Saturday, June 12, 2021

Keeping up with "From the readers"

The last one of these was a behemoth entry that took me half a day to assemble, so here's a more modest post to stay on track with sharing all the groovy and insightful comments from Papergreat readers. (Also, ICYMI, we had a bonus "From the readers" post discussing Genesis (the band), jukeboxes and the Philadelphia Flyers.)

Book cover: "Snow Above Town" (Armed Services Edition): Wendyvee writes: "Comfort/entertainment with a side of propaganda. I wonder how far (and with how many different people) these traveled. Also, I can just about *smell* this picture."

Parasol thief: Wendyvee tweets: "This blog post initiates more questions than it answers; but I'm inspired to change my name to Miss Bickel and start a Live Poultry & Junk Emporium. Also, Mrs. Steinhelfer has a new phone Who Dis?"

Cheerful Card Company can help you earn extra money for the holidays: Virginia H. writes: "I worked there as a data entry operator. Fine memories of fellow employees. Nice to read people have good memories of our company."

As the holiday gift-buying season ramps up, consider opulent owls: Christina DeAngelo writes: "That owl came in a kit that was sent out monthly to kids to complete their own art project. I cannot believe I found this picture. It was made of Styrofoam and it was one of my favorite projects. Thank you for posting this picture. It is a great memory."

The Lost Corners of Paul Crockett: starviego writes: "Squeaky Fromme said in her book that the rumor was that Crockett was a military 'deprogrammer.' He was certainly in the right place at the right time if that was his true reason for being there."

(Note: What other blog that you read jumps from opulent owls to Squeaky Fromme?)

Skylab and scary space junk: Brian Busby of the dandy website The Dusty Bookcase writes: "Thank you for this, Chris. It brought back memories of Bill Lee and the Montreal Expos (RIP). Seems appropriate that his nickname was "Spaceman." After reading your post, I gave Warren Zevon's 'Bill Lee' a listen. It was every bit as moving as I remembered.

Three vintage "We Missed You at Church" postcards: Catherine Dumont writes: "Hi Chris, fellow postcard collector here, hailing from Montréal, Québec. Found your blog researching 'Sunday school' cards. Love the first one, groovy!"

The One Where I Get Sucked into the Mecki Universe: J F Jacob writes: "After many years of wondering about a strange postcard that my parents had, I have finally learned what it is!" 

If it ain't got that Zing!
Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah."

WNEP-TV staff from 1975, including Miss Judy: Alex Hayes writes: "Geisinger Children’s Miracle Network would hold a carnival at Queen of Peace Catholic School in Shamokin every year. I guess it was a satellite carnival of the larger one held at the hospital in Danville. I went to Transfiguration, which was across the street, and we got to get out of school for a few hours to enjoy the festivities. Miss Judy came one year to sign autographs. I believe I still have it in a box. She was the first celebrity I ever met."

(Great memory! Thank you for sharing this, Alex!)

Postcard: Very twisted tree in Michigan's Thumb: David Shedlock writes: "Great blog, I bookmarked it for future fun reading. One thought on the photograph. When I first found this postcard, I wondered why the photographer/publisher called it 'The Tree That Grows' since all trees grow (Assuming they are alive!). But, when I followed the link to the other angle of the tree by the same publisher the title was 'A Tree That Grows AT Harbor Beach, Mich.' (emphasis mine). I am guessing that the first picture above was actually the second one published and someone misread or mistyped the first title."

(Excellent detective work, David! And thank you for the Papergreat compliment!)

Mystery Polaroid of two dogs: Anonymous writes: "My guess would be Basenji dogs. Look it up."

Book cover: "Investigating UFO's": David Shedlock writes: "According to Collins dictionary, UFOs or UFO's is acceptable. Four questions for President Obama pertaining to his comment 'would solidify people’s sense that what we have in common is a little more important' 1. What people have that sense, that only needs solidified? 2. What do they think people have in common that is more important? 3. More important than what? 4. Why is whatever 'they' think is more important, really more important?"

Postcard: Billy Goat Gruff at Children's Fairyland: Wendyvee writes: "Awww, this reminds me of the old Fantasyland in Gettysburg. Also, you just added another destination on my big 'to-do' map."

