Monday, March 18, 2019

"Reptiles, mince pices, and artificial teeth," plus a familiar lament


Here are some interesting excerpts from a 140-year-old newspaper article about the state of the fledgling postal system in the United Kingdom. Specifically, this is from the August 22, 1879, issue of The Standard of London, England.

  • The serious illness of Sir Rowland Hill, the founder of the penny postage system, imparts and unusual degree of interest to the Annual Report of the POSTMASTER GENERAL, which was issued yesterday. The Report bears witness to the ever-increasing commercial activity of the United Kingdom.
  • England must be a very different place now from what it was a century and a half ago, when the post ran only three times a week between Edinburgh and London, and the mail-bag from the Metropolis on one occasion contained only a single letter. It is barely forty years since the penny post came into operation, and in the last year of the higher rate the number of letters delivered in the United Kingdom was eighty-three millions, including nearly seven millions of franks.
  • A single firm in London is known to received three thousand letters daily.
  • Men are pursued from morning to night by letters and telegrams, and the work of the day may be upset by a message received in the evening. The strain is never taken off, the arrangements never seem final. Formerly there was a clear interval between post and post, a period of calm which could not be interrupted. Now it is only during a few hours in the night that there is immunity from some startling telegram. ... Life subject to these influences is apt to be hurried and overstrained. A sea voyage is perhaps the surest way of escape.
  • Let a man allow himself to be entangled in this net and he exposes himself to the risk of being talked at from all points of the compass.
  • There are other strange things in respect to the postal service, odd matters in transitu, such as "wild animals," reptiles, mince pies, and artificial teeth. Letters without any address amount in one year to more than twenty thousand, and letters with very odd addresses continue to abound.
  • There were more than five milllions of undelivered letters last year, while the undelivered post-cards, book packets, and newspapers exceeded four millions. Half a million letters could neither be delivered nor returned to the senders.
  • In the United Kingdom the Post Office has developed into a vast institution, employing 46,000 persons, of whom one-fourth are engaged exclusively on Telegraph work.
  • In the United Kingdom there are now nearly 26,000 receptacles for letters, London alone having nearly 2000.
  • The British postal system is one of which the Kingdom may be proud. ... A single penny — or even a half-penny — sets the machine in motion, and the postman is the servant of everybody.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Trash blowing in the wind

In the midst of my grumpy Sunday of errand-running, I found myself at one point walking through a swirl of sidewalk trash at the West Manchester Town Center. So I stopped and started picking it up, stuffing it all into a plastic bag (grrrr) that was also part of the wind-blown refuse.

Sometimes I imagine I'll just start walking the Earth, like Caine in Kung Fu or David Banner in The Incredible Hulk, only I'll be picking up roadside trash the whole way. Or maybe it's more realistic if that's just something I do on weekends, given that I have no martial arts or gamma radiation powers. And also that I still need a paycheck.

Anyway, one of the pieces of trash I picked up was this colorful shopping list. I decided to stuff it into my back pocket rather than into the trash bag, because my ephemera archaeologist/sociologist instincts outweighed my immediate desire to throw it in the trash.

We see that someone used multiple pen colors to document their need for, among other things, hot dogs, cleaning supplies, granola bars, Fritos, conditioner, Honeycomb cereal (which I didn't even think was still sold) and tea tree oil.

And now that it's been properly documented, it can go into the trash. And then off to the landfill or incinerator, alongside all those things we used to recycle. Sigh.

Grumpy Sunday thoughts
on the plague of cars


This infographic (by Pictograph Corporation) appears within 1943's An Introduction to Sociology and Social Problems (second edition) by Deborah MacLurg Jensen, and it serves as a good ephemeral jumping off point for a post about cars and walkable communities. It shows the ways that automobiles changed life in the United States. Ostensibly, it's supposed to be a pro-automobile illustration but, especially with hindsight, it makes it clear how cars pushed our communities, neighborhoods, schools and public services apart, making cars fully mandatory for existence within society.

I'm crankier than usual about cars today for a couple reasons. First, I had to leave the house on three separate occasions within seven hours to run automobile errands, which is horribly inefficient and no help for our climate. Second, I came across this Atlas Obscura post on Facebook this morning:


To which my response was essentially:
WHY?!?! Cities weren't even built for cars until the last 100 years and they probably never should have been in the first place. There should be no entitlement to roads going everywhere and cars parking everywhere. What's wrong with a few car-free neighborhoods? Or at least off-site parking?
Longtime reader(s) know that walkable communities are not a new theme or dream here on Papergreat. If you want to dive further into this topic and don't have a James Howard Kunstler book handy, here are some past posts:


Also, as CGI Princess Leia might say, there was hope that I stumbled into on another front this morning. Specifically, I discovered a Curbed article titled "Could a car-free, Dutch-style city work in Colorado?" It was written by Megan Barber and published last month. Here's an excerpt:
"[There would be] no traditional city grid. Instead the plan uses Dutch easement and platting standards as a model, envisioning an 80-person-per acre average density that will feel far lower thanks to parks, public squares, and short distances to the countryside outside of town. Each street will prioritize cycling and pedestrians while parking lots will only be built at the edge of the city."
You should read the full article for more groovy details. Clearly, this project will cost a ton of money. And I have serious upfront concerns that this kind of community wouldn't be available to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Still, I think it should be encouraged. We can learn things from each experiment like this and hopefully build a future world where we're much less dependent on cars. (Assuming we have a planet left for that future.)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Book cover: "Space Flight" (1959)


