Sunday, February 28, 2021

How I got to Fuzzy Wuzzy

Another week, and not enough ephemera blogging. With this nifty illustration from a mid-20th century label for Maine-based Fuzzy Wuzzy brand Cat Food (packed by Sherman Denbow Fisheries), I'll be finishing February with just five posts. I blame Google.

Seriously, I blame Google. In the time I've had online this weekend, I've had an epic run of web-surfing. I've followed the bouncing links through Amtrak itineraries; troubled Highway 1 at Big Sur; the Xixax film forums; Joel Coen's upcoming The Tragedy of Macbeth with Denzel Washington (plus other upcoming films); latest news from Indian Country Today; the War of the Roses; the Enchanted Booklet Instagram page; protective cases for iPhones; the Unspooled podcast Facebook community; the films and documentaries of Werner Herzog;  Mário de Andrade's Macunaíma; Philadelphia Phillies spring training updates; curve-billed thrashers; Arkham House books; Sound of Metal and especially Paul Raci's role in the film; Cave of Forgotten Dreams; The Ninth Configuration; gila monsters and the likelihood of me being killed by one in Arizona; The Green Fog; back to Werner Herzog; Eszter Balint; Sylvain Chomet (partially in connection with Jacques Tati); Philippe Petit; Ross McElwee; documentaries about Indigenous peoples of the Americas; the latest news about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine; kaiju face masks; a Twitter thread about Cop Rock recommended by a former Daily Collegian colleague; the artwork of Timothy Ide; Glastonbury; psychogeography; today's weather here in Florence (a "chilly" high of just 60); the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland; author Lauret Savoy; the history of role-playing games; the pandemic and American sports; the uninhabitability of Mars; the person on my neighborhood community Facebook page who's unhappy about barking dogs; and ... Fuzzy Wuzzy brand cat food.


Now I'm winded. I think I'll go for a walk.

Here's that full Fuzzy Wuzzy label, for posterity:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Famed Americus Hotel smorgasbord in Allentown, Pennsylvania

These two old postcards feature the "award-winning" Pennsylvania Dutch style smorgasbord at the Americus Hotel, located at Sixth and Hamilton streets in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Looking at the images more closely, you can see a gelatin mold, fruits and vegetables, what appears to be a dessert table, pies and pastries, and a whole lot of lobster tails. 

Dad remembers going to this buffet as a kid. He writes:

"In the late 50s and early 60s, Bambi and Pappy would take us to the Americus Hotel on Sundays for their smorgasbord. That's where I got introduced to lobster. We would spend 2 hours plus making a five-course meal from the smorgasbord. Lobster then all sorts of fancy desserts. Mom and Dad weren't rich, but back then that may be have $30 total. I think that hotel is still there today."

Indeed, the historic Americus Hotel is set to reopen this spring after a multimillion-dollar makeover, according to The Morning Call (subscription required, as journalism is not free); the reopening was supposed to be sooner but, like many things, it has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Discovering Robert Dale Owen

Just for fun — I'm a barrel of laughs at social gatherings — I went to to find its oldest clipping that references my new town of Florence, Arizona. It came at the bottom of Page 1 of the August 21, 1869, edition of The Weekly Arizona Miner of Prescott, Arizona, and you can see it in its entirety above.

And who is this progressive-sounding Robert Dale Owen that L. Anthony of Florence writes of? Owen is a political figure about whom I was not aware, and a fascinating one at that.

Per Wikipedia, Robert Dale Owen (1801-1877) "was a Scottish-born Welsh social reformer who immigrated to the United States in 1825." After becoming a U.S. citzen, he became involved in Indiana state politics and later represented Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives for four years. His legacy includes:

  • He helped oversee the peaceful commune of New Harmony, Indiana, which was first settled in 1814 by members of the Harmony Society who had come west from Harmony, Pennsylvania
  • He was a strong advocate for women's rights, laying the groundwork for provisions in the Indiana state constitution related to women's property rights, voting rights and freedom in divorce. (Some of this was done in conjunction with Sarah T. Bolton.)
  • In 1862, he wrote a series of letters "that favored the abolition of slavery and supported general emancipation, as well as a suggestion that the federal government should provide assistance to freedmen."
  • As an Indiana state legislator, he helped build the framework for a taxpayer-supported system of free public schools.
  • In Congress, he introduced the bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution.
  • He wrote a book titled The Debatable Land Between this World and the Next. He was a Spiritualist who raised questions about the authenticity of the Bible.
Owen is one of the peripheral figures in Garrett Epps' book Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America. When I looked this book up, I discovered I had already marked it on Goodreads as something to check out. The Washington Post's 2006 review mentions Owen and his involvement with the 14th Amendment.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Sunday night stream of consciousness from Saguaro-vania

Superior, Arizona. About 30 minutes northeast of our new home. (Photo by me) 

We arrived at our new home in Florence, Arizona, last week after a 3½-day drive that took us through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and then into Arizona. That dash across the country in the Honda Civic has already become somewhat of a blur in my mind. I have no recollection of anything in Ohio, possibly because we were enjoying a Jim Steinman playlist. We had dinner and spent a night in Indiana. We had a sunny morning and nice drive in Illinois. In Missouri, the roads around St. Louis were the worst of the trip. As we continued through Missouri, we had hundreds of miles of billboards touting either caverns or raunchy roadside attractions. Oklahoma was flat and lovely and we could drive very fast on the toll roads. But after a night in Oklahoma, we found ourselves delayed the next morning by freezing rain in Oklahoma and Texas — part of a multiday Deep South winter weather system that has now led to a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas. 

