Saturday, November 7, 2020

There will be no lack of documentation or keepsakes

There's little need to document this week in American history. There will be endless books, magazine articles, saved newspapers, documentaries ... you name it. At this point, I'm sure, people are curating and keepsaking posts from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps even family text messages sent back and forth. So I'm just going to add one artifact to the mix. The blending of pop culture, history and memes. It's a Friday scene from Philadelphia and it comes from @adambonin's Twitter account:

Postcard my great-grandmother sent from Taxco, Mexico

My great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988), mailed this postcard to my mother and uncle in December 1967. She sent it around the time Otis Redding died in a plane crash, the Concorde was first shown to the public and the U.S. government was testing to see whether atomic bombs could be used to facilitate the fracking needed for natural gas extraction.1

Shown in the Editorial Mexico/Fischgrund postcard is a vista from Taxco, Mexico. Taxco, in central southern Mexico. According to Wikipedia, and as we can see in the postcard, "The city of Taxco lies on very rugged terrain and has steep, irregular streets. The streets are also narrow and generally lack sidewalks, making them picturesque but dangerous. Adding to the charm is that most streets are paved with dark stones, adorned with lines, pictures and even murals of white stone."

Here's the note Greta wrote 53 years ago in her shaky cursive handwriting:
"Going to Taxco today for over-night. Been too busy to send cards on trip. Sorry. Hope you're well. Had pretty air-plane & auto trips. Not crazy about meals. Weather been pretty — some rain in [sic] few showers. Get tired in Mexico City walking around.
I mean, she was 73, so I think we can cut her a little slack for being pooped at all that walking.


Thursday, November 5, 2020

QSL from West Germany in 1963

Ham radio time again! Here's another QSL card that was sent to Melvin "Midge" C. Reed, who was last featured in August. (August seems so long ago, in this longest of years.)

This comes from German shortwave amateur station operation Kurt Jana (DL1VG) and features a contact from late February 1963. Jana lived near Braunschweig, West Germany. That city, which dates to the 9th century, struggled during the Cold War, according to Wikipedia, because of its proximity to the Iron Curtain and the loss of its nearby economic partnerships in East Germany. I wonder what Kurt had to say to Midge during their wintertime conversation 57 years ago?

The card itself appears to be advertising Roto-Werke, a printing press manufacturer (I think) that operated from 1912 to 1982 in Königslutter am Elm.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Aspirational book cover: "A Million and More Strides"

  • Title: A Million and More Strides
  • Author: E. Hector Kyme (who was mentioned in passing in this recent post)
  • Jacket photograph: "Self photograph of the author walking across Beeley Moors, Derbyshire (taken using a 30ft cable release)"
  • Dust jacket blurb: "When Hector Kyme decided to walk the length of Britain he chose to go north-west to south-east — Durness to Dover, which he considered a more beautiful and interesting route — as well as less crowded — than the commoner John O'Groats to Lands End. He carried all his belongings, including two cameras, in a rucksack and in this book he describes the wonder and excitement he experienced from the wild beauty of the north to the architectural and historic treasures of the south. Whenever possible Kyme kept to country lanes or minor roads. Sometimes he deviated to see a notable scene or a village of notable charm, but everywhere — and these were among the more memorable of his experiences — he met and made friends with people"
  • Relevant Elton John song/Bernie Taupin lyric: 
"I hope the day will be a lighter highway
For friends are found on every road
Can you ever think of any better way
For the lost and weary travelers to go
Making friends for the world to see
Let the people know you got what you need"
  • Publisher: Robert Hale, London
  • Original price: £3.50
  • Year: 1975
  • Pages: 207
  • Format: Hardcover 
  • First sentence: With one elbow resting on the roof of his superb car, affording support while divesting himself of his fishing waders, an angler answered my "How do you do?" with "Good day, where are you going?"
  • Last sentence: Incidentally, do join me on my next journey.
  • Random sentence from the middle: Soon, I was so alone that cows and sheep wandered about the road, quite unconcerned about me.
  • Random passage from the middle: Next followed the most hauntingly beautiful county of this realm with the road undulating and swaying, following the contours of the land. It seems as if the monotonous, dull, routine jobs of industry were more than a million miles away, and that the clangs and clatters of hammers were only to be found in Vulcan's forge and that all mythological. 
  • What is Vulcan's forge? It could refer to this by Diego Velázquez or, more likely perhaps, this.
  • Online ratings or reviews of this book: None. 
  • Other books of note: Also on the dust jacket, we learn that this is the first book that Kyme has written, but he provided photographs for two others — Portrait of the Pennines and Peakland Days, both by his friend Roger Redfern. ... Meanwhile, these two pastoral books are promoted on the back cover: More Country Talk by J.H.B. Peel and Four Seasons in Three Counties by Edward Storey.
Interior photo by author

