Saturday, February 2, 2019

Saturday Night's alright for some Hip-Pocket Hanky Panky

I had no idea there had been such a thing as Hip-Pocket Records until I stumbled across this "gem" late last year. It's a five-inch wide envelope that holds a four-inch wide flexible record that features two singles from Tommy James and the Shondells"Hanky Panky" and "Gettin' Together."

The record, as you can see, isn't even as wide as a trade paperback. And so, as the name Hip-Pocket Records states, they could fit in your pocket. Portable music. That was the theory, anyway. Here's one of the less-than-subtle advertising images.

The flexi-records were manufactured from 1967 to 1969 by Philco-Ford. (Ford Motor Company owned Philco from 1961 until 1974, when Ford flipped Philco to GTE.) According to the Museum of Obsolete Media, "Philco teamed with three major record companies, Atlantic, Mercury and Roulette, to produce music for them, and around 50 titles were released. They were sold for 69 cents at Woolworth, and also at local Ford Dealers and came in colourful packaging."

Some of the other featured artists on Hip-Pocket Records were Neil Diamond, Sonny & Cher, The Doors, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Joan Baez. There were also very short stories, including Peter Pan, Pinocchio, and Jack and the Beanstalk. (And, in fact, NYU's Dead Media Archive states that those records "were first marketed to children, as prizes in cereal boxes and samples in magazines.")

Vinyl Factory, which has a dandy gallery of Hip-Pocket Record covers, explains the quick downfall of the format: "They were marketed as more durable than regular 45s, but unsurprisingly this was not the case, with a typical Pocket Record deteriorating in quality after a dozen or so plays."

Another problem besides durability came along: a rival. The PocketDisc debuted in September 1968. NYU's Dead Media Archive has the scoop on that development:
"The Americom Company sensed that Hip Pocket Records would be a long-lived fad, and produced their own form of Hip Pocket Records called Pocket Discs. These Pocket Discs were sold only in vending machines, and cost 50 cents. Americom teamed with Apple Records, the record company that backed the most popular band of the 60’s — The Beatles. Americom released Pocket Discs with Beatles songs as well as songs from other artists under the Apple label such as the Iveys and Billy Preston."
And thus it was that Hip-Pocket records, despite coming first, faded into obscurity and are not even the best-remembered or most-collectible records in their format. The PocketDiscs didn't last long on the market, either, but they are highly sought, especially the releases featuring The Beatles.

The NYU site adds this: "There is very little scholarly research on Hip Pocket Records. Most of the information on Hip Pockets comes from the memories of those who used them, posted on personal blogs. People remember receiving Hip Pocket samples in the mail. For many, Hip Pockets are a product of their childhood that died before its time."

And, in fact, some of those blogs and websites cited are already gone, Lost Corners of the Internet that are truly lost.

Mystery notepad: Atomic Electronic Co. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Here's a mini mystery from southcentral Pennsylvania. Or, more likely, a small business that popped up and then dropped off the radar without much ado a half-century ago.

But it left something behind.

A notepad.

Atomic Electronic Co.

The notepad sheets measure 3 inches by 5 inches. They indicate that the business was located at 216 Nevin Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The phone number was EXpress 40-765.

There are two short phrases: "Electronically Yours" and "Near You — Yet Traffic Free." That second one seems like an odd thing to state on your notepad paper.

The 200 block of Nevin Street in Lancaster is a mostly residential area. It's just south of Franklin & Marshall College and within walking distance of The Chameleon Club, where Live played early in its career. Nevin Street is also within walking distance of my workplace, LNP. I should go check it out in person on a nice spring day. But, for now, Google Maps will have to do.

So, what about Atomic Electronic Co.?

There's not much I could discover.

I found that it was incorporated in December 1959. An April 1967 advertisement in The Gazette and Daily of York, Pennsylvania, states that Atomic Electronic was selling tickets for the Spring-Time Special steam locomotive excursion on the Western Maryland Railway between York and Hagerstown, Maryland. In that advertisement, it's referred to as Atomic Electronics Co., with an S on Electronics. So we already have a variation. Does the notepad have a typo? Or does the newspaper ad have a typo?

The last tidbit I found isn't really helpful at all, but it's pretty fun. It's this classified advertisement from the October 31, 1981 (Halloween) edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The address is wrong, of course. Number 217 would presumably be right across the street from the Atomic Electronic Co. But that must have been quite the interesting neighborhood over the years.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Statue of Liberty #4 (1923)

The final Statue of Liberty postcard in this short series was published by The American Art Publishing Company of New York City. The statue has definitely taken on its green patina (verdigris) at this point. The card has this caption:
Statue of Liberty on Bedloes [sic] Island in New York Bay 1¼ miles from the Battery, a colossal figure of Liberty enlightening the World. It lights the harbor with an electric torch held 306 feet above the water, the highest beacon in the world. Was presented to America by the French nation.
This card was mailed with a one-cent stamp and postmarked on November 14, 1923, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Also within that week, according to Wikipedia, Bavarian police found Adolf Hitler hiding in the attic of the country home of his friend Ernst Hanfstaengl and arrested him; the new flag of the Soviet Union, with its design of a solid red field with a gold hammer, sickle and star in the upper corner, was adopted; Germany suspended its reparation payments; and former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson called the country's isolationist attitude after the Great War "cowardly and dishonorable."

