Tuesday, June 28, 2022

From the Readers (2022 edition), plus many cats

"I'm interested in restarting my ephemera blog, but it's difficult to find time while I'm temporarily alone in a large house in the desert Southwest with 16 cats, and anyway there's also that small matter of America's experiment with democracy appearing to spiral into the trash heap of history" ... is not a sentence I anticipated writing when Papergreat launched in November 2010. Heck, it's not even a sentence I imagined was possible when I went on potentially permanent hiatus seven months ago.

Yet here we are. That's Bandit in the photo. He's about 4 months old. Sometimes I get his name wrong and call him Bobcat. There are so many names.

Yes, there are currently 16 cats in this house. Or maybe 17. I have to go count again. The one we call Orange and rescued from the 110° desert heat had kittens this morning in the air-conditioned garage. There are either six or seven of them; it's hard to tell with all the squiggling legs and torsos.

[At this point, I had to take a break to talk to a neighbor who was curious about the cat situation. I had to admit that we have 16 or 17 cats right now. "Temporarily," I stressed several times, knowing that we're dancing precariously close to be Those People who warrant a call to the authorities for an animal hoarding situation. This is not that kind of situation.

After the neighbor left, I fed Mama Orange and was able to verify that there are indeed seven newborn kittens. So it's 17. Sev-en-teen. Temporarily.]

So, I'm interested in getting back to Papergreat. I miss the writing and doing the rabbit-hole researching. I mean, I still spend my sparse free time going down rabbit holes on the internet anyway, so I may as well get some blog posts out of it and share my obsessions with the world. And I still have so much I want to write about. Literally a closet full of things (pictured) that could become groovy blog posts.

[At this point, I had to take a break to scoop the cat-litter boxes, do the dishes and give the nine cats in the main part of the house their dinner.1]

The other things I miss greatly, in addition to writing and researching Papergreat, are sharing and interacting with the comments. Which gets me to my point (besides the cat problem): Y'all have kept Papergreat going the past seven months by continuing to provide some great insights with your comments on past posts.

So you get the first post of the relaunch. Here are the awesome reader comments since Papergreat temporarily closed up shop. For any potential new readers, I hope they also show the breadth of ephemera topics I've covered here over the many years.

1916 Thanksgiving postcard and "All good things...": Joan writes: "I have been (for probably obvious multiple-job-life-mess reasons) behind on my Papergreating, and I am reading this at 12:39 a.m. on Dec. 10, 2021, as I enjoy listening to a rare hard rain in the Arizona desert. And I can't help but think that maybe your OCD tendencies will work in my favor -- because if I post something as a comment, how could you not come back and write about it in a roundup? No matter what comes next, I hope I can read it."

Down memory lane with 1983 Topps Baseball Sticker Album: Unknown writes: "I have this sticker album, missing 3 stickers."

"Burlesque in the Church," a strongly worded 1970s religious tract: Unknown writes: "We had this tract at our church in the 1970s. My cousins and I were young teens and we were really entertained by this tract. Now that I'm OLD myself, I understand how the author felt, but at the time ... well."

[At this point, I had to pause to feed Mamacita and Shadow, a pair of semi-feral sibling cats that come to our backyard most days. They do not count as the 18th and 19th cats, because they are outdoors. That's my story, and I'm sticking by it.]

Book cover: "Cloe Spin and her Happy Family": Anonymous writes: "I was born in the early 1960s and at some point in my young life remember having a coloring book with clothespin people in it. Every once in a while over the past few years I have done Google searches for this coloring book. I finally found it and I bought a copy. I do not remember anything about the book other than the clothesspin people and am excited to have a copy after all these years. It must be a sign of aging on my part." 

The (new) oddest stuff I've found tucked inside a book: Unknown writes: "This was so much fun to read. I too, have a curious mind, as well a similar line of questioning when I happen to find items tucked into the pages."

