Saturday, November 4, 2017

"Looks a little like 'Leroy' doesn't it."

"Looks a little like 'Leroy' doesn't it." is the entirety of the handwritten note on the back of this vintage postcard of Lyman Run Dam in Potter County, Pennsylvania.

The postcard, an Ektachrome by Richard C. Miller that was published by Modern-Ad of Butler, Pennsylvania, was mailed from Port Allegany, Pennsylvania, with a two-cent Jefferson stamp sometime in the 1950s (the postmark is obscured).

There are more than a dozen places named Leroy (or slight variations of Leroy) in the United States, so I reckon the writer could be referring to one of those.

Here's the printed caption from the back of this beautiful autumnal scene:
LYMAN RUN DAM, located 8 miles southwest of Galeton, Pa., near Germania. The lake provides excellent fishing and the surrounding area is noted for good deer and bear hunting. Galeton, on U.S. Rt. 6 is just west of Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon.
The village of Germania doesn't have a Wikipedia page, but it does have its own Facebook page, where it is described as follows: "Germania, Pennsylvania was established by 100 Germans in 1855, looking for somewhere to live I suppose. I made this page so others from Germania that have moved away can still stop in and see some old pictures or post some of their own."

Friday, November 3, 2017

Utterly amazing 1959 cruise from Norwegian American Line

This is the gorgeous cover of an elaborate brochure that Norwegian American Line (1910-1995) published to advertise a 41-day cruise of the North Atlantic Ocean and Baltic Sea in 1959. Destinations on the New York to New York cruise included Glengarriff, Ireland; Oban, Scotland; Hammerfest, Norway; Balestrand, Norway; Bergen, Norway; Oslo, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Visby, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; Hamburg, Germany; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Antwerp, Belgium.

I believe this is a cruise that my great-grandmother, Greta, took. Lucky duck!

Here are some highlights from the brochure. Prepare to be floored ... and jealous.

  • "Join the beautiful motor liner Bergensfjord for the most thrilling of vacation voyages, a cruise to Europe's Northern Wonderlands, where lingering sunset bursts into sunrise during endless summer days. Enjoy first a leisurely crossing of the mid-Atlantic to Ireland and Scotland — a new feature for 1959! Then the romance of the old Norse Sagas comes proudly to life during the approach to the North Cape of Norway under the glorious Midnight Sun. The stately ship sails among thousands of lovely islands and through the most spectacular fjords — majestic inlets of the sea ringed about with soaring mountains, snowy glaciers and glistening waterfalls."
  • "Ultra-modern from stem to stern, the Bergensfjord is fitted with stabilizers for smooth sailing. She is air conditioned throughout, with individual control of temperature in every stateroom. She has both outdoor and indoor swimming pools, steam bath and massage room. .... Two attractive dining rooms accommodate the entire cruise membership at one sitting. You will enjoy fine food, served in quiet good taste, and there, of course, the added zest of the famous Norwegian cold buffet specialties."
  • "Many of Norway's leading artists and craftsmen were called upon to create the decor of the Bergensfjord. The paintings, tapestries, wood carvings and mosaics in her public rooms are all typical of Norwegian art."
  • "The charming Club Bergen is an ideal setting for bridge and canasta tournaments. There are quiet reading and writing rooms..."
  • In Geiranger, Norway, tours were set to leave the ship "by ferry for a journey through majestic mountains to Eagle Bend, with a stop to observe the Bergensfjord gliding 1,800 feet below toward Geiranger. The tours continue to Djupvatn [Djupvatnet], with its ever-frozen lake, and onto Dalsnibba, a 4,950-foot peak, before returning to Geiranger in the afternoon."
  • Special side tours, available by arrangement, included "an air tour to Moscow and Leningrad in the Soviet Union and a four-day tour by air and train to West Berlin, Frankfurt and Heidelberg."
  • And the cost of all this? Prices, per passenger, ranged from $1,050 to $5,200 (for the Leif Ericson Suite or Edvard Grieg Suite). The average price per passenger was around $2,300. I hope you're sitting down for this, because that would be about $19,200 per person today, which would work out to about $468 per day for a 41-day summer-vacation cruise.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mary Maxim presents ... A New World of Knitting Fashions

Pictured above is the front cover of an old 48-page staplebound catalog for Mary Maxim, a mail-order company that still thrives today and specializes in crafts, yarn, sweaters and knitting/needlework supplies. There's no date anywhere on this catalog. My guess would be sometime in the 1960 to 1962 range, but slightly earlier is possible, too.

According to Wikipedia: "Mary Maxim was first recognized for their quality knitting yarns. In the late 1950s they became increasingly popular for their bulky, knit sweaters with designs influenced by North American Wildlife. The first sweater pattern was designed in 1951 by Stella Sawchyn."

A letter to customers on Page 2 of the catalog states:
"Dear Knitter,

"The contents of the next 46 pages represent only the most popular Mary Maxim designs for handknitting — designs which are sufficiently broad in their scope to please even the most discriminating knitter and style and easy knitting.

