Wednesday, January 3, 2018

We might need these sweaters for the bomb cyclone and polar vortex


There's Bad Winter Weather™ headed through the southeastern United States and aiming for the northeastern portion of the country. It's threatening to be Especially Bad Weather™ for the Atlantic coastline, from New Jersey to Maine. Some are calling this a bomb cyclone (bakudan teikiatsu), and it's going to be followed, supposedly, by a polar-vortex event (Полярный вихрь) that temporarily turns the Northeast into The Day After Tomorrow, minus the Dick Cheney impression.1

Anyway ... that's the weather tie-in for today's post, which is something we should all have handy here in the Northeast: sweaters.

Pictured above is the front of a 1955 Knit-O-Graf foldout pattern for a pair of snazzy sweaters, one with hearts and one with snowflakes. Perfect for schmoopies sitting side-by-side in front of the fireplace at the ski resort. Here's an artsy but ultimately ineffective look at one side of the pattern, unfolded...


This 25-cent pattern from the Minneapolis-based company calls for the following "ingredients":

  • 4 Ply Knitting Worsted Yarn of All Wool, or...
  • ...Blends of Part Nylon and Wool
  • 1 pair No. 2 (English No. 11) needles
  • 1 pair No. 5 (English No. 8) needles
  • Gauge: 5½ stitches and 7½ rows equal 1 inch

The general instructions state:
"Knit-O-Graf patterns are life size. Reductions are made only when it is necessary to show a different back or a right and left sleeve, in which case one of the sleeves and either the back or the front is shown life size. Lay work on graph occasionally to check your size. For ease in following, outline the size wanted with a colored pencil."

Nosing around the internet for some thoughts on Knit-O-Graf, I found a July 2006 post on f. pea, a blog by Fawn Pea, who is "a knit designer, working mama and bumbling gardener in North Carolina." She writes:
"Once upon a time I thought I was going to become the Maven of Knit-o-Graf. I first saw these wacky patterns on VintageKnits.com and quickly became obsessed with owning a copy of the Pixie pattern [see below] and using the graphic to make a stylish yet ironic 1940's retro cardi. Look, they're sitting on toadstools! And look at their little tails... can't you just see those pixies on a grown-up's cardigan, or felted into a sweet purse? Can't you?"
She goes on to detail her quest to find Knit-O-Graf patterns on eBay, discusses how difficult she finds the patterns to use and ends with this cautionary note:
"I think I'll keep the Knit-o-Graf patterns for retro inspiration, especially since one day I'll be able to sell them for a mint on eBay and retire to the countryside to pursue my wildest dreams. ... Hopefully this post has fulfilled its public service in dissuading any unsuspecting knitters who might have tried to fool with one of these patterns. If you do try this at home, be sure to have a good bottle of wine at the ready - you're going to need it."
You should also read Fawn Pea's post so that you can check out the two-dozen comments from other Knit-O-Graf enthusiasts (and otherwise).

While apparently hard to use, the Knit-O-Graf patterns are admittedly cute, in a kitschy and nostalgic kind of way. Here are images of some of their offerings, gathered from the internet. Click on the photos to see the source pages.









Footnote
1. See this January 3 story from The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang headlined "‘Bomb cyclone’ to blast East Coast before polar vortex uncorks tremendous cold late this week." Also, here's the cute tweet they unleashed upon the world yesterday...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Lost Corners of Paul Crockett


In the wake of Charles Manson's death in November, I listened last month to Stuff They Don't Want You To Know's two-part podcast about the life and times of the cult leader/murderer, who was born "No Name Maddox" in a Cincinnati hospital in 1934. (Not exactly a cheery holiday podcast, I know.) As a kid who grew up in the shadow of Manson's crimes and often leafed through my parents' paperback copy of Helter Skelter at way too early of an age, I've always had a level of interest in Manson. So it seemed like a natural bit of closure to listen to the shows.

One thing that struck me, though, was a facet of the Manson story that I'd never heard about. Briefly, when the Manson "family" was staying at Spahn Ranch, one of their neighbors was a middle-aged man named Paul Gaylord Crockett. He had some familiarity with Scientology, metaphysics and coercive persuasion — all of which were part of the "soup" that Manson was using to influence his followers (along with copious drugs). So Crockett quietly tried to counteract Manson's control of some family members. He notably helped Paul Watkins break free from the cult's influence. Watkins would later testify against Manson in his murder trial.

So who was Paul Crockett?

There's not a lot out there about him, especially compared to others in the sprawling Manson saga that has captivated America for nearly a half-century. One of the longest pieces is this 1975 Psychic magazine profile by Gary Richardson. It's well worth checking out.

Richardson, on his blog, is also the source for the information that Crockett died on on January 10, 2014, at age 89.