Cheerful Card Company can help you earn extra money for the holidays: Unknown writes: "I am 67 now I sold Cheerful Card company cards. I was just thinking about them and wanted to see if I could still find something from my past on them. Oh gosh, I couldn’t believe how many memories. Thank you. It was a great time in my life."

Saturday's postcard: New Jersey trolley line in 1907: Unknown writes: "My grandfather worked for the Shore Fast Line. After he married my grandmother, he went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad, as her two brothers worked there. He eventually ended up in Key West as a conductor working for Henry Flagler on the Florida East Coast Railway."

Does anyone still own a 1-square-inch Texas ranch? There have been several comments on this one. Blogger rlt writes: "Hey I have my deed -- Anyone want to buy it as a lark?"

And Kevin Surbaugh writes: "I have a deed for one square inch of Texas land. Sure it's a novelty but hey it's fun."

And Don M. Patterson writes: "Howdy, I found this post while doing a deep dive on the history of this ad. The backstory involves a struggling record label, copyright infringement, and several wild claims. I posted my findings here: http://www.orgivemedeath.com/one-square-inch.html

[At this point, I had to pause to give Orange a snack. She's eating for eight now.]

Frank's Pig-Pen in West Berlin: Old advertisement and some memories: Unknown writes: "I remember the Pig-Pen, Linda's Lounge, and Charlie and Hank's home bar. Pretty rowdy at Linda's"

Postcard with dramatic view of Walzin Castle in Belgium: Kumbahya writes: "The link to 'interesting old image of Castle Walzin' doesn't work -- was hoping to see that. Maybe you saved the image?"

I replied: It's been 9 years, but I think this is the same image that I was referring to in 2013: https://www.agefotostock.com/age/en/details-photo/one-of-the-first-halftones-walzin-castle-dinant-belgium-1880/IBR-1906545

Postcard: The original Christmas Tree Shops location: Unknown writes: "I found an old metal tray with this same picture among my mother keepsakes. Wondered if you know the approximate date it might be from."

My best guesstimate would be 1950s or 1960s, which probably isn't a very helpful narrowing.

Lamenting what we'll never know about Phyllis J. Stalnaker Harris: Back in February 2021, Anonymous had written: "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."

Responding to that, Mr H writes: "Yes. You make some good points. It’s like we slowly disappear after we die. Years pass and those that knew us pass on. Very little is known after that except photos which often end up at estate sales, thrift stores, and the garbage." 

Plucked from a yard sale, Part 5: Is this Dondi the elephant? Responding to this 2011 post, Unknown writes: "You shouldn't be making judgments when you don't have facts. I knew Phil, Francine, and Dondi. She had the best of care, and LOVE. As an wildlife rehabber, I will tell you that animals in the wild can have the same issues as those in captivity. Dondi had a good life. It's expensive to keep an elephant. They needed to raise money for her care. If you don't understand that, there's something wrong with your thinking."

Fair enough. I appreciate this side of the story being highlighted. 

Ephemera from my grandfather's 300 game in Easton, Pa., in 1947: Pat Rohal writes: "Chris, my grandfather owned the bowling alleys."

A prayer card, a farm photo and a Mother's Oats coupon: Unknown writes: "My mother has a mother's oats box she stuck recipes in. It's not in real good condition. It has a small pic of a mother in a chair holding a spoon and a boy standing behind the chair at her shoulder. The box advertises that it contains a piece of Ekco kitchenware inside. Just curious to know what the date might be. I'm figuring maybe 50s or 60s???"

Ekco dates to the late 1880s and Mother's Oats dates to the 1890s, so it could be even earlier than the 1950s.

A label for Frostie Root Beer (a jailhouse-born beverage):  Csaali writes: "Just bought it today in St. Louis at Schnucks. Never knew of it before."

And as I wrote last year, I finally discovered it out here in Arizona.

"It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.": Anonymous writes: "I don't think a Gengar is a grue."

With that, we have the first Pokemon reference in Papergreat history.

