the Great Valley, has been referred to Malvern, Paoli and Devault, among others.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mom, the excellent artist

Hello, all. Papergreat will return to its regular programming schedule at some point this Spring. I promise. In the meantime, here are some cool pieces of art that Mom made during the late 1960s.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mom, the lifelong reader

Working my way through many old photos of Mom...

I really love this one. She's holding a copy of Peter Rabbit and Other Stories. I believe this is the 1947 hardcover that was illustrated by Phoebe Erickson and published by Wonder Books.

Mom was an avid lifelong reader. One of her childhood favorites, Dangerous Island by Helen Mather-Smith Mindlin, became one of my childhood favorites. She also passed down to me her love of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books.

Just a tiny sampling of her favorite authors would include James Michener, Nevil Shute, Colleen McCullough and Stephen King. She enjoyed non-fiction narratives and diaries of ordinary women living through trying times.

The last books she read were Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times, by Lucy Lethbridge; The Foxfire Book, edited by Eliot Wigginton; and The President Is Dead!: The Extraordinary Stories of the Presidential Deaths, Final Days, Burials, and Beyond by Louis L. Picone.

The book she had most recently added to her Amazon wish list was When the Children Came Home: Stories of Wartime Evacuees by Julie Summers. I may read that one myself.

And just wait until I tell you about her cookbooks...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mary Ingham Otto, 1948-2017

Mom and me (1971)

Hello, readers. My wonderful mom, Mary Ingham Otto, died suddenly on March 2. It's been a difficult couple of weeks, and the services and burial won't take place until we can get the family gathered together in early April, to lay her to rest near her grandparents and her mother.

Mom was Papergreat's #1 reader and #1 fan. She would send concerned emails if I went more than a few days without giving her something new to examine and read.

She wasn't a big fan of the comments system, though. All of her stuff showed up as Anonymous. But I always knew which ones were hers. The last feedback she gave to me regarded the February 20th post "1912 softball team at Miss Capen's School for Girls," which dealt with oft-mentioned Greta Chandler Adams, her grandmother.

"Love this entry," Mom wrote to me in an email. "Did you know that Grandma had auburn hair?"

I had not known that.

That exchange also spurred another discussion of Linden Hall School for Girls in Lititz, Pennsylvania, my mom's alma mater. Founded in 1746, it's the oldest boarding school for girls in the United States.

As remarked upon the success of this winter's basketball team, Mom wrote: "When I played, it was in the old gym. ... There was one foot of space between out of bounds lines and the wall. You didn't want to be headed fast for the sidelines during the game."

Mom's last email, on March 1, was to tell me that she was "enjoying the rainy day." She and I were both very keen Weather Watchers.

Mom was an amazing person, and I am already missing her greatly. I'll be writing and remembering a lot about her this year.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


The Graduate first appeared on movie screens 50 years ago. It was nominated for multiple Oscars, including acting nods for Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross and Dustin Hoffman (but not William Daniels, who went on to win two Emmys for St. Elsewhere1).

One of the most-referenced scenes in The Graduate comes when Hoffman's character, Ben Braddock, is speaking with Mr. McGuire (played by Walter Brooke). It goes like this...
Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
And that brings us to today's pieces of ephemera.

My great-grandmother's travel scrapbook included a small envelope, 4 inches wide. Printed on it, in red ink, is a message "From our Children to their Benefactors" (the image at the top of this post). The full message states:
"Formosa is famous for its beautiful butterflies and we enjoy collecting them.

"Moreover. We found a nice way to send our beautiful butterflies to our benefactors. The plastics industry, one of the fastest growing industries on the island, fixed our butterflies in durable material. We helped them and they help us ...... to send a small token of our gratitude to OUR DEAR BENEFACTORS."
Formosa is Taiwan. Portuguese sailors named the island Ilha Formosa, and that was the most commonly used name from the 16th century through early 20th century. As the 20th century unfolded and Japan, and then China, claimed control of the island, Formosa faded and Taiwan rose in modern usage. The status of Taiwan is, of course, extremely complicated and it should suffice to say that if you are the leader of major Western nation, you should consider carefully any phone conversations you might have with Taiwan's president.

And so that brings us to plastics, which didn't work out too swell for the butterflies involved in this show of gratitude from the children of Formosa. Here's a look at the 3-inch-wide piece of plastic that was inside this envelope — the "token of gratitude."

"Laminated butterfly," by the way, is a phrase that brings more than 5,000 results in a Google search. Poor little guys.

