Saturday, March 24, 2018

Coming home from Vietnam

Dad and I have been sharing Throwback Thursday photos on Facebook.1 Last week, I posted this old photo of his parents, John and Olive Otto (my Pappy and Bambi), standing next to a yard sign that was welcoming an Easton, Pennsylvania, resident home from U.S. service in the Vietnam War.

What's neat is that, when I posted this on Dad's Facebook page, we ended up hearing from the "Bob" who is being welcomed home by this sign. Mark Zuckerberg's invention is taking a lot of well-deserved flak and criticism these days, but it's an amazing way to connect with friends and family and our shared pasts and presents.

So, this is part of the exchange that ended up on Facebook:

  • John Otto: I believe this sign was for Bob Wasser. Easton PA. I’m guessing 1971.
  • Robert Wasser: Yes you are right. I came home from Nam in July of 1970.
  • John Otto: July 1970 I was at Camp Pendleton. My son Chris born 12/14/70 at Camp Pendleton hospital. I came home Nov. 1971. No sign for me.
  • Robert Wasser: There were so many guys returning home ... we gave this one to another family ... they just changed the name.

Of course, there were nearly 60,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War and did not get to return home to signs such as this one. Overall, the most-accepted figure is that 1.3 million people (combatants and non-combatants) were killed during the 20 years of the conflict. Other estimates, however, place the death toll as high as 4 million.

Here's a closer look at Pappy and Bambi, much younger than my earliest memories of them.

1. OMG, I cannot believe that Throwback Thursday has its own Wikipedia page, which includes a subsection titled "How to use Throwback Thursday." It also includes this numbingly obvious section: "Similar to Throwback Thursday, Flashback Friday was a popular hashtag several months before Throwback Thursday was. Although both hashtags are similar, what makes them different is the days in which one can post a nostalgic picture. Flashback Friday is a second chance for social media lovers to upload a photo if they have forgotten on Thursday, or even for people to upload more vintage photos that allows them to share their content as many times as they want."

More vintage mystery snapshots

It's a sunny Saturday after a snowy week. The perfect time for ... more mystery photos! Neither of these have any dates or identifying information, so we're totally on our own. (That means, too, that they could be perfect launching pads for stories. Use your imagination to give the snapshots new life!)

First up (above) is a 4½-inch-wide photo, plus a magnification, of a hilltop field with a pair of similar-looking, cabin-like structures. A teeny-tiny figure can be seen standing outside one of the buildings. And then there's the car. I'll defer to the expertise of others, but it looks like a Ford from the early 1930s.

* * *

I really like this second photo. Whether it was skill or luck, the photographer ended up with some nice interplay between light and shadow. The slightly smiling woman stands in a shaded part of the yard, near a good-sized tree. In the background are an impressive brick house and the rear portion of another old (to us) vehicle.

Who was she? A wife and mother? A writer? Kitchen help? A woman with a mind for mathematics and rocket science?

What did she dream about? What did she see during her lifetime?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Postcard: Madison Square Garden #2 and wrestling over a word

A couple of years ago, I posted an old postcard featuring the second of the four Manhattan structures that have been called Madison Square Garden. Today's postcard features a different, and much greener, view of that second MSG, which was open from 1890 to 1925.

This undated postcard is copyrighted by American Studio and is labeled N.Y. 249. While much of the postmark is intact on the back of the card (shown below), I cannot make out the year it was mailed. Whatever the year, though, it was mailed in late August from New York City.

The following historical information about this iteration of Madison Square Garden is included on the back of the card:
Occupies an entire city block from Madison to Fourth Avenue, and 26th to 27th Street. It is the largest Amphitheatre in America. The interior being 300 by 200 feet, 80 feet high, with an arena 268x122 feet, seating capacity 12,000. The tower is 341 feet high. Statue of Diana is 13 feet high. Erected in 1890 at a cost of $3,000,000.
The $3 million pricetag would equate to about $83 million today, which seems like a huge bargain, given the location and size of the structure.

This postcard was mailed to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and the message on the back is fairly easy to decipher with the exception of one word. And that one word is crucial. Here's the note, followed by my transcription. You might want to make your own conclusions about the note before reading mine.

I am going over to Brooklyn. it is 2 o'clock a.m.
[???] in this Joint are no good.
So, that [???] is the elephant in the room. Four parties, myself included, took a stab at it and compared it to all the other words and letters on the back of the postcard. The chief possibility, we think, would clearly turn the final sentence into an ugly ethnic slur.

So, that mystery word could be:

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

I'd say we're probably overthinking it, and it's clearly "Jews." And we shouldn't turn away from confronting that type of prejudice, which existed then and exists now. But obviously Johnnie isn't here to defend himself, and the door should be open for some benefit of the doubt. One reason I grappled with this for so long is that the W leading into the S in "Jews" just doesn't look right to me. But I have nothing else to compare it to. And then there's also the fact that Johnnie writes his J's in multiple ways.

