Saturday, July 3, 2021

Lost corners: Rosanna Yeh's "Mystery Messages"

Surfing through, I came across this wonderful poem in the June 3, 1993, edition of The Atlanta Journal / The Atlanta Constitution (North Fulton Extra). It's by seventh-grader Rosanna Yeh, and I absolutely love the creativity with language and ideas that are on display here. I would read a whole story about this mystery! 

Saturday's postcard: Elfreth's Alley

Appropriate for this Independence Day weekend, here's a WYCO Products postcard of Philadelphia's Elfreth's Alley, one of the most beautiful and historic walkable streets in the United States (though it's only about 40,000 square feet total). The postcard's printed text states erroneously that the alley dates to 1690, when the actual year of establishment (initially as a cart path) was 1703. Regardless, most agree with the assertion that it's the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in America.

"Elfreth’s Alley was not included in original plans for Philadelphia. As Philadelphia became a bustling city, artisans and merchants purchased or rented property close to the ports where goods and materials arrived. This led to overcrowding, and landowners recognized that tradesmen needed alternate routes to the river. Arthur Wells and John Gilbert opened a cart path between their properties, which stretched from Front St. to Second St., in 1703. The path later became known as Elfreth’s Alley, named after Jeremiah Elfreth, blacksmith and land developer."

I've been to Elfreth's Alley once or twice, both around four decades ago, so it's kind of hazy. When I lived in Clayton, New Jersey, we took an elementary school trip to Philadelphia that hit several historic locations. And we also had a family trip or two to the city in the 1980s. But those visits kind of blend together. Anyway, I'd like to see it again some day.

This postcard was sent to my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham (1919-2003), in 1985. It's from a couple, one of whom is named Ron. I can't read the other name. The message states:

Dear Helen,

Thank you for sending us the news about Mina. We often recall the fun times the four of us had. She was a great, one-of-a-kind lady! We've had a busy Spring: I went to Russia, Ron was in Seattle. And Monday we leave for ten days in Jugoslavia. We will call in June and make a date to see you. It has been too long!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Mail delivery was much more dramatic in the past

These two unused postcards feature artwork by Fritz Boscovits (1871-1965), a Swiss painter, caricaturist and graphic artist. The red-clothed fella with the spear is a 15th century messenger of Schwyz, Switzerland. The blue-clothed fella with the long dagger is a 15th century messenger of Zug, Switzerland. Same-day delivery not available in all areas. Footwear surcharge may apply. Optional extra wax seals available upon request. 

The actual Swiss Post didn't begin to come together until 1675, and you can read about its history here.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Book cover: "Chendru"

  • Title: Chendru
  • Subtitle: The Boy and the Tiger
  • Author: Astrid Bergman Sucksdorff (1927-2015)
  • About the author: She was a Swedish photographer and author of many children's books, of which this was one of her earliest. According to the English translation of her Swedish Wikipedia page: "In 1952, Astrid Bergman received a request from the filmmaker Arne Sucksdorff to become a still photographer for his first feature film project, The Great Adventure. Astrid and Arne shared a strong interest in nature and soon became a couple. In connection with the filming in the forests of Sörmland, Astrid was given responsibility for an injured fox cub and this led to the photo project that resulted in her first photo book for children, Micki the fox cub." Read more about her here.
  • English translation by: William Sansom
  • Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World
  • Year: 1960 for the English version; first published in 1959
  • Pages: 54 (with color photos taking up about 75% of the space)
  • Format: Hardcover, library binding
  • Dimensions: 8½ inches by 11⅜ inches
  • Provenance: West Des Moines Library, then stamped "DISCARD." The name "Scott" is written on the inside front cover.
  • First sentence: Far away in the middle of India lies the jungle village of Gahr-Bengal.
  • Last sentence: And he dreams only this dream: that when Tambu has grown truly big and strong, then he will ride his tiger into the jungle, far away to the Blue Mountains where once his father found a little cub, and even farther, on to other jungles, other rivers ... riding, riding ... boy and tiger ... riding on forever.
  • Random sentence from middle #1: No one is afraid to sleep when there is a tiger in the company.
  • Random sentence from middle #2: Tambu keeps on growing ... no more buffaloes' milk for him — now it is meat!
  • Rating on Goodreads: 3.62 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In March of this year, Paul wrote: "Yet another gem of a book from my childhood. Bought for me when I was just 4 years old, my mother read this to me many, many times. It is the beautifully written, true story of Chendru, a young boy of the Muria people from the Bastar region in the jungles of Eastern India. When he is about 14 years old, his father and grandfather return from a hunting trip with an abandoned tiger cub. Chendru and Tambu (the tiger) immediately become best buds."
  • What happened to Chendru? On the blog Face to Face, Upendra Singh wrote this in September 2018: "He was Chendru Mandavi by name. He belonged to 'Muria' tribe and was living in Garh Bengal in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh. He rescued a cub and brought it home and played with the tiger like many of the children do with their toys in modern times." Because of Arne Sucksdorff's documentary film and Astrid Bergman Sucksdorff's book and photographs, Chendru achieved worldwide fame a short time. Singh writes the Chendru "saw 'modern life' in Sweden and dreamt of going out of his village to study. He remained in Europe for several months exploring the modern life there. ... But Chendru’s domestic constraints didn’t permit him to settle down anywhere else than his village." Chendru died in 2013. He lived the final years of his life battling poverty and hunger, according to a newspaper report.
And he dreams only this dream: ... boy and tiger ... riding on forever.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

