Tuesday, November 19, 2019

1938 newspaper recipe for
peach-mint jelly


This hails from the May 18, 1938, edition of The Honolulu Advertiser and might just be something you want to seriously consider, for a change.

Monday, November 18, 2019

How much is that haunted doll in the eBay window I have open?

The New York Times recently published an article by Alicia DeSantis with an attention-grabber headline: "The Weird World of ‘Haunted’ eBay: ‘Purchase With Caution’". It's about the odd, to say the least, subculture of those who attempt to boost the value of the everyday items they're peddling on the online auction service by claiming that the item is touched by the supernatural — possessed, cursed, magical, haunted, etc. This hucksterism is nothing new, of course. Since the idea of "magic beans" first sprouted centuries ago, humankind has never been without swindlers and those who are receptive, even enthusiastic, about being swindled.

The Times is not the first to write about supernatural-tinged online auctions. Other pieces of note have been published by Sabrina Maddeaux for Vox; by Reyhan Harmanci for Topic; by Katherine Carlson for The New Yorker; and by Luke Winkie for Vice. But one thing I enjoyed about short Times article was the interview with artist Eric Oglander. He has a fascination with witnessing, and documenting, the everflowing stream of "haunted" objects on eBay. He understands that cyberspace is fleeting, ephemeral. And so he deploys one of the best tools we have for documentation: the screenshot. The Times' DeSantis writes:
"Oglander describes himself as a 'collector of aesthetics,' and his material is the ephemera of the world around us. For him, it is not the item on sale, but rather the listing itself which becomes the object. The listings are 'a way of containing a story and also telling a story,' he said."
Indeed, in a slight twist on Papergreat's mantra, every eBay listing tells a story. And says something about us. So, in that spirit (no pun intended), here's the haunted-item listing I'm adding to the record for posterity.


The full description for Very Expensive Haunted Troll states:
Haunted Troll Doll.. Discontinued collectors item. . Condition is Used. Shipped with USPS First Class Package. This doll is haunted. I got it from an estate sale where some old lady had passed away. The man at the sale was making comments about how she or the house was haunted and he would not buy anything and take it home because he would not want that activity in his house. I felt compelled to buy this doll. within a week of having it, a doll that belonged to my daughter who has passed away started to play its music. Then a couple days later I was in the bathroom after a shower and felt something touch my leg. Next day in my bedroom right after putting on my pajamas I was touched on the opposite leg, but this time it felt like a grab.. Since then I've been in bed and felt like someone sat down on the end of my bed. I have been at my computer and felt something touch my hair and lightly tug at it. That has happen several times. I have seen a shadow figure and my dog has got up and went to growl where the movement happened. Those who want a haunted object, this is it! I was trying to sell this well before Halloween, so no its not for a Halloween hype. This is real. Not a joke. If you collect haunted objects. This doll is for you. It does have a little crack in its tail, but that obviously does to effect the amount of haunt you get from this figure. Once its sold, I wont take it back, I take no responsibility in any form as to what happens when you receive it. FREE SHIPPING ONLY IN THE USA...…. NO EXCEPTIONS...……….
Hurry now. This offer to curse your family for just $400 won't last.

Matchbook: Hartwig's The Gobbler Supper Club & Gobbler Motel


One cold night last winter, I tumbled down the online rabbit hole of supper clubs in Wisconsin. You read that correctly. Supper clubs in Wisconsin, baby! Winter nights don't get funner than that. The kickstarter, to the best of my recollection, was an Atlas Obscura article titled, unsurprisingly, "Inside the ‘Trend-Free’ World of Wisconsin’s Supper Clubs."1 That piece, by Anne Ewbank, paints an intriguing picture of supper clubs, which operate in their own realm, somewhere between speakeasies and social hubs:
"They’re distinguished by taxidermy, dark wood, and their location: romantically remote, on the borders of lakes or forests. ... While food is always made from scratch and varies slightly from club to club, [Documentary filmmaker and supper club-chronicler Ron] Faiola says the only way to describe the meat-and-seafood heavy meals is 'American cuisine,' and a lot of it. The brandy Old-Fashioned, served sweet, is a mainstay."
But supper clubs aren't actually a super-niche topic. A little searching uncovers a good bit of journalism. Readers (and journalists) like food. For example:


My contribution to supper clubbin' is the old matchbook cover featured at the top of this post.2 It touting a pair of establishments in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, at the intersection of Wisconsin Highway 26 and Interstate 94. Those establishments are The Gobbler Supper Club and Coffee Shop and the Gobbler Motel. The businesses are additionally branded with the word "Hartwig's" in front of their names. The matchbook doesn't tell us much about the supper club, but there's plenty of information about the Gobbler Motel amenities:

  • Heated Indoor Pool and Kiddies Pool
  • Color Television
  • Saunas - Sunken Baths3
  • Water Beds
  • Tennis - Shuffleboard
  • 50 Acres of Land for Snowmobiling
  • Hills for Sledding or Skiing (Bring your own equipment)

That seems like an odd combination of features, no? It's like they were trying to cater to families, seniors and swingers all at once. I bet that made for some interesting conversations at the coffee shop.

Indeed, we are just getting started. Buckle up.

First up: The Hartwig establishments were called "Gobbler" because they were, alas, literally underwritten by a turkey slaughterhouse.

Wikipedia tells us that the supper club and motel were funded by Clarence Hartwig, who had a huge poultry plant nearby; it operated until 1971, when Hartwig decided it would be too costly to bring the plant up to new USDA standards.

The supper club and motel were designed by Helmut Ajango and opened in 1967. From the air, the supper club sort-of looks like a turkey. The restaurant had a rotating circular bar that made one revolution every 80 minutes. The menu featured a lot of turkey dishes. Meanwhile, again per Wikipedia, "the Gobbler Motel had an adventurous, futuristic Googie architecture design that featured 49 rooms with symbol-shaped waterbeds (such as a heart-shape), 8-track players, round sunken bathtubs,and differently colored shag carpet that extended up the walls in each themed room."

Maybe the salmon-colored matchbook is starting to make sense now. The Kiddie Pool, not so much.

Both the supper club and motel closed in 1992, though the restaurant reopened as The Gobbler Theater in 2015. The rotating bar is still intact and, as of this writing, performers set to appear in 2020 include Sara Evans, Ronnie Milsap and Roseanne Barr.4 But folks can no longer go across the street to a shag-carpeted room after events. "It's nice and cozy," Connie Brunk told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a 2017 article, while waiting with her husband to see country singer Kellie Pickler, a former "American Idol" finalist and "Dancing with the Stars" champion, take the stage. "I am very happy that they did this. It's nice that it's still here and still being used. It's alive again."