This postcard was mailed to Berkeley, California, and has the following cursive message:
"Oscar and Billy.—
How are you sweethearts? Dad is expecting to drop this card into the mail-box when I get to Pittsfield, Mass., this PM. Saw this statue all lit up nights at New York. Wished you and Momma could have seen this and other things. Was on some big ships again. Glad you liked my colored leaves, whole trees full of these make a fine picture. Did you show them to your teacher? Lots of love and kisses to all. Your own Dad."

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

From the readers: Goats, gnomes, mermaids, UFOs and much more

It's time once again to check out the goodies in the proverbial mailbag!
(Actual proverb not included.)

Mystery RPPC of children getting a ride from a goat: Inky from On Shoes and Ships and Sealing-Wax writes: "I have a photo of my grandma in a goat cart from the late 20's or early 30's. It definitely qualifies as one our more unique family photos. Out of curiosity I looked up goat cart photography and apparently (and, I suppose, understandably) the same goats tend to appear in photos over and over again, which archives seem to be using to their advantage to try to find more info about the photos they have in their collections, so maybe you'll come across another photo with your goat in it someday and find out a bit more about it! Or rather its photographer, since I'm guessing those goats weren't interviewed either."

Mystery RPPC: Feeding chickens: The wonderfully named Canterbury Chap writes: "Greetings from the UK. Very much enjoying the posts — a great variety of papery things! May I ask how the AZO stamp box allows the card to be dated to between 1910 and 1930?"

Thank you for the kind words, Canterbury Chap! Credit for this goes to the invaluable "How to Identify and Date Real Photo Vintage Postcards" database on Over the years, AZO real photo postcards featured different styles of stamp boxes on the back. Some, for example, had four trianges pointing upward. Some had two upward triangles and two downward triangles. Some had squares instead of triangles, etc. With each of these variations, identifies the span of years that is associated with that style of design. So it helps to narrow the mystery just a little bit.

Lost Corners: Violet Beauregarde historical revisionism: "Mark Felt," our Stealth Research Assistant and Executive Vice President in Charge of Ephemera Reunions, checks in with the following Chocolate Factory comment: "Arthur Slugworth, as the only known human employee of the Wonka enterprise, and as the most trustworthy agent sent on the most secret mission without which the entire Golden Ticket tour would have been rendered nugatory, has arguments in his favor to succeed Wonka. Indeed, neither Charlie Bucket nor Violet Beauregarde was of legal age to contract for private ownership of a factory, and with consistent OSHA violations, to boot. What ever was Wonka thinking?!? See:

This is an excellent point, as always, Mark. But mostly I just want to thank you for teaching us the word nugatory.

Newspaper items from 100 years ago today: Wendyvee of the awesome Roadside Wonders writes: "The more things change — the more they stay the same. BTW, Bartholomew Brothers isn't taking my calls."

Also, ICYMI, Wendyvee helped to solve a big mystery in a short edition of "From the readers" last month.

It's a "fierce rock 'n' roll dance sequence," Charlie Brown: Tom from the dandy Garage Sale Finds writes: "I've never seen the live piece with Charles Schulz the one reviewer mentioned. I'd like to see that."

Walt Disney presents Upton Sinclair's "The Gnome-Mobile": Mark Felt writes: "My secret agent happens to love that film: (Another One-post Wonder and Lost Corner of the Internet...?!?)"

Take a ride with Edwards Motor Transit Co.: Going all the way back to 2010 and the third post in Papegreat history, Wesley Edwards writes: "Thank you for finding and posting this piece of Edwards Motor Transit history. Such an important part of PA transportation for many years throughout the 1900's."

McCall Chair Co. ink blotter: Sawyer writes: "Hello. If anyone finds this, I have a 1961 McCall platform rocker and I'm struggling to find any info on its worth. Please email me @ with any info. Thank you."

1906 Dutch "Gelukkig Nieuwjaar" postcard & odd folk figure: Mark Felt writes: "Here is the American equivalent postcard, with filigreed embellishments. On the American card, the Belsnickle character is referred to as Krampus [q.v.], though as the character lacks horns, the moniker does not seem apropos."

The Blair family's 1942 Christmas postcard: Joan, who recently wrote an amazing Ask Joan post tying together Whirley Industries and Papergreat, writes: "OK, HOW did you find out about that Knapp's thing?"

