Monday, April 23, 2018

Old snapshot of Mersey Tunnel

As both the family historian and an ephemerologist, I sometimes get things a little mixed up. The family photos get mixed in with other folks' vernacular photos that I've accumulated over the years, and vice versa. (It's like mixing the chocolate and the peanut butter in those iconic 1970s and 1980s Reese's Peanut Butter Cups commercials. Or maybe it's not like that at all.)

Thus, it happens that I'm not sure which category this snapshot falls into — family photo or non-family photo.

If I had to guess, I'd say it's a family photo.

The three-inch-wide, black-and-white image has this caption written in block letters on the back: "THE MERSEY TUNNEL THATS WERE ALL THE CARS ARE GOING."

There are actually three Mersey Tunnels in the United Kingdom, connecting Liverpool and the Wirral Peninsula. There's a railway tunnel that opened in 1886 and two tunnels for autos — one opening in 1934 and a second opening in 1971.

If this is one of our family photos, it's probably from the early 1960s. And, honestly, the cars make it look like that might be the right era, anyway. Any thoughts from experts on British car makes and models are more than welcome to share their thoughts!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day 2018 thoughts:
Edward Humes' "Garbology"

Nearly three years ago, in May 2015, I read Edward Humes' Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash while waiting long hours in the York County Judicial Center to see if I would be selected to sit as a juror in a murder trial. (I was not.)

Humes' book has stuck with me. Even before reading it, I have been trying over the past 15 years to make incremental and sustained personal improvements when it comes to recycling, the amount of waste I generate and the sustainability of things that I purchase. The book offered some good ideas and some sobering facts to chew on.

I took some notes and marked some passages while reading Garbology three years ago, and I want to share them for Earth Day 2018, as I also challenge myself to set the bar higher when it comes to being a better shepherd of the only Earth and environment that we have.

  • The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 released the equivalent of 2.5 supertankers of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. By contrast, the Pacific Garbage Patch contains enough plastic to fill 630 oil supertankers.
  • Parkinson's Law is that work expands to fill whatever time is available for its completion. Parkinson's Law of Garbage states, roughly, that the larger of a trashcan you are given, the more trash you will produce.
  • Separating out compostables from the other trash and recycling is mandatory in San Francisco. What if more places enacted this as law?
  • The average American throws 500 plastic bags into the trash each year. Breaking the plastic-bag habit is a first step in moving into less-wasteful-more-reusable consumer habits and behavior. Remove plastic bags completely from your lifestyle and then move on to dealing with other "disposables" that you don't truly need.
  • "Bags are kind of like the gateway drug to all the the plastics," says Andy Keller of ChicoBag, "and if we can kick that habit, all the rest of our single-use habits will start to fall like dominoes."
  • We need to drastically reduce our use of paper towels. [This is one I really struggle with, but am trying to challenge myself on.]
  • Eighteen million barrels of oil are used each year solely to haul plastic bottles filled with tap water around the United States. Read that again.
  • Humes writes: "It takes eight grams of oil to make a single plastic ketchup bottle, which will not be recycled because the ketchup residue inside is 'contamination' and recyclers want clean plastic. Dirty plastic is just too hard to recycle, too costly. Failing at the birth of the age of plastic to think this through, to consider the life cycle of substances that do not occur in nature and that are, for all intents and purposes, immortal, is like failing to think through what to do with nuclear waste at the birth of nuclear power ... which is exactly what we did."
  • Bea Johnson, an advocate of Zero Waste, offers these tips: Buy in bulk to eliminate how much packaging you're purchasing; use microfiber cloths instead of paper towels; use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.
  • We need to stop managing waste and start wasting less in the first place.

If you're interested in more reading about Earth Day topics, pick up a copy of Garbology and/or see the links at the bottom of my 2016 Earth Day post.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Snapshot & memories: Adorable
little me on Mulberry Street

Yep, that's me. In a frankly adorable outfit that I no longer have. I should try to find a grown-up equivalent of that outfit and recreate the photograph, which seems to be the hip thing to do these days. But I'm not sure the world is ready for that kind of horror. We still have the chest, though. It's currently being used to store outgoing Pengins for Everyone.

This snapshot is from August 1975, the same month that the Helsinki Accords were signed, NASA launched Viking 1 toward Mars, and Bruce Springsteen released the Born to Run album.

This is the first house that I remember. It is located on Mulberry Street in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. Dad provides the following background:
"This was our first home after my discharge from the Marine Corps. We rented it. I was a church parsonage. Wood pocket doors between living room and dining room. Fireplace in dining room. Four bedrooms, and one bedroom had a door leading to spooky attic. Free-standing garage. Huge backyard. We had 20-foot by 20-foot garden. (Not a bad memory for an old man.)"
My memories of this house are not nearly as detailed or specific, because I was just a little kid. Photographs and stories told by my parents over the years help to "augment" my memories. Here are some of my own recollections and stories about the house on Mulberry Street:

  • My bedroom seemed huge to me. That is, of course, because I was hobbit-sized at the time. I had a stuffed alligator on one of the upper window ledges. I think it was named Myron.
  • This is the house in which I banged my head one night in the bathroom, giving myself a Harry Potter scar between the eyes decades before it was trendy.
  • The kitchen was relatively small and led to the backyard. I am told that I once locked my then-pregnant mother out of the house and stood there, like Damien Thorn, as she crawled through the kitchen window to regain entry to the house.
  • I remember Adriane, my newborn sister, staying in the bedroom/nursery adjacent to mine.
  • I have memories of running and playing in the backyard. There was a small slide (possibly the next-door neighbor's), and we would rub it down with wax paper to make it slippier. One time, while playing in the backyard at dusk, I was buzzed by a bat.
  • I don't have any recollection of the spooky attic that Dad mentioned. I would love a chance to tour the house again some day. I should watch for it being up for sale; maybe there will be an open house.