And so the supper club has been reborn as a theater, even as traditional supper clubs continue to thrive elsewhere in Wisconsin. But the Gobbler Motel was demolished after it closed. Perhaps that's for the better. But some are trying to keep the memories alive. Journalist/humorist James Lileks has a special place in his heart for the Gobbler Motel, dubbing it the grooviest motel in Wisconsin. His website, which I hope persists, documents these special guest rooms, among others: the Passion Pit, Countryside rooms, the Bridal Suite, and Cupid's Hide-A-Way, complete with waterbed. There's much more on Lileks' website about both Gobbler establishments you should check out. Two words: Turkey carpeting.

And with that, it might be best to just bring this post to a close. We've strayed far from the original foodie topic of supper clubs. That's what happens, I reckon, when you head down a rabbit hole.

Happy early Thanksgiving.


Footnotes
1. I first mentioned that Atlas Obscura piece in this #FridayReads roundup.
2. Also, the matchbook cover is salmon, but I don't think the combination of my scanner and my Pixlr color-correction skills did a very good job of conveying that. "The scanner can't handle salmon," might end up being a chapter title in my autobiography.
3. Not to be confused with sunkenariums.
4. If you had "Roseanne Barr makes first Papergreat appearance in Post #3,012" on your bingo card, you're a winner.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Promotional postcard for arcade game with Bimbo the clown


Hey, it's The Original Bimbo 3 Ring Circus!!

Does anyone remember playing The Original Bimbo 3 Ring Circus??

I don't.

This undated, unused postcard has the following explanatory text on the back:
BIMBO
The Singing and Dancing Clown
is a tested located proven moneymaker, suitable for Arcades, Discount Houses, Five and Tens, Department Stores or any other place where children congregate. This sure-fire winner takes floor space of 24 x 27 inches. Bimbo features a solid state tape cartridge player, dust proof plug-in relays. Housed in a top quality laminated cabinet, Bimbo is another product of United Billiards, Inc., 51 Progress St., Union, New Jersey 07083. (201-686-7030)
So, let's turn to the experts. The International Arcade Museum®, which describes itself as "the world's largest educational center focusing on the art, inventions, science, and history of the amusement, coin-operated machine, game, and videogame industries," has an entry for Bimbo, which states that it was released in 1981, five years before Stephen King's It slammed the door on any hope that America would make clowns fun again.

The International Arcade Museum® adds that United Billiards began releasing arcade games in 1975, and its other games included Omicron Cocktail Table, Sportacard, Super UBI Cocktail Table, UBI Cocktail Table, and Daddi-O. (And there's a good chance that's the last Daddi-O reference on Papergreat.)

Another website with some good information about Bimbo is pinrepair.com. The author explains that the 1981 game was actually a remake of a musical 1956 arcade machine called Peppy the Clown. (Check out those pictures. They're great.) Here are some details on Bimbo's "game play" from that site:
"Designed for kids, Bimbo the clown talked and sang, moving his head from side to side, player could press buttons on the front console which controlled Bimbo 3 Ring Circus' arm and leg movement. ... Each game play is approximately one minute long, depending on the length of the original songs. The song titles include 'Yankee Doodle', 'Oh Susannah', 'The Farmer in the Dell', 'East Side, West Side' and other standards, sung in a sing-songy way to appeal to young children."
If you feel the need to have your very own sing-songy The Original Bimbo 3 Ring Circus arcade game, perhaps so you can put it beside your Annabelle doll, you're in luck. There's one on eBay with a Buy It Now price of just $995. Have it delivered just in time for the holidays.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Frontispiece, excerpts and thoughts on 1944's "Plastic Horizons"

This frontispiece of Plastic Horizons (which also serves as the dust jacket cover) is in thematic lockstep with midcentury science-fiction, specifically the optimistic thread that imagined a wonderful future for all, one filled with soaring towers and space-age transportation.

Yet this is a non-fiction book — and a very technical one at times — written by B.H. Weil and Victor J. Anhorn of Gulf Research & Development Company, which began operation in the late 1920s and was tasked with discovering uses for all that black gold that Big Oil was pumping out of the ground.1 The book was part of the "Science for War and Peace Series,"2 which was published by The Jacques Cattell Press right here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My used copy of Plastics Horizons once resided in The Tower Room at Dartmouth College Library before being discarded.

In 1944, The New York Times reviewed Plastic Horizons and declared in the headline that it was a "Balanced Survey of the Plastic Age."3 Here are some excerpts from Weil's and Anhorn's book:

  • "In recent years ... this hazy concept of the role of research and innovation in industry began to change. We could hardly help noticing the new world which was forming around us. The clothes we wore, the dentures we placed in our mouths, the cars we drove — all these and countless other things began to intrigue our fancy and stimulate our imagination. When war came again, we were already awake to the fact that science could give us nylon hose and shatterproof windshields along with high-octane fuels and potent medicines, so we were not taken unawares by radar, rocket bombs, and Norden bombsights, even though we generally lacked the training to understand them. It is not strange, therefore, that in recent years we have become increasingly aware of a new group of substances which industry is using in increasing quantities to shape our surroundings. Lovely in form and appearance, or sturdy and serviceable, as the case may be, these substances — plastics — created by our scientists from nature's raw materials, are among the most important triumphs in the field of creative chemistry."
  • "It is little wonder that the popular press has adopted plastics for its very own and has proceeded to sketch a picture of the future in terms of plastic furniture, garments, dwellings, automobiles, trains, and airplanes. Plastic manufacturers share the amusement of producers of steel, aluminum, and other construction materials at some of these flights of fancy, but all of industry is now agreed that plastics have come of age and will certainly find far greater use in the future than they have in the past."
  • "Plastic closures on containers for food, drugs, cosmetics, and chemicals have proved attractive, sanitary, and long-wearing. Transparent plastic packages were used before the war to enhance the appearance of flowers, silverware, cigars, candies, linens, and other goods; transparent wrapping such as cellophane will continue in heavy demand."
  • "There may be no Plastics Age, but that should discourage no one; applications will multiply with the years. ... Justifiable optimism is the order of the day, and the return of peace will enable the plastics industry to fulfill its promise of things to come."

In an article for Grist earlier this year ("How the U.S. got addicted to plastics"), David A. Taylor states his belief that "Plastic Horizons undersold its subject. Its closing chapter hardly seems to anticipate the ubiquity of plastics we see today, along with its formidable waste problem."

It's easy to agree with Taylor. Plastics are affecting everything. Just this morning, I was reading an essay by author Tom Cox, who was primarily commenting on seals in the United Kingdom but went off on this tangent:
"Horribly, several seals have recently been seriously injured by plastic objects at Horsey. ... In eras to come, the rise of plastic will surely be remembered as humanity’s most baffling collective delusion. How did we ever not all realise our use of it would kill the world? All those years, all those people, trusting that bins were some magical portal to a universe where man-made crap vanished. Once you’re tuned into the problem, you find yourself looking at everything around you differently: Remembrance Day Poppies, clothing tags, crisp packets, the cellophane on paper bread bags that lets you see the bread, cat food pouches. It’s all been said a lot recently: for change to really happen, it needs to come from corporations, from those in power, not just from the consumer habits of individuals. But that’s no reason not to change your consumer habits as an individual."
That's just an excerpt. I recommend reading Cox's entire piece.


