Saturday, February 9, 2019

Saturday's postcard:
"My Old Log Cabin"

This extremely creased postcard, with the caption "My Old Log Cabin" on the front, was postmarked on February 16, 1928, in Tampa, Florida. On that date, headlines on the front page of The Tampa Daily Times included:

  • Spokane Air Derby Winner Enroute Here
  • Kress Plans 3 New Stores for Florida
  • 2 Bombs Hurled in Chicago War
  • Over Zealous Cymbal Players Are Curbed
  • Death Rings Down Curtain for Eddie Foy

The postcard was mailed to Mr. Dorr E. Prouty of Fort Ann, New York. Dorr was seven years old when he received this postcard. He was born on May 30, 1920, in Fort Ann and died on November 4, 2008, according to his obituary on

He served in the U.S. Army in World War II, and spent time as a farmer, mechanic and truck driver. He was a 50-year member of the American Legion and was also a member of the Adirondack Bluegrass League.

The message on this postcard states:
Tampa, Fla.
Tell Papa & Momma I am here for a few days. This is certainly a fine climate. The people here are all planting their gardens now.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Self-help book cover: "The Crack in the Cosmic Egg"

As promised a couple of days ago...

  • Title: The Crack in the Cosmic Egg
  • Subtitle: "Challenging Constructs of Mind and Reality"
  • Cover blurb: "A startling breakthrough book — Essential for those who are seeking expanded ways to achieve creative living and learning"
  • Author: Joseph "Joe" Chilton Pearce (1926-2016)
  • Cover artist: Unknown. There are some initials in the corner, but they are partially obscured from wear. First letter might be an A.
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (fifth printing, October 1974)
  • Cover price: $1.50
  • Original publication year: 1971
  • Pages: 219
  • Format: Paperback
  • Provenance: Once owned by Ms. Joan E. Book of Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania. Purchased this year at The York Emporium.
  • Dedication: "To the memory of my wife Patricia Ann mother of our five"
  • First sentence on introduction: Almost a decade has passed since I first experienced the crack in my own cosmic egg, and made tentative attempts to translate it into communicable form.
  • First sentence of book: There is a relationship between what we think is out there in the world and what we experience as being out there.
  • Last sentence: So I find that my concern and love for life, my longing and desire, have sowed a wind within this orb of skull, and here in this spiraled fire I reap the whirlwind of all the worlds.
  • Random sentences from middle: Piaget observed that we are continually hatching an enormous number of false ideas, conceits, Utopias, mystical explanations, superstitions, and megalomanic fantasies. All of these disappear when brought into contact with other people.
  • Goodreads rating: 4.02 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2016, Nicholas wrote: "I wasn't sure I'd made a good choice when I ordered this book, as I prefer my data empirical and this seemed to lean more towards the speculative. Coupled with the fact that it was written in the seventies, referenced Don Juan and held Sri Lankan firewalking to be the principle evidence in the flexibilty of reality, made me even more suspect of my own decision making process, but I proceeded to read it regardless. By the end of the first chapter my fears where not confirmed and I began to enjoy the book for what it is."
  • Amazon rating: 4.4 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt (slightly edited): In 2009, Elbert Clark wrote: "I reread this book after it had inspired me years ago to think in new directions. It still holds up brilliantly. I recently met the author, a feisty old gentleman, who apologized for the followup book to this work. He says it was essentially unproofed and unedited and explained how it got that way. The publisher simply ran with the first rough draft."

But wait, there's more...

Check out this nifty bookmark that was tucked away inside this paperback! It's from Bookarama, which had stores at the Westgate Mall in Bethlehem and the Hamilton Mall in Allentown.

The Westgate Mall, which opened in 1973, was sold last autumn to a joint venture led by Onyx Equities LLC and PCCP LLC.

The Hamilton Mall was an attempted re-envisioning, in the mid-1970s, of Allentown's downtown business district to lure shoppers who had fled to suburban shopping centers. It was never fully successful and faded out in the 1990s.

It appears the Bookarama stores were finished by the mid 1990s, too.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Staged shelfie just for the halibut 3

Something for everyone, perhaps?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Inscription within "Spirit Lake" by MacKinlay Kantor

This inscription is found on the first page of the hardcover edition of MacKinlay Kantor's 1961 novel Spirit Lake. If it's a bit hard for you to read I can tell you that it states:
I'm not sure if the 10/10 refers to this being given as a gift on October 10th or the book receiving a 10/10 rating.

I knew about Kantor's Andersonville, but I wasn't aware of this doorstop of a novel before I came across it recently. It centers around 1857's Spirit Lake Massacre, but is apparently about much more than that. The Kirkus review notes: "To all of this MacKinlay Kantor has brought the breath of life. He has recreated for the reader (who has the fortitude to stay with the whole of his 900 and 57 pages) the panorama of personalities, individuals and families from their known — and suspected sources — through the pattern of their journeyings until they put down roots in the far frontiers, strengthened by their dreams, their aspirations, their faith." The final two words of that review are "immensely rewarding."