More in this series

Old postcard: 16th century Belém Tower in Lisbon, Portgual

This surreal-looking old photograph was a bit of mystery to me, because there was a serious curveball on the back.1 Someone, years ago, had written "Oran, Africa." There is no other text visible on the front or back. So, naturally, Oran — a millennium-old coastal city in Algeria — is where I began my research. I thought this might be one of the old forts there, perhaps the Fort of Santa Cruz. It is not.

This is, in fact, a mislabeled postcard.

This building is NOT in Oran. It's actually located about 500 miles to the northwest, across the Alboran Sea, in Lisbon, Portugal.

It's the Belém Tower (aka Tower of St Vincent). It was constructed in the early 16th century (between about 1515 and 1519) and was originally commissioned by John II of Portugal before his death in 1495. Belém Tower sits in an isolated spot on the northern bank of the Tagus River. The lower bastion offers 17 spaces that were once cannon positions. The bases of the turrets feature depictions of beasts, including a rhinoceros. The 98-foot tower has, among other features, a spiral staircase and a chapel. If you want to see more, check out this video tour on YouTube.

P.S. — Don't worry. I have added my own "caption addendum" to this postcard, so that a future ephemerologist doesn't suffer the same fate.

1. If English is not your first language, let me explain. In the American sport of baseball, a curveball is a "pitch" (a ball thrown to a batter) that spins downward as it travels from the pitcher to the batter, making it difficult to hit (if thrown correctly). But there is a second meaning of curveball, used as an everyday expression. Because a curveball is a tricky and difficult pitch to hit in baseball, an everyday curveball is any unexpected obstacle, challenge or mystery that a person or group encounters. The "unexpected" part is crucial to the everyday usage.

Friday, April 20, 2018

#FridayReads: Always Be Inquisitive

Sarah and, alas, a skull.

Here's another bevy of articles that I hope you find interesting and/or insightful. Share them around and encourage the spread of knowledge and discourse!

The York Emporium, York, Pa.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Wendyvee's photo tour of modern locations referenced in 1971 "Fate"

As an amazing companion piece to yesterday's post, "30 classified ads from the June 1971 issue of "Fate" magazine," the one-and-only Wendyvee of Wendyvee's Roadside Wonders, has researched 10 of the locations mentioned those kooky classified advertisements to see what they look like today.

Without further ado...

1. THE ESP CLARION band heralded the approach of the Messiah in 1970. O-Loh-I the Messiah speaks in 1971. Both sets of messages now $15.00 — AAA Bookkeeping, 1616 India St., San Diego, CA 92101

2. HOW TO MAKE MONEY writing short paragraphs. Information free. — Barrett. Dept. C-305-S2, 6216 N. Clark, Chicago, Ill. 60626

3. HAWAIIAN GUITAR COURSE, Simplified, proven. Write O'Burr's Pub, Moorcroft, WY 82721

4. OCTOGENARIAN GREAT-AUNT'S teas, tonics, remedies. Some make sense, some don't. Collection One — 33 recipes, $2.00. Collection Two — 34 recipes, $2.00. Mrs. M Partridge, 159 Stanley Ave., Hamilton, Ont., Canada. [Note: I can totally see a recipe-dealing great aunt residing here.]

5. "THE OCCULT EXPLOSION." Stamp appreciated. METHODS, 416 Palo Alto Ave., Mountain View, CA 94040

6. LUSCIOUS CHUNKY MARMALADE. Recipe $1.00. — Cecelia Rogers, 1901 Wyoming Avenue N.W., Washington DC 20009

7. ANCIENT PRAYER allegedly materializes desires. Not for evil. $2.00 — T. Tewell, 25 Eddy Drive, Columbus GA 31903

8. SHUT IN, LONELY, let me send you personal Spiritual view of life and include you on healing list. Donation — Brother Joe, 2303 E. Yandell Dr., El Paso, TX 79903

9. $3.00 PER QUESTION. — Goddess Athena, 622 Diversey, Chicago, Ill. 60614 [Note: I guess it's appropriate that Goddess Athena's dwelling is now a Spirit Halloween store.]

10. SEVEN QUESTIONS, $2.00. Send birth date, hair and eye coloring. — Barrett, 2585 Aqueduct Road, Schenectady, N.Y. 12309
I want to buy this house and move in with a bunch of cats and maybe a pet possum and spend the rest of my days as partial recluse, answering questions that come via the mail for $2 and eating biscuits with luscious chunky marmalade at high tea.

Early 1940s fairy-tale books found in a Little Free Library

While adding some books to a Little Free Library earlier this year, I came across a pair of miniature old fairy-tale books and decided to do a "catch and release," so to speak, so that I could share them here on Papergreat before placing them back into a Little Free Library.

