Saturday, September 29, 2018

Sci-fi book cover: "Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang"

  • Title: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
  • Author: Kate Wilhelm (1928-2018)
  • Cover artist: Ed Soyka (per
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (80912)
  • Cover price: $1.75
  • Publication date: January 1977
  • Pages: 207
  • Format: Paperback
  • Provenance: This used copy appears to have gone unread and unmarked for more than four decades. I intend to rectify that.
  • Accolades: The Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1977, the Locus Award for best novel in 1977, and the Jupiter Award in 1977.
  • Back-cover excerpt: "When the first warm breeze of Doomsday came wafting over the Shenandoah Valley, the Sumners were ready."
  • First sentence: "What David always hated most about the Sumner family dinners was the way everyone talked about him as if he were not there."
  • Last sentence: "Because all the children were different."
  • Random sentence from middle: "He learned to walk and talk early; he began to read when he was four, and for long periods he would curl up near the fireplace with one of the brittle books from the downstairs library."
  • Goodreads rating: 3.87 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review excerpt (non-spoiler): In 2010, Sandi wrote: "I found Wilhelm's prose to be beautiful. Her descriptions of the Shenandoah Valley are richly detailed. She brings each season to life in the imagination with words. The problems I had with the story were mainly with the SF details."
  • Amazon rating: 4.2 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt (non-spoiler): In 2002, Patrick Shepherd wrote: "This book took the 1977 Hugo Award, and as well told exposition of one the major philosophical battles that man faces today and in the future, it deserved it. But it is a definite 'thinking' book, not one of action, grand drama, or deep psychology. Expect to do some internal reflection when you finish this book, and see how you stack up as an individual versus your place in and responsibilities to your surrounding society."
  • Amazon review regarding women writing science fiction: In 2016, Martyn Wheeler wrote: "For those who think there were no significant female authors in SF in the 20th Century — and I have actually read articles that essentially say that female-written SF is a New Thing in the 2010s — you should explore Kate Wilhelm (and C.J. Cherryh, Ursula Le Guin, and one of my personal favorites, James Tiptree Jr. (a.k.a Alice Sheldon). [Wilhelm's] Hugo Award-winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang is a good place to start. Themes and technologies that ring as true today as in the 70s, a logical progression of viewpoint characters, and an epic of whether humanity can survive what we're doing to the world. Brilliant."
  • Notes: The title is from one of William Shakespeare's sonnets. ... Wilhelm (pictured at right), who died a little less than seven months ago, was a prolific author of science fiction, mystery, and suspense fiction. According to Wikipedia, "Katie Gertrude Meredith was born in Toledo, Ohio, daughter of Jesse and Ann Meredith. She graduated from high school in Louisville, Kentucky, and worked as a model, telephone operator, sales clerk, switchboard operator, and underwriter for an insurance company." Now that she's gone, it probably won't be long before her final website becomes a Lost Corner of the Internet, so here's an excerpt from one of her notes to readers, on October 23, 2011:
    "I'm surfacing from a deep sea of concentration, trying to finish up a new Barbara Holloway novel. I'm grateful to all of you for your posts over the past weeks. I'm also sorry that I couldn't bring to this site the various posts that accumulated in a previous website. To get to some of the questions raised here: Heaven is High was set in about 1982. I wrote it recently but it was on my mind for a long time and I finally yielded to the impulse to fill in that blank, how Barbara met Martin and Binnie and why the enduring friendship developed. It also amused me to think that my readers will know something that Frank will never know. It was strange to write of a time before cellphones and modern computers. Such a short time ago and such big changes. I also wanted to write about Belize before it became a destination point for diving and such."
    ... Fellow science-fiction author Spider Robinson once said that Wilhelm "is one of the best practitioners of the short story in or out of SF." Two of her collections I'm hoping to come across some day are The Infinity Box and The Downstairs Room. ... Changing gears, there wasn't much to find about the cover illustrator, Ed (or Edward) Soyka, and I wasn't the first one to go looking. On the website Reprehensible Digest, self-described as the "official media center for eccentric illustrator Blacktooth," this has been written about Soyka:
    "Internet searches have revealed little information in regards to this obscure illustrator, but he was clearly an active force during the 1970s. Soyka's first known published works emerged in 1969, after which he became a regular hand in the science fiction and horror genre. ... Despite his lack of commercial appeal, Soyka was one of the true masters of relentless psychotic imagery. His frightening illustrations were unsettling in nature and often featured grotesque characters drained of humanity — as if their very souls were pickled in formaldehyde. The children were creepy. The landscapes felt ugly and stark. Even his best attempts at playing nice resulted in disjointed dry nightmares."
    Interestingly, I don't think much of that applies to Soyka's imagery for this cover of Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang.

