Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Cinderella Christmas!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  It's so good to be back!  I've missed you all!  I've been super busy preparing for all of the classes I'll be teaching in the upcoming weeks.  Oh, and then there's this thing called the holidays.  Forgot about that!  :D

And speaking of the holidays, check out this HUGE bag of stamps that I got a few weeks ago:

WOWIE!!!  I mean, this baby is FULL of wonderful cinderellas!  I've spoken about my collection of cinderella stamps before (here and here), but this is the largest collection I've ever gotten in one fell swoop.  The whole bag was only three American dollars at Bumble Puppy, a consignment/estate sale store (where I also got the anatomy dolls that I talked about here).  THREE BUCKS!!  What a score!

There are so many stamps here, I could talk about them for a week.  I've culled the stack to find my favorites!

These VFW stamps are just rad.  I LOVE the color scheme - that red nearly burns your retinas when you try and read past the teal.  I also love the posing little girl (?) and the fact that they're 50 years old.  Just fantastic.

I'm not a religous person, but I really like the minimalist design on these stamps.  They're from 1971, and they're for the LLL Television Ministry - I believe that the LLL stands for "Lutheran Laymen's League" and I guess using these stamps helped earn money for the charity.  Nice use of the three colors!

These next stamps are also wonderful in their simplicity - and they totally remind me of banners that would hang in the church where I went as a kid (First United Presbyterian Church, to be exact).  :D  For lack of a better word, this design has a real ecclesiastical feel to it and for me, that's full of nostalgia.

I'm sure everyone reading has their own Christmas stamp story, either with these or with the American Lung Association (Christmas and Easter Seals) - they were such a part of the culture in the mid- to latter part of the 20th century!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The 150K Giveaway!!

Hi everyone!  Happy December to all of you - although it feels more like April here in Wisconsin! :)

I am SO excited - Ephemeraology hit 150,000 views over the weekend!!  WOO HOO!!!

Perhaps some of you remember when we made it to 100K views back in May - well, it has only taken me a little over 6 months to get half again as many!  I think this calls for a celebration, don't you?  :D

I've gotten my friends from Manto Fev, The Paper Flea Market and SilverCrow Creations on board, and wait 'til you hear what they have for you!

Let's start alphabetically, with Manto Fev!  Take a look at what you'll get - a 25 piece ephemera pack (like this one, here), bursting with vintage-y goodness!!!  Knowing Manto Fev like I do (and oh, I do), you'll get an AMAZING selection of vintage papers, store items, game pieces, and all manner of fun stuff.  SWOON!!

And if that weren't enough, you'll also receive a fantastic holiday goody pack, valued at $20, from The Paper Flea Market!  Trina's got a LOT of Christmas items in the shop right now, and methinks your pack will include items like these:

Oh YEAH!!!

But that's not all!!  Our good friends Annie and Pete over at SilverCrow Creations are pitching in a $15 gift certificate - such a deal!  If you've ever checked out their website you KNOW what kind of unbelievable stuff they have there - you could spend a day browsing!
And finally, I will be gathering some of my own ephemera for a special gift pack.  I never know exactly what I'll be packing for these giveaways until I get in the studio and begin digging through my various "piles".  :D  I will send good stuff, though - stuff that you've seen in these blog posts!  The pack is sure to include maps, checks, labels, stamps, invoices - you name it!
I don't even need to tell you that you WILL want to sign up for this giveaway - it's gonna be HUGE.  :D

So here's what you do!  In the comments below or on the Facebook link, let us know your favorite holiday tradition.  Is it baking cookies for Santa?  Spinning the dreidel and eating those yummy chocolate coins?  Or perhaps you enjoy installing your Festivus pole and airing your grievances around the dinner table (Sorry, that's a Seinfeld reference!).  :D  But however you celebrate Christmas/Hanukah/Solstice/Kwaanza/Festivus, let us know what makes you happy!  

Once again, I will highlight this next part so that you don't forget:  YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS IN THE name(at)domain(dot)com FORMAT WITH YOUR COMMENT!  IF YOU DON'T, YOU WILL NOT BE ENTERED IN THE CONTEST.  PERIOD.  Sorry to sound so harsh, but there will still be some who don't follow these directions.  Don't say I didn't warn you!   :D

You have until Friday at midnight CDT, and I'll announce the winner next Tuesday!  

