Saturday, January 25, 2020

Book front & back covers:
"The Leaves of Time"

  • Title: The Leaves of Time
  • Author: Neal Barrett Jr. (1929-2014)
  • Illustrator of groovy cover: Mike Hinge (1931-2003)
  • Color of outer edge of pages: Purple
  • Publisher: Lancer Books
  • Publication year: 1971
  • Cover price: 75 cents (the equivalent of $4.80 today)
  • Pages: 205
  • Front cover blurb: "War explodes across the times lines — and only one man of Earth can stop the alien invasion!"
  • Dedication: "For my daughters"
  • First sentence: "DeHaviland huddled under the stubby wing and shivered."
  • Last sentence: "And Jon did..."
  • Random passage from the middle #1: "Good God, man, I don't care how good you are, this isn't something the Federal Police of one country can handle! You've got to get off your collective butts!"
  • Random passage from the middle #2: "It wasn't necessary to be an intelligence agent to read the picture. The world was holding its breath. Fingers were wrapped around triggers, and a few shots had already been fired. But not, so far, the shot that would light the big fuse. That could happen at any moment, might be happening already while he sat there, trying to solve a problem whose answers were now unimportant."
  • All these years, you've been calling them "random" passages. Are they really random? No. I have subjectively chosen most of them. Although subjectively sometimes I'm just being silly.
  • Goodreads rating: 3.71 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt: From doomsdayer520, who gave it 3-out-of-5 stars in 2009: "Here, a poorly-defined and annoyingly inscrutable supernatural demon likes to conquer worlds by spreading political chaos then sponging off of shattered societies. The demon has followed the protagonist to an alternate Earth to spread more havoc and conquer yet another world. Unfortunately, Barrett bungled the differences between time travel, parallel universes, and alternate histories; and most of the plotline involves spy vs. spy shenanigans."
  • Another review: Last November, tarbandu gave the book 1-out-of-5 stars on The PorPor Books Blog, which has been humming along since 2008 and has more than 1,300 posts. That sites describes the plot in amusing fashion: "Soldier Jon DeHaviland finds himself teleported to an alternate Earth, and the city of Vriesborg, in the country of Vinaskaland. Vinaskaland, which occupies the same territory as Canada does in 'our' world, is analogous to Sweden of the early 70s: progressive, peaceful, forward-thinking, and chock-full of gorgeous 'liberated' women! Just when DeHaviland is thanking the Fates for bringing him to a Socialist Wonderland, he receives unwelcome news: a Gorgon has followed him through the teleporter."
  • About the cover artist: Onyx Cube, compiled and edited by Ivan Richards, is a now-dormant blog that focused on the life of works of Mike Hinge. The bulk of Hinge's work was for science fiction and fantasy magazines. But Hinge also did a pair of covers for Time Magazine, including this November 5, 1973, cover focusing on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

1910 postcard to Chief Machinist's Mate John Peter Albert Messang

Although there's no postmark or stamp, this comic postcard appears to have been successfully sent and received in March 1910, a month that was marked by deadly North American avalanches, a catastrophic typhoon in Japan, the explosion of the Lakeview Gusher, President Taft taking action to protect Alaska's seals, and the United States' Immigration Act of 1910 amending law to keep "criminals, paupers, anarchists and diseased persons" out of the country.1

On the back of this postcard, someone has written "Honolulu Mar-16-1910" on the left and "Rec'd at Santa Barbara, Cal. Mar-25-1910" on the right.

The cartoonish characters on the front of the card have been labeled "Rascal" and "Eleanor" by the postcard writer, and the other added writing on the front states, "You may show this to Happie ask him what he think of you & Eleanor. Be sure." On the back, the short message is: "Rascal your hand will get well soon so be good as you know how."

Can we assume that "Rascal" is the postcard addressee – Mr. J. Messang? I think that's a very fair bet. And Mr. J. Messang is, without a doubt in my mind, Chief Machinist's Mate John Peter Albert Messang (1881-1917).

This card is addressed to him aboard the U.S.S. Maryland. In 1910, that would mean the USS Maryland (ACR-8/CA-8), which was commissioned in 1905 and renamed as the Frederick in 1916.

By 1914 (if not earlier), Messang transferred to USS F-1, an F-class submarine that was commissioned in the summer of 1912. It was on that vessel that Merang would die in December 1917.

