Saturday, October 10, 2020

American Autumn 2020

Six years ago, I shared a photo essay from my drives around southcentral Pennsylvania, checking out the autumn scenes. 2020 is very different than 2014. For this year's photos, I did what I've done almost every day since late March: I took a walk around the neighborhood and also snapped some shots in our backyard.

This is Ashar feeding the chipmunks. There is another post coming about our amazing backyard chipmunks!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Mild Fear 2020: I told you there would be dolls

Boo! OK, I did warn y'all that there would be dolls during Mild Fear 2020. So let's get them out of the way. This real photo postcard is an absolute gem. It's an AZO card and, based on the four upward-pointing arrows in the stamp box, it dates to between 1904 and 1918. Quite sadly, there is no informative text whatsoever on the back, just some scribbles that may or may not be runic symbols for the summoning of Maharet and Mekare. So we have no idea about the who, when and where of these two young girls.

There are a lot of interesting things to spot in the photo, including the locket on the girl on the left and the bare feet of the girl on the right. And, of course, the dolls. 

But let's be honest. In a Halloween shivers, Grady twins kind of way, what's creepier here... 

 The dolls?

Or the girls?

Thursday, October 8, 2020

From the readers: Witches, Hurr's, floods, Vincent Price & Baba Looey

Pop on your bunny slippers and grab a mug of tea. It's time for another rollicking edition of From the Readers. I've dawdled on this for too long, which means there's a pretty big stockpile to share. Special thanks to all of the older readers sharing wonderful mid-century memories that might otherwise be lost.

I connected Morten, a librarian and Princess Bride fan in Norway, with Papergreat via Postcrossing. He sent these helpful comments about the 2013 post Theodor Kittelsen postcard: Trollkjerringer på Norefjell: "Dear Chris, thank you for linking to your blog post about Kittelsen's witches. This image was new to me, and you appear to be well informed in many things. Allow me to suggest a few edits:
  • 'Enerett' is a noun, not a first name. It's an archaic word for 'copyright'
  • The word 'trollkjerringer' is plural, as it ends with '-er'. A single witch is a 'trollkjerring'
  • Norefjell is just 40 km away from Kittelsen's home at Lauvlia. And the Norefjell range must have been the local equivalent to Blocksberg"

Meanwhile, in early July I wrote a little bit about Atomic Plot (Dale of the Mounted #9). In that post, I mentioned blogger Brian Busby of The Dusty Bookcase, who is fond of the Dale of the Mounted books but had never read Atomic Plot. So I got in touch with Brian and was able to send him Atomic Plot, because that is clearly the proper home for the book. Here's the link to his enjoyable recent review of Dale's atomic adventure.

Some 1965 Amazing Stories ads were too amazing to be true: Here's another roundabout connection. Aaron Raisey, writing on Instagram, recently featured an "advertising booklet from 1953 for a long-gone establishment called Werewolf Bookshop featuring Gnome Press." He links to my Papergreat post because of its short mention of some of the history of Werewolf Bookshop. In addition, Aaron emailed me and mentioned something else: "As an aside, I see you have an interest in Ruth Manning-Sanders. One of my very favourite books from my childhood is A Book of Ghosts and Goblins. I read this so many times as an elementary school kid in the late 70s. Some of those stories scared the bejesus out of me!!  Maybe 8 or so years ago I picked up first editions of this and A Book of Enchantments and Curses. They will appear on my Instagram at some point in the future." Raisey's Instagram account is highly recommended for Papergreat followers and book lovers. Recent posts have featured Sargasso of Space, Iceworld, The Enormous Egg and a couple of novels by Clifford Simak.

Rest of the old grocery store photos: Tom from the dandy Garage Sale Finds blog writes: "I believe the toy on his shoulder is Quick Draw McGraw's sidekick, Baba Looey. As for the Native American cartoon, it almost looks like the Ernie the Keebler Elf behind him, so could be something related to that, although I'm thrown by the 'Klear' drum the other Native American is beating."

Vanished place: Old South Bar-B-Q Ranch in Clewiston, Florida: Mr. Two Cents writes: "Ah yes. I remember always chuckling at the funny epitaphs on the tombstones of the little graveyard near the parking lot."