Thank you so much, all of you, for reading this blog.  I never imagined I would have so many wonderful readers and followers, who send me awesome links and Tweets and have become friends!  I appreciate your readership so much!  VIVA EPHEMERA!  :D

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Infinite Ephemera

Oh my goodness, readers - my friend Robin strikes again!  Check this out....

Yep.  This enormous pile of antique (not vintage) invoices and legal documents came to me on Saturday.  I was gallery sitting at the Jazz Gallery for the Warped Milwaukee fiber arts show (which I'm a part of!), and in walked my friend Robin.   You may remember me talking about Robin from this post and this post - she has bestowed upon me some of my favorite ephemera in my whole collection!  And here she was again with a huge new pile of wonderfulness.

One of the great things about this pile is that not only does it contain some of the most fantastically patinaed paper I've seen, but a veritable history of paper fasteners!  Check these out - we have the paper pincher:

The grommet...

The heavy-duty...

...and the staple-less stapler!  :D  What's interesting is that this last one is making a comeback (you can find one here)!

Robin, her friend Gwen and I (and my friends Harmonie and Carolyn) all had a great convo about this ephemera.  While we were looking through the invoices (which will get their own separate blog post!), I commented about how much fun I was having making my new "sandwich" collages, and that some of these old papers would be PERFECT for them.  I looked at her rather sheepishly, and she knew exactly what I was thinking - that I would offend her if I deigned to cut up these papers.

My latest "sandwich" abstract - I call this one "Grilled Cheese"

She said to me, "Mel, I know you're going to be using some of these papers in your collages - I expected you to!  Remember what we talked about before?  That there is an infinite amount of this stuff out there!  In my experience, there will ALWAYS be an abundance of this type of ephemera, because there will be homes that are combed through, old barns and businesses, too - at least enough to last our lifetimes."

Robin is absolutely correct, of course.  We Ephemeraologists always have that nagging thought when we 'use' our collections - "what if this is the last known label of this kind?"  "What if I need this newspaper for an historical reason at some point?"  "What if it turns out that this particular invoice is worth a thousand dollars to some paper dealer?"

Maybe these thought will materialize, but they probably never will.  And if that particular invoice that I used IS worth a thousand bucks?  Well, maybe it'll drive up the price of my art work!  ;)

Thank you again for thinking of me, Robin - your generosity truly knows no bounds!  :D

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Body Ephemeral

Happy Tuesday, Ephemeraologists!  Allow me to first tell you how wonderful it is to be back in the swing of things!  I hope all of my readers in the States had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Did any of you participate in Black Friday shopping?  I'll admit it - I did, but not in the way you'd think.  My friend Nicci and I traveled to Appleton specifically for a HUGE art supply sale at a local place called Richeson's (those of you who are artists have probably used their products - they're distributed at places like Jerry's Artarama and Blick).  I SCORED on hardboard canvases - some as low as THREE BUCKS.  We couldn't pass it up!  :D

After Richeson's, we checked out this new (to us) consignment place called Bumble Puppy.  BINGO!  It was like being at an indoor rummage sale, except that it was far more massive than that.  There was a lot of what I like to call "junque", but I did manage to find some wonderful stuff, like this:

The "girl" - she went wild.  Hence, the censor blocks.  :D


What you're seeing here is the front of some amazing paper anatomy figures.  I couldn't find a copyright but judging by their faces and hairstyles, I'm going to put these in the 1920s, possibly as late at the early '30s.  There are other layers, as you can see here, with the muscular layers:

...the nervous system....

and the organ layer....

and finally, the skeletal layer.

Because they're probably 80-some years old, they are really fragile, and our poor gentleman's lower intestine is detached from the organ chart.  :D  But really, they're in surprisingly good shape!  No major tears or folds otherwise, which is miraculous!