"Assembled in this catalogue are Canada's largest selection of knitting designs in leaflet form which, when knitted with Mary Maxim YARNS, GUARANTEE you the ultimate in knitting satisfaction."
So here's an awesome gallery from the catalog/catalogue of some that ultimate knitting satisfaction...

From left: (1) "Unforgettably Fashion Right" with Raglan sleeves, windbreaker collar and in Northland Donegal Heather; (2) "Full cut for freedom of action" in Northland Blue Heather; (3) "A Dashing Diamond Design" with a shawl collar in Northland Cranberry Heather; (4) "Rugged looking, in rich lustrous Northland," available in multiple colors.

The popular wild duck and reindeer outdoor designs. The reindeer design comes in "fawn" for kids ages 4-6. Not pictured is the pheasant hunting sweater, featuring a rifleman and dog and looking utterly like a screenshot from Nintendo's "Duck Hunt."

The Grizzly wildlife sweater in Northland wool. From a series that also includes beaver, buffalo, wolf, beagle hound, Holstein cow, sports car and — I'm not making this up — "hoedown" sweaters.

Make sure you have one of those bowling sweaters for everyone on your Tuesday night team!

"1845 — SLEEVELESS SHELLS. Sizes 32-38. Knitting Worsted/Double Knitting or Sayelle Nantuk." (hair-styling not included)

Left: "This is the sweater of the year. Easy-to-follow instructions. 3/4 push up sleeves. Attractive garter stitch yoke. Either plain or in three colors. Illustrated Mohair colors: Stone Green, or White with Scarlet and Stone Green." Right: "Comfortable Raglan sleeves, attractive with or without a collar. Mohair colors featured: Yellow or Medium Blue."

"Colorful Bulky Boat Neck Pullover. Thick 'n Thin colors featured: Crimson/Charcoal with Natural/Charcoal."

"Hayes Tips and Clues" for November bulletin boards

Hayes Tips and Clues for Every Bulletin Board (1978), which I'll keep referring back to during this school year1, has several suggestions for November bulletin boards for grade-school classrooms. Predictably, there are boards themed around turkeys, giving thanks, pilgrims and Thanksgiving recipes.2

There is also the suggestion, shown above, for a bulletin board about Native Americans in the United States. The book presents the following outline:
This board is an excellent means of expressing factual information about the American Indian. The face of an Indian can be drawn on colored construction paper. Use real multi-colored feathers for the band on the head of the Indian. Pictures of different Indian tribes, etc., may be be placed beneath the portrait.
Nomenclature-of-the-times aside, this really isn't a bad approach for elementary-school students in the 1970s, especially if the focus is on "factual information." (Remember when our nation emphasized and exalted facts and truth?)

Today, we have many more age-appropriate educational resources at our disposal to gradually teach young students about the heartbreak, dishonorable actions and outright murder that the U.S. government perpetrated upon the indigenous peoples of North American. And we have the resources, too, to educate children and stimulate their natural curiosity about those amazing peoples and cultures in ways that don't rely on stereotypes and decades of damaging pop-culture portrayals.3

Here are some of the lauded school-age books that are available:

  • Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, by Cornelia Cornelissen
  • Trail of Tears (Step-Into-Reading, Step 5), by Joseph Bruchac
  • Brave Wolf and the Thunderbird, by Joseph Medicine Crow and Linda R. Martin
  • Jingle Dancer, by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • How I Became A Ghost — A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story, by Tim Tingle
  • As Long As the Rivers Flow: The Stories of Nine Native Americans, by Paula Gunn Allen and Patricia Clark Smith

1. See these previous posts: Suggested September bulletin board from Hayes School Publishing Co. and October: The month of gags and folly.
2. Related: Bettina's Thanksgiving in the country (and more).
3. Slightly related: The World Series ended last night and it would be nice if we could make some real progress this offseason toward Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves dealing with offensive mascot situations that simply should not exist nearly two decades into the supposedly enlightened 21st century.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Have a very Baba Yaga Halloween

Happy Halloween! This old postcard proved to be a minor mystery for me to crack, but I channeled the smarts of Velma Dinkley, Jupiter Jones and Encyclopedia Brown to come up with some answers. Read books and take the occasional short break for corny cartoons, kids! Then go help your parents with their chores.

Anyway, this postcard features a sculpture of two children who are in peril and hoping to avoid capture by Baba Yaga, a witch of Slavic folklore fame who is sometimes nasty and sometimes nice. This appears to be the nasty version.

Lady Yaga — Ha! Get it? I just made that up! — is typically envisioned as living in a forest hut that stands on sentient chicken legs.1 But, alas, no chicken legs are shown here.

A initial Google reverse image search got me the name "Innocentiy Zhukov" and similar vintage postcards with amazing Zhukov sculptures. You can see a bunch of them — they're really fabulous — at But I couldn't find any historical or biographical information about "Innocentiy Zhukov."

Stumped, I finally typed in the Russian name printed at the bottom of the postcard: ИННОКЕНТIЙ ЖУКОВБ.