Here's the full back of the postcard:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Mystery Photo Thursday

There's a two-for-one special on mystery photos today on Papergreat!

This first photograph, measuring 2¾ inches wide, features a young man navigating his boat at what appears to be the edge of a small lake.

He must be just starting or just finishing his excursion, because it looks like the water must be really shallow there. The conditions appear to be muddy, too. Note the dog — a German Shepherd, I believe — peeking its head up from the middle of the boat. It's always good to have a canine first mate!

There's a green stamp on the back from the Keystone Photo Service. It's dated June 23, 1937. There is, however, no other identifying information.

Almost exactly four years ago, I posted another mystery photo of a man and a boat.

* * *

This second mystery snapshot is the same size as the first one. But there's no Keystone Photo Service stamp, or any other identifying information at all, on the back. The friendly looking folks are posing for a photograph in a dirt yard or alley. Behind them, a short flight of stairs lead to a building with wooden doors.

I wonder if the man on the left is a butcher, given what he's wearing. I wonder, too, about the relationship between the three. The man on the right looks too young to be their son. Perhaps he's a grandson? I reckon we'll never know...

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lost Corners of the Internet: Cranky people and spam comments

This "Lost Corner of the Internet" is the perfection encapsulation of the past 15 years of allowing comments on news articles, one of the leading causes of headaches in journalism.

The comments appeared on a article about the start of the snowstorm (Toby) that hit southcentral Pennsylvania yesterday and today.

And, yes, I think this is a "Lost Corner" that should mostly just remain lost.

An easy Google search shows that "Tarycaida Kaomal" did not exist before January of this year, when a Facebook page with that name sprang into existence. In the first quarter of this year, it has spammed a wide variety of newspaper sites and articles.

Great reads to get you through Toby

It's not #FridayReads yet, but I figured that all y'all might need some curated reading suggestions today, especially if you're living in the northeastern United States and are stuck in your house thanks to Toby, the fourth nor'easter of March 2018.

So, here are some articles and essays to help you expand your mind while you sip your hot cocoa and watch the grackles desperately vie for positions at the bird feeder.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Book cover: "Hackerbook"
(48 61 63 6b 65 72 62 6f 6f 6b)

  • Title: Hackerbook
  • Subtitle #1: for your ATARI®-Computer
  • Subtitle #2: TIPS + TRICKS
  • Subtitle #3: Very Important Subroutines in Machine Language
  • Author: H.C. Wagner
  • Dinosaur-themed cover design: Franz Berthold
  • Original price: Unknown
  • Publication year: 1983
  • Copyright holder: Winfried Hofacker
  • Publisher: Ing. W. Hofacker GmbH International, Federal Republic of Germany
  • U.S. distributor: ELCOMP Publishing Inc., Pomona, California
  • Edition: First edition, first printing
  • ISBN: 3-88963-172-X
  • Pages: 116
  • Format: Paperback
  • Preface (by H.C. Wagner): "Since more and more users of the ATARI personal computers write programs in machine language, more and more 'workhorse' routines, performing standard tasks, are required. This book contains a variety of programs for the real computer 'Hacker' and the machine language programmer. All the programs have been fully tested and a complete source code is provided. I extend my thanks to Franz Ende for the translation and Karl Wagner for the proofreading."
  • Important Notice (under the preface): "This book is written for the experienced ATARI Personal Computer owner. To run the programs you need a symbolic Editor/Assembler or the ATAS/ATMAS from ELCOMP Publishing. For details please refer to the OS-Manual from ATARI."
  • First two sentences: "When working with numbers one often wants to input and output them via the screen. The following programs show how this can be done with hexadecimal as well as decimal numbers."
  • Last two sentences: "$F6 and $F7 are empty locations. This is a comment and not an instruction."
  • Random sentence from the middle: "So, you just have to put a cassette in your recorder, start the generator, and the dialogue will be started."
  • Sampling of chapter titles: "16-bit arithmetic without sign," "Introduction to CIO," "How to write a sector to disk," "How to make a bootable disk," and "300 Baud serial interface via the Atari joystick ports."
  • Notes: In an article titled "The Atari Book of Books," Kevin Fleming categorizes Hackerbook at "Acceptable" and adds that it is "strictly for the 'dyed in the wool' machine language programmer." ... A PDF of the entire book (which kind of takes the fun out of this blog post) is available at Atarimania. ... The inside back cover of Hackerbook contains an order form for Hofacker books that were available from ELCOMP Publishing. Titles included Complex Sound, Second Book of Ohio, Games for the Atari, Tricks for Vics, Editor/Ass. for CBM, Tic Tac Vic, Gunfight for Atari, Knaus Ogino, Astrology Program, Eprom Burner Kit, Moon Phases and Supermail.

