Saturday, April 13, 2019

Publicity still: Ninja and a lion

There was no information or caption on this random movie publicity still. But a Google reverse image search informs me that it's from the 1983 TV movie The Last Ninja. Said ninja is, improbably, portrayed by Michael Beck.

The website Vintage Ninja has a post about this movie and is in possession of the same publicity still. It has the original photo caption from ABC, which states, in part:
"Michael Beck, starring as a young man raised by a Japanese-American family and trained in the ancient arts of the Ninjutsu..."
Apparently, he's also trained in the art of being a Lion Whisperer.

Even though the film has some serious cultural appropriation happening, it is fairly well-regarded by some fans of ninja cinema. One of those commenting on the Vintage Ninja post states: "The movie was quite accurate in its portrayal of the Ninja and did a good job of representing the main character as a disciplined, responsible member of society and not some pajama clad killer."

Friday, April 12, 2019

TV flashback: March 8, 1978

A little nostalgia here for folks of my generation. The late-afternoon and early evening television listings that appeared in the March 8, 1978, edition of the Pittsburgh Press. Some very familiar titles, such as Gilligan's Island, Bowling for Dollars, The Brady Bunch, and Sha Na Na (there aren't supposed to be hyphens).

Today, 41 years later, Ashar and I will be in the Pittsburgh area to meet one of Mike Douglas' guests from these TV listings. Hint: This person once famously sang a song whose title appears in the 7:30 p.m. Evening Magazine listing.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Regarding Estella Canziani

Way back around Thanksgiving — more than four months ago! — I wrote: "I have posts about Estella Canziani, Phyllis Stalnaker, Florence Darlington, Loren E. Trueblood and Margaret Lynch Capone that I'd like to get cleared off the decks, so stay tuned for those."

Well, I've taken care of Stalnaker, Darlington and Capone. So that leaves Canziani and Trueblood. The latter, a potentially fascinating tale, still requires some research that I haven't gotten to yet.

But today's a good day to say a little about Estella Canziani. I can never quite remember the path that led me to certain discoveries online, but I believe this September 2018 tweet was primarily responsible for piquing my curiosity...

The tweet was accompany by this image of a bookplate...

Canziani has a short biography on Wikipedia, which states the she had the ultra-cool resume of British portrait and landscape painter, interior decorator, travel writer, and folklorist. She was a Quaker and member of the SPCA who authored three books: Costumes, Traditions and Songs of Savoy (1911), Piedmont (1913) and Through the Apennines and the Lands of the Abruzzi (1928).

The Wikipedia entry also highlights another of her amazing bookplates...

By Published by A Fowler, Kansas City, MO - The Bookplate Annual for 1921 (free pdf from, Public Domain, Link

On The Library Time Machine, Dave Walker wrote a pair of terrific, image-filled posts about Canziani in January 2016. I direct you to those (Part 1, Part 2) to learn more about her life. I especially loved this passage by Walker:
"In 1967, shortly after her death a newspaper described her as the Bird Lady, an eccentric old woman still wearing the fashions of her youth and the house as a shambles infested by birds and other small animals. It seems a shame that people are often judged by how they were (or might have been) at the end of their lives. When a life is finished we are free to look at the whole story, see the whole pattern and pick the greatest hits. No doubt the house in Palace Green was a bit of a mess but you could also choose to view it as a collection of wonders, mundane and exotic and a kind of wonderland. A lively little girl grew up to be a talented artist. She filled the house with mementos of her life and travels. Given her interest in folklore and fairies and the proximity of faery-infested Kensington Gardens you could imagine her house as a gateway into a world of wonders."

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

When nature calls and you're in the middle of ... nature

Pee in a tree?

This postcard caps off the trilogy of trees (Part 1, Part 2). (Unless there's a fourth card, and then it will no longer be a trilogy.)

It shows part of a felled redwood that's been turned into a Forest Loo, with "She" and "He" sides. The scratched-on caption at the bottom says this is at Burrill Redwood Terraces. And if you search for that phrase online, pretty much all you get is more pictures of this mid-century Privy in the Woods. I can additionally say that it was near Garberville, California, a census-designated place in the northwest part of the state that formed its own chapter of the Green Party in 2006.

