Saturday, April 14, 2018

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.

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."

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Wendy the Good Little Witch invites you to be a Camp Fire Blue Bird

As a companion to a post back in February, here's another advertisement from the February 1979 issue (No. 27) of Ri¢hie Ri¢h Profit$, from Harvey Publications. In this one, Wendy the Good Little Witch issues an "invitation" to those readers who might like to learn more about the Blue Birds, a younger subdivision of the Camp Fire organization. A few years earlier, in 1975, the Camp Fire Girls of America had changed its named to simply Camp Fire and had changed its membership policy to become a co-ed youth organization.

Interestingly, though, there are only female Blue Birds — or Bluebirds, in some references — pictured in this advertisement. And there are a few references specifically to girls. Perhaps it took some time to change the marketing materials and to fully phase-in the co-ed aspect.

The Blue Birds designation, which was for those ages 6 to 8 in 1979, has since been phased out in favor of these age-level designations: Little Stars (ages 3 through 5), Starflight (kindergarten through second grade), Adventure (grades three through five), Discovery (grades six through eight), and Horizon (grades nine through 12). As an aside, it's interesting to note that the Blue Bird logo in this advertisement looks similar to the Twitter logo!

Wendy the Good Little Witch was heavily involved in promotions for Camp Fire and Blue Birds over the years, even to the point where some of her comics issues were full tie-ins with the organization. You can see a couple of those covers on Wikipedia and ComicVine. Wendy isn't the only fictional figure, though, that has been used over the years to promote Camp Fire. There was a series of Camp Fire Girls books and some other juvenile fiction that date back as far as the early 1900s. The organization also had tie-ins with Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, Archie, and Dennis the Menace, among others.