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
Dundee
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 — http://raymondfjones.tripod.com/index.htm — 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.

(Exhale.)

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 https://www.gofundme.com/canadays-book-barn-sale-family-fund 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 Amazon.com. 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 Observer.com. 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.