Saturday, October 27, 2018

“There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.”

It might not seem like a good thing that Todd Bol, the creator and founder of Little Free Library, died recently. But what he left behind is amazing and could conceivably last forever.

Delightful Postcrossing postcard from Sweden

I've been busy on Postcrossing this autumn, so I have oodles of new stuff to share in the coming weeks. For now, I want to share this arrival from Aila in Sweden. On a 68-degree day, she wrote:
Hello Chris! My name is Aila and I'm from Huskvarna, Sweden. Perhaps you've heard about this place? This card is an illustration by the Swedish children's book author Elsa Beskow and her book of "Tomtebo Kids"!

I hope you like it. I do. Right now we enjoy very wonderful autumn days; warm and beautiful — since trees have started to get yellow/red. Guess if I love "photo walks"?

I wish you all the best & send warm greetings.
You can learn more about Beskow here. I believe "Tomtebo Kids" is the same thing as the English-titled Children of the Forest, which is described thusly: "The children of the forest live deep in the roots of an old pine tree. They collect wild mushrooms and blueberries and shelter under toadstools when it rains. They play with the squirrels and frogs, and when fall comes, they collect and prepare food to see them through the long winter, until the warm spring breeze starts to blow."

1941 advertisement for the Modern Talking Picture Service

This advertisement for the Modern Talking Picture Service appears within the July 1941 issue of Agricultural Leaders' Digest. The New York-based company, led by W.H. Larkin (possibly the same W.H. Larkin associated with Larkin Products LLC), served as a distributor for corporate-branded educational films. Here's the copy:
How Many of These FREE Movies Would Your Club Like to See?
We are offering for free showing to responsible groups some very fine new talking pictures. These highly entertaining and educational films are sponsored by leading companies and associations for whom we act as distributors.

These are films for everyone to enjoy, with good aims and actions you'll like. We send complete descriptions of each film for your consideration before ordering. All you need is 16 millimeter sound projection equipment, and you pay transportation costs only from our nearest of 35 exchange cities. Get complete details of our list of free films for club meetings. Just fill in the coupon at left and mail to me now.
Researching this company, one of the first things I came across was this article from the October 25, 1973, issue of The Marengo (Illinois) Beacon News:
Free Films Available for Clubs

A brochure titled "How to Stage a Film Program" is available free from the Modern Talking Picture Service, Box 3585, Lake Success, N.Y. 11040.

Aimed at program chairmen of clubs, community groups and employee audiences, it serves as a handy guide to the use of 16mm-sound motion pictures.

Sections of the folder are devoted to a discussion of how to find topics, a checklist for physical arrangements and suggestions for introducing the program.

Modern Talking Picture Service distributes 16mm-sound films and video-cassettes on a free loan basis. The hundreds of available programs cover such subjects are travel, sports, food, environment and many others. They are of convenient program length, usually 15 to 30 minutes. Most are in color.

Some 120,000 community groups have borrowed films from Modern Talking Picture Service in the past 18 months. Schools and community organizations together make about a million and a half bookings from Modern every year. The company has film libraries in major cities from coast to coast.

For a free copy of "How to Stage a Film Program" and a listing of Modern's 30 local libraries, including the film library nearest you, write to: "Staging a Film Program," in care of Modern Talking Picture Service, Box 3585, Lake Success, N.Y. 11040.
This is clearly just a press release that the newspaper published as an article. But it tell us that the Modern Talking Picture Service survived for more than three decades after the 1941 advertisement featured in this post. (It would survived even longer.) Additionally, the company was thriving, if the statistics on the number of titles borrowed are accurate. The mention of video-cassettes in 1973 is curious. They had been introduced to the American market around 1971, but didn't go into widespread use until 1975 or 1976, so the Modern Talking Picture Service was definitely ahead of the curve. It appears that the company eventually transformed into Modern Education Services.

