Saturday, September 15, 2018

Roundup of Postcrossing arrivals and thank-you notes

It's been a busy end of the summer for the Essex Road postal carriers, with a lot of outgoing and incoming Postcrossing cards. Here's the latest roundup on some cards and notes I've received:

Shown above is a postcard from Denmark that features a 1998 Göran Stenberg photograph of a sleepy girl at a pageant. The note on the back, from Lars, states:
Hi Chris,
here is a card from Saint Lucia's Day, which is celebrated in Scandinavia on 13th of December. Usually girls dress up as the saint and sing songs. In Denmark it has not a very long tradition, it was imported from Sweden in 1944.
Another card that I received is from China, and it's shown at right. The sender writes writes: "Hello, Chris. Greetings from China. My name is Yuri. I like travelling. Every year I go on a trip with my dear friend. My wish is that I can go out and travel every where. At last, happy postcrossing."

Here are some other notes from recent Postcrossing arrivals:

From Liisa in Finland: "Hi Chris. You have a honour to get my very first postcrossing card. This was an idea which I got in the middle of my working day and that is why I send you a postcard which I had with me. Sorry theme is not 'autumn.' Here in Northern Finland we have almost autumn. I love walking in autumn forest, picking berries and mushrooms."

From Jouni in Finland: "Dear Chris, Greetings from Finland! Bear has been an important gesture in our local fairytales and stories."

From Hanna in Germany: "I hope this postcard finds you well! My name is Hanna and since it says in your profile that you like (old) books I picked this postcard for you. I, too, like books and I enjoy decorating my postcards with tape and stickers. We are waiting for a thunderstorm here! Best wishes and happy postcrossing."

From Yuri in Israel: "Greetings from Ashdod, Naval port-city, placed on Israel's Mediterranean coast. Our city also known as 'sea gate to country' because very high naval traffic via port system. We have long sandy beaches, old lighthouse and crusader fort on sea shore."

Thank-you messages

And here are some nice emails of thanks from folks who have received my Postcrossing cards:

  • Natasha from Russia wrote: "Thank you very much for the wonderful postcard! I also want peace and harmony on Earth! I looked to your blog."
  • Melita from Germany wrote: "Greetings from Germany. Thank you so much for your amazing card. I love it!!! The moment when I open my mail box is so exciting, I love it to find snail mail and postcards in it. It makes me so happy. Postcrossing is awesome."
  • Michalina from Poland wrote: "Thank you for the wonderful card! It's nice to hear that there are also people who like reptiles! I also love turtles and breed turtles at home."
  • Akemi from Japan wrote: "Thank you for the postcard. I saw alpacas and llamas in zoo. Have a nice day."
  • Clarisse from Martinique wrote: "I love your card! I don't know anything about baseball unfortunately, it's not really common in France. Have a great day!"
  • Katja from Germany wrote: "Thank you for the nice postcard. I like your handwriting and I agree that too many people don't bother with cooking any more. I cook every day for my family and nobody is obese. It is cheaper to cook at home but it takes a lot of time too. When we visited our daughter in Nebraska in April this year I was allowed to cook a German meal in the family's kitchen and I think they liked it. The American supermarkets are really a paradise for me."
  • Sajal from the United Kingdom wrote: "Thank you so much for the gorgeous postcard! I absolutely love it. What a beautiful painting. I must research some of this artist's other work. Congratulations to your daughter for her performance in the Shakespeare play. ... A Midsummer Night's Dream & the classic Romeo & Juliet are my favourites. Thanks once again for bringing a smile to my face."
  • Alexsandr from Russia wrote: "Thank you for your message and postcard. I like a pic on the front of the postcard and a stamp for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. When I was a child this movie impressed me so much. Postcrossing is interesting for all ages. I am glad for your daughter. To play a role is difficult task."
  • Nora from Ireland wrote: "Greetings from Galway city on the west coast of Ireland — along The Wild Atlantic Way. Thank you so much for the beautiful and truly wonderful postcard. It brightened up my letterbox today and I really appreciate it. The stamps used on the postcard are great too."
  • Mia from Belgium wrote: "Thank you very very much for the beautiful interesting card and stamps that you have send to me. I love it! I have consulted Google to read some more about Dover, Pennsylvania. I wish you all the best and your mailbox brings you smiles and pretty little touches from around the world. Many warm greetings from Belgium."
  • Hannalore from Germany wrote: "Warm greetings from Germany to you, your family and your 5 silly cats! Thank you very much for the wonderful drawing card, for the many beautiful stamps and for your interesting message too. I like it very much."

