Saturday, April 24, 2021

Lost Corners: I'm not so sure about the cayenne pepper

These tweets are too wonderful to miss an opportunity to save them for posterity. Ashar was rolling when I read them to him last night. Merve Emre is an author and associate professor of English at the University of Oxford. She is currently a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.
Emre adds in an additional comment that she had "been reading a lot of Grimm's Fairytales & I made the mistake of teaching them the witches' incantation from Macbeth a couple of weeks ago." 

And I loved this reply, too:

Snapshot & memories: All kids do these days is play video games

Note: I started this post three years ago and just let it sit in my drafts. It's time for final revisions and publication!

This snapshot is circa 1982 or 1983, and that's Yours Truly in the Philadelphia Phillies T-shirt and ineffective haircut, grinning while playing the Atari 2600 in the den of the house on Oak Crest Lane in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. We would have been visiting from Montoursville at that point, unless it was after Summer 1983, when we moved to Largo, Florida. Two of the Atari games I most remember playing at that house were Night Driver and Breakout, but those are both paddle-controller games and I'm clearly holding a joystick. So perhaps I was playing Combat, or some other 2600 game.

The small den, which was my grandmother's (Helen's) office toward the end of her life, doubled as the TV and gaming room for the four grandkids during visits and also after Mom, Adriane and I moved into the house in early 1986. 

There was way too much furniture stuffed into the little room, including a television, a cot-sized bed, a large wooden cabinet (which is now my bedroom in Arizona) and a metal desk, which was nestled tightly between a pair of built-in bookshelves protruding from one wall.

My proportions are a bit off, but at right you can see how the room basically looked. Between video gaming, the TV (which was hooked up for cable) and various PCs sitting on the desk, family members spent a lot of time in this room from 1980 onward. And after my grandmother died and Mom lived at Oak Crest Lane alone, she spent a lot of her time there, mostly surfing the internet and checking email.

So the room saw a lot of America's fast-moving videogame and computing history between 1980 and 2015. In addition to Atari 2600 cartridges, there was an early IBM PC clone; later PCs running various iterations of Microsoft Windows; dot-matrix printers and then inkjet printers; Sierra On-Line games, the Oregon Trail, early genealogy software, mahjong games, Infocom games and more. 

Meanwhile, the walls around all this technology remained the same, filled with artwork from world travels many decades previous. A lot of the artwork was sold or donated when Mom moved out of the house. And we got rid of almost all the rest after Mom died in 2017. But I've kept a few pieces. My bedrooms in both Dover (first photo) and here in Florence (second photo) have some faint echoes of that tiny den where I sat and played Atari.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Postcard: Dream House Motel in Tucson, Arizona

Here's another one of the postcards I picked up last week at the coin shop in downtown Florence. It's an unused card with this caption on the back:

1265 Casa Grande Hwy.
Tucson, Arizona
On Highways 84-93 — Completely new 25
Deluxe Units — 14 with Kitchenettes — Panel
Ray Heat — Cooled by Refrigeration — Phone
in every Room — Heated Swimming Pool —
Patio —

Phone MA 3-6467
For a Night of Rest stay at the Dream House
Daily or Weekly Rates

The photo on the postcard is by Tom Reed and it was published by Phoenix Spec. Adv. Co.

In trying to figuring out more about this place, it's important to know that the names of roads sometimes change. A David Leighton article on ("Street Smarts: Miracle Mile went to 'Big House'") gives us this key information: 
"Casa Grande Road was officially established by the Pima County Board of Supervisors, on May 5, 1920. It ran from present-day Oracle Road west to the train tracks and north to the Pinal County line following what is now Interstate 10. It was later renamed Casa Grande Highway, and then Miracle Mile."
And, indeed, information became slightly easier to find if I searched "Dream House Motel" and "Miracle Mile," instead of "Casa Grande Highway." 

The Dream House must date to at least the 1960s, but I found online evidence of it as recently as 2010. Another piece, this one a John Brodesky column, from that year begins this way:
"There are few miracles on The Mile, and the folks living here know it.

"Life is hard along this gritty stretch of roadside motels whose names often advertise false hope in neon. There is the Dream House Motel, and the Sunland, hinting at bright futures and better days. There is the Amazon Motel and the Tiki, farther down along Oracle Road, hinting at exotic getaways. Far away from here. Far away from The Mile.

"For generations now, the stretch up Miracle Mile and down Oracle - the old Miracle Mile, for those who remember - has been a haven of pushers, pimps and prostitutes.

"In Tucson's dirty little corner, it was often easier to find a hooker than groceries. But that's changing. Miracle Mile is cleaning up - a miracle, if you will." 

