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Here is a selection of these post cards that as yet have gone unpublished.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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ad Quiz #14 SOLUTION: How do you flush a toilet mask?

Click for a larger image
It's hard to come up with text to accompany these ads sometimes....they just write themselves.  I have seen smaller ads for this (yes, there are others) but this one had the most detail.  I am assuming this is made out of rubber but as it is called a "Toilet Mask" maybe the construction should be porcelain?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ad Quiz #14 Fad-ish or Fetish?

Here's a gem from 1893. What was this called and what was it used for? The answer will be posted on Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Links-giving!

Today is a good day to turn off the computer (after reading this post) and spend time with something that breathes, has a heartbeat...and eat something that breathed and had a heartbeat...you get the idea. Unless you're a vegan and then you may be happy alone with your salad.  I am taking the day off to help cook Thanksgiving dinner. Actually, I am just going to try to stay out of the way and call in audibles from the sidelines - which will be ignored until I fall asleep on the couch. My sedative of choice?  Dark meat and this beer:
I do have a really good story about cool finds and tag sales in November, so good in fact I wrote it into one of my weekly columns I have been creating for the Patch. It's about coincidences, and finds, and digs, and it very much involves this fellow here and his song.

Take a look at my story behind this poster here. Then come on back and go here to to see a live performance of that song at the Guthrie Theater in 2005.  After all that, please let me extend my sincerest thanks for visiting this site and to the links on the left, many of you who have come here from site owners posting my updates or referring me in other ways - I am thankful for them as well. Have a great Holiday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Who Shot JFK?

I don't want to spend too much time memorializing JFK, he was a charismatic leader who surrounded himself with people he could trust - family and so-on. Unless Oliver Stone and so many other conspiracy theorists are correct - then I would retract that statement and say that he may have done a very poor job surrounding himself with people he could trust. My opinion of the presidency is now as it would have been in Kennedy's time -it's not a job I would ever want.

I do like coincidences, and it was only a few weeks ago when I discovered this in a pile of papers.

What would have happened if he had ducked, changed the route, or not gone at all?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ad Quiz #13 Solution - Andy Warhol knew the answer all along!

My tribute to Andy's visionary view of Pop Art.
It was 49 years ago this month that Andy Warhol's famous Pop-Art "Campbell's Soup Cans" made their New York debut. At the time this exhibit was not immensely popular and raised more eye brows and questions about its viability as art. However, the simple raising of the argument combined with his other works established his place in the Pop-Art movement making him one of the highest paid living artists at his peak.
  I have to admit that the can's simplicity and visual appeal doesn't immediately allow you to dismiss it as "just a can of soup." I grew up on about a thousand cans of this brand, so maybe I am a little biased. I got the idea for this post from a needlepoint magazine I saved from the trash. Needlepoint doesn't usually grab me, but the year of this magazine did - 1929. Couldn't let it go.
This ad was born around the same time as Andy was, so it's possible he was imprinted with this image from the beginning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ad Quiz #13 No Glue? Try Tomato Paste!

The title of this ad quiz is not a clue. I just can't get over how in your face this tomato is. My wife has a calendar over her desk that is 12 months of EXTREME CLOSE UP shots of prepared meals.  Many food commercials are guilty of the same miss-guided visual message: Food was meant to to be chewed up and swallowed by the eyes. Some ad genius thought this was a good idea and maybe the above ad worked, or maybe a lot of ads were eaten in 1929. Either way this ad looks like the paper has to hold some of the tomato's flavor, or at least a bucket of red paint.

Can you guess the product?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

He Digs! He finds..Tackle!...He scores!

Look in every drawer, every corner, at every sale...unless it's "off limits." I will often pick up items I don't collect, although I now believe I'll collect anything, just because of the age or how it looks.  This little spinner was never used and sat around thinking it would never catch a fish.  Well, it caught me.

Any idea on how old this is, or why it never got used? Maybe they developed a more efficient way to catch sardines...instead of one at a time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Practical Embalming...It's the only way.

Same sale in which I found the Order of the Owls, I also found this map of New Haven from 1896. Unfortunately its condition is such that it may not survive any more scanning that just the 2 images you see here.
The map really has no indication of what it is a map of until you unfold it (carefully). These ads were eye catchers as I have always like the way those who deal in exit strategies for the human corpse still have to create ads that sound normal to the living. Though I am not sure, "Practical Embalming" has to do with following methods that are inline with a set of standards and practices established either by local laws or an embalmer's association.  More, but not too much more than you want to know.
As I said, this map could probably take one more unfolding and that would be it. If you would like a special part of the city copied, let me know and I will try.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Warning!: This Post May Contain Graphic Depictions of Sects!