Montoursville 2018: Hurr's: Anonymous writes: "When I lived as a 10-year-old kid on Randall Circle in Williamsport, we used to bike to a Hurr's stand by the road that was shaped like a malted milk glass or mixer. I think it had a huge fake straw sticking out the top. Anybody remember that? It would have been 1943, when the TNT plant was being built."

Real photo postcard: Flooded Sunbury, Pa., in 1936: Harvey writes: "I remember the 1936 flood while living as a kid near Forty Fort. My dad was called to help evacuate his boss's house, moving furniture to save it, etc. Later a small book about it was published, Lest We Forget. I remember it on our bookshelf. Forty Fort was badly flooded; people spoke of the coffins floating uprooted from the graveyard."

Mystery RPPC: Feeding a chipmunk at Yellowstone: Alyxyn writes: "My name is Robert Brawn and I currently reside in Eugene, Oregon. It is my understanding that 'Grant Brawn' is a relative of mine through my father Richard's father, Sumner Brawn. My family is out of Yoncalla, Oregon, but my grandfather's family had a large presence in Portland as well."

A label for Frostie Root Beer (a jailhouse-born beverage): Two comments on this popular 2012 post:
  • Unknown writes: "Just found Frostie blue cream soda at an Aldi in Gallatin, Tennessee. Still trying to find their root beer."
  • ptrain8 writes: "As of Summer 2020, Frostie Root Beer, Diet Root Beer, Grape Soda, Blue Cream Soda and Orange Soda are now available at Food Lion stores out of Salisbury, North Carolina."
Book Cover of the Day: What's up with his toes? Ziaheart, commenting on one of Papergreat's super-earliest posts, notes: "The stories are so enjoyable that they're literal toe-curlers."

"Only long enough to make a beginning" (a short post about the 1958 science-fiction novel 43,000 Years Later): Anthony J. Langford writes: "Reading it now. Finding it full of interesting, satirical and insightful passages like the one you present."

Happy 100th birthday, Vincent Price: Margaret Leona Garnto shares these memories: "I am a Vincent Price fan too. I have been a fan of his for many years since the 1970s, and I have admired his work on television and in the movies of his that I have seen on TV. I even had a crush on him from late 1973 to mid-1978. He was also my favorite Hollywood Squares panelist at that time, and I always enjoyed listening to his witty answers to the questions that he was asked on the show. I have never met him personally, but I met him only in dreams that I had about him back then, including a scary dream about him back in early January of 1973, where he made a room go dark and gave me quite a scare."

Saturday's postcard: Whale at Moon Valley Park in Milford, Pa.: Wendyvee, commenting on Twitter, wrote: "Reminds me of a mini version of Fantasyland. I've been there on my bike several times; but post Moon Valley."

Bushkill Falls: "A Delightful One-Day Auto Trip": Unknown writes: "I have that same poster. I think it is 1934."

Eight awesome things you'll never find inside e-books: Pip writes: "My grandfather owned Ell's Books in Newcastle. I now live in Newcastle and lots of elderly people still ask me if I'm related to Ell's Books ... then they tell me all their lovely memories!"

Cheerful Card Company can help you earn extra money for the holidays: Irv Kettler shares these lovely memories: "I, too, had great experience 70 years ago sending off for a sample box of cheerful cards. Every person commented as to how they had never seen such pretty cards. I even sold scalloped stationery to a young teenage boy. Those cards 'sold' themselves and my younger sisters continued that legacy after I went off to military school — for another TEN years! I learned a lot about selling and keeping customers such that when I started my own insurance business, I became a beloved agent."

1979 Star Wars toy ads: Taylor2878 writes: "Just goes to show have far the franchise and the world of marketing has advanced through the years. The first releases of Star Wars toys were very interesting because they offered a wide variety of choices in different categories. If you wanna learn more about the history of Star Wars Toys, you can go check out The Toy Report for more information about the releases of Star Wars figures dating back to the first releases and the present releases."

Scholastic Fest: #11, Nine Witch Tales: Unknown writes: "I checked this book out from my school library when I was in 6th grade. I loved it! Excellent Halloween read. I never forgot it."

Real photo postcard: Steam Valley Mountain sign: Wendyvee, commenting on Papergreat's Facebook page, wrote: "Came for the vintage photo .... stayed for the Bigfoot sighting."