(Note: Speaking of 'to-do,' I have some Fantasyland postcards around here somewhere for a future Papergreat post.)

Saturday's postcard: View of Towanda, Pennsylvania

Here's an old postcard with an nice aerial view of Towanda, which is located in northeastern Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna River. Towanda is said to mean "burial ground" or "where we bury the dead" in the Algonquian languages. So, yes, disturbingly the borough is built upon an Indigenous peoples burial ground. Some argue that it's built near the burial ground.

Towanda has also been called Meansville, Overton, Williamson and Monmouth over the years. 

The postcard appears to have been mailed from Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. There were some missing letters on the postmark. I had to deal with the Wheel of Fortune puzzle of DE___RE WAT___. I cannot, however, determine the year on the postmark, though it was mailed with a one-cent stamp. So it's likely a century or more old.

The card was mailed to Miss Bessie Detrick in North Water Gap, Pennsylvania, which I believe is just a bit to the north.

The cursive note states:
Spent a very pleasant evening with Mr. Houghton and other guests. The day has been an exceptionally pleasant one, the only disagreeable thing that happened was my getting caught in the shower while crossing the river in the ferry boat. I was wet as far as it could make it.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Parasol thief

This classified advertisement from a century ago, in the January 11, 1921, edition of The Bucyrus (Ohio) Evening Telegraph, made me laugh. I wonder how it turned out. Did the parasol thief read the newspaper and exclaim, "Crikey! They're on to us, Martha!"

This is from the classified section called "The People's Want Column." Some other items from that day include:
  • FOR SALE — Anyone wishing a car of good yellow ear corn, write F. W. Weimer, Cedarville, O.
  • WANTED — Lady to demonstrate gas appliances at Logan Gas office. Apply to Miss Bickel at the Gas office.
  • WANTED — The public to know that Mrs. Steinhelfer's name was omitted from the telephone directory, and her phone No. is 4607.
  • LOST — An umbrella in North Bucyrus Saturday forenoon while convassing [sic] for books. Finder please leave at this office and receive reward.
  • WANTED — The person who took the lantern from the Mary St. dump to return to Ohio Power Co. Phone 5477.
  • WANTED — All kinds of junk, and live poultry, also eggs, by Silverstein Junk & Poultry Co. Phone 5952.
And, yes, I'm curious about Silverstein Junk & Poultry Company. How did that business start? "Let's get into buying and selling junk. Also, chickens. That seems like a profitable mix."

Alas, the only information I found about the company was that same classified advertisement, being published over and over.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Posters of last 5 movies we watched

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
Director: Terence Fisher
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee

Twenty-Four Eyes (1954)
Director: Keisuke Kinoshita
Starring: Hideko Takamine
School of Rock (2003)
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack
Mon Oncle (1958)
Director: Jacques Tati
Starring: Jacques Tati, cute dogs
Isle of the Dead (1945)
Director: Mark Robson
Starring: Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

That time Tony Pérez mailed me his autograph

This is how I remember it...

Around 1983 I went through a short phase of mailing letters (plus a SASE, of course) to baseball players and asking them for their autograph. 

Not many responded. But in 1983, I wrote to Tony Pérez, who had signed with the Philadelphia Phillies that January to join what would become the National League champion Wheeze Kids.1

We moved from Pennsylvania to Florida that summer, so it must have been sometime in late spring or early summer when I received a reply in our Montoursville mailbox from the 41-year-old Pérez, who had 1,500+ career RBIs under his belt at that point. Inside the envelope was Pérez's autographed 1983 Donruss card, which still showed him as a member of the Boston Red Sox. (He had played for the Red Sox from 1980 through 1982. In those days, your baseball card almost always showed who you had played for in the previous season.)

This was an extremely cool thing for a kid to receive in the mail in 1983. A quarter-century later, it was still extremely cool when I would help Ashar write letters to his favorite Phillies — his letters were longer and nicer than anything I had ever written — and we'd get a slick photo back from Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley or someone else from the 2008 World Champions. By that point, it had surely become a more streamlined system involving the Phillies' public relations department (and probably no necessary action on the player's part). Maybe that was the case in 1983, too. I'm pretty sure that's Pérez's actual autograph, but we can imagine that he just sat down once a month, signed a bunch of cards, and then let the PR interns do their thing and mail them out. 