Footnotes
1. In April 1985, The New York Times reported that "The Gulf Oil Corporation ... was donating its nearby research and development center, valued at more than $100 million, to the University of Pittsburgh." The Harmarville, Pennsylvania, facility had once employed 2,000 people but that number had dwindled to 800, the Times reported.
2. Other books in the series included 1943's Food Enough by John Donald Black1 and 1944's Peace, Plenty and Petroleum by Benjamin Talbott Brooks.
3. The New York Times review was penned by Waldemar Kaempffert (1877-1956), a science writer who was also a member of the American Society for Psychical Research and a vigorous defender of the theory that Martians had created a series of canals on their planet.

Secondary footnote
1. Speaking of food enough, I'm finishing up End Times: A Brief Guide to the End of the World: Asteroids, Super Volcanoes, Rogue Robots, and More by Bryan Walsh, and he is detailing how we could feed Earth's remaining population in the event of an apocalyptic event (supervolcano, asteroid, nuclear war) that blotted out the sun for many years. The cheery answer: mushrooms, rats and bugs.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

From the readers: Golden days of autumn edition

This first Saturday of November is a good day for sharing the latest roundup of comments, queries and zingers from the great readers of Papergreat.

First up is an emailed question from Jim in Salem, Oregon, regarding the 2012 post "Straight Arrow Injun-uity card from Nabisco Shredded Wheat." Jim writes: "Can you tell me the dimensions of the Straight Arrow Nabisco cards? I’m an old guy. I remember listening to Straight Arrow on the radio and reading the cards with my cereal."

I couldn't immediately put my hands on this card that I wrote about seven years ago. It's possible that I no longer have it; because hoarding is bad. But I found a dandy Collectors Weekly article that answers the question. Here's the relevant excerpt:
"The Straight Arrow cards ... replaced the plain cardboard inserts that separated the 12 biscuits into 4 layers of 3 biscuits in the boxes of shredded wheat starting in 1949. The cards measure 4" wide by around 7 1/4" tall. One thing I found while checking information online is that Book #1 and Book #2 were done with the blue ink and Books #3 and #4 done in green ink."

Guide to American summer camps from 102 years ago: In another email, Larry Bacon writes: "While searching for Kill Kare Kamp, I found your page. Kill Kare Camp for Girls was in operation 75 to 100 years ago on Russ Point (Flying Pond), Mt. Vernon, Maine. The actual main house still stands but there are no outbuildings of note. I once saw a brochure for the place, but it disappeared when an elderly neighbor lady died and her kids didn't save much. There was another Kill Kare Kamp on the Maine coast, but that's not the same. I will try to locate some other dealers in ephemera in hopes of finding one, and I have another interest that might appear in your information. Do you have anything to offer for Klir Alfred Beck? He, too, had a camp colony on Flying Pond, but was in Vienna, Maine. It was called The Gnomes Camps. Mr. Beck was an accomplished artist and architect who worked for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Game and Maine Development Commission. He designed the State of Maine exhibits for the annual Sportsmen's Shows, including the one for the 1936 World's Fair. Any info you can provide would be of interest to me. Thank you in advance for any leads you might share."

Thanks for writing, Larry. This one isn't in my wheelhouse of expertise, but I'm sharing this in hopes that another reader might be able to provide some information about Klir Alfred Beck and The Gnomes Camps.

Cheerful Card Company can help you earn extra money for the holidays: klspeer1 wrote: "I sold Cheerful Greeting cards in the 1960s. I was 10 years old when I started and made a nice amount of money for a kid my age. I went door to door, mostly on my block, and many neighbors ordered cards. I enjoyed it. I selected the Cheerful Card Company because I earned cash instead of prizes. I'm so glad I had that experience. Today, direct marketing businesses focus on recruiting more than selling. I never had to recruit to make money back then."

The final two pieces of ephemera from that May yard sale! Regarding the problematic peeing postcard pictured here, Tom from Garage Sale Finds writes: "Given the positioning of the baby, one can assume this is a girl and not a boy. Am I overthinking this?"

Mystery real photo postcard: Girl in the yard with pillow: Tom writes: "With that staining, it almost looks like one of those lenticular Halloween pictures that changes the face to a skeleton when turned at an angle. Don't you wish someone would have taken the time to write a name on the back? Would have been so helpful."

YES! I fully agree, Tom. Add identifications and years to the backs of your snapshots and postcards, people! It will make for fewer mysteries in the future, but, on the other hand, future historians can have more fun looking us up on Find A Grave, Newspapers.com, etc.

Fight over Paul Crockett's legacy, and a long footnote on Charlie O. Howard: Doug from New Mexico wrote: "An interesting read, especially the footnoted material. ([Charles] Manson is not high on my interest list.) I hadn't known about Mr. Howard, maybe because atrocity stories are so common. My brother and I share interests in religion and language history, which leads me to this anecdote. We both own several dictionaries, old and current. He found 'homosexual' in both, with the same basic definition*. 'Homophobia' doesn't appear in mainstream references until maybe the Seventies or Eighties. Then, it's defined as 'an irrational fear of homosexuals.' Emphasis added. We agree, on the grounds that we're more afraid of wars, diseases, criminals and the like than, say, the possibility of Mr. Buttigieg breaking into my house with a knife in his teeth. Myself, I would hire an outed person (is that PC?) to fix my car or serve as a crossing guard at an elementary school. His orientation not relevant to either task. As to 'Mr. [Herman C. 'Buddy'] Frankland and his kind', I have some knowledge of the Bible myself. My brother and I are Jehovah's Witnesses, so we're as 'fanatical' as anyone, to our opponents — who include Mr. Frankland BTW. He, Charlie's murderers and others have decided to take matters into their own hands, 'on a mission from God'. That is not the task of a Christian. If it were then they should also be attacking drunkards, fornicators (straight or gay), the envious, revilers and others, listed in no particular order at 1 Cor 6:9,10. They do not, because those people are not soft targets. Whether you agree with my views or not, you can see where they come from, with research in your own Bible, at jw.org. You can start with [this link], where the first two [paragraphs] alone have some surprises. Or search 'homosexuality' at the same site. More surprises.

* He and I use the homo = same derivation; the Greek, not the Latin. Male or female."

Thank you for reading Papergreat and sharing these extensive thoughts, Doug, along with your own footnote! I have included your hyperlinks for those who want to read more. I am certainly hopeful that we are moving toward a time when there is less widespread support for intolerant views like those of the Rev. Frankland, though I know there is much work still to be done.

New Deal with an old ephemera vibe: Writing again, Doug notes: "Americans don't know nearly enough about their own history. Here in rural New Mexico are many examples of Depression-era works, many in use still. These folks were good workers. One school, built later, is using its WPA building as storage. Still weather tight."