Ack-ack-adak; Dak-acka-ack!
I have always been curious about secret societies. Skull & Bones, Freemasons, Odd Fellows,Water Buffaloes, Stone Cutters, etc. have filled the imaginations of those of us on the "outside" to question: What the heck are they doing in there?  There is always the obvious contradiction that - if we know about them - how can they be considered "secret" anymore? 

There are likely hundreds, possibly thousands of secret societies around the globe and though I am not concerned with exposing any of them, sometimes they end up exposing themselves to me. (That didn't sound right.) At a sale in Brookfield, CT last week, before Alfred came and blew it all away, I was able to find evidence of a sect I had never heard of.
This simple small fold was fashioned to carry the "papers" of a secret society know as the Order OF Owls.

The OOO was formed by John W. Talbot and a small group of his associates in November of 1904 formed this fraternal group.  When it was founded, the order sought to assist its members in business and in employment, provide help to the widows and orphans of the deceased members, and to enjoy mutual fellowship with one another.  This order has no relationship with the onetime Masonically related group, the Independent Order of Owls, that was organized in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1890.
The OOO has four degrees, plus the presence of a ritual, passwords, and fraternal grips.  The ritual, as in most fraternal orders, is intended to be secret.  The OOO publications (e.g., brochures) contend that its ritual has no religious elements.  An older edition of the ritual states:  "We advocate no creed.  We know there are so many gods, so many creeds, so many paths that wind and wind.  We believe that the art of being kind is all this world needs."

Membership has been open only to white males.  During the early 1920s the OOO had over 600,000 members in 2,148 local Lodges, called "Nests."  Since the 1920s, the order has been losing members rather significantly.  Its 1979 membership roster has about 40,000 members. 

Nowadays the order has Nests in five US states: New York, West Virgina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.

The founder of the Order, John W. Talbot, was sentenced to five years at Leavenworth in 1921 as a result of a morals charge involving a nurse at the Owls' Hospital.

Local units, as noted, are called "Nests."  The national governing body is known as the "Supreme Nest."  Its main officer is named "Supreme President."

The preceding text was from the masonic museum in Phoenix, If you want to read more go here: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonicmuseum/fraternalism/owls.htm

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Alfred, you really messed up the Bat Cave!!!

Ugh, No power, water, heat, internet,TV, or phone since Saturday nite!!!  Thanks to Nor'Easter Alfred.


Who were the the members of the OOO (Order OF the Owl) and what were they up to? And what exactly is a South Bend Spinner?  The answer to these and other questions will be answered when things return to "normal" in Connecticut.

We now return you to your regular surfing experience...keep calm and carry on.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Albert Einstein's Business Card...relatively speaking

So, what are the odds that I would find A.E.'s business card? If you've viewed some of my 236 previous posts, you might say, "Odds are, you did."  Though, with any find you have to question the authenticity. Where did it come from? Who had it before you? and, If AE didn't hand it to you himself, doesn't that reduce the overall value?  All good questions, but the most important one is missing...Do I care about any of those questions?...No. My own curiosity wants the answers, but from the standpoint of its value, it is worth every penny I paid for it, or I would have let it go. 
The last thing I am doing when I walk into a sale is to look for the "Holy Grail" of a "find."  For me, it is the whole experience - who I'm with - getting there - going in - searching - who I meet - what I find - what I buy. Have I passed a "Holy Grail" or 2? Probably, but sometimes, just the chance to look for one is satisfying enough. When I come across a real treasure, like the one above; I am more likely mesmerised that someone would go to the trouble to fool the holder, and in the case of the sale this past weekend, fool the holder numerous times.
  These are just a few samples of a cleverly mounted and framed collection meant more to entertain and amaze, than cause an appraiser to faint. Lindbergh, Twain, Ford, Edison, Lincoln, Rockefeller, they're all here and at the bottom of the matte is a place to put your own card. A well done novelty item based on the axiom, "You're Judged by the company you keep."  

This was an expanded post which mirrors my latest article in Patch (link coming) I have added more detail and information. If you came from there, or if you stopped by another way - Thank you! - you too, are in good company. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Now, THIS is a game for the Wii (pronounced WE as in We the people)

Feeling bad because you can't join your brothers and sisters during the "Occupy" movement? This Xmas, right in front of your TV or computer screen you can...Occupy Marvin Gardens! Or Ventnor Ave., but don't try and take your money out of the bank -or- you'll Go to Jail Go Directly to Jail!