Friday, August 17, 2018

Poignant postcard illustration by a victim of torture

This is the front of a postcard that was sent to me recently by the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, an Arizona organization that, according to its website, "provides free legal and social services to detained men, women, and children under threat of deportation."

The artwork was provided by a FIRRP client, who has been "a victim of torture and human trafficking." Being able to create such works of beauty in the midst, or wake, of such pain and uncertainty is a gift.

Here is some more information from the FIRRP website, which accepts donations to boost its humanitarian efforts.

  • "The Florence Project was born in the 1980s, when countless immigrants crossed the Arizona-Mexico border fleeing violence and persecution in Central America. Instead of finding safety, they were met with the harsh reality of detention and a confusing legal system."
  • "Detained immigrants facing deportation in the U.S. do not have the right to a public defender. Without representation, many will lose their case and get sent back to the conditions they are fleeing. To some, this is a death sentence."
  • "An estimated 86 percent of the detained people go unrepresented due to poverty. The Florence Project strives to address this inequity both locally and nationally through direct service, partnerships with the community, and advocacy and outreach efforts."
  • "The vision of the Florence Project is to ensure that all immigrants facing removal have access to counsel, understand their rights under the law, and are treated fairly and humanely."

Obviously, FIRRP's efforts are needed more than ever in 2018.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mystery photo: Marvelous
mid-century theater troupe?

Tonight's mystery snapshot, which measures 4¼ inches wide, is sadly lacking in any information whatsoever, but it's still quite fascinating and rewarding for the casual ephemeraologist, especially when you start zooming in and checking out all of the people (non-blurry and blurry) populating the image.

There are probably enough people and specifics here that somebody could give us a positive ID on the location and the group pictured. But that would take getting it in front of thousands — maybe tens of thousands — of eyeballs, which is not something this blog tends to excel at. It's kind of a small-circle ephemera experience.™

So, if this is indeed a theater troupe, what play was it performing? Perhaps a mashup of The Crucible with Troilus and Cressida? And I'm kind of dying to know what's up with the woman on the fake horse. But alas...

Montoursville 2018: Konkle Memorial Library (Part 2)

During the tail end of my nostalgic visit to Dr. W.B. Konkle Memorial Library on July 13, after checking out a dandy bookshelf full of Lycoming County and Pennsylvania history books, I explored a part of the library I had never before seen: the basement.

After descending a narrow staircase in the former bank and flipping on some light switches, I discovered a set of rooms containing additional books for circulation and also unwanted books that are part of the library's ongoing sale. Most of the books in the latter category had been withdrawn from circulation and dated to the 1970s and 1980s, which made them great fodder for browsing. These are books that Mom would likely have considered in the early 1980s, while I was checking out the Ruth Manning-Sanders and Beverly Cleary books.

For fun and to support the library in a small way, I plucked a couple volumes off the for-sale shelves for purchase. Here they are...

This 1977 hardcover reissue of Arthur Conan Doyle's Tales of Terror and Mystery, published by Doubleday & Company, contains 13 stories, with titles such as "The Horror of the Heights," "The Terror of Blue John Gap," "The Man with the Watches," and "The Nightmare Room."

This edition is illustrated by Barbara Ninde Byfield and contains an introduction from Nina Conan Doyle Harwood, Sir Arthur's daughter-in-law and would-be protector of his literary estate.

Shown below are the circulation-card pocket and an interior Konkle library stamp from this 41-year-old book.

* * *

Up next is this volume, which has a great cover and less-great reviews. It's The Waiting Sands & The Devil on Lammas Night, two short novels by British author Susan Howatch contained in one book. Sands was first published in 1966 and Lammas Night was first published in 1970. It's not immediately clear when this Stein and Day hardcover was published; various sources indicate 1970, 1974 and 1979. As far as a credit for the cover illustration, I found a single reviewer reference to "Tim Gaydos" [this guy?], but nothing further to back that up.

As for Howatch's tales, the feedback is not terrific. Here are some snippets from Amazon, where readers have given the book 2.8 stars out of 5.0.

  • Great gothic setting - odd plot and characters
  • her characters were so flawed and self absorbed that it was difficult to care about what happened to them.
  • Much better novels about Satanic Cults are available
  • "Poole did something unprintable to both the contents of the chalice and the plates of bread. Several females in the congregation screamed in ecstasy." I think the ridiculous quote above pretty much sums up the book.
  • This is not Howatch's best but is readable nonetheless.

There were definitely more than a few Konkle library members who found this readable in the 1980s, according to the circulation-card pocket.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Da Doo Shaun Shaun

Shaun Cassidy (@shaunpcassidy) is the latest celebrity from my past who I have rediscovered on social media and personally dubbed a Twitter National Treasure (TNT). The 1970s Hardy Boys heartthrob only joined Twitter in August 2014, but has made a mark with his thoughtful, compassionate and sometimes humorous remarks.

