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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Naughty but Nice Album Covers

Every weekend there is a treasure-trove (what is a trove?) of eye candy for those willing to look. I don't buy everything I see, but I do try to grab still images when I can. These were shot at a Norwalk, CT estate sale. The above album could have been called "Music for Swingers" but I guess they thought this was better. 
I can't see how these made the music more sale-able. Would someone buy the album for the image alone? Or was this the image that should be going through your head while playing the album - instead of an image of Arthur Fiedler? What was Orthophonic? Was the idea to listen through your mouth?
I'm not sure what is pictured here, but it looks like Hell. I noticed something in the first album cover, and no, it's not that the publisher put the "bum" in album. It is the sticker on the side. 
For whose protection and from what?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dying to know more about a Funeral

This is not an Easter post. It is the story of and old article of paper in connection with the death of someone well known, who remains shrouded in mystery.

I picked up this envelope as it sat lonely on a table at a moving sale. Other items around the room pointed to some serious or at least thoughtful antique collecting. When I opened the envelope I was surprised to see an invoice.
That name sounded familiar, and even possibly famous, or was it that everyone who uses their full middle name sounds famous - or infamous? A brief search has uncovered little about JW Nagle.  What really piqued my curiosity was what was printed on the back.
Was it normal practice to put a promotional map for the town in which the funeral home is located on the back of the bill for the internment? Seems a little misplaced. So I really have 2 mysteries to solve. Who was John William Nagle, and why did funeral director Beirne print a city map along with the bill?

I found some good text on another site that sells a variation on this map: 

This reproduction bird's-eye view map of Port Jervis, New York was published by Hughes & Fowler in 1920. Port Jervis is a city in Orange County on the north shore of the Delaware River. The Delaware and Hudson Canal was completed here as the nations first privately owned canal system. Port Jervis was named after canal engineer John Bloomfield Jervis. At the time of this map's publishing the Port Jervis community was a favorite filming locale for D. W. Griffith's and Mack Sennett's film companies. Film stars of the era Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford and Mabel Normand were all filmed in this area.

If you can help with either mystery, please post it in the comments, or send me an email. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Found Photos of World War II

A popular and often high-priced item I see at estate sales and flea markets are scrapbooks. They are exactly that, a collection of scraps meant to note important life events such as a birth or death or journey somewhere. They can also be collections of newspaper clippings and photos dedicated to a celebrity or monarch, songs, or recipes.

A few weeks ago I was permitted to rummage around the basement of an antique shop in Oakville, CT. I came up with a large scrapbook. At first I thought I would pass it up, there were so many personal items and too few of the icons of the eras I look for. Scrapbook items were never meant to leave their pages and most items are so glued down, it takes great pains to remove them cleanly.

Inside, I noticed a few pages dedicated to a husband's time away from home while he served in war. I thought that there might be a story in this one worth digging for.

I was not disappointed. This was a well organized scrapbook. Julia Santa Barbara Papini came from a large family. She had five sisters and five brothers. I can only imagine that some, if not most of the wedding invitations and announcements are family as well as friends. Her husband, the subject of the items pictured here, came from a smaller family with only a single brother and sister.

Why all the background? In order to pick through the scraps(book) of someone's life, I feel like I need to pay some respects. If this were a collection of celebrity memorabilia, I might pick it to pieces, but being a family heirloom I wanted to do something else.

That became easier when I found, tucked in the center of the book, a packet of photo negatives. One look at the writing on the envelope...

I have written about this before, and under the same circumstances. A piece of WWII history, and a family connected to it, and no way to tell the full story without help - Click here to read. With this story I am concerned that I might not find a family member to take this scrapbook back, so I produced a documentary featuring the images. Take a look. 

This is a Connecticut story, but this can happen anywhere, I know there will be others and hopefully this one will end like the last one - with a visit to a relative and a return of what is rightfully theirs. If you know a Papini, or a Santa Barbara drop me a line and I'll check it out. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

These guns are long gone...or are they?

Half the fun of going to estate sales is the nostalgia trip. I often see items from my childhood that I thought I would never see again. Every now and then I am pleasantly surprised.
I would never have been allowed to buy this, like most parents mine hated guns. I would have sided on the camp of seeing these as the tools of imaginative play. For many a battle I was happy with a stick as my army gun. An older kid on my street had one of these and oooh! how I lusted after it. Look at all it does!
 Full of buttons, the designers at Topper certainly knew how to push all of mine. However looking back on it now, I wonder if I lost my imagination some, because upon opening the box, I was under whelmed. (Forgive the photographer, I didn't know it was not in focus.)
I was really hoping to find the original commercial that went with this gem from 1965. Instead, I found something similar from Mattel Toys. Take a look. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Product Quiz -You'll Never See This Again (SOLVED!)