  • Title: Space Flight
  • Subtitle: "The Coming Exploration of the Universe"
  • Author: Lester del Rey (1915-1993)
  • Illustrator: John Polgreen (1910-1970)
  • Publisher: Golden Press (The Golden Library of Knowledge)
  • Publication year: 1959 (material originally copyright 1957 and 1958 by General Mills)
  • Original price: 50 cents in the United States; 65 cents in Canada
  • Pages: 56
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Provenance: Written on the title page: R.J. Fasnacht, 29 Lincoln Drive, Hanover, Pennsylvania. (I found a Richard J. Fasnacht of Hanover who lived from 1932 to 2009. That's possibly a match.)
  • First sentence: The Space Age began on October 4, 1958, when the first artificial satellite — Sputnik I — was successfully launched.
  • Last sentences: Perhaps there is really no end to space flight. But there is a beginning, and that has already been made.
  • Random sentence from middle: Being a spaceman will require the highest possible combination of physical and mental abilities, as well as courage.
  • Prescient section from the middle: Men may even build small stations further out to televise a full color picture of the whole hemisphere of Earth to the surface, where it could be studied in detail. Hurricanes beginning out in the Atlantic could be spotted in time to warn all ships. Such storms could be followed from hour to hour and warnings issued to cities in their path. Perhaps in time, as more is learned about weather, some way could be found to break up such storms before they could move inland or reach their full fury.
  • Gender equity analysis: For that era, Lester del Rey is about as progressive as one might have hoped, perhaps in a backhanded way, though. Here's an interesting excerpt:
    "In the future, most boys will dream about going into space. The idea of being a spaceman will attract young people just as many now want to become airplane pilots. Girls will also want to go out into the Space Service. They will probably do at least as well as men; for long and difficult trips, women may be preferred, since it has been proved that they are able to stand monotony better than men. Some girls may become pilots. The word spacemen must be used to mean either boys or girls, with no difference in the type of job they will do."
  • What others are saying: In an excellent 2011 post on Riding with Robots, Bill Dunford states:
    "The book itself is beautiful, and its content is an intriguing mix. Naive and wildly speculative on the one hand, hopeful and prescient on the other. It’s easy to smile at the blank spaces on the pictures of the planets and at the predictions the author got wrong. But my eyes widened at some of the things he nailed — a lot of it is spot on. Likewise, the book stirred a mixture of feelings about the state of space exploration today. We have accomplished so much of what the author hoped, and so much is still in progress ... or remains a dream even all these decades later."
    Indeed, is space colonization, funded by the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, our only or best hope against the coming catastrophe of global climate change?

Bonus interior illustration

Saturday's postcards: Sri Lankan mosque & historic home in Arkansas


First up is this unused postcard that was printed in the United States and published by Ceylon Pictorials. Designated as CP-62, the caption on the back indicates that the building is "Mohammedan Mosque" in Colombo, Ceylon.

Ceylon became the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in 1972 and is home today to nearly 22 million people of many cultures and ethnicities. Buddhists comprise 70 percent of the population, according to Wikipedia, while "Islam is the third most dominant religion in the country, having first been brought to the island by Arab traders over the course of many centuries, starting around the 7th century CE."

Colombo is the largest city in Sri Lanka, in terms of population. This "Mohammedan Mosque" is today, in English, known as the Dawatagaha Jumma Masjid or Dewatagaha Mosque. The mosque, if I have my facts straight, is considered part of the Cinnamon Gardens neighborhood of the city.

According to lankabhumi.org, "Dewatagaha Mosque in Lipton's Circus, Colombo, has become a byword in every Muslim home, and no Muslim passes the shrine of the saint without paying his respects. The 150-year-old shrine [is] the resting-place of the Muslim saint, His Holiness Seyedina as-Sheikh Usman Siddique Ibn Ahdurrahman, who visited Ceylon from Arafat, Arabia ... and later resided in what was later known as Cinnamon Gardens."

A 2017 review on TripAdvisor states: "The Dewatagaha mosque is one of the prominent mosques in Colombo. It's huge and white, the architecture is lovely and beautiful, and we learnt that the mosque is about 200 years old. Its lovely exterior is almost an iconic part of the architecture in the city center in Colombo."

* * *


Switching gears to Arkansas in the United States, this is a real photo postcard from K.C. Studio in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The stamp box on the back, per playle.com, indicates that it's an EKC card published between 1930 and 1950. (The postcard has never been used.)

Pictured is the home of comedian Bob Burns (1890-1956) in Van Buren, Arkansas. Burns was known for radio shows, movies, a folksy newspaper column ("Well, I'll Tell You") and, perhaps most famously, the word "bazooka." For him, it was a handheld music instrument that functioned like a crude trombone. The name was appropriated in World War II and became the iconic nickname for a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher.

The Bob Burns House at 821 Jefferson Street in Van Buren was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. According to its application for that honor, it was "built in 1885 by Alex Lacy, a Van Burn merchant. It was a white frame two-story Victorian style home. The original floor plan had three rooms downstairs and three rooms upstairs separated by [a] hallway."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Very obscure Manning-Sanders novel: "Mermaid's Mirror"

I've wavered at times over the years regarding what I believe to be the most rare, hard-to-find work by Ruth Manning-Sanders. These days, I believe it's her 1935 novel Mermaid's Mirror, which was published by Cassell & Co. For a while, I wasn't even sure if it was real, because it didn't show up on all of her online bibliographies. I have never seen it for sale on Amazon, eBay or AbeBooks. And I've never seen an online image of the book or its cover. WorldCat says it's held at four libraries overseas, including Oxford. (WorldCat also says it's at two school libraries in Texas, but I'm pretty sure those are false positives.)

I have also never found a summary or review of the book, which is odd.

All I have is this Cassell advertisement, which appears in the June 9 and June 16, 1935, editions of The Observer of London.


"A deftly-written novel of strange happenings on the Cornish Coast." That pretty much just makes me want to find this book even more.

Soviet-era magazine cartoons

Today we're again delving into the December 1974 issue of Sputnik, which, as I wrote in November 2017, "was essentially the Soviet Union's version of Reader's Digest and was primarily intended for Western readers." These are some single-panel cartoons from a feature titled "In a Lighter Vein." The funnies are from the newspapers Sovietskaya, Estonia, Nedelya and the magazine Ogonyok.




Wednesday, March 13, 2019

1979 Star Wars toy ads


Pictured above is a page from a 16-page staplebound pamphlet published by Kenner Products in 1979 — 40 years ago! — to advertise the company's Star Wars toys. The front of the pamphlet is shown at right, with Darth Titan looming in the background.

This was about the same year my interest in these toys began to blossom. I suspect I had a similar arc to many American boys that age in that era. I probably had 8-to-10 Star Wars figures in the late 1970s when we were living in Clayton, New Jersey. They got pretty beat up from playing in the dirt, on the curb, on the wooden jungle gym and on the front porch, where they would take tumbles into the bushes. I also remember having a Kenner landspeeder and I think, at one point, the TIE fighter with the wings that popped off. I also remember being excited to send away for the Star Wars Collector's Action Stand, although I thought it was pretty underwhelming when it arrived.

Other than action figures (typically bought at drug stores, of all places), my collection of Star Wars toys never grew much in the early 1980s. I remember being jealous of kids with the huge Millennium Falcon, plastic light sabers and the towering (to me) Death Star Space Station, which my "cousin" Chip had. Chip got everything. Amazingly, the Death Star Space Station only cost $18, though that's about $55 in modern dollars so, yeah, I can see why Chip had it and I didn't.