Some of my other TNT faves, celebrity division, include Captain Kirk and Luke Skywalker:

Here are some Twitter gems from Shaun Cassidy that are worth preserving. (And you'll see at least one ephemera theme — everything connects here, folks.)

The Story of Mr. World, narrated by Lowell Thomas Jr.

This is the record sleeve for Volume 1 of The Story of Mr. World, which was produced in 1962 by Replogle Globes, a Chicago company that was founded in 1930 and, fighting the good fight against the Flat Earthers, remains a significant manufacturer of globes today.

The Story of Mr. World is a 33-1/3 RPM record that was narrated by Lowell Thomas Jr., who was writing about Forbidden Tibet when we last met him here on Papergreat. His tale is apparently so enchanting that Dad grabbed his pipe and wandered over to listen for a few minutes.

According to the information on the back of the record sleeve, The Story of Mr. World is a "new adventure in learning!" Here's an excerpt:
"Listen to this dramatic 15-minute sound-and-story narrative, and you'll discover more excitement in a globe than you ever dreamed of. ... As entertaining as it is educational, you hear the sounds of the earth — rain, ocean surf, hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes — thrill to the roar of jets, the fiery blastoff of spaceships streaking skyward! Now — for the first time — a world globe becomes a living, talking wonderland of knowledge — fascinating to all ages! All through their school years, children will play it again and again as a constant aid in the study and use of the globe."

This record wasn't, I believe, sold alone. It would have come with the purchase of a Replogle globe, one that was intended for home educational use. Here's an advertisement I found on a November 1966 page of The Des Moines Register.

Tue, Nov 15, 1966 – 8 · The Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa) ·

I don't typically embed YouTube videos, but here, for the sake of completeness and for the curious, are Thinkbolt's YouTube videos featuring Volume 1 and Volume 2 of The Story of Mr. World. Pull Dad away from his bills, extinguish his pipe, and have a listen!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What secret power did they possess? (Besides being white men?)

It's time for a short return to Fate magazine, after dabbling in some of the classified advertisements from a 1971 issue in April.

We're going with another 1971 issue this time around — the one from November of that year. For a cover price of 50 cents, it has stories about Mayans, magicians, Houdini, psychics, submarines, ghosts, evil spirits, retaliating fish and dancing chandeliers. But we're going to flip the magazine over and take a look at the advertisement on the back cover.

The advertisement is for The Rosicrucians, and it claims that the greatness and success enjoyed by Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton and Francis Bacon came from the "secret power" of their Rosicrucianism.

Wikipedia, despite having a very long article about Rosicrucianism, struggles to define it. That's probably because the Rosicrucians do, too. Wikipedia says the movement is "built on esoteric truths of the ancient past" and has a manifesto that is a mish-mash (my term, not theirs) of Kabbalah, Hermeticism, alchemy, and mystical Christianity.

But Rosicrucianism also has this amazing illustration, courtesy of Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens exactly four centuries ago, in 1618...

Wouldn't it be fun to tour the country in that thing? You'd have to plan around tunnels and overpasses, but it would totally be worth it.

Getting back to Rosicrucianism, I'm trying not to let its concepts, tangled history and myriad branches melt my brain too much. I found a 2009 message board post that refers to the movement as a "low-pressure, less expensive version of Scientology," so maybe it's best to leave it at that. (OK, one more thing. You might also want to check out this essay on Uncommon Sense Ministries Inc.)

This 1971 advertisement wanted you to send for a free book, The Mastery of Life, from the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, a group of Rosicrucians who have had a sprawling presence and headquarters in San Jose, California, since 1927. If you're curious or bored and want a copy of the modern version of this book, here's the official link. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Montoursville 2018: Konkle Memorial Library (Part 1)

When I arrived for my day in Montoursville exactly one month ago, my first thought was to wander over to Dr. W.B. Konkle Memorial Library at 384 Broad Street (though I did take a slightly scenic route). According to the 1975 Otstonwakin newsletter, "a borough library became a reality when Mrs. W.B. Konkle willed her home to the community. In April, 1944, the Dr. W.B. Konkle Memorial Library on Jordan Avenue opened its doors to the public."1

Two decades later, in 1964, the old bank building at the corner of Broad and Washington was purchased following a $35,000 fund-raising campaign. This became the library's new home, and that is why the library building today resembles an early 20th century bank.

According to The Otstonwakin, the annual circulation of materials totaled about 30,000 items in 1975.

As of this writing, Konkle library is open six days a week, for a total of 50 hours, which is pretty great for a small-town community library in 2018. (Our library here in Dover, by comparison, is only open for 31 hours per week this summer.)

