Saturday, February 10, 2018

Lovely linen postcards of Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina

These two vibrant and undated linen postcards showcase Brookgreen Gardens nears Murrells Inlet, South Carolina (part of the Lowcountry).

The sprawling park, which opened in 1932, was built atop several rice plantations, and covers more than 9,000 acres. It features gardens, trails, fountains, a wildlife preserve and more than 1,400 human sculptures.1 (Other accounts state there are more than 2,000 sculptures.) It is also home to a memorial for Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of Vice President Burr. She was lost at sea, but her ghost is said to haunt the area. If you're planning a trip, service animals2 are welcome in Brookgreen, but pets are not.

These two postcards feature "Pomona" and "Loggia" at Brookgreen Gardens. They tout that the attraction is located along "the famous New York-to-Miami Highway." I'm assuming that refers to U.S. Route 1, even though Route 1 doesn't come particularly close to Murrells Inlet or the Grand Strand as it passes through central South Carolina. It could also refer to I-95, although (1) that highway didn't open until 1957, which is almost certainly after this postcard's publication and (2) I-95 doesn't come much closer to the Grand Strand than Route 1. Any thoughts, highway-and-travel-history experts?

These are "Natural Color Card" postcards that were produced by E.C. Kropp Company3 of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and distributed by Florence News Company of Florence, South Carolina. Neither postcard has been used, and the the backs have some significant foxing, as you can see here.

1. I hope that none of the sculptures are Weeping Angels.
2. I'm assuming that includes emotional support peacocks, but one can never be sure. Please call ahead.
3. E.C. Cropp was in business from 1907 to 1956, according to

"Baseball Flashback" at The Gettysburg Times in 1994

As Major League Baseball careens toward its next potential boycott, strike or work stoppage, here's a flashback to a Flashback.

When baseball players went on strike in August 1994, it resulted, disastrously, in the cancellation of the remainder of that MLB season, including the World Series.

At the time, I was working as the sports editor of The Gettysburg Times1 and, partly to fill the baseball-shaped void left for our readers, I launched a series called "Baseball Flashback." It was a glorified version of those "On This Date" features that used to be a staple of so many newspapers.

For each day of the Times' publication from mid-August through mid-October, I published a short recap of how three regional World Championship baseball teams of the past had fared on that date. The teams were the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies, the 1966 Baltimore Orioles and the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates. Most of the information came from my hours of solitary and nerdy research in the Times' microfilm library. (This was long before the Internet could be of much assistance.)

The series needed a logo, and that's it, pictured at the top of this post, created by yours truly, with some help from the Times paste-up room. It measures about 2⅛ inches by 2⅝ inches, and it consists of a tiny file photograph of a ballpark2, a typeset label, and border tape. It was created once, and then used every day. The back of the logo would be freshly waxed and applied to the proper location on the sports page in the paste-up room. After the page was shot as a negative, so that plates could be made for the press, the logo and other reusable elements were stripped from the page and saved for the next edition.

And that's how we published daily newspapers in the 1990s, with metal pica sticks, X-Acto knives, hot wax and rollers. I could share many tales from paste-up rooms in State College, Gettysburg, York and Spartanburg, but I'll save those for another day.

Baseball Flashback ran six days a week (the Times didn't publish on Sundays) for about two months. When it was all over, I kept the logo. And so here it is, nearly a quarter-century later. I'm sure it can survive a full century or more, if stashed properly in an envelope or drawer.

Here's a look at the Baseball Flashback logo in action, in the October 3, 1994, edition of The Gettysburg Times.

1. I worked at The Gettysburg Times from May 1993 until January 1995, at which point I began working for The York Dispatch/Sunday News.
2. I think the baseball stadium pictured in the logo is one of the versions of Yankee Stadium, but I'm not 100 percent sure.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Photos of my grandmother and mother in their college dorms

The first of two snapshots features my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham (1919-2003), in her dorm room at the University of Delaware, sometime between 1937 and 1941. We'll never know if she was just going to bed or just waking up, but, either way, she appears a little groggy.

And here's Mom, Mary Margaret Ingham Otto (1948-2017), at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, probably in 1967 or 1968. She looks ready to head out to the ski slopes. The ephemera on her dorm walls includes a nifty skiing poster, some postcards, a sign that states "NEW YORK OR BUST," and a concert flyer for "TGIF with 'the Soul Brothers'." The vinyl album on the right is Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, by Simon & Garfunkel. And that thing sitting in front of the record album almost looks like a model of a Saturn V rocket. What do you think?

Grandma and Mom are about the same age in these two photos from two different generations. One of them had World War II ahead of her. The other was living in the midst of the Vietnam War, with Watergate ahead.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Postcard reminder of "Blizzard of '88' Association" meeting

Here's the front and back of a postcard that was sent to Mrs. Margaret B. Lapp of West Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1949, reminding her of an upcoming meeting — on April 23, 1949 — of the Blizzard of "88" Association. The meeting was slated to be held at 8 p.m. at the Salvation Army Recreation Center in Philadelphia.

The Great Blizzard of 1888, which will have its 130th anniversary next month, was a superstorm that crippled the Northeast, from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, with up to five feet of snow in some places, drifts in excess of 50 feet, and winds gusting up to 45 miles per hour. Hundreds died, including many mariners whose ships were scuttled.

So what was the Blizzard of "88" Association? Why would you want to commemorate this natural disaster?

According to the postcard, the association was founded in Philadelphia on September 28, 1946. An article in the March 12, 1949, edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer gives more background:

Anniversary Revives
1888 Blizzard Stories

Optimists who think that Philadelphia has come through the winter without much snow are reminded by old-timers that today is the 61st anniversary of the start of the great blizzard of 1888.

Exactly how deep the drifts were after the three-day snowfall has never been agreed upon but to hear some of the survivors tell it, the snow is getting deeper and deeper.

For 58 years everyone who saw the blizzard talked about it, but nobody did anything about it until 1946, when William J. Stafford, 2754 N. 8t St., founded the Blizzard of '88 Association.

Now, each year, the organization members get together and reminisce about the historic storm. Albert Idell, Philadelphia novelist, has written a book about it.1

This year the association will commemorate the final day of the blizzard at a dinner Monday night at McCallister's, 1811 Spring Garden St. In addition to the telling of personal experiences, the evening will be devoted to the group singing of songs of the '80s and '90s.

Stafford said it was on just such a day as yesterday after a light rain, that it started to snow.

"When I woke up that morning," Stafford recalls, "the snow had drifted up to the level of our second-story window. I first shoveled a tunnel from our house to the street and then dug out passages for my neighbors. I made so much money my family decided I should leave school and learn a trade."

Another survivor, William J. Erskine, 74, of 158 W. Coulter St., and his cousin, Thomas Galbraith, 75, of Hatboro, both recall that they trudged 10 blocks to the John S. Hart elementary school, Cedar and York sts., to find that only three teachers and five students were present.

1. That book would be 1948's The Great Blizzard, by Albert E. Idell. States one Goodreads reviewer: "D+. fiction, New York City, late 19th c., dated writing, pretentious narration, mom's stash, discard." On the other hand, this kinder review comes from Amazon: "I did enjoy this book. It's written in the late '40s about life in the 1880's so I gather the writer was trying to capture some recent history flavour while it was still rememberable to some people. Since this was no doubt one doozey of a blizzard, doubtless it was easy for him to find stories about it from old timers."

Stamped envelope as work of art

I love that you can still use old — sometimes super-old — U.S. postage to send postcards and letters and packages. (I understand, too, that it's not the greatest way to support our underfunded and incredibly important postal-system infrastructure, but, by most accounts, the use of old postage accounts for only a tiny fraction of all mail sent.)

This is most of the front of a package that I received last year. (The entire front measures about 13-by-10 inches and wouldn't fit on my scanner.) It's adorned with more than 70 stamps, some of them dating to the 1930s, in order to reach the required postage of $3.64. That makes the envelope a wonderful work of art, all by itself. Certainly suitable for preservation.

I still love sending old-fashioned mail, with both old and new stamps. Later this week, I'll be sending out a new batch of Postcrossing postcards using the USPS's dandy Snowy Day Forever stamps.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

For Super Bowl LII: 1949's "A Handy Illustrated Guide to Football"

I thought this would be an appropriate post for today. It's a vintage football guide that I received as a present this past Christmas. It's important, on a basic level, that folks at least know Tom Brady from Mike Brady (right). You never want to find yourself in a situation where your lack of football knowledge leads to you being mocked on national television by Alex Trebek. So even if you prefer the Kitten Bowl and/or you're just waiting for that fictional character to be killed by a slow cooker after the Super Bowl, here's a chance to brush up on a little football...

  • Title: A Handy Illustrated Guide to Football
  • Editor: Sam Nisenson
  • Illustrator: None credited, which is a shame, given that there are more than 300 illustrations.
  • Cover blurb: "Up-to-date, authoritative ... Strategy, position play, basic rules, records, referee's signals, etc. ... Invaluable for players, spectators, fans ... Simple, clear, and PACKED WITH PICTURES."
  • Publisher: Permabooks, New York
  • Year: 1949
  • Price: 35 cents (39 cents in Canada)
  • Pages: 192
  • Format: Hardcover, in the size of a paperback. Here's the description on the back cover: "PERMABOOKS combine the virtues of handiness for the pocket and durability for the library shelf. They are selected with care to provide reliable books for education and recreation. Each has been printed from new plates and bound in boards with a special wear-resistant finish."
  • First sentences: Historians disagree on the origins of football. Some claim the Romans and Greeks played games called "harpiston" and "follis" that resembled football, but these games never appeared on the Olympic programs nor do any rule books exists that define them.
  • Last sentence: Wingback — Back stationed about 1 yard behind his own end, either inside or outside.
  • Random football advice #1: Your chances of completing a pass diminish with each succeeding down, so it is best to pass on first and second downs.
  • Random football advice #2: Don't leave your feet for the tackle but hit the ball carrier and keep driving him back.
  • Random football advice #3: You will often be called upon to block down field.
  • Random football advice #4: Football has helped mold today's American citizen. ... We would like to encourage every boy to play the game.
  • Some players and coaches featured: Charley Trippi (who, as of this writing, is still alive at age 96), Benny Friedman, Don Hutson, George Franck, Red Grange, Bill Daly, Cliff Battles, Ken Strong, Lou Little, Earl Blaik, Jim Thorpe, Orban "Spec" Sanders, Otto Graham, Buddy Young and Charley Bednarik.

Other football-themed posts