Looking at a map now, it appears the Dream House might be gone. It seems that address is now a Circle K gas station/convenience store. But I might have drive past to find out for sure. It's a little over an hour from my house, so I'm thinking I'd need another reason to go to Tucson, too, to justify the trip. I'm sure there's a bookstore there.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Bookplate inside 1949's
"The West of England"

I suspect this was a fairly common bookplate template that was available for easy personalization in the mid-20th century. In fact, I'm half-surprised I haven't already featured this bookshelf-themed style in a previous post. 

I did find one other example of this bookplate in a 2017 post on Philatelic Literature & Research. Perhaps a bookplate aficionado out there knows what company printed these.

This bookplate was affixed over the map that appears on the inside front cover of The West of England, a 1949 history book written by Ruth Manning-Sanders. (That was during her short but prolific non-fiction phase, when she also wrote Swan of Denmark: The Story of Hans Christian Andersen; Seaside England; The River Dart; and The English Circus. All five of those titles were published between 1949 and 1952 and, yes, we should be humbled by that level of productivity.)

So, all we know is that this was from the library of "The Schiffers," which won't be nearly enough to pinpoint their identity. Here's a closer look at the bookplate illustration:

Monday, April 19, 2021

From the readers: Leonard Nimoy and every other topic under the sun

Rising from the ashes like a phoenix, back for an encore performance, it's finally time for another dandy installment of "From the Readers." 

Of course, I have some handy excuses for the drought. Such as the pandemic and moving all the way across the United States. But, holy stromboli, I haven't done one of these in more than six months, so it's time to reach far back into the comments section and share what you've sent my way since October 9, 2021. 

The Nimoy Award for 1967 goes to ... Miss Nancyann Hiera! "J" sends along this delightful note: 

"Mom just showed me this. She was only 17 in that picture, still in high school. (Catholic high school no less — yep, Bible in the morning, sci-fi in the afternoon.) She was so happy when she received this award, as she and her friends all worked very hard on Spock's People (her fan club's name). This was a big achievement for her!

"She came across this article at random a couple hours ago. She had told me many times over the years about her fan club, and she even has a copy of the actual magazine somewhere, but we haven't found it in years. This is the first time we've ever seen this picture online. Thank you for this post, it brought back some good memories for my mom!

"Also, I thought you may've made a typo calling her 'Nancyann,' since her respective first and middle names are 'Nancy' and 'Ann,' but Mom explained, in certain situations, such as with her fan club, she liked to write 'Nancyann' because it was fancy and formal-sounding. 

"Though I mentioned she and her friends worked very hard on Spock's People, I should have said her friends were very supportive of her industriousness, as Mom did virtually all of the work herself. Most, if not all, of her friends were members, and she said her mom did help a little, but the grand majority of putting this club together was Mom's doing. She really did earn this award on her own.

"She told me about how she and group of maybe seven or eight friends, her mom, and one or two of her mom's friends, drove to the airport to meet Mr. Nimoy, and how, when she first learned she was receiving the award, everyone was shocked my very introverted, very boring mom managed to develop a fan club worthy of an award from 'Mr. Spock' himself."

(Note: I love this so much!! It's personal connections to ephemera posts like this that keep me super-charged to keep Papergreat going.)

Book cover: "Ghosts of Derbyshire": Tom from the Garage Sale Finds blog writes: "I loved all those books of collected ghost stories. This looks like a good one." (Speaking of good ones, I love this recent post on Garage Sale Finds about a sticker-adorned bedroom door.) 

Vanished place: Old South Bar-B-Q Ranch in Clewiston, Florida: Unknown writes: "In the 50s and 60s, rollin' down old road Route 27 from Hialeah to Dover to Grandma and Grandaddy's house. The cypress signs with funny southern phrases went on for miles. The Old South Bar-B-Q Ranch signs, of course. What a memory!"

QSLs: Stoneham, New Brunswick, Attleboro, Lexington, Bridgewater: In regards to the "All 23" reference on QSL cards, "Geo." writes: "Yes, there were 23 channels available for the Citizens Band Radio Service until the late 70s/early 80s." Also, regarding QSLs printed by CBC Club, "Geo." notes: "CBC Club sold QSL cards nationwide, probably the largest printer of cards in the country."

Attention housewives: Here are 5 of the 219 ways to a man's heart: Just J writes: "Thanks for the information on this cookbook. Recently acquired a copy and wanted to know who, what, why and where. ... A big smile from me."

Polish poster for 1965's "Kwaidan": Roger Allen writes: "Seijin Suzuki's Taishō Roman Trilogy are very unconventional — but effective — Japanese ghost stories made in the 1980s, films about what may not be ghosts and looking at the impact of Western culture on Japan in the 1920s."