Book cover: "Ghosts Around the House": Tom writes: "I was ravenous for books like this when I was a kid and will still pick them up gladly whenever I come across one. Before the days of paranormal shows on every other channel, books like this were your only outlet for the strange and unknown."

Absolutely, Tom. We had Hans Holzer and other paranormal paperbacks around the house when I was growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and I found them much more fascinating than the James Michener or James Clavell novels.

Potential Lost Corner: Poignant tale by Jo Hogan: Joan writes: "This made me cry (surprise?) Thank you so much for sharing."

1941 advertisement for the Modern Talking Picture Service: Jackie Jessee Christianson writes: "I worked for MTPS in NYC from 1962 to 1969. My first job. It was a family."

Spooky Tuck & Sons Hallowe'en postcard mailed in 1910: Tom writes: "It's probably a play on the legend that if a girl looks in a mirror on midnight at Halloween, she'll see her future husband. This girl was in for a surprise because she's apparently marrying a Jack O' Lantern. I did a post on postcards featuring this legend."

You're 100% correct, Tom, and that's a great post on your blog. I think there's also a pun somewhere in here about someone being gourd-eous.

Papergreat's origin story: Responding to a 2011 post, Claudette Dorsey writes: "Thank you. I love everything about this post! I slipped off listening to 'Dancing with the Moonlit Knight' to search the meaning of 'paper late'. Found this post and Papergreat, with an origin story! Side-slipped to the Paperlate video (which I had never connected to Genesis' Selling England by the Pound album), several happy memories of attending UCLA when Paperlate was released, and finally dived into the jaw-dropping song analysis (George Starostin) of 'Dancing with the Moonlit Knight'. (Green Shield Stamps. Who knew?) Ha! This is how Papergreat is supposed to work, yes? Thank you, Mr. Ottopa."

1. I'm thrilled that posts from years and years ago are still delighting readers.
2. I would like for everyone to call me "Mr. Ottopa" moving forward.

Papergreat's 3,000th post, with a special celebrity guest: Wendyvee of Roadside Wonders writes: "Congratulations! The Internet is perhaps far, far more ephemeral than paper; but keep up the the 0's and 1's nonetheless."

Vintage spooky, sugary candy: And, to end on a sweet note, Tom writes: "I loved all of those sweet tart/toy configurations. They came in miniature coffins, sarcophagi, trash cans, lockers and fire plugs. In fact, I have one of the fire plugs sitting on a shelf in front of me now."

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Stairway painting #LifeGoals

Some fun with "Daddy-Long-Legs"

When I saw this cover of Jean Webster's 1912 classic Daddy-Long-Legs, I couldn't help but have a little fun with photoshopping.


Vintage spooky, sugary candy

These aren't from one of my envelopes, drawers or piles. Just some vintage images from the good old internet that I wanted to share for Halloween. If you're my age (Generation X — The Generation Raised on Sugar), you'll remember some of these treats...

Drac-Snax, by Topps

Munchy Mummies, by Topps
(read more on Grubbits)

Mr. Bones, by Fleer
(read more on Gone But Not Forgotten Groceries & CollectingCandy.com)

* * *

This one isn't candy, but adults sure liked to entice us with "vitamins disguised as candy" back in the day. (I would actually sneak extra doses of Flintstone Multivitamins, for the mini sugar rush.) Also, it's always good to check in with Vincent Price on Halloween.

Monster Multiple Vitamins
(read more on Neato Coolville's 2007 post & 2011 post)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Halloween 2019 book cover:
"A Ghost Hunter's Game Book"


  • Title: A Ghost Hunter's Game Book
  • Author: James Wentworth Day (1899-1983)
  • Dust jacket illustrator: Eisner, according to the lower-right corner. I can't find any other information about who that is.
  • Publisher: Frederick Muller Ltd, London
  • Publication date: 1958
  • Dust jacket price: 16 shillings, I believe. The dust jacket flap reads "16/- net"
  • Pages: 222
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dust jacket blurb: "James Wentworth Day collects ghosts, ghouls and legends as other people collect stamps. Ghosts, he believes, definitely exist — he has seen them. In this intriguing and sometimes spine-chilling book he has gathered together the first-hand experiences of very many living people, from all over England."
  • Select chapter titles: "The Ghosts of Craster Tower," "He Died in Drury Lane," "A Spectral Army in the Sky," "A Church of Sad Spirit," "The Man Who Changed into a Cat," "The Appalling Club in Cow Lane," "Castle of Ghastly Secrets," and "The Black Hound of Mid-Devon." (The "Spectral Army in the Sky" refers to the Battle of Edgehill in 1642 and not, as I might have guessed, the Machen-fueled Angels of Mons in the First World War.)
  • First sentence: "Every county has its village legends, fustian hobgoblins, churchyard hauntings and turnip-top ghosts."
  • Last sentence: "We have barely touched the fringe."
  • Random sentence from the middle #1: "Shortly before the old lady died, she told her relatives that if they would carry her from her cottage by the mill stream up through the garden to Bower House, she would show them where she had buried her treasure when the Scots were on the march."
  • Random sentence from the middle #2: "In short a 'Something' shaped like an egg and gifted with the strength of ten."
  • About this book: There is a serious dearth of reviews or information about this spooktastic volume online. In the introduction to his 2013 book Essex Ghost Stories, Richard Holland writes:
    "Special mention must be made of James Wentworth Day, for it is a name we will encounter often in this book. Wentworth Day (1899-1983) was born in Suffolk but lived most of his adult life in Essex. A lover of the land and a particularly keen wildfowler, Wentworth Day spent many years befriending the country folk of East Anglia and in this way discovered many Essex-based ghost stories, including first-hand encounters that would otherwise have been lost to obscurity. Many of these tales were repeated in the several books of ghost stories he published in his lifetime, particularly Ghosts and Witches (1954), A Ghost Hunter’s Game Book (1958) and Essex Ghosts (1973)."