This postcard was mailed, giving us more some information, though portions of the back are obscured. It appears to have been sent from Marshfield, Oregon, to Kernville, California, on March 28, 1942. The part of the note I can read states:
Dear Kids — couldn't find the umbrella Georges did [?] so used ... substitute. ... a lovely trip but glad ... back after all Oreg. [??] is OK. Hope every thing & ... o.k. up your way.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Book cover: "Kemlo and the Sky Horse"

  • Title: Kemlo and the Sky Horse
  • Author: E.C. Eliott, which was one of the many, many pen names of Reginald Alec Martin (1908-1971)
  • Illustrator: A. Bruce Cornwell (1920-2012). There's an excellent post about Cornwell on the Bear Alley blog.
  • Series: This is book #3 of 15 in the Kemlo series, which was published between 1954 and 1963. Some of the other titles are amazing:
    • Kemlo and the Crazy Planet (1954)
    • Kemlo and the Zones of Silence (1954)
    • Kemlo and the Martian Ghosts (1955)
    • Kemlo and the Space Lanes (1955)
    • Kemlo and the Craters of the Moon (1955)
    • Kemlo and the Star Men (1955)
    • Kemlo and the Gravity Rays (1956)
    • Kemlo and the End of Time (1957)
    • Kemlo and the Purple Dawn (1957)
    • Kemlo and the Zombie Men (1958)
    • Kemlo and the Space Men (1959)
    • Kemlo and the Satellite Builders (1960)
    • Kemlo and the Space Invaders (1961)
    • Kemlo and the Masters of Space (1963)
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.
  • Publication year: 1954
  • Pages: 189
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dust jacket excerpt: "Kemlo, captain of Space Scouts, and his young friend Krillie receive a visit from two Earth children, Dane and Lesa, Krillie's cousins. Lesa is quite prepared to be thrilled by all she sees on Satellite Belt K, but Dane sneers at everything — especially at the mechanical horse in the games-room. He boasts of his own prowess with real horses, and is overheard by their science engineering master from Earth, who determines to teach him a lesson and at the same time to evolve, with the help of Kemlo and the other troop leaders, a new mechanical wonder, a New World Pegasus, a horse that can gallop in Space. ..."
  • Provenance: See below.
  • First sentence: 'Well, aren't you excited about them coming?' Krinsetta asked crossly.
  • Last sentence: Perhaps it wasn't so silly after all.
  • Random sentence from the middle #1: We can have fun in a space scooter being bounced about on the spumewaves of a space ship on its way to one of the planets.
  • Spumewaves? Don't look at me.
  • Random sentence from the middle #2: Two more days passed before the next passenger ship arrived, bringing the first supplies of cowboy suits.
  • Goodreads rating: 4.40 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Review: I can't find any reviews of Kemlo and the Sky Horse online. I can't even find much about the Kemlo series in general. But there were plenty of fans, of course, for a series to run through 15 books. Writing of the first book in the series, Tim stated the following on Goodreads last year: "I recall pulling out every one of the Kemlo books from our local library in Lincoln. I must have enjoyed it — I kept coming back for more. I can't remember anything about it, but it certainly held the attention of one fifteen year-old some 55 years ago." Meanwhile, you can see the vibrant covers of all 15 books in the series on Austin Tate's Blog.

But wait, there's more

This copy of Kemlo and the Sky Horse was once a Methodist Sunday School "third prize" awarded to someone whose name appears to be Len Wishart.

And here's Cornwell's dandy frontispiece for this book...

Monday, April 8, 2019

20 tips from 1949's "How to Make Money at Home"

How to Make Money at Home was penned by Polly Webster1 and published in 1949 by Whittlesey House, a division of McGraw-Hill.

The hardcover book had a price of $3, which is the equivalent of about $32 today (70 years later). So, right off the bat, you would have been challenged to make this book pay for itself in the late 1940s. Then again, there was no Google back then where you could search "get-rich-quick schemes."

So, without further ado, here are 20 ideas that Webster offered up for that generation to make some money at home...