But there is also — and this is where Lost Corners and the fragility of digital ephemera come into play — Crockett's website.

Here's the URL, for posterity: https://www.thumbtack.com/wa/concrete/therapists/personal-transformation-teachings-consulting

The image at the top of this post, featuring a reflection of Crockett himself, is from the website, which is called Balance Point Personal Evolution School. The "pro" behind Balance Point, based in Burlington, Washington, is described as follows:
"Paul Crockett is a masterful and extraordinary teacher of the nature of reality, transformative processes and universal principles. He provides telephone sessions for his teachings and exploring avenues for achieving aspirations and goals. Paul is very interested in working with individuals who have a desire to deepen personal understanding, are on the path of self-discovery, and regard themselves capable of attaining wisdom. The individuals who are attracted naturally to the teachings Paul has to offer are those seeking the personalized attention and comprehensive learning experience that he offers."
And here are some of the testimonials from Balance Point clients:

  • Anita R.: "My session with Paul was 90 minutes and I wish it could have been much longer. Paul has a way of getting to the heart of the issue and assisting in finding the answers to what you are seeking or clarifying issues into terms that make sense. His manner is straight forward yet gentle. He helps you come to the consiousness you have bee looking for. I feel comfortable talking to Paul about any topic and know that this will bring me. My meeting with Paul was in person and I look forward to talking to him again soon on the phone or otherwise. Everyone will find his sessions well worth the time and effort. You will wonder why you didn't do it sooner."
  • Holly K.: "Paul helped me get my life straightened out. He is a wonderful sage/counselor who can help you get what you want out of your life. He is honest and real. If you need help, Paul is the person to seek."
  • Art B.: "If you are looking for meaning in your life, for a way to change your routine, interested in exploring deeply how the universe works, or simply needing a wise counselor with whom to exchange ideas, Paul Crockett is your man. I have known and worked with Paul for more than 40 years, and in that time I have seen him help people of all ages cure themselves, extract themselves from bad situations, achieve success in their work, or come to a place in themselves where they find deep understanding and satisfaction with their place in the universe. Paul will help you in ways you may only understand after some time, but even a one-time session with him will benefit you."

I wonder if any of these clients knew about the important role that their counselor once played in working to stem the tide of Charles Manson's growing evil. It seems to me that this website, sure to disappear sooner or later now that Crockett is gone, should be preserved.


Monday, January 1, 2018

A mysterious Daisie


Let's start the year with a mystery. This is an old visiting card that I picked up a while back at the antique store in York New Salem. Though fancy around the edges, it's the standard size of American visiting cards — 3½ inches by 2 inches.

Something (now torn) was pasted to the left side of the card, so I can't read the entire name. But what can be seen is A. Daisie Roehrer.

That name is a stumper in the search engines. But if you take into account alternate spellings and misspellings, some possibilities emerge. Here are two such possibilities for Daisy Rohrer:

1. I found mention of a Daisy Rohrer, born in 1886 (no date of death), who was the wife of Orlando Mather Rohrer (1887-1958), a native Pennsylvania. (I generally assume these pieces of ephemera don't stray too far from home.)

2. I also found a Daisy M. Rohrer, who lived from 1877 to 1938 and is buried in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Thought the dates of birth are different, I don't think we can exclude the possibility that Daisy #1 and Daisy #2 are the same Daisy. (Or Daisie.)

One of the Daisies (Daisys?) seems to have had an adventure in Hawaii, per this clipping from the May 23, 1900, edition of the Lebanon (Pennsylvania) Courier...


Meanwhile, to finish up, here's a closer look at the intricate and tiny bird underneath the "R" on this visiting card.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

James Blish is gonna help us party like it's "Year 2018!"

Here's an appropriate vintage sci-fi paperback for this rockin' New Year's Eve, as we make the transition from 2017 to 2018...