After we made it through that, the weather warmed up greatly in western Texas. We made a short pit stop in Vega, Texas, for Munzees and to snap some pictures that I'll feature in a future post. In the flat, hot nothingness of New Mexico, we made stops in Route 66 favorite Tucumcari, which I'd like to visit again someday, and Clines Corners, which has a Rest Stop Extraordinaire but little else of note. As darkness fell in New Mexico on the third day of driving, we had a slow, winding driving through the El Malpais National Conservation Area before crossing into Arizona. Our final night on the road was spent in Show Low, Arizona, where there was snow on the ground! We passed many "Elk Crossing" signs, but saw no elk. 

On our final morning of driving, between Show Low and Globe, we traversed the Salt River Canyon, which was simultaneously one of the most breathtaking and white-knuckle drives of my life. Once was enough. At least it was in broad daylight and the roads were excellent.

The moving van is supposed to arrive here in Florence tomorrow. Inside, there will be many boxes of books, old photos, postcards and ephemera. In a way, it will be like starting the Papergreat exploration/excavation all over again, with fresh eyes. That seems both exciting and daunting. I want to this blog to be fun, not stressful or something that feels like an obligation. So I hope the time and inspiration strike me in sufficient measure in the coming weeks and months, as I also take time to adjust to life in the Western U.S. 

My great-grandparents, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988) and Howard Horsey Adams (1892-1985) were in their mid to late 50s when they moved into their oft-mentioned house on Oak Crest Lane in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, circa 1951. (Mental note: Get that exact date and put it in a post.) That ended up being a house crammed with decades of family history. To me, it just seemed like they always lived there; and I got to be the one to clean it out in the 2010s. 

Being age 50, it kind of feels late to be starting over in a blank slate of a house and a blank slate of a community, but I'm years younger than Greta and Howard were when they moved to Oak Crest Lane. There's plenty of time for seeding this desert dwelling with memories and ephemera.
Soon, the books in this room will outnumber the cats. We hope.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Temporary interruption of service

(Curteichcolor mid-century postcard)

Hello readers! And apologies! There's going to continue to be a bit of a lull with the Papergreat posts as we complete the final stages of our packing and long-distance move to Arizona.

All of the ephemera is now in boxes, and 99.8% of the books are now in boxes. I have been told not to blog while driving. 

If all goes well, I should return to posting around the weekend of Feb. 13-14. New posts will emanate from S-auppag in Pinal County, about 410 miles southwest of the Kingdom of Nye. S-auppag, known to the moderns as Florence, is the land of Levi Ruggles, the Adamstown ghost town, the Gila River, a whole honkin' boatload of prisons, a World War II POW camp and "relocation center," Poston Butte, javelinas, coyotes, haboobs, the Mogollon Monster, domineering homeowners' associations, Ak-Chin Village, Campo Bonito, Silly Mountain Park and many other things that I've much to learn about. It's a long way from Pennsylvania. A new chapter begins...

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The evolution of an extinct bird

This slightly capybaraesque creature looks about how I feel most days this month: Tired, shaggy, stressed and just plain done with all the nonsense. If its birdlike feet could take it somewhere quiet, serene and featuring an abundance of chocolate cake, I'm sure it would go. 

Alas, its feet are affixed firmly to that ground, forever, and ever, and ever.

It's one of the shockingly unrealistic "dinosaurs" at Dinosaur Land in White Post, Virginia, a roadside tourist attraction that's been delighting travelers since 1963. Of course, you can't blame the park's creators for any historical inaccuracies. Our understanding of what dinosaurs and birds of yore looked and acted like has changed greatly, thanks to the ongoing scientific research of the past six decades. 

In fact, our understanding has changed so much that diatryma, the creature pictured on this postcard, is no longer considered to be part of a distinct genus. 

But it still was as of this postcard, which states that diatryma is "an ancient member of the bird family. It has underdeveloped wings so it could not fly. Its legs were very powerful for running and had a very strong beak. It was a meat eater much as our hawks and eagles of today."

The "meat eater" part has changed, too. This bird is actually in the extinct genus Gastornis, and here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:
"Gastornis is an extinct genus of large flightless birds that lived during the late Paleocene and Eocene epochs of the Cenozoic era. The genus is currently thought to contain three or four distinct species, known from incomplete fossil remains, found in western-central Europe (England, Belgium, France and Germany). More complete specimens are known from a fourth, North American species, which had previously been classified in the distinct genus Diatryma. Many scientists now consider Diatryma to be so similar to the other species of Gastornis that it should also be included in that genus. A fifth species, also previously classified in its own genus, is known from China.