Anyway, this booklet is filled with the usual Kenner suspects of the era, plus a few surprises. Action figures include the main characters, plus Boba Fett, R5-D4, Hammerhead, and the Power Droid, which was oddly one of my favorites over years of play. Sets include the Creature Cantina and the Droid Factory. There are also jigsaw puzzles and the obligatory plastic pistols and laser rifles.

Here's a closer look at a few toys from the page at the top of the post...


Dip Dots Star Wars Painting Set. "DIP DOTS provide the color and STAR WARS the action. New set features sixteen 8½" x 11" scenes based on STAR WARS movie with all the STAR WARS stars in action. Complete, ready-to-paint, with 8 colors of DIP DOTS instant water colors in non-spill plastic tray; STAR WARS scenes in bound book and brush. Ages 3 to 8."


Movie Viewer. "Now kids can see STAR WARS movies with their very own viewer! Exciting scenes of STARS WARS action. Crank fast or slow. The super-8 film never tangles! No batteries needed."

So, it was basically the Fisher Price Movie Viewer, which was one of my favorite childhood toys, even though I never actually had one. The Toy Box website (thetoybox1138.blogspot.com) has a nice history of this viewer, which was only produced from 1975 to 1979. Here's an excerpt of the section about Star Wars:
"These days it's relatively unheard of to have access to a film (legally) while it's still running in the theater, so when Kenner released one of its first products based on the film, kids and adults went nuts. Despite being only sixty seconds of footage, fans of the film were eager to see anything and everything they could over and over and over again. What better way then in the palm of your hand? Despite its major popularity, Kenner only produced four individually packaged cassettes, and the fifth, May The Force Be With You, which came packaged with the Viewer. There's no real answer known to the general public as to why there were so few cassettes, but we speculate that when the film took off like it did, Lucasfilm and/or Fox pulled the plug on the cassettes to encourage people to continue to fill theater seats."
I figured these would be super-expensive now on eBay, but it looks like you can get the Kenner viewer, plus one or more Star Wars cartridges, for prices ranging from $30 to $75.


Give-A-Show Projector. "Tells the entire STAR WARS story! Complete with projector, 16 full strips — 112 color slides. Projects giant pictures up to 8' x 8' on wall or any surface. Uses 3 "D" batteries, not included."

I think that girl might be the late Heather O'Rourke, of Poltergeist fame. She was a model for numerous toy advertisements, including Barbie. But I can't find any confirmation for this specific advertisement.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Lamenting what we'll never know about Phyllis J. Stalnaker Harris

This is a post about Phyllis J. Stalnaker Harris.

She died 58 years ago, in January 1961, at the age of just 35. That probably would have been the end of it. An anonymous woman originally from the Midwest who died young after living a non-notable life in California, away from the spotlight.

But Phyllis was "revived." With the help of the internet. Decades after she or anyone else could advocate for her.

She didn't quite suffer the ignominy of becoming a full-blown meme. But her existence was nonetheless reduced to a punchline.

The image of Phyllis at the top of this post is a cropped-in version of her police booking shot from decades ago. It was featured on a wall at the San Diego Police Museum earlier this decade, and it appears to have been first noted on Twitter in November 2013.

But it really springboarded into the internet consciousness in October 2014, when her image was the main one accompanying an article on San Diego City Beat headlined "San Diego Police Museum seeks a new home." Phyllis is the dominant image and the lead of the story by Susan Myrland:
"She was a weedhead and a tramp. In 1944, that was enough to get Phyllis Stalnaker arrested. Her booking photo shows a pretty young woman sporting a jaunty striped top with a herringbone blazer and fashionably dark lipstick. She gives the camera a wary glance."
Weedhead and tramp. Ha ha, said some on the internet. Tweets, Pinterest posts, Tumblr posts, Reddit threads, Facebook posts ... many full of snark ... spread Phyllis' face across cyberspace. Weedhead, tramp. Weedhead, tramp. Weedhead, tramp. The only words tagged to her short life.

But of course that wasn't her whole life. Not hardly.

The thing is, we'll never know most of her history. But here's what is available, from online sources such as Find a Grave.

  • She was born Phyllis J. Stalnaker on October 19, 1925, in Nebraska (possibly in the vicinity of Columbus).
  • Her parents were Archie Laverne Stalnaker (1900-1946) and Mildred Clara Crawford Stalnaker (1907-2001). Mildred was a seamstress and member of the San Diego Zoological Society. She's buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.
  • She had a young brother, Gorden Rex Stalnaker, who lived from 1927-2007 and served in the Navy in World War II, and two other brothers: Darrell D. Stalnaker and Archie L. Stalnaker.
  • Shortly before her 15th birthday, she was seriously injured after being thrown from a horse. (That's per the October 10, 1940, issue of the San Diego Union.) That would have been about four years before her arrest.
  • At some point she married James Harris and they lived at 7575 Pacific Avenue in Lemon Grove, California (San Diego County).
  • She died on Jan 2, 1961, in San Diego, California. No cause of death was cited, though she was in a hospital when she died. Her service was in a mortuary, not a church. She's buried in Mount Hope Cemetery. According to her obituary, she had lived in San Diego County for 25 years at the time of her death. She did not have any children. Her three brothers were all living in Lemon Grove at the time of her death.
That's about it. There have been a half-dozen or so Reddit threads about her over the years, most of them riffing off her mug shot and charges. Rarely anything serious, although I did find this cached comment from about four years ago:
"Funny to some of us now because we take our freedoms for granted. But in 1944 in San Diego, charged as a tramp meant that the police officer didn't like her being where she was found on the streets. The law (CPC 647e) was only declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1983 (103 S.Ct. 1855, 1860] Rehnquist/White dissenting). Freedom isn't free. Rarely is it gained by blowing up foreigners around the world."
Rest in peace, Phyllis. I'm sorry we don't know more about your accomplishments, hobbies, favorite movie stars or happiest moments.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

My great-grandfather's nostalgia road trips, Part 2

On the heels of the Feb. 26 post, here's another batch of photos from a road trip some of my family members — specifically my great-grandfather and my grandmother — took in February 1965. They were checking out sites in Delaware connected to the younger days of my great-grandfather, who was born in 1894.

