Saturday, December 16, 2017

Memory from the Gettysburg Times

I came across this tweet recently...

...and it reminded me of a funny story from the first newspaper I worked for after college, the Gettysburg Times.

Don Shoemaker worked there as a photographer, and his talent for his craft was exceeded only by his kindness toward me, a rookie journalist learning the ropes of covering Adams County sports. Soon after my arrival, I found myself juggling the dual roles of sports editor and sportswriter in the summer of 1993. Don helped to keep me sane with his tips and guidance on the big teams and personalities in our coverage area.

For him, the toughest part of the job was our newsroom computer system. (I believe it was Atex.) These machines were heartless and finicky. They did not care about your work or deadlines.

One of Don's responsibilities as a photographer was to type his photo captions into this finicky editorial computer system, so that they would be available for the editors. Once, after he had spent an inordinate amount of time crafting a long caption — full of names and places and semicolons and background about a prestigious local organization, for a thankless grip-and-grin news photo — he went to hit the "save" button.

The computer froze.

The completed caption was there, but it could not be saved.

And there was no way in hell Don was retyping that cutline.

Angry but clever, Don grabbed his trusty camera. He snapped two photos of the computer screen. He developed the film. He made a pair of prints in the darkroom. He merged the two photos together and taped the finished product to the editor's computer. Take that.

I kept his caption photo, because I thought it was hilarious. And so I still have it, a quarter-century later. It's a nice journalism relic now, in addition to still being a wonderful newspaper story.

Donald B. Shoemaker died of cancer in May 1996. He was only 45. In addition to being a Spring Grove native and a fellow Penn State graduate, he had been an aspiring actor, an excellent golfer, a college instructor and a commercial photographer at Three Mile Island.

My memories are of a friend, a top-notch photojournalist, and a guy who never, ever let the computer win.

Friday, December 15, 2017

"Come and play with us, Danny."

This mid-century mystery photo, about 3 inches wide and with zero identifying information, shows two beautiful little girls who are clearly at a wedding or perhaps an Easter service.

But I think it's a sign of our pop-culture Zeitgeist for the past 37 years that many Americans would look at this vintage photograph and exclaim, "The Grady twins!" The force is indeed strong within King and Kubrick's The Shining.

Those girls who terrorized Danny Torrance haven't shown any signs of losing steam or going away anytime soon. I mean, they even have their own Funko POP! set, so they're pretty much here to stay.

Best picture of birds in kimonos you'll see this month

This delightful 19th century advertising card, for Liebig Company's Fleisch-Extract, is a companion to the one that I posted and wrote about in November 2015. You can read about the company and the voluminous number of advertising cards it issued in that previous post.

This near-mint card features a Japanese couple kneeling in their living with a trio of birds in kimonos.1 There is also an oversized container of Fleisch-Extract.

The German-language caption states:

Der Sperling mit der geschlitzten Zunge.
(Japanisches Kindermärchen) _No. 2.

That translates to:

The sparrow with the slotted tongue.
(Japanese children's fairy tale) No. 2

Shita-kiri Suzume ("Tongue-Cut Sparrow") is a Japanese fable or fairy tale that explores greed and jealousy and is similar in theme to other tales from around the world — tales that might feature dwarves, witches or other supernatural creatures in the place of sparrows.

You can read many versions of the tale at D.L. Ashliman's website, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh.

Related posts

1. Google, before this post goes live, says: "No results found for 'trio of birds in kimonos'."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

1914 postcard: "Road to White Horse Ledge and Echo Lake"

This beautiful old postcard was mailed in August 1914 to a resident of the Clifton Springs (New York) Sanitarium, which is now an apartment building. Published by the Atkinson News Company of Tilton, New Hampshire, it features the "Road to White Horse Ledge and Echo Lake showing Mt. Kearsarge, North Conway, N.H."

White Horse (or Whitehorse) Ledge is "a huge chunk of granite that is host to a wide variety of climbing styles from face climbs to cracks to of course slabs," according to Mountain Project.

Echo Lake, full of trout, covers 38 acres within Franconia Notch State Park in northern New Hampshire. Franconia Notch was best known for the Old Man of the Mountain rock formation, which collapsed in 2003.

Mount Kearsarge is located in southcentral New Hampshire. It rises to nearly 3,000 feet and it is said that you can see the skyscrapers of Boston from its summit on a clear day.