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Today's most important ephemera

Monday, November 2, 2020

Victorian advertising card: "On The Lookout"

This old advertising trade card features a man who looks a little bit like an undercover Santa Claus using his spyglass (handheld telescope) for some unknown purpose. We can only hope that he's not looking directly into the sunrise/sunset. That would be unsafe

The card, which measures 3⅛ inches by 5¼ inches, was produced by August Gast & Co. The text states:

NEEDLES, Oil, Attachments, Etc.,
New Office:

I'm fairly stumped about where this Genesee Street is located. There are no great or obvious results from initial internet searches. If I had to guess, I'd say it's somewhere in New York state. Utica? Rochester? Syracuse? Buffalo? Genesee, which, according to Wikipedia, is derived from the Seneca (Onödowáʼga) word for "pleasant valley," is a very common name throughout New York.

But wait, there's more! 

It's been a while since I did a good curation of the many posts about Victorian advertising cards that have appeared on Papergreat over the past decade. But here is a sampling of some of the more "recent" ones, if you want to dive in for an Election Eve distraction:

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Donovan is here to take the children

I wasn't even aware that this movie existed until this morning! A bit lost in the sands of time, it's 1972's The Pied Piper, directed by Jacques Demy, a famed filmmaker who was married to another filmmaker who should be even more studied and celebrated — Agnès Varda.

But, getting back to this film of a half-century ago, it sounds bonkers! The Scottish musician Donovan plays the titular character, and his presence as a hoped-for box-office draw is driven home by the movie's tagline, "Come children of the universe, let Donovan take you away, far far away."

Nothing creepy about that, no sir!

(Additionally, it should be noted that's Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" was turned into the creepy anthem of David Fincher's 2007 film Zodiac, which features a short appearance by Donovan's daughter, actress Ione Skye.)

Demy's film, from what I've quickly read, is considered a fairly faithful retelling of the legend, which is to say that it's ultimately more dark than whimsical. (I mean, it was a purported mass abduction of children, so there's only so much Disneyfying you can do to that plot. Radu R. Florescu's 2005 book In Search of the Pied Piper is an interesting historical examination of the legend.)

The movie also stars Donald Pleasence, Roy Kinnear, John Hurt and H.R. Pufnstuf's Jack Wild, but it's really all about the psychedelic folk star at the center of the celluloid, and it should be noted that some (not all) of what I've read makes it pretty clear that Donovan cannot act. Which, as you might imagine, could be troublesome for a film such as this.

Writing for the blog Every '70s Movie, Peter Hanson summarizes the film thusly: "It’s not a mess, per se, but it’s not really much of anything."

Still, if one is interested in the eclectic cast, film oddities and Grimm (pun intended) folklore, it seems like it would be worth at least one watch.

Writing for MOOF in 2017, Melanie Xulu places The Pied Piper every so slightly alongside movies such as Witchfinder General, The Blood on Satan's Claw and The Wicker Man, which have been retrodubbed Folk Horror by modern enthusiasts. That's interesting company, for sure.

Finally, it's the above poster itself that initially drew me down the rabbit hole of Donovan and the Rat-Catcher. It was a fun diversion for a rainy Sunday, but I am sorry to report that I couldn't determine the identity of the poster artist. There are some elements of Peter Max lite in there, I think. I'll update this if anyone ever finds an answer.