Caption on back: "Cemetery — Old Christ Church Broad Creek near Laurel, Del."
Glad to know I'm not the only family member who takes cemetery photos.

"Charles R. Horsey house, died 1906"
Charles is one of my great-great-great-grandfathers.

"Side of Charles Newton Adams house, Laurel, Del.
Note pecan tree played by Monroe H. Adams in 1908.
Barn dates from 1840."
Charles Newton Adams was my great-grandfather's father.
Monroe was my great-grandfather's older brother. He died in 1946.

"Old Christ Church Broad Creek near Laurel, Del."

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Detective Book Club cover:
"Death Knocks Three Times"


  • Title: Death Knocks Three Times
  • Author: Lucy Beatrice Malleson (1899-1973), under her pen name Anthony Gilbert
  • Dust jacket artist: Unknown! Which is a bummer.
  • Publisher: Spine of the dust jacket says Random House. Back cover of the dust jacket says "The Detective Book Club." Title page says Walter J. Black.
  • Publication year: Book was first published in 1949. Not sure about this edition.
  • Original price: None listed on jacket.
  • Pages: 155
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Back cover rhymed marketing:
    "You'll find no better pick-me-up
    Wherever you may be...
    Than the latest triple volume
    From the DBC."
  • Dust jacket excerpt: "Novelist John Sherren's three elderly relatives were eccentric — and rich. And, by a curious quirk of fate all three died shortly after he visited them. The colonel, a recluse and conscientious objector to anything modern, went first. Then there was Aunt Isabel, a trusting, timid soul who believed in everything and everyone."
  • First sentence: Ever since midday the rain had poured down with such ferocity that the whole moor seemed awash.
  • Last sentence: [Redacted because of being a potential spoiler.]
  • Random sentence from middle #1: His arrogance aroused in her every atom of antagonism of which she was capable.
  • Random sentence from middle #2: Clara looked at him like a particularly vicious boa constrictor eyeing a particularly inferior rabbit.
  • Do boa constrictors actually eat bunny rabbits? Typically, only boas that are held in captivity eat rabbits.
  • Goodreads rating: 3.62 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon rating: 4.3 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Review excerpts: There are Awesome Blogs Galore (ABsG) about mystery novels, so here's a roundup of what some folks who are well-versed in this genre say about Death Knocks Three Times. I encourage you to check out their full reviews and their blogs.
    • J.F. Norris of Pretty Sinister Books: "Death Knocks Three Times (1949) is almost unclassifiable. It's a Gothic send-up, a satire on the art of novel writing, a treatise on detective novels, a 'badass biddy' (my own name for a certain type of subgenre featuring nefarious and murderous senior citizen women) suspense thriller, and [in] the end a fair play mystery novel."
    • Martin Edwards of "Do You Write Under Your Own Name?": "The [publication] date [of 1949] is significant, because a key element of the story is the period setting: we really get a feel of life in post-war austerity Britain, although some of the political comments seem a bit delphic to a modern reader."
    • Armchairreviewer (Kate) of Crossexamingcrime: "So not only does the story keep throwing up surprises, but it is also enjoyable for the depth of personality it produces in its characters, all of which is intricately bound up with the mystery plot itself. Not to be missed and unsurprisingly strongly recommended."
    • Neer of A Hot Cup of Pleasure: "I also loved how Gilbert weaves other literary characters in her novel. There are references to Father Brown, Lord Peter Whimsey, and Albert Campion. And I wonder whether J.K. Rowling had read this book because there are both a Potter and a Pettigrew in the book."
    • Aidan of Mysteries Ahoy!: "Death Knocks Three Times is not an inverted mystery although you may be forgiven for thinking you know who the killer is the whole time you are reading it. This is because Gilbert structures this book cleverly to lead the reader at all times to feel that they know where this is headed but because we are never definitively told what happened we have to remain open-minded to other possibilities."
    • Bev Hankins of My Reader's Block: "[Gilbert's] primary detective is Arthur Crook — a lawyer whose clients are always innocent. Always. Crook is a likable rogue who cheerfully says that he doesn't mind who he sets up as the murderer — provided he can get his client off."

Saturday's postcard: Greta checks in from Innsbruck


Here's a postcard that my great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988), sent to my mom and uncle in 1958.

It features the Goldenes Dachl building in Innsbruck, Austria. The structure was completed in 1500, its roof adorned with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles for Emperor Maximilian I's wedding to Bianca Maria Sforza.1 The Goldenes Dachl had a balcony from which the royals could enjoy festivals and tournaments in the Innsbruck square below.

Here's my best decipherment of Greta's handwriting on the back:
May 16th Friday
This is a pretty city, clean & a nice hotel & have a lovely room. The ride down to it from high mts. was beautiful. Philip Park [?] lived here. Cooler & windy today, shopped some. Leaving after lunch.
Love Grand Mother?
There's definitely a question mark at the end. Don't know why.

Footnote
1. About that marriage, per Wikipedia: "At her wedding, Bianca wore a bodice 'with eighty pieces of the jeweler's art pinned thereon, with each piece consisting of one ruby and four pearls'. She also brought her husband a rich dowry of 400,000 ducats. ... [However] the union was unhappy: shortly after the consummation of the marriage, Maximilian complained that Bianca may have been more beautiful than his first wife but was not as wise. It was impossible for the young bride to win the affection of her husband, who considered her too uneducated, talkative, naive, wasteful with money, and careless. ... Bianca Maria Sforza died at Innsbruck on 31 December 1510. She was buried at Stams. Her husband did not attend her funeral or even dedicate a gravestone to her."

Thursday, March 7, 2019

1928 headline and spooky article: "Radio 'Ghost' Balks Experts"


For today's amusement and mystery, here is a lengthy article that appeared 91 years ago, in the November 23, 1928, edition of The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky:
RADIO 'GHOST' BALKS EXPERTS
Walls of House Emit Programmes of Nearby Station Without Cause.
NO RECEIVERS FOUND

By Sam Love.
Bellmore, L.I., Nov. 22 (UP) — A "radio ghost," that haunts an untenanted and ancient farmhouse here, causing voices and music to come apparently from the walls themselves, has literally set this peaceful village by the ears and caused the owner to annunce [sic] a conviction that she never will be able to rent the property again.

The strange phenomenon has occurred daily and nightly for months but was kept a secret by Mrs. Lou Greenamyer, owner of the property, who hoped that the manifestations would stop.