Doing a Google search on that hit the jackpot.

The sculptor of the Baba Yaga scene pictured on this vintage postcard was Innokenty Nikolaevich Zhukov, who lived from 1875 to 1948. (Innokentiy is another English-alphabet variant of his first name.) He was a famous sculptor, educator and writer, and he was a prominent figure in the scouting movement in Russia. He is described as an innovator, a humanist and a romanticist — an artist inclined to "talented fantasies."

Here is some additional biographical information about Zhukov:

  • He was born in October 1875 in the village of Gornyi Zerentuy in Transbaikal, Russia. His father was a worker in a gold mine. One site states that "as a child, wandering through the forest, he enthusiastically searched for unusual roots and branches of trees and processed them with a knife, turning them into figures of animals, birds and people." As his education abroad continued in his teens, he focused on drawing, clay-modeling and wood-carving of these same subjects.
  • He worked as an educator and, specifically, a geography teacher for about three decades. He taught Esperanto alongside Russian, which was uncommon for his time and place, and had books published with dual text in Esperanto and Russian.
  • Zhukov's 1924 book Voyage of the Red Star Pioneer Troop to Wonderland is described as follows in 1995's Mass Culture in Soviet Russia: Tales, Poems, Songs, Movies, Plays, and Folklore, 1917-1953:
    "Political utopia and science fiction — a widely used combination in the 1920s — joing up in this children's tale of eight boys who land in a beautiful, bright Communist future of Esperanto, glass cities, and aeroball in the distant year 1957."
  • Clay model remained his favorite pastime, and he was mostly self-taught in that discipline. He became a popular artist, with gallery exhibitions in St. Petersburg and posters depicting his sculptures. He created more than a thousand sculptures of clay, gypsum and cement; what remains is scattered over private collections, museums and parks. One translated site described his artwork as reflecting "his passionate love for people, irreconcilable hatred for all oppression, for philistine vulgarity, for the abominable vices that are generated by capitalist society."

Chicken-leg themed footnote
1. I am only the second person to use the phrase "sentient chicken legs" on the Internet. Baby Dyke Diaries beat me to it by two years. Two years ago, a funny and sometimes profane Halloween-themed post by author Veronika suggested a Baba Yaga trick-or-treating costume:
"Baba Yaga is a bonifide badass who lives off the grid, has a private jet shaped like a mortar, practices herbalism and witchcraft — all the while wining, dining, and sauning beautiful backpacking strangers. ... Best thing, Baba Yaga’s costume is a totally low-key deal, which will allow you to show off your cool nonchalance.

"You will need:
  • some rags
  • some hairspray
  • a human-sized mortar
"Really, just wear whatever makes you feel fierce and you are basically a Baba Yaga.

"As a bonus point, decorate your house with sentient chicken legs and use illuminated human skulls to light the way to the party."
Veronika is kind of awesome.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Book cover: "The Dunwich Horror"
(from Bart House Books)

Here's the worn and awesome cover of H.P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror, published by Bartholomew House (Bart House Books) in 1945. The 186-page book contains three of Lovecraft's tales: "The Dunwich Horror," "The Shadow Out of Time," and "The Thing on the Doorstep."

This post bookends nicely with The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth, another Bart House title, which I wrote about in February 2016.

The back cover of The Dunwich Horror features an advertisement for Murder Meets Mephisto by Queena Mario. Bart House was only in business from 1944 to 1947, but it certainly knew how to create compelling book covers.

The Bart House advertising copy on the inside front cover states the following:
An interesting, entertaining book is a bargain at any price. The problem faced by booklovers is that unusual books are hard to find at the right price.

The editors of the BART HOUSE books and [sic] booklovers. They seek and select the unusual, the fascinating off-trail stories that attract continuous interest.

Under the BART HOUSE imprint there appear fascinating novels and mysteries so appealingly individualized that one cannot tire of them. Mysteries, unique Detective Stories; haunting tales of the Supernatural; — escape from the everyday world through science-fiction and great romantic adventure reading.

Variety is essential to reading pleasure. You always find it under the distintive imprint of Bartholomew House Books. For your great reading satisfaction — always ask for the popular BART HOUSE Books.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Vintage postcard: A Jolly Hallowe'en; plus, links to other spooky cards

As Noč čarovnic ("Halloween" in Slovenian) creeps closer, here's a slightly sad and stained old Hallowe'en postcard that was never used. Maybe I should send it through the postal system for the very first time, more than a century after its creation.

It features a witch, a black cat, some pumpkin-head men and some little devils/goblins/aliens. (The one in the haystack seems to have antennae, so I'm really not sure what's up with these guys.)

The back contains only a MADE IN U.S.A. designation and a small logo with an S and a B intertwined.

That logo stands for Samson Brothers (in existence from 1909 to 1919), and there were at least two other similar postcards in this witchy series, which is circa 1912. You can see another card from this series at

If you love looking at vintage Halloween postcards, there have been a bunch on Papergreat over the years. Here are some links that should keep you busy until the trick-or-treaters start knocking on the door.