Of course, in my 12-year-old mind, Tony read all of his mail, unfolded the SASE, tucked the signed card inside, licked the envelope and walked it over to the mailbox. 

A few years later — this part is hazier but let's say it was 1989 —  I discovered the magic of machines at the drug store that would laminate stuff for just a couple quarters. If it's laminated, it's FOREVER, I thought. And so, yes, I had my autographed Tony Perez baseball card laminated (along with a 1983 Fleer Wade Boggs, IIRC). This is, of course, a disastrous thing to do to a baseball card or any other ephemeral collectible. But Young Chris wasn't always the sharpest tool in the shed. 

Collectible-wise, the value of the Pérez card is now close to nil. But the upside, I reckon, is that I never intended to sell it, anyway. Tony Pérez mailed it to me! So I can be content that it's safe from spills and almost impossible to crease.


1. In 2013, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stan Hochman wrote about the origin of Wheeze Kids as the moniker for the 1983 Phillies: "They were old. So many guys in their 40s. Old baseball guys creak when they run and they run a step slower. They make a whistling, tea-kettle sound when they go first to third or second to home. Wheeze Kids, that's what I nicknamed that 1983 Phillies team, and it stuck. A spinoff of Whiz Kids, the nickname for that swaggering, young Phillies bunch that won the pennant in 1950, only to get swept by the Yankees in the World Series. Throw enough mud at the wall and some of it sticks."

Monday, June 7, 2021

I like my root beer ... sanitary

OK, I have some questions: What marketing genius came up with Sanitary Brand Root Beer? Did they think that fairy tale illustrations would help make up for the lame name? Why not just call it Fairy Tale Root Beer? Would this be the first root beer you grab off the shelf?

At least the public could be assured that the beverages from the Sanitary Bottling Works in Indiana Harbor, Indiana, were sanitary, right? Right??

Alas, the first article I found in a search on was this one, from the June 12, 1914, edition of The Times of Munster, Indiana.


The wrath of the law was visited upon a pop bottling firm, three groceries and five bakeries on one street in Indiana Harbor yesterday by J.T. Willett, state food and drug inspector, with the assistance of Frank O'Rourke of Hammond, and Justice Funkhouser. The nine fines amounted to $317.70. Willett was loud in his praise of the judge.

Those fined are:

The Sanitary Bottling Works, convicted on five cases of charging pop with soda and saccarine, the last a substance 500 times as sweet as sugar, costing $2.25 as against $25 for a like amount of sugar sweeting. Total fine $110.50.1 Samuel Meyers, bakery; Trkman & Sherpter [sic?], bakery; M. Hodiesski, bakery; F. Fiedrwicz, grocery; Fred Speisak, bakery; Abe Padi, grocery; Michael Chaswood, bakery. Each fined $25.90.

All these merchants hail from Cedar street. Inspector Willett says that there are other streets and he is back in Indiana Harbor today with blood in his eye. "I have warned these fellows repeatedly to clean up," said he this morning. "There is no place in the country that needs a city inspector as bad as East Chicago and Indiana Harbor. The conditions are the worst in Indiana. The walls, floors, windows and cases of the bakeries were filthy. Food was uncovered and thousands of flies were attracted to it. These things don't happen where there is inspection."
1. From the Wikipedia page on the artificial sweetener saccharin, which was first produced in 1879: "Starting in 1907, the United States Food and Drug Administration began investigating saccharin as a result of the Pure Food and Drug Act. Harvey Wiley, then the director of the bureau of chemistry for the FDA, viewed it as an illegal substitution of a valuable ingredient, sugar, by a less valuable ingredient. In a clash that had career consequences, Wiley told President Theodore Roosevelt, 'Everyone who ate that sweet corn was deceived. He thought he was eating sugar, when in point of fact he was eating a coal tar product totally devoid of food value and extremely injurious to health.' But Roosevelt himself was a consumer of saccharin, and, in a heated exchange, Roosevelt angrily answered Wiley by stating, 'Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot.' The episode proved the undoing of Wiley's career."