Saturday, June 1, 2019

A pair of Mom's childhood pets

Here are a couple of snapshots from the early 1960s of two of Mom's pets. Susie was the dog, and Blackie was the cat. I'm guessing this is their house in Rose Valley, but I'm not 100% sure. Blackie appears to have been a moderately large cat. I think he/she is also featured in this photograph from the late 1960s.

Researchers of the future should have no trouble finding photos of my cats — Buddy, Cyrano, Scoop, Maya, Salem, Huggles, Mr. Bill, Mitts, Floyd, Mr. Angelino, Monkey and Titan. It seems like those guys take up about half the snapshots in my unorganized shoebox these days. They also represent 13.2% of Facebook's database.

Friday, May 31, 2019

1980 newspaper headline that would give Marie Kondo hives

That's the headline on a newspaper article that appears on Page D-4 of the January 6, 1980, edition of The Santa Fe New Mexican. The article, written by John Arnold, profiles ephemera collector and seller David Margolis.

Here are some fun excerpts:

  • "Margolis said ephemera is 'printed material that was never meant to be saved. It was the throwaway of the day; not books or photographs, but things no one intended to last very long.'"
  • "Margolis, who with wife Jean Moss opened Margolis and Moss Dec. 5, 1979, sells and collects ephemera as well as books, photographs and prints."
  • "'These materials were meant to commemorate something of the period and not for posterity,' he said. 'They are a great way to study the past for people interested in preserving social history.'"
  • "Margolis uses his well-stocked reference library to track down and identify many of the rare and unusual items that come his way. People collect just about anything, he said, and there's usually a reference book on the subject. To illustrate his point, he pulled two fairly thick volumes from the shelf: A book describing every George Washington post card made and a similar one for Abraham Lincoln."
  • "An up and coming collectible item which may increase in value, Margolis said, is post cards. 'In Paris alone, there are 28 shops that sell nothing but post cards,' he said."

David Margolis is in his mid 70s now. I found Margolis and Moss mentioned in a 2013 syllabus for a summer graduate course in ephemera ("Managing Ephemera in Libraries, Archives, and Museums").

And here's a 24-minute video interview that Margolis and Moss did in 2014...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Use your last Pym particles to travel to 1975 & buy Evel Knievel towels

This advertisement appears in the July 1975 issue of Marvel Two-in-One (The Thing and the Black Widow). At the height of Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel motorcycle-stunt mania, this was an attempt to capitalize on the hoopla with ... towels. Because people in the 1970s definitely wanted to dry off their naughty bits with a towel featuring the likeness of a guy who intentionally misspelled the word evil and thought attempting to rocket over the Grand Canyon was a bright idea.

Folks who fell for this comic-book marketing had the choice of a three-piece bath set or a 32-inch-by-60-inch beach towel. Either choice was $5, which equates to about $23.60 today.

Most humiliatingly, perhaps, was that envelopes containing their hard-earned money had to be mailed to "Evel Towels" in Chicago.

Here's what the actual beach towel looked like, via Pinterest.

Related posts:
1970s summer comics nostalgia with Thing and Vision

Teaser post: 1937's Chandler Pageant

Before Papergreat closes up shop, I want to research and write about a fun moment in my family history: the 250th Anniversary Chandler Reunion, aka the "Chandler Pageant," which was held 82 years ago, in September 1937. This was an extravaganza that involved reservations, free parking, a DIRECTOR, an electric fountain display and much more.

It was way fancier than most reunions I've been to, which tend to involve a cooler filled with beer and soda, grilled hot dogs and children running around who might not even belong to anyone there.

I mean, the Chandler Pageant had a whole "Committee on Reservations" and some serious ephemera, more of which I'll share when I do the full post. One of the committee members was Swithin Chandler (1888–1961), the older brother of my great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams.

I only missed being alive to attend "The Light Bearers" by 33 years, which is kind of a bummer. So I'll have to make up for that by providing a good writeup of this historic event at a future date.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Mystery RPPC: Young girl with parasol and animal

Here is item #4 of 8 from the Dover Township yard sale. It's an AZO real photo postcard dating from between 1904 and 1918. No identifying information, but we do have an additional tie to York County, Pennsylvania. On the back, there's a circular purple stamp (similar to a postmark) from Electric Studio in York, Pennsylvania. It was located at 57 East Philadelphia Street, and F.A. Meyers was the manager.

The July 26, 1915, edition of The York Daily has this small advertisement for Electric Studio, which offered postcards at rates as low as 45 cents per dozen. (Forty-five cents in 1915 would be the equivalent of about $11.28 today, according to my old friend, The Inflation Calculator.)

The postcard features a serious-looking young girl wearing a white dress and holding a parasol. She is standing in a pleasant yard alongside a ...