A time-honored school tradition: The excuse note: Unknown writes: "My store is in Waynesboro Virginia, where Fishburne Military School is located. It is definitely a pennant from that school."

"Mystery at Long Barrow House":  Ziaheart writes: "Is ... Becky pouting because she doesn't have chores to do? And she's being described as petulant for wanting to help with chores? My, how times changed."

"For perfect attendance at school": Ziaheart writes: "The odd double-lines on the signature makes my cynical self wonder if Marie hadn't written the note herself and forged her teacher's signature."

Postcard: One-room Amish school near Arthur, Illinois: Unknown writes: "I'd like to know more about the Liberty Amish school that was located southeast of Arthur, Illinois, several years ago. My wife, Doris Painter, went to this school for two years sometime around 1938-1942. Does anyone have a listing of the students from this era?"

Memories of the Junior Deluxe Editions from Nelson Doubleday: Unknown writes: "My mother signed me up to Junior Deluxe Editions when I was 10 years old. I grew up reading them."

Obscure and fabulous movie poster: Wendyvee, commenting on Facebook, wrote: "I definitely see why you were reminded of Bonnie MacLean. I love her style."

Promotional postcard for arcade game with Bimbo the clown: Unknown writes: "That was my grandfather's company. His name was Eugene Daddis. Hence Daddi-o." ... (Ironically, I had written, "There's a good chance that's the last Daddi-O reference on Papergreat." How wrong I was!)

Lamenting what we'll never know about Phyllis J. Stalnaker Harris: LindoLuciano writes: "You look at those eyes — you see more than any earthly records could have collected; you see Phyllis J. Stalnaker's soul. There's Vivian Maier, who recently became known post-mortem too — she and her body of work that immortalized dozens of individuals through single snapshots, too. And there's Elizabeth Short of course — another one who died too young, whose life became reduced to two words: Black Dahlia. And now, as if by a delayed miraculous twist of fate, the world knows they exist. Their lives were prematurely ended and their dreams went unfulfilled for the most part — but their souls must be smiling now, in eternity."

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Attar the Merman addendum featuring Ron Glass

I've had two posts featuring author Joe Haldeman (1943-present) within the past two months and not only did I fail to connect the two to each other, but I failed (until now) to realize that Haldeman also penned the original story behind eight of my favorite minutes of 1980s television. 

So here's the rundown, the Hugo- and Nebula-winning Haldeman wrote Planet of Judgment, the Star Trek novel I highlighted in August because of its groovy insert advertisement for original hand-painted cels from Star Trek: The Animated Series

Haldeman also wrote the two Attar the Merman books, including War of Nerves, which I wrote about last month. These are not considered memorable novels, with the possible exception of the character Grampus.

But Haldeman also (in addition to all his award-winning stuff) wrote the short story "I of Newton," which was published in the June 1970 issue of Fantastic Stories magazine. It details a college mathematics professor who accidentally sells his soul to the devil. And I will give no further details. 

Alan Brennert turned the story into a short teleplay for the 1985 revival of the television series The Twilight Zone. It stars Ron Glass and Sherman Hemsley and ... well, you should really just go ahead and watch it.


Book cover: "The Mystery of the Shining Children"