Monday, October 28, 2019

Halloween 2019 book cover: "Haunted Houses"


  • Title: Haunted Houses
  • Author: Joseph Braddock (1902-?)
  • Dust jacket designer and interior illustrator: Felix Kelly (1914-1994). You can get a full look at Kelly's gorgeous wraparound dust jacket on this 2011 post on Uncanny UK.
  • Publisher: B.T. Batsford Ltd. (same as yesterday's book)
  • Publication date: 1956
  • Dust jacket price: Can't tell. It's clipped.
  • Pages: 218
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dust jacket blurb: "Joseph Braddock believes in 'a world of spirit which is just as real as this one'. Although, to his regret, he has never seen a ghost, it is his humility before the relation of supra-normal happenings which gives a particular quality — neither sceptical nor yet credulous — to this book about Haunted Houses."
  • Dedication: "TO MY WIFE who has walked with me round the edge of the Unknown"
  • First sentence: "A great number of books has been written, in the present and in the past, about ghosts and haunted houses, linked with their allied subjects such as witchcraft, legends, miraculous cures, uncanny happenings at séances, extra-sensory perception, and visitations and messages received by living persons from the so-called dead."
  • Last sentence: "The scientific approach to these profound mysteries, though most valuable, is not the only one."
  • Random sentence from middle #1: "Doarlish Cashen — Manx for Cashen's Gap, a gap in the hedge — is an ancient, bleak and remote farmhouse, built of slate slabs faced with cement, out of sight of any other farm, perched about seven hundred and twenty-five feet above sea level upon a treeless, shrubless slope of Dalby Mountain on the west coast of the Isle of Man."
  • Don't leave us in the lurch, Otto! What happened at this spooky place? Not much. Unless you consider a clever talking mongoose from the fifth dimension named Gef odd.
  • Random sentence from middle #2: "A baleful black stalagmite formation, dominating the mysterious river, clearly depicts the menacing nutcracker profile of an old witch woman."
  • Review excerpt: On Magonia (http://pelicanist.blogspot.com), a reviewer compared his original read as a child in 1961 with his re-read in 2012, writing: "Today they may seem like pretty tame stuff, but I suspect there is stuff in them to scare even the most internet-hardened kiddie. I am not sure what did for me, perhaps it was Braddock’s chapter heading ‘Evil Ghosts’, or his story of the house in Birmingham in which a phantom cat was blamed for the death of a baby, or maybe it was his story of the boy in the Grenadier pub, who saw a shadow advancing and retreating, complete with evocative drawing by Felix Kelly."
  • Want a copy? This book was reprinted in 1991 with the title Haunted Houses in Great Britain, though I'm not sure if Kelly's illustrations are included. Used copies of this later edition are fairly cheap.

But wait, there's more

While trying to find more about Joseph Braddock, I stumbled upon this classified advertisement, under "Business Personals" in the October 20, 1975, edition of The Pittsburgh Press.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Farewell Huggles, aka Little Man, aka Tripod, aka Sneezles

Today we said goodbye to Huggles, the little, black, three-legged cat who has been mentioned on Papergreat numerous times, including 10 days ago, when I half-complained about him like a whiny and ungrateful jackass. He's at rest now after finally succumbing to the various maladies that piled on him during his lifetime, and I miss him greatly already.

I'll turn it over to my son, Ashar, who wrote this wonderful tribute to his cat:
July 2007
Little seven year old me bugged my parents and begged them to let me get a cat of my own and after some begging they agreed to let me get a cat to call my own. We got in the car and drove to the SPCA and once there we went inside and looked at all the kitties. We went into a room with one of the workers and I sat down on this mini sofa and as soon as I sat down this little black cat jumped on my lap and curled up in a ball and somehow in that moment I knew he was the cat for me.

Sometime in late 2008 (about one year later)
I was petting Huggles near the back door when I noticed a big red bump on the back of his leg and it looked a bit bloody. I got concerned and worried so I told everyone. We decided to take Huggles to the vet to get his lump on his leg checked out and it is a very good thing we took him to the vet when we did because the vet told us that his lump on his leg was cancer and that we needed to amputate his leg which would help him live longer.

Today, 11 years after his amputation and following a long and happy life, we say goodbye to our very strong and insanely brave little cat who stayed strong and kept on hopping until he couldn't hop anymore. We love you Huggles and you will forever be in our hearts and live on through us.
Huggles' cameo appearances here over the years included "Board for Parker Brothers' 1936 version of the game Finance", "Cute vintage Christmas postcard, plus the famed Otto Christmas Cats" and "I'd blame the tryptophan, but cat pileups like this happen every day."

We liked to joke that Huggles had several dozen nicknames, and that we should take a moment to write them all down someday. We never did. One of my favorites was Little Man, which partly has ties to a folk tale. He was a very tiny cat, especially as he got older. And he reminded me of the tale "The Seventh Father of the House," as related by Norwegian folkorists Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. In that tale, a weary traveler must ask the father of the house if he may stay for the night, and he gets sent through a succession of older and older men before encountering the true father of the house, a shriveled-up little man hanging in a horn on the wall. I called Huggles our Little Man, like in that tale. Rest in peace, Little Man.

Erik Werenskiold illustration from Norwegian Folktales.

Halloween 2019 book cover:
"Haunted England"

In counting down the final few days to All Hallows' Eve, I have some appropriately spooktastic books to share...


  • Title: Haunted England
  • Subtitle: A Survey of English Ghost-Lore
  • Author: Christina Hole (1896-1985)
  • Dust jacket designer: Lynton Lamb (1907-1977)
  • Illustrator: John Farleigh (1900-1965)
  • Publisher: B.T. Batsford Ltd.
  • Original publication year: 1940
  • Publication date of this edition: 1951 (Second Edition, Third Impression)
  • Dust jacket price: 13 shillings, 6 pence
  • Pages: 184
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dust jacket blurb #1: "This is far and away the best ghost book I have ever met, as Miss Hole is thorough, careful and completely unbiased." ⁠— The Queen
  • Wait. The Queen?? Well, this edition was published in 1951, so it cannot be Elizabeth II, because her reign did not begin until 1952. The most logical guess is that there was some sort of UK publication titled "The Queen."
  • Dust jacket blurb #2: "With its infinite variety of ghostly manifestations it should appeal strongly to the ordinary reader." — The Scotsman
  • First sentence: Belief in ghosts is almost as old as the human race.
  • Last sentence: The study of ghost-lore suggests that some places area nearer the edge of the spiritual world than others; and here, perhaps, lies the only explanation as yet available of Borley's curious history.
  • Random sentence from middle: She had a secret room prepared against emergencies which was reached by a concealed staircase in the kitchen chimney.
  • Review excerpt #1: Dodwell wrote this on Amazon.co.uk in 2013: "I bought a copy of this work, in 1966 from a junk shop, for the princely sum of two shillings (20 pence) and I still have it now. It is full of tales, ghostly and ghastly, from all of the shires of England; ghosts of the great and unknown ghosts fill its pages. Written in an easy, lucid style by an author who obviously felt a great affection for the folklore of England, so much so, that this affection shines through in every chapter."
  • Review excerpt #2: The Wolf wrote this on Amazon.co.uk in 2017: "Christina Hole's English spookfest, with terrific illustrations by John Farleigh, still has the power to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck."
  • About the author: Christina Hole was a member of The Folklore Society and her other notable books include A Dictionary of British Folk Customs, English Folklore, English Home-Life 1500 to 1800, and Witchcraft in England. On the website England: The Other Within, Alison Petch noted that Hole "might have been considered by some rather eccentric — according to the obituary she refused to have a telephone installed in her home even though it would have made her honorary duties easier and was 'surrounded by well-behaved cats whose idiosyncracies gave [her] great pleasure.'"