'"Gastornis species were very large birds, and have traditionally been considered to be predators of small mammals. However, several lines of evidence, including the lack of hooked claws in known Gastornis footprints and studies of their beak structure have caused scientists to reinterpret these birds as herbivores that probably fed on tough plant material and seeds."
And here's a better estimation now of what Gastornis looked like, which is a far cry from the Dinosaur Land bird on this postcard:

Tim Bertelink, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons 

Some other information about this old postcard:
  • The photo was taken by Larry Witt
  • The postcard was made by Dexter Press of West Nyack, New York
  • The stamp box indicates that it's a Dexter Supreme 
  • It was published by A.J. Simonpietri Jr. of Front Royal, Virginia
  • It is copyright 1969

Saturday, January 23, 2021

"Winnie Winkle" and the Tucked Away Inside Envelope

Joan said, "You keep carrying your Winnie Winkle around the house." So I reckoned I should finally get around to this post so I don't have to carry it around anymore.

Part I: The book
  • Title: Winnie Winkle and the Diamond Heirlooms
  • From the title page: "An original story based on Martin Branner's famous newspaper strip 'Winnie Winkle'"
  • Story by: Helen Berke
  • Illustrated by: Martin Branner
  • From the dust jacket: In answer to her friend's urgent call Winnie Winkle cancels her vacation plans and goes to Chicago, only to hurried off to a lonely farm in search of a hidden legacy. Although held prisoners by two crooks, Winnie and her friends, Mary Dee and Tommy, manage to outwit their jailers, search out the hidden legacy, and escape with the treasure intact.
  • Well, that pretty much gives away the plot: Yes.
  • Publisher: Whitman Publishing Co., Racine, Wisconsin
  • Year: 1946
  • Pages: 248
  • Format: Hardcover 
  • First sentence: Winnie Winkle pirouetted merrily in front of the full length mirror.
  • Last sentence: Winnie said and waved good night to her friends.
  • Random sentence from the middle #1: Under the influence of good French cooking, soft lights, and sweet music, Winnie's annoyance vanished.
  • Random sentence from the middle #2: In the sanctuary of her own room, Winnie sat down on the chaise longue.
  • Reviews: I couldn't find any online reviews of this book, but I found this item under "School News" in the April 23, 1959, edition of The Lenox (Iowa) Time Table: "We are very sorry that Cheryl Beck is on the absent list. She has the chicken pox. We hope her a speedy return. Our teacher is reading a mystery book named, 'Winnie Winkle and the Diamond Heirlooms.' For Art Class we did a mosaic. Mosaic art is used in Mexican buildings and in sidewalks."
Part II: Tucked away inside          
Tucked away inside this old book was a letter that was mailed almost exactly 70 years ago, in January 1951. It was sent from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Sunbury, Pennsylvania. Written in cursive and on lined paper, it states:

Phila. 42, Pa.

Dear Sandra,
I don't know whether I have have written and thanked you before but if I have I would like to thank you again for the nice wallet which came just before Christmas. I will be proud to carry it with me.

Boy! Is it snowing! It's the kind of snow that comes down in great big flakes.

I hope you'll pardon some of my mistakes. I am watching T.V. and I watch a little and write a little. Now I'm looking at a movie. It's called "The Black Doll" (a "whodone-it") with Donald Wood [sic]. Before I was watching "Robert Q.'s Matinee" with Robert Q. Lewis. He's neat!

Boy! Are we having a lot of work in school. It seems there's always something. Book reports, tests, etc.

Tonight Rudy goes to a dinner-dance given by his graduating class. He gets out the end of this month (out of school that is).

I heard a good joke the other day. Here it is: We used to have a cow but it wouldn't given milk, so we had to sell him! HA! HA!

I got a swell pair of shoe rollerskates and a case for Christmas (among other things). Just what I wanted!

I must close now hoping to hear from you soon,
All my love,

P.S. Rudy took some nice movies of the Mummers Parade, New Years Day. We can't wait until they come back. Now watching Howdy Doody! 

We may come up soon. I'm not sure. Please tell your girlfriend that I haven't had time to answer her letter.

This is probably (almost certainly?) the Sandra Orwig who was the recipient of the letter. She was a 1955 graduate of Sunbury High School and died in 2019.  

RPPC: Summer 1919

This AZO real photo postcard features two women sitting on a bench in a lovely park or backyard. An empty wooden crate is on the ground next to them. It looks like they're dressed up for a special occasion, or perhaps for Sunday church.

There is cursive writing on the back. It states: "Mrs. Frank Beddow and Minnie G., Summer 1919"

One more fragment of information — Minnie's last name, a location, etc., — would have been helpful and might have allowed us to zero in on at least one positive identity. Alas, "Frank Beddow" is too common of a name to get us anywhere definitively.

There was a Frank Beddow who was born in Missouri and would have been in his early 30s around the time of this photo. But he didn't get married until 1926, so no dice.

