Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Reads: Summer reading

Oy. It's been so longearly February — since I posted a collection of links to great articles and a rundown of what I'm reading.

So let's dive in, and please share you Summer Reading Program down in the comments. I'm always looking for more things to add to my list.

Books I've finished in recent months
  • Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • From Bauhaus to Our House, by Tom Wolfe
  • Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb, by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
  • Turning Japanese, by MariNaomi
  • Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, by Ted Koppel
  • A Hundred Thousand Worlds, by Bob Proehl
  • Making Hay, by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Currently reading
  • Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation, by Edward Humes
  • Restless Nights: Selected Stories, by Dino Buzzati, Lawrence Venuti (translator)
  • The Avengers Omnibus, Vol. 1, by Stan Lee (writer), Jack Kirby (artist), Don Heck (artist), et al. [finally finishing this behemoth after many months]
  • ongoing Secret Empire comics series by Nick Spencer

Just checked out from library
  • Laika, by Nick Abadzis
  • Last Harvest, by Witold Rybczynski

Enthusiastic about reading in coming months
  • My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris
  • Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
  • Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of Twenty Lost Buildings from the Tower of Babel to the Twin Towers, by James Crawford
  • One for the Books, by Joe Queenan
  • Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, by Zeynep Tufekci
  • Henchgirl, by Kristen Gudsnuk
  • Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul, by Clara Bingham
  • The Gallows Pole, by Benjamin Myers
  • Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads, by Kirk Demarais
  • and so many others...

A few links to articles and essays to read
on your lunch hour or during the weekend


And if you just need a good laugh

The Magic Square Impregnated
(old matchbox label)

This illustration is featured on the label of an old matchbox, manufacturer unknown. This one states "MADE IN ENGLAND" across the bottom, and I found some mentions indicating that it was produced circa 1930.

I also found, while searching online, some nearly identical labels, the only difference being that they state MADE IN SWEDEN instead of England. Another, even more specially, cites Jönköping, Sweden.

"Impregnated" refers to fact that the match heads are impregnated with chemical fuses that allow combustion to take place if they are struck in the proper manner. Matches are further referred to as either safety matches (as these were) or strike-anywhere matches.

As far as the wizard and the Magic Square, Lars G. Wallentin of the Packaging Sense website called these the Sudoku of the 1930s:
"As each match box contained about 60 matches, The Magic Square told this in a very creative way. Note that however you add it up, whether vertically, horizontally or diagonally, you arrive at 60!"
To see more cool matchbox labels, check out Packaging Sense, an old io9 article titled "The Weird and Occasionally WTF World of Matchbox Art" and Phillumeny.com.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Nature vs. nuture vs. turtlenecks

Each autumn and winter, I receive a fair amount of ribbing for my propensity toward wearing turtlenecks and mock turtlenecks. Upon sorting through some family photos, I would suggest that it was definitely a learned behavior. And that I was a damn-fine well-dressed young man in the 1970s.

January 1974

March 1975
Adriane and I, taken at Harris Studios of Williamsport and Muncy, Pa.

Autumn 1978
Second Grade

Another reason we shouldn't be too critical of the Youth Turtleneck Phase is that it was followed by the Philadelphia Phillies T-Shirt in Every School Photo phase.

Three nifty old aircraft-themed book covers

This afternoon's post follows on the heels of last week's "Three nifty old sports-themed book covers."


  • Title: The Motor Boys Over the Rockies
  • Series: The Motor Boys (this book is #10 of 22)
  • Author: Clarence Young (a pseudonym used by several Stratemeyer authors)
  • Cover illustrator: Possibly R. Richards
  • Publisher: Cupples & Leon Company, New York
  • Year of publication: 1911
  • Pages: 248
  • Excerpt from preface: "Airships are now getting to be a regular feature of our daily life, and, while not yet as numerous as automobiles, it is only a question of time when they will be. You remember, I suppose, when automobiles were not very numerous, but there is not a city in this country to-day, where several can not be seen."
  • Excerpt from story: "Their course was not southwest, and, judging by the speed and length of time they had been in motion, they figured that the airship was over Pennsylvania. As it raced along, about five hundred feet above the surface, and over a rather sparsely settled country, Bob, who was looking through a telescope, suddenly uttered a cry."
  • Notes: Names written in the front include Margaret Ann Yancey (possibly this person), John Yancey and John Brake. ... See the previous posts on The Rover Boys at Big Horn Ranch and a Motor Girls book cover.


  • Title: The Sky Detectives
  • Subtitle: How Jack Ralston Got His Man
  • Series: The Jack Ralston/Sky Detectives Series (this is #1 of 6)
  • Author: Ambrose Newcomb
  • Cover illustrator: Unknown
  • Publisher: The Goldsmith Publishing Company, Chicago
  • Year of publication: 1930
  • Pages: 254
  • Excerpt: "No flyer ever saw his enemy going down in a flaming coffin without feeling compassion gripping him; that one moment had changed his heart from bitter hatred to a sense of pity; knowing as he must have done that the day might be near at hand when he too would share in a similar dreadful fate."
  • Notes: The inscription on the first page states "Merry Christmas 1946 from Jack B. Ward." ... If you're curious, you can read the The Sky Detectives MEGAPACK™, featuring all six books in the series, for just 99 cents on Kindle.


