Wednesday, September 4, 2019

New Deal with an old ephemera vibe

As you might guess, I firmly believe that the United States needs a Green New Deal as soon as possible, if not sooner. I don't require any convincing regarding the science of climate change.

I also firmly believe that these new posters touting the Green New Deal (pictured above) are freaking awesome.

Any poster style would have been great, I'm sure. But these are, as CityLab's Amanda Kolson Hurley explains, "intended to evoke posters produced nearly a century ago by a singular federal program in American history: the Federal Art Project, an office of the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration." The new posters were released by the office of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was one of the driving forces behind the Green New Deal resolution in February. The designs are by Scott Starrett and Gavin Snider of Tandem.

More from the CityLab article:
"The Federal Art Project was one of five cultural initiatives, known collectively as Federal One, that employed out-of-work writers, musicians, artists, and actors. Over the eight years of its existence, the project’s thousands of artists produced a staggering amount of public art, including 108,000 paintings, 17,000 sculptures, and 2,500 murals. Some 35,000 poster designs were part of that output.

"The posters served manifold purposes, from advertising dramatic productions, agricultural fairs, and community art classes, to issuing public-health warnings about tuberculosis testing and workplace hazards. In the program’s final years, after the United States had entered World War II, artists designed posters with messages urging citizens to be on the alert and to support the war effort.

"Perhaps the best-recognized Federal Art Project posters today, though, are the ones from the 1930s that advertised national parks and monuments. Often rendered in pastel and earth tones, they conveyed the majesty of landscapes like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone in a style that was modern and romantic at once."
And what did the old WPA posters look like? You won't be surprised to learn that I have some reprint postcards of those designs. Here are a few:

Only about 2,000 of the original 35,000 WPA posters still exist, and the Library of Congress has a collection of about 900 of them.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Another round of pruning family photos, Part 2

On the heels of yesterday's post, here's another batch of family photographs that are on the way out the door soon, their "crimes" being either that there are no indentifications or that they feature relatives from too far outside the main family tree. Because it's just too stressful to keep everything, like my great-grandmother, grandmother and mother did for so many decades.

Today's theme — and I didn't plan it this way — seems to be "sour looks." The secondary theme is "children with chairs."

1. Sophie (or Sophia) Pusey, who was some level of cousin. This photograph was taken at T.E. Sexton in Wilmington, Delaware.

2. Edith Pusey, another cousin. Presumably the sister of Sophie/Sophia. The chair and flooring are the same as the first photo. Neither of the Pusey sisters look thrilled.

3. Unknown. But that's a dashing little cloak he's wearing. (Is it a bolero?)

4. This woman was named Sila, if I'm reading the handwriting correctly. She lived in Philadelphia and was a friend of my great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988).

5. Possibly William Reybold of the Philadelphia area, if I'm deciphering the scrawl on the back correctly. The year 1879 is written, and the photograph was taken by A.K.P. Trask of 1210 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. According to the website Cabinet Card Photographers, Albion K.P. Trask lived from 1831 to 1900 and began work as a photographer around 1863. That's a nifty middle parting on Reybold's beard, by the way.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Another round of pruning family photos, Part 1

Putting on my Sisyphus sneakers, I did another round of sorting and pruning the family photographs today. With each round, fewer photos survive the cut, as I try to work toward "completing" this project and putting a big check mark next to it. ✔✔✔

I ended this round with a healthy stack of old photos that have been voted off the island. These are obscure family members, the ones who are way too tangential to the tree. Some of them aren't family members at all. And some of the photos have no information or identification, so they'd be better off as someone else's mystery ephemera at this point.

But, before those snapshots head out the door, I want to share some of them on Papergreat. Because of course I do.

Also, because I've been doing this for so many years (by which I mean both sorting and blogging), there's no guarantee that some of these aren't Papergreat repeats.

1. Erma V. Seeds. A friend of the family, I reckon. She's mentioned in a short article with the headline "Rural Children Become Interested in Health" in the January 13, 1927, edition of The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware: "Miss Erma V. Seeds who is in charge of the Modern Health Crusade work in New Castle and Kent counties visited Felton and left materials for 85 pupils to take part in the crusade."