The was a Frank Beddow who got in a lot of trouble with the law in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1924. But who knows?

* * *

OK, I'll play...

Friday, January 22, 2021

The future is going to be so confused about us

Saturday, January 16, 2021

RPPC with a note from Lizzie B.

Here's an RPPC that was mailed to Mrs. John Schultz in Hawkeye, Iowa, a tiny city in the northeastern portion of that state.1 It's difficult to read the faded postmark, but my best guess is that it was mailed in September 1918, around the time the even-deadlier second wave of the influenza pandemic was circling the globe. 

Here's what the message, in pencil and in cursive, states: 
Sept 24 
Dear Sister 
dont be superised [sic] we will all stop for dinner sunday if it dont rain the folken [?] and the other two you know who
Lizzie B.

I reckon "folken" makes the most sense, as it's an actual word, which can be used as either a singular or plural term depending on the region of Scandinavian from which it hails

1. These books have been added to the Hawkeye Public Library thus far in 2021: The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict, Wait for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton, All the Colors of Night by Jayne Ann Krentz, and The Scorpion's Tail by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Postcrossing roundup:
Late autumn/early winter

Postcards and pen pals, national and international, have helped to keep me mentally healthy and connected to the outside world during this sorrowful pandemic that's approaching its one-year anniversary.

Here are some of the thoughtful thank-you emails I've received from Postcrossers who got postcards from me between mid-October and early January. I've been receiving emails that are much longer than in previous years; many of us have more free time for such correspondence. These are from oldest to newest. 

First up is Sien in Belgium. Some sweet backstory on this: Sien writes in her Postcrossing biography that she's been pen pals with a woman in Edogawa, Japan, for 55 years! So, in my postcard to her, I noted how amazing such a long epistolary friendship must be. Sien replied: "Thank's a lot for the Poe's Black Cat card and the nice stamps too. The story of Tomo in Edogawa and me is very special, that's true. We started writing while it was a school project and until now we never stopped. We wrote lots of letters, we sent lots of presents and cards and now we send mails and cards now and then. My brother started writing with the sister of Tomo and they just wrote 1 letter. But we continued even [when] it was not always easy you know. I visited Tomo and her husband twice and she came to Belgian. I enjoyed Japanese food, I love Sushi and when they came here they had a list of what they wanted to eat: mussels and fries, Gentse Waterzooi, chicons and ham, Brussels sprouts, .... and the husband tried a lot of Belgian beer. We had good times in Japan and in Belgium. Covid 19 had a second strong wave here. Lots of infected people, lots of people in hospitals. They are talking again of lock down. We stay a lot inside because my husband has a problem with his kidneys. I'm going to make a wooden bench with mosaics and some Christmas presents with mosaic too. Please stay healthy and safe."

Lena from Russia wrote: "Hi Chris! Thank you very much for the beautiful postcard and stamps! It's great that you have 4 cats. I have a robe that says, 'Never trust people who don't like cats!' Autumn has come into its own with us, the trees began to lose their foliage last week. And in some years in October it already snows! Great mood and good luck! Best wishes."

Kerstin from Germany wrote: "Hallo Chris, thanks a lot for the Halloween card. I love the autumn too. At the moment all trees are colored and the fog in the morning is very mysterious. I hope your country will make the right decision at November 3rd. Stay safe! Happy postcrossing."

Kyra from the Netherlands wrote: "Hi Chris! Thank you for your postcard, obviously I love it. Cats in autumn/winter are the best. My cat and I keep our distance when its too hot but now he's on my lap a lot and we takes naps together, we're having a great time. So cool you kinda know Francien van Westering. I love her illustrations, I've even been thinking about an illustration of my cat from her. I wish I could send out her postcards but I cant find them anywhere (online). Anyway I wish you a great autumn (im a bit jealous of all your backyard pets) and take care!"

Giuseppina from Italy wrote: “Dear Chris, thanks a lot for your card. I am really really happy it is a beautiful card! I love cinema and I know Ermanno Olmi, unfortunately he died two years ago. Have your ever seen something by Luca Guadagnino? And have you ever read something by Andrea Camilleri? I wish you health and happinness. In Italy we are again in a sort of lockdown and only with books and movies I go on day by day! Kisses from Italy.”

Thomas from Switzerland wrote: "Hello Chris. First I have to say a big THANK YOU for the amazing spooky stamps!! Of course thank you for the third one and the halloween 🎃 postcard, too. Yes, 2020 is a bad year for travelers. My wife and I will miss the beach, the sea and seafood of Sanibel Island. We have been there the last 8 years in a row, mostly combined with another journey in the States. We got two friend couples in CA and my wife got a cousin in Chicago! Therefore I follow the news in the USA. Very sad what happens -- it's not the blue or red questions. It‘s the split between people in the same country! I have big discussions with our friends & family. I'm their window to Europe -- the other view of their red or blue bubble. Mostly by asking them questions about things I don't understand or newspaper here in Switzerland are asking. I respect other opinions and religions -- but it's not always easy. I really hope that this will not escalate more and more! What made me afraid is that a minority of Christian creationists is getting more power & influence. Some newspaper here already discussed that the USA is on the way to be a Christian country like the Iran is for Islam. I like to read your blog but the address is not readable because an ugly US postal marker. Stay safe & healthy! With all the best wishes from the Swiss mountains."