Here is just a tiny drip in the bucket of titles that Modern Talking Picture Service distributed over the years:

  • New Frontiers was exhibited to Kiwanians by R.V. Dean, a representative of the Modern Talking Picture Service. It dealt with the tremendous development of electrical service since the days of the covered wagon. [Source: The Daily Notes of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, in December 1936]
  • Symphonies in Fragrances was a "glamorous exposition of the close emotional kinship between music and fragrance." [Source: Logansport (Indiana) Pharos-Tribune in November 1937]
  • "A cartoon film, explaining point rationing of food, is available without rental charge at the Modern Talking Picture Service, 615 North Illinois street, the office of war information announced. ... The film was completed by the Screen Cartoonists Guild for OWI." [Source: The Indianapolis News in February 1943]
  • Breaking the Habit was a five-minute documentary animated film directed by John Korty and released in 1964. It addressed cigarette smoking and lung cancer, and it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. [Source: Wikipedia]
  • Song of the Salad was produced by the H.J. Heinz Company of Philadelphia [Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture publication, 1966]
  • The Moebius Flip, a fantasy movie about a group of skiers (the Hart Ski Company talent team) who find that the world has flip-flopped onto the other side of reality, by Summit Films [Source: The Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Sentinel in December 1969]
  • Skileidoscope, a 28-minute film directed by Joern Gerdts and featuring the children of Vail, Colorado, in "a warm, and often humorous treatment, of skiing pleasures at this popular Colorado resort." [Source: The Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Sentinel in December 1969]
  • Everything But the Oink, a 13-minute presentation by the Wayne Feed Division of Continental Grain Company, produced by Gilbert Altschul Productions [Source: The Vincennes (Indiana) Sun-Commercial in March 1981]
  • Close-captioned videotapes of movies, including Big, Broadcast News and Wall Street, were available from the Modern Talking Picture Service, through Pinellas Park Public Library. [Source: Tampa Bay Times in August 1991]

Here's a short film I found on YouTube about a longtime worker for the company.

I'm sure there's much more available out there about Modern Talking Picture Service and the educational and industrial titles it distributed. If you have any memories or leads to share, please put them in the comments.

Two mostly mystery photos

Full disclosure: My stash of "mystery photos" is a bit of a mess, because, over the years, I haven't marked which ones have been blogged and which ones have not been blogged. This morning I almost reblogged this photograph from a 2014 post. So, more than 2,700 posts into Papergreat, I'm terribly disorganized and at a bit of a loss.

Maybe I should just delete everything and start over in a more orderly fashion.

Or I could give away most of the mystery snapshots (which will need to happen eventually, anyway) and just start a new collection of them, keeping track of what I've written about this time around.

Anyway, here are two semi-mystery photos that I believe I've never blogged, but who knows at this point? Both measure about 2¾ inches by 4⅝ inches.

This photo has no indication of the year or the location. The only thing written on the back is "Marian's two children." Unless I'm judging the perspective incorrectly, the fire hydrant behind them and across the street is a bit larger than the ones we see today.

* * *

There's no date or location on this one, either. All that's written is "Aunt Polly." My guess on the title of the magazine she's holding is Mademoiselle, which first published in 1935. But it's hard to be sure.

Saturday's family postcard:
Swithin Chandler's bath

This postcard was mailed 114 years ago, on August 9, 1904. That was before divided-back postcards, and Archduke Franz Ferdinand still had nearly a full decade of life in front of him. It would still be more than 4½ years before the keel would be laid down for RMS Titanic. The Phillies, on their way to 100 losses, dropped a 5-4 decision to the Pittsburgh Pirates on the day this card was mailed.

It was sent by 15-year-old Swithin T. Chandler (pictured at right), the older brother of my great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams.

It was mailed from Ocean City, New Jersey, to Swithin's and Greta's oldest sibling, Miss Edna S. Chandler of Wilmington, Delaware, who had recently turned 17.

The note on the front, alongside a photo of the Ocean City boardwalk, states:
Aug. 9, 1904.
Dear Edna,
Just came from our bath it was cold but we enjoyed it. you ought to see mamma & cousin Anna with wings on. I heard the score, bad [?] luck. All well. Write soon.
Some comments:
  • Mamma is almost certainly Helen Gregg Simmons Chandler (1857-1913).
  • I'm not sure who cousin Anna in. Looking through the family tree, one possibility is Ann Gregg Simmons Carver (1873-1947).
  • The mention of wings is interesting. I'm taking it to refer to some sort of water wings. Wikipedia mentions that one of the first instances of inflatable armbands, called the Swimeesy Buoy, didn't come until 1907 in London. However, the website for the Hoboken Historical Museum has an entry for Ayvad's Water-Wings, manufactured by The Ayvad Manufacturing Co. of Hoboken sometime between 1904-1915. Perhaps the Chandlers were early adopters.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Book cover: "Untouched by Human Hands"

