Saturday, July 31, 2021

OK, I'm ready for autumn*

*Yes, I'm aware I live in a desert. 

Isn't this a lovely painting, though? By Albert Lorieux, oil on canvas, 1898.

If you, too, are longing for autumn. Here are some past Papergreat posts:

The pencils of Seminole Middle School

I came across this photo recently online and it reminded me of being a seventh-grader at Seminole Middle School in Pinellas County, Florida. We had moved from Montoursville to Florida in the summer of 1983, and that fall I attended Seminole Middle School, a low-slung, seemingly windowless and mostly charmless building.

It was probably my worst year in public school.

(Which, to be clear, wasn't bad at all compared to some of the nightmare situations kids have found themselves in at school throughout history. Compared to other horror stories, it was a walk in the park.)

I was the new kid, fresh from rural Pennsylvania. I didn't know anyone. I was a victim of some minor bullying, as a couple of fellow students decided to frequently stalk me in the hallways between classes.

My memories of the 1983-84 school year are fairly scant, in contrast to my other grade-school years, before and after. My favorite teacher was a charismatic science teacher named Mrs. Cleary; in fact, she's the only teacher whose name or face I can remember! In gym class, all of the towels were dyed a deep purple. (To make it harder for kids to steal them or accidentally take them home?) I had a one-semester class that was an introduction to architectural drawing. One of my classmates was the son of a former Philadelphia Phillie. In English, I did a book report on The Old Man and the Sea. And the centrally located library was really cool; I especially liked the astronomy section.

But, as I said, the building was just so oppressive, with its long hallways and flourescent lighting everywhere. I found a 2018 tweet that shows the school's interior precisely as I remember it from 1983-84.

Endless hallways, with doors leading into nondescript classroom areas that were partitioned off by temporary walls. (I reckon that was so the walls could be adjusted to account for different classroom sizes in any given year. That's efficient, but it also leads to an utterly bland learning environment.)

I remember the cafeteria, but have no recollection of the food or ever actually sitting down for a meal there. Or talking to anyone during a meal. Near the cafeteria, however, there was a little student store that was open at lunchtime. It was really just a glorified closet with a Dutch door. The top would open and someone would stand behind the lower half, selling items from the interior shelves. And that brings us to my memory. The coolest things for sale were the NFL pencils, each created in the team's official colors. They just seemed like little treasures to me, and so collectible. I'm not sure I even wanted to actually use them.

Anyway, that's it. That's the memory. Do you remember or did you collect NFL pencils in the late 1970s or 1980s? Share your memories in the comments.

Also, if I walked alongside you in the halls of Seminole Middle School in 1983-84, I'm sorry that we apparently never met or hit it off. (Things got much better the next year, for eighth grade, when our neighborhood was rezoned by the county school system and I was bused to Madeira Beach Middle School, which was the opposite of Seminole in every way. Fresh air, windows, friends, great teachers and classes that I remember well.)

Saturday's vintage postcard featuring some Tuck's cats

This postcard has the French phrase Je Fais 'Des Voeux Pour Votre Bonheur on the front, which translates to the always-nice sentiment of "I make wishes for your happiness."

And then there are the cats, with their pink and blue neck ribbons and nice saucer of milk. I like how (mostly) patient the other cat looks, while waiting a turn to drink. Our cat Mr. Bill, who turns 15 in December, has gotten much needier in his old age, whining for attention or food or just no reason at all throughout most days. Sometimes he just wants to be hugged and petted for a few minutes. Sometimes, in the mornings, we can make him temporarily happy with a bowl of milk. The other three cats always kindly wait their turn and let Mr. Bill have the first drink.

Some more about this embossed postcard, which was pasted in someone's scrapbook decades ago and which I almost certainly bought at the antique/junk store in York New Salem, Pennsylvania, years ago:
  • It was never mailed.
  • "Tuck's Post Card" is printed across the top.
  • On the left side it states: "Raphael Tuck & Sons 'Birthday Post Cards' Series No. 105, ART PUBLISHERS TO THEIR MAJESTIES THE KING & QUEEN."
  • A previous vendor wrote "GR 50¢" in pencil on the back

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Annotated edition of "The Treasure of the Superstition Mountains"

We recently moseyed over to the library in our new town, the very nice Florence Community Library. I got my myself a library card, and the first book I checked out was 1973's The Treasure of the Superstition Mountains.

The Superstitions are a nearby scenic mountain range, located to the north of us, and to the east of Phoenix. (Check out my mediocre snapshot at the bottom of the post.) As with many mountainous regions of the American Southwest, there are legends that there's "lost gold" to be found within, hence the "Treasure."