Dina from Russia wrote: “Hello Chris, thank you for the postcard and your message! I like fall too for the smell, peaceful atmosphere and colorful leaves. It is also really cool to catch that moment when the air in the morning has become frosty :) Wish you all the best and happy postcrossing!”

Anna from Russia wrote: “Chris Good morning! Thank you for your warm greetings. It is very pleasant to read the message in your native language. We have finished a beautiful autumn. Now the days are gray and dull, with rain and snow replacing them. But winter is coming soon. I really hope and believe that everything in Your country will be fine. And the diseases will pass, and the elections will turn out as they should.”

Sophie from the United Kingdom wrote: “Hi Chris, I loved your postcard, it was so detailed and thoughtful. What newspaper do you write for? I've never been to Pennsylvania but would like to. The book I'm writing has a bit touching on the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in America and the Caribbean, which is slightly redressing my poor knowledge of that part of American history, previously cobbled together from Hamilton & a visit to Colonial Williamsburg more than ten years ago! I hope you do get to elect a different president in a few days, although I have to admit I'm not totally hopeful. We have an atrocious Prime Minister. Your card was gorgeous though -- and the Hallowe'en stamps! All best, Sophie”

Martina from Germany wrote: “Hello Chris, thank you so much for the wonderful postcard you sent me. Indeed a bit spooky -- but it looks like the girl is 'sunken' into the story of her book. I also love reading! I have hundreds of books and love them as a kind of decoration in my home. People who live surrounded by bookshelfs packed with books have my sympathy. I am also working from home since March. I was in Thailand until the end of March. This journey was planned long time ago and we couldn't cancel the trip. That was short before the lockdown. So we had an exciting time in a wonderful country, only very few turists and empty beaches. But I was sending a prayer to heaven when we had returned safe back home. So for now we don't travel of course! The sumer was kind of relaxed because the Corvis [sic] numbers were going down. But now with the second wave we all have to be very careful. I work from home and only go out to get some food at the supermarket. It is okay for the time being, I live with my husband and my son -- so I'm not alone. And I meet people at work via phone and MS Teams, and also do so in some evenings. Meet my friends with a glass of wine and chat with them via video. --- And write long registration messages and postcards! So we are in a similar situation -- working at home with no chance to get back in the office this year. But I don't have any pets. Take care, all the best for and stay healthy! Martina”

Tyna from Czechia wrote: “Hi Chris, OMG! Thank you for this totally best one e.v.e.r. card received, I LOVE Poe so much!! <3 I have not see any filmed version and I feel like I am always dissapointed when someone tries to do this kind of thing with famous literature pieces, but the black cat story was my favourite. So creepy, yet amazing!:D We must stay home most of the time too. It is kind of driving me mad as I suffer from anxiety few last months and the things that helped me, as nature and gym/exercise are now not available. Yes, you can go to a park, but you always need to have a face mask on so you still breathe your used air and do not smell the autumn in the air. Congratulations to your new president! I was checking the results from the very beginning. I was hoping Biden will win. As Trump reminds me so much of our president and I am just so sick of him being disrespectful to Czech citizens during these difficult times. We can not meet unless you live in the same household, but our president hosts a party in his presidential castle for more than 300 people. How would you feel? It just feel so angry. That is why I see so much hope in your new president. Hopefully he will help to unify your society and offer better solutions to your problems. I wish you and your family all the best. Better days will some soon enough."

Natalia from Belarus wrote: “Dear Chris, Прывiтанне з Беларусi! Greetings from Belarus! Thank you very much for the postcard you have sent me! The picture is very nice and the stamp is very interesting! Thank you very much for your kind message which was so pleasant to read! Let every day of your life be filled with a special sence, a beautiful dream, colorful memories and bright emotions! And of course, I wish you lots of wonderful postcards from all over the world! Natalia”

Chema from Spain wrote: “Hello Chris!! Thank you for your curious postcard of the horror castle. This is also history of the USA. Best wishes!! Chema”

Yana from Belarus wrote: “Hello Chris! Your postcard has become a real gift for me. Thank you very much for that! To have so many books is real wealth. Take care of them and your wonderful cats."

