Tuesday, November 19, 2019

1938 newspaper recipe for
peach-mint jelly

This hails from the May 18, 1938, edition of The Honolulu Advertiser and might just be something you want to seriously consider, for a change.

Monday, November 18, 2019

How much is that haunted doll in the eBay window I have open?

The New York Times recently published an article by Alicia DeSantis with an attention-grabber headline: "The Weird World of ‘Haunted’ eBay: ‘Purchase With Caution’". It's about the odd, to say the least, subculture of those who attempt to boost the value of the everyday items they're peddling on the online auction service by claiming that the item is touched by the supernatural — possessed, cursed, magical, haunted, etc. This hucksterism is nothing new, of course. Since the idea of "magic beans" first sprouted centuries ago, humankind has never been without swindlers and those who are receptive, even enthusiastic, about being swindled.

The Times is not the first to write about supernatural-tinged online auctions. Other pieces of note have been published by Sabrina Maddeaux for Vox; by Reyhan Harmanci for Topic; by Katherine Carlson for The New Yorker; and by Luke Winkie for Vice. But one thing I enjoyed about short Times article was the interview with artist Eric Oglander. He has a fascination with witnessing, and documenting, the everflowing stream of "haunted" objects on eBay. He understands that cyberspace is fleeting, ephemeral. And so he deploys one of the best tools we have for documentation: the screenshot. The Times' DeSantis writes:
"Oglander describes himself as a 'collector of aesthetics,' and his material is the ephemera of the world around us. For him, it is not the item on sale, but rather the listing itself which becomes the object. The listings are 'a way of containing a story and also telling a story,' he said."
Indeed, in a slight twist on Papergreat's mantra, every eBay listing tells a story. And says something about us. So, in that spirit (no pun intended), here's the haunted-item listing I'm adding to the record for posterity.

The full description for Very Expensive Haunted Troll states:
Haunted Troll Doll.. Discontinued collectors item. . Condition is Used. Shipped with USPS First Class Package. This doll is haunted. I got it from an estate sale where some old lady had passed away. The man at the sale was making comments about how she or the house was haunted and he would not buy anything and take it home because he would not want that activity in his house. I felt compelled to buy this doll. within a week of having it, a doll that belonged to my daughter who has passed away started to play its music. Then a couple days later I was in the bathroom after a shower and felt something touch my leg. Next day in my bedroom right after putting on my pajamas I was touched on the opposite leg, but this time it felt like a grab.. Since then I've been in bed and felt like someone sat down on the end of my bed. I have been at my computer and felt something touch my hair and lightly tug at it. That has happen several times. I have seen a shadow figure and my dog has got up and went to growl where the movement happened. Those who want a haunted object, this is it! I was trying to sell this well before Halloween, so no its not for a Halloween hype. This is real. Not a joke. If you collect haunted objects. This doll is for you. It does have a little crack in its tail, but that obviously does to effect the amount of haunt you get from this figure. Once its sold, I wont take it back, I take no responsibility in any form as to what happens when you receive it. FREE SHIPPING ONLY IN THE USA...…. NO EXCEPTIONS...……….
Hurry now. This offer to curse your family for just $400 won't last.

Matchbook: Hartwig's The Gobbler Supper Club & Gobbler Motel

One cold night last winter, I tumbled down the online rabbit hole of supper clubs in Wisconsin. You read that correctly. Supper clubs in Wisconsin, baby! Winter nights don't get funner than that. The kickstarter, to the best of my recollection, was an Atlas Obscura article titled, unsurprisingly, "Inside the ‘Trend-Free’ World of Wisconsin’s Supper Clubs."1 That piece, by Anne Ewbank, paints an intriguing picture of supper clubs, which operate in their own realm, somewhere between speakeasies and social hubs:
"They’re distinguished by taxidermy, dark wood, and their location: romantically remote, on the borders of lakes or forests. ... While food is always made from scratch and varies slightly from club to club, [Documentary filmmaker and supper club-chronicler Ron] Faiola says the only way to describe the meat-and-seafood heavy meals is 'American cuisine,' and a lot of it. The brandy Old-Fashioned, served sweet, is a mainstay."
But supper clubs aren't actually a super-niche topic. A little searching uncovers a good bit of journalism. Readers (and journalists) like food. For example:

My contribution to supper clubbin' is the old matchbook cover featured at the top of this post.2 It touting a pair of establishments in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin, at the intersection of Wisconsin Highway 26 and Interstate 94. Those establishments are The Gobbler Supper Club and Coffee Shop and the Gobbler Motel. The businesses are additionally branded with the word "Hartwig's" in front of their names. The matchbook doesn't tell us much about the supper club, but there's plenty of information about the Gobbler Motel amenities:

  • Heated Indoor Pool and Kiddies Pool
  • Color Television
  • Saunas - Sunken Baths3
  • Water Beds
  • Tennis - Shuffleboard
  • 50 Acres of Land for Snowmobiling
  • Hills for Sledding or Skiing (Bring your own equipment)

That seems like an odd combination of features, no? It's like they were trying to cater to families, seniors and swingers all at once. I bet that made for some interesting conversations at the coffee shop.