  • Title: Year 2018!
  • Cover blurb: "An Original Science Fiction Novel — One Man's Bridge to Eternity!"
  • Author: James Blish (1921-1975), who is perhaps best known for his novelizations of Star Trek episodes and for the original Star Trek novel Spock Must Die! (He liked exclamation points, apparently.)
  • Cover illustrator: Richard M. Powers (1921-1996)
  • Publisher: Avon (T-193)
  • Date of this edition: 1957
  • Book's first publication: 1956, in the UK, under the title They Shall Have Stars. (See information below on this series.)
  • Price: 35 cents
  • Pages: 159
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back-cover blurb: "IN THE YEAR 2018 ... Man undertook the most amazing project in human history — A BRIDGE ON JUPITER! In that frozen, raging, gaseous Hell, the Spacemen built a colossal, monstrous bridge out of sheer Ice IV — 30 miles high, 8 miles wide, and ever growing in its incredible length. What was the purpose of this fantastic project? What was the secret that lurked behind the stars? Only one man knew — SENATOR WAGONER of Alaska, who controlled the U.S. Space Flight Corps — and possessed the most tormenting knowledge in the Universe!"
  • A senator from Alaska... A dubious bridge... Indeed. There are some amusing Gravina Island Bridge parallels.
  • What is Ice IV? There are, apparently, 17 known solid crystalline phases of water, and they are designated by Roman numberals. Ice IV is a fully hydrogen-disordered, metastable phase of ice.
  • What does that mean? I have no idea.
  • Book dedication: To Frederik Pohl
  • First sentence (following a J. Robert Oppenheimer quote): "The shadows flickered on the walls to his left and right, just inside the edges of his vision, like shapes stepping quickly back into invisible doorways."
  • Last sentence of the main novel: "After a while, the man and the woman went to the window, and looked past the discarded bulk of Jupiter at the near horizon, where there had always been visible a few stars."
  • Last sentence of the coda: "As usual, MacHinery was wrong."
  • Random paragraph from middle: "The trailer city was far bigger than any nearby town except Passaic. It included a score of supermarkets, all going full blast even in the middle of the night, and about as many coin-in-slot laundries, equally wide open. There were at least a hundred public baths, and close to 360 public toilets. Paige counted ten cafeterias, and twice that many hamburger stands and one-arm joints, each of the stands no less than a hundred feet long; at one of these he stopped long enough to buy a 'Texas wiener' nearly as long as his forearm, covered with mustard, meat sauce, sauerkraut, corn relish, and piccalilli. There were ten highly conspicuous hospital tents, too — and after eating the Texas wiener Paige though he knew why — the smallest of them perfectly capable of housing a one-ring circus."
  • That's a ridiculous Texas wiener: Yes. I think that's the author's point.
  • Goodreads rating: 3.79 stars out of 5.
  • Goodreads review by "Manny" from November 9, 2016: "This little-known dystopian novel, first published in 1956, is, as the title suggests, set in the US of 2018. Under severe external threat, the country has descended into paranoia and become a Stalinist dictatorship which in practice is run by Francis X. MacHinery, the head of the FBI. The majority of American's citizens seek refuge from an unbearable reality in bizarre fundamentalist religions. How do science-fiction writers come up with these weird ideas?"
  • The series: This is #1 in Blish's Cities in Flight series. I found several suggestions and recommendations, though, to not read this book first. According to one forum, "the books are reasonably disconnected and can mostly be read in isolation. The first book is deep background from the pre-spaceflight era and may even be omitted if you're not interested in that kind of thing."
  • So, what's up with the ice bridge? You'll have to read the book.
  • Does Jupiter survive? You'll have to read the book.

Old business card for the Soudersburg Motel



This snazzy little relic is a 3½-inch-wide business card for the Soudersburg Motel in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. My best guess is that it's from the 1970s. The signage that can be seen in the photo of the front of the motel includes "Master Charge" (which became Mastercard in 1979), "Diners Club," "Heated Pool," "Color TV in Rooms," and "Guided Tours."

The information on the back of the card, as you can see, adds that the motel is opposite Dutch Haven (famous for ShooFly Pie since 1946) and beside The Pancake Man. It also notes that the rooms have air-conditioning and are within walking distance of three restaurants.

The Soudersburg Motel has now, sadly, gone corporate and is an Americas Best Value Inn. It touts itself as follows:
"The Americas Best Value Inn, formerly Soudersburg Motel, is comfortable, easy to get to, and close to all the attractions you want to visit in Lancaster County. Surrounded by Amish Farmland, the Motel is located within five miles of attractions like American Music Theatre, Millennium Sight & Sound Theatre, Strasburg Rail Road and Dutch Wonderland family amusement park. Enjoy shopping at the Tanger Outlets and Rockvale Outlets located within three miles of the Motel. There are a number of restaurants nearby, some within walking distance, including famous Miller's Smorgasbord, and Dienner's Country Restaurant."
I bet it doesn't have business cards as snazzy as this one, though.

Lost Corners addendum

In doing some light research for this post, I came across the postcard blog Having a Nice Time, which only had 57 posts in 2008 and 2009 but is worthy of preservation. In the blog's description, author Mark writes: "In this era of e-mail, instant messaging, and cameraphones, the notion of a handwritten note in the mail seems like ancient history. Postcards were once a quick and inexpensive way to drop a line. Today, old postcards provide remarkable insight into our past; massive archived collections provide sources for historic research. The images can be hilarious, nostalgic and bizarre, and the messages quaint, puzzling and often poignant."

The blog has an October 1, 2008, post titled "Beside the Pancake Man, Soudersburg, PA." You should check out the "Had a lousy vacation" postcard that he documents in that post.