Helen from Russia wrote: “Dear Chris, Now we are going through the times that I loved to watch in horror films -- people are getting sick, there is a pandemic everywhere and it is not clear what is happening in the world. I never thought this could happen in real life. The coronavirus pandemic has also affected us. It started at the beginning of March. Early school holidays were announced (a week earlier than usual). Then holidays were extended for another week. Therefore, there were no large crowds of children in schools. We, the teachers, worked at the school, but since March 30, a regime of self-isolation was declared. Children did not attend schools or kindergartens, and only those organizations that provide life support for cities worked. Different cities in Russia have different numbers of cases. Being in self-isolation mode, we did not go anywhere except to the store, which is located within 100 meters from the house. People who have dogs could walk with them within 100 meters of the house. I went out to take out the rubbish and go to the supermarket once every 3 days. We (school teachers) were very busy preparing everything necessary for distance education of children. Since April 6, all of us (people in Russia) were at home. Children entered the distance learning system. Then the completed task was sent to the teachers by email. But no panic in Russia, the shops and supermarkets were full of various goods, we could buy anything we wanted. But in September we came back to usual mode -- going to school. But the autumn holidays were a bit longer when usual -- one more week. But on Monday school starts again. I wish you be cheerful at this difficult time, dear Chris! I believe that this whole situation with the pandemic is given to us in order to learn some lessons from our lives and draw certain conclusions about what has real value in our lives. In any situation, you need to try to find something good, you need to try to look at this situation philosophically. With the kindest and warmest wishes, Helen”

Tracey from Canada wrote: “Hi Chris, Thank you so much for the fantastic card 'Scary Story Time' -- LOVE it!! I like the stamps, too -- so cool! Things are also scary here, too.....a town called Aylmer, about 20 minutes from here keeps holding protests against wearing masks! The mayor had to call a state of emergency!! Seriously?! Crazy times and silly people - not a good mix! Like you, I pass the time reading and (thank god) postcrossing/writing letters. We are finally getting new shows on network TV which I've been enjoying. Sincere best wishes to you, always - stay safe, stay healthy!"

Anne from Germany wrote: “Hello Chris, Thanks for your nice card and stamps. The card is fun. There is a German artist who is doing a nice story about a bear, a racoon, a mole and a goose. Each day there is a new part (picture with text) in my WhatsApp. It is really fun. At the moment the mole tries digging up his way to France, because he misses the goose, who went into the south for the winter. Especially at the moment it is a nice way of waking up. I think, it’s available in english as well. Indeed, never heard so much about Pennsylvania as in the last weeks. It was always intense being a journalist, but these days does seem really tough, especially with all this fast online plattforms. For me it is really interesting and at some point a bit spooky. Happy postcrossing and stay safe."

Gregory from Russia wrote: “Hello Chris, Thank you for this awesome postcard and great stamps. Well, I don't think we have chipmunks here. Neither in Moscow, nor 600 km to the south where I was born. But, we have hedgehogs living in backyards. They are rather shy, but not difficult to catch if you set your mind to it. They come out at night, and are quite noisy, which gives them out. We have squirrels in parks, not many though. When I travelled to Ulan Ude, a city near Lake Baikal, I discovered that their species of squirrels are quite different from ours. Here they have brown and ginger fur, there the fur is black. Best wishes, Gregory.”

Milan from the Netherlands wrote: “Dear one, I'm both sorry and thrilled to tell you I received your postcard in my mail today. Well ... part of it that is. I received the left part of it, perfectly teared in half by the US postal service. It was delivered to me in an envelope of the USPS, that displayed the front of your envelope with luckily the address perfectly readable. Even though the card is in half -- and I find that especcialy stupid since you sent me a beautiful card from the 70's and some recipes (I'll find them online and try them, don't worry) -- I want to send you a big thank you for the card. I get that you live in Denver, there is something with an ex wife's wife (I have to admit I'm pretty curious about that one, haha). You have some cute animals, Mr. Bill, Banjo, Titan and Monkey. I'm going to paste your things all together in my album, writing the date and story of the tearing of it. It'll get a special place and even though this shouldn't be how you receive mail, your card will always be rememberd as special. My best wishes and ... Stay healthy for you and your family. Milan”

Akiko from Japan wrote: “Hello, Chris. Thank you for your cute Christmas postcard and stamps. Thank you for writing in block letters. I like watching movies too. I haven't seen Good Morning yet. I would love to see it if I have a chance. Best wishes and stay safe. Akiko”

Alan from the United Kingdom wrote: "Dear Chris. Thank you for the great postcard that I received today. I hope you have a Happy Christmas and New Year -- we will still be in lockdown so family contact is limited but thankfully covid vaccinations are now being done so hopefully we will be soon out of this terrible time. All the best, Alan.”

Robert from Slovenia wrote: “Hello Chris, Thank you sooo much for a cool bridge card with an interesting post stamps and kind message. I like it very much! I wish you a calm end of the year. In the year 2021, which will be here any time, I wish you all the best, especially health and good, old normalcy. Stay safe and healthy. This coronary virus really isn’t an innocent thing. Friendly greetings from rainy sLOVEnia, Robert”

Flower in Idaho wrote (in a postcard response, pictured down below): "Hello Chris! Thank you so much for the cute Christmas postcard! What a wonderful surprize. I hope this postcard finds you in good spirits, good health & with a good reason to smile deeply. You've inspired me to be a more mindful & generous postcard sender. I truly wish you happiness. This year has been odd (understatement) but ... there's still so much beauty abound. Much kindness rising above the animosity. I count your postcards as such. Do you have any holiday traditions? We eat Chinese food for Thanksgiving, have a little drum circle around a bonfire, visit a hot spring and just breathe on the solstice. P.S.: Just a little snow but not sticking yet. I hope it snows more because Raffi wants to make a 'no-man'."