I love it when I find stuff like this.  When we set out on Friday morning, I never thought that these "charts" would make their way to my collection.  Hooray for serendipity!  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

Just ignore the "2010" part.  :D

Good morning, my dear Ephemeraologists!  And to my friends reading in the States, a very happy day-before-Thanksgiving to you!  :D

First of all, allow me to address my lack of posting.  Readers, it has been such a wonderful month for so many reasons, but it has also been ridiculously busy.  If you read last Wednesday's post you'll know why, but it hasn't let up since!  This was something that I hadn't anticipated.  I'm afraid it's going to be like this for awhile - you may only get 2-3 posts per week.  I hope they're posts you will enjoy regardless!  :D

Today, I would just like to say "Thank you!" to all of you, my dear readers.  Thank you for all of your input, comments, Facebook "likes", and sharing of ephemera.  I have "met" (and indeed, actually MET!) some of the most wonderful people because of this blog!  What an amazing age we live in - there is NO way I would've ever gotten to know most of you had it not been for Ephemeraology.  To know that there are others out there like me who have a passion for all things vintage, papery and patinaed, well, it's very comforting.  It's so much fun to "talk shop" with you about vintage Israeli gum wrappers, or European stick pins, or vintage clothing labels.  I love to hear YOUR stories about your favorite items, too!

I also want to thank Manto Fev, The Paper Flea Market and Silver Crow Creations for their continued awesomeness on the giveaway front!   You have these three lovely businesses to thank for anything you've won in the past year, and they're always ready to help me out.  Thanks, guys!  You're the best!  :D

Regardless of whether you're celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow or not, I wish you a wonderful rest of your week.  Thanks for sticking with me during this post drought!  :D

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Invoice me!

November has been an INSANE month - in a great way!  :D  I have accomplished the following since October 31:

  1. Hung my exhibit entitled "My Downtown" with the help of my friend Suze Fiebig (if you can't make it to see the exhibit, buy the book!)
  2. Began tutoring with FDL Literacy Services
  3. Gave a 20-minute presentation for the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, where I became a docent this year!
WHEW!!  Now that those things are behind me (the first time for all, anyway!), I can get down to making more art.  Now that my 18-month exhibit project is completed, I can start creating new pieces using my many, many, MANY piles of ephemera!  One of those stacks was utilized this weekend:

Some of you long-time readers may remember me talking about this huge stack of invoices that my friend Shelly Massey discovered at a great vintage store in Manitowoc during "Inspire my Life" (we were both instructors there), back in July of 2011 (Here's the link if you'd like to read the post!).  She was so nice to offer to split the stack, so we each wound up with about 100 invoices and receipts.  

Some of these are GORGEOUS, and I'll probably wind up using the letterhead designs in a collage somewhere (like this one, above).

But others are just, well, sort of BLAH.  But wait - there is a lot of creamy ecru patina to these pages!  I can't just throw them away (as you and I both know so well) - so, what should I do with them?


As you can see, that's exactly what I did! And I don't regret it for one second, because this is what became of those shredded documents:

I call the one on the left "PB & J" and the one on the right "BLT" (get it? They sort of look like sandwiches!).  An added bonus - I used those vintage Avon lipstick samples that I got from The Paper Flea Market as the "encaustic" color on the pieces!  :D

I am WAY into abstracts right now and I'm having so much fun.  I think I want to do many more of these - the possibilities are endless!  And thanks to Shelly's generosity, I'll be knee-deep in shredded paper for as long as I want to be!  :D

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Well Hello, Dolly!

(I'm being literal, here - I'm not saying it in the Principal Skinner sense!)  :D

I'M BACK!!!  After a too-long hiatus (illness, crazy-busy-ness, etc.), it feels so good to be back in the saddle.  Thanks so much for sticking with me!  :D

I have my mom in-law to thank for today's post and this wonderful Broadway ephemera:

Hello, Dolly, indeed!  :D

I love that I know own a Playbill!  You would think that somewhere in my ephemera travels and purchases that I would own one but this is the first!  That it has family history makes it even better.  In a delightful one-two punch, I now own the program, too!  The date on the Playbill is April of 1966, which was the month after Rose (my mom in-law) turned 20.  It is also the Chicago version, which makes sense - Chicago is far closer to Fond du Lac than New York!  The story is that Rose went to see the play with a friend of hers - I'm getting all of this info from Brian, so I'll have to get the full scoop the next time I see Rose.  :D She and my dad in-law were already engaged, but he was either already stationed in San Antonio with the Air Force or just about to leave at this point.  I'm sure this trip was a welcome distraction!  :D