  • Title: Bill Bruce in the Trans-Continental Race
  • Series: The Aviator Series (also known as the Bill Bruce Series). This is #5 of 6.
  • Author: Major Henry H. Arnold, Air Corps, aka Hap Arnold (1886-1950)
  • Cover illustrator: Unknown
  • Publisher: A.L. Burt Company, New York
  • Year of publication: 1928
  • Pages: 247
  • Excerpt: "Bill studied his map as he returned to this plane. Battle Mountain, 169 miles away, was the next control. The railroad in between the two towns made a large letter 'S.' Anyone flying a straight course would pass over many miles of rough, mountainous, barren, uninhabited terrain. In case of a forced landing there would be absolutely no possibility of getting the plane repaired and continuing the race."
  • Notes: All six books in the series were published in 1928. ... Upon doing one final flip-through of this book, I found an exciting little "tucked away inside." It's an old cursive note, on a piece of paper the size of a magazine address label. It states: "Dear Claire, This reminded me so much of you that I just had to take it home."

Don't give me the evil eye for my book-acquisition addiction

As I mentioned last week, I'm trying — really trying — to prune more books from my new bedroom to make room for everything. Many things have departed. More things still need to go.

I'm using the blog to help with The Lessening, the theory being that once I've documented and published a post about a cool book cover or inscription or bookplate or tucked-away-inside item, then I'm free to re-release the book into the wild. My job as historian is done, at least in the digital sense.

But my plan failed miserably in one very recent instance. Pruning one book led directly to the purchase of another. That kind of math isn't going to lead to fewer books in the inventory.

Here's what happened: Writing about the groovy old bookplate inside A Diary from Dixie allowed me send Diary out of the house.

Minus one book.

But, in writing about the bookplate, I discovered that its owner, Edward S. Gifford Jr., had published a book titled The Evil Eye: Studies in the Folklore of Vision in 1958. And if you know anything about me by now, you know I had to have that book.

Plus one book.

(The Price is Right fail horn.)

I found a cheap copy online and, voilà, The Evil Eye is now in my collection of folklore titles, alongside the likes of Wonder Tales from the China Seas, Korean Lore, Old Schuylkill Tales and The Land of Haunted Castles.

Here's an excerpt from the dust jacket of The Evil Eye:
"For Dr. Gifford, writing is a late evening occupation; his days are fully occupied in his office and in discharging his duties as Chief Ophthalmologist to the Pennsylvania Hospital ... Fascinated by the folklore of his science, Dr. Gifford has made an exhaustive study of it. ... The grist for Dr. Gifford's mill is the whole of man's history, from the earliest written records down to the latest researches of modern psychiatrists. The author is an ophthalmologist as well as a balanced and enlightened raconteur. The result is this amusing and erudite treat, a book that will strongly appeal to all who relish the unusual."
The 216-page book comes with an exhaustive 12-page bibliography. The interior illustrations are by Virginia Mason Gifford, Edward's wife, and the book is dedicated to her. The cover was designed by Gilbert Etheredge, and, yes, I think the drawing looks a little bit like E.T.

Monday, June 19, 2017

From the readers: Manning-Sanders, bus history & Beatles movies

Here's a roundup of comments that have been made on Papergreat posts this spring. Thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts!

"A Book of Mermaids" by Ruth Manning-Sanders is back in print! Katie writes: "I was thrilled to receive this book for Christmas. Like you, I have been collecting these books in the last few years. I still have yet to find Magic Horses, Magic Adventures, Heroes and Heroines and Marvels and Magic at a reasonable expense. I loved reading these stories as a child, and vividly recall the ink artwork in the original publishings. I was disappointed to find these missing in the republished edition of Mermaids. Nevertheless, I hope that the trend continues so that many more can enjoy this wonderful collection of stories!"

Thanks for writing, Katie. I agree it would have been great to see the Robin Jacques artwork in the reprint, but I fully understand how the logistics (and cost) of that might have been prohibitive. Meanwhile, I think the four books you mentioned are the exact same "final four" that I had the most difficulty acquiring. It mostly just takes perseverance and a willingness to check Amazon, Alibris, AbeBooks and eBay on a regular basis. Almost everything will surface eventually at a fair price. Best wishes to you!

Mystery at Penmarth: a Ruth Manning-Sanders rarity: Thecheshirecat writes: "I have to say that the hardest of Manning-Sanders' novels to find and get copies of are Selina Pennaluna (1927) and Mermaid's Mirror (1935). Did you find these hard to obtain?"