Programmes Reproduced.
An investigation of village rumors today revealed that the whisperings in Bellmore not only were true but that they understated the case. The Greenamyer house not only reproduced the programmes from WEAF's control station, half a mile distant, but when not fading reproduced them more clearly than an ordinary radio set and absolutely without static.

Most of the radio voices and music seemed to come from the south wall of the living-room. Then for no apparent reason they would come from the cellar.

It was admitted at the WEAF control station that experts had been sent over recently when Mrs. Greenamyer complained about the voices and that their best technicians had been utterly at a loss of [sic] solve the mystery or even to explain it after going over the old farmhouse from top to bottom.

Mrs. Greenamyer drove over from her home in Freeport and unlocked the house for the United Press correspondent and Charles Ellsworth, chief operator of the United Press radio station.

She explained that she had been unable to rent it since the last tenants, a Mr. and Mrs. Duval and their son, moved out suddenly — without mentioning anything strange, however, last February.

Meantime grass had grown knee-deep in the yard and a tangle of bushes and dried weeds aided a cluster of fir, oak and apple trees in screening the two-story frame home from Bellmore Boulevard to the East. To the South of the house is a thick woods of oak.

Haunting Denied.
Mrs. Greenamyer, a matter-of-fact young matron, denied indignantly that she took any stock in village talk that the place was "haunted."

"But it is enough to give you a start," she said. "I remember last spring the first time I heard it I thought somebody near here had an extra-loud speaker radio, although nobody lives within a quarter of a mile.

"I was dusting the furniture, getting ready to spend part of the summer here with my two boys. Then I found out that you couldn't hear the music in the yard — only the house.

"I never thought much about it — that it was some sort of accident.

"But last August our house in Freeport was crowded with guests and a friend, Miss June Bell of New York, and I, came over to spend the night. We heard the music again. It seemed to be coming from everywhere, this time. I said:

"'June, you go to the back door and I'll go to the front and see where it's loudest'

"But when we got outdoors we couldn't hear it. Finally it got loudest in the cellar. Believe me, we got scared. When it never stopped we got petrified. About 1 o'clock in the morning it stopped and we went to a bed upstairs — both of us in a single bed.

"That's the last time I have slept here."

When the house was entered today it was disappointingly silent. The investigators went into the shallow center and crouched there. More silence.

Like Early Phonograph.
Preparing to leave, despite Mrs. Greenamyer's protests that she had heard the noises with WEAF experts only a few days before, the party gathered round an oak table in the living-room.

Then, at first faintly, swelling later in volume until every word was clear, a lecture voice was heard coming from the south wall of the room. The voice had an uncanny quality, unlike radio as received on either a tube or crystal set, but more like the tone of the earliest crude phonographs.

The voices stopped in a moment. It was 3:45 o'clock. An announcer's voice was heard: "This is Station WEAF. Our programme continues with" — it faded — "our first number is by —" And then a piano tinkled in the wall and a soprano voice began a song that grew stronger and then faded into nothingness.

A hasty visit to the cellar revealed that whereas a moment before nothing could be heard in the cellar, but only in the living-room, now the soprano was singing below stairs only.

A search through the house while the music was still audible revealed nothing to explain it. An electrician went to the master switch in the cellar, cutting off the light current without affecting the reception, which was night fell became clearer. There was no aerial on the house. The remains of an old radio ground-wire were found in the cellar. This was uprooted without affecting the phenomenon.

Walls Seem Solid.
The walls were tapped where the music seemed to come out. They seemed as solid as when Henry Golder, a Bellmore resident, who still lives, had them put together with old-fashioned "No. 9 out" nails fifty years ago.

As a final test, Mrs. Greenamyer, who seemed to have no room for a radio to be concealed on her slender person, was sent out into the yard. The result of this seemed to be that the WEAF programme came in stronger than ever in the home.

Various groupings of persons in the house seemed to effect the reception somewhat, but when all left the living-room the entire wall was sending out a musical programme.

WEAF's transmitting station is in view through the trees in the yard across field land. Half a mile distant another abandoned house and partially burned barn are in the between.

Questioned after the correspondent had visited the "radio-ghost" house, operators at WEAF's transmitting station admitted than an investigation had been made but that no evidence of a hoax could be discovered by their experts.

Nor was the "radio ghost" laid by the recent change in wave lengths when WEAF, on November 16, switched from 492 meters to 454 meters. The old frame house, if some freak of construction really makes it the queerest receiving set in the world — a receiving set without a crystal, a tube, a circuit, headphones or a loud-speaker — tuned itself in on the changed wave length automatically.

Suggestions that a nail in the structure might have penetrated a rock crystal in the foundation — that the whole phenomenon may result from some curious echo in the WEAF transmitting station — occurred to experts, but their preliminary investigations failed to substantiate them.

To them, as to Mrs. Greenamyer, the "radio ghost" is still just a radio ghost, manner of living and functioning unknown.

A large home-made sign recently was tacked on the front of the "radio ghost" habititation. It reads:

"For Sale."

————
Happened Before.
New York, Nov. 22 (UP) — The Bellmore "radio ghost" recalled to veteran wireless men here a slightly similar case that a dozen years ago nearly frightened a farmer's family to death in an isolated house near New Zealand, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Mysterious tappings, which eventually proved to be code from the first transatlantic radio station at Glace Bay, Cape Breton, 135 miles from the farm house, continued to afflict the family for several months of 1913 and 1914.

Scientists from Boston investigated without solving the mystery, and the family abandoned the house.

Related

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

1927 headline: "Black Magic Is Alight With Television Ghosts"


For your amusement, here is a short article that appeared 92 years ago, in the April 21, 1927, edition of the Daily News of New York:

Black Magic Is Alight With Television Ghosts

Light magic — magic that would have led its creator to be burned at the stake 100 years ago — sparked and sputtered in old Manhattan last night.

First, the Engineers society, at their meeting at 29 West 39th st., saw a novel radio furnace heat metal discs to whiteness, without wires or any aid. Invisible rays were used, giving spectators the idea that Jules Verne's imaginary death ray may some time become a reality. The demonstration held the possiibility that some day New York may be crisscrossed by giant rays giving light and power.