St. Eligius Footnote
1. Papergreat posts about St. Elsewhere:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Two early 20th century firefighting postcards

Here are two vintage postcards with a firefighting theme.

The top postcard shows a half-dozen firefighters on the street, aiming their hoses toward a building that's on fire. The caption states: "Fighting Fire at close range." It was made in Germany and is part of the "New York Fire Fighters Series." There's a tiny logo on the back of the card, shown at right. This split-back postcard was never used or written on, and calls for a one-cent stamp for mailing to the United States, Canada or Mexico, and a two-cent stamp for all other countries.

The second postcard is labeled "GOING TO THE FIRE" and features a horse-drawn fire engine. Additional information on the front states: "1946 ILL. POST CARD CO., N.Y." That would be the Illustrated Post Card, which was in business from 1904 to 1914. Its logo — a bald eagle with a shield — appears on the back of this undivided postcard. According to MetroPostcard.com:
"This major publisher produced a wide variety of tinted halftone postcards in series that were printed by Emil Pinkau in Leipzig, Saxony. Each city or location of their color card sets were assigned the same number prefix. They also published an unnumbered series of chromolithographic fine art cards that were printed in Dresden. ... Their best known cards are from a very large set that captured scenes throughout the City of New York. ... In 1909 they stopped importing cards from Germany and began printing their own."
This card was never used either, though someone has scribbled some illegible words on the back, in pencil.

Related posts

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Green baggage sticker for
Holland-America Line

This is an unused Holland-America Line baggage sticker that my great-grandmother placed in one of her scrapbooks. It's green, oval-shaped and measures 6.5 inches across, at its widest point. It includes spaces for the passenger's name, steamer, sailing date, room number and port of landing. Passengers could choose whether this piece of luggage was to be placed in their stateroom or in the baggage room, where access to it would be limited.

Here's a link to a rectangular version of essentially the same luggage label on Jumpingfrog.com.

Holland America Line was a Dutch-owned shipping company from 1873 to 1989. It helped to bring many immigrants from the Netherlands to North America over the years, especially during the final two decades of the 19th century. Its transatlantic passenger service ended in the early 1970s, but it got new life in 1989 when the company was purchased by Carnival. Transatlantic cruises returned in 2011.

Holland America's newest passenger ship, the MS Koningsdam, is the fleet's largest ever and made its maiden voyage in April 2016.

Eye-catching dust jacket illustration by Ilonka Karasz

When browsing through some books at a sale in Lancaster last year, it was the dust jacket that caught my eye when I came upon this copy of 1945's The World, the Flesh and Father Smith, by Bruce Marshall.1 It's a well-reviewed and well-regarded novel — described as a slightly comic and poignant tale of a Catholic priest, spanning the first half of the 20th century in a small town in Scotland — but not really my cup of tea, reading-wise.

However, I love the dust jacket illustration, even with its chips and tears and ragged edges. It's the work of Ilonka Karasz (1896-1981), a Hungarian-born artist who immigrated to the United States in 1913 and created an amazing artistic legacy for herself.

Here are some facts about her, from Wikipedia and her obituary in The New York Times:

  • In 1914, Karasz, who was only about 18 at the time, co-founded the European-American artists' collective Society of Modern Art. For a few years in her late teens, she also taught textile design at the Modern Art School.
  • From the 1910s to the 1960s, her designs — inspired equally by folk art and modern art — found their way into textiles, wallpaper, rugs, ceramics, furniture, silverware and toys. She also illustrated children's books, including The Twelve Days of Christmas.
  • Karasz's textile work came for companies including Mallinson, Schumacher, Lesher-Whitman, DuPont-Rayon, Susquehanna Silk Mills, Standard Textile, and Belding Brothers. She was known as a pioneer of modern textile designs requiring the use of the Jacquard loom and became one of the few women to design textiles for airplanes and cars.
  • She began painting covers for The New Yorker in 1924 and continued up to 1973, creating a total of 186 covers. Most featured lively vignettes of daily life viewed from above and drawn using unusual color combinations.

I think the description of her covers for The New Yorker would also apply to her work on The World, the Flesh and Father Smith, though the latter is more subdued. You can check out some of Karasz's amazing (trust me) covers for The New Yorker, plus her other work, at the blog Fishink.2 For more about Karasz, you should also see this terrific 2010 post on a blog titled We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie.