But wait, there's more

Tucked away inside the book was a dandy 1955 National Tuberculosis Association Christmas Seals bookmark. It's shown below, along with a couple of John Farleigh's interior illustrations. In 2011, the blog Uncanny UK, edited by Richard Holland, had this to say about Farleigh's work: "The other attraction of ‘Haunted England’ are its numerous weird illustrations. The illustrator, John Farleigh, was well-known in his day both as a fine artists and as a commercial artists, for example for London Transport. He was best-known as a wood engraver. The images he created for ‘Haunted England’ are like no other gracing a work of this kind: often abstract, with distorted perspectives, they are nightmarish yet oddly child-like – and certainly memorable."


Saturday, October 26, 2019

In which we learn that Melvin C. Reed's nickname was "Midge"


As you can see, there's a silly monkey on the front of this dandy QSL card from Richard Kalakie of Ferndale, Michigan.1 The card, with Kalakie's call sign of WB8BCA, was sent in December 1969 to W3AIT, a call sign I've featured in three previous posts:


W3AIT belonged to Melvin C. Reed (1906-1987) of Frackville, Pennsylvania. But the short note from Kalakie on the back of this card states: "Sri I lost u Midge. QRM got bad. Hpe 2 BCNU agn."

A lot of that text is Morse code abbreviations. Sri means "sorry," for example, and BCNU, as you might intuit, means "be seeing you." And QRM (man-made interference) is specific to ham radio. But what intrigued me was the reference to Midge, which also appears on a number of the other W3AIT QSL cards I acquired. I wondered if Midge might be Melvin's wife, and perhaps she also participated in the hobby. But it's simpler than that, even. Midge was Melvin's nickname.2 I found that via his obituary in the July 31, 1987, edition of the Pottsville Republican:
"Melvin 'Midge' C. Reed, 80, of 336 Lehigh Ave., Frackville, died Thursday morning in Pottsville Hospital where he was admitted
July 1. He was born in Frackville, a son of the late Jacob and Edna Heim Reed. He was employed by the former Reading Railroad Co. for 48 years, retiring in 1971. ... He was a Scoutmaster for many years in Frackville. His wife, the former Mary Zimmers, died Feb. 1, 1980."
So that's a bit more about Melvin "Midge" C. Reed. There should be plenty more to come. And one of these days I must also return to the tale of Loring A. Daniels and his QSLs.

Footnotes
1. According to Wikipedia: "Ferndale is well known in the Detroit area for its LGBT population and progressive policies. ... In 2006 the city passed an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination in public accommodations, housing, and business, with 70% in favor and 30% in opposition. Affirmations, a 17,000-square-foot LGBT community center in Downtown Ferndale, opened its new, expanded building on Sunday June 3, 2007, the same year the city elected the first openly gay mayor in Michigan." Way to go, Ferndale!
2. For future researchers who might be seeking information on me, my only nicknames, to the best of my recollection, are Toast, Ottoman, Toph and Topher. I've tried to encourage folks to call me "Hoss" but it hasn't really stuck.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Papergreat's 3,000th post,
with a special celebrity guest

I have blogged about these things

We have arrived at another milestone post. Three thousand posts about ephemera (and semi-related topics) spread over eight years and 11 months. That's a lot of stuff. That's a lot of words and images uploaded into The Cloud, where their safety is anything but guaranteed, especially on this platform.1

Papergreat has been mostly about the journey; about the people, stories and mysteries uncovered, and the many mysteries that will never be solved but have at least had a little light shined on their crypt doors. It's about using ephemera as a springboard to learn about Marguerite E. DeWitt, Guy Brown Wiser, Loring Daniels, Terry S. McMahon, Charlie O. Howard, Lada Draskovic, Helen Myers, Phyllis J. Stalnaker Harris and Florence Darlington.2 (And many, many others.)

And it's about the readers and contributors who have made the journey anything but a solitary one. There wouldn't be 3,000 posts without Jo Ott, Wendyvee, JT Anthony3, Joan Concilio, Linda Chenoweth Harlow, Tom Beiter, Mom, Debbie Davidson (aka Dosankodebbie), David Southwell, Bonnie Jeanne (aka PostMuse), Mel Kolstad4, Jim Fahringer, and, of course, the amazing "Mark Felt." There are many others who I've not named here, including the zillions who have commented on the Cheerful Card Company post over the years. Reader submissions have fueled some of the very best Papergreat posts, so I cannot take credit for writing 3,000 posts. I'm just the curator here.

In that role, I've highlighted ephemera found tucked inside books, items seeped in school-days nostalgia, recipes, receipts, found and vernacular photographs, book covers, advertising, hundreds upon hundreds of postcards and more. About one-third of all posts have the history tag, because our ephemera is our history.

Examining found ephemera can help us bridge the gap between ourselves and total strangers from the past. Our own ephemera, meanwhile, helps us remember the milestones of our lives: newspaper clippings, autographs in a yearbook, vacation snapshots, book inscriptions, ticket stubs and countless other examples. When my son Ashar and I attended Steel City Con in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, in April, his cherished mementos included his VIP badge; the photograph, later autographed, of his brief moment with William Shatner; the iPhone video of Shatner's speech that he was able to share with his grandmother before her death; and the autograph he obtained from Walter Koenig. Those keepsakes, one of them digital, forever connect him to a time, place and experience. They will serve that role throughout his life. In the future, they might stay in the family. Or perhaps they will be mysteries for a future ephemeraologist to research.

I was thrilled to be able to attend the fan convention with Ashar. My approach was a little different. My journalist background motivates me to take notes, to write things down. To create a different kind of ephemera from the experiences we had a stone's throw from that mall where they filmed Dawn of the Dead. For funsies, I kept a list of all the cosplay outfits we saw on the floor of the convention center.5 And I also made notes following Ashar's interactions with Shatner and Koenig — recording details we might forget with the passage of days, months and years. For example, Shatner asked Ashar if he was still in school, what he does for fun, and what he wants to do for a living. When he said "tattoo artist," the 88-year-old Shatner grilled him on the steps he might take toward that goal, right down to who his first client would be and what tattoo he would ink. "You should pursue your dream. I hope you’re able to pursue your dream," Shatner told Ashar.

Koenig, meanwhile, had a wonderful long chat with Ashar during a slow morning at the convention. He talked about his mother (who was named Sarah), asked in detail about Ashar's recovery from spinal surgery, and talked about how people in the mid-20th century didn't have the medical options that we thankfully do today.

Ashar had one more interaction, with actor Dwight Schultz. They discussed how Ashar, perhaps unique for a 19-year-old 2019, has seen every episode of The A-Team and all five of Schultz's appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation as the character Reginald Barclay. Schultz talked with humility about how grateful he was for the opportunity to be a part of the Star Trek television and film universe (he was also, memorably, in Star Trek: First Contact). To mark that moment with Schultz, Ashar and I agreed in advance that we'd make a very unusual request for his autograph. And that brings us to...