Semi-mystery photo of
Peg the baseball player

Here's an undated, 2⅜-inch-wide photograph of "Peg" wielding a bat in a much more menacing fashion than most of the Philadelphia Phillies have this past summer. (It's a nice companion to the Sept. 6 snapshot from mid-century suburbia.)

This photograph had been glued into a scrapbook for many decades. But fortunately, after it was removed, the information written on the back was still legible. It states:

Mrs Fuller School

With that clue, I found a reference on the Westchester County (New York) Historical Society website to an undated pamphlet for The Ossining School (Miss Fuller) in Ossining, New York. So that's clearly the same school that's mentioned on this snapshot. According to the historical society summary, it was a boarding and day school for girls in Ossining-on-Hudson. There's sure to be much more information if you can get your hands on the actual pamphlet, which is 44 pages and contains illustrations. (I suppose we could say Peg played softball, not baseball. But given the lack of any evidence one way or another, I'm going to default to baseball. So there.)

Ossining is both a town and a village within that town in Westchester County, New York. It is home the infamous Sing Sing maximum security prison, where Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in 1953.

Final note: I found a single 1925 newspaper reference to the Aliss Fuller School at Ossining, so that might be her first name. But I don't think we have nearly enough information to identify "Peg."

Montoursville 2018: Interlude

It's been an off-kilter week here at Papergreat HQ, as I've been adjusting to a new job and work schedule. I've moved from Sports Editor to Deputy Opinion Editor at LNP, which means daytime shifts and adjustments to my writing schedule for this hobby blog. So I don't have a new Montoursville 2018 entry at the moment. At this point, I'm suspecting — no surprise — that the series won't be polished off until Halloween or thereafter.

But to tide you over, here's a May 1974 snapshot of me posing beside our modern-day deity, The Television, in the house on Mulberry Street. One question I have:
What's most alarming about this photo?
  • A. The wallpaper
  • B. The curtains
  • C. The carpet
  • D. My shirt
  • E. Yes
I don't have any memories of actually watching television at the Mulberry Street house. But I do have some memories of TV at our subsequent house. So, as a prelude to the next installment, here are some things I can recall watching at our house on Spruce Street, in the middle 1970s:

  • Battle of the Network Stars
  • Wonder Woman
  • Star Trek (in syndication, obviously)
  • The movie Silent Running, which was way too sad for young me, which is probably why it left such an impression

That's it. Either my memory has faded or I just didn't watch too much TV during those years, which is certainly not a bad thing. I do have many other memories of the Spruce Street house, though, which I will share in the next post.

* * *

Bonus Trivia

Nerd alert: I discovered a very cool Marvel canon fact this week. Mary Jane Watson, longtime love interest of Peter Parker and herself a strong figure in the Marvel-verse, hails from Montoursville (!!), according to her official fictional biography.

It would be very cool if MJ and Baron Von Papergreat could appear together some day in a rousing tale set in Montoursville. If I was running Marvel, I'd nominate Chelsea Cain to write it.

Sci-fi book cover: "October the First Is Too Late"