These slender hardcovers measure 5¼ inches by 6¾ inches. They are labeled "The Little Color Classics" and were published by McLoughlin Brothers. Cinderella was published in 1940, while Tom Thumb was published in 1942.

According to Wikipedia, McLoughlin Bros. operated independently from 1858 through 1920 and was a "pioneer" with regard to color-printing technology for children's books, at one point employing as many as 75 artists. (Imagine the vibrant colors on these 1940s books on something printed in 1880.) In addition to books, many of which were retellings of fairy tales, the company published puzzles and board games, some of which are considered to be quite scarce and valuable today. For example, an 1886 McLoughlin "Game of Base-Ball" board game and an 1897 McLoughlin "BaseBall Game" are currently listed on eBay with Buy It Now prices around $2,000 and $1,000, respectively, and have attracted many interested watchers.

In a "Brief History of the McLoughlin Bros." on the American Antiquarian Society website, Laura Wasowicz writes: "Between 1950 and 1951 — apparently amid the threat of liquidation, the McLoughlin Bros. executive officers divided among themselves the firm's archival collection of books, drawings, company correspondence, illustration blocks, paper dolls, free standing wooden dolls, puzzles, and games. In December 1951, the McLoughlin Bros. trademark was sold to New York toy manufacturer Julius Kushner. ... [T]he McLoughlin line of children's books was sold to Grosset & Dunlap in June 1954." This PDF of the McLoughlin's 1943 price list gives you a good sense of the books that the imprint was still publishing at the time of Tom Thumb (#893) and Cinderella (#836). Many more catalogs and price lists can be found at this link.

These two books that I came across are 64 pages apiece, with a mixture of full-color and black-line illustrations. Cinderella is illustrated by Sari (just that single name) and Tom Thumb is illustrated by Anne Fleur. And here's where it gets interesting: LibraryThing states that "Anne Elizabeth Lancaster Fleur, aka Sari, wrote under several names." And the Treasury of Great Children's Books corroborates this, indicating that Anne Fleur also published works under "Sari." It further states that "Anne Fleur studied at the Art Students’ League. She started in commercial illustration, then later did children’s books as both as author and illustrator. She was active in the mid-twentieth century." Beyond that, however, her life remains a bit of a mystery.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

30 classified ads from the June 1971 issue of "Fate" magazine

Fate magazine debuted 70 years ago, with a Spring 1948 issue that features what look like golden DVDs chasing a small airplane.

The magazine, still focused on the paranormal, continues today, though the pace of publication has slowed a bit. On its website, the current publishers proudly boast:
"FATE was a true journalistic pioneer, covering issues like electronic voice phenomena, cattle mutilations, life on Mars, telepathic communication with animals, and UFOs at a time when discussing such things was neither hip nor trendy like it is today. ... FATE’s success spawned scores of imitators over the years, but none lasted very long. Through the decades FATE kept going, doggedly promoting the validity of paranormal studies but unafraid to reveal major events as hoaxes or frauds when it was warranted. Among the famous cases debunked by FATE were the Philadelphia Experiment, and the book and movie versions of the Amityville Horror."
Today I just want to focus on the classified advertisements within the June 1971 issue, published when many were still hoping for the dawn of a new Age of Aquarius. I may delve more into the rest of the issue — with its "The Royal Wraiths of Britain" and "UFO Ballet in the Sky" headlines — in a future post. But, for now, it will just be a peek back at the classifieds, which represent a fascinating look at the readers and opportunists of this Nixon-era, digest-sized magazine. (The price for classified ads, by the way, was 50 cents per word.)