2021 summer shelfie #7

One last bit of silliness...

147 famous automobiles ... and Peter Lorre

This advertisement is featured on the back cover Dell's comic book adaptation of the 1963 Roger Corman movie The Raven, starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court, Olive Sturgess and Jack Nicholson. (Yes, that Jack Nicholson.) It's a good comic based on the wonderfully funny movie, which Ashar and I would list as one of our favorites.

But today we're focusing on this advertisement. For JUST $2.49 (about $21 today), kids could send away for what appears to be a nifty garage filled with all sorts of classic vehicles, from the 1918 Baker Electric to the 1934 LaFayette to a 1963 Oldsmobile. The advertisement states:
"KIDS! Here's the greatest assortment of famous cars from Grandpa's days to today! Yes, a model car for each year from 1915 through 1963! And there's 3 each of each model so that you can trade them and save them! ... Made of pure plastic styrene. Fun for you and the whole family."
As you have surely already guessed, not all was as it appeared. Volume 63 of the Federal Trade Commission Decisions tells the story:
In the Matter of
Lucky Products, Inc., Et Al.


Docket C-608. Complaint, Oct. 16, 1963 — Decision, Oct. 16, 1963

Consent order requiring distributors of toys and related products in Westbury, Long Island, N.Y., to cease misrepresenting their products in advertising in newspapers and magazines by such practices as representing falsely that toy soldiers were 4 inches in length, that they and toy "Knights" were of more than one color and three-dimensional; that cannons and rifles emitted smoke and blasts of fire, etc.; that an 8 inch "Aircraft Carrier" was a foot long; and that "Famous Automobiles" were three-dimensional models of their full-size counterparts.
The complaint describes the images and text of the "147 Famous Automobiles" advertisement by Lucky Products and notes, "The ... statements appear in an advertisement which also includes pictures of nineteen automobiles shown in various positions so that they appear to be three-dimensional and equipped with tires, wheels, chrome, headlights, radiator trim, license plate frames and other sundry features.)"

But the "truth" and "fact" of what kids received in the mail was this: "The '147 Famous Automobiles' are not three-dimensional nor are they models of their full-size counterparts."

The Federal Trade Commission's decision ordered Lucky Products to cease and desist from misrepresenting, via illustration or written description, the toys it was advertising. And, specifically, to cease and desist from using the word "model" in its advertising. 

This was an era, it seems, in which comic book advertisements gave the FTCs investigators plenty of regular work.

Lucky Products, by the way, also produced and sold one of the most famous comic book advertisements of this era: The "footlocker" with "100 toy soldiers." Glenn Waters of the website Hobby Lark wrote an interesting piece about that set in 2019.

And, as promised...

Here's a panel featuring Peter Lorre (as Dr. Adolphus Bedlo) and Boris Karloff (as Dr. Scarabus) from this Dell comic adaptation of The Raven.