Christina from Germany wrote: “Dear Chris, Thank you for your beautiful postcard! I have already been in South Carolina for school exchange, long long time ago and I made a Florida tour in the summer 2018. We are in a Lock down at the moment, so I am in Berlin by my family. Don‘t know when school starts again and I have to go back to south Germany. But one thing for your bucket list! You have to go to the castle Neuschwanstein. It's the most beautiful of all! Maybe one day. Thank you for your time and I wish you a very nice new year full of all you love! Stay healthy."

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

RPPC mystery pair of the day

This AZO real photo postcard dates to between 1910 and 1930, and there is no information on the back. 

Some choices have been made here: The subjects are looking in different directions. The sunlight is shining directly onto their faces. The image is tilted slightly and cut off at the bottom. The background is uninspired. Not sure how this photographer is ever going to make it into the ranks of being a six-figure Instagram influencer. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

1971 Scrabble Sentence Cube Game

We were recently sorting through our Family Game Shelf™, as we prepare for the upcoming move to Arizona that I have heretofore mentioned nothing about on this blog.1 This half-century-old game ended up in the pile of games to be sold or donated. But, predictably, I piped up and said, "Hey, let me have that for a minute. I should put it on Papergreat."2 And thus this post was born.

1971's Scrabble Sentence Cube Game, which truly deploys the term "Scrabble" very loosely, has earned a devastating 4.7 rating (out of 10) from the community at Board Game Geek. The nicer comments include "Accidentally have 2 copies" and "I will play a round of this if there is booze involved. Makes for a lot of laughing at the dumb sentences you are forced to make. Thrifted this and found a veritable time capsule in it with a local police ID and pictures of his kids from the 70's. My dad actually knew the guy. Super weird."

Alas, we do not have a version of this game that comes with weird things tucked away inside. The only things inside our box are the game itself and small foldout pamphlet advertising other Selchow & Righter games. These are vaguely interesting because of their age, and I've posted them above.

The box art is ... something. I am not sure why the man and the woman, who appear dressed for a murder-mystery cocktail party, are sitting on the floor and playing this game on the rug. Further, they seem mystified by the concept of words on dice. Or perhaps the concept of words, in general, which makes it unlikely that they are the owners of the books filling the shelves behind them. 

The box notes that, thanks to the game's inclusion of 21 word cubes, the "combinations are limitless and the results are fascinating." They are clearly overselling it.

Further researching this game, I find a schism. On Amazon, the game has a strong rating of 4.5 stars, out of 5.0, from nine reviewers. But even then, the biggest raves are "It is in good shape and has all the pieces" and "gets old fast. Pulling it out for new players or giving it a rest for a year or so will probably work fine."

I don't think we'll be taking this to Arizona.

Related posts
1. Oh, hey. So we're moving to Arizona sometime within the next month. It's a whole nother state.
2. Indeed, "Don't throw that's away, it's old" is the sum of my contribution to most conversations. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Today's RPPC of a cabin we'd probably all like to escape to

I think many of us would love the idea of escaping from many different (horrible) things that are going on right now. How about a log cabin in the middle of a clearing? I mean, there's probably no WiFi and a bear might wander into the kitchen at any point. But be honest: Does that sound worse than the current state of affairs?

Sadly, there is no way to know where this cabin is located, or even if it still exists. It's pictured on an AZO real photo postcard that dates to between 1904 and 1918, based on the stamp box on the reverse. There is no writing on the back. And yet, for a century, no one looked at this card, said, "What the heckfire is this?" and tossed it out. Now it's internet famous.

Learn more about the world of America's log cabins at Log Cabin Hub's "The Oldest Log Cabins in America" and's "An Illustrated History of Log Cabins."

Related Papergreat post: "My Old Log Cabin"

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Book cover: "How to Amuse Yourself on a Journey"