This book was written by Gary Jennings (1928-1999), who had a quirky and successful career as an author, mostly of historical fiction. The Treasure of the Superstition Mountains came toward the beginning of his writing career. It seems to have been well-received. It has 4.1 stars (out of 5) from Amazon reviewers. In a review that appeared in The Kansas City Times in January 1974, Rudolph Umland wrote:
"'The Treasure of the Superstition Mountains' might well be the definitive book on the Lost Dutchman mine. It gives a description of the history of the entire area of the Superstitions and of the towns around. Gary Jennings has crammed all the facts and all the legends known about the mountains and the mine into his book. He not only spent long hours poring over everything written about the mountains and the mine but made excursions by foot and horseback over much of the terrain."
One reviewer, however, wasn't very impressed with Jennings' book. And that's the unknown critic who wrote marginalia on the pages of the copy I checked out of the Florence Community Library. I decided to take snapshots of his comments and snarkiness for posterity, so here we go...

Page 72. (Ironically, the marginalia is wrong, too. It's javelinas.)
Page 81. (A disagreement over chollas.)
Page 84. ("Completely unsupported claim")
Page 85. ("unsupported," with regard to the Hohokam)
Page 87. ("600 years is not long enough for anything to petrify")
Page 95. ("Not true! If that were true they would still be fighting!")
Page 109. ("You are really reaching Jennings." Note: I agree.)
Page 118. ("Oh come on!")
Page 126. ("So what!")
Page 133. ("Not true! Artifacts can still be found there.")
Page 155. ("Not true!")
Page 156. ("Guessing?)
Page 224. ("Probably very few")
By the way, please do not write in library books. If you want to write marginalia or sonnets or grocery lists in your own books, that's fine. But I do not condone defacing library books.

My snapshot of the Superstitions...
Taken from the car on June 28, 2021, near Gold Canyon, Arizona.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Illustration from Andrew Lang book about two princes

This illustration is from an undated A.L. Burt edition of The Adventures of Prince Prigio and of His Son, Prince Ricardo, by Andrew Lang. My book has an inscription noting "Xmas 1901."

The title page states "with many illustrations," but there does not appear to be any credit given to said illustrator. However, a little research indicates that the original illustrator of the Prince Prigio books was Gordon Browne (1858-1932), and that certainly looks like the initials GB in the lower-left corner of the illustration.

And what an illustration it is! It is, indeed, the very large severed head of some monster. 

This part of the tale (which sadly also contains some extremly racist language) contains this section about the poor beast.
"Hi, Ross!" he shouted, "just weigh this beast's head. I've had a splendid day with a sea-monster. Get the head stuffed, will you? We'll have it set up in the billiard-room."

"Yes, Master Dick — I mean your royal highness," said Ross, a Highland keeper, who had not previously been employed by a reigning family. "It's a fine head, whatever," he added meditatively.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Some desserts from 1975's "Torts and Other Legal Treats"

Torts and Other Legal Treats, one of the books I picked up yesterday, is part of the huge subcategory of cookbooks put together by groups of people who share the common bond of a church, school, workplace or other community affiliation.

In this case, it was 1975 and the cookbook was a product of the Loyola Law Partners Association of the Loyola University of Los Angeles School of Law. 

In the preface, "cookbook chairman" Linda Porter writes:

"This cookbook contains an interesting combination of high quality recipes. There are recipes that can be used by both new and experienced cooks and will inspire all cooks to greater triumphs. Loyola Law Partners Ass. provided financial support to law student scholarships and to activities for Juvenile Hall. Proceeds from Torts and Other Legal Treats will help support and further these endeavors."

The cookbook cost $3, plus 48 cents for California sales tax. 

Some of the recipes include Carol's clam dip, hot chile beef dip, chicken-eggflower soup, Welsh gazpacho, tabooley salad, 100% whole wheat bread, zucchini baked with Velveeta cheese, glorified zucchini, Ann Landers meatloaf, chicken surprise, porcupine meatballs, taco pie, Sonya's super spaghetti sauce and jumbo flying saucer cookies.

I'm going to share two of the dessert recipes, and you can let me know if another recipe listed above sounds compelling enough to share in a future post.

Forgotten torte (Joan Drulias)

  • 6 egg whites
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1½ c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ pint whipping cream

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Butter bottom only of agel [sic] food pan. Beat egg whites at room temperature with salt and cream of tartar. Add sugar a TB at a time. When very stiff at [add?] vanilla. Put in pan and place in hot oven. Turn oven off. Leave in overnight. Frost with whipping cream. Variations: Fresh berries with orange liqueur. Shaved chocolate with kahlua or heath bars with rum.

Mother's mystery cake (Ardee Hill)

  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1½ c flour
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c raisins
  • ⅔ c nuts

Cream butter and sugar, add soup. Sift dry ingredients, mix thoroughly with first mixture. Add raisins and chopped nuts. Bake at 300 for 45 min. Use a sq. pan.


Note #1: This Papergreat's 3,400th post! Zoinks, that a lot of posts.

Note #2: This week, the recipe we'll be attempting is Ted Lasso's biscuits.