2. Gertrude Horsey Winder (1881-1963). She was the aunt of my great-grandfather, Howard Horsey “Ted” Adams (1892-1985). I recall other family members telling stories about "Aunt Gertrude."

3. James A. Morgan (1865-1935). He was Aunt Gertrude's first husband, and she was his second wife. James had six children with his first wife, but only two of them lived past age 3.

4. Marjorie Elliott Simmons Kane (1887-1970). She was a cousin of my great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988). Marjorie was born and buried in Wilmington, Delaware. But, according to her obituary, she was a longtime resident of Saranac Lake, New York. She outlived her husband by about 34 years.

5. Utterly unknown.

Ragged QSL card from Romania

This water-stained and pinhole-filled QSL card was sent from Bucharest (București), Romania, to the United States in 1957. The call sign of the Romanian operator, handwritten, appears to be either Y05-1641 or YO5-1641. The contact information on the front states:

P.O. BOX 95

Sent 62 years ago, this QSL card was a response to a contact with W3AIT. That's a call sign that Papergreat readers should be familiar with. It belonged to ham-radio enthusiast Melvin C. Reed of Frackville, Pennsylvania. In May, I featured QSL cards that Reed received from the Soviet Union and France.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Fight over Paul Crockett's legacy, and a long footnote on Charlie O. Howard

When I wrote an oddball post 20 months ago about Paul Crockett, it contained pretty much the entirety of what I knew about that fringe figure from the history of Charles Manson. It represented what I had found at the time by doing a reasonable, but not unhealthy, amount of internet surfing.1 But these are the Manson murders we're talking about, and there are folks out there who seem intent to fully excavate the deepest corners of the sad and infamous case.

And so it is that my Crockett post has drawn more than its fair share of web traffic. Way more than, say, the Egg-O-See cereal postcard. Which is a shame. (Maybe that new Quentin Tarantino/Leonardo DiCaprio flick is giving it a boost, too.)

Here, for posterity, is a chronological roundup of all the comments from the Crockett post. I'm not sure what anyone of it adds up to, but maybe, as Roy Neary says, "this means something."

  • Anonymous wrote: "Actually Crockett didn't live near the family at Spahn. He came into contact with the family in the desert as he was a prospectors. He ended up becoming the manager of Brooks and Paul's band. Later he told Paul he could heal Paul of cancer if he abandoned his family and paid a lot of money, according to Paul. He also ended up leading his own cult which Brooks was part of, again according to Paul."
  • PaulH wrote: "Yes. Crockett was a gold prospector in Death Valley. And he visited Barker's Ranch in Golar Wash. Some of Manson's Family were there at the time. Crockett (who was well-versed in Scientology and programming) instantly notice signs of programming in members of the Family, including Paul Watkins, Brooks Poston, Juan Flynn and Juanita Wildbush. And he was able to deprogram them and got them to leave Manson. Crockett was a true wise man of the desert. An Angel in the Devil's Hole."
  • Unknown wrote: "Crockett turned out to be a con man himself. He saw the incredible money that could be plucked from desperate kids and those attracted to cults. PAUL WATKINS was correct. Paul was the only person to come out of this mess that was with a damn. Never forget Paul Watkins. May his blessed soul rest in peace."
  • Anonymous wrote: "I'm not sure Crockett was a con man. It does seem that he and Paul fell out but maybe that had to happen for Paul to stand on his own two feet. The whole Manson story for me is about the courage Crockett displayed at the Barker Ranch. The White Magician and the Black Magician in the desert. Like when Gurdjieff met Crowley only Crockett was more accommodating. Don't forget Charlie wasn't alone. I would guess Bruce was there, maybe Clem. Terrifying out of control people. Crockett stood between them and the boys. Just before he died I asked him how he'd done it. Where had the courage come from. He answered without hesitation, 'By being completely true to myself.' Not bad for someone called Gaylord eh? RIP old timer. Chris"
  • PaulH wrote: "True. Read the interview with Juanita (Joan) Wildbush. She credits Paul Crockett with turning her mind around ... getting it off Manson's Helter Skelter fantasy ... and getting it to focus on and cope with the 'real world.'"

