Monday, January 30, 2017

In which "Mark Felt" solves many, many Papergreat mysteries

Five days ago, I began receiving a flood of Anonymous comments on old Papergreat posts. They are tremendous comments — adding more history about the ephemera and the real people behind the ephemera, solving tough mysteries and providing smart depth to the original posts. A couple of days into this unexpected and unusual bounty of feedback, I asked if my mysterious benefactor would reveal herself or himself. This is the response that I received: "It's my pleasure. My name is Mark Felt -- or maybe it isn't. As a student of history, you will understand the reference."

Indeed. Mark Felt (1913-2008) was a longtime FBI special agent and Deputy Director who, a few years before his death, admitted — confirming decades of speculation — that he was Watergate whistleblower known as "Deep Throat."

So Papergreat has its own secret informant! And I didn't even need to travel to a parking garage in Rosslyn, Virginia, to get all of this great information.

So, without further ado, here are all the comments that Anonymous has gifted to Papergreat since January 25...

Saturday's postcards: Two greetings from 100+ years ago (originally posted July 21, 2012)

Anonymous writes: It appears that Wesley Swartley, Jr. met a sad and untimely passing, as described in the Indiana Gazette on October 9, 1946:

Chris says: To back up a little bit, the postcard originally featured was postmarked in 1908 and sent to Wesley K. Swartley, who was born in 1899. So his son is Wesley Swartley Jr., and this is the grim newspaper excerpt from 1946 that Anonymous discovered:
School Boy Suffocates
NORRISTOWN, Pa., Oct. 9 — Wesley Swartley, Jr., 17 year old Norristown High School pupil, was found dead Monday and his parents unconscious in their first floor apartment, apparent suffocation victims. John C. Simpson, coroner's physician, described the death of Swartley as accidental. His parents, Wesley, 47, and Catherine, 42, are in Montgomery County Hosptal. They were found by Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Singleton, occupants of a second floor apartment. The elder Swartleys, fully clothed, were on a bed, beneath which a dog was lying dead. The youth was on a couch in the living room. Dr. Simpson said he believed a lighted gas heater in the cellar and burners in the kitchen exhausted the oxygen content of the air in the apartment.
I can't find any definitive source or obituary regarding the ultimate fate of the parents, after they were hospitalized in the wake of this heartbreaking incident. I did find one passing reference to Wesley K. Swartley Sr. dying in 1974, but couldn't confirm that with any cross-checking.

* * *

1911 postcard: "Wish we were playmates again" (originally posted July 31, 2016)

Anonymous writes: Lillian's last name was "Voezel":

* * *

Cartoon postcard from Germany featuring gondola lift and goat (originally published July 28, 2016)

Anonymous writes: Translation: "With singing and yodel-a-hee-hoo,
the cable car goes to the top.
Up there, there is beer and cheese*.
'To your health!' I'll drink a** tankard."

*The German word for "cheese" is "Käse". In this instance, however, the Dutch monosyllabic equivalent "Kaas" was used, as that rhymes with the German "Maß" (a "tankard" or "measure" -- basically, a mug for beer).

**The singular feminine indefinite article in German is the disyllabic "eine". Here the monosyllabic contraction "'ne" was used to maintain rhythm.

The character in red is sitting next to a sign which reads "Do not lean out" (which is exactly what he is doing). On his shirt is written "ski school".

At the front of the funicular is a sign which reads "mountain station".

* * *

Hoover Dam and a reminder to always use ZIP codes (originally published April 29, 2016)

Anonymous writes: Carl Palm passed away on New Year's Day of 1974:

I should add that the township near the dam -- Boulder City, to be specific -- is just one of two places in Nevada where gambling is prohibited.

The other is the hamlet of Panaca (population 963) along the eastern border of the state, near Utah -- as in fact, Panaca was part of Utah until 1866, thus explaining the ascetic ways of its inhabitants, even to this day.

I learned all this when I was serving as a Sarbanes-Oxley audit director on behalf of a major gaming client in Nevada over a year ago.

* * *

Celebrating Earth Day 2016 with 6 awe-inspiring vintage postcards (originally published April 22, 2016)

Anonymous writes (with regard to the postcard pictured here): The artery running along the left side of the picture is Sunset Boulevard. To the right is the 101 (Hollywood) freeway. The angle of view is toward the south (more or less).

The four-level freeway structure appears to be in place, which means no earlier than 1953.