  • THE ESP CLARION band heralded the approach of the Messiah in 1970. O-Loh-I the Messiah speaks in 1971. Both sets of messages now $15.00 — AAA Bookkeeping, 1616 India St., San Diego, CA 92101
  • NO LIMIT TELECASTING by Thought-wave Method, $4. — Sensitron System, Box 1155, St. Augustine, FL 32084
  • "1971 INTERNATIONAL MYSTERY SCHOOLS DIRECTORY." Encyclopedic. Lists all the secret schools. Much, much, more. $9.95. — A.C. Publications, Box 9162, Boston, MA 02114 [Note: I would love to find a copy of this!]
  • READ THE TEA LEAVES — For fun or profit Send $2.00 for complete course to: MIKE, Box 624, Wayne, MI 48184
  • HOW TO MAKE MONEY writing short paragraphs. Information free. — Barrett. Dept. C-305-S2, 6216 N. Clark, Chicago, Ill. 60626
  • BANISH WRINKLES — Old South Sea Island formula. $2.00. Write: Wrinkles, P.O. Box 313, Ephrata, PA 17522
  • HAWAIIAN GUITAR COURSE, Simplified, proven. Write O'Burr's Pub, Moorcroft, WY 82721
  • ADD A NEW DIMENSION to your life! SEE AURAS! $1.00 — Key, Box 127, Wenonah, NJ 08090
  • "GIANT ARMS." Dr. Young's D. C. Revolutionary discovery, $2.00. Satisfaction or refund. — Gaucho, Box 1769-T7, Chicago, Ill. 60690
  • OCTOGENARIAN GREAT-AUNT'S teas, tonics, remedies. Some make sense, some don't. Collection One — 33 recipes, $2.00. Collection Two — 34 recipes, $2.00. Mrs. M Partridge, 159 Stanley Ave., Hamilton, Ont., Canada
  • "THE OCCULT EXPLOSION." Stamp appreciated. METHODS, 416 Palo Alto Ave., Mountain View, CA 94040
  • "THE MADONNA OF THE STARS" — Fatima and the UFO Star Ship. A debate on its alternating sides is illuminating. Send stamp for Newsletter. — Heritage of Faith, P.O. Box 1764, Los Angeles, CA 90028
  • LUSCIOUS CHUNKY MARMALADE. Recipe $1.00. — Cecelia Rogers, 1901 Wyoming Avenue N.W., Washington DC 20009 [Note: Google says: "No results found for 'luscious chunky marmalade'." So this post has made history!]
  • MAKE BIG MONEY raising chinchillas rabbits, guinea pigs for us. Catalog, 25c, — Keeney Brothers Farms, Inc., New Freedom, Pa. 17349 [Note: That's the second appearance of a southcentral Pennsylvania location so far!]
  • HELP! Can anyone furnish picture, likeness or descriptive information concerning the real appearance of Lady Luck? — Sculptor, Box 65, Eufaula, AL 36027
  • COMING WORLDWIDE — Government of Peace, Prosperity, Health and Happiness. Eliminator of war, poverty, sickness and unhappiness. Brochure 25c — MANKIND UNITED, Box 4570, Portland ME 04112
  • GOLDEN RING — Used to bring protection from all evil and misfortune. Send only $2.00 to: PENARDIM CO., Dept. FR-1. P.O. Box 116, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604.
  • ANCIENT PRAYER allegedly materializes desires. Not for evil. $2.00 — T. Tewell, 25 Eddy Drive, Columbus GA 31903
  • BE FREE OF YOUR PAST! A scientific method based on years of research and development. Send only $1.00 to: BARDON, Box 25954, Los Angeles, CA 90025
  • SHUT IN, LONELY, let me send you personal Spiritual view of life and include you on healing list. Donation — Brother Joe, 2303 E. Yandell Dr., El Paso, TX 79903
  • ANCIENT CHANT used to make someone fall in love with you. Instructions included. $5.00. Send self-addressed, stamped envelope: Mystic Sanctum, P.O. Box 877, Cathedral City, CA 92234 [Note: FIVE DOLLARS, plus a SASE??]
  • $3.00 PER QUESTION. — Goddess Athena, 622 Diversey, Chicago, Ill. 60614
  • JOIN GREAT WHITE BROTHERHOOD. — Sir Valiant, Box 830, Dept. 10, Alhambra, Calif. 91802
  • SEVEN QUESTIONS, $2.00. Send birth date, hair and eye coloring. — Barrett, 2585 Aqueduct Road, Schenectady, N.Y. 12309
  • READINGS BY HEDY — Success Acclaimed. Four questions for $3.00. Box 494, Marcellus MI 49067
  • U.F.O. DETECTOR. Instructions $1.00. — D.L.G., Box 493, Sechelt, BC, Canada
  • Spencer's "Dial of Destiny" NUMEROLOGY COMPUTER will give you the numbers of names as fast as you can dial the letters. $5.95 — Para-Science Research, Box 1606, Oceanside CA 92054
  • ACTUAL RECORDINGS of deep-trance wisdom of 500,000-year-old mystery schools will amaze you and your friends, first evening you hear them. The unique story FREE. Write: Dept. FC, Box 11672, Palo Alto, CA 94306
  • UNPRECEDENTED REVELATION of ancient witchcraft formulas "Witchcraft Spells." Only $2.00. — Alan Company, P.O. Box 4262-B, New Orleans, LA 70118
  • WITCHCRAFT, VOODOO SUPPLIES, Spells Galore! Catalog 25c. — Cauldron, Box 403-FA, Rego Park, N.Y. 11374

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: Wendyvee's photo tour of modern locations referenced in this post!

Monday, April 16, 2018

From the readers: "Mark Felt" weighs in on mystery postcard

A few weeks ago, Papergreat featured an old postcard of Madison Square Garden with an note on the back that many of us fretted over.

The note goes like this:
I am going over to Brooklyn. it is 2 o'clock a.m.
[???] in this Joint are no good.
What was the [???], we wondered. Possibilities we came up with were:

  • Jews
  • Jeus (a misspelling of the above?)
  • Tens (a shortening of tenants?)
  • Something else

A frequent and brilliant contributor, who goes by the code name "Mark Felt," has checked in to offer another possibility. And it has a lot of merit. Here is Felt's full comment and interpretation:
The abbreviation "Tens" refers to "Tenements", squalid living quarters common in lower Manhattan at the turn of the century.

Note the cursive uppercase "T" which contrasts markedly with the cursive uppercase "J" in "Joint".

Furthermore, leaving Manhattan for Brooklyn as a means of avoiding individuals of Jewish heritage would have been counterproductive, then as now.

The writer and sender of this postcard was one John ("Johnnie") H. Moulfair (1901-1964), son of John Sipert Moulfair (1880-1946) and the addressee Miriam M. (Selin) Moulfair (1882-1963). All names and dates are readily found on

The exact year of issue of the 1¢ stamp is no simple task from [this] website alone, but should be between 1908 and 1923.