* * *

1. Speaking of monsters and tumbles down the internet rabbit hole...
I recently stumbled across the io9 article "It Chapter Two Features One Key Change to Pennywise's Homophobic Attack." I had not known that It author Stephen King, when writing that novel in the 1980s, had been deeply moved and inspired by a real-life event when writing about the death of the fictional character Adrian Mellon. I had not known about Charlie O. Howard (1961-1984), a young gay man who was the victim of a hate-crime murder in Bangor, Maine. It Chapter Two director Andy Muschietti said this to Entertainment Weekly:
“It's one of the things that really caused a deep impact on Stephen King when he was writing It. So, he decided to include it. Of course, the names are changed, but the beating happened almost exactly like it’s described in the book, and Charlie died in three feet of water in the canal.”
That was enough to send me into the deep corners of the internet and the digital archives to learn more about Morton's sad and brave life; a too-short life that came during a time when it was not remotely safe or comfortable to be a gay man in most of America, and especially in small-town America. Here are a few things I came across. Much of it is dark. The real-life 1980s were perhaps worse than anything King wrote in his novels. But this history should not be forgotten:

  • The murder, very briefly: On Saturday, July 7, 1984, Howard attended a supper at Interweave, a support organization for gay people in Bangor. When Howard and a friend left on foot, they were assaulted by a trio of teenage boys on the Kenduskeag River Bridge. The boys eventually tossed Howard over the side of the bridge. Howard had suffered a severe asthma attack as the attack unfolded and, due partly to that reason, he drowned in shallow water. His body was found several hours later.
  • A heartening aspect of the aftermath of Howard's death involved the local and national response in support of the gay community. A story by The Associated Press picked up by many newspapers for their July 10 editions tells of nearly 200 people, carrying candles and wearing purple ribbons, marching in Bangor to express grief and outrage. From that march, the Bangor Gay, Lesbian Straight Coalition was born, with about 50 members. "What Charlie represented for us was gay pride," one man told the AP. The Rev. Richard Forcier, an ally of gay rights advocates, was quoted often in early coverage. In a retrospective published by the Bangor Daily News on July 14, 2008, Forcier recalled the days following Howard's death: "The phone calls were nonstop from the national and local news outlets, from parishioners, from strangers wanting information. Amidst all of it, there was deep grief and heartsickness at what had happened in our town. ... The night of the memorial service, hundreds of people streamed in."
  • One of the best pieces of journalism I found regarding Howard's murder and the ways in which it fractured Bangor was an A1 piece by Bruce DeSilva in the Sunday, December 9, 1984, edition of The Hartford Courant. The headline, stripped across the top of the page, is "Killing Splits Bangor in Debate Over Homosexuality, Tolerance." In the article, readers are introduced to a man of faith who is the flipside of Rev. Forcier. That man is the Rev. Herman C. "Buddy" Frankland of Bangor Baptist Church. Frankland seems straight out of central casting for the kind of monstrous men of authority one finds in Stephen King's 1980s novels. Only he's not fiction. He was/is real. (I couldn't find definitively whether he's still alive. He'd be about 83.) Here's a lengthy excerpt from DeSilva's article, to help maintain for the record exactly who Rev. Frankland was:
    "The Bangor Baptist Church is a football field-sized, barnlike building set in the middle of a huge field on the edge of town. Fifteen years ago, it was a handful of people praying in the Rev. Herman C. 'Buddy' Frankland's living room. Now there is the huge church building, a kindergarten through grade 12 school and a radio station with Frankland's initials for the call letters. Church membership stands at 3,000, the largest in Maine.

    "On a recent weekday, Frankland sat at a large, new-looking wooden desk in his roomy, thickly carpeted church office. An immaculate white shirt and a light brown suit hung on his heavyset frame. He talked with the melodious voice of a television preacher, and a picket fence of bright teeth flashed above his square jaw.

