Saturday, July 17, 2021

Dad Humor (Ephemera Division)

Saturday's postcard: "Happy dreams of long ago"

The man has crashed into sleep while rocking a pair of very awake babies. He dreams of a peaceful and more romantic moment. Fatherhood is a serious bummer, this "Happy dreams of long ago" postcard clearly seems to be saying. I reckon it could also be an advertisement for abstinence, but that might be reading too much into the proceedings. It's probably just intended for a quick, knowing chuckle. 

No publisher is listed on the back, though a publisher's logo might be obscured by the one-cent stamp. This card was mailed from Winstead, Connecticut, (birthplace of Arphaxed Loomis) on July 26, 1907. The recipient was Mr. Milford Jones of 41 South John Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The note is a short one, in nice cursive:
How are you getting along and how is Edith? tell her I will write soon.

Monongahela mushball recap

This week I learned there's a thing called mushball while browsing through and coming across the above article ("Eldora, Sigs sweep mush ball battles") from 90 years ago this month. It's from the July 15, 1931, edition of The Daily Republican of Monongahela, Pennsylvania.1 

Mushball is also known, according to Wikipedia, as 16-inch softball, clincher, cabbageball, puffball, blooperball, smushball and Chicago ball. I'm not entirely sure I've ever heard of any of those. And I was a newspaper sports editor for many, many years. Clearly, I still have a lot to learn.

In a nutshell, mushball is a variant of softball with a larger, mushier ball. The fielders do not wear gloves. The sport dates to at least 1887. The large, mushy ball allows for the game to be played on a smaller field. (The ball will not travel far when hit, even if Shohei Ohtani or Bryce Harper is the one doing the batting. As Sharon Kennedy Wynne wrote for the Tampa Bay Times in 2008, "The good players can't hit the ball too far, and even the most mediocre player can't miss that cantaloupe coming over the plate, so just about everybody gets a hit.") And having a sport in which gloves aren't needed was quite popular, especially during the Great Depression, because gloves are expensive.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is among those who have played the sport, which remains popular today.

There's even a Hall of Fame for 16-inch softball in Illinois.

1. Other headlines from that same Sports page:
  • Washington netmen book two matches
  • Bentleyville team whips Charleroi in Upper Valley loop
  • Lucky Boys swamp B.-T.
  • Rogersville bumps Charleroi Whippets
  • Monessen Firemen whip Floreffe to even ball series
  • Indians club out win over Garagemen, 13-2

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Vintage postcard: Hotel Europa in Salzburg, Austria

This postcard of Hotel Europa in Salzburg, Austria, has this publisher information printed vertically on the back: "Cosy-Verlag, Alfred Gründler, Salzburg, Getreidegasse Nr, 22".

Getreidegasse is, per Wikipedia, "a busy shopping street in the historic Altstadt (Old Town) of Salzburg, Austria, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. It is known for the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at No. 9, where he lived until the age of 17. The narrow street is characterised by numerous high townhouses side by side with its wrought iron guild signs."

"Echte Photographie" is also printed on the back. As I discovered from a 2003 message board post, "'Echte Photographie' is not a company but sort of a quality standard. As you may know it translates as 'real photographic picture'. It just means it was done on photographic paper, not printed by a printing machine."

In other words, this is a real photo postcard (RPPC), of which we've had many on Papergreat.

This postcard was never mailed. Among the words printed in the stamp box are Portoverbilligt, a German word that translates to "reduced postage" or "cheap postage."

Finally, the following was written in cursive on the back by either my great-grandmother or my grandmother (if I had to guess, I'd tentatively say my great-grandmother):

July 30, 1963
Stayed at this hotel in Salzburg

So that's what one of my ancestors was doing 58 years ago this month, whilst I dodge 115° F temperatures, haboobs and wildfires here in Arizona in 2021.

As for Hotel Europa: It was built in 1957 to replace the Grand Hotel de l'Europe, which had been irreparably damaged in World War II. It was the first high-rise building in Salzburg and, over the decades, went from being a sign of modernity to being considered a "blotch" on the skyline of the historic city. It was refurbished and received a new facade in 1999. Today, it's still a highly-rated hotel. Its website states:
"In the Panorama Restaurant on the 15th floor, a feast for the eyes awaits you – take in unbeatable views of the old town while treating yourself to our culinary highlights. You’ll soon see that life at the Hotel Europa Salzburg is a dream come true."

Monday, July 12, 2021

Book cover: "The Unofficial Countryside"

  • Title: The Unofficial Countryside
  • Author: Richard Mabey (1941-present)
  • Jacket design: Denys Ovenden (1922-2019)
  • Publisher: Collins
  • Year: 1974 reprint (first published 1973)
  • Pages: 157
  • Format: Hardcover 
  • Price: There's an oval golden sticker affixed to the bottom of the inside front flap of the dust jacket. It states "$7.95" and "CHAS. SCRIBNER'S SONS"
  • Provenance: Purchased from (I think I first read about Mabey's writing in an issue of Weird Walk or a similar contemporary zine, but now I can't find the reference.)
  • Excerpt from dust jacket: "Like his very successful Food for Free, Richard Mabey's new book is one that teaches us to look and to enjoy. His subject here is the natural history of city and suburbia, of all places where town meets country, where nature adapts itself to man's interference. It is the world of docks, reservoirs and canals; of roads and railways, bomb-sites and building sites and waste ground; allotments and gardens, rubbish tips, factory walls and all the odd corners of industrial Britain."
  • Dedication: "In memory of Kenneth Allsop, passionate defender of all our green places, without whose inspiration and encouragement this book would not have been written."
  • First sentence: Experiences have a way of staying naggingly out of focus until after you have been through them.
  • Last sentence: This most delicate of flowers, hounded by new roads and car-borne trippers, had found refuge amongst the clutter, and was having its revenge.
  • Random sentence from middle #1: It is amazing how romantic these pockets of ragamuffin greenery can begin to seem, nestling, like Frances Burnett's Secret Garden, behind the factory walls.
  • Random sentence from middle #2: I would wager that half our popular names for plants originated out of the imaginations of children.
  • Rating on Goodreads: 4.08 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review excerpt #1: In 2017, Tim Pendry wrote: "Nearly half a century old, this fairly short but readable book captures the natural condition of the urban environment at that moment in the 1970s when a decaying industrial modernity was about to give way to environmentalism and a service economy.
  • Goodreads review excerpt #2: In 2018, Tom Jonesman wrote: "Undoubtedly one of those books that makes you look at the world differently."
  • Rating on Amazon: 4.8 stars (out of 5)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2014, "Dormouse of the north" wrote: "The author has just the easiest, most effortless writing style, and I shall be seeking out more of his work. I love this book so much I want EVERYONE to know about it. And that is the highest praise I can offer."

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Listen to the children and the science: Get vaccinated

 Just feeling like sharing these today.

Frédérique Boeck
Le Prélude, Ottawa
Siarra Anderson
Blessed Sacrament School, Wainwright
Immunize Canada's National Immunization Poster Contest (2018)
Jersey Chan
Holy Ghost School, Winnipeg
Immunize Canada's National Immunization Poster Contest (2018)