To see "Hello, Dolly!" is fantastic enough but to actually get to see it with Carol Channing in the lead role?  PERFECT!  To me, she IS Dolly.  I'm sure I'll get arguments from you, my dear readers - maybe some of you prefer Barbara Streisand.  Or Pearl Bailey.  But for me, Carol's the quintessential character.  She has played this role more than FIVE THOUSAND times.  To put that in perspective, that would be like being on  stage every day for over THIRTEEN YEARS.  Maybe her love of the role is why she is still with us - in January, she'll be 92!

It's funny how different generations remember Carol from different things - I came to know her as Dolly in my twenties but growing up, she waszh the lady with the funny and raspy voisch from "Free to be you and me!".  :D

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Designing Woman

Graphic Design is one of those art careers that fascinates me.  I've always been a huge fan of fonts, illustrations, composition (which serves me well in collage!) and color (again with the collage).  Back when I was in high school and figuring out what I wanted to be "when I grew up", graphic design wasn't even on my radar.  I did rather poorly in my art classes and computers weren't really a thing yet, so I don't think it occurred to anyone that it was a path to take.  Instead, I chose accounting (I know.  It's weird for me too.)  :D

I have a lot of designer friends.  Let me rephrase that:  I have a lot of friend who are designers (they don't wear patches on their foreheads!).  :D  One of those friends is Evelyn McLean-Cowan, who I met a few years back.  She's done a lot of designing locally, and one of my favorite things she's done is the brochure for my friend Sue's B&B, Moondance.

Evelyn took my papermaking class in September and she brought some old paper samples and literature to use in the papers she made.  GENIUS!  Those samples that designers get from paper companies are always high-quality, perfect for papermaking!

So imagine my surprise when I got this HUGE stack of samples and brochures last week:


Some of these I will most definitely put right in my big papermaking bin.  Those neon papers especially - can't wait to see what kind of paper THOSE make!  I do hope to use some of the elements on the brochures in collages, too!  Thanks so much, Evelyn!  :D

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wear 'em Proudly

In this final political ephemera post, we're gonna kick it old-school today -

Metal tab pins!

I love these little guys!  I got these a while back at the same place, and I just think they're so neat.  My guess is that they were supposed to be worn on a man's shirt, and the tab on the top was probably bent to fit the inside of the front pocket.  Who cares if women wore them or not?  We all vote the way our husbands vote anyway (I am SO kidding!!!).  :D

This little set is a great representation of the elections of the Sixties.  In fact, they could all technically be for the 1968 election - we know that Nixon won the election, but it's unclear to me whether the Kennedy tab was for JFK or RFK - if it's the latter, then it would've been produced before June 6 of that year (the day he was assassinated - then again, this tab could even be for Ted Kennedy!).  In hindsight, most historians believe that Kennedy would've easily won the nomination for Democratic candidate.  After his death, it was the then-vice president Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie ticket that garnered the Dem's nomination.  George Wallace also ran as an independent and won five states in the deep South.

I was only one month old when this election took place - in fact, it was exactly 44 years ago today, on November 5.  This was an election that took a toll on our country in a ridiculously stressful year of riots, assassinations and the Vietnam war.  Much like this election, I'm sure everyone was just glad when it was OVER.

And to that end, I will only say this - if you live in the U.S., PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get out and vote tomorrow!  You vote DOES count - every vote counts!!  If you are still undecided please take a half-hour of your time to read up on where the politicians stand on the issues (a great unbiased site is - they're the ones with the "Truth-o-Meter").  :D

I hope you enjoyed my week of vintage political ephemera!  I will be back with my "regular" posts tomorrow, sheerly out of voter fatigue.  I think we'll all need a break from anything election-related, don't you?  :D

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wee Wendell Wilkies!

Remember in yesterday's post, when I talked about how Thomas Dewey rallied for the Republican nomination for president in 1940, but he didn't get it?

This is the guy who ousted him.