Still, if Johnnie were out and about in Manhattan at 2 AM — and if his postcard were postmarked at 2:30 AM — and based on the level of his handwriting and his date of birth in 1901, this card was most likely written and mailed in the early 1920s.
That's some solid sleuthwork by Felt on the Moulfair family. And, I have to admit, a strong case has now been made for the mystery word being an abbreviation of tenements. What does everyone else think?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Provenance clues in 1878's "The Old Church, and Other Stories"

This little book is in good shape for being 140 years old. It's titled The Old Church, and Other Stories, and it's copyright 1878 by Dodd, Mead & Company of New York.

No author or illustrator is credited for the slight hardcover book, which measures just 3¾ inches wide and 5¼ inches tall, making it suitable to slipping into a pants pocket.

There is a credit for "Press of Richard Handy" on the copyright page.

The stories are written with hyphens marking the syllables in each word. So you get, for example:
Lit-tle Kate lived in a small town in Eng-land. Close by her house was a great o-pen space all cov-ered with green grass, while here and there a yel-low dan-de-li-on showed its head a-mong it.

These are A-rab la-dies. See how they keep their fa-ces hid-den. They would think it a great dis-grace to show them in the street, so they wear long scarfs that on-ly leave room for the eyes to look out. Their hou-ses have no win-dows that o-pen on the street, but are built a-round a yard.
What most interests me about this antique book, though, are the inscriptions and provenance clues on the first two pages.

Let's start with the inside front cover, which has a purple stamp that's now missing a few letters:

I think it's supposed to be:

1909 PA.

Without a sure answer for the first name, that's probably not enough information to confirm an indentity.

And then there's the next page, shown here:

So we have:
The property
Ella M. Bickel,
Berks Co.,

Propert of [off?] Hiram

William M. Bickel

me dear
Is that just oen person's handwriting? Or did two (or more) people write at two different times?

An interesting possiblity for for Ella is Ella M. Bickel Harley, who lived from 1874 to 1921 and is buried in Parker Ford, Pennsylvania, about 24 miles southeast of Shillington. That certainly puts her in the right time frame for owning this book, perhaps in the mid 1880s.

Ella had a younger brother named Harry (1876–1957), which is sometimes a nickname for Hiram. Is part of this Harry/Hiram's handiwork, with his "Remember me dear sister"? Left unexplained, however, is where William M. Bickel fits in. A cousin of Ella and Harry/Hiram, perhaps?

* * *

Moving away from the mystery and back to the book, I'll close with one of the numerous interior illustrations...

RIP Art Bell, of the Kingdom of Nye

I am probably among the final generation that will remember firsthand the culture of overnight talk radio on the AM dial. I was an enthusiastic radio listener during the 1980s. After Phillies night games (with Kalas, Ashburn, Musser and Wheeler), I would often fall asleep listening to Larry King or Jim Bohannon through my earbuds. When we moved to the Philadelphia suburbs in 1986, I discovered Steve "Mr. Movie" Friedman's amazing all-night Saturday shows on 1210 AM. The show would start sometime between 10 a.m. and midnight and run until 6 a.m., which I never made it to.

In the 1990s, after I graduated from college, I found myself doing a lot of late-night driving. I might be commuting home from a newspaper shift after midnight. Or heading to Mom's house or another far-off destination overnight, a driving time I found very preferable to daytime hauls.

And — like so many others — I discovered Art Bell, "Coast to Coast AM," and "Dreamland" during those long, dark drives. Who could resist listening to guests and callers discussing UFOs, time travel, cryptozoology, conspiracies (before that become a dirty word), hauntings and more during the wee hours of the morning, as the highway mile markers flitted by? At its height, the show was syndicated on about 500 radio stations, making it easy to find on the dial, wherever your location.

Bell died on Friday the 13th at age 72, at his home in Pahrump, Nye County, Nevada. But he leaves quite the legacy.

Memorable aspects of "Coast to Coast AM" included:

  • its opening theme, the 1978 instrumental "The Chase" by Giorgio Moroder
  • Bell's show-opening line "From the high desert and the great American Southwest..."
  • Referring to his location as "the Kingdom of Nye"
  • And those oft-, oft-, oft-repeated call-in lines: East of the Rockies, West of the Rockies, First-Time Callers, International Callers and the Wild-Card Line.

Bell's influence indeed cut across numerous generations. I love the juxtaposition of these two pop-culture figures being among the many noting Bell's passing on Twitter. It just seems kind of oddly appropriate, here in 2018.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Messages penned on a pair
of mid-century postcards

Up first is a linen postcard, by C.T. Art-Colortone, featuring a quartet of images from the Pennsylvania Turnpike — the midway point (between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh), looking westward from Everett1, the Breezwood [sic] Interchange, and looking up the Allegheny Mountains. The caption on the back of the card further indicates that the building shown at the midway point is a Howard Johnson restaurant.2

This card was postmarked on August 4, 1947, in Norvelt, Pennsylvania, and mailed to Mr. Spruyt in New York City. The message states:
Arthur got here at 6 p.m. yesterday after a good trip. He left N.Y. at 7:30 a.m. Didn't stop at Camp Hill. We are going to Altoona to meet Murray & K. tomorrow. It's good to have Arthur with us again. He got a welcome from the gals. Write later. — Kay

* * *

This lovely card features a "Mystery Forest" that would probably be nicer to walk through than drive through. The caption on the front states: "Road Through the Birches, Indian Lake, N.Y." These days, Indian Lake, in northeastern New York, has a population of about 1,300 and is known as the moose capital of the Northeast.