Lamenting what we'll never know about Phyllis J. Stalnaker Harris: This somber post continues to draw a lot of comments and discussion:

  • Unknown wrote: "I believe all us souls are attended to, whether we are honored at a funeral, or end up anonymously in a mass grave."
  • Unknown wrote: "Phyllis has a lovely headstone, someone took care in doing that for her." This comment garnered two replies:
1. From Janine: "I don't know about that. A headstone engraved with just 'at rest' typically implies that the people paying for the headstone (usually the family) thought the person was a problematic and troubled soul, and that they're just happy the person is finally at rest now."

2. From lilbit: "It could also mean that they couldn't afford anything bigger. Her relatives' headstones that are pictured are not much bigger/nicer."

  • Anonymous wrote: "The comments, 'Weedhead' and 'Tramp' are very unprofessional terms for police work. They are more personal insults than a description of violations of law. I've seen mugshots from around the country. Usually, only a photo and booking number are included. In fact, the comments may be considered Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI), that may not be released, except under very limited circumstances. Aside from being a disgrace to law enforcement, The San Diego Police Department may be liable for violation of law for releasing this type of information." There was one reply to this comment:
Anonymous: "Agreed. The comments below the photo are a disgrace. The San Diego Police Department should be ashamed it released the photo, and should remove it from official police files, the police museum, etc. Phyllis deserves some minimal dignity and respect. She was someone's daughter or sister. Could have been someone's mother or wife."
  • Unknown wrote: "This short bio grabs me as I have been thinking lately about how little of us is remembered or retained in memory after we die. My mother's father, William M. Hoag came to the U.S. around 1900 from Scotland. He worked in a steel mill in Pittsburgh where he was badly injured. He died of tuberculosis of the spine in the early 1920s. We have exactly one picture of him. That is the sum total of what we know about our maternal grandfather. I hope everyone else is doing a better job of chronicling their family members in 2021, as well as their ancestors."

A little bit of this and that: Ziaheart writes: "I suspected that the phrase 'mad money' came from 'money for getting home when mad at date.' It's good to finally have a confirmation." 

Remembering "Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful": Inky from On Shoes and Ships and Sealing-Wax writes: "I know I have 'Alfred Hitchcock's Solve-Them-Yourselves Mysteries' and a few of The Three Investigators books, but I can't remember if I have this one or one of the other children's anthologies with that cover you think I'd remember)! Either way, you've spurred me into pulling out some of Hitchcock anthologies and magazines this week!"

"Cousin Katie" and three dolls: Inky writes: This photo seems like it should come with the caption: "Little did Cousin Katie know that soon she'd be joining them in the nursery?"

Betty Crocker shares her steamed holiday pudding recipe: Trine writes: "Best Christmas pudding ever."

1953 envelope from the Around-The-World Shoppers Club: This one has received two comments:
  • Jan. O. writes: "I just received from my aunt 3 lace handkerchiefs, made in Belgium, that were purchased through this Around-The-World Shoppers Club. She said that the handkerchiefs were given to my grandmother or were purchased by her. My grandmother passed away 40 years ago."
  • Unknown writes: "I collect cuckoo clocks and came upon a German Black Forest Mini, one-weight cuckoo clock from the Around-The-World Shoppers Club. It came with the original paperwork. I cleaned the movement and re-oiled the clock and it is up and running to this day."

Cheerful Card Company can help you earn extra money for the holidays: Unknown writes: "I currently work for an organisation that provides care to people with disabilities in Northern Ireland. The premises were bought and donated to the local community by Thomas Doran, who I believe may have owned the Cheerful Card Company. Would anyone know if this was correct and what happened to the company and Thomas Doran."

Book cover: "I'd Rather Be Wright": Regarding book author Steve Wright, Donna Price Chisam writes: "Hello to Steve. We were friends in the the summer of 1963 when he was in North Alabama for an archeological dig and course. Clarification. Never dated, just friends." 

Postcard: Very twisted tree in Michigan's Thumb: Erik Nilsen of Portland, Oregon, shares some great additional history: "The crooked tree as we called it was in our front yard at 228 North Huron. It is definitely a mountain ash and it choked itself off and rotted back in 1977 I believe. The legend surrounding it was that when it was a sapling the French fur trappers known as a voyageurs twisted it as a trail marker. Absolutely no idea if that's true or not but I loved playing in it as a kid and my Mom named her nursery school the crooked tree preschool after it."

1938 receipt from Albert Brothers Steam Bakery: "Tom" (not the one from Garage Sale Finds) writes: "Henry Albert was my grandfather. The sugar cookies were their most popular product."