How cool is that?? Always plan ahead, folks! I knew back in April that I'd get to the 3,000th post eventually. I originally thought it would come around the Fourth of July. Life had other ideas, but I eventually made it here.

Now it's onward to the 3,001st post. Papergreat's posting schedule has been more erratic and inconsistent this year. Over the summer, I pondered concluding the blog with this post, so I can spend more time reading and focusing on other projects. Or maybe I'll just post until the end of 2019. Or until I get through one of my many lists. But, ultimately, I reckon there's no point setting artificial limits or deadlines. Maybe I'll go to 3,005. Or 3,200. Or twice a month until the year 2030. Who knows. There are never any guarantees; all we can do is see where the journey goes.

I have not yet blogged about these things

Footnotes
1. "And so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually" — Jimi Hendrix
2. “Sit here,
so I may write
you into a poem
and make you
eternal.”
Kamand Kojouri
3. More evidence that the internet is as ephemeral as everything else: JT Anthony's blog, A Pretty Book, has vanished.
4. Mel's Ephemeraology blog is also gone, but you can catch up with her on Instagram.
5. Evil Jar Jar, Jason, Leatherface, Jack Sparrow, Darth Vader, Aquaman, Captain Marvel, cats, Deadshot, Doctor Strange, Malificent, Ghostbusters, the creepy boy from Us, Scarecrow, Batman, Riddler, Deadpool, Chimichanga Deadpool, Harley Quinn, Ricky & Morty, Wonder Woman, Dunder Mifflin employees, Captain America, Khan Noonien Singh, Kamala Khan (no relation), Michael Myers, Gilligan, demonic Batman, Groot, Beaker, Freddy Krueger, Star Trek crewpeople, Stormtroopers, a winged werewolf, Hulk Hogan, zombies galore, BobRossPool, Jabba the Hut, Cloud Strife, regular Bob Ross, Spider-Man, and the Undertaker.

Friday, October 18, 2019

1960s Scholastic book:
"The Witch Next Door"


Author/illustrator Norman Bridwell (1928-2014) has more then 100 million books in print and was best known for his Clifford the Big Red Dog series, which includes an astounding 80 books. But in 1965 he published a sweet children's book titled The Witch Next Door. This is the Scholastic Book Services (fourth printing) edition from 1967. It is TW 776 and cost 35 cents (the equivalent of $2.66 today).

In the cheery volume, the witch's young neighbors observe that she paints her house black, does her laundry on Mondays, has a pet dragon, delivers soup to sick neighbors, goes to sleep at 8 p.m. every night (in an odd position I won't spoil), and casts "a few spells now and then."

Then some older neighbors decide they don't like having That Kind living on the block. So the witch uses some gentle magic to win them over. And everyone flies away on a broom, happily ever after. I think my favorite line is: "She showed us the bat bath in her yard."

Here are some reviews of The Witch Next Door from Goodreads:

  • "I LOVED this book when I was little and I LOVE it still! A witch moves in next door, but she is actually a very sweet witch who uses her spells to enhance her life and the lives of those around her." (Samantha in 2013)
  • "Love this book! Way ahead of it's time, and so much fun! I remember this book from my youth and have always loved it." (Rebecca in 2018)
  • "This text would be a good way to teach kids to be welcoming of others and it should definitely be read to this day." (Alicia in 2012)
  • "Even when the witch confronts prejudice and gets angry, she doesn't get mean. She solves the problem in the nicest way possible." (Cindy in 2007)

Bridwell went on to write other books about the friendly witch. And now this book can go back into a Little Free Library!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Cinderella stamps for 1961's
National Cat Week


This is the Cinderella stamp that celebrated National Cat Week nearly 58 years ago. National Cat Week, it turns out, has been held the first full week of November since 1946. So you still have a couple of weeks to get your cat(s) a Hallmark card in time for this year's observance.

According to a 1951 article in The New Yorker, National Cat Week was established by the American Feline Society and its then-president, Robert Lothar Kendell, who was also behind 1948's Cats for Europe plan to send many thousands of cats abroad as a way to control rat populations.1 The American Humane association did not find the plan entirely copacetic. I don't believe it was ever carried out.

It seems like every single day is National Cat Week here at Essex Manor. My occupations these days, in order of priority and time consumed, are (1) journalist, (2) cat caretaker, (3) ephemera blogger. Our five cats: Huggles, the three-legged, 5½-pound treasure who is struggling with failing kidney function and dementia but still likes to have his ears scratched; Mr. Bill, who is more than three times the size of Huggles and is generally a good boy; Mr. Angelino, who squeaks a lot and thinks he's the cutest thing in the house, which is not true when he sprays; Monkey, who is the archetypal hot-headed redhead but also the best snuggler; and Titan, a man-child whose size lives up to his name but who is also mind-bogglingly incapable of defending himself against lesser threats. There are daily feuds, feedings, stand-offs, chases, hairballs, welfare checks, more feedings and litter-box cleanings. There are currently 10 medications per day to be dispensed.2 And I'm a Saturday fixture at the veterinarian's office.

And before them there was Scoop, Salem, Floyd and Mitts.

But I reckon it's all worth it for the purrs, snuggles, foot-warming and companionship. Even if they don't provide a revenue stream like Grumpy Cat or Maru. As I write this, I'm wearing a T-shirt that reads "ALL AMERICAN XXL CAT HERDING CHAMPION." Sounds right.


Footnotes
1. Kendell was a fierce defender of the joy of cats during the 1950s and 1960s, when cats were far more despised and disparaged than they are today. But he did have one clunker of an opinion. In 1964, he is reported to have said that outdoor cats pose no menace to birds: "This is nonsense. I love birds myself and I can say beyond any question that only a sick bird could possibly be slow enough to get caught by a cat. Certainly cats don't particularly relish birds as food. There are any number of things they'd much rather eat." It was estimated in 2015 that cats kill 2.6 billion birds per year in the United States and Canada. Please keep your pet cats indoors!
2. After typing that sentence, I had to interrupt writing this post in order to take care of Huggles, who was crying for food from the bathroom suite he now occupies because of the incontinence caused by his kidney issues. He is an "endearing" combination of always being hungry and also being a super-picky eater, which means must offer dishes to him a ridiculous number of times per day in order to help him not fall under 5½ pounds.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Spooky Tuck & Sons Hallowe'en postcard mailed in 1910



I like this vintage Halloween postcard because it reminds me of what is still one of my favorite pieces of ephemera, eight years after I first wrote about it: The dark and stormy night Victorian trade card.1

The postcard features a young girl who is wearing a nightgown and holding a candle. Peeking behind her, she seems the unsettling image of a grinning jack-o'-lantern in the mirror. In researching if there is any folklore surrounding the idea of seeing a carved pumpkin in a mirror, I didn't come up with much. But I did stumble upon this amazing photograph from the October 31, 1980, edition of the Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York.


First, it's a great piece of photojournalism by George F. Lian (who was Chief photographer for the Star-Gazette and died in 2010).