Saturday's postcard: Climbing the stairs at Penn State's Old Main

This linen postcard, mailed in July 1954 and featuring a "FIGHT YOUR INSECT ENEMIES" stamp cancellation, features historic Old Main on the campus of The Pennsylvania State College. (It actually became The Pennsylvania State University in 1953, thanks in part to Milton S. Eisenhower.)

Old Main dates to 1867, though the current version of the building is from 1930. (You can see the original building here.) It is — and I didn't know this — part of the Farmers' High School National Historic District, which includes 37 buildings in the central portion of the Penn State campus.

Old Main was still used for classes when this postcard was mailed. But, by the middle to late 1960s, it was used solely for administrative offices. As such, it became a focal point for students to stage protests from the Civil Rights era forward to present day.

This postcard was mailed to Mrs. Curtis Bupp in Manchester, Pennsylvania, and features the following note, in neat cursive:
Dear Mrs. Bupp,
Greetings from Penn State. I am a student once again. I climb four flights of steps to get to my class in this building. No danger that I will gain too much weight this summer. I hope that you are having a very nice summer.
Clara M. Cassel
Clara might have been a teacher who was at Penn State that summer for continuing education classes. I found a news item in the April 1, 1946, edition of The Gazette and Daily of York, Pennsylvania, which might refer to the same woman.
Manchester High Students Organize
Council to Study Use of Atomic Energy

Manchester — In homeroom periods on Friday morning, students of Manchester High school organized a Youth Council on the Atomic Crisis. Approximately 100 students joined this organization, which is modeled on a similar council founded by the students of the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, High school, where the atom bomb was developed. This is a large sized project which many high schools throughout the country have adopted. The purpose of the organization is to have the students learn the facts about atomic energy and to strive to have atomic energy dedicated to peace.

The students will be given a chance to study the problem of the atom and its use through lectures in assemblies and in the classroom and through pamphlets with which the school library will soon be supplied. The faculty as a whole comprise the advisory committee. Miss Clara M. Cassel and Mr. Herbert C. Lefever are faculty sponsors.
Final interesting fact: Manchester, Pennsylvania, is four or five miles, as the crow flies, from Three Mile Island.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Our July 1982 calendar

I thought I'd share the Otto family calendar page from, ahem, July 1982, when I was 11 years old. Funny how you can just dig these things up at a moment's notice, isn't it? We were living on Willow Street in Montoursville at this time, and July was filled with swim lessons, Boy Scout meetings, a three-day Boy Scout camping trip (possibly Camp Karoondinha), some birthdays, a trip to Houston to visit my Uncle Charles and his family1, and other assorted events.

I believe the only handwriting on this page that's mine is the word "SCOUTS" on Tuesdays and the listing for Uncle Charles' and Pappy's birthdays on July 26.

1. I think we saw Nolan Ryan's 200th career victory at the Astrodome on July 27, 1982.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Advertising trade card for J.P. Julius piano store of York, Pa.

This 2¾-inch-wide tattered advertising trade card was first featured seven years ago in "A blast from the past: Weaver Organ and J.P. Julius" on Joan's long-running hit blog, Only in York County. (Way back when I was "Hubby.")

I reckon the Ephemera Blogging Statue of Limitations1 has passed, so now it's my turn to write about the card.

York, Pennsylvania, was a hub of piano-making and piano-selling activity back in the day. I found a couple of short items in The York Daily about J.P. Julius. First, from the October 2, 1895, edition:
Owing to the demand for Pianos steadily increasing every year, I have decided to make a specialty of Pianos, and have prepared myself with a large assortment for the fall trade. These goods are all new, very latest designs and woods; best standard makes, such as Steinway, Stieff, Sterling, and Wissner, &c.

I sincerely hope that the Piano purchasing people will appreciate my efforts to give them a good selection of standard makes, and give me a call to see what I can do for them before buying.
22 South George St.
Store now open every evening.
Second, from the December 13, 1905, edition:
The Sterling Piano at Julius'
has made a reputation for itself in the city of York, and has gained its place at the pinnacle of piano popularity; besides being popular, the Sterling piano is highly recommended and used by York's best musicians. You will never regret the investment if you buy a Sterling piano.
46 South George St.
So, we can say that this advertising card dates to sometime before December 1905, as the street address of the business was different at that point.