Monday, March 19, 2018

From the Readers: Cool books, stamps, the Phillies, and the Eagles

Time for another batch of comments from Papergreat's much-appreciated readers...

Memories of the Junior Deluxe Editions from Nelson Doubleday: Matt Hinrichs writes: "Thanks for your post, and for linking to my blog entry. I'm still collecting the Junior Deluxe Editions — as a matter of fact, just today I got three new books. One of them contained not a bookmark but a printed leaflet advertising the next month's book (Tom Sawyer). These are fun and I'm always coming across titles which I never knew existed in this format. Today's previously unknown find was a biography on Marco Polo."

Photos of my grandmother and mother in their college dorms: Wendyvee, who authors the nifty Roadside Wonders blog, writes: "Love these. It's funny, if you don't look too closely at the skis (or the items in the room), that picture of your mom could be from any one of several decades. Her hair and clothing don't read necessarily as late 1960s."

Pair of postcards of old motels: Joan, who writes Unschool Rules while juggling a full-time job and grad school, writes: "Surely we must have driven past the spot of the Acorn [on U.S. Routes 11/15 in central Pennsylvania] multiple times over the years ... Is it still standing?"
Chris says: It's definitely no longer a motel. I don't think the buildings remain, either, but don't have 100 percent confirmation.

Stamped envelope as work of art: Wendyvee writes: "Holy Copious Amount of Stamps, Batman. Love the World's Fair the most."

And Jim Fahringer adds: "Thank you for sharing this. I always try to use a variety of old and new stamps on letters and packages — hoping it will create an interest and desire in people to collect stamps. That once very popular hobby of stamp collecting has greatly diminished in recent years. That is such a shame — I learned more from my stamp collection about geography, culture and world affairs than all of my school and college courses covering the same areas. I urge everyone to use a variety of of colorful stamps (both old and new) when sending mail. Perhaps it will encourage the great hobby of stamp collecting. If nothing else, it certainly can create a 'work of art' and make receiving mail much more interesting. Long live stamp collecting!!!"

#FridayReads on current events, economy & the arts: Wendyvee writes: "Sharon's story ["All of a sudden my world would flip": the woman who is permanently lost] is fascinating. I had a professor with a similar lifelong challenge (with some minor differences). I might just try some 'Wonder Woman Spinning Therapy' myself."

(Sort of) new photograph of Ruth Manning-Sanders: "A Fan" writes: "Hi there. Just wanted to say that I'm so happy to have stumbled upon a fellow Ruth Manning-Sanders fan! I read her books when I was little and have recently rediscovered them and am collecting them for my kids. Love your insightful posts."

Mom's Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII junk mail: Matt Hinrichs writes: "There's a sucker born every minute, I suppose — thanks for your excellent blog, Chris! I volunteer for a local organization that processes tons of old books and I'm always coming across fascinating stuff like what you write about."
Chris says: Thank you for the kind words, Matt. Your blog has a lot of great stuff in the archives that people should check out. And your volunteer work sounds super fun!

Bookplate: Hazel S. Rork and her dog: Inky, who authors On Shoes and Ships and Sealing-Wax, writes: "That is one handy way to ensure if you lose your book that it actually gets back to you!"

Tattered, torn and creased photo of pure mystery: Wendyvee writes: "I agree that they are probably both wearing swimwear; but I would guess it's older than the 40s if that is the case (unless she was seriously conservative)."

Klein Chocolate Co. of Elizabethtown analyzes Fannie's butter fat: Anonymous writes: "I live in Elizabethtown and my dad lived when Kleins was open. I love this history. It is soooo cool when it is history I know. I wish I lived back then to see what Elizabethown looked like. I also wish they had not sold to M&M and Mars."

Some Phillies Fever from the Bicentennial summer of 1976: Wendyvee writes: "The girls in my Mom's office gave this to her because she had a huge crush on Mike Schmidt."

Sci-fi book cover: "Adventures on Other Planets": Joan writes: "And here I thought I was the only owner of an old book [Nobody Plays With a Cabbage] in which cabbage makes a random appearance."

And Wendyvee adds: "Yes to that cover. No to cabbage soup. Crappy 1970s Paperbacks with Airbrushed Spacecraft on the Covers is in the running for one of the best titles ever."

Sunday, March 18, 2018

"Most fabulous recipe for preparing spaghetti that has ever been devised"

I would like to share an item from the 1965 edition of Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter. In 2008, Paul Collins, writing in The New York Times, called the book "one of the greatest oddball masterpieces in this or any other language."

Well, here's the oddball item that appears on Page 137.

This is the most fabulous recipe for preparing spaghetti that has ever been devised and is one of the few really original recipes of the past 100 years.