Second, when television service again was established between Whippany, N.J., and this city, ghosts made their appearance. When only one message and one image of the sender was sent from Whippany, three and four images, very faint and resembling spirit pictures in the movies, were received here. The ghosts sometimes blurred the original image.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Some WKBS-48 nostalgia

I really had to scrounge around on the internet to find these nifty title cards and bumpers for the now-defunct WKBS-TV, Channel 48, an independent channel out of Burlington, New Jersey, that was on the air from 1965 to 1983. That was one of my go-to channels as a kid when we lived in Clayton, New Jersey, from the summer of 1978 until late 1980. Even though I spent long days outside exploring the neighborhood and riding my bicycle, I also watched way too much TV. I specifically remember Battle of the Planets and Star Blazers on weekday afternoons and Creature Double Feature on Saturday afternoons. I also have specific memories of a bumper for The Bowery Boys, but don't remember watching them much.1 These WKBS images will become scarcer and scarcer, so I'll add a layer of preservation by posting them here.




Footnote
1. Per Wikipedia, "The Bowery Boys and East Side Kids picked up a new generation of mostly younger fans when the films were repackaged and syndicated for television in the 1960s and 1970s. They became a staple for independent stations across the U.S., often used to fill up the early-afternoon time-slots on weekends."

Monday, March 4, 2019

Some recent Postcrossing arrivals and thank-you notes


I've been a Postcrossing member since December 2012, and I'm headed toward 1,000 postcards sent and 1,000 received. It's the most fun you can have with your mailbox! With a little help from Huggles and Mr. Bill, here's the lowdown on some of my recent international communications.

Received in the mail

The colorful postcard in the middle of the above photo is from the Netherlands. The message states: "My name is Kim and last Summer my postcard for you got lost. So hopefully this one does arrive. I live in the south of the Netherlands in a small town and I have two dogs. What kind of animals do you have? I don't think we have a lot of fairy tales or folklore in the Netherlands [note from Chris: not true!]. We know mostly German fairy tales. But I think this is a happy postcard of Amsterdam and I hope it makes you happy as well."

From Finland came a postcard featuring a marvelous illustration by Rudolf Koivu. The note states: "Hejsan Chris. My postcard comes from Finland's southern coast, where I live in a small village near Helsinki. The drawing on front is one of the illustrations in very old fairy tale book. Wish sun and joy on your day, Cheetah." While Cheetah is from Finland, the salutation hejsan is Swedish for hello. According to Wikipedia, "Swedish-speakers comprise 5.4% of the total Finnish population."

From Hungary came a postcard featuring a photograph of the Herzan Library in Szombathely. The note states: "Greetings from Hungary! My name is Éva, I live in Budapest and retired a year ago. I read a lot, play the viola in two orchestras and collect postcards, books, old letters and photos, etc. :) This postcard was bought in Szombathely, the town where I was born. ... I love libraries!"

From Belgium came a postcard featuring the André Derain artwork "Portrait of a Man with a Newspaper (Chevalier X)." The painting is now in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The note on the postcard states: "Hello Chris. 'If we saw tomorrow's newspaper today, tomorrow would never happen'. Best wishes, kind regards. My name is Filip."

And from Russia, I received a nice postcard with this note: "Hello Chris! My name is Larisa. I live in Russia, in the city of Tyumen, this is Western Siberia, the city is beautiful! We have winter, t -10°. I love to travel. I wish you good luck in the New Year and excellent postcards."

* * *

Thanks from abroad

And here's another roundup of emailed thank-you messages from fellow Postcrossing enthusiasts across the globe.

Thessa from Germany wrote: "Thanks for your Card. Now, the time before Christmas, I bought so many books for give away. I visited the book fairy in Frankfurt and found so many interesting stuff. I'm a teacher and I guess we are Born to select books. Have a good time."

Yana from Malaysia wrote: "Hello Chris. Your map card of Amish County has safely arrived in my postbox. And it is not the one with the postcard ID. But I decided to register this map card anyway. Is it okay? By the way, I really love the stamps too. Famous figure I suppose. Will Rogers and Sally Ride. I learn a lot from those stamps and the map card. The green stamp, it looks pretty. So now I will wait for your card with the postcard ID. Just thinking about the still travelling card, makes me happy. And it is very thoughful of you to send this map card and the other card to me."

Tatiana from Russia wrote: "Hi, Chris! Many thanks for such a nice postcard you kindly sent me. I really like the choice you made. First of all I just wanted to say that the illustration the card depicts is almost about me. Yes! Cause of four!!! Cats who are living with us. But to be honest I don't allow them to enter my room. They easily can organize a little disaster there. The next thing is about Baba Yaga. During the New Year eve I have met her ... She just walked down the street and smoked her cigarette!!! Of course she was an actress who came back from a performance. But she looked so realistic that I can definitely say that Baba Yaga is existing!!! So thank you again and again for the card. Sending good vibes in your way and wishing you to have a very happy year full of marvelous postcards!"

Christine from Germany wrote: "Thanks for your lovely postcard of the little dance party. Unfortunately other countries seem to follow the idea of hateful and disrespectful politics. I'm really afraid of our current right-wing party (AfD) gaining any more influence on everyday life. Looking at what they do and having read many books about German history 80-100 years ago, there are far too many similar things happening nowadays. Letz's hope for global peaceful development with an attitude of acceptance and aiming for equality."

Olga from Russia wrote: "Hello, Chris! Thank you very much for the postcard! In the Udmurt Republic really lives Baba Yaga, her name is Abida (Обыда). Wish you happiness and good luck!"

Ronja from Finland wrote: "Thanks a lot from the card you sent me, Chris!! I love it! And I really like that Robert F. Kennedy stamp. It was nice, that you translated something in finnish too. Good luck with the parks!!"

Maris from Latvia wrote: "Thank you for your beautiful card!!! I like it very much. Many greetings from Riga, Latvia and me! Happy New Year 2019! If you like marmots (groundhogs) visit my family website http://www.murkskis.lv or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/murkskis."

Tiina from Finland wrote: "Thank you for your very lovely card! You wrote so much, it was very nice to read and get to know you a bit. You have 5 cats, how amazing is that! I have only one, she is one of the best things in my life, my furry baby. Cats just makes life even better. You sound and for sure are amazing dad to your daughter. Good luck with getting that tattoo. It hurts only a bit, but it's definitely worth it, especially in your case."

Irina from Russia wrote: "Hello, Chris! Thank you very much for the beautiful postcard, gorgeous stamps and interesting letter! I think you need to go to Russia for the sake of Baba Yaga. My whole family was making lasagna last weekend. Pizza and lasagna — they are always to the feast! I went to the movies with a friend on the film Green Book 2018. We liked it very much!"