Turns out it really didn't matter, of course - 1940 was the year that FDR was elected for his third term (and we all know he wasn't even done after that!).  Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that he didn't win, because Wendell Wilkie would've died in office (October 8, 1944).

Here's ANOTHER member of the liberal wing of the Republican party!  Sorry to harp on this but it just fascinates me that this exists, that there was a time in our history where politicians could actually vote against their party if they felt it was right.  I'm sure there was discourse because of it, but at least they weren't bullied for voting the way they felt was right.  And how's this for amazing - Roosevelt liked his politics enough to bring him aboard as an ambassador at-large.  WOW.

About these cinderella stamps - I can't even remember where I got them anymore - it's been quite a while! There are three different stamps but alas - they're pasted to the black paper.  I love that I own them, because to my mind, Mr. Wilkie's one of those blips on the history timeline.  Think I'm being melodramatic?  Consider this:  during Wednesday's "Jeopardy!" episode, not ONE person could name Walter Mondale's running mate in 1984 - and that was the historical Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to be chosen as a vice president!  You could tell Alex was annoyed.  :)

With the zillions and zillions of political ads running currently, it makes you wonder if we'll ever be able to forget any nominee, winning or losing, ever again!  :D

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dewey's your Man!

Isn't it interesting how we tend to forget those candidates who were not successful in their presidential attempts?  Here's one of them:

I got this fantastic brochure in the same lot of ephemera as these amazing artifacts from my friend Robin (in fact, you can see it front and center in the photo!).  I have been saving it all this time because I knew at some point I wanted to do a series about all of this political ephemera.  What better time than now?  :D

Of course, I'm sure most of us know about Dewey because of that famous photo of President Truman holding up the Chicago Tribune edition where they wrongly proclaimed that Dewey won the 1948 presidential election.  He was this close to becoming our president, that many folks thought it was in the bag.  *SOAPBOX ALERT*  This is a prime example of why it is SO important to vote!

Okay, I'm done.  :)  So, other than that, I really didn't know much about him except that I have quite a few Life magazines where they fawn all over him.  Then I got this brochure.

The first thing that struck me about it was the copy!  There is NO WAY, sadly, that campaigners could get away with a brochure like this nowadays - no one would take the time to read it!  But I did, and I'm glad, because I wrongly assumed that this was a brochure for one of his runs for president, probably 1944 (judging by the photograph).  WRONG!  Apparently there was a group of Wisconsin delegates who wanted him on the ballot in 1940 (that distinction eventually went to Wendell Wilke, who I'll be talking about tomorrow)!

Here's another thing that fascinated me - back then, there was actually a liberal faction of the Republican party, of whom he was the leader.  Say what?  Pardon me?  Can you EVEN imagine any Republican 'fessing up to this today!?  I guess Nelson Rockefeller (who I mentioned on Tuesday) was also part of this faction, which is why he didn't make it to the ticket in '76.  Incredible!!  Oh, to return to the days when our country wasn't divided in half....

Sorry, I digressed again.  :)  What I love about ephemera like this is that it's such an effective tool for learning history!  If I were a history teacher, and I could get away with it in my curriculum, I would much rather teach using this kind of stuff, rather than a history book.  THIS actually happened!  It's right in front of us!

I have learned FAR more from my ephemera in nearly every subject than anything I was ever taught in school.  Maybe if we study this historical political ephemera, we wouldn't be doomed to repeat mistakes of the past?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Downtown

Remember when I said that I was going to take the week before the election and talk about the political ephemera in my collection?  Well, I'm taking a break, because today is the day that I hang my exhibit:

I am beside myself with excitement.  I have been working on this project for the last year and a half, from conception to the final framing.  I hope you don't mind that I use my blog as a platform today!

I LOVE downtown Fond du Lac.  I've lived here since October of 1996 and I've been hanging out downtown pretty much since Day One.  We have a vibrant, thriving Main Street full of specialty shops, restaurants, and services.  This exhibit is my love letter to my city.  :)

You can read the newspaper article here, but I also wanted to make this plea to you, my dear readers: this holiday season, why not revisit the downtown area or city center where you live?  I'm a big cheerleader for independent businesses (and The 3/50 Project!) - these are the shops and services that make our own cities unique.  These are the folks who put their heart and soul into their life's work.  They're just waiting for you to stop by and say "howdy"!  :D

Okay, I'm off of my soapbox now.  :D  You may be wondering, "This is all well and good, but how does it fit in with ephemera?"

