Friday, December 29, 2017

Postcard: Riding horses on the beach in Atlantic City

Here's a lovely linen postcard I received this week that shows horseback riders on the Atlantic City, New Jersey, beach. AC's iconic hotels of the early 20th century loom large in the background, and the beach is essentially empty, except for the riders.

This is a Tichnor Brothers postcard, branded as Tichnor Quality Views on the back. It was postmarked on August 9, 1936, in Atlantic City. (Also on that date, Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal of the Berlin Olympics, and the Philadelphia Phillies lost, 6-2, to the New York Giants, despite knocking out Giants starter Harry Gumbert in the first inning. Gumbert recorded just one out, walked three and had four wild pitches.)

On the back of this postcard, the short note from Mike states "I sure enjoy this."

The postcard was mailed to Mrs. Alvin Rutt of Mount Joy, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. That would be, I think, Gertrude D. Rutt, who lived from 1898 to 1990 and outlived husband Alvin by about 32 years.

Related post

"Little brownies I am married"
(Folklore of bees)

Last week, I shared some Christmas folklore, courtesy of 1949's Encyclopædia of Superstitions.

As I continue reading this fine and fascinating book, I wanted to pass along an item I came across on the importance of "telling the bees" about the big changes in your life.

The section on bees in the Encyclopædia is three pages long. It includes chestnuts such as "If a member of the family dies, the bees in their hives must be told, or they will die, or go away" and "Before moving bees, they should be told by the owner, or he will be stung by the angry insects."

This is my favorite tidbit:
"In the year of Grace 1945, the Daily Mirror, a London picture newspaper, sent a photographer to a country wedding. His best picture was of the bride in her bridal finery bending over the the hives and whispering 'Little brownies I am married.' It was explained to the photographer that this was essential, as should a member of the family owning the bees marry without telling the bees, they would take leave of the hive, and never return. Thus in 1945 we retained the superstition of centuries concerning bees."
The "bees" entry continues...
"Telling the bees of death was (and, still is, in some remote areas) a most elaborate ceremonial. The procedure was that as soon as the master or mistress had breathed the last, a member of the household visited the hives, and bending over them said, three times, 'Little brownies, little brownies, your master (or mistress) is dead.' Silence was then observed for a few moments. If the bees then began to hum, it was a sign that they consented to remain under the new owner."
I will be sure, now, to remember to tell the bees when I decide to wrap up Papergreat and move on to other projects.

For #FridayReads, here's the rundown on the other books I'm currently reading, in addition to Encyclopædia of Superstitions:

  • Little, Big by John Crowley (which I expect will take me all winter)
  • Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory
  • Break Out: How the Apple II Launched the PC Gaming Revolution by David L. Craddock

Also, I recently finished Poppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly, a wonderful graphic-novel memoir of growing up in Iraq in the middle of the 20th century, and Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins, a non-fiction book about Hay-on-Wye that ended up not being my cup of tea, despite its subject matter.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Book cover: "Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint"

Here's a book that I'm sure some of you remember fondly from your childhood...

  • Title: Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint
  • Authors: Jay Williams (1914-1978) & Raymond Abrashkin (1911-1960)
  • Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983)
  • Series: This is the first book in the 15-volume Danny Dunn series. My favorite book title: Danny Dunn and the Smallifying Machine.
  • Dust jacket blurb: "When Danny Dunn tips over the mysterious jar of glistening liquid, he has no way of knowing that he will involve himself, his friend Joe, and Professor Bullfinch in a wild flight between planets. But anything can happen when Danny is around — and practically does."
  • Publisher: Whittlesey House (McGraw-Hill Book Company)
  • Edition: Weekly Reader Children's Book Club edition published in 1957
  • Price: None listed
  • Pages: 154
  • Format: Hardcover
  • First sentences: Space Captain Daniel Dunn stood on the bridge of the Revenge with his eyes on the viewer screens. He could see the fiery trails that were the rocket ships from Jupiter.
  • Last sentences: Then he began to giggle too. And soon he was laughing louder than any of the others.
  • Random sentence from middle: Holy leaping creepers!
  • Amazon rating: 4.8 stars out of 5.0.
  • Goodreads rating: 3.88 stars out of 5.0
  • Goodreads review: From Christie Skipper Ritchotte in 2010: "I'm not sure what to rate this; haven't read it since I was a kid, but I can say that while Vonnegut, Burroughs, Tolkien, Bradbury, Golding, and many others all made me wish I could be one of those writer-people, this particular Danny Dunn book made me actually pick up a pen and do it in the 4th grade. I <3 Danny Dunn."

The Creators
The back of the dust jacket is entirely devoted to photos (shown above) and many tiny words about the co-authors and the illustrator. Here are some excerpts from those mini biographies...
  • JAY WILLIAMS is the author of five juveniles including THE ROMAN MOON MYSTERY which won a Boys' Club of America Award in 1949. ... Born in Buffalo, New York, Mr. Williams was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and the Art Students League.
  • RAYMOND ABRASHKIN is the author and co-producer of the very popular and successful "Little Fugitive" which was named Best American Film at the 1954 Venice Film Festival. ... In addition to over fifty children's records, he has written the librettos for four children's operas.
  • EZRA JACK KEATS has illustrated a number of books including Jay Williams' recent A CHANGE OF CLIMATE. ... Besides spending a year in Paris, his on-the-spot research for book illustrations has taken him to many different locations, including Cuba and Scotland.