The tallest building in the photo appears to be City Hall (the obelisk-shaped structure behind the letter "S" in "THOSE"). Since the first building to surpass City Hall (namely the Union Bank building) was built in 1968-1969 -- and judging from the use of the slang term "DIG" and the drawing of the airplane -- this card probably originates from the 60's.

* * *

Partially deciphering a "Buttonwood Farm" postcard from 1913 (originally published April 13, 2016)

Anonymous writes: 1. March 23, 1913 was a Sunday; less likely to be postmarked on the Sabbath. January 23, 1913 (a Thursday) may be more likely.

2. Here is information about the graves of Fred and Bessie Santee (with a notation of their daughter Nellie):

3. Per the above, there were three children (not just one).

* * *

Mystery vintage postcard: "Haunted House" near Delaware, Ohio (originally published October 29, 2016)

Anonymous writes: Have a read:

Details on the O'Shaughnessy Dam are posted here:'Shaughnessy_Dam_(Ohio)

Chris says: The first link from Anonymous, definitely worth a read for ghost enthusiasts, takes you to a book titled Ohio Ghost Hunter Guide V: A Haunted Hocking Ghost Hunter Guide, which was written by Jannette Rae Quackenbush and published in 2014.

* * *

1918 postcard: "That Nightmare Sure Was A Horse On Me" (originally published October 26, 2016)

Anonymous writes: Al (Albert) Guffey was born on September 27, 1910, near Callao, Missouri (which is about 73 miles from Nettleton, Missouri).

At the time the post card was sent, Al would have been just over seven years old, which is consistent with the handwriting of Marvin, presumably a friend and contemporary of Al's.

Al moved to California and raised a family. He died in 1990.


* * *

A different Madison Square Garden, many moons ago (originally published July 15, 2016)

Anonymous writes: "Herbert Hall picked a blue violet in South Windham [Vermont] Oct. 10 [1917]."

Source (top of the middle column, below "About the State"):

* * *

Cool stuff in the mailbox this week from Postcrossing (originally published March 26, 2016)

Anonymous writes: The stamp from Belarus is Universal Postal Union code BY001.15. The horizontal text reads: "Architectural Monuments of Capitals [or perhaps 'the Capital']". The vertical text reads: "Church of Saints Simon and Helena".


* * *

Postcard of Harrisburg (with a minor mystery) mailed in 1922 (originally published March 20, 2016)

Anonymous writes: Here's a modern photo from the same angle. Copy it before it disappears from Pinterest:

True to your word, the obelisk is not in evidence.

Chris says: OK, here's the modern image.

* * *

1910 postcard of Rocky Springs Park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (originally published March 12, 2016)

Anonymous writes: It's just plain ol' "Hope". See page 132:

Chris says: Indeed. I overthought it in trying to figure out the cursive writing. My guesses of Heopa, Heapa and Heoka were way off. It's just plain old Hope.

* * *

Dramatic postcard featuring a dragon and a ghost [help needed] (originally published September 29, 2016)

Anonymous writes: Translation:

"The Manifestation of Shichi-Menten.

For nine years, the great priest had been preaching to his acolytes. During that time, a lone woman would always sit quietly and listen. The woman was, in actuality, the Daija-Snake who had lived for ages in the great mountain. The great priest, knowing of this, preached to this woman regarding enlightenment, and just then, the woman appeared in her snake form and vowed to act as a protector goddess of the mountain. 'Lady Shichi Menten' is that woman."


The story appears to be the origin story of a demigod within the pantheon of Nichiren-shu, a Buddhist sect in Japan (which I believe also has New Age-type followers in the U.S.). There are references to a mountain, which is likely meant to mean the location of the Nichiren-shu main temple/headquarters. The Japanese actually says "this mountain", which suggests that the document is something given to visitors to that temple itself. One educated guess is that the document is a little information pamphlet given to tourists who visited the temple. Some of the kanji characters, and the hiragana written to the side of those characters, are slightly archaic, suggesting that the document is fifty or a hundred years old (or more), or that perhaps the use was intentionally archaic to give it a more regal air (similar to using "thee" or "shalt" when quoting from the Bible).

Additional note from Anonymous: This ... took quite a bit of work and assistance from my brother, who is a Japanese language expert and was a multi-year expatriate in Tokyo.

