Saturday, December 1, 2018

Let's give this classroom a novel gift for Christmas

If you'll oblige me for a moment, I have a passion project for this holiday season.

I was scrolling through and came across a high school classroom in southwestern Pennsylvania (Brownsville) that's requesting books to help expand its "25 Books a Year Challenge."

They need a total of $442 in donations by Dec. 30 in order to reach their goal, and they are currently not close. But we can make it happen!

I'll let the teacher, Mrs. Salvucci, tell you more:
"My students are at the academic level and are very interested and excited about reading. We are having a 25 book/year challenge, where students try to read 25 books this school year.

"Many of my students come from homes where reading is not a priority.

"They also do not have much access to books that they can't get at school. I would love for them to read books that are current and tackle issues that they are actually going through. There are so many books that I think my students would benefit from reading if they could get their hands on them. These are books that will encourage students to become more avid readers.

"My goal for my students is to read 25 books this year, and they are ready to take on that challenge. However, my classroom library is lacking books that they will want to read. I need more diverse and current topics for my students to explore.

"I want my students to gain insight into other cultures and people who are different than them by exploring new and diverse young adult literature.

"My hopes are that my students WANT to read these books and then encourage other students to read them as well. I know that they would love these titles and I would be introducing them to books they probably wouldn't have heard of on their own."
They pretty much had me at hello, but I hope Mrs. Salvucci's pitch inspires you, too, if you've read this far.

We can make this happen, but we have to do it by Dec. 30 or the fund-raiser is scuttled.

Please, if you can, donate and/or share the information about this campaign on social media, so that some young readers can discover more great reading.

Some of the great books they're hoping to get their hands on are All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor.

Let's give these students some great reading for Christmas!

(And thanks for listening to my pitch.)

Mystery RPPC of children
getting a ride from a goat

This real photo postcard dates from between 1904 and 1918, according to the AZO stamp box on the back. But, unfortunately, there is absolutely no information.

So we have two early 20th century children, a boy and girl, sitting in a small cart that the goat might or might not choose to pull. (That is a goat, right? I had a moment of doubt when I thought there was a possibility it was a ram.) It's very nice of the goat to look toward the camera for the photograph, by the way.

In case you're curious, a 2013 article on Thrifty Homesteader discusses the use of goats as cart-drivers. It states: "Goats have excellent work ethic and know how to please." No goats, however, were interviewed for the article.

I guess there's a very small chance, taking the later AZO range, that the boy is still alive, at age 104 or 105. If you're reading Papergreat, goat-riding boy, drop me a line and I'll return this postcard.

Bookplate and newspaper clipping inside a Nostradamus book

This beautiful bookplate, measuring three inches across, appears on the inside front cover of a Modern Library edition (#81) of Oracles of Nostradamus, by Charles A. Ward. This book was first published in the early 1940s. This appears to be a later edition. The dust jacket references Modern Library volumes costing $1.25 as of April 15, 1947.

Crist is a common name in southcentral Pennsylvania, so, while I found some possibilities, I would need more information to fully determine which Ruth Crist owned this book. I can tell you, though, that the illustration on the bookplate is a wood engraving by American artist Lynd Ward (1905-1985).

The cover text pitches the book about "prophet" Michel de Nostredame (1503-1566) as follows:
"Nostradamus, Europe's greatest prophet, foresaw three centuries ago events which history has confirmed with uncannny frequency. His 'prophetic centuries' forecast the fall of Paris, war in the air, the invasion of Britain. Read the fateful happenings predicted tomorrow for Europe and America by the sixteenth-century soothsayer whom Hitler relies upon today."
The endless interpretations of Nostradamus and his quatrains are, of course, ridiculous. But it's not hard to see why his prophecies have fascinated folks, especially in the 20th century, when it seemed as if The End of the World was around every corner. I first encountered him via the 1981 "documentary" The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, featuring Orson Welles. I remember watching it a few times on either HBO or Spotlight, when we were living on Willow Street in Montoursville. As an 11- or 12-year-old, I was fascinated by the supernatural-seeming angle and the fiery, horrifying visions of the future offered by the film, which preyed on both Cold War fears of nuclear annihilation and racist anti-Arab sentiment. It cast "The Middle East" as some strange land from which a devilish villain would start the gears of World War III into motion in the 1990s.

Another piece of Nostradamus ephemera is tucked away inside this book. It's an undated (but must be from the 1960s or later) newspaper clipping with the headline "Predictions by Nostradamus Have Been Coming True for 400 Years."

In the article, Paul Bannister — possibly this Paul Bannister — states that Nostradamus might have predicted an invasion from outer space and quotes author Stewart Robb: "It could be that 'the king of terror' will come from the planet Mars. I think the prediction also means that victory will be on the side of the right."

Of course, that's a different Orson Welles production: The War of the Worlds.