Mark Felt helps with a Christmas postcard mystery

It's only been a few days since I posted that humorous and disturbing mystery postcard featuring snowman people, a Christmas tree and a severed human head. (Yes, you read that right.)

But "Mark Felt," one of Papergreat's top commenters and research associates1, was quickly able to solve the biggest part of the mystery.

MF writes that the postcard is "a macabre bastardization of the 1882 drawing entitled Bringing Home the Christmas Tree by an artist named (perhaps pseudonymously) A. Hunt." The original is shown at right, taken from the 2005 book Christmas Past, by Barbara Hallman Kissinger and Pelican Publishing.

MF adds that A. Hunt's artwork appears throughout many editions over many years of the Illustrated London News. You can see some of those wonderful illustrations, which run from 1850 to 1970, on this archival website.

Here's a side-by-side look at the original and modified illustrations, so you can get a better sense of how it was creatively modified. The only remaining question is who the second artist was.

Thanks again for moving this mystery toward a solution, MF!

1. Here are two full posts devoted to Mark Felt's sleuthing, from January and February.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Colorful bookplate inside "Stories from Old China"

Stories from Old China, by Edward W. Dolch and Marguerite P. Dolch, was published in 1964 as part of the Folklore of the World series from Garrard Publishing Company.1 Other books in the series covered Alaska, Canada, India, Hawaii, Italy, Old Egypt and Old Russia, among others.

We know that this copy of Stories from Old China belonged, at one point, to a girl named Jane Fall. That's thanks to the colorful mid-century bookplate that appears on the inside front cover.2

There is a lot of great detail on the bookplate illustrations. The brown-tinted image in the center is Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In the green-tinted illustration of the clowns, one of them has a sign on his back stating "KICK ME."

Click on the Bookplates label at the bottom of this post to see many other groovy vintage bookplates.

A couple other things about this book:

  • In the foreword, Marguerite Dolch writes: "STORIES FROM OLD CHINA brings to the children of today some of the stories that were enjoyed by Chinese children thousands of years ago. After you have read these stories, go to the library and find many other beautiful stories from Old China."
  • There are 20 tales in the book, including "Ma Liang and the Emperor," "The Kind Dragon," "The Magic Foxes," "Water for Peking," "The King of the Monkeys" and "The Peacock Dance."

1. Unfortunate legal footnote: Edward William Dolch died in October 1961 and there was a lawsuit — Dolch v. Garrard Publishing Company, 289 F. Supp. 687 (S.D.N.Y. 1968) — dealing with Marguerite Pierce Dolch's rights and monies owed from four existing contracts that she and her husband had with Garrard Publishing Company and Twin City Printing Company.
2. "Jane Fall" is too generic of a name for us to determine who she was with any certainty — short of the real Jane Fall raising her hand and exclaiming, "That's me!" But I did find one amusing "Jane Fall" tidbit from here in southcentral Pennsylvania. The January 11, 1937, edition of The Gazette and Daily of York, Pennsylvania, contains a section called "Boys and Girls Newspaper." Within that section is a story headlined "Pets Editor Gives Varied Replies to Readers' Letters" and written by Pets Editor Horace Mitchell. Here's an excerpt:
"Jane Fall wants a pair of horned toads. I guess the only way for her to get them is to have a pet store order them specially for her."

Monday, December 25, 2017

1970s Christmas snapshots of me

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! Glaedelig Jul!

If you're visiting Papergreat today, I thought you might enjoy these snapshots of Yours Truly during some childhood Christmases in the 1970s...


(This is terrible to say, but I can't tell whether this is the house in Rose Valley or Wallingford. That's Mom behind me, of course, and those are Dad's feet. The big dictionary sitting on the stand behind Mom is now in my bedroom here in Dover. I really knew how to pull off the jumper look back then.)


(Nothing to see here. Just me in a blue bathrobe and the greatest dang Fisher-Price castle playset in the history of the world. I am not joking. This might be the subject of a full post of its own in the future.)


(My sister Adriane makes an appearance for this Christmas photo. We are both truly stylin' some 1970s pajama-wear there. The label on the box I'm holding reads "Creative Playthings Pound-A-Ball.")


(OK, there is all kinds of awesome in this photo of me, Adriane and Dad. This is our house on Spruce Street in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. Yes, that's a deer skin on the stair railing. I'll have to ask Dad the full story about it, because we had it for many years. That chalkboard is still with us; it's in Adriane's art studio in East Berlin. Under the chalkboard are, I believe, snow-block makers, to create igloos in the yard. The framed Andrew Wyeth print to the left is now in my bedroom. Love the plastic Santas, but they're long gone.)

Bonus: Ashar & I (Christmas 2017)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Postcard: Cute little pigs get their chance to be reindeer

This rare old Christmas postcard features a young girl who is apparently delivering bottles of wine on a small sleigh pulled by two pigs. (They kind of look like pot-bellied pigs.) It's odd and festive at the same time. The girl's outfit is pretty amazing, too.

I'm not sure how thrilled those pigs are, though, in their roles as Dancer and Prancer.1

This postcard was printed in Germany, and there is no other identifying information about the publisher. Printed on the back is "1256/2."

The divided-back card was never mailed, but it was written on. It was addressed to someone named Deborah in Lakewood, New Jersey, and the short note states: "With love from, Papa."

1. Fun fact: In traditional folklore, Santa's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen). The names Dunder and Blixem derive from Dutch words for thunder and lightning, respectively.