The Life of Abraham Lincoln For Young Folks: Ziaheart writes: "The book seems like a good idea to help children learning to read learn to break words down to figure out pronunciation. Better idea might be to have the words whole and a pronunciation guide next to it in parenthesis. I was confused by leg-is-la-ture for half a second. Because of the way it was broken down I was reading the word with a 'hard g' and a 'short a' — and a kid who's not familiar with that word might have similar problems with that section."

(Note: As someone who covers Pennsylvania politics, I can tell you that legislature is confusing any way you approach it.)

More advertisements from 1905 issue of The Outlook: Ziaheart writes: "Did 'Kindergartener' mean something else back then? Because it sounds like a 5-year old is looking for employment."

(Yes, I believe kindergartener also referred to a kindergarten teacher.)

"Carols for Christmas," a vintage pamphlet from The Prudential: Unknown writes: "My father worked for Prudential and we would all look forward to this pamphlet as kids. We would carol through the neighborhood, following the lyrics on the Prudential pamphlet."

Delightful Blair Lent illustrations from "Baba Yaga": Trabeated821 writes: "I just pulled out my copy of this book from my childhood, which brought back memories as I re-read the story. Since it's from 1966, I looked to what became of the author. The images are so vivid in my mind, especially the house on chicken legs. Interesting to learn that the author was also the illustrator."

D. Louis Tonti, Mr. Safety: Shawn Marie writes: "Now I need to research razors that plug into your car. Fascinating!"

(Related film for this comment: Jacques Tati's Trafic (1971))

Old business card for Hayes Flying Service: "Psycho" writes: "You need to be a part of a tournament for one of the highest quality blogs online. I am going to recommend this page!"

(Full disclosure: This is a spam comment that slipped through. But I'm leaving it in, because it flatters me and I am intrigued by the idea of a Blogging Tournament of Champions.)

She was very serious about you having a Real Happy Christmas: Roger Allen writes: "'Merry Christmas,' he threatened. — The Recognitions by William Gaddis."

1976 Soviet Union "World of Tomorrow" postcard, with penguins: Roger Allen writes: "Boris & Arkady Strugatsky have been translated into English recently — Tarkovsky's Stalker was based on part of their book Roadside Picnic. Alexei German also made a fine film, Hard to be a God, based on one of their books."

Doubleday Book Shop receipt for "The Green Planet": Humblemark writes: "Evidently the Doubleday bookstore was located in the Pennsylvania Station Arcade. If you zoom in on the linked photo, the 'Rented' store on the left has a partially blocked sign that indicates the future occupant."

Guy Brown Wiser, artist and World War I aviator: Son Of The Dragon (Roger) writes: "Wow, thank you for your courageous service, Mr. Wiser. As a youngster my sister and I absolutely loved his illustrations for Timothy Turtle. By any chance does any of the artwork survive for this wonderful book?"

1971 Scrabble Sentence Cube Game: Two comments on this post: 
  • Tom from Garage Sale Finds writes: "I know where you're coming from. I feel an obligation when I come into possession of old items. I think, hey, somebody kept it this long, who am I to get rid of it now?"
  • Kellyn writes: "I remembered my childhood on seeing this post today.  I used to play similar games my childhood."
A label for Frostie Root Beer (a jailhouse-born beverage): Unknown writes: "I used to have root beer floats every year at Christmas time with the Frostie root beer. My son fell in love with it. It's hard to find the Frostie root beer in the Virginia area."

(Note: But I did recently find it in Arizona!)

Discovering Robert Dale Owen: Roger Allen writes: "It ran in the family. His father, Robert Owen, was a successful businessman, reformer and radical in both Britain and the USA."

Book cover: "Little Pilgrim to Penn's Woods": Adam Glass, co-host of the Lost in Criterion movie podcast, writes that Martin Grove Brumbaugh, who served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1915 until 1919, "is my third cousin, four times removed. That is, his grandfather is my 6x great-grandfather. You linked to his Wikipedia, so I won't detail it, but his work in Puerto Rico was ... not great."

(Note: Indeed, as Wikipedia states, Brumbaugh "re-wrote the entire Puerto Rican history curriculum, sanitized it and purged from it any data threatening to the 'American cause.'")