Indeed, we are just getting started. Buckle up.

First up: The Hartwig establishments were called "Gobbler" because they were, alas, literally underwritten by a turkey slaughterhouse.

Wikipedia tells us that the supper club and motel were funded by Clarence Hartwig, who had a huge poultry plant nearby; it operated until 1971, when Hartwig decided it would be too costly to bring the plant up to new USDA standards.

The supper club and motel were designed by Helmut Ajango and opened in 1967. From the air, the supper club sort-of looks like a turkey. The restaurant had a rotating circular bar that made one revolution every 80 minutes. The menu featured a lot of turkey dishes. Meanwhile, again per Wikipedia, "the Gobbler Motel had an adventurous, futuristic Googie architecture design that featured 49 rooms with symbol-shaped waterbeds (such as a heart-shape), 8-track players, round sunken bathtubs,and differently colored shag carpet that extended up the walls in each themed room."

Maybe the salmon-colored matchbook is starting to make sense now. The Kiddie Pool, not so much.

Both the supper club and motel closed in 1992, though the restaurant reopened as The Gobbler Theater in 2015. The rotating bar is still intact and, as of this writing, performers set to appear in 2020 include Sara Evans, Ronnie Milsap and Roseanne Barr.4 But folks can no longer go across the street to a shag-carpeted room after events. "It's nice and cozy," Connie Brunk told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a 2017 article, while waiting with her husband to see country singer Kellie Pickler, a former "American Idol" finalist and "Dancing with the Stars" champion, take the stage. "I am very happy that they did this. It's nice that it's still here and still being used. It's alive again."

And so the supper club has been reborn as a theater, even as traditional supper clubs continue to thrive elsewhere in Wisconsin. But the Gobbler Motel was demolished after it closed. Perhaps that's for the better. But some are trying to keep the memories alive. Journalist/humorist James Lileks has a special place in his heart for the Gobbler Motel, dubbing it the grooviest motel in Wisconsin. His website, which I hope persists, documents these special guest rooms, among others: the Passion Pit, Countryside rooms, the Bridal Suite, and Cupid's Hide-A-Way, complete with waterbed. There's much more on Lileks' website about both Gobbler establishments you should check out. Two words: Turkey carpeting.

And with that, it might be best to just bring this post to a close. We've strayed far from the original foodie topic of supper clubs. That's what happens, I reckon, when you head down a rabbit hole.

Happy early Thanksgiving.

1. I first mentioned that Atlas Obscura piece in this #FridayReads roundup.
2. Also, the matchbook cover is salmon, but I don't think the combination of my scanner and my Pixlr color-correction skills did a very good job of conveying that. "The scanner can't handle salmon," might end up being a chapter title in my autobiography.
3. Not to be confused with sunkenariums.
4. If you had "Roseanne Barr makes first Papergreat appearance in Post #3,012" on your bingo card, you're a winner.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Promotional postcard for arcade game with Bimbo the clown

Hey, it's The Original Bimbo 3 Ring Circus!!

Does anyone remember playing The Original Bimbo 3 Ring Circus??

I don't.

This undated, unused postcard has the following explanatory text on the back:
The Singing and Dancing Clown
is a tested located proven moneymaker, suitable for Arcades, Discount Houses, Five and Tens, Department Stores or any other place where children congregate. This sure-fire winner takes floor space of 24 x 27 inches. Bimbo features a solid state tape cartridge player, dust proof plug-in relays. Housed in a top quality laminated cabinet, Bimbo is another product of United Billiards, Inc., 51 Progress St., Union, New Jersey 07083. (201-686-7030)
So, let's turn to the experts. The International Arcade Museum®, which describes itself as "the world's largest educational center focusing on the art, inventions, science, and history of the amusement, coin-operated machine, game, and videogame industries," has an entry for Bimbo, which states that it was released in 1981, five years before Stephen King's It slammed the door on any hope that America would make clowns fun again.

The International Arcade Museum® adds that United Billiards began releasing arcade games in 1975, and its other games included Omicron Cocktail Table, Sportacard, Super UBI Cocktail Table, UBI Cocktail Table, and Daddi-O. (And there's a good chance that's the last Daddi-O reference on Papergreat.)

Another website with some good information about Bimbo is pinrepair.com. The author explains that the 1981 game was actually a remake of a musical 1956 arcade machine called Peppy the Clown. (Check out those pictures. They're great.) Here are some details on Bimbo's "game play" from that site:
"Designed for kids, Bimbo the clown talked and sang, moving his head from side to side, player could press buttons on the front console which controlled Bimbo 3 Ring Circus' arm and leg movement. ... Each game play is approximately one minute long, depending on the length of the original songs. The song titles include 'Yankee Doodle', 'Oh Susannah', 'The Farmer in the Dell', 'East Side, West Side' and other standards, sung in a sing-songy way to appeal to young children."
If you feel the need to have your very own sing-songy The Original Bimbo 3 Ring Circus arcade game, perhaps so you can put it beside your Annabelle doll, you're in luck. There's one on eBay with a Buy It Now price of just $995. Have it delivered just in time for the holidays.