I first traced Messang to the USS F-1 thanks to the terrific website (Pigboat is slang for military submarine.) The website features a photo of Messang aboard the USS F-1 circa March 1914, and author/webmaster Ric Hedman has kindly given me permission to reproduce it here:

Hedman has indentified Messang as the man seated in the center, with the black hat. Hedman adds that the photo was taken while the USS F-1 was in dry dock at Mare Island, California.

Wikipedia has this information about the accident that took Messang's life: "On 17 December 1917, while maneuvering in exercises off Point Loma, San Diego, California, F-1 and F-3 collided, the former sinking in ten seconds, her port side torn forward of the engine room. Nineteen of her men were lost; the remaining three were rescued by the submarines with which she was operating." Messang's body was not recovered.

According to, Messang was born in Chicago and was a resident of Philadelphia at the time of his death. This additional information is again from
"Messang was married to Hulda Maria Klassy and had a son and a new daughter just a few months before the F-1 sinking. ... His wife and family received word of his death via a telegram from Admiral L.C. Palmer from the navy. The telegram said this: 'The USS F-1 was rammed by another submarine at 7 p.m., Monday December 17, (1917) during a fog, the F-1 sinking immediately. It is with deepest regret that the bureau must convey to you the sad news that your husband, John P.A. Messang, chief machinist's mate, was lost in the sinking of the F-1. No additional information is at hand at this time. You have the sincere sympathy of the bureau in the loss of your husband.' The USS F-1 is the only submarine to be lost by the US during World War I."
It makes me wish we knew more about who sent this postcard to Rascal in 1910, and who Happie and Eleanor were.

1. And, speaking of eventful months, here's what I tweeted today about this one.

A vintage book "deal" that leaves me shaking my head

Well, I suppose this is one way to build a collection of children's books. On, you can purchase "Authentic Decorative Books — Curated Library Curated Vintage Children Classics Library, Set of 75" for the low, low price of just $849. And shipping is free! That works out to just $11.32 per book! And you don't even have to worry about choosing which books you're receiving! JUST LOOK HOW PRETTY THEY ARE! AND YOU NEVER HAVE TO GET YOUR HANDS DUSTY IN A BOOKSTORE!

As the kids say in Acronym-ese, SMDH.

Here's the actual product description: "Transform any room with an instant library from Booth & Williams. Curated collection of 75 children's classics published 1850-1975. A delightful blend of memorable stories and series in a variety of colors and textures sure to distinguish your space. ACTUAL TITLES WILL VARY FROM THOSE PICTURED BUT WILL MAINTAIN THE SAME CONTENT MIX."

And someone actually gave this a five-star review, writing: "All I can say is CHARMING! I recently purchased a large wall unit for my office and I wanted a poo of color. These books were the perfect addition! True classic literature."

I'm guessing the reviewer meant "pop of color," but I think "poo of color" is an insightful typo.

The Facebook page "Booklovers Never Go To Bed Alone" make some great points in ranting about this offering:
"Why. Why why why would someone spend $849 on 75 vintage children’s books??? Go to used bookstores, library bookstores and used book sales. Even if each book were $2.50 (an typical price at most library bookstores for a vintage children’s book — at book sales they cost even less) you’d still be spending $187.50 and picking the ones you want and also be supporting small businesses and your local library. I can’t believe anyone would pay for this"
I agree wholeheartedly! Support your local bookstores! Fill your homes with cool books that you want to read. And save a ton of money!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Vintage postcard: Bear possibly attempting selfie at Yellowstone

I have a small pile of old bear-themed postcards, but somehow I never got around to posting them (besides this adorable bear cub in 2012). There's no time like the present...

This one is a Mirro-Krome card by H.S. Crocker Company of San Bruno, California. (H.S. Crocker was founded in 1856 and is still thriving. It produces foil and non-foil liding, pharmaceutical labels, and other items.) The postcard was published exclusively by Hamilton's Stores, concessioners in Yellowstone National Park from 1915 to 2002.

The photograph itself was taken by W.S. Keller, who is credited underneath this caption on the back:


Turn about is fair play. It's his turn to snap a picture."

The year on the postmark is obscured, but the card was mailed with an 8-cent Eisenhower stamp. The only time it cost 8 cents to mail a postcard was between March 1974 and September 1975, so that's a good guess for the time frame.

The card was mailed from Yellowstone to the Spangler family in Reading, Pennsylvania. The note states:
"June 26
We're moving right along — like snails. Actually we're going great and really enjoying it here in Yellowstone. I thought you might like to see my new camera instructor! You'll have to see my pictures when you have a spare 48 hrs. Hope you are all well. Next stop Grand Tetons.
Hi & Betty & kids"