Mom took my sister and I to the library regularly when we lived on Willow Street from late 1980 until the summer of 1983. It was one of my favorite places in Montoursville. I probably liked it just as much, if not more, than the community pool. I read books by Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. I read Frank Dolson's The Philadelphia Story: A City of Losers Winners. I browsed through the books for grownups. I was in awe of the illustrations in Wil Huygen's Gnomes and the jet-black album sleeve for the Star Wars original score in the vinyl records section.

But, best of all, Konkle Memorial Library is where I found Ruth Manning-Sanders. I wrote this in 2011:
"I first discovered the books of Ruth Manning-Sanders at the W. B. Konkle Memorial Library in Montoursville in the early 1980s. I would check out A Book of Wizards, A Book of Giants, A Book of Dragons and the other available Manning-Sanders fairy-tale compilations over and over. The stories from around the world, accompanied by Robin Jacques' wonderful illustrations, captured my imagination. (And still do.)"
So, returning to Konkle is always special. Of course, it seems much smaller now than it did when I was 11 and 12. There have been some interior changes, especially in the children's section. And there are many more computers.

But they still have Ruth Manning-Sanders books!

I found two of them. And, looking at the dates stamped onto the circulation-card pockets, some of those surely marked times that I checked the books out and took them home to Willow Street.

Previous posts mentioning Konkle

1. Some armchair genealogy: Library namesake Dr. W.B. Konkle's full name, I believe, was William Bastian Konkle, and he lived from 1858 to 1928. He was the son of William Blair Konkle (1818-1895) and Amelia Bastian Konkle (1822-1892). In 1889, William Bastian Konkle married Lycoming County native Anna Joan Saylor, who was born in 1861 and died in 1941, at the age of 80. So Anna was "Mrs. W.B. Konkle" and it was Anna's will that created the Dr. W.B. Konkle Memorial Library that opened its doors in 1944 on Jordan Avenue. Of course, it was her wish that the library be named after her late husband, but it seems like she and her name should be remembered and celebrated, too. (Final sketchy note: There are a couple indications that she might have gone by Joan, rather than Anna.)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Reuse and recycle!

Three summers ago, I posted (inexplicably?) about a semi-mystery snapshot of a woman and a mailbox that my grandmother took during her travels in the 1970s. Then the photo went back into its shoebox. Eventually, it would have been a strong candidate for the rubbish bin.1

But now I have found this piece of ephemera's true purpose. Rejoice!

You see, I owe a Postcrossing card to Martin, a postal officer in the Czech Republic who collects postcards of "post offices, mailboxes, postal clerks, postal vehicles" and, generally, "everything around postal."

I don't have many postcards that fall in that category. But then I remembered my grandmother's oddball snapshot! And, even better, I was able to find it. I glued it to a discarded index card from the York Daily Record's news library2 and — voila! — I have a totally amazing and one-of-a-kind postcard that's headed to Martin's mailbox in Náchod.

I am very excited about this development.

I hope Martin finds it to be awesome, too.

* * *

Relatedly, here is a fresh batch of emailed notes of thanks that I have received from Postcrossers who I mailed cards to:

  • Aune from Finland, who has received more than 6,000 Postcrossing cards, wrote: "Hello Chris, many thanks for your nice card with pretty stamps! ... It was not difficult to get over 6000 cards. I have been a member over 12 years and I'm living alone. It's fun to write cards and letters and then surprise: I get them back, too. Another regular hobby is reading. I prefer historical fiction. Nowadays I try to find books in my shelves which I can give up. Sometimes it feels like to walk on thin ice when I hear news from your country. Best wishes from warm sunny Finland."
  • Vera from the Netherlands wrote: "Just received your special (old) postcard of the Natural Bridge of Virginia. I have already Googled and found more about the bridge. It makes me think of another natural bridge in France. We (my husband, our two boys and I) liked it very much to go to France on holiday. Later on just the two of us visited lots of other countries in Europe and Asia and Canada: Toronto several times. So many wonderful things to see!! By the way, talking about Virginia I started to sing the famous song of John Denver: Take me home... (+/- 1971) Long time ago!! Now, many years later, I look at the world, follow the news and I'm worried about many things!! I wish you and your family all the best and very, very happy postcrossing. It can be a way to bring people closer together. Take good care of your 'zoo' too'. Miauw, miauw!!"
  • Hugh from Ireland wrote: "Hello Chris, thank you for the unusual card. The stamps are terrific. A lot of people in the U.S. should read the stamp that says 'those who deny freedom to others ... deserve it not for themselves.' Thank you for the different stamps take care."
  • Ludmila from Russia wrote: "огромное спасибо за чудо открытку и ваши слова .супер"


This postcard arrived on August 20 at its destination. Martin wrote in an email: "Ahoj Chris, thank you very much, very fantastic card and stamps. Happy postcrossing and all the best for you and your family. Martin"

1. We don't actually call it the "rubbish bin" but I do like that name.
2. I still have a big stack of those cards, which come in handy every week.