On the flip side of the Nostradamus clipping is an advertisement for a watch made from the John F. Kennedy half dollar, which was first minted in 1964.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Postcard: Welcoming our new smiling blue orb overlord

Warning: Post contains stream of consciousness

Is it just me, or this a bit of a creepy scene?

Of course, it's a perfectly harmless and supposedly joyous representation of the cow jumping over the moon in "Hey Diddle Diddle," as depicted at long-gone Storyland Village in Neptune, New Jersey. Storyland Village was one of many, many children's theme parks in New Jersey in the 20th century. They popped up everywhere, like mushrooms after late summer rain. In 2004's Amusement Parks of New Jersey, author Jim Futrell states:
"Themed roadside attractions also became popular features in New Jersey during the 1950s. Like kiddielands, they catered to the automobile culture, but instead of rides, they emphasized a themed environment. The two most popular themes were nursery rhymes and the Wild West. ... While some ... were shuttered after only a few years due to increasing property values, New Jersey still has the heaviest concentration of these facilities in the country."
Futrell adds that Storyland Village was only in operation from 1956 to 1962, which would also help to date this unused postcard.

In the early 2000s, Joan and I were driving back from Atlantic City once and passed an abandoned theme park that looked like a perfect spot for a photo shoot. In later years, I spent an agonizing amount of time trying to determine which road we had been on, so that we could find it again. Turns out, I probably didn't have to be so obsessed. You can't swing a dead Jersey Devil in The Garden State without hitting an old kiddie park. This message-board post, which also references Futrell's book, features an awesomely long list of defunct parks, including Brigantine Castle.

But back to the orb...

My overlord reference in the blog headline is one that I had always attributed to Ken Jennings on Jeopardy! But it turns out — and isn't the Internet a wild thing? — that the phrase has a long history that (sort of) involves H.G. Wells, Joan Collins, giant ants, The Simpsons and sugar caves, in addition to Jennings.

Speaking of Jennings, if you'll be spending a lot of time in a car and/or in need of an audio companion this winter, I highly recommend the Omnibus! podcast co-hosted by Jennings and musician John Roderick. Each 60- or 70-minute episode features the pair chatting about life, showing off their wide range of knowledge and eventually discussing some obscure corner of history. It'll grow on you. But not like that stuff grew on Jordy Verrill. Or maybe just like that. I'm not sure.

Finally, backtracking and speaking of large ants and large creepy moons and cows jumping over the moon, how about that Knickers? (Yes, I know he's technically a steer. Details, details.)

Let the record show that while we were fretting about President Trump and Bryce Harper's destination in free agency on November 28, 2018, we were mostly just amazed by Knickers, whose udderly (udderless?) amazing story you can read about here.

OK, I think I should go to bed now...

Sunday, November 25, 2018

"So You've Joined a Club"
by Margaret Lynch Capone

We're not finished yet with Margaret Lynch Capone (aka Mrs. Carmen Capone). She has previously appeared in these posts:

In that last post, I mentioned that she authored at least two books: So You've Joined a Club (1954) and Parliamentary Pointers (1973). Well, I have tracked down one of those books, in a world in which there can't be that many that still exist. Here, using Papergreat's standard template for such matters, is the lowdown...

  • Title: So You've Joined a Club
  • Subtitle: A Practical Guide for Clubwomen
  • Author: Margaret Lynch Capone (1907-1998)
  • Cover designer: Dave Lyons
  • Publisher: Pageant Press, New York
  • Dust jacket price: $2
  • Publication date: 1954
  • Library of Congress catalog card number: 54-7466
  • Pages: 182
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dust jacket excerpt: "If you are planning to join a club, or have recently become a member of one, you will find this book invaluable in making a success of your new interest. ... Written by an experienced clubwoman and public speaker, So You've Joined a Club provides the answers for the novice clubwoman who suddenly finds herself confronted with organizing a money-raising event, making a speech, or deciphering Robert's Rules of Order."
  • Back cover: The back cover is all "About the Author," which helps to add to our body of knowledge about Margaret. It states:
    "The inspiration for So You've Joined a Club began when Margaret Lynch Capone joined a club back in 1947 and discovered how little she — and many of her fellow members — knew about club organization and procedure. Her conviction that a simple, easy guide for beginners was necessary was strengthened by the number of women she met who were anxious to be active in club work but who felt they knew too little about it.