When I am digging through the cast-offs from the past I will usually come across a product that was once (somewhat) familiar to me, but is now gone forever. Can you guess?
When I first saw it, I thought it was something completely different.Although now I know it wasn't even close I thought they were these:
Fuzzy low-res pictures make this more convincing, but no. Maybe I was hoping to find one of these. I loved this toy. If love between a boy and a toy is possible...
These were fun to shoot and you couldn't possibly break or injure anything or anyone, but you sure could annoy the heck out of them. I digress. The commentators had it right from the get-go...
If there were a toy gun that shot these across a room, now that would be fun. Speaking of Awesome toy guns. Stop by tomorrow for the most supreme awesome toy gun ever!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Found Photo: Gold is where they found it!

Other than “gold” my favorite category items to find are old photographs. Visual records of the past can be worth a thousand word, or more. 

 I have have seen enough old photographs to be an expert in detecting their origin and purpose - I like to call it photo-forensics. However, I still have a lot to learn about the taking and processing of my own photographs, not to mention the photography skills of others. The image above was in a box under a desk in the basement of  cool antique store in Oakville Connecticut.

I picked it up and brought it home despite the condition it looks to be in. A group of well dressed men in the middle of the woods? I know there has to be more to the story that that. Take a look at these close ups:
 If you scanned the full image you know right away that these guys are celebrating...something.
 Then I noticed several round objects at their feet, or in the shot just below- being used as a seat. 
 I am going to guess that they are pans used in Panning for gold. They seem to hold a somewhat prominent place in the photo. 
I also noticed dogs  - I counted three so far. What do you think? Are they prospectors celebrating the claim they have staked and as partners plan to be rich beyond the dreams of Avarice? If you have a better guess - send me a note or leave it in the comments. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Odd ads 1947: To much truth in advertising?

I love words and when I see one that is rarely used, especially to name a product, I want to jump on it. Except with this one, I would slide right off. 
Not the best way to sell a product, with a name that's is difficult to pronounce. Unguent comes from the Latin - "Unguen" - to anoint, and there is the root. So, if this were really a truth in advertising would we change the product name to "Anoint-ment?" I'd need a pretty painful itch to use it.     

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Two Lady Singers, Too Late For Me.

My mind works in mysterious ways - that it works at all, is the biggest mystery. Before Friday, I never knew who Fran Warren was, and I never knew how good Julie London sounded. How did I come across these 2 singers from the 40's thru the 60's? 
If you've come here from my Patch article you already know that I was at Fran Warren's estate sale and learned about her from her daughter and also from a friend of the family. Though both ladies were born in the same year (1926), Fran Warren was a more traditional big band singer who first tried out for Duke Ellington's band at 16. Though she didn't get the job, she was soon employed by other band leaders such as  Billy EckstineCharlie Barnet, and Claude Thornhill. You can read her full Wiki entry here 

Julie London, I learned about on Thursday as I tried to pitch a comedic rendition of "Cry Me A River" to the producer of a local stage show. My research brought me to a Japanese performance of the song by Ms. London in 1964. All I can say is "WoW!!" Her style would be best described as Torch song and her breathy delivery and and languid sultry pace made my jaw drop. There are better copies and even better direction if you watch her contribution to the feature film "The Girl Can't Help It" (1956). Take a look at the 1964 version:


The coincidence in me "discovering" these two talents is the only reason they appear to be in competition on this blog, but this is not the case. Both were talents in their own right though their careers seemed to go in different directions. Most people would tell you that never heard of Fran Warren, and then after hearing the tune she is best known for might say, "Why have I never heard of her?" Take a listen:

Julie seemed to enjoy more media exposure than Fran. I grew up only knowing Julie from the TV series "Emergency!" Not a bad show, but not the part of her career she would want to be known for, maybe. Fran made her appearances on TV as well and was friends with Jack Parr and Johnny Carson, Sinatra, and numerous others. I just wish I could find clips. I am a new fan and my hat's off to both of them, though sorry that I arrived to the show too late as they have both passed.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ad Quiz #24: Matron Spiked the Punch With What!? (SOLVED!)

This illustrated ad from 1947 struck me in many ways. Look at the action and tell me what's going on. Is the mature woman look a little crazed to you. Does she seem responsible? Or, is she only hosting a party for 2 couples and the others are trapped in an odd portrait hanging on the wall?  I don't know, but first you need to tell me what the product is, then we'll take a closer look.
"Drink children, and you be my next wall hanging, he! he! he!"

This is a Welch's Juice ad from Life magazine. The theme confused me on 2 levels - first, I couldn't determine the age of the adult host. She looks too mature to be "Mom," but too young to be "Grandma." 
The other creepy detail is the frame on the wall. Mirror or painting?
  Since it seems to be almost inline with the viewers perspective...where are we in the image, where is the slice of party-goers in the foreground? I am taking a small liberty because the image is 2D (flat) and the mirror could be skewed to the viewer's left (or is that right?). 
Here is the complete ad:

Here is another one of my favorites:

Take a look at more ad quizzes here