  • Title: The Mystery of the Shining Children
  • Series: Jenny Dean Science Fiction Mysteries (#1 out of 4)
  • Author: Dale Carson (Dale Elissa Bick Carlson)
  • Cover illustrator: Gino D'Achille
  • Interior illustrator: Suzanne Richardson
  • Back cover blurb: "Enter the world of Jenny Dean, a sixteen-year-old sleuth with a passion for solving some of the most extraordinary science fiction mysteries ever recorded. Jenny's escapades take her and her friends beyond the ordinary world and into a super-unusual world of suspense, drama, and adventure."
  • Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
  • Back cover price: $2.95 (the equivalent of about $7.65 today)
  • Year: 1983 
  • Pages: 136
  • Format: Hardcover 
  • Dedication: For my daughter Hannah who is my Jenny and my joy
  • First sentence: Jenny Dean noticed when the stars came out.
  • Last sentence: "Let's call this one The Mystery of the Hidden Trap."
  • A lead-in to the second book in the series? Yep. This book was followed by The Mystery of the Hidden Trap, The Mystery of the Third Eye and The Secret of the Invisible City.
  • Excerpted sentence from the middle #1: Their English teacher was always concerned with showing her students that the world did not center around their own navels.
  • Excerpted sentence from the middle #2: She wasn't as wild over the electronic games as Mike was, but half and hour of watching little computer blobs gobble up other little computer blobs did reduce the mind to a nice, quiet jelly.
  • Excerpted sentence from the middle #3: "And now that we know Jackie's condition is hardly dangerous, we may have to trim our imaginations a bit."
  • Recent tweet that excerpt #3 reminds me of: "Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"
  • About the author: This is from the "About the Author" on the page preceding the title page of The Mystery of the Shining Children: "Dale Carson is the author of over thirty books for young people. ... Ms. Carlson says that her daughter Hannah, 'edits all my current books, and also provides my favorite heroines. She is particularly the heroine of the Jenny Dean Science Fiction Mysteries.' Her son Danny, coauthored her book The Shining Pool. Ms. Carlson lives in New York City." ... The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction notes in its short biography that "Carlson's work is lively, and consistently displays a loving-kindness about the natural world."
  • About the series: Mary Crosson's "No Frills" Juvenile Series Book Information Site has this to say about the four Jenny Dean books: "Rarity of rarities, it's a science fiction-based mystery series for girls, and without a single unicorn or talking animal! Jenny Dean, daughter of a veterinarian and a psychologist, lives in Winter Falls, Kansas, a small town populated with aliens, an evil Nazi scientist (named 'Adolf Hess,') mind control, quintuplets, and bad-seed children. She and her friends investigate the creepy goings-on in this Grosset and Dunlap series, which was published in picture cover format in 1983-1984."
  • Rating on Goodreads: 3.55 stars (out of 5)
  • Review excerpt: Writing on Series Books for Girls in 2016, Jennifer White states, "Jenny is more perfect than Nancy Drew in the opening scene. The author lets the reader know that Jenny's parents and the police chief come to Jenny for advice concerning just about all of their problems.  And Jenny always knows the answers." Check out White's post for more insight into the series' first and second books. (And while you're there, her website is fantastic.)

But wait, there's more!

Here are the book's endpapers (featuring a map of Jenny Dean's town) and an advertisement, on the book's last page, for a contest to "Win Jenny Dean's Bike." The entry deadline was March 30, 1984, so we're out of luck.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Mild Fear 2020: I'll try to be gentle

I wrote about this postcard in 2015, so it's OK that I'm presenting a Pixlr'd version here. 

I think we have enough happenings that are causing us fear, stress and anxiety in 2020, don't you? I've been occasionally curating the headlines of the day for posterity, and they're not really getting any better.1 Here are today's, for example:

  • Trump returns to White House, downplaying virus that hospitalized him and turned West Wing into a "ghost town"
  • Concern rises for White House residence staffers as their workplace emerges as a virus hot spot
  • For Secret Service, a New Question: Who Will Protect Them From President?
  • "An embarrassment": Trump tweet angers pandemic survivors
  • White House blocks FDA’s ramped up coronavirus vaccine guidelines
  • Colleges are cutting sports programs in the pandemic — upending the lives of athletes and coaches
  • LSU football to remove CDC wellness checks, resume alcohol sales at Tiger Stadium
  • CDC now says it CAN spread indoors
  • Cuomo orders closures in NYC as surge continues
  • Post-Pandemic "New Normal" Looks Awfully Authoritarian
  • Europe's Second Covid Wave Starts to Spill Over From Young to Old
  • Mexico reports record daily increase in cases, deaths
  • New Hurricane Threat Looms For Gulf Coast 

So, with this in mind, I'll try to veer toward a kindler, gentler and even milder Mild Fear 2020 — a Papergreat tradition since 2015. There are plenty of ways to enjoy Halloween Month, the greatest of all months, without (additional) unnecessary shocks and jolts. The one caveat would probably be dolls. If you're not a big fan of dolls, this might not be the 100% mildest of all possible Mild Fears. But other that, you should be OK. Probably. 

Honestly, the ghosts, goblins and grotesques are probably as distraught about 2020 as most of us are. I think this one from Château de Blois in Loire Valley, France, sums up what we're feeling about 2020 quite nicely, don't you?