This card was postmarked on July 7, 1959, in Sabael, a hamlet within Indian Lake that had its own post office until 2013. It was mailed to Miss Ruth Crawford in Aldan, Pennsylvania, but the note is addressed, in very neat cursive, to Rudi:
Hi Rudi,
How are things going now that you are a college grad? I decided to take two weeks off. My family and I are lost up here in the back woods. I've seen a bear and a deer so far. I got a 1959 Rambler but still have to get my license so, maybe I will get to visit you next year. Write when you can.
Bev. Clark

1. Everett was formerly called Wayneburg and Bloody Run. The tiny borough in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, is the birthplace of novelist Dean Koontz.
2. A different postcard describes the Midway structure as follows: "The Midway is an elaborate two-story building, which provides many modern innovations nestled in the beautiful hills of Bedford County, this de luxe service station offers relaxation, comfort and the finest cuisine service, whether meals are served in the colonial dining room or on tables appropriately decorating the flagstone terrace The management of all restaurants is under the direction of the well known caterer — Howard Johnson."

Friday, April 13, 2018

Scholastic book cover: "Hammerin' Hank of the Braves"

There's an "anniversary factor" to this post. It was 64 years ago today — April 13, 1954 — that Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron made his debut in Major League Baseball. The 20-year-old went for 0-for-5 while playing left field and batting fifth for the Milwaukee Braves in their 9-8 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

  • Title: Hammerin' Hank of the Braves
  • Author: Joel H. Cohen
  • Cover photograph: Wide World News Photo Service
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services (TK 1838)
  • Cover price: 75 cents
  • Year: Fourth printing, September 1973 [book first published in 1971]
  • Pages: 176
  • Format: Paperback
  • First sentences: Hank had wanted it to happen at home at Atlanta Stadium. Now he just wanted it to happen. "It" was the 3,000th base hit of his major-league career — the hit that, until then, had been reached by only seven other great hitters in the entire history of baseball.
  • Last sentence: It's a safe bet that Hammerin' Hank, one of the greatest who ever put wood to horsehide, will keep looking for ways to improve on his near perfection until the sad day when he hangs up Number 44 for the last time.
  • Random sentence from middle: The most drastic shift used against Hank was fielded by Cincinnati in a game on June 30, 1969, when Manager Dave Bristol added a fourth outfielder against him.
  • Rating on Amazon: There are only two reviews. Both are five stars.
  • Amazon review: In 2016, Hawkins wrote: "I bought this book from SBS in 1971 when it was first published, and I was 11 years old. It was entertaining, and turned me into a Hank Aaron fan for life. Mr. Aaron is more than a gifted ball player. He is the kind of role model kids today need more of."
  • Notes: This fourth printing has an introduction, "Countdown to Glory," that discusses Aaron's pursuit of Babe Ruth's career record for home runs during the 1973 season. But it was clearly penned before it was known whether Aaron would reach or pass the record that season. In fact, he did not tie and pass Ruth until April 1974. The book includes Aaron's batting statistics through the 1970 season. But, oddly, it also includes his fielding statistics through the 1972 season. ... Author Joel H. Cohen wrote numerous sports books during the 1970s on the likes of Steve Garvey, Joe Morgan, Oscar Robertson, Manny Sanguillen, Jim Palmer, Johnny Unitas and Tom Seaver. He also wrote about Lucille Ball, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Bill Cosby. He is, I believe, a different Joel H. Cohen than the Joel H. Cohen who is a writer for The Simpsons and also different than the screenwriter Joel Cohen who co-wrote Toy Story.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Lost Corners of the Internet: Arnaz receipt & other Paper Matters

There are many, many ephemera-themed blogs in cyberspace, so thank you for reading this one. They are all worthwhile, though, especially the blogs that have permanently signed off and are just adrift on the Internet, waiting for someone's oddball Google search to help them wash ashore somewhere. (Wow, that's a bad analogy.)

Those shuttered blogs are, of course, potential Lost Corners of the Internet.

Texas bookseller Chuck Whiting has authored at least two ephemera blogs during the past decade. The first was Bibliophemera (, which ran from January 2008 until November 2015 and had a fairly robust 281 posts during that time. Topics ranged from "Dutch Treat: Bookseller & Bookbinder Tickets" to "J.R. Osgood, the Harvard Book, and Dickensiana," with an interesting essay on digital ephemera mixed in.1

Bibliophemera is clearly a blog that Whiting put much effort into. But his interests were also clearly wide-ranging, so he had a second ephemera blog. This one was called Paper Matters ( and it was subtitled "Discoveries along the never-ending paper trail of ephemera." It launched after Bibliophemera, running for 36 posts from January 2009 until April 2012. Perhaps Whiting had an idea about how Paper Matters would differ from Bibliophemera, but it's not immediately clear what the distinction was. And, with just three dozen posts, Paper Matter didn't have quite the staying power of Bibliophemera.