... what the heckfire is that? Dog-rabbit genetic experiment? Fat dog? Pregnant dog? Dog sitting on another animal? Stuffed animal or taxidermied dog (because the mouth almost appears to be stitched). I'm kind of bummed that we'll never be able to fully answer this question.

* * *

But wait, there's more!

I'm leaving everything above this intact, but I received some very important information after I finished writing this post, but before it was published.

Laura Eckert Thompson, who was one of my fellow students at Penn State back in the day and is currently a co-worker of mine at LNP, points out that the odd-looking animal is definitely a toy. The biggest clue — which I totally missed, because I'm a doofus — is that there are obvious wheels and axles underneath the animal's legs. I'm not sure how I missed that. Perhaps, deep down, I really wanted this to be some missing link between dogs and giant bunnies. And so my eyes were blinded to the truth.

But the truth is even cooler. As Laura notes: "Vintage stuffed animal riding toy. See the wheels attached to the feet? Steiff produced a lot of them." Here are some internet images of the kind of (now antique) toy she's talking about.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Book cover: "Magilla Gorilla and the Super Kite"

As a kid, I was a fan of Magilla Gorilla. But I do not approve of primates being bought and sold. And they certainly shouldn't be placed in display windows.

  • Title: Magilla Gorilla and the Super Kite
  • Author: Horace J. Elias ("story by" credit)
  • Illustrator: None credited
  • Publisher: Ottenheimer Publishers, Inc.
  • Distributor: Wonder Books (a division of Grosset & Dunlap)
  • Copyright: Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.
  • Publication year: 1976
  • Original price: 79 cents (the equivalent of $3.52 today)
  • Pages: 20
  • Format: Hardcover
  • First sentence: One day Magilla Gorilla returned to Mr. Peebles' pet shop after making a delivery.
  • Last sentence: "Nobody's going to make a monkey out of me!"
  • Random sentence from the middle: By the time he passed over where Mr. Peebles, Droop-a-long Coyote, and Ricochet Rabbit were looking up with their mouths wide open, he was eighty-one feet in the air and climbing!
  • Eighty-one feet is oddly specific: Agreed.
  • Online reviews: None. Although the book is mentioned in this passage of Tim Hollis' 2015 book Toons in Toyland: The Story of Cartoon Character Merchandise:
    "In 1976, Modern began subleasing its Hanna-Barbera rights to Wonder Books, which kept the same basic format but used traditional hardcover bindings. Huckleberry Hound and the Big Blooming Rosebush, Magilla Gorilla and the Super Kite, and Fred Flintstone's Surprising Corn did not deliver any more than their titles promised, although The Flintstones: Wilma's Busy Day at least distinguished itself by giving Mrs. Flintstone a nude scene on the cover. Yabba-dabba-Duh, HUH?!"

Old photo: Children on a slide

Here is item #3 of 8 from the Dover Township yard sale. It's a 4¼-inch-wide snapshot of eight young children gathered around a playground slide. No date, no identifications, no nothing. If we assume this is around the same age as the real photo postcards in this batch of ephemera, then this picture is around 100 to 110 years old. In the background I note that there's a farm and what appear to be some picnic baskets on wooden tables.

And that's it. Here's a closer look at the kids...

Monday, May 27, 2019

Timeline Arcade photo gallery

Following yesterday's gallery of my photographs from Atomic Warehouse, I have another set of photos to share. These are from Timeline Arcade in downtown York, Pennsylvania. Just some nostaglic images of The Buttons of Our Childhood, which are certainly ephemeral, in a sense. (I hope to write, someday, more of an essay about growing up with arcade and video games, but this will suffice for now.)

Bonus: My favorite arcade games
  • Asteroids
  • Berzerk (because of Evil Otto, of course)
  • Dig Dug
  • Donkey Kong
  • Golden Axe
  • Hat Trick
  • John Elway's Team Quarterback
  • Missile Command (though I'm terrible at it)
  • Ms. Pac-Man
  • Pac-Man
  • Rampage
  • Tetris
  • Honorable mention: Ash & I do enjoy the Time Crisis series

Keeping America beautiful with "NEW miracle Plastic"

Found recently in the wild: A never-opened package of six Car-Mate plastic litter bags1 intended for use in the car or elsewhere in the great outdoors. The packaging measures 7½ inches by 10 inches and, perhaps given all that real estate, there's an incredible amount of text that's working very hard to convince Americans to use plastic bags to stop the spread of litter.

When was this made and sold in stores? I tried my best figure that out, but didn't come up with a definitive answer. The best clues I have to go on are (1) the woman's hairstyle and skirt length and (2) the reference to the bags being "Made with NEW miracle Plastic — Space Age Technology used by our Astronauts in space flight."2 Based on those clues, I'm going to peg this product for the late 1960s.