There are still numerous Manning-Sanders books that I do not have — she was so prolific. Plus, for many years, I focused solely on her books related to folk and fairy tales. I do not have either of the books you mentioned, and I would fully agree that they are extremely rare. I don't think I've ever seen a copy of Mermaid's Mirror available anywhere. ... I do have Pages from the History of Zachy Trenoy, which has always seemed fairly scarce. I believe Run Away is fairly scarce, too. It seems like Manning-Sanders rarities would be a good topic for a future post.

Five cool things from 1935's "Elements of Business Training": A reader with the code name yc720_06 writes: "Google Pickwick Nitecoach for starters and if you can manage to find a copy of the periodical, Motor Coach Age, October 1972, published by the Motor bus Society, there's a whole issue devoted to 'Sleeper Buses and the Pickwick Stages System.' There were only four built of the type shown, which was of a slightly different design to the earlier three. Named 'Morpheus,' it was the fourth, but by no means the last, of a series of highly innovative designs patented by Dwight E. Austin, which culminated in the first bus with a transverse rear engine. Eight were built and Austin was hired by GM subsidiary Yellow Coach in 1934 for his unique 'angle drive' engine transmission patent. The rest as they say was history. Hope this helps."

Old postcard: U.S. Veterans Hospital 88 in Memphis: Anonymous writes: "This hospital was operated by the Veterans Bureau (1920-1930) before it was renamed the Veterans Administration. The number 88 indicated it was listed as the 88th hospital in the Veterans Bureau inventory. TC Mid-South Paralyzed Veterans of America Chapter Historian."

"I've Got My Beatles Movie Ticket...": Tom from the Garage Sale Finds blog writes: "Coincidentally, I just finished watching A Hard Day's Night today. I've always been a bigger fan of Help! (I know, sacrilege among Beatles fans) and had never watched A Hard Day's Night all the way through. Enjoyable, but I still have to go with Help! as the more enjoyable of the two. I guess because it has a more involved story line."

Full disclosure: I have never seen any of The Beatles movies. If I had to dive into that genre (no pun intended), I would probably start with Yellow Submarine, minus the LSD.

Ephemera for Lunch #21: Class photo on the outside steps: Anonymous writes: "G.B.Lohmuller is my grandfather. Bertie is his wife. One of the boys in the center looks JUST like my father so he has to be his father. My dad was born in 1926 so this is his father. So cool. Thanks so much for a wonderful surprise."

Classified advertisements from a 1932 issue of Hobbies magazine: Anonymous writes: "The A.H. Griffith in the text above was a noted scholar of Abraham Lincoln. Here is more information, and a photo of Albert H. Griffith: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pis&PIpi=155524550&PIgrid=92761663"

Straight Arrow Injun-uity card from Nabisco Shredded Wheat: Rod South writes: "I have a 28 book #1 set of the Straight Arrow cards and on the cover card it says a set of 28 cards, everywhere I look shows book #1 and #2 contain cards numbered to #36. These cards are from Canada and I'm wondering if the Canadian set was smaller?"

That's a good question, Rod. I don't know the answer, but I hope one of our readers might be able to help.

Delving into Henry K. Wampole & Company: Lyndigger writes: "I also am related to the Wampole name via George W. Wampole. Not sure if or how he was related to Henry Wampole. Also related to Shermerhorn. Interesting how these names were connected in history."

St. Peter's Church in the Great Valley: Anonymous writes: "The Rev. Frederick A. Breuninger, who drafted the original receipt for your family's burial plot on August 3, 1958, passed away in June of 1982. He is buried in the same cemetery. Source: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=125356031. When you next visit your mother, visit the Reverend as well. It would be an honor to them both, bless their memories."

I will definitely do that. Thank you so much for sharing this information.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday's postcard: Nebraska's Crowell Memorial Home, circa 1910


This old postcard is captioned "Crowell M.E. Memorial Home, Blair, Neb." on the front. It was mailed in 1910, and this home is still around and thriving 107 years later! According to the Crowell Memorial Home's website:
"Crowell Home sits high on a shady hillside, overlooking Blair, Nebraska, and the beautiful Missouri River Valley. It was founded in 1905 when Christopher Columbus1 and Polly Crowell donated their mansion to be used as a retirement home. We are a non-profit facility dedicated to providing care to all.

"A Medicare/Medicaid certified facility, we offer a full continuum of care with 88 skilled nursing beds, 18 assisted living apartments and eight independent living apartments. Crowell Home is one of only ten Nebraska Nursing Homes to qualify as a founding member of Nebraska's 'I Support Quality of Life Project.'"


This postcard was mailed to Miss Frances Newman in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is about six hours northeast of Blair (based on today's driving times). The note on the back states (with a little editing to make it more readable):
"Blair July 14th 1910
My Dear Friend
Franches
I rec'd your Card. Thanks ever so much it. Glad to hear from you and that you had a nice time. We wish you could take a trip down here. How glad we all would be to see you. We hop you will someday. Give our love to your Mother and sisters and keep a share for your self. Will be pleased to hear from you anytime. Your friend, [indecipherable]."
And, in case you were wondering, the Phillies split a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs on July 14, 1910.

Footnote
1. Not that Christopher Columbus.