Still, Paper Matters should be remembered too, and is certainly in greater danger of tumbling into a Lost Corner and never being seen again. That would be a shame. There's some interesting stuff in those three dozen Paper Matters posts, including the receipt for Desi and Lucy Arnaz's groceries highlighted at the top. Other intriguing posts include:

Great and worthwhile stuff, all of it. Who will be the archival champion of all this history?

1. Of digital ephemera, Whiting wrote in 2010: "Libraries around the world are creating digital archives of not only books, but historical documents and ephemera as well. As ephemera (that which is transitory and short-lived) has come to be synonymous with collectible paper, can a digital representation, a copy of the original, even be squeezed into the definition? Or will the definition expand enough with time to include digital copies?"

The Better Rascals of Our Nature

Baby photos are the worst. As someone who has been spending serious swaths of time sorting through multiple generations of family photographs, I believe that I'm qualified and justified in making that statement.

They really are the worst, though. They're all the same. Every baby looks the same, whether it's you or your uncle or your great-grandmother. Every baby is sitting there doing nothing, except perhaps drooling. And almost every baby photo is WAYUPCLOSE, allowing for little else. No context of time or setting or culture.

Baby photos are the worst. And I've been tossing a ton of them, including many of myself.

But this one, of me, is cool, because it's not just a chubby face covered in drool. I have to believe this was an intentionally framed snapshot taken by one of my parents, in very early 1971. There I am, in my oh-so-1970 flowered baby carrier, centered underneath a huge image of The Little Rascals. A little playful foreshadowing, eh?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Old Coney Island postcards, Part 2

The concept of time is a shimmering, ever-shifting notion here at Papergreat. I hope y'all weren't sitting on the edge of your seats for the past 28½ weeks, which is how long it's been since I published Part 1 of this series and implied that the followup would be coming in an, ahem, timely fashion.

Here we go with Part 2...

Entrance to Steeplechase Park. Steeplechase Park, in operation from 1897 to 1964, was one of the Big Three original Coney Island amusement parks, alongside Luna Park and Dreamland. The smiling caricature above the entrance became Steeplechase's logo. The park's iconic attractions over the years included a Ferris wheel, a mechanical horse race, a five-acre indoor "Pavilion of Fun" (featuring an Insanitarium and a human pool table), and the Parachute Jump, which I wrote about in 2016.

The original park mostly burned in 1907, prompting owner George C. Tilyou to leave this note at the entrance: "To enquiring friends: I have troubles today that I had not yesterday. I had troubles yesterday which I have not today. On this site will be built a bigger, better, Steeplechase Park. Admission to the burning ruins -- Ten cents." I believe this postcard shows the 1908/1909 rebuilt entrance of Steeplechase, which is well-documented in this 1998 article by Jeffrey Stanton.

Johnstown Flood "attraction." At the beginning of the 20th century, Coney Island entrepreneurs catered to the public's fascination with disasters. They didn't have Irwin Allen movies or even-more-modern thrillers like Volcano, 2012 and San Andreas, so they went to the amusement parks to see recreations of events such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Mount Vesuvius eruption that buried Pompeii, the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée, and even the Biblical flood that Noah road out with his family and a bunch of animals.

One of these disaster attractions told the story of the 1889 Johnstown Flood, in which heavy rainfall caused a catastrophic dam failure, leading to a deluge that killed more than 2,000 people in southwestern Pennsylvania. That's a cheery topic for an attraction, right? The Johnstown reenactment was touted as “the greatest technical production in the world,” according to The Bowery Boys history website. And has this description:
"The show was a cyclorama, which involved a series of different scenes being reenacted, each with a different large, panoramic, curved backdrop painting to make the audience feel immersed in the scene. The show actually used large amounts of water and steam. And, of course, don't forget the electricity, too. That was a big selling point. They'd spare no expense to reenact explosions and storms at these."

The Coal Mine. This was actually a (relatively slow) roller-coaster ride near Luna Park that opened around 1905, according to some great sleuth work on Roller-coasters back then were more like the Disney people-mover attractions of modern times that take you through historical and cultural attractions and perhaps a haunted mansion. In this case, instead of world cultures or ghosts, riders got glimpses of the life of a coal miner. But wait, there's more! According to's David A. Sullivan:
"[Young couples knew] that parts of the ride will be dark enough that you'll be able to make out with your date and no one will be able to see. Paid make-out time was a huge draw as strict proprieties had to be observed in public. Remember, women had to wear full-length wool dresses even when in the ocean, and had to ride carousel horses saddle-mounted!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A handful of artistic travel snapshots taken by my grandmother

My grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham (1919-2003), traveled the world extensively and was superb at many things, including her career in the field of medicine, genealogy research, gardening, croquet, and bridge.

Photography, though, wasn't her strongest suit.

In the past decade or so, I have sorted through hundreds of her photos that were taken during trips to various corners of the globe, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s. Alas, a high percentage of those snapshots are not terribly interesting or worth keeping. (And, in her partial defense, the quality of cameras used by non-professionals during that time was not excellent, especially compared to what we have today.) The good news is that, given how many photos she took, I still have a representative sample of quality shots from each trip. That's all I need, not a shoebox full.

I have also been setting aside some photographs that, to my eye, represent some of her more artistic work, knowingly or unknowingly. So what follows is a gallery of those artsy shots, full frame and uncropped. Enjoy my grandmother's best!