    "Mrs. Capone, who was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and still makes her home there, is the wife of an attorney and the mother of three children. She has found that she can successfully combine her duties in the home with her activities as clubwoman, lecturer and parliamentarian. In addition to traveling extensively to organize new clubs, she is the Director of the International Toastmistress Clubs, public relations chairman of the Central Deanery, National Council of Catholic Women, and a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians. She also belongs to a host of other organizations."
  • Chapter titles: Joining a Club, Committees, Elected Officers, Parliamentary Procedure, Club Etiquette, The Large Meeting, Decorations for Club Meetings, Program Planning, How to Get Publicity, Speech Situations, Contents, Ways of Raising Money, What to Serve, and Installation of Officers.
  • First sentence: Joining a club is the surest way in the world of meeting people, making friends, and keeping young in spirit.
  • Last sentence: You, above all, know the sort of cooperation that brings joy to a chairman or president; give it!
  • Random sentence from the middle #1: But the other day my teen-age son reminded me that several boys he knew did not know how to hold a fork correctly, and then my husband commented that a man with whom he lunched occasionally did not know how to handle his napkin or make use of the fingerbowl.
  • Random sentence from the middle #2: Newspapers do not like to print the same announcement month after month: "The Mainville Women's Club will hold its regular meeting in the Community Hall."
  • Notes: Pageant Press was, indeed, a vanity publisher. In a 1958 article titled "Vanity Press Publishing," Howard A. Sullivan wrote:
    "Advertisig for manuscripts is not an orthodox practice in the publishing industry and to do so is a departure from tradition. But the tradition has been breached in some very reputable periodicals and the advertisements of Exposition Press, Vantage Press, and Pageant Press — to name but three, although the three most active and ambitious of the subsidy publishers — can be found regularly in the Saturday Review and Writer's Digest."
    The article goes on to state that Pageant published 112 new titles in 1956 and was on the list of just 31 houses producing 100 or more new books that year.

But wait, there's more...

This book also had some treasures tucked away inside. There's a receipt from when it was purchased for $2.10 ($2, plus 10 cents tax) in 1965 at Joseph Horne Co., which had at least eight locations in western Pennsylvania. The regional department store chain was founded in 1849 and ceased operations in 1994. There was a Horne's in the Monroeville Mall when Dawn of the Dead was filmed.

There's also a note inside. The cursive writing on it is too light for reproduction here, but I can tell you that it states:
1. Congratulate Marge on her year
2. Present Gift
3. Pass out Booklets. Go over Booklets, any corrections
New Business
1. Introduce New Girls
2. Benson Fruit Cake deal
3. Money handed in at diff. committees
I wonder if Marge is Margaret Lynch Capone? Either way, I'm sure she would have been proud about how helpful her book was.

Eighth anniversary of Papergreat's first post

Papergreat's first post was eight years ago today, on November 25, 2018. If this blog was a person, it would be in second grade right now. This is post No. 2,766, so, at the current pace, I'll get to post No. 3,000 sometime in early July. I'll soon be sending an order off to Blog2Print for Volume 10 of The Collected Papergreat (partly because I don't trust this whole Cloud contraption).

So what's ahead for Year 9? More of the same, I suspect. The blog has been heavily trending toward postcards, book covers and family history (including more form Dad's side, which I've neglected), and that will continue. I'd like to get back to mixing in more obscure and oddball stuff and random ephemera. And I'm itching to return to the fanzine series, so look for that in 2019. I have posts about Estella Canziani, Phyllis Stalnaker, Florence Darlington, Loren E. Trueblood and Margaret Lynch Capone that I'd like to get cleared off the decks, so stay tuned for those. And of course I'll have some themed posts for "The Christmas," as Buck would say, at the appropriate time next month. (November 25 is not the appropriate time, says my grumpy self.) At some point, I'll probably have an existential crisis about whether I want to continue devoting time to Papergreat that could be spent reading or writing other things, all whilst continuing to rack up the Papergreat posts.

I recently came across this groovy 15¢ stamp, which also happens to neatly summarize my approach to life and this blog. Indeed, "Learning never ends." This stamp was issued on September 12, 1980, partially to commemorate the establishment of the United States Department of Education by President Jimmy Carter. (Carter signed a law spinning Education off from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in October 1979 and DoED began operations in May 1980.) The launch city for this stamp was Franklin, Massachusetts, the home of Horace Mann and America's first public library. Here are some quotes attributed to Mann:

  • Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.
  • Every addition to true knowledge is an addition to human power.
  • A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them.
  • Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark all is deluge.
  • Resolve to edge in a little reading every day, if it is but a single sentence. If you gain fifteen minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of the year.

The image on the "Learning never ends" stamp is "Glow" by abstract painter Josef Albers (1888-1976). I believe that "Glow" is still part of the collection at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

On We Love DC, Samantha Sirzyk wrote this in 2010:
"My favorite of Albers’s pieces in the 'Squares Series' was easily Homage to the Square: Glow (1966), which examined the affect of orange hues on red hues, or vice versa. I selected this piece over the rest, not because I saw the squares move, grow, or transform after staring at it for a very long time – or convinced myself that they would because they were 'supposed to', but simply because the bright colors were visually pleasing and kind-of made me smile."
And I'll finish up with quote about learning from Albers himself:
“We must teach each other ... education is not first giving answers but giving questions.”