1. From the back-cover blurb: "Bruce Marshall is a dark, smiling man..."
2. Art prints of The New Yorker covers are available from Condé Nast.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 17)

This is the final post from "The Do-It-Yourself Book" portion of 1929's The New Human Interest Library, and we're going out with a bang, creating our own zoo. I believe that the creature on the far left is supposed to be a lion. And we are also presented with an illustration of a chicken facing off with a monkey — a duel that looks like a weird twist on Freddy vs. Jason.

Here are some excerpts from the text:

  • "They did not look much like animals then, but that was before they were touched and brought into shape by the wonderful fairies Needle and Thread."
  • "our fierce lion was a corner of fawn-colored, smooth-faced cloth from a tailor-made suit"
  • "our fat pig and dear little white bunny were odds and ends of eider-down"
  • "The best materials are tightly woven stuffs that are plain on one side and fluffy or shaggy on the other. Thin and loose cloths that easily fray are troublesome."
  • "Stuff always with unbleached wadding. A yard will fill three or four animals of 7 inches or 8 inches long and 4 inches or 5 inches in height."

Here's a closer look at this showdown, which involves either a very large chicken or a very small monkey...

Monday, February 20, 2017

1912 softball team at Miss Capen's School for Girls

I've already written about my great-grandmother, Greta Chandler, and her basketball exploits at West Chester Normal School, circa 1913. Now we have a photograph of Greta with her softball team, about one year earlier.

The only caption is "Capon School 1912." With a little help from Mom and some Google searching, the strong likelihood is that this is the softball team from Miss Capen's School for Girls in Northhampton, Massachusetts. (Capon having been misspelled in the family album.)

Miss Capen's School was a preparatory school, run by Bessie T. Capen, connected with Smith College, and many (but not all) of its students went on to attend that college. It was originally known as The Burnham School, before Capen took over. It was closed in 1920, when Miss Capen died. Here's a little bit more about the school, clipped from 1915's A Handbook of the Best Private Schools of the United States and Canada, Volume 1.

There were at least two buildings associated with Capen's School. Both became parts of the Smith College campus after 1920.

Here's a closer look at the 1912 Capen's School softball team. Greta Chandler is in second row, the third person from the left.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

1940s comic postcard and "girls out for a whirl"

This illustrated postcard from the 1940s presents the comic cliché of the Beleaguered Husband and Domineering Wife.

He says, "I'm going to have pneumonia, Toots!"

She replies, "You'll have nothing till I've had a new hat!"

(I can't help but be reminded of the piles of old hat boxes we brought out of the attic and master bedroom of the house on Oak Crest Lane — the longtime residence of my great-grandparents, Greta and Howard.)

This card was postmarked on May 20, 1942, in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. It was mailed to Mr. and Mrs. Jake Echan of Union, New Jersey (who also turned up in this February 3 post). This cursive message states:
Hello Folks
Here we are just a couple of girls out for a whirl. And what a place to find it. The best we did was soldiers on the train.
Best Regards from us
Cecilia & Carmen

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 16)

Dollhouse decorating has been one of the under-served content areas on Papergreat over the years. To help remedy that situation, here are some illustrated instructions on making dollhouse curtains from Page 127 of 1929's The New Human Interest Library. (We're still in "The Do-It-Yourself Book.")

The one-room dollhouse itself had been described earlier in the book, in great detail. These instructions further tell us that "the material for the curtains may be of any thin material, as dotted Swiss or curtain scrim."

No credit is provided for this nicely lettered info-graphic. Note the overlapping O's. I wonder if that was a special touch that the artist employed often, as a kind of calling card.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Two vintage postcards with comforting pastoral settings

It's a beautiful Spring day here in mid-February in the northeastern United States. So hopefully you're enjoying the outdoors and not sitting inside reading a blog about old paper...

Shepherd in Cyprus
"Cypriot shepherd" is the caption on the back of this card.

The Republic of Cyprus is a small island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. In the middle of the 20th century, agriculture and livestock were the backbone of the nation's economy. That has waned in the past few decades, as the service sector has risen to the forefront of the economy, while farming operations have become dependent upon government subsidies to remain afloat.

Previous Papergreat posts have featured sheep from France, France (again) and Parts Unknown.

This postcard has nothing to indicate its publisher or year of production. It has never been used.