  • "If you are truly interested in children and can read or tell stories in a fascinating manner, approach your library with the idea of becoming their paid storytelling lady."
  • "Cynthia Richardson, in Alexandria, Virginia, sends out biweekly letters signed, 'Susie Cucumber.' Susie Cucumber is a black-and-white terrier and the series of twenty-eight weekly letters plus a book about the terrier sells for five dollars."
  • "A polio victim in the hills of Vermont uses her nimble fingers to carve from wood the tiny characters of Alice in Wonderland."
  • "Robert D. Bowerman, a Farmington, New York, farmer, raises white mice, which he sells to research laboratories and hospitals."
  • "You can sit back and live on your royalties if you are as clever as the inventor of the Protecto Shield. This is the plastic, colorless covering that the housewife puts over an electric light switch to keep the wallpaper around it free of finger prints. It took a man to think of it."
  • "Six hundred dollars a year profit is what Billy Hepler, twelve-year-old New Hampshire farmer makes a year. Billy refuses orders for his Tiny Tim tomato seeds if they'll put him over the six-hundred-dollar mark because then he'd have income-tax troubles, and this is just too weighty a problem, he believes."
  • "Winning radio, newspaper, and magazine contests is a challenging and interesting home career, and it pays off nicely for those who persevere at it."
  • "While confined to an Army hospital bed for two years, and later when he was able to get around with a cane and brace, Corporal R.O. Jackson, veteran of World War II, built himself a business repairing fountain pens."
  • "A Good Cheer visitor is a man or woman who, for a dollar an hour, entertains sick children."
  • "Sometimes a cage of bears or monkeys will be enough to make tourists stop. ... Children love animals; they also love Indians."
  • "A retired tailor bought a trailer and now is seeing the United States, sewing as he goes."
  • "Many a vacant lot has turned out profitable dollars when it was used for pony rides for children."
  • "It might have been a chemist, but it was just an average woman who, after experimenting with different inks and a way to cure the bones, started writing messages on wishbones. Now she carries on an unprecedented business and her wishbone cards, sent as unique greetings, sell for anywhere from one to thirty-five dollars."
  • "The lowly coconut has meant handsome profits for three young people in Honolulu who have built 'Kokies,' a roasted coconut-chip product, into booming business."
  • "There are many types of ghostwriting. One housewife keeps busy writing speeches for other club women. Suppose you have to give a paper on Charles Dickens. You don't have much confidence in your own research, so you send her five dollars, and within three days you receive a well-written five-page, double-spaced article on Mr. Dickens."
  • "Irene Schmitz, a nurse, knowing that some children are afraid of the dark, conceived a best seller in the form of a luminous doll that would glow in the dark."
  • "A New Yorker specializes in colonial dolls with real hair. The hair is sent to her by parents who have cut it off their own children."
  • "Mrs. Perrins read The Day Must Dawn, by Agnes Sligh Turnbull, which mentioned drinking mulled cider out of wooden noggins, and she had some tiny pottery noggins made up."
  • "Providing birth certificates is another one of those services that doesn't seem, at first thought, to have many possibilities. Yet one Westerner keeps a staff of six busy helping her trace birth certificates."
  • "Another Middle Westerner creates and completes handmade and hand-embroidered underclothes of all kinds."

Related 2011 post

1. Polly Webster was, according to the dust jacket, "the mother of two children, the wife of a college professor. In addition to home making, she has found time to run several successful part-time businesses. She is the author My Private Life, a record book for teen-agers and has conducted a newspaper column."

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Mystery RPPC: Wizard girl

I love this one.1 It's a real photo postcard of a girl wearing what looks to me like a wizard outfit and standing outside in winter (and perfectly — intentional by the photographer? — framed between two bare trees). Someone has written "COSTUME" on the back, and that's it for information. It's an AZO card that dates to 1904-1918, based on the design of the stamp box.

The full-length dress has horizontal bars going about two-thirds of the way down the front. It's impossible to know what the colors are, but one of the bars appears whiter/lighter than the others. She has a very tall, very pointed hat balanced atop her head. She looks like she means business; she's all set for a duel with Saruman, Baba Yaga or Lo Pan.

Here are a couple of closer looks at her...

(This looks like the cover of a Ransom Riggs novel.)

I wish we knew her story. Perhaps someone should write it.

Other mystery RPPCs

1. I'm assuming I haven't posted it before, but my mind is getting murkier and murkier.