So, about 50 years ago...

I'm sure many younger folks find it hard to fathom that, just a half-century ago, we were still in the early stages of urging people to collect their trash in plastic bags. The Plasticplace Blog has an interesting two-part history (Part I, Part II), written by Shira Feldman. Here's an excerpt:
"In 1950, Canadian inventors Harry Wasylyk and Larry Hansen invented the garbage bag. Wasylyk created the bag in his kitchen, made out of stretchy, waterproof polyethylene. He pioneered the bags through a process called “extrusion,” converting small resin pellets into bags of plastic – the pellets were heated and pressured to make them pliable, then blown into bags, which were sealed at one end.

"The first garbage bags were green, not black, and were intended for commercial use, not home use. Subsequently, the bag’s first customer was the Winnipeg General Hospital, which was trying to prevent the spread of polio. Union Carbide Company bought the bag idea and, in the late 1960s, manufactured the first bag for home use under the name Glad trash bags. It soon added one marketing improvement: the twist-tie (which had already been invented in 1923). Next, drawstring bags appeared in 1984."
Plastic trash bags entering the home market in the late 1960s would dovetail nicely with my guess that these small Car-Mate plastic bags are also from the late 1960s. And the price, for that time, was not cheap. Sixty-nine cents in, say, 1967 — the year "plastics" was given as advice to Ben Braddock in The Graduate — would be the equivalent of about $5.25 today. That's not a great price for six small plastic bags. That's probably why the bags are touted as "REUSABLE" on the packaging. (If only "reusable" and not "disposable" had become our mantra 50 years ago...)

Here's a rundown of the other advertising language on this package:

  • with ZIP-ON/ZIP-OFF and STRETCH-ON fasteners for all cars including NEW models!
  • COLORFUL [huh?]
  • America is your front yard..
    Don't be a litterbug
  • "YOU CAN FEEL THE DIFFERENCE!" and "Color Matched to all car interiors." These two statements are near a small oval cut-out that allows you to see and feel the plastic.

Now that this item has been documented, the only reasonable things to do are: (1) open the package, (2) recycle the paperboard at one of the dwindling number of places that still accepts it, and (3) fulfill the original destiny of the plastic bags by using them to collect trash. Then all we can do is hope the filled plastic bags make it to the landfill or incinerator and don't further pollute our damaged planet.

1. Car-Mate was a product of Tiny Tote, Inc., of Little Silver, New Jersey. Little Silver was first settled by Peter Parker, among others, in the 1660s.
2. According to HowStuffWorks, the word astronaut "first appeared in the English language in 1929, probably in science fiction, but it wasn't commonly used until December 1958. That's when the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) adopted the word 'astronaut' as the name for the men (and eventually women) it would train to compete in the space race."
3. According to its website, "Keep America Beautiful formed in 1953 when a group of corporate and civic leaders met in New York City to bring the public and private sectors together to develop and promote a national cleanliness ethic." The first public service announcement about litter was issued in 1956, and Keep America Beautiful began its relationship with the Ad Council in 1960.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Who wants to join me in buying a crumbling, haunted British estate?

Screenshot from the blog Manning Family History -"Esse Quam Videri"

In last weekend's post on Haunted Britain, I mentioned Downe Court Manor in passing. I have since nosed around a little bit to discover more about this place, purportedly home to many ghosts, including, inexplicably, Charles Darwin.

The estate is located in Downe, which is a village within the London Borough of Bromley, which is part of Greater London. Downe was, indeed, once home to Charles Darwin.1 So I suppose it's not impossible that it's the place he chose to haunt in the afterlife.2

So, what about Downe Court Manor? Here's a brief overview from Historic England:
"Modest red brick house of 1690. The building has been vacant and showed the effects of long term neglect. Roof and joinery repairs have been undertaken to arrest the decline of the building. Attempts are being made by Historic England to contact the owner to reassess the condition of the building."
The best information on the place comes from, aka Manning Family History. It was active from 2004 to 2016 (though with just 56 posts during that span). The site's mission is described as "dedicated to the decendants of two brothers John and Thomas Manning from Kent who left England in 1635 on the Primrose and Globe bound for Virginia!"

Downe Court Manor is discussed in a November 2011 post that, unsurprisingly for a serious research endeavor, makes no mention of ghosts or hauntings.3 It provides this history of the estate:
"There is an early deed referring to Downe Court Manor dated 1287. The present building dates from around 1690. Years ago it was surrounded by ponds which tend to suggest the original manor house could have been moated. Sir Thomas Mervyn owned the house in 1518 and was Lord Mayor of London. When he died he left one penny to each prisoner in the London gaols. One time owner was Sir Thomas Smyth who was governor of the East India Company and Treasurer of the Virginia Company.