* * *

Village and lake
Speaking of France, here is today's second postcard. It was produced in Strasbourg, France, and the caption on the back states "METZERAL — La Fischbœdle." Metzeral is a commune (township or, in this case, just a village) of about 1,100 residents in northeastern France. Its economy revolves around cheese-making and water-bottling. Fischbœdle is the name of a small lake within walking distance of Metzeral; it is the lake pictured on this postcard. It seems like a wonderful place to sit under a tree at the edge of the lake and read a book.

Stamped in purple on the back is the date August 21, 1946. But this postcard has not otherwise been used or written on.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mystery real photo postcard:
Man and two women

Today's real photo postcard features a man with his arms around two women who are sitting in front of him. There are no identifications and the only clue on the back of the postcard is this:


That's not a huge help, though I did find a couple of Google hits suggesting this might have been a location in Taneytown, Maryland.

This is an AZO postcard and the stamp box, with four upward-pointing triangles, tells us that it dates to between 1904 and 1918.

And that's it for clues. All three individuals in this postcard look fairly youthful, but it's a bit hard to be sure. My best guess might be that we're looking at a brother and his two sisters. But husband-wife-daughter and father-daughter-daughter are possibilities, too, I reckon. Here's a closer look at the gang...

Other mystery RPPCs

Thursday, February 16, 2017

1960s science-fiction book cover: "Down to Earth"

But what about the book itself? Here's a closer look at Down to Earth, the science-fiction novel at the center of last night's Tucked Away Inside post.

  • Title: Down to Earth (the original UK hardcover title was Antic Earth)
  • Cover blurb: "A stunning science-fiction flight into the unearthly future"
  • Author: Louis Charbonneau
  • Cover illustrator: Paul Lehr (1930-1998)
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (F3442)
  • Date of publication: July 1967
  • Price: 50 cents
  • Pages: 187
  • Format: Paperback
  • Excerpt from back-cover blurb: "The Earth was little more than a memory for them — a memory stretching over time and the black abyss of space, a memory kept alive by the huge, three-dimensional images sent up to save them from the madness of their isolation."
  • First two sentences: The first incidents occurred on June 21, 2135 A.D. Dave Perry knew the exact date because a careful daily check of the chronometer had become a ritual.
  • Last sentence: "Huh!" said Jackie, as if he had thereby said it all.
  • Random sentence from middle: Now she hated bridge.
  • About the author: Charbonneau, born in 1924 in Detroit, Michigan, might still be alive as of the this writing. He'd be in his early 90s, and I cannot find any evidence of or reference to his death online. According to the "About the Author" section on the last page of this book, he served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, has been an English literature teacher and has written for the Los Angeles Times. ... According to the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, he "also wrote nonfantastic Westerns as by Carter Travis Young" and made his science-fiction debut in 1958 with No Place on Earth. Of his handful of science-fiction books, the Encyclopedia adds: "In all these novels Charbonneau tends towards claustrophobic situations in which his rather conventional protagonists explore themselves through action scenarios."
  • About the cover artist: Lehr is well-regarded in the history of science-fiction illustration. You can see large versions of some of his work on this post on the Muddy Colors blog. And check out even more of his artwork on Melt and Monster Brains. ... Muddy Colors states: "Along with illustrators like Richard Powers and John Schoenherr, Lehr's surrealistic works help define [the 1960s'] distinctly abstract style." And the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction adds: "while his works were not as extravagantly surreal as those of an artist he is sometimes compared to, Richard M. Powers, those two artists did contribute significantly to the distinctively imaginative style of sf art during that era, which for some represents the peak of the form's long history." ... A documentary called "The Visionary World of Paul Lehr" is in production, and you can learn more at the official website.
  • A positive review: From Goodreads (where the book has a 3.17-star out of 5 rating), Duane Colwell writes: "Very enjoyable. I read it first in 1967 and a couple times since. Recommended. Just finished reading it again, for, I think, the third time. Still a good story. Imaginative and exciting."
  • A negative review: In 2011, and Amazon reviewer with the moniker "Mithridates VI of Pontus" wrote [excerpt]: "The seductive combination of a beautiful cover by Paul Lehr, a seldom read author, a fascinating premise (well, at least from the back cover) appeared at first glance a glorious chance for the pen to wax delightfully on the glories everyone else missed out on. As much as the esotericist delights in searching through back catalogues of dusty books the lack of extant information/reviews on the work entails risk. If I had known the entire plot revolves around a vengeful/vindictive/insane man inflicting tortures (the PG-13 sort) on an unsuspecting family hanging out in space -- à la a watered down version of Michael Haneke's Funny Games (1997) without its postmodern deconstruction of our desire to watch violence -- I would have never spent my hard-earned $2.00 on a copy. ... If you find the book in your local bookstore gaze a moment at the Paul Lehr cover and set it back down. Avoid."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Receipt and more tucked away inside 1967 sci-fi paperback

I recently purchased a used copy of a science-fiction paperback titled Down to Earth, and it was filled with "tucked away inside" treasures. Preserved inside the book were a small sales receipt and an advertising bookmark, both of which I believe date to the original purchase at a store in Michigan 50 years ago.