Answer: Through the magic of the search engine.

Reader mystery: Vintage postcards with metal frames: Wendyvee writes: "These are absolutely lovely."

And Molly, who presented me with the original postcard mystery, responds: "Thanks Wendy! Mr. Otto has managed to shed light on these very rare cards, that no one else has even come close to! All of the other so-called expert collectors said that they didn't know what they were, so they weren't 'collectible'. I would think that any serious collector would want at least one to show off! People are weird."

"A Book of Mermaids" by Ruth Manning-Sanders is back in print! Anonymous writes: "I loved A Book of Mermaids since I was a child. Lost my copy a few years back, so I was elated when I saw they were republishing it. But was totally disappointed when I saw the drawings. Why they would remove Robin Jacques' magnificent artwork for those stupid drawings is beyond me. ... Each of Jacques' pages could have told the whole story. Hope they republish the book as it was originally, but then that's too much to hope for."

I suspect the rights to the wonderful Jacques artwork were either unavailable or prohibitively expensive for this reprint edition. At least we have the stories!

Sci-fi book cover: "Gladiator-at-Law": Checking in on Twitter, Wendyvee wrote: "A Gladiator-In-Law would, indeed, be another story altogether. PS. The cover looks like a shelf at Spencer's circa 1985."

Lost Corners of Twitter Creepiness: Joan writes: "It's like the boy on Sarah's ceiling!"

Yes, but we should not speak of that!

Cheerful Card Company can help you earn extra money for the holidays: Anonymous writes: "I am 75 years old and remember well, when I was 10 years old or so, lugging around an old beat up suitcase filled with my 'samples'. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were very elderly neighbors and always my best customers. I vividly remember Mrs. Fisher opening the door one year excitedly saying 'we were wondering if you were coming!' I think they loved having a visitor as much as they loved buying the cards and gift wrapping paper. Ah, the good old days. Parents wouldn't dare let their kids do this today for fear that they would be abused or kidnapped, or worse. So things have NOT gotten better with time. Besides, most kids today seem to be too self-absorbed with their $$$ iPhones. It seems to be all about social media — not developing social skills. Sad! Well, Jennie and Charlie Fisher, your 'Cheerful' kindness to a young kid has never been forgotten!"

Three sci-fi paperback covers with UFOs (and one with a chimp): John Smith writes: "Completely juvenile! Even E.E. Doc Smith could write something higher than this. But if you like science fiction created for youngsters, then I say: 'Whatever floats your boat.'"

Lots of things float our boat here at Papergreat, including the fact that E.E. Smith has this amazing sentence in his Wikipedia biography: "Edward Elmer Smith (May 2, 1890 – August 31, 1965), better known by his pen name E. E. 'Doc' Smith, was an American food engineer (specializing in doughnut and pastry mixes) and science-fiction author."

Eighth anniversary of Papergreat's first post: Mark Felt wrote: "Wendyvee and I are the only readers to comment on your first post. Wendyvee and I are the only readers to comment on the eighth anniversary of your first post. Perhaps Wendyvee and I should join a club. Where's Margaret Lynch Capone when you need her?"

And, shortly thereafter, Joan also commented. So the three of you should have an excellent club! The voting for president should be very spirited, as long as there's no Russian interference.

* * *

Bonus: Spam comment of the month

This comment was definitely spam, but I found the work of this bot creative and enchanting, so here it is:
"Extraordinary augmentations to this diversion, particularly when Nerf weapons are in neon hues is to utilize a dark light, all out murkiness or electric lamps. Children will have a great time for a considerable length of time."

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Statue of Liberty #3 (1918)

This Statue of Liberty postcard was published by the Success Postal Card Company of New York. It has this caption on the back:
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty stands upon Bedloe's Island, 1¾ miles southwest from the Battery. Designed by August Bartholdi. Presented by the French in 1884. It is 150 feet in height, standing upon a pedestal 155 feet, and symbolizes "Liberty Enlightening the World."
The postcard was mailed to a woman named Julia in Ferndale, Washington. It was postmarked in March 1918 at Penn Station in New York City. The cancellation mark contains the message "FOOD WILL WIN THE WAR. DON'T WASTE IT."

Note that this was less than two years after the Black Tom explosion, a World War I act of sabotage by German agents that killed several people and caused significant damage to the Statue of Liberty. Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia:
"Fragments from the explosion traveled long distances, some lodging in the Statue of Liberty and some in the clock tower of The Jersey Journal building in Journal Square, over a mile away, stopping the clock at 2:12 am. The explosion was the equivalent of an earthquake measuring between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter scale and was felt as far away as Philadelphia. Windows were broken as far as 25 miles (40 km) away, including thousands in lower Manhattan. Some window panes in Times Square were shattered."
This postcard was penned in very sloppy cursive. Here's my best guess at the message:
"My Dear Julia,
Just sending you a few lines to let you know I'm OK. Sending you a couple Pitcures [sic]. Send one to Alamos[?] [indecipherable]. I only send two by mistake. Should have send tree [sic]. Will send another."