[At this point, I had to pause to fill the cats' automatic water bowl, which is making a gurgling noise that's quite distracting. Also, Bandit has returned and is now sitting between my arms as I type.]

1915 post-Christmas postcard: "Many thanks for the stationery": Unknown, possibly commenting on the wrong post, writes: "I just found, in a box of keepsakes, four Cheerful Card Company catalogs, dated 1956/1957. I proudly sold the cards and all the misc. --- the beginning of my love for sales. I am 77 years old, and a Realtor, never forgetting even the smell of opening a box of the paper products! I would love to visit the present factory."

1938 receipt from Albert Brothers Steam Bakery: Unknown writes: "I have a display case from the bakery."

With apologies in advance... Happy Halloween! Dave Pattern writes: "'Wimpey the Clown' was Bert Hiles of Swansea, UK. He married Kassie Overend of Holmfirth ,who was famous in the 1940s for owning a pet tiger named Fenella that she'd take for walks around Holmfirth!"

This all checks out. Wow! 

Montoursville 2018: Hurr's: Anonymous writes: "I worked at the Montoursville Hurr's Dairy from high school through college. My manager was June Scott and she was a wonderful lady. I have fond memories of my co-workers and remember my high school chemistry teacher lived on the other side of the building. A wonderful Montoursville memory (and the peanut butter fudge sundaes have never been replicated!)"

Elaborately designed envelope for Bennett Printing Company: Back in March 2016, R. Armstrong had written: "My father used to work there and my grandfather was president! It was running at least a few years after I was born (1981). So cool to see someone liking what they did!"

Responding to that, Carol Brown wrote in May 2022: "R. Armstrong: I worked there in 1977. I was their only female salesperson. I believe they hired me to see if I could break ground with the very famous Adola Cooper at the Bloom Agency, which I did. Your father sat two desks behind me and your grandfather had his own office. I can't remember their first names. Carol Brown, now age 74 and living in Illinois."

Examining the Tunguska Event via newspaper headlines: Back in February 2020, Tom of Garage Sale Finds wrote: "I remember reading 'The Fire Came By' back in the 80s when I was fascinated with all things paranormal and space-related. It bothered me that Dan Aykroyd [in Ghostbusters] referred to it as the Tunguska blast of 1909 rather than 1908. Hey, I was (am) a nerd." 

Responding to Tom this year, Anonymous writes: "Having an interest in such things, Dan Aykroyd would have known the correct year, but his speech needed a cadence, and '1909' with its assonance, provides a more-pleasing and assertive final sound than the open-mouthed '1908.' In other words, he was making use of literary license."

To which I responded: "I love your reasoning for this, Anonymous. I think you're right, that it does make the line hit harder. One area in which Ghostbusters is rarely topped is in the top-notch comic delivery of lines."

Family memories: The huge Dixie Cup near Easton: Anonymous writes: "My grandfather is Harry Gehm, who designed the Dixie Cup statue. My father is Alan T. Gehm and I need more information."

Old photo postcard of Brackenhurst Hall in Southwell: Anonymous writes: "My granddad worked as chauffeur for Lady Hickling. He lived in the gatehouse with his family. My dad spent some of his childhood there. It would have been late 30s/early 40s."

Postcards: Three American motels that are now just memories: Anonymous writes: "Hi Chris. This is an old post, but wanted to thank you for the Monteagle picture. I’m from there and as a kid, always thought it was so modern and cool. It was sad to see it go."

Bookseller's label for The Norman Remington Co. of Baltimore: Robert Deblois writes: "I recently found a first-edition Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, with the "Purdy" erratum, at an estate sale, in very fine condition, that had on its last page the same Norman Remington Co. bookstore stamp. I was very happy to learn more about that bookstore."

Superstition connection from nearly 40 years ago: Joan writes: "told you I am behind on my reading! I am just now seeing this, and I want to say how lovely it felt to read your compliment on my cards!"

Photo footnote

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Monday, May 16, 2022