Second, it's a great time capsule of what American girls wore in 1980.

Third, I saw it and immediately thought, "The Olsen twins? What the heck?"

Finally, I love that this girl is the daughter of a man named John Saxon. Obviously it's not the same John Saxon who is a minor icon of horror movies, but it's a fun Halloween photograph Easter egg.

Getting back to the postcard, it was printed in Saxony and published by Raphael Tuck & Sons as part of the company's Hallowe'en series of postcards (No. 174). It was postmarked at 2 p.m. on October 20, 1910, in Remus, Michigan.2 It was mailed to Belmont, Michigan.

Here's my best transcription of the cursive message:
10-20-10
Having lots of fun here some more than in Dear (?) Old Cannon. Have not heard the cause yet and it has been 9 days instead of 2.
As ever,
Brid
My best guess is that "Cannon" refers to Cannon Township, which is also in central Michigan. But what is Brid referring to? What happened? We'll never know for sure. But here's on historical tidbit that's a possibility.

In August 1911, several Michigan newspapers reported a minor epidemic of infantile paralysis, or Acute Anterior Poliomyelitis, in Cannon Township and other areas of Michigan. One article notes that "this disease is most prevalent during the months of August, September and October. It seems to be more prevalent in dry weather, and at times rain has seemed to cause the subsidence of an epidemic. It would therefore seem as though dust had something to do with the spreading of the contagion."

So is it possible there had also been an outbreak of infantile paralysis in Cannon Township in October 1910?

We, of course, know this disease as polio. It was usually spread, according to Wikipedia, "from person to person through infected fecal matter entering the mouth. It may also be spread by food or water containing human feces and less commonly from infected saliva. Those who are infected may spread the disease for up to six weeks even if no symptoms are present." So we now realize that any idea that rain could cause the epidemic to subside held little merit, except to the extent that heavy rain might "cleanse" unsanitary locations.

Polio was one of the most devastating childhood diseases of the first half of the 20th century, until Jonas Salk developed an approved vaccine around 1955.

Footnotes
1. There's a Victorian trade card titled "The Ghost Story" that's very similar to one I call "A Dark and Stormy Night." I plan to write about that one some day, too.
2. Remus is an unincorporated community near the center of tiny Wheatland Township in Central Michigan. The post office was originally named Bingen but was renamed Remus in 1880.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Peering at (literal) scary book from Germany in 1920


This hardcover book was published in Munich [Muenchen], Germany, in 1920 by Georg Mueller. The title is Das unheimliche Buch, which literally, and wonderfully, translates to The Scary Book. (Or The Eerie Book in some translations.)

Of course, the rest of it's in German, too, so there's not a whole lot I can tell y'all without spending a month on Google Translate. But I do know some things. It's a collection of supernatural stories, as compiled by editor Felix Schloemp (1884-1916). The illustrations were done by Alfred Rubin.

Some of the stories included are by Heinrich Mann, Frédéric Boutet, Gustav Meyrink, Edgar Allan Poe, J.P. Jacobsen, and E.T.A. Hoffmann.

And it features a foreword by Karl Hans Strobl (1877-1946), who wrote horror and fantasy stories, but whose awful existence was defined by being a member of the Nazi Party, an anti-Semite and a voluminous producer of Nazi propaganda. So screw him and his foreword. And also screw the story he contributed to this book.

Das unheimliche Buch was first published in 1914, two years before Schloemp's death. I have seen references to other editions. By 1938, Das unheimliche Buch was on the list of "harmful and unwanted literature" and would have been subject to Nazi book burnings.

Here's a look the bookplate on the inside front cover...


And here are two of Alfred Rubin's illustrations...


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Needed round of Postcrossing cheer and optimism

When Everything Is Awful, it's a good time, perhaps, to try to look to some things that will bring us some moments of good cheer. Like what Samwise said in The Lord of the Rings. So here, as the tiniest respite, is a roundup of some Postcrossing comings and goings here at Essex Manor.

First up is this unique postcard, shown at right, from a young man in embattled Hong Kong. He writes: "I bought this postcard from Taiwan. This is the postcard issued by Taiwan Post and I suppose it's cute. And the stamp is one of the famous place for tourist to take photo with, it's the platform surrounded by the buildings. Have a nice day!"

The stamp he's referring to shows a view labeled "Hong Kong By Night II" and was taken at the Yik Cheong Building, also known as the Monster Building. According to Asia Trend, it is "a housing complex in Quarry Bay comprised of five conjoined old buildings. These composite buildings, commonly found in the olden days, house both shops and residential flats. After nightfall, household lights dot the buildings to paint a deeply nostalgic picture of old Hong Kong."


Next up is this gorgeous postcard from Anastasia in Russia, who writes: "You said you love autumn. So I decided to send you a postcard with a picture of late autumn in a Russian village. It was painted by contemporary artist Andrei Alyokhin [Алехин Андрей]. I hope you'll like it. Have a nice day!"

Another recent postcard came from the schoolchildren in Novocherkassk, Russia, I've been corresponding with for the past year. (We were originally connected by Postcrossing.) Their message, on a postcard featuring the Novocherkassk Museum of Don Cossacks History, was written by one of the students and states: "Hello Chris, We are 5 years students. We like your postcards. We send to you a photo of our city. Please, write about school life in the USA. Hope to hear from you soon."

* * *

Thanks from abroad

And here's another batch of emailed thank-you messages from fellow Postcrossing enthusiasts across the globe. Pictured alongside them is some artwork I received from Arkadii, a 13-year-old Postcrosser from Russia who likes reading, drawing, video games and sweets, and is very proud of the Muscle-Flexing Demon Guy that he drew for me.

张明娜 from China wrote: "Hi. Thank you for the Halloween illustration card and nice stamps. Although Chinese people know about Halloween, we hardly celebrate it. But the mall will be decorated as if we were celebrating Halloween. There are jack-o'-lanterns and black capes verywhere. Best wishes for you."

Li Ming from China wrote: "Hi Chris, nice to receive your card, I have the same feeling as you to bring happiness to people I do not know, also to get happiness from my own mailbox. Last Halloween there were kids come to my apartment to ask for candy, so we stocked some candy for the day, wish kids like them."

Kathinka from Belgium wrote: "Thank you for the beautiful postcard!! I bookmarked your blog, that's fun reading! What a story, the old half house! Must be fun digging in to it to find out more about it!"

Paresh from India wrote: "Hello! The postcard that left your country arrived in my mailbox today. I owe you a big thank you for your lovely postcard and beautiful stamps. Wishing you the best of luck in life."

Meg from the United Kingdom wrote: "I agree with all you said about the politics of our two countries. Here’s to working together for better future for our kids and their kids."

Prema from Czechia wrote: "Hi Chris, thank you for your card and nice stamps. I like also autumn and spring. I have St. Bernard dog, 8 years old, his name is Bobes. I wish all the best for you and your Mr. Bill."