Friday, January 20, 2017

You should follow The Ghostly Reader (with a nice cup of tea)

I've become a follower of a number of wonderful new (to me) Twitter accounts in recent weeks, including the artwork feed of Olga Tuleninova, Postcard To America, the surreal and creepy Operators Manual, and the playful and informative Merriam-Webster.

But my favorite new account to follow is The Ghostly Reader (@BozeReads), which hooked me forever with this Tweet...

Obviously, that's a sentiment that's near and dear to my book-loving, fairy-tale-loving heart.

Here are some other recent gems from @BozeReads...

Mystery photo of the Washington Monument from December 1957

Today is a historic day, for better or worse. So here's a little something from the District of Columbia.

It's a blurry found photograph from about 60 years ago — the date along the side is DEC 57. The photo measures 3½ inches by 5¾ inches, is printed on Kodak Velox Paper and has no information or writing on the back.

So what do we know?

  • That's the Washington Monument in the background.
  • Many cars are either parked or lined up along the road leading to the Monument.
  • The trees are bare.
  • There's no snow on the ground.

That's about it. I did a little research, but couldn't find anything too notable or extraordinary that happened in December 1957 and might have involved the Washington Monument.

It's also possible that this photograph was taken a little earlier in 1957 (still, it had to be after all the leaves had fallen), but was not developed and printed until December. Some big events from the final quarter of the year included the Soviet Union's successful launch of Sputnik in October (a definite freak-out moment for the USA) and President Eisenhower's suffering of a small stroke in November.

Or maybe this photo has no historic significance at all and this is just where all the members of Congress parked when the main lot was full.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 14)

Moving along to Page 99 of the 1929's The New Human Interest Library, here's a full-page illustration — from the chapter with the sexist title "Things For Boys To Make" — focusing on many knots that I cannot possibly make, even though I did make it all the way through Webelos and up to the Boy Scout rank of Tenderfoot.

Supposedly handy knots shown here include the Carrick Bend, Fisherman's Knot, Killick Hitch, Timber Hitch, Magnus Hitch and Running Knot.

And, yes, Magnus Hitch would be a good name for a Bond villain.

My great-grandmother's 1904 book on Washington & its protective cover

Here's a cool relic that has survived for 112 years and one month. It's my great-grandmother Greta's copy of The Life of George Washington. In Words of One Syllable., written by Josephine Pollard. The coolest part, as you can see from the above image, is that the book still has most of its protective brown-paper cover.

When I was a schoolboy, it was important to have the hippest-possible protective covers for school textbooks — Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, C.H.O.M.P.S. and such. Back in my great-grandmother's day, however, protective covers were just plain wrappers, perhaps with some artsy designs around the edges. This one certainly did — and is still doing — its job, protecting the colorful cover of the George Washington book.

In inside corners of the cover include printed instructions on attaching it to the book. Some of those instructions:
  • Second: Put this part on the back upper corner of the book. Seal to No. 1.
  • Third: Put this part on the front lower corner of the book.
  • Be sure that each part is snug to the book before sealing.
  • Fourth: Put this part on front upper corner of book. Seal all joinings with care.

This is a Size A cover and it was patented on February 14, 1888, as you can see from this fancy graphic on the inside front flap...

Getting back to the front cover, someone, probably Greta, wrote this in cursive:

Greta M. Chandler
The life of Washington.
Dec., 25, 1904.

And then, on the first page, there is this inscription indicating that it was a Christmas present from Garrett A. Taylor...

Related posts

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Undated mystery photo
of a plucky-looking young girl

This unusually shaped mystery photograph fragment — it measure about 3⅛ inches by 6¾ inches at its widest points — shows a young girl who looks to be somewhere around 6-to-8 years old. The photo is creased and torn and has a big chunk missing from the left side; it looks like a proof that came straight from the developer tray.

On the back of the photo, someone first wrote what looks like "Maria" and then scribbled through that name. Written in pen underneath the scribbled-out name is:

Katherina "Sis" Reinhardt?

It's also possible that the first name, which is written in cursive, has been spelled Katherine, Katharina or Katharine ... but Katherina is my best guess. I should also note that the question mark written at the end of the name was subsequently scribbled out, so someone believed strongly that this picture shows Sis Reinhardt.

But that's it. No date. There aren't any good clues, perhaps other than the girl's clothes, to help us pinpoint when this was taken.

And so we have another mystery. If you have any thoughts or clues, leave them in the comments.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Old postcard: Shakespeare
and "The quality of mercy"

To start the week, here is a dirty and scuffed old postcard that was produced by F.A. Owen Company of Dansville, New York, and postmarked a century ago, in 1917. It features an excerpt from one of William Shakespeare's most famous speeches, the speech on mercy delivered by Portia in The Merchant of Venice. Here is the speech in full:
The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.
* * *

On the back, we learn that this postcard was postmarked in Red Lion and mailed, not far away in York County, to Ellen Hake of Hellem [sic].

The note, written in a purplish pencil, states:
Dear Mother I will write you a few lines to let you know that I am well at Present time. I hope you are [?] real good.
Dear mother i'm coming home on Saturday if nothing Happens and ant ogly and so good By
My take on that last sentence is "if nothing happens and ain't ugly," as in ugly weather. But I could be off on that guess. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Germany after World War II: Peaceful flowers and landscapes

Here's a book that works to highlight the bucolic side of Germany (and Switzerland), a few years after the end of World War II.

It's a paperback volume (with a dust jacket) titled Blühende Welt, which translates to "Flowering World." The other phrase featured on the cover is Naturaufnahmen, which means "nature photography."

The book was published in 1949 by Langewiesche-Bücherei and, according to an English-language note on the bottom of the title page, it was a "publication authorised by Publications Control Branch, Frankfurt Det. Information Control Division OMG for Hesse." This was a government office run by the United States. OMG stands for Office of Military Government. The military government, created after the end of World War II, administered the area of Germany and sector of Berlin controlled by the United States Army. It was in place from May 1945 until December 1949. Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia that describes how information was controlled:
"During the initial first months of the US occupation of Germany, the US Army proceeded to create a monopoly over informational and mass media, shutting down newspapers, radios, and journals. As such, US media sources were the only mass media available in occupied Germany, provided primarily by Radio Luxemburg, US Army information fliers (Mitteilungblätter), and Army newspapers. With the assumption of control by the Office of Military Government, this process of media monopolization gave way to gradual inclusion of German media under the auspices of strict censorship and oversight by the [Information Control Division]. In 1945, the ICD assessed and vetted an initial 73 German editors to resume operations of paper media, newspapers, and journals. Though the ICD and OMGUS assumed a stance of open and positive inclusion by Germans removed from Nazi affiliation, these editors operated under conditions of post-publication censorship, whereby non-compliance could lead to the revocation of media licenses."
But enough about controlling the media! Let's enjoy some beautiful flowers...

Frühlingswiese im Hochgebirge
Spring meadow in the Hochgebirge

Am Zugersee
On Lake Zug

Im Engadin
In the Engadine

Landstraße im Frühling
Country road in spring