Helen's caption: "Stockholm Town Hall"

"Stave Church Norway"

No caption, but I believe this is The Little Mermaid statue
in Copenhagen, Denmark

(Full disclosure: My grandmother had the worst handwriting in the family.
I think this one says "going up Montserrat" on the back.)

Somewhere in France


Unknown. Scandinavia? United Kingdom?

"Little girls all wear long dresses."
(I believe this in Spain.)

Monday, April 9, 2018

1960s pocket travel guide for Kiev

Mr. Bill helps to showcase Kiev Travel Guide.

Kiev Travel Guide, which measures a pocket-sized 4¼ inches by 6½ inches, was written/edited by Leonid Daen, Pavel Poznyak and Mark Cherp. It was published by the Novosti Press Agency Publishing House. Novosti was the Soviet Union's (and then Russia's) international news agency from 1941 (when it started as Sovinformburo) until 2013, when Russian President Vladimir Putin closed the agency and merged its assets into a separate state-owned and state-operated news agency. Novosti's publishing house issued more than 200 books and booklets with a total annual circulation of 20 million copies, according to Wikipedia.

According to WorldCat Identities, there were eight editions of this guide published between 1963 and 1971. I don't know for sure which edition I have, but there is a "63" on the last page and there don't appear to be any references that are later than the early 1960s. Ukraine was, of course, a Republic of the Soviet Union from 1922 through 1991, so this guide to Kiev — which is clearly aimed at Western tourists and their wallets — must be viewed through the filters of the USSR and the Cold War.

With that context in mind, here are some page scans and nuggets of information from Kiev Travel Guide, a fascinating glimpse into another time and place...

  • The Capital of the Soviet Ukraine: "Along the beautiful banks of the Dnieper lies the ancient city of Kiev — the capital of the Soviet Ukraine, its political, administrative, cultural and scientific centre. ... The Ukraine has some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery: primeval forests and boundless steppes, lofty mountain ranges and luscious green valleys, silvery rivers and blue sea. No traveller can fail to be captivated by its charms. The Ukraine is rich in various coals, oil and natural gas, iron and manganese ores, rock-salt and potassium, titanium, nickel, granite, marble, graphite, gypsum, basalt, ozokerite, and many other valuable ores and minerals."
  • Years of Peaceful Construction and Kiev's Growing Prosperity: "Many Soviet towns helped in the post-war reconstruction of Kiev. They sent in equipment, building and raw materials, workers and engineers. Within four-five years the city had rebuilt all of its factories, scientific, educational and cultural establishments and homes. New blocks of flats went up all over the city."
  • Miscellany
    • "Non-stop flights from Kiev service 110 destinations."
    • "Trolley-buses, trams, buses, the metro, the funicular railway and taxis carry 2,300,000 passengers."
    • "Kiev has 1,330 libraries with a total of 35,000,000 books."
    • "Five hundred citizens of Kiev have reached the age of one hundred. Several inhabitants are even older."
    • "Every day 2,000 postmen deliver more than half a million newspapers and magazines to subscribers."
    • "Every two seconds a pair of shoes comes off the conveyor belt of Kiev's largest shoe factory."
  • TV Centre: "The Kiev TV Centre is one of the most powerful in the country. TV programmes are transmitted to almost all the regions of the Ukraine. Its programmes deal with nature and science, the daily lives of the Soviet people at work and play."
  • The Arcade: "On the corner of Karl Marx Street and Kreshchatik is the Arcade, built on the eve of the First World War by P. Andreyev. ... The two parallel buildings of the Arcade, that are perpendicular to the main thoroughfare, house a number of special shops for children: 'Oksana,' 'Ivasik,' 'Red Riding Hood,' 'Toys.'"
  • Askold's Grave: "High above the Dnieper, not far from Sovietsky Park, is an ancient monument to Prince Askold. According to legend, two Kiev Princes, Askold and Dir, were murdered by Prince Oleg of Novgorod during his seizure of Kiev in 882. Askold was supposed to have been buried on the Dnieper heights. A wooden church was built to mark the event. ... Further on, in the heart of Pechersk, is a monument to the defenders of the Kiev Arsenal. The bullet-ridden walls of the Arsenal remind one of the grim days of the revolution, and the fierce battle fought by the workers in defence of the Soviet power."
  • Ukrainian Dishes: "In Kiev restaurants you will have an opportunity of trying Ukrainian red borshch, a savoury soup of finely sliced beet root, cabbage and other vegetables set off with onions fried in lard. It is always served with thick sour cream. Also very tasty is chicken Kiev — chicken rissoles fried in dough rolled in bread-crumbs. Of the many hors d'oeuvres a good choice is cold pork, usually served with side dishes of vegetables. Coming to the sweets we would recommend vareniki (cherry dumplings), an old Ukrainian dish. They are delicious, especially when served with cream."
  • The Goloseyevsky Forest-Park: "The nearest forest area is the Goloseyevsky forest-park, named in honour of the well-known Ukrainian poet, Academician Maxim Rilsky. ... Hundreds of years ago this was part of a huge forest that encircled Kiev. Even today the park is full of age-old oaks, hornbeams and lindens As the town grew it gradually reached the forest area. Today the forest-park is completely surrounded by new housing estates."