    "Homosexuals, he said, would have you believe that God made them that way, 'that it is in their genes.' If that's true, 'then God's word is a lie,' he said, glancing meaningfully at the Bible before him on the desk. Many researchers may say the homosexuals are right, he said, 'but I'd rather believe the Good Book than some Dr. Wangdoodle.'

    "'We know homosexuality is abnormal,' he said. 'History proves it. Every great civilization — Rome, Greece — crumbled when they turned to homosexuality. Babylon, all of them! We don't want to see it happen to America.' ...

    "Frankland is not alone in his views. Eight other area preachers are on the record as making similar statements. But Frankland — a friend of the Rev. Jerry Falwell and a one-time candidate for governor — is the most visible and most outspoken. One some occasions, many here say, he has compared homosexuals with murderers and barnyard animals."
    At the end of DeSilva's lengthy article, John O'Keefe, a gay man living in Bangor, says, "Frankland can't win. I'm not going back into the closet. I'm not going to jump off a bridge. And I won't be pushed."
  • And how did things turn out for Rev. Frankland? (I told you this was a deep dive into the rabbit hole.) In October 1985 — less than a year after ranting about "Dr. Wangdoodle" — Frankland "shocked the church by admitting an affair with a parishioner," according to a January 26, 1986, article by the Chicago Tribune's Michael Coakley. It was further described as "a stunning public confession of adultery by the church`s pastor, an admission that has caused many in the congregation to drift away in anger and dismay." Frankland, married and with four children, first promised to step down from the pulpit within a month. "But, three weeks later, he appeared at a church prayer meeting to say that God wanted him to remain," Coakley wrote.

    That move to retain power didn't go over well. More church members departed and then, finally, the deacons voted to remove Frankland and named as his temporary replacement ... (wait for it) ... Moral Majority founder Rev. Jerry Falwell. (This is what happens when the finances of a 3,000-member church with a 100,000-watt FM radio station are in jeopardy.) Frankland left Bangor, possibly with the promise not to return. But just three years later and much to Falwell's ire, Frankland was back. After initially preaching from a Ramada Inn, he went on to lead Messiah Baptist Church. He had manufactured his own Second Coming.
  • A couple final notes. One of the teenagers involved in Howard's murder later told his story to Edward J. Armstrong for the 1994 book Penitence. In 2009, an Amazon reviewer tried to give the book zero stars, not because the story is bad or unimportant, but because the author does a horrible job: "It's truly a shame because Jim Baines' story is a very important one, both as a study in youth 'corrections' and as a study of youth homophobia. Edward Armstrong's terrible writing skills are a complete distraction for any reader with a basic knowledge of English grammar and structure."
  • And let's conclude with something positive. In early July, Sherry Wood of wrote about a movement to remember Howard's early life in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Sarah Cornell, who works at the Portsmouth Public Library and is on the steering committee of the Seacoast LGBT History Project, helped to organize a public nondenominational remembrance service on July 7. “It feels like an important time to reintroduce Portsmouth to Charlie,” Cornell told Wood. “We need to remember how joyful and brave he was. We also need to take responsibility for how he was treated here.” A campaign successfully raised funds for a memorial marker and bench for Howard in Portsmouth. Learn more at the Seacoast NH LGBT History Project Facebook page. screenshot

Book cover: "The Case of the Ancient Astronauts"

Because, in the 1970s, it was never too early to introduce the little ones to the theories of Erich von Däniken...