Well, most of the pieces in my exhibit are collages that I created with decorative paper and said ephemera.  The use of ephemera is very subtle and you really have to look for it, but it's there.  It's my little "wink-wink-nudge-nudge" to you, my fellow Ephemeraologists.  There may be a vintage label here, some handmade paper there - it's like I was waiting to use these things for my most important project to date (there's another VERY important project coming up in April - that one's for charity).  I even made a book/e-book to complement the exhibit!  You can check those out at my Blurb store here and here!  :D

Thanks for indulging me today, my dear readers.  I will be back to more fun vintage political stuff tomorrow - until then, I'm going to have a series of coronaries today.  Wish me luck!  :D

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Political Pre-Pinbacks

Holy smokes - we're in the home stretch, people!  To all my readers living in the US (and those Canadians who receive US channels) - hang tight!  Only one more week of political ads!  :D

What I'd like to do for the next week is to travel back to a gentler time - a time with newspapers stating facts with an occasional opinion (as opposed to cable news networks of either slant, where it's exactly the opposite), and only three channels, where the only news you'd get would be from David Brinkley, Walter Kronkite or Harry Reasoner.  :)

Before Facebook, how did voters show their affiliation?  With buttons!  The political button is a time-honored tradition - I have quite a few myself!  In fact, there is a photo of me in 1988, shortly after my 20th birthday, proudly showing off my Dukakis pin - I wish I knew where it was but alas, it's probably buried somewhere.  We all know how that turned out!  :)

Here are some pre-pinned pinback buttons, complete with registration marks, probably direct from the printers'!  There are some LBJ pins from the 1964 election....

Some HUGE McGovern pins from 1972 (RIP, George)....

And a Ford-Dole sheet from 1976.

It's interesting that the only winner was LBJ!  And I am VERY ashamed to say that I didn't know that Dole was Ford's running mate in 1976 - I thought it was Nelson Rockefeller!  :/

I love that these were never pressed into plastic - they're as pristine as the day they were printed!  They all show promise, don't they?  In the months preceding an election, it's almost always a nail-biter (with the glaring exception here of the McGovern campaign - he lost in a landslide).  These pins are so hopeful - we Americans have always been loyal to whomever we feel is the best candidate.  It'll be interesting to see how political buttons fare in the coming elections.

Anyway, I'd like to take this opportunity to say, Lincoln in '64!  :D

Monday, October 29, 2012

What does it Mean?

Oh, how I love estate sales - especially when I find stuff like this:

It's a Spanish-English dictionary for Venezuelans, copyright 1945!  The book itself is inherently cool, but its contents spilled forth more than just pages!  In fact, it's chock-full of really interesting finds!

I have to preface this by saying that I was in Kohler (Wisconsin) this weekend for the sale.  If the name Kohler sounds familiar, check your bathroom or kitchen - it's entirely possible that your sinks and/or toilet bear this name!  :D  The city is indeed named after the company's founders, and now the company itself, which is still headquartered there.  It's a fairly wealthy enclave (here's the house where the sale was) and I always got the impression that it is quite insulated - almost everyone knew everyone else at the sale.  Judging by the age of most of the patrons and the fact that this house was built in 1952, I believe that the owners were the first and only inhabitants of the home until now.

Now that you know where I was, this letter I found in the book will make a little more sense!  :D  It's from Conrad Kohler, Commercial Attache to the US Embassy in Venezuela, to Sen. Joseph McCarthy.  Yes, THAT Senator Joe McCarthy - I'm ashamed to say that he represented our fair state of Wisconsin.  A dark period in history indeed.

Anyway, the letter doesn't really seem to be about anything of major importance, but I LOVE that I own it! I actually have the letter and the duplicate.  It was written about a year and a half before McCarthy's Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954 and his subsequent censure, but it was during the big Communism scare.