Hans Holzer was stalking ghosts and wild asparagus: Anonymous writes: "Thanks for writing this blog post. I am not sure if you knew this, but Holzer also wrote a book, The Psychic World of Plants, in 1975; it was also missing from his Wikipedia article so I added it. It contains a chapter near the end where he talks about vegetarianism and plant pain. Holzer believed that plants are sentient and have ESP ability. He was influenced by the work of Cleve Backster that was never replicated by the scientific community. Holzer was a big consumer of grains and legumes. I don't think he thought his argument through deeply. He said as a vegetarian he didn't eat anything if the root was destroyed or pulled up, but he was happy to eat other parts of the plant, because even though plants do feel pain it is not as bad as animal pain and the plant will not die. I don't think he realised how many mice are killed when grain is harvested. BTW, I know you are a pescatarian. I am a former vegetarian. I then became a pescatarian paleo diet advocate (no grains or dairy)."

An old copy of The Herbalist Almanac: Catherine Yronwode of writes: "I have copies [of The Herbalist Almanac] dated as late as 1981. The earlier years have cover art signed 'C. Meyer,' which is likely to be Clarence Meyer, one of Joseph Meyer's sons, as he illustrated other editions and collections from the company later."

Coupons from the E.H. Koester Bakery Co.: DarleneChil writes: "My Dad and his sister worked at Koester around 1955. My dad was a route salesman and my aunt worked in office. So the story goes, my dad was on a advertising sign of a man panning for gold. That sign was on the side of streetcar or bus. Would love to find more info about that sign."

Shelfie 2021: Arizona style: Inky writes: "Oh, to have that much shelf space in one spot, haha! Love the little house on the one shelf!"

Luckyday buttons — the talk of the town: Unknown writes: "Have a Luckyday card with three 1-inch white buttons; the lady in the left corner has large brim green hat, red hair, light blue ruffle around her neck. Not been able to see this particular picture on this card."

FOVA #20: Hip-o-lite marshmallow creme: Anonymous writes: "This is such a BEAUTIFUL advertisement. Thank you for posting it. I've never thought of Marshmallow as glamorous until now!"

Mystery RPPC: Girl with parasol and witchy socks: Anonymous writes: "The scariest objects are the big honking Bows on their heads!"

It's the most creepiest postcard of the Christmas season: Anonymous writes: "Could it have been the terrifying Yuletide schmaltz 'Elf on the Shelf'?!? I hate that thing."

(OK, I need a nap now after putting this together. Serves me right for waiting six months.)

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Book cover: "Avon Ghost Reader"

  • Title: Avon Ghost Reader
  • Authors: Collected stories by H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, Henry S. Whitehead, M.R. James, Bram Stoker, H.F. Heard, A. Merritt, Mindret Lord, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Collier, Stephen Vincent Benet and William B. Seabrook. (The "and Others" — literally the only two authors not named on the cover — are: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Stephen Vincent Benet.)
  • Cover illustrator: Still unknown, per the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  • Cover illustration grade: A+
  • Publisher: Avon Book Company, New York (New Avon Library, #90)
  • Year: 1946
  • Pages: 258
  • Format: Hardcover 
  • Original price: 25¢, according to Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  • Provenance: A faint stamp on the inside front cover states: "MRS. W. STANTON KIP 2ND, Sycamore Farm, Audubon, Penna." ... A search finds that Mary Louise Rhoads Kip of Audubon died May 10, 2013, at age 87. She "was the beloved wife of W. Stanton Kip." More about Mary: " A graduate of Norristown High School, class of 1943, Mary Louise went on to earn a degree in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1947. She was a person of diverse interests. With her husband Stanton, she spent some of her happiest hours sailing on Chesapeake Bay. She was a voracious reader and science fiction enthusiast. ... She was a lifelong animal lover, and all who knew her remember her deep love for her extended family of cats, who provided endless entertainment and companionship. Her intelligence and outgoing manner earned her many friends."
  • Mary Louise was quite awesome: Yes.
  • Excerpt from the inside front cover: "In these pages you will encounter soul-clutching terror and strange nameless horrors which inhabit the night. ... You will shrink from macabre scenes that the human eye should never look upon. ... The authors of these blood-curlers are world famous both for the fertility of their imagination and the excellence of their prose. ... Here is a book that will give you many a spine-tingling thrill and hours of solid entertainment."
  • Excerpt from the introduction: "Then there is Stephen Vincent Benet's 'By the Waters of Babylon,' unforunately all too close to what may be the future, in this present age when the threat of the atomic bomb hangs over us all."
  • Thoughts on the book: Bev Hankins reviewed it on the blog My Reader's Block in 2016. In summary, Bev wrote: "Overall, a solid collection of stories," but "I'm afraid that I found this one less satisfying than the Avon Mystery Story Teller.

I'm going to let this one back into the wild. If you're interested in having it on your shelf, drop me a line at chrisottopa (at) and I'll gladly send it your way!  

Back cover