  • Title: Untouched by Human Hands
  • Author: Robert Sheckley (1928-2005)
  • Cover artist: Bob Blanchard (1914-1993)
  • Publisher: Ballantine (437K)
  • Cover price: 35 cents
  • Publication date: Second printing (November 1960)
  • Pages: 170 (if you include the author's bio page)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back-cover excerpt: "These thirteen tales, untouched even by the hands of anthologists, may remind some of you of the brightest days of 'Unknown Worlds,' and others of Shirley Jackson or John Collier." — H.H. Holmes
  • Wait. H.H. Holmes? Probably Anthony Boucher.
  • Contents: In addition to the title story, the 13 tales include "The Monsters" and "Beside Still Waters."
  • First sentence: Cordovir and Hum stood on the rocky mountaintop, watching the new thing happen.
  • Last sentence: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me..."
  • Random sentence from middle: He was busily studying the red dwarf.
  • Goodreads rating: 4.2 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review (without much review): In 2010, Erik Graff wrote: "When I moved to Grinnell College as a freshman to room with my high school friend Richard Hyde, our next-door neighbor in Loose Hall was one Rick Strong, a sophomore from Riverdale in the Bronx. He was the first New Yorker I ever got to know, the first serious musician, and, like me, a long-time science fiction fan. Unlike me at that time, Rick was also very funny and had a particular liking for Robert Sheckley, himself a science fiction writer of a humorous bent. This, I believe, was the first Sheckley book Rick loaned me. I read it at Grinnell's Project House, the campus radical hotbed where I spent a lot of time during the first year there."
  • Amazon rating: 4.0 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2013, M. Holmes wrote: "We are told that we are products of our times. I think this means that a person from a given time period can't write quite like a person from another. The 1950's are a gold mine of great science fiction. Sheckley's work is a delightful and perfect example."
  • Notes: I love this cover illustration by Blanchard, but it's not quite creepy enough for Mild Fear 2018. So you get this post tonight. ... The biography of Sheckley on the back page explains that his post high school graduation life included hitchhiking to California and working as a landscape gardener, pretzel salesman, milkman and "man-of-all-labor in a hand-painted-necktie studio." That was so enthralling that he hitchhiked back to New Jersey and joined the U.S. Army. It was only after his Army service that he enrolled in New York University and began writing short stories. But he couldn't sell any of them. So after graduating from college he went to work in an aircraft factory as an assistant metallurgist. It was only after he'd been on that job for a few months that he sold his first story. So the lesson, as it is for all writers, is to never give up. ... Sheckley has previously appeared in these two Papergreat posts: Book cover: "Galaxy of Ghouls" and Fanzine flashback #1: 1964's "Con" by Christopher Priest.

For the record
I wrote this post while Sarah was in the other room, describing the Lizzie Borden case to her grandmother.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

I see Nixon's underwear,
here's a tease to Mild Fear

In just 10 days, it will be Halloween (Noč čarovnic). Papergreat has a sometimes tradition of doing Mild Fear posts throughout October, highlighting ghoulish delights from (mostly) the world of ephemera. Typically those posts are spread throughout the month of October (2017, 2016, 2015).

This year, however, I'm stuffing all of the spooky fun into the actual 24 hours of Halloween. So, from 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on October 31, you'll get a steady stream of new Mild Fear posts on Papergreat. Refresh your browser often! It'll be much more fun than watching a Dr. Giggles marathon on AMC and/or greeting all the trick-or-treaters wearing Mitch McConnell masks.

So, to celebrate and promote Mild Fear 2018, I give you ... President Richard Nixon in his skivvies, courtesy of a dandy gift mailed to Papergreat HQ by Wendyvee of Roadside Wonders.

It's from 1992's Richard M. Nixon and His Family Paper Dolls, by Tom Tierney.

The late Tierney created paper-doll books on Colonial fashions, French fashions, Civil War fashions, Shakespearean characters, Princess Diana, Marie Antoinette, Viven Leigh, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Sherlock Holmes, President Washington, President Obama, President Lincoln, TV moms, vampires, and much more. But the Nixon book is certainly one of his crowning achievements. It is joyously described by one Amazon reviewer as "Excellent quality and prompt delivery."

But don't take my word for it. Rush out now and secure your own copy of Richard M. Nixon and His Family Paper Dolls, while supplies last. You'll want it by your side in time for Mild Fear 2018!