Murmetti from Finland wrote: "Thank you Chris for your nice card! I especially loved the John Lennon stamp, and the fact that you think your daughter is awesome. Happy times to your way!"

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Believe it or not, Jack Palance:
A house inside a tree


On the heels of a mid-February post, here's another postcard, plucked from someone's old scrapbook, of sequoioideae being used in a novel way by capitalist Homo sapiens.

The handwritten caption on the front of this postcard, which dates to 1930-1950, based on its style of EKC stamp box, states:

At Lilly Redwood Park
on the Redwood Highway


And the sign hanging in front of the attraction states:

WORLD
FAMOUS
TREE
HOUSE
"BELIEVE IT
OR NOT"

FRATERNAL MONARACH


Additional small signs state:
  • "VISITORS WELCOME ENTRANCE ---->"
  • "SEE THE INSIDE WELCOME - NO CHARGE"
  • "Please Stay Outside of Fence"

Jennifer Bourn wrote a nice history of the attraction on the Inspired Imperfection blog in 2017. Here's an excerpt:
"Originally named The Fraternal Monarch and later the Quadruped Tree, the World Famous Treehouse was featured in Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not in 1933, claiming to be the tallest one-room house in the world.

"It is built inside a 4,000 year old redwood tree that has been hollowed out into a 21×27 foot room with a 500 foot tall ceiling. Even though this enormous redwood tree was struck by a lightning thousands of years ago and had the opening expanded to create a single room home inside it’s base, the tree is still alive."
Check out Bourn's blog for more information, some great photos and an explanation on why you should take some pennies if you make the trip.

More importantly, if you plan to check out this California destination, check in advance to make sure it's open. There have been some reports in recent years of the Tree House being closed for extended periods. RoadsideAmerica.com, which also has a nice writeup on the attraction, states: "On a road trip in the region in December 2017, we were advised by workers at three separate redwood attractions that the World Famous Tree House had been shut down, probably for years. However, we noticed on our return leg that the OPEN sign was once again lit." This only-in-America type of attraction won't be around for as long as the redwood itself, but it's sure going to try.

Friday, March 1, 2019

1974 fanzine advertisement for Paragon Illustrated


This advertisement appears on the inside back cover of the Spring 1974 issue (Vol. 2, No. 4) of Omnifan, a digest-sized fanzine that dealt with "mystery, adventure & fiction." I'm sure I'll get to a full rundown of it one of these days.

The advertisement is for Paragon Illustrated. It's a magazine that appears to have been published in fits and starts, and with different formats, between 1969 and 1975. Some information can be found at the Grand Comics Database. Some high-profile artists were involved, and the few issues that exist are listed for high prices (between $30 and $100) on eBay. Paragon Publications is now known as AC Comics and Wikipedia has this to say about early magazines such as Paragon Illustrated: "The company's early titles were cheaply published black-and-white comics. Though the company published several titles simultaneously, they were only able to produce a total of three issues a year, since nearly all writing, inking, and editing on the comics was done by Bill Black himself during this period."

Here's what the advertisement touts for the 44-page, $1 issue of Paragon Illustrated:

  • DREAM WALKER — an unusual graphic experience by William Black
  • MIKE ROYER's centerfold of PHANTOM LADY and color back cover of the SILVER SURFER
  • DR. FATE — in-depth Golden-Age article by Martin Greim
  • THE GIRL FROM LSD VS ALIZARIN CRIMSON by William Black (color front cover and strip)
  • 3 full-page FANTASY illustrations by the fantastic STUART SMITH
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL - DON NEWTON - SPIRITS OF THE DEAD - ROGER CORMAN - DUNWICH HORROR - BOB COSGROVE - and Horror fiction ... all in PARAGON 3!

Some #FridayReads to get your March started

Instagram photo by me

Another motley mix of articles of articles you might find interesting. Subscriptions might be required in some cases; support your local and national media!


Current and recent books I'm reading
  • Reservoir 13, by Jon McGregor
  • Six Months, Three Days, Five Others, by Charlie Jane Anders
  • Saga (volumes 5 and 6), by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie



Thursday, February 28, 2019

Fairy tale food & drink
of Ruth Manning-Sanders

Just for the halibut, I thought it would be fun to list out every food and drink mentioned in Ruth Manning-Sanders' 1963 collection A Book of Dwarfs and her 1965 collection A Book of Witches.

So here you go:

  • Apples
  • Apple (half rosy, half golden yellow)
  • Bacon
  • Barley sugar
  • Barleycorn
  • Beef (great barons)
  • Biscuit
  • Blackberries
  • Bread
  • Bread (crust)
  • Bread (crumbs)
  • Brew (in a goblet)
  • Butter
  • Butter (for a cat's paws)
  • Cabbage
  • Cakes
  • Cauliflower
  • Cheese
  • Cheese (goat)
  • Corn
  • Corn milk
  • Cream (in a dish)
  • Cucumbers
  • Dough
  • Eggs (hard-boiled)
  • Flour
  • Greens (with pig's head)
  • Gretel (for the witch)
  • Ham
  • Hansel (for the witch)
  • Hazel nuts
  • Heart (of bird)
  • Heart (of deer)
  • Herbs
  • Honey
  • Lettuce
  • Loaves (warm in the oven)
  • Loaves (nice and crusty)
  • Malt (in a sack)
  • Meat
  • Meat (bits in a bowl)
  • Milk (in a saucer)
  • Milk (in a bottle)
  • Nuts
  • Nuts (in a bag)
  • Nut kernels
  • Oats
  • Oil (in a flagon)
  • Pancakes
  • Porridge (in a dish)
  • Paunch (of cow)
  • Pears
  • Peas
  • Pig (suckling)
  • Pig's head (with greens)
  • Plums (red and ripe)
  • Punch (warm)
  • Radishes
  • Rampion
  • Salt
  • Sausage (in strings)
  • Strawberries
  • Swill (in a pail)
  • Tea
  • Venison pies
  • Walnut juice
  • Water
  • Wheat (in a sack)
  • Wine (in a goblet)
  • Wine (in a bottle)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A cheery chicken postcard


Chickens are very nice. I'm terribly sorry that I ate them for so many years, not stopping until 2013. This dandy postcard was one of my Christmas presents. The caption on the front states:
"The careful hen calls all her chirping family around
Fed and defended by the fearless cock"
This is attributed to the British poet James Thomson (1700-1748). It is part of his long poem Spring, which was part of his The Seasons cycle. After the above excerpt, the poem continues:
"Whose breast and ardour flames, as on he walks,
Graceful, and crows defiance. In the pond,
The finely-checkr'd duck, before her train,
Rows garrulous. The stately-sailing swan
Gives out his snowy plumage to the Gale;"
Someone has written "Jessie" on the front of this card. The postmark is slightly blurred, but it looks like it might have been mailed in 1906. The only thing written on the back is the address, which makes sense if 1906 is indeed the year. "Divided back" postcards, in which the Post Office allowed private citizens to write on the back, alongside the address, weren't allowed until March 1, 1907.