As far as the back of the card, Joan detailed it seven years ago on her blog: "This even has writing on the back – the name 'Lizzie S. Misener' is signed, and under that is written 'Alfred Tennyson.' Is it THE Alfred Tennyson? Was Lizzie just practicing her penmanship? These things we’ll never know."

Lizzie's full name was probably Elizabeth S. Misener, but some initial searches didn't find anything under that name. Maybe Mark Felt or one of Papergreat's other sleuths will uncover something. I'm guessing that Lizzie was born sometime between 1880 and 1900.

1. Not a real thing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Postcard of "Wheatland" mailed
90 years ago

Here's an old postcard featuring Wheatland, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, home of 15th President of the United States James Buchanan (whose hopes of getting out of the cellar of the all-time rankings of U.S. presidents are on the rise). Although Wheatland is just blocks from my workplace, I haven't visited it yet, though I have been to Buchanan's extremely modest grave at Woodward Hill Cemetery, also in Lancaster, a couple times.

This card was postmarked in New York City in June 1928 and mailed with a red, two-cent Valley Forge stamp. It was mailed to Mr. H.C. Fall in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, and contains the following cursive message:
N.Y. June 17, 1928
D.B.H. Carl had already set folks to getting that stamp but perhaps he can call it off to morrow — Glad you could go to Lowell & get in & do errands — It was a fine day. We went to Coney Island yesterday P.M. It has a fine beach but a perfectly enormous lot of cheap side show stuff & crowds of "onery" people — Keep auto tires 35 to 40.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Going back 45 years for a product that I'm not putting in the headline

From one rabbit hole to another...

In doing the research for the final post about Margaret Lynch Capone, I came across this advertisement (above, on the right) within the March 23, 1973, edition of The Morning News of Wilmington, Delaware.

The advertisement is from Arthur's clothing store, which had locations in downtown Wilmington, Prices Corner and at the Concord Mall.

And then we get to the unfortunate wording:
our chummy chubby
is a bosom pal to jeans, skirts, prom gowns. A razzamatazz superstar ... plump and plushy in white modacrylic-acrylic blend that makes like fur. Fully lined, with zipper front ... and a stop 'em dead pricetag!
S-M-L Sizes $26
I should not even have done a Google search for this, but thank heavens this was the result:

Also, $26 is the equivalent of $146 today, so I'm failing to see the appeal of the "stop 'em dead" pricetag for a big pile of acrylic (even while I'm pleased that no animals were harmed in the making of this outerwear).

Also, what's going on with Mrs. Chewbacca's finger in the illustration?

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The full record on Margaret Lynch Capone

We've had some fun the past few days looking at newspaper clippings regarding the life of Mrs. Carmen Capone. I think it's only fair that Papergreat provides a more complete record on the woman — her full name was Margaret Lynch Capone — and her remarkable life. (Most of this material comes from her biographical page on Prabook.)

  • Margaret Lynch Capone lived from March 21, 1907, until January 30, 1998, when she died at age 90.
  • She was born in Wilkinsburg, western Pennsylvania, and appears to have lived most of her life in that general area.
  • She was the daughter of John Edward Lynch and Anna Freda (Dunstrup) Lynch.
  • In the 1950s, she attended both the University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Institute of Technology.
  • She married Carmen R. Capone on July 21, 1936, thus leading to decades of her being referred to as "Mrs. Carmen Capone" in newspaper articles. They had three children together. Her husband predeceased her in 1983.
  • She authored at least two books: So You've Joined a Club (1954) and Parliamentary Pointers (1973).
  • Honors: She was named Woman of Year by Clea News in 1973 and Personality of Year, by the Pittsburgh chapter of Knights of Columbus, in 1979.
  • She served as the editor of Toastmistress Magazine from 1958 to 1962.
  • She was a Roman Catholic and a registered Republican.
  • In March 1973, she spoke at a Parliamentary Workshop sponsored by the Delaware State Association of Parliamentarians in Dover, Delaware. Her biography for that event described her as "a past president of the Pennsylvania State Parliamentarians" and "an author, lecturer and expert on parliamentary law."
  • She is buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.