Leader Board Ad

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Connecticut Post Cards circa 1904-07

This set of post cards came from an estate sale in Redding CT.  The number and condition were only half the treasure, the other half was the era and they were all from around Connecticut.  I have featured some of them  in earlier posts. Most recently the story of the Savin Rock amusement park in New Haven  - go here.
Late last year I featured 2 posts about these cards the first one here, and the second one here.

Here is a selection of these post cards that as yet have gone unpublished. enjoy!

I apologize that the orientation isn't the best for reading the messages from the sender. You'll have to turn your monitor on its side or send me the bill from your chiropractor. If you have just landed on this article and want to read more about this collection of Connecticut post cards, take a look at my article on Patch.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

60 years later - this gum might leave more than a chicle in your throat

The art of urban archeology (oh, trust me, it's an art) is not about selecting something from a fine shelf of antiques and seeing gold in the resale. It is simply looking through the cast-offs of society to look for gems in the form of memories, discontinued products, local history, and hold them on this pedestal of a blog briefly before they are gone forever. Take this letter for example:
Click to read

This was a cute piece of correspondence from a father to his daughter. There is typical fatherly advice and a veiled threat of support to do something about her New Orleans boyfriend. The gem is the stick of gum and the nickel taped in place for 60 years. Long forgotten but kept as a reminder of the relationship she once had with "Pop."
When the label says "Always refreshing" I don't think they intended for someone to hang on to a piece for 60 years! I could chew it but,... only on a dare. This gum has a history which got me curious about the history of chewing gum. 

  • Been around for 5000 years (not this piece)
  • Some ancients chewed gum made from resin, some from bark tar, and other substances all organic
  • The Aztecs and Maya harvested chicle from the chicozapote or the sapodilla tree. 
  • Thomas Addams turns a failed business partnership with Mexico's General Santa Anna into a Gum empire.
  • During the WWII a shortage of chicle caused companies to develop a polymer based gum.
  • Today we chew a synthetic gum - hate to burst your bubble.
There is plenty more history, some of it suspect, because the sources are unverifiable. When I started this post I had hoped that I had one of the last chicle (organic) based chewing gum sticks, however, given the assumed time frame of the change in manufacturing to polymer based gums...darn!  

I did discover that there is a company trying to distribute gum from the rain forests of the Yucatan peninsula in order to help preserve the region. The chewing gum is called Chicza and it's apparently made the "old fashioned" way and will not stick to clothes or sidewalks. It is even biodegradable. It may not be available in the US yet, but I believe it is coming. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The rise and fail of Christmas cards

I don't want to seem like a Grinch so close to Christmas eve, but am I the only one who has difficulty picking out a Christmas card from a rack? The art work is usually sufficient, but then they need to throw all that smarmy repetitive syrupy language on top. It seems disingenuous, I mean, I can be syrupy if I want to. I don't need a ghost writer.

I have found a few cards while digging through the past, and I can present evidence that some of these really should have never left the rack
 Actually, this seems to match the times, which is kind of depressing because this was printed in the 1940's.

I get the Scottie dog, but I don't know why they had to copy the dialect. It took several passes before I could understand this one from 1935.

Good old Walt didn't miss a trick and knew the value in strictly licensing his characters to the most reputable companies.

As my gift to you for making it to the bottom of this post I offer you these 2 options: 
First, to learn a bit more about how Christmas cards really got started - read my latest Patch column here.

And now for something completely different -
Here is a video all about Christmas cards by Monty Python member and animator Terry Gilliam.

Could 2012 be the end?

If this little guy isn't worried...why should we?  Some of the origins of Alfred E Neuman have been covered in this blog here. He was of course popularized when he became the symbol/mascot of MAD magazine. He has been around much longer. The original artist saw him used (intentionally, I presume) in an ad from 1908 for a pain and fever tablet. 
Anyway, back to the subject of this post. I think the fear that the world is coming to an end is good business for a lot of news outlets. Fear is a big seller and motivator, so if it saves a few jobs I guess I am all for mis-information. If you want the real truth...that's what blogs are for. Now, if the Mayans were still around and talking about the coming of the end...then I would be nervous.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How am I connected to a 70's football star? Through Batman, of course!

At a recent multimillion dollar estate sale, I managed to find this bookmark in one of the books I purchased. I thought "How random is that?"  Then, thanks to study of the phenomenon of  "6 degrees of Separation," I learned that everyone on earth can be linked to anyone else by 6 common bonds or "steps". It's not genetics, I think of it more as coincidence and circumstance.  

Thanks to FaceBook those 6 steps are now reduced to 4.75. I won't go in to the details or algorithms as to how they established that, but with the number of people using FB it isn't hard to see how.  There is nothing earth-shattering about this study and to prove it I will give you an example promised in the title of this post. But first, take a look at Larry's stats:
  They're a little hard to read, but then so is this concept. This weekend, I went to a tag sale at a New Canaan mansion designed by famous architect William Tubby. William Tubby also designed another famous mansion in New Canaan. This mansion has been used in the ABC production of the Batman series as the exterior shot of "Wayne Manor," or "Stately Wayne Manor" as I recall it from the show.  I found this card inside the Mansion designed by William Tubby.  If I hadn't been so impressed with the history of the mansion I wouldn't have wanted to buy something from it and would never have found the card.
From me - to William Tubby - to Batman - to Larry Csonka -See!  I know it seems crazy, but at least I didn't try to associate myself with Kevin Bacon, who actually lives a few miles from here part of the year - Hey! See what I just did there?

You're Cured! That'll be 50 cents, please.

I recently discovered a tattered piece of paper from a pile dating from the 1890's. If it is any indication of the state of health care of the times, I have to say that in some ways we have come a long way...
However, I'm not so sure this isn't the original recipe for NyQuil. Hmm, Brandy and Rock candy...explains a lot.  Oh well, so much for progress...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Victorian -era fun - Savin Rock amuesment park

From the Savin Rock Museum website:
" (Over) One hundred years ago, Victorian families flocked to West Haven's shoreline to picnic, stroll along the four mile coastline, dine in the pier restaurants and especially, to enjoy an amusement park then called White City. Future generations arrived in electric trolley cars, automobiles and buses. Regardless of the mode of transportation, the trip to what eventually expanded to become the Savin Rock Amusement Park was a memorable one, indeed! "

When I find multiple post cards from a specific locale in a specific era I often want to learn more about it. This was a very elaborate park for the time which lasted from the late 19th century to well into the the 20th.  It was completely demolished in the 1960's thanks to urban renewal.
 I know these parks don't age well, but if I can ever get that time machine working, this would definitely be one of my stops.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Were Victorian-Era Women Dangerous? ...You'll get the point...

Since the Vitorian era is generally considered over by 1901 with the end fo the reign of Queen Victoria the fashions and behaviors seemed to stick around much longer.
There isn't much of this young lady revealed so that I can back up my assertion, however the hat, high neckline, and fore-arm length gloves seem to match the era. This card is actually showing a post mark dates of 1911. 
Click for a larger image
The provocative, almost "come hither" (and get skewered) look and title "danger" are indicators that maybe this was a time when women could be seen to emerge from their corsets and multi-layer dresses. Then again this could have been considered porn.  The letter is difficult to read but indicates that there was some wild New Year's Eve party and not everyone has recovered...or been found.  Think I might party like it's 1899 this year.