  • Title: How to Amuse Yourself on a Journey
  • Author: Judy Allen
  • Cover photographer: Peter Kibbles (probably)
  • Interior illustrations: Timothy Jemison
  • Back cover blurb: "Every long journey gets tedious sooner or later — unless you have plenty of things to do and games to play. This book should keep you busy for hours, whether in a car or plane or on a boat or train. There are plenty of ideas for all the family."
  • Publisher: Studio Vista
  • Back cover price: £1.25 
  • Year: 1974
  • Pages: 68
  • Format: Hardcover 
  • From the introduction: If you are in a car, be kind to the driver. Never distract him, thump him, shout at him or force him to join in games. If riding in a car makes you feel sick, play games that concentrate your attention out of the window. Do not write or read.
  • Some chapter titles: Coke can telephone, Big game hunt, Arms and legs, A pack of pubs, Signs of the zodiac, Search for prehistoric sites, Aeroplane markings, Fortune telling.
  • Excerpt #1: There are plenty of Red Lions and King's Heads, but it may be some time before you find The Doghouse, The Tumble Inn or Ye Olde Leathern Bottle.
  • Excerpt #2: Virgo the virgin is not an obvious inn name.
  • Excerpt #3: Ham means homestead; Wald or Wold means forest or woodland and names containing Bell or Bel (after the Babylonian sun god Baal) often indicate the site of an ancient beacon.
  • Wait, what? I'm not sure. It was 1974. In the UK. Folks were watching stuff like Robin Redbreast, Penda's Fen and The Wicker Man. As far as Baal and beacons and such, this link from the deep corners of the internet might shed some light on what Judy Allen was alluding to. 
  • Excerpt #4: If you are travelling through a town or a city or an industrial area, the chances are that the view will not be very pretty. Suppose you had millions of pounds and thousands of skilled workmen at your disposal! How would you improve the scene?
  • Excerpt #5: All players must close their eyes. Each must then choose a particular vehicle. It could be: an articulated lorry
  • Online reviews, blog posts, remembrances, etc.: None to be found. That makes this the new preeminent source of online scholarship about this tome.
  • Other books in this series: How to Be a Scientist at Home, How to Build with Old Boxes, How to Disguise Yourself, How to Make Masks, How to Make Presents from Odds and Ends, How to Make Rubbings, How to Start Carving, and How to Make Magic, about which Cavalorn wrote this in a lengthy 2014 post: "The front cover tells us right away that something is deeply amiss here. ... It is the only children's book I have ever seen that has a goat skull on the cover." ... So,  maybe all that stuff about Baal and beacons was no mistake.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

This morning's newspaper

Monday, January 4, 2021

1976 Soviet Union "World of Tomorrow" postcard, with penguins

This interesting sci-fi postcard is part of a 1976 set of postcards from the USSR titled "World of Tomorrow" (мир завтрашнего дня).

Some wary and/or curious penguins are checking out a tropical-looking giant globe in their midst. A futuristic city sits in the background. 

I'm not sure what the penguins think of this World of Tomorrow, but I suspect they like it somewhat more than the idea of global heating, their habitats literally melting and having nowhere safe to go. 

I'll post more from this set in coming days. Soviet science fiction of the 1970s is pretty cool, and I'll admit I don't know much about it all, beyond the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, who I don't believe worked penguins into any of his trippy films.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Brentano's advertisement tucked away inside 1897 book

This is the front and back of a bluish advertisement that I came across inside the pages of an old book — 1897's How to Build a Home by Francis C. Moore.1

The advertisement, which measures about 3 inches by 6¼ inches, is almost certainly original to the book. It touts two items that were available through Brentano's at its Union Square location in New York City. Bretano's left that site in the first decade of the 20th century, so the timeline lines up. Plus, the book itself has a tiny Bretano's book label on the inside back cover, also for Union Square

The two items advertised are a multi-volume series, The World of Music, by Anna Elizabeth, Countess de Brémont, and a two-volume edition of The First Violin, a novel by by Jessie Fothergill

The book was once owned by the Rev. Morgan R.W. Andreas of Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. A careful browser might find it at the June 2021 Book Nook Bonanza at the York City Ice Arena. (Hoping, of course, that the sale can be held this year.)

1. Subtitle: "Being suggestions as to safety from fire, safety to health, comfort, convenience, durability, and economy." The book includes a recipe for concrete, the suggestion that a toilet room/water closet be placed under the main staircase, and this piece of advice, "Do not, under any circumstances, consent to have your architect take estimates with the indefinite clause, 'Details hereafter to be furnished.'"

Saturday, January 2, 2021

1953 advertising mail from Marinello Schools of Beauty

I have no idea where I got this lone piece of incomplete ephemera. (It's been clear for a while that the Department of Logging Acquisitions Department is in need of a major overhaul.) But it's pretty cool, right? Shown above are the front and back of one panel from what I believe was originally a four-panel folded mail advertisement.

It's for a New York City location of Marinello Schools of Beauty, which existed from 1905 to 2016.

This was mailed to Don Charles in early November 1953, when U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower was likely preparing the Atoms for Peace address he would give within weeks at the United Nations. 

On the addressed side of the advertisement, a robot is styling a woman's hair and the cliffhanger caption states: "if a ROBOT could style hair..."

The punchline to that statement must be on a different part of the advertisement. On the reverse side, however, we get this pitch: "You are invited — to participate in the Marinello plan to lick your operator shortage. Select future operators from among your friends, relatives, customers. Send them to us."

And it won't surprise you to learn that this is the first-ever appearance on the internet of the phrase: "the Marinello plan to lick your operator shortage."

Because we're all about remembering  — and making  — history here on Papergreat.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year 2021!
С Новым годом 2021!

We did it!
We made it to 2021.
Happy New Year, all.
Let's celebrate with the robot in this colorful 1987 Russian (technically still the USSR) postcard.

There will be more ephemera on Papergreat in 2021.

Peace, good health, and all the best...