1. Past headline collections:

Shoe houses of the world

(Haines Shoe House, photo by me) 

There are, I'm sure, many novelty houses around the world that are shaped like shoes or boots. We have our own right here in York County, the Haines Shoe House, and after all these years of living here I never got there for a tour until Ashar and I went in June 2019. (In a 2017 post on Only in York County, Joan notes that Shoe House owner Mahlon Haines used to give couples vacations for weddings, anniversaries and other occasions. It gave his shoe business great free advertising, of course.) 

Here are some other photos I took last year, during on overcast day in which we got hit with some big thunderbumpers shortly after we left the Shoe House.
And here's an old postcard of a different shoe house, one that's about 8,000 miles from the Haines Shoe House...
This footwear that you can go inside is located at Kamala Nehru Park in Mumbai, India. The structure was built in 1952 as part of a children's park. According to a 2018 article in The Hindu, the shoe house was damaged by a lightning strike around 2013. The house and the park were temporarily shut down for a makeover (and a blue coat of paint for the shoe) that got mixed reviews in 2018. 

This postcard was mailed to Burnley, England, in 1967 with this note:
Dear Pam,
Hope you recieved [sic] my last letter. Thank-you for the card and bookmark. This is the Old Lady's Shoe in Kamala Nehru Park, which is situated on Malabar Hill. We get a good view of Bombay from here. Please reply.
Love, Mahrukh
(Bombay is what Mumbai was called from the 1500s to 1995. Its oldest names, according to Wikipedia, are Kakamuchee and Galajunkja.)

Monday, October 5, 2020

Great links: Stuart Humphryes' amazing BabelColour restorations

Before and after, as restored by BabelColour: Autochrome from the Albert Kahn collection taken in Porto-Novo, Dahomey (now Benin) in 1930. (Twitter, September 19, 2020) 

Years ago, I wrote a couple of posts about Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii's color photos from the early 20th century (Post 1, Post 2). I love seeing color photography from 90, 100 or 110-plus years ago. One reason it's enchanting, of course, is because there's so very little of it. With his pioneering work supported by Tsar Nicholas II, Prokudin-Gorskii traveled across Russia, mostly by train, from 1909 to 1912 and again in 1915 to take his color photographs. His work can now be seen at the United States Library of Congress

But what of other color photography from that era? I know I'm incredibly late to discovering Stuart Humphryes (aka BabelColour), but better late than never! And if I can introduce a few others to his amazing restoration work, that's even better. 

In a nutshell, BabelColour painstakingly cleans, enhances and refurbishes early color photography. There is no Ted Turner-level colorizing that is taking place. These photos were taken in color and meant to be seen in color. They've just been neglected or suffered the ravages of time over many decades.

You can see BabelColour's work on Twitter and at his website. (And, honestly, if you skip the rest of this post and spend the next hour browsing his work, that's fine with me. That's kind of the point.)

While BabelColour's restored color images are astounding educational images on their own, he also works to give insights into his process and the history of early color photography. In August he wrote, "I tweet a lot about restoring autochromes & I'm conscious that not all of you will know what that means. Autochromes are early colour photos, made up of thousands of tiny coloured dots on sheets of glass. Holding the glass up to the light (or in a viewer) lets you see the image." And in April, he shared some restored images from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake aftermath and noted, "If you thought colour photography began with the patent of the autochrome in 1907, think again! These astounding colour photographs of San Francisco's earthquake in 1906 were taken by inventor Frederick Ives 114 years ago, but look like they could have been taken in the 1970s!" 

Here are some of my favorite BabelColour images...
"Today I have restored a lovely, century-old autochrome for you, taken on the French coast by Gustave Gain c1920. The richness and colour variation of the rocks is quite beautiful. It is original colour (not colourised)." (Twitter, August 22, 2020)
"Here is another old autochome I've restored for you, taken 111 years ago at the first Paris Air Show in September 1909. (It isn't colourised)." (Twitter, July 22, 2020)
"Here's a restoration from the opening months of the First World War in 1914. This autochrome was taken in France 106 years ago by Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud, showing Alpine infantry soldiers at their riverside bivouac." (Twitter, July 25, 2020)
"108 years ago, in the October light of 1912, this stunningly evocative portrait was taken in Nottinghamshire of a young girl named Audrey Green, which I have restored for you today. It was taken by budding amateur photographer Stephen Pegler & is original colour (not colourised)." (Twitter, September 12, 2020)