  • Title: October the First Is Too Late
  • Author: Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001)
  • Cover artist: Uncredited, but likely Paul Lehr (1930-1998)
  • Publisher: Fawcett Crest (R1155)
  • Cover price: 60 cents
  • Original year of publication: 1966
  • Date of this edition: July 1968
  • Pages: 160
  • Format: Paperback
  • Provenance: Two blue stamps on the first page indicate that this book was once part of the inventory at The Paperback Trade, located in Maple Village Plaza in York, Pennsylvania.1
  • Back-cover excerpt: "OCTOBER THE FIRST IS TOO LATE unfolds the incredible adventures on a planet twisted by time splits. The familiar world of the 1960's has vanished everywhere except in England. In Western Europe World War I is still raging, Greece is in the Golden Age of Pericles, America is thousands of years into the future, while Russia and Asia are nothing but a glasslike plain incapable of sustaining life — the final phase before the end of the earth as we know it."
  • To the reader: Hoyle pens this note before the prelude: "The 'science' in this book is mostly scaffolding for the story, story-telling in the traditional sense. However, the discussions of the significance of time and the meaning of consciousness are intended to be quite serious, as also are the contents of chapter fourteen."
  • First sentence: "I had been invited to compose a piece for the Festival of Contemporary Music, Cologne, 1966."
  • Last sentence: "The irony and tragedy is that to the two of us it was the world of 1966 that was the real cul-de-sac."
  • Random sentence from middle: "It wasn't long before two flutes and a lyre appeared."
  • Goodreads rating: 3.41 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review: There is a lot of "love it" or "really hate it" among the Goodreads reviews for this book. In 2017, Lawrence wrote: "More fun as a time machine to 1966 fiction than as a satisfying novel in itself... the premise ought to have been fascinating, but instead the most enjoyable parts of the book were the long discussions of the protagonist's work as a composer."
  • Amazon rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2015, Christopher Paul Winter wrote: "I admire Fred Hoyle and I like his other novels Ossian's Ride and A for Andromeda, but I was not impressed by this one. Its major premise is not well developed and it makes no sense to me that a musician, however prominent, should be taking part in so many military missions and emergency government conclaves."
  • Notes: Hoyle was a fascinating fellow. In addition to writing science-fiction novels, he was first and foremost an astronomer and astrophysicist. He could be a little cranky and contrary regarding scientific theories that related to the universe and life on Earth. He gave the Big Bang theory its name, but rejected its hypothesis. He touted panspermia — essentially the population of the universe by space dust and other celestial bodies carrying microorganisms — as the likely origin of life on Earth. Coincidentally, his name and ideas have come up repeatedly in a book I've been reading this summer: The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence, by Paul Davies. ... Hoyle also got himself in a bit of hot water in 1974 by publicly standing up for Jocelyn Bell, who, as a postgraduate student, discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967 but was excluded from the Nobel Prize in Physics that was awarded for the discovery. Hoyle's curmudgeon tendencies, his refusals to always side with "generally accepted science" and his public statement about Bell and the 1974 Nobel Prize probably cost him a Nobel prize of his own in the early 1980s. He probably didn't care.

1. I found an interesting online reference for The Paperback Trade, a York bookstore that I frequented in the mid 1990s. The reference is part of an 188-page PDF of a 1994 report titled "Adult Basic & Literacy Education as Storytelling: A Reading/Writing Project." The project was created via a grant to Lincoln Intermediate Unit No. 12 of New Oxford, Pennsylvania. Here's the excerpt:
"Do you know if there are paperback/book exchange businesses in your area? For years we have been visiting two such businesses in the York area, but only in the last few years have we shopped there for books to put into our Storytelling/ABLE Library. The Paperback Trade is located just north of York on Route 30 in the Maple Village Plaza No. 2 strip mall. It is a large supermarket-sized single room containing thousands of used paperbacks in row after row of easy-to-reach person-high shelving in the middle and ceiling-high shelving around the walls. It is a book lover's dream come true! If you have any paperbacks (in good condition, please!) to exchange, take them to the counter as soon as you come in. A friendly staff member will go through your pile of paperbacks and tell you what they will accept. You will then receive a credit slip for one-fourth (25%) of the cover price total of your books. Don't expect to receive any money. After you have browsed through the very large collection at The Paperback Trade, you will probably have found some books you want to acquire. Take them to the counter. A store employee will charge you one-half (50%) of the total cover price of the books you buy. If you have a credit slip for that amount or more, you don't have to pay a cent in cash for your 'purchase.' If you have no credit, they will be happy to take your money. ... The other similar business in our area is The Recycled Reader. This store is located off Kenneth & Loucks Rd., one-quarter mile east of the West Manchester Mall, and just a few miles away from The Paperback Trade."

Postcard: Very twisted tree in Michigan's Thumb

You could fit Bella and even some others inside this strangely tangled tree!

No publisher is listed for this black-and-white photo postcard. All we have it what's etched onto the front:


I'm no tree expert, having failed to learn how to recognize different types of trees from quite a long way away, or even close up. If I had to put forth as guess, I'd say it's a beech or cherry. But readers' expert input is very welcome!

I found a second image of the tree, clearly from the same publisher, that shows a slightly different angle and gives a better look at the house behind the tree. You can see it toward the bottom of the webpage at

Harbor Beach, part of Michigan's Thumb, is home to about 1,700 residents and hosts a couple of museums and a sparkplug lighthouse that dates to 1885.

This postcard was mailed from Harbor Beach to Bayonne, New Jersey, in August 1969. The note states:
Hi Folks
Having a nice time. I do hope to get in to see you real soon. We stopped in Canada & saw the Falls. They are really beautiful. Right now we are on the farm. (The Squires Family)
I did discover an obituary for Lana M. Riedel of Harbor Beach, Michigan, who lived from 1947 to 2014. She was born on December 12, 1947, in Bayonne, New Jersey, to the late Jim and Margaret (Squires) Reid. So there is clearly a connection there.