The short note on this postcard states:
I am at Intervale just now. Have been here for two wks. and expect to stay for two more. Was glad to receive your letter. I hope this card will reach you.
Emma B. [?]

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Would you like to play a game of Wizzardz & War Lordz?

Did anyone ever play this computer game? Because I can't find much about it on the Internet. It's the IBM PC game "Wizzardz & War Lordz," which was advertised in the December 1986 issue of Computer Gaming World. The game was offered by Ram Tek Co. of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and cost $29.95, which would be the equivalent of about $66 today.

Here's the advertising copy for the game, which was clearly hoping to be a fantasy best-seller alongside the likes of series like Ultima and Wizardry:
"I have slaved in many dungeons, but the one my new master, Vylgar, built for Wizzardz & War Lordz is absolutely the big leagues for hateful mutant warriors like me. Behold! 15 levels, over 500 rooms, hundreds of my fiendish friends. And enough surprises to keep you trapped down here a very, very long time.

"Fear not. You'll have a fighting chance. Design an unlimited number of characters. Choose their race, class and abilities, and bring them six at a time down our 3-D corridors, armed with any of thousands of weapons.

"Take it from a pro monster. This is the biggest, meanest, deadliest dungeon ever. And I love it, because more brave adventurers are challenging Wizzardz & War Lordz every day. A good thing, too, for I grow extremely hungry."

The trademark for Wizzardz & War Lordz was first filed in May 1985 and has long since expired. It was written by James Martin of Fort Wayne, with Thomas Martin also being a co-holder on the trademark. The advertisement for the game appeared in at least two other, earlier issues of CGW.

Does anyone remember this game? Did anyone play it? The only other thing I can find about it on the Internet is that it was quickly featured — just two months ago — on a Lazy Game Reviews video titled "Opening Stuff You Sent Me! October 2017." Here are a couple of screen grabs...

Monday, December 11, 2017

Old postcard: Castle Rock near Santa Barbara, California

Here's a peaceful and secluded spot. The label on the front of this old postcard states "Castle Rock, Santa Barbara, Cal."

(Of course, Santa Barbara, California, is anything but peaceful tonight, as the hellish Thomas Fire has pushed further into Santa Barbara County, leveling hundreds of thousands of acres.)

This Castle Rock is not to be confused with Castle Rock State Park,
Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area, or Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge, all of which are also located in California. And of course it's not to be confused with the fictional site of all those Stephen King horror tales.

This Castle Rock appears just to be the name of the rock formation that juts out into the Pacific Ocean along this piece of Santa Barbara County coastline. That's it to the left on this postcard, I reckon.

This postcard has survived for over a century. It was mailed to Media, Pennsylvania, in 1915. The short caption states:
We are on our way home — left Los Angeles this morning — leave here to-morrow morning.
The postcard was published by the Souvenir Publishing Company of Los Angeles and San Francisco and has this additional label on the back: "M 22 On the Road of a Thousand Wonders."

Sounds like a great road to me.

Heiligenblut am Großglockner,
a beautiful little spot in Austria

This looks like a nice place to retire to. It's a postcard of the municipality of Heiligenblut am Großglockner (we'll just call it Heiligenblut moving forward) in central Austria. The community of about 1,000 folks is situated within the Alps, at the foot of Grossglockner, which is, at about 12,400 feet, the tallest mountain in Austria.

From Heiligenblut, you can take the scenic Grossglockner High Alpine Road, which climbs to 8,200 feet and offers majestic views of the mountains. (You'll have to wait for it to re-open in May, however. It's closed during the winter.)

Another of Heiligenblut's notable attractions is St. Vincent church, which can be seen on the left side of this postcard. The church is home to a vial that is said to contain the blood of Christ. And thus that's how the town got its name. You can read the story of the "Heiligen Bluet" on this tourism website.

I believe this postcard is from the 1960s. It was mailed with a blue, Deutsche Bundespost stamp that was issued in 1966 and features the Brandenburg Gate. The postmark is too obscured to read the year on it. Here's the message that was written to a family in Irvington, New Jersey:
Aug. 19
Here we are in a very quaint town. The country around here is spectacular. Raymond has done lots of the driving. The mt. passes are really something. We had a good flight but this plane that was to pick us up in iceland [sic] was 8 hours late, motor trouble. They set down in Canada for repairs. I was scared to get on the darn thing. Regards from Erna, Max and Raymond.