I have MUCH more from this book - I tell you, it was chock full!  But I will wait until next Wednesday to talk more about it - beginning tomorrow, I'm beginning my week-long series of political ephemera!  Not to worry - it's ALL vintage and there will be no proselytizing!  :D

Thursday, October 25, 2012

They've been Workin' on the Railroad....

Train travel - doesn't that sound romantic?  I'm sad that I missed this mode of transportation, and it wasn't by much, either - maybe 20-30 years?  My mom and in-laws, who were all born in the same year (1946), all have traveled by train.  And I'm only 22 years younger!

For all of my romanticizing and nostalgia, there was a working side to the railroad, as these wonderful memos suggest:


These are from another lot of goodies that I got at Manto Fev this past weekend.  I HAD to have them!  I have a lot of railroadiana but I had never seen these before.  Plus, some of them are 111 years old!

The handwriting is hard to read on most of them but I did decipher one memo from a gentleman (I assume) who had lovely penmanship.  It reads:
B.W. Herrman, Agent                                                                     7/25
"Dear sir - in regard to aftd (?) our Delivery Clerk made a careful search of all such places but he was unable to Locate the missing case.  I had him make another search but in doing so he found a case simmilar (comforting to know that people misspelled even back then! - Mel) to the Lost Case and he Purchased it and had it delived (sp) to Theobold & Son. I called up Theobold & Son and they said that they would withdraw there (sp) claim as soon as they would receive the Case of Empty Bottles. - Fleming."
Marvelous!  I have no clue what it means, but doesn't "Case of Empty Bottles" sound like a country song?  I think it's a hoot that so many common nouns were capitalized - don't know what that's all about, either.  :D

If you're wondering about the Norfolk & Western Railway, it was in existence all the way up to 1997, when it was merged into Norfolk Southern, a railway that exists even today.  It began life at the Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio in 1838 but changed the name to N&W in 1881.  They were mainly cargo freight (lots of coal) but also had some passenger operations as well, like the Pocahontas and the Cavalier.  Both cars last ran in 1971.

Will I use these?  Oh yes.  Not all of them, but the ones with white space will most definitely be used in some sort of railway-themed collage.  How could I not?  :D


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Special Today!

I love old signage.  Case in point:

Oh, yes.  Isn't this glorious?  I love everything about it - the colors, that "store" font, the ridiculously low price, the size (roughly 6 X 10"), the fact that the actual store name is featured - it's ALL good.  :D

And how about that store?  If you can't read it, it says, "Murphy's, the Complete Variety Store".  From a quick Google search, I believe I discovered that these stores began in McKeesport, Pennsylvania and, like many other variety stores, had a lunch counter and low, low prices (here's something fascinating - in doing my research, I discovered this photo from a Murphy's - right here in Fond du Lac!!  Is this true?!?!  Native Fond du Lacians - help me out!).  :D  From the company website, it seems that there were many stores, mainly in the Eastern U.S. and some Midwestern states.

Because of my age, I pretty much missed the "variety store" days.  By the time I was cognizant of store branding and retail merchandising, the "discount store" had taken the variety store's place.  Sure, K-Mart had a cafeteria, but it wasn't the same as a lunch counter, at least to my mind.  I'm pretty sure the Slushie was the only 'fountain' drink that K-mart served - no phosphates or egg creams there.  :)

Because I enjoy living vicariously through those who have come before me, I would LOVE to hear any variety store stories you have.  Please - share with me and the readers what you remember and loved the best about any variety store in your area - and don't forget to name the store!  :D

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Enveloping Ephemera

Sometimes, it's just the simple things that I enjoy most.  Take, for example, these old envelopes -

I just got a lot of them from Manto Fev!  Now of course, most people reading this would wonder why on earth I would spend money on USED, old envelopes (and this is the second post I've done on used envelopes, even!).  Well, they just don't get it.  :)

If they DID understand, then they'd know why these are so cool!  For example, they'd understand that each of these envelopes has a story.  You'll notice that all of these are addressed to residents of Omaha - that's because Manto Fev's based out of Omaha.

Or how about the awesome return addresses?  Can you imagine having a bank (no more savings & loans!) called CONSERVATIVE in this day and age?  You'd have 50% of the population who'd refuse to bank there.  