It seems this novel never got the acclaim of Andersonville, though it might be worthy. In 2014, Goodreads reviewer Janice (JG) wrote the following:
"This historical novel is a literary feast. It is a true readers' read. ... Consequently, I am flummoxed by the disinterest and neglect of this novel. There aren't even ten reviews between both Goodreads and Amazon, and some of those who did read all 958 pages said it bored them. For a book that was banned in Texas upon publication1, it seems to have been shockingly underrated and ignored. ... Kantor's ability to engage the reader intimately on every subject from coyotes to four-year-old children to snow to garbage is uncanny — and an indication of an enormous writing talent. Somehow he manages to slip inside every living thing he touches upon, bringing us with him until we are replete, filled up with the spirit and bone and muscle and desires of each. Corn-Sucker, a Hidatsa woman who weaves in and out throughout the novel, is an unforgettable character, and one of my favorite of all fictional females."

1. From the January 17, 1963, edition of The Marshall (Texas) News Messenger:
The book "Spirit Lake," by MacKinlay Kantor, which has been ordered removed from the library of Baytown High School by the board of trustees, is not in the Marshall High School Library, according to Von Rhea Beane, superintendent of schools in Marshall.

The novel is based upon an especially horrible massacre of white settlers around Spirit Lake, Iowa in 1857 by a band of renegade Indians.

The Baytown trustees ordered the book removed from the library at the high school because, they said, the book contained "objectionable language." Baytown school officials were ordered to investigate other Kantor novels.

Kantor in a telephone conversation with the Houston Chronicle, said, "I've written 35 books which have been published all over the world and translated into many languages. My work doesn't need defending. I'll say this though, I didn't write it for immature girls or immature adults, but for mature readers."

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Baron Von Papergreat edges further into Marvel comics universe

The legend of Baron Von Papergreat continues! Now he's been part of his first crossover event.

But let's back up. Baron Von Papergreat entered the Marvel comics canon, in the most fringe way possible, when he was mentioned on the letters page of The Great Lakes Avengers #2 (January 2017 issue). That debut was fully and giddily documented in this Papergreat post.

In short, I described him in the published letter as "the only ephemera-centric super hero. Papergreat's powers include the ability to decipher any handwriting, no matter how loopy or chicken-scratchy, on old postcards; the ability to find clues, currency and gum wrappers tucked away inside old books; and the ability to save worthless piles of old papers from certain destruction and hoard them for future evaluation."

I also offered to have Baron Von Papergreat handle some dusting; most superheroes are loathe to do their own dusting, so he could, for example, stop by Mister Immortal's place every other weekend to handle that. That sealed the deal with Great Lakes Avengers writer Zac Gorman, who signed off on Baron Von Papergreat by noting: "You had me hooked with your powers but you reeled me in with 'light dusting.' You're hired!"

"You're hired" = entrance in the Marvel canon, right alongside Tony Stark, Namor, Riri Williams and Lockjaw. At least in my book, it is.

Baron Von Papergreat's status was reaffirmed in The Great Lakes Avengers #7 (June 2017). The final letters page of that sadly-too-short series states: "It's time at last, eager applicants! For six issues we've listened to you extoll [sic] the dubious virtues of your 'skills' and 'abilities,' and we can finally release the full roster of All-New, All-Different, All-Pretty-Boring Great Lakes Avengers Support Squad™, as chosen by our hiring manager/writer, Zac Gorman."

Baron Von Papergreat is on the list of eight "ACCEPTED" Suppert Squad™ members, alongside such illustrious characters as The Cheesemonger and The Mega Horbz.

So, with the end of that run of The Great Lakes Avengers, it was probably going to be the end of Baron Von Papergreat's story, right?


Along came the newest run of the West Coast Avengers, written by the super-talented Kelly Thompson and edited by Alanna Smith, who served as the Assistant Editor for The Great Lakes Avengers back in the day. This series, which features the continuation of the storyline of Kate Bishop from Thompson's Hawkeye run, also has a page for reader feedback. Only it's done via newfangled technology — Twitter.

So I sent a Tweet.

And then Smith dropped this hint right around Christmas:

Last week, West Coast Avengers #7 (March 2019) was published. And there it was, nestled in with artist Eduard Petrovich's incredible work on the final page:

The magnified version is at the top of this post. It states, as you can well see:
#WestCoastAvengers is a dandy book! If the team ever needs a hapless backup hero or some light housework done, honorary Great Lakes Avenger Baron Von Papergreat is available! #OKToPrint
Indeed, he's ready and willing to move out to San Andreas Fault territory to help fight supervillains and/or dust bunnies. If you're keeping score at home, there have now been mentions in two separate Marvel series for Baron Von Papergreat, which pretty much means he's double canon.