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sci-fi book cover: "The Escape Orbit"

  • Title: The Escape Orbit
  • Cover blurb: "Marooned on a prison planet"
  • Author: James White (1928-1999)
  • Cover artist: John Brian Francis "Jack" Gaughan (1930-1985)
  • Publisher: Ace Books (F-317)
  • Cover price: 40 cents
  • Publication year: 1965
  • Publication history: Novel was originally published in the United Kingdom as Open Prison.
  • Pages: 188
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back cover blurb: "When the survivors of his starship were taken prisoner by the insect-creatures against whom Earth had fought a bitter war for nearly a century, Sector Marshal Warren expected to be impounded in a prison camp like those the Earthmen maintained. But the 'Bugs' had a simpler method of dealing with prisoners — they dumped them on an uninhabited planet, without weapons or tools, and left them to fend for themselves against the planet's environment and strange monsters. A 'Bug' spaceship orbited above, guarding them. Escape was impossible, the 'Bugs' told them — but it was absolutely necessary, for reasons Warren couldn't tell even his own men."
  • Dedication: "To Walter Willis for all the reasons usually mentioned in a Dedication and more."
  • First sentence: When Warren had been taken as a prisoner of war along with the other survivors of the erroneously named Victorious, he had thought that he knew what to expect — his expectations being based on the knowledge of how enemy prisoners were handled by his own side.
  • Last sentence: It was the sight of a roomful of Civilians standing rigidly at attention while the Fleet Commander, old man Peters himself, tore off a salute to the Marshal which was the tightest, smartest and plainly the most respectful salute that Kelso had ever seen.
  • Random sentence from middle: This was not surprising, because the job of guarding a planet called for a phlegmatic disposition and a capacity to resist boredom rather than sharpness of intellect.
  • Goodreads rating: 3.70 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2018, Ghanima wrote: "The story is very detailed, and the tensions between the characters were worked out very well. The ideas about women are a bit old fashioned, and can get a little annoying despite the fact that White tries to have the men treat the women as equals. This was a very enjoyable read."
  • Amazon rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2013, 2theD wrote: "The novel's premise is simple and alluring. The actual plan for escape is logical and appealing. The on-goings are feasible and compelling. It's all a bit too neat, however."
  • Notes: A Goodreads reviewer writes that "James White was one of the nicer writers in the science fiction genre" and his Wikipedia profile adds that "White abhorred violence, and medical and other emergencies were the sources of dramatic tension in his stories." Along those lines, here's an excerpt from a 2016 article about White's most famous series, the Sector General stories:
    "As a pacifist who was greatly influenced by the Troubles in Northern Ireland, White deftly manages to condemn violence without demonizing its practitioners. The antagonists of the series are largely acting out of ignorance instead of evil. Much of the series revolves around the struggle to educate newly-discovered species in the face of barbarism and superstition. Wars in the series are always met with a sense of profound disappointment by bleary doctors struggling to patch together those who could not bridge their differences peacefully."
  • Bonus side-by-side teeth comparison: If there are any doubts Gaughan drew the cover, here is a side-by-side comparison of his monster teeth on The Escape Orbit (left) and the August 1962 cover of Galaxy Magazine...

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Statue of Liberty #2 (undated)

This undated postcard shows the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. It's looking a bit more on the original coppery side, as I mentioned in the previous post.

No publisher is listed. It has a divided back, and the stamp box indicates that postage was one cent for the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany and two cents for other foreign countries. There is no evidence the card was ever stamped.

Written in cursive and black ink on the back is:

Send your letter in care of
Day Pugh Olivet
Eaten Co. Mich.

I initially lost some time trying to figure out who "Day Pugh Olivet" was. Then I got smart and realized that Olivet is the small city in Eaton County (not Eaten), Michigan. So the address should more clearly read:
Day Pugh
Eaton County
A man named Day Pugh died in 1958. This obituary, datelined VERMONTVILLE (also in Eaton County) appears in the June 17, 1958, edition of the Battle Creek Enquirer:
"VERMONTVILLE — Day Pugh, 47, of Vermontville, who had been employed at Lear Corp. in Grand Rapids for several years, suffered a heart attack at 7:30 a.m. Monday while at work and died while being taken to a hospital. Mr. Pugh was born Jan 15, 1911, in Vermontville, the son of Pitt and Clara (Manley) Pugh. He was a member of Lodge No. 232, F&AM, and the DeWitt Clinton Consistory. Surviving are the parents, living in Vermontville; two brothers, Dr. Millard Pugh of Athens and Frank Pugh of Bellevue."