The first page contains, in the lower-right corner, an embossed stamp indicating that the book was once part of the library of J.R. Newell.

And there's a nifty advertisement, on heavier paper, for Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy that has been bound within the pages.

The book was published in July 1967 with a cover price of 50 cents. That information was helpful as I worked through the book's likely provenance.

And so away we go. That brings us to the first piece of ephemera tucked away inside — the receipt.

It's just 1⅞ inches wide, and the scan is difficult to read, so here is what's printed there...

PHONE 425-7550
20 JUL -7 5857
000.50 $
000.02 $
000.52 $T

It seems clear to me that this book was purchased new in July 1967 — the same month in which it was published. The cost was the original cover price of 50 cents, plus 2 cents for Michigan sales tax, which was 4% at the time.1

Ross Music also provided a nice bookmark — measuring 2¾ inches by 6⅜ inches — to go along with this purchase five decades ago, and it apparently never left the book. (The binding is not creased and you could make a fair argument that this book has never been read.)

Ross Music Shop was located within the Concourse of the Westland Center. It sold records, sheet music, paperback books and musical accessories.

And where was Westland Center? (With its rather generic name.) Through some searching, it became clear that there was only one possibility for a 1960s location named Westland Center that had a store named Ross Music. It would be the Westland Center in Westland, Michigan, located a bit west of Detroit.2 It opened with major fanfare in July 1965, including a full-page advertisement in the July 25, 1965, edition of the Detroit Free Press. That advertisement stated, in part:
"Westland is a community of fine stores and services in a beautiful new setting. A shopping center where it's always summertime, for its stores are joined by covered, temperature-controlled courts, landscaped with tropical plants. And Westland is more than simply a place to shop. It's a beautiful center to come and visit with its imaginative landscaping ... its interesting sculpture ... its many fine service facilities."
Ross Music Store was listed as one of the many stores for the grand opening, alongside the likes of Albert's Artiste Beauty Salon, Better Made Potato Chips, Hamby's Barber Shop, Raimi's Curtains3 and Triangle Furniture.

I don't believe that Ross Music Shop is still an incorporated business. There were multiple locations back in the 1960s; in addition to this one at the Westland Center, there was a Ross Music Shop at the Eastland Center in Harper Woods, Michigan.

I doubt that many bookmarks like this one remain after five decades. The best hope would be finding ones that were tucked away inside other books and forgotten.

Posting on a DetroitYES! message board in 2010, in response to the question "Where did you buy your records when you were growing up?" one user wrote:
"Bought my first LP at Ross Music Shop, at Eastland. Shopped at Hudson's there, too, but that was because I liked a girl who worked there. Ross had more of the English Invasion groups that I liked, and the proprietor, Bob (?) was hip and full of stories about rock n roll."
While I can't find much else about Ross Music, you can read more about the Westland Center in the 2008 post "Memories of Westland Mall" at Quasi-Interesting Paraphernalia Inc. And several photos of Westland Center can be found at the Malls of America website, with great comments on many of the posts.4 Start with this post and work your way backward through the "Previous entries" section at the bottom.

Finally, as mentioned earlier, here's a peek at the interior advertisement pitching Asimov's The Foundation Trilogy for just 10 cents as an introductory offer to get readers into the Science Fiction Book Club (which I wrote about last August).

1. Source for Michigan sales tax history: "The history of MI's sales tax" by Esther Kwon on UPMatters.com.
2. Fun fact: Westland, Michigan, took its name from the mall when Nankin Township incorporated itself as a city in 1966. (Source: Westland Center's Wikipedia page.)
3. Raimi's Curtains might have been owned by Celia Raimi, the mother of movie director and Royal Oak, Michigan, native Sam Raimi.
4. My favorite comment, appropriately from Anonymous: "I got busted trying to take pennies out of a fountain that was located in one of the department stores that was below and to the right of that clock. Can't remember the stores name. Santa used to set up right below that staircase."