Where to go from here? Baron Von Papergreat has been incredibly fortunate so far. Certainly there are no guarantees that this kind of momentum can be maintained. We can certainly dream, though. Right? I would love to see him mentioned in passing in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Doctor Strange or the upcoming The Magnificent Ms. Marvel.

And if things ever really got crazy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe came calling, I'd recommend Luis Guzman to portray Baron Von Papergreat. I'm sure he would look great in a cape.

QSL card that doubled as Eastern Bloc blanket advertisement

Here's a dandy QSL card for ham-radio operator DM2AOL that also served as an advertisement for Blankets of Kirschau in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany, 1949–1990). Perhaps this was one of the few avenues they had at the time to spread the word about Eastern Bloc goods and services.

If I'm reading the information on the back of the card correctly, the contact (QSO) occurred in 1979. There's no stamp or address, so this card was possibly mailed in an envelope.

This additional information about the company appeared on the back of the card:
Blankets of Kirschau
VEB Vereinigte Grobgarnwerke
DDR-8604 Kirschau

Exporteur: Textilcommerz
DDR-108 Berlin P.O.B. 1206.
Searching these terms, I discovered some photographs of a mid-century textile company, some provided by the German Federal Archive, in the Wikipedia Commons. Here they are:

Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-P0425-0008 / Häßler, Ulrich / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de]

Deutsche Fotothek‎ [CC BY-SA 3.0 de]

Sludge G [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Beyond that, though, I don't know much about this company, so it's a bit of a mystery. Help from overseas would be very welcome!

Cracked eggs and the challenging constructs of mind and reality

When I saw this book — 1974's The Crack in the Cosmic Egg by Joseph Chilton Pearce — while browsing at The York Emporium yesterday, I immediately thought of last week's article by Taylor Lorenz of The Atlantic, "The World-Record Instagram Egg Is Going to Make Someone Very Rich." We're only a month into the 2019, but Lorenz's piece qualifies as a candidate for the most bizarre story of the year (Non-POTUS Division).

It's the tale of a mysterious Instagram account (world_record_egg) with nearly 10 million followers. Lorenz writes: "Over the past few weeks, the egg has become an internet phenomenon. On January 13, the account’s first post became the most-liked Instagram photo of all time. ... Since then, the account has posted a series of photos of the same egg with a progressively larger crack, suggesting something inside. ... [I]nterest from companies and digital-media planners hasn’t slowed. Because in 2019, every viral moment is a branding opportunity. 'Being the first brand to crack out of the egg is worth at least $10 million,' said Nik Sharma, the head of the digital agency VaynerMedia’s direct-to-consumer business. He added that he would even advise clients 'to spend on the egg instead of the Super Bowl.'"

(That turned out to be a bit prescient.)

My immediate reactions to Lorenz's story, which I admit were geared more toward snarkiness than thoughtfulness, were: (1) On Twitter: "We are going to be utterly incomprehensible to the future. Stuff like this will be our civilization's Nazca Lines." and (2) On Facebook: "I Don't Understand The World Any More, Chapter 20."

But I do understand it, of course. At least as well as it can be understood.

It's still all about the marketing. The selling of viewership and eyeballs. The money. Selling stuff. And Instagram offers one of the hottest demographics. It's as hot as newspapers are cold, in terms of desirability for advertising, which is one of the reasons we're still seeing companies eliminate journalists left and right.

This is also a story about the digital frontier. It's hard to keep up with how much some social media platforms and apps have become foundational elements of people's everyday lives. Lorenz does a good job of covering that at The Atlantic. She also wrote about "The Teens Who Rack Up Thousands of Followers by Posting the Same Photo Every Day." And I agree with Rachel Donadio, who tweeted: "If you were born before 1989 and struggle to understand anything about the world and the digital landscape in which you apparently live and work, I suggest you always read @TaylorLorenz. Same if you were born after 1989."

As for the egg, it appears that we'll learn more today, in conjunction with Tom Brady Bowl LIII. The latest post by the egg, which came after Lorenz's article, added football laces to the egg and states: "The wait is over. All will be revealed this Sunday following the Super Bowl. Watch it first, only on @hulu. #EggGang #WeGotThis #TalkingEgg"

Obviously, Hulu paid a shell of a lot of money for that.

I'll stick with the old books and ephemera. This The Crack in the Cosmic Egg book by Pearce looks way more interesting than anything that might be on Hulu. I'll delve into it further this week. I can also tell you there was something tucked away inside.

Stay tuned to Papergreat! #EphemeraGang #TalkingPaper #TalkingBooks