This postcard is a Photochrome card published by Raphael Tuck & Sons as part of the "Animal Studies" series. It was addressed to Miss Louise Hershey, who lived on Carlisle Street in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

My great-grandfather's nostalgia road trips, Part 1

I'm not the only one in my family who likes/liked road trips to places we used to live (see the Montoursville 2018 series).

In the neverending sorting through the Family Things, I came across a little golden envelope filled with snapshots of places in Delaware linked to the life of my great-grandfather, Howard Horsey “Ted” Adams (1894-1988). The first batch is dated February 20, 1965 — a Saturday almost exactly 54 years ago. He was in his early 70s then, and I'm guessing he took the trip with his daughter, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham (1919-2003), and possibly his wife, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988).

Of course, he didn't have a blog, Facebook or Instagram for the posting of these images (although BASIC and the ASR-33 Teletype had been introduced the year before). So captions were written on the black-and-white photographs, and they were placed inside an envelope, where they would remain for decades. I can't tell who wrote the captions on the photographs. They're actually legible, so it might have been Howard himself who wrote them.

I'll present them here in a few batches, along with the captions on the back and whatever else I know.

"Home of Charles R. Horsey at time of his death (1906)"
(Charles was my great-grandfather's grandfather, on his mother's side.)

"6th St. Laurel, Del. Front of C.N. Adams House"
(Charles Newton Adams was my great-grandfather's father.
He lived from 1854 to 1944.)

"St. Paul's M.P. Church near Hearns Crossroads"
(M.P. stood for Methodist Protestant.
The little church is still there. It's now St. Paul's United Methodist Church.
Its address is 32827 Old Stage Road, Laurel, Delaware.
Here's a closer look at the sign from the 1965 photo.)


"Sharps School near Hearns Crossroads.
Attended by Howard Horsey Adams prior to 1900."
(Sharp's school was a one-room schoolhouse where the Maryland Conference
of the Methodist Protestant Church met prior to the establishment of the aforementioned St. Paul's Methodist Protestant Church in 1871.
It's less than a half mile from the church.)

"Old Christ Church, Broad Creek"
(This church was built in 1772 and still stands today. It's nicknamed "Old Lightwood." We have more ephemera about this church, so stay tuned.
For now, read more about it on Wikipedia.)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Wowed by "Wymps"
(Evelyn Sharp & Mabel Dearmer)


Strolling through the internet and all of its galleries of books, I recently came across the utterly amazing cover of Wymps.

With a full title of Wymps and Other Fairy Tales, it was published in 1897 by John Lane through The Bodley Head, London.

But while it was the knockout cover design that first caught my eye, what I love about this book is that it spurred me to learn more about the author and illustrator, a pair of amazing women.

The author is Evelyn Jane Sharp (1869–1955), who was, according to Wikipedia "a key figure in two major British women's suffrage societies, the militant Women's Social and Political Union and the United Suffragists." She was a journalist, activist, pacifist and tax resister. That last part got her imprisoned during World War I. Amidst all of this, she found time to write children's literature, including Wymps.

In 1933, Sharp published an autobiography, Unfinished Adventure. There has also been a biography of her, Evelyn Sharp: Rebel Woman, 1869-1955, penned by Angela V. John. AS Bryant wrote about how those two volumes complement each other for The Guardian in 2009, stating that Sharp "writes with dry wit, curiosity about social and private life, and an unerring sense of the telling detail," while her biographer is good at "filling out what Sharp discreetly omits from her own account."

And then there's the illustrator, Mabel Dearmer (1872-1915), who was born Jessie Mabel Pritchard White and educated in London. She contributed eight full color illustrations and the cover for Wymps, and you can see all of them in a PDF of the book at the University of Florida Digital Collections. I especially like her illustration for "The Boy Who Looked Like a Girl."

But Dearmer was much more than an artist. She was, per Wikipedia, a novelist and dramatist. She was married to a socialist priest, Percy Dearmer (1867–1936). And, like Evelyn Sharp, she was a pacifist.

In an extensive biography of Dearmer on the yellow nineties online, Diana Maltz writes this of Dearmer's artwork:
"By all accounts, Mabel Dearmer was an inspired and energetic personality, and these qualities surface in her illustrative art of the 1890s. ... In contrast to the ornamental style of many other late-Victorian illustrators, Dearmer’s images appear strikingly modern. Male contemporaries minimized her talent as a draftsperson, but viewers were captivated by her vibrant colour choices and often eerie landscapes. Further elements of her style include a deliberate asymmetry, allusions to Japanese art, bold colour blocking, and the use of heavy outline."
The British Library's Untold Lives blog describes Dearmer's death:
"She was opposed to the war on the basis of her Christian faith but threw herself into work with the Women’s Emergency Corps, as Chairman of the Publicity Department, and into fundraising for Belgian refugees. Her younger son Christopher enlisted soon after the outbreak of war followed by his elder brother Geoffrey. ... In March 1915, busy organising the production of one of her own plays, she attended a farewell service for the Third Serbian Relief Unit to support a friend. There she heard her husband, Percy, then vicar of St. Mary’s Primrose Hill, announce that he had just been appointed Chaplain to the British units in Serbia and would soon be departing there. Mabel made the sudden and dramatic decision to volunteer to join the Third Serbian Relief Unit ... [She] left for Serbia in early April, appointed orderly in charge of linen. She proved an efficient and effective member of [the] team in Serbia and describes her happiness there (slightly guiltily) in a letter of 16 May. However, by June 1915 she had fallen ill with enteric fever (typhoid). Although she subsequently appeared to rally, another letter in the Society of Authors Collection, dated 23 July, tells of the sad conclusion to this story, namely that Mabel died in Serbia on 11 July 1915. ... Poignantly her son Christopher died at Suvla Bay (Gallipoli) only a few months later in October 1915."
Her older son Geoffrey lived until 1996, when he died at the age of 103, having outlived his mother by more than eight decades.