  • Title: The Case of the Ancient Astronauts
  • Author: I.J. Gallagher (full name: Ida Jane Gallagher)
  • Cover illustrator: Lynn Sweat
  • Publication date: 1977
  • Publisher: A Contemporary Perspectives Inc. (CPI) book distributed by Raintree Children's Books, Milwaukee
  • Pages: 48
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Chapter titles: (1) Were There Ancient Astronauts? (2) Ancient Maps: Where Did They Come From? (3) The Lines of Nazca (4) Mayan Mysteries (5) Land of the Bird Men (6) The Sky People
  • First paragraph: Do you think that unidentified flying objects (UFO's) are something new? When newspapers report stories of unknown shapes and lights in the sky, do you think it is some miracle of the modern age? If you do, think again.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how unhappy does "UFO's" with an apostrophe make Otto? 11
  • Last paragraph: The Case of the Ancient Astronauts is an unfinished story. The detective work is incomplete. We are still uncertain if there were ancient astronauts and who they were. Maybe someday you will be the scientist who finds evidence that they once did live — and may still be living now.
  • Random sentence from the middle: UFO watcher Gavin Gibbons believes that space beings come from a tenth planet that exploded.
  • Goodreads rating: 3.00 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2018, Colleen wrote: "It says it is a children's book which I found surprising. Got at a book sale. That History Channel show Ancient Aliens deals with a lot of this stuff. It is interesting. Do I believe it all? Probably not. Will I read more and watch the show? Absolutely haha It's so funny sometimes."
  • Not everyone loved this book: In his books column for the September 8, 1985, edition of The Clarion-Ledger/Jackson Daily News in Mississippi, Jim Scafidel discusses censorship and notes: "And here's one that hits close to home: I.J. Gallagher's The Case of the Ancient Astronauts was scuttled in Florida because it claims Ezekiel saw a UFO. Gosh. I had the old prophet doing that myself right here in this column, not two months ago."
  • So, how should we feel about UFOs these days? In a May commentary piece for The Washington Post titled "UFOs exist and everyone needs to adjust to that fact," Daniel W. Drezner wrote:
    "A UFO is not necessarily an alien from another planet. It is simply a flying object that cannot be explained away through conventional means. Because UFOs are usually brought up only to crack jokes, however, they have been dismissed for decades. ...

    "What appears to be happening is that official organs of the state are now acknowledging that UFOs exist, even if they are not literally using the term. They are doing so because enough pilots are reporting UFOs and near-air collisions so as to warrant better record-keeping. They are not saying that these UFOs are extraterrestrials, but they are trying to destigmatize the reporting of a UFO."
    The next step in this process will be seeing what we learn at the Area 51 shindig later this month. As Vice's MJ Banias writes, "What could possibly go wrong?"

* * *

But wait, there's more?
Check out that typography on the title page.

Margaret E. Riedel's
embossed book stamp

On one of my visits to The York Emporium, I noticed that several of the vintage hardcovers featured the same embossed book stamp. These books included Larry McMurthy's The Last Picture Show and Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave. (Two very different books, indeed.)

The circular stamp is roughly the size of the U.S. half dollar. It has the large letters MER in the middle and written around the edges of the outer circle is LIBRARY OF MARGARET E. RIEDEL. Here's an image that I manipulated greatly in Pixlr, in order to make it more discernible.

On the two aforementioned books, someone ⁠— presumably Margaret ⁠— left notes about when she read them:

M.E. Riedel
Read July of "72"

M.E. Riedel
Read July of "80"

The embossed stamp is an interesting way to mark book ownership. It's certainly much less common than an inscription or a bookplate. It's probably less common than personalized stamps, too. (I've started using a personalized purple stamp for my book collection; maybe someone will write about mine in 2069.)

I'm sure some of Riedel's books remain sprinkled throughout The York Emporium. But who was she? And how did her books get there? The name isn't as uncommon as you might think. I found references in Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland and Wisconsin, among other locations.

But the best guess is that this book belonged to Margaret E. Burkins Riedel, who was born and died and Dallastown, York County, Pennsylvania. It makes sense that her books would have eventually ended up at The York Emporium. She lived from 1926 to 1994 and died at age 68 (younger than my mother was when she died). Her husband, who never remarried, died in February 2015.

According to her obituary, "she was a regional manager and demonstrator for 30 years for Sara Coventry Jewelry Corp. She was a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Dallastown and the American Legion Post 605 Ladies Auxiliary in Dallastown."

I hope she would be happy to know that her books are still in circulation a quarter century after her death.