"Another owner was Henry Manning Marshal of the Household under Henry VIII, and Queen Elizabeth is believed to have attended the christening of his [Henry Manning Marshal's] daughter Margaret in 1559. Parish Register records the ceremony took place ‘after ye Queene’s visitation’.

"Then came Jacob Verzillini, an Italian from Murano, near Venice, who took over a glass-making factory in Crutched Friars in London around 1571. He was granted a 21-year licence to make drinking glasses providing he taught his skills to Englishmen and did not import the glasses."
None of this, however, tells us what happened with Downe Court Manor in the 19th and 20th centuries. Who were the more modern owners? Who, presumably after World War II, began the talk of spooks and spirits around the estate? When did it become abandoned?

And, most importantly, what would it take to purchase it today? Wouldn't it be fun to fully restore this 17th century house, fill it with books, comfy chairs and a few cats, and live there?4 Would there be creaks, moans and footsteps at night?

1. Downe is also the birthplace of Nigel Farage, who is not the UK's Most Popular Human at the moment.
2. Which isn't to say that I agree with the idea of an afterlife.
3. This history also appears on I don't know what, ultimately, is the original source.
4. There's also the small detail of obtaining British citizenship. That's neither likely nor easy.

Bookplate inside "The Cannoneers Have Hairy Ears"

This colorful 2¾-inch-wide bookplate, with an indecipherable name scrawled on it, appears on the inside front cover of the 1927 hardcover The Cannoneers Have Hairy Ears, which was published by J.H. Sears & Company.

Despite the odd title, this is a serious book. It's a diary — from August through November 1918 — of a U.S. artillery soldier on the front lines in France during the First World War. It was published anonymously, but the author was South Dakota native Robert J. Casey (1890-1962). This is the book's "dedication":
If I should become a casualty, please see that this book is mailed to my wife — address on inside front cover.
Here's an excerpt from Casey's journal, just one of many harrowing and horrific moments in the campaign:
"Duff was getting ready to to go bed when he noticed a kitchen belonging to an outfit of 75s to the right of us, turning off the road near him. He stepped over to promote a bite of food and thereby saved his life.

"He had gone perhaps a hundred meters when a shell hit on the crest behind him. He could hear the spent fragments whining about his ears. Almost immediately came a second shot in the same place — then two more in quick succession.

"The first shell of the second salvo dropped in front of the medical wagon. The second was a direct hit. Duff went back to his former headquarters only long enough to find a blanket. He slept for the rest of the night at the edge of the ditch in the lee of a dead horse."
The book is roundly praise by modern readers. Here are some snippets from Amazon reviewers:

  • "a detailed, and often graphic, picture of what it was like to be an Artilleryman in an AEF Field Artillery Unit."
  • "uncommonly good narrative of our participation in WW1."
  • "As a reader you quickly understand that the American artillery was a priority target of the Germans. The use of gas is told in detail and its effects."
  • "there is little political comment or overall battle strategy. Just the details of one mans experience. Has a sense of humour but doesn't shrink from the horrors or the stupities or the sheer chance of who gets wounded or killed."

Atomic Warehouse photo gallery

Here are some snapshots by me (and one by Ashar) from a pair of trips we have taken in the past 12 months to Atomic Warehouse, a strange and crowded antiques store on Market Street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (I have previously mentioned Atomic Warehouse in a pair of post. One about mix tapes and one about a record album.)

Read more about Flame Boy on the Classic Camp Stoves forum

"Christmas Sing-Along with Mitch" was THE go-to Christmas album
at the house on Oak Crest Lane when I was a kid.

There are some creepy corners.

Miss Jackie was Jackie Weissman, but I don't know much more about her.

My new head shot, perhaps? (Photo by Ashar)

Other photography posts

Mystery RPPC: Man in bowler hat and tired girl

Here is the second item I picked up at a local yard sale earlier this month.1 This real photo postcard, like so many others, is an AZO card dating from between 1904 and 1918. There is no identifying information, and the card was never mailed.

And so we have a well-dressed man wearing a bowler hat and a well-dressed young girl (his daughter?) who looks tired, unhappy or both. Perhaps this was taken right before heading to Sunday church. The background leaves much to be desired. Couldn't they have picked something more interesting? Or something that might have given us a better shot at determining the location? Sigh.

Last question: Do you think there's a chance this is the same girl (a little older) from the first postcard I featured from this batch?

1. There were 8 items total acquired for 50 cents apiece at the May 11 Dover Township yard sale. Mostly postcards, plus one photo. The first one was featured on May 15.