* * *

Postcard from more than 100 years ago: I'm off (for home) (originally published July 11, 2014)

Anonymous writes: This card was manufactured by the Detroit firm of Ely, Boynton, and Ely ("E.B.&E."), which was only in operation from 1903 to 1908 -- helping you to place the age of this card. Source:

EB&E produced all manner of cards, buttons, and other advertising paraphernalia, some of it considered insensitive by modern standards -- for example, see p. 550 of this book:,+Boynton,+and+Ely&source=bl&ots=ctwEbH8xOT&sig=qr639oBj_dsRXI8OCXufJg5EC5E&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjMwICP_uLRAhWCgFQKHSktA1gQ6AEIKzAE#v=onepage&q=Ely%2C%20Boynton%2C%20and%20Ely&f=false

Edward A. Ely passed away in December of 1905, likely contributing to the untimely demise of the firm. Source:

* * *

Notes, scribbles and doodles on the back of an old postcard (originally published November 18, 2015)

Anonymous writes: The scribbled/doodled postcard leads down many tangents:

Other members of the Thevenet family also lived at 371 Seymour Avenue, including Clarence S. Thevenet, whose radio license (with the same address) was recognized on p. 6 of the "Radio Service Bulletin" dated January 1, 1917. Source:

Clarence was two and a half years older than Mabel (to whom the postcard was addressed). Sources:

-- and --

Thus, given the proximity in age and the same address, we might conclude that Mabel and Clarence were siblings.

Fortunately, a granddaughter of Clarence (and presumably a great niece of Mabel), named Alana Thevenet, is a genealogist, and may be able to shed light on these and other family members. If you wish, feel free to e-mail Alana at the address provided here:

No doubt Alana would be overjoyed to see the scan of this postcard at your site.

Interesting: Alana's grandparents on the other side of her family lived right down the street at 139 Seymour Avenue. Source:

Finally, Clarence later served in naval communications during World War II. Source:

Clarence died just a few years later (1946). Rest in peace.

* * *

Postcard: Wishing Thoma a Merry Christmas in 1913 (originally published December 10, 2011)

Anonymous writes: The Harrisburg Telegraph of April 29, 1918, shows a photograph of a Paul W. Miller, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Miller, at the same address (610 Schuylkill Street). Source:

According to the Evening News of Harrisburg dated September 2, 1918, Paul W. Miller was a lieutenant. Source:

The property at 610 Schuylkill Street was a three-story brick building. Source:

Numerous sites list other owners over the year. There was a chimney fire there in 1933, when the property was owned by a J. D. Brightbill:

Google Earth, Realty Trac, and similar sites seem to show that the property is now gone.

This does not solve the mystery of who Thoma (or Thomas) J. Miller was. The fact that "Mr. and Mrs." is not listed in the address suggests that Anna's grandmother may have predeceased her grandfather.

Who Anna was is even more of a mystery.

* * *

Illustrated postcard mailed in 1907 and a bat stamp from Latvia (originally published August 18, 2013)

Anonymous writes: V.O.H.P. = V.O. Hammon Publishing Company. Source:

Address: 215 Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL and Minneapolis, MN. Source:

* * *

Three Earth- and space-themed vintage QSL cards (originally published July 2, 2013)

Anonymous writes: The second of the three QSL cards is better described as a "shortwave listener card" ("SWL card") rather than a true QSL (verification) card: SWL's only listen; they do not transmit, and thus they can not verify a transmission.

SWL "call signs" are not issued by any governmental agency and carry no legal weight. Nonetheless, some SWL's go through the motions of "applying" for a unique call sign -- see:

The call sign ("SWL/W1") on the second card posted above is rather generic; for example, compare (but do not contrast):

Much has been written about the demise of international shortwave broadcasting since the end of the cold war and the rise of the Internet. Former powerhouses such as BBC, Radio Moscow, and VOA have stopped broadcasting to the United States or have ceased their transmissions entirely.

In fact, Radio Australia is about to become the latest international broadcaster to leave the shortwaves: 73's ["Best wishes" or "Goodbye"] in just a few days (January 31 of this year):

Chris says: And that will do it. Thank you so much, Anonymous/Mark Felt, for all of these comments, insights and links to help set the record straight on a bevy of Papergreat posts. It's greatly appreciated. This also makes you an absolute lock for landing the prestigious 2017 Papergreat Summer Internship, if you wish to apply. ;)


  1. As to your "Wishing Thoma a Merry Christmas" paragraph above, was the item originally published on "December 10, 201"? Is that AD or BC? :-)

    1. FIXED! And I'm up for some BC ephemera any time.