Arthur Dupont of Carnieres, Belgium, one of the most original cooks who ever lived, created Spaghetti Dupont.

Roquefort cheese as you know was invented in Roquefort, France by the sorceress Jehanne Muret. She created it by putting blue molded stale bread into sheep's milk and a little of the lining of the sheep's stomach. In this country Roquefort or blue cheese is made in the same way but cow's milk is used in place of the sheep's milk. Using the cow's milk instead of the sheep's milk actually improves the cheese rather than subtracts from it.

European cooks rarely used Roquefort cheese in salad dressings of any kind. They use it mostly simply as an after dinner dessert strange as it may seem. Roquefort cheese used in salad dressings was invented in France by Charles Derrault in 1701.

Here is the original Arthur Dupont recipe:

Take an 8 ounce package of egg noodles and boil in water until done according to the instructions on the package. Drain off the hot water. Fill the pan with cold water and then drain off the cold water. This takes away any loose starch on the noodles. Now place in a heaping tablespoon of butter in the bottom of the pot you cooked the noodles, and add one ounce of crumbled Roquefort cheese to the noodles. You can buy Roquefort or blue cheese in one ounce foil packages at most grocery stores. Add ¼ level teaspoon of black pepper and salt to taste. Put a low heat under the pot. Stir the noodles, butter and Roquefort or blue cheese evenly until the butter is distributed all over the noodles and the cheese is melted and evenly distributed all over the noodles. Serve as the main dish while hot.

What will surprise you is that the noodles will have not Roquefort or blue cheese taste at all but an entirely different taste unlike anything that you have ever tasted. This is really fine cookery art not to be confused with the presentation type of cooking found in most high priced restaurants. In places like Maxim's in Paris which is supposed to be a good restaurant, most of the cooking there is poor and very unoriginal. They try to impress people in such places by using expensive cognac, old wines and champagne in their cooking and by burning expensive liquors over food. This is nothing but cheap "hokus pocus" and shows lack of ability to originate really good food recipes and even to follow good recipes.

This Spaghetti Dupont is preferred by most people to so-called Italian Spaghettis of any kind by several country miles.
Wow. That last sentence...

First, let me say that this recipe actually sounds pretty good (I'm going to try it), and I love the authors' rant against snooty upscale restaurants.

But ... but, this is not spaghetti. The noodles aren't even right. The meal described is basically egg noodles with blue cheese and butter, which should not be confused with a heaping plate of spaghetti noodles covered with marinara sauce and, if you choose, some meatballs and parmesan cheese.

A 2003 piece by John Owen on had this to say about the the Herters' book:
"... whenever I mention Herter in this column somebody fires off a message admitting membership in this unofficial cult. And as one e-mail correspondent pointed out, some of Herter's recipes actually are terrific. The reader cited Spaghetti Dupont; I tried it and liked it a lot, although I'm not sure I completely endorse Herter's claim that, 'This is the most fabulous recipe for preparing spaghetti that has ever been devised and is one of the few really original recipes of the past 100 years.'"

A trio of pieces of family ephemera

Here's a mostly visual post for this Sunday afternoon. It's a random collection of three pieces of family ephemera that were never thrown out and ended up being handed down to me. Funny how that worked out.

Thos. Cook & Son ticket envelope illustration

This is a four-inch-wide portion of an envelope that once held a cruise ticket for my great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988).1 Thos. Cook & Son, still around today, had more than 350 world offices at that time.

On this cruise ticket, Greta is listed as "Mrs. Howard H. Adams." She was in stateroom E322 on the S.S. Queen of Bermuda.2 The ship sailed at 3 p.m. on May 16, 1955, from the Furness Terminal at West 55th Street in New York City.

War Department — Tobacco Ration Card

This belonged to my grandfather, Jack Gordon Ingham (1916-1981, I believe). It was issued in 1945 at an Army redistribution center (or station) in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Mailed thank-you card

This little envelope, just 3¾ inches wide, was mailed in 1934 to my great-grandparents, Howard and Greta. As you can see, they were living in Hammond, Indiana, at the time. The violet 3-cent NRA stamp is for Franklin Roosevelt's National Recovery Act, not the National Rifle Association. The card was sent by Charlotte H. Adams and her husband James, as thanks for a silver pitcher that was given as a gift. I'm not 100 percent sure where James and Charlotte fit into the family tree without delving into the genealogy books, but I'm guessing they were cousins.

1. I should probably give Greta (I called her Mimi as a kid) her own label, for those who want to read through all the posts in which she appears. There's going to be much so more of her down the road, as she was the traveler, diarist, buyer, and keeper of scrapbooks. Or maybe she should have her own spin-off blog!
2. The SS Queen of Bermuda had a fairly short life of service, from 1933 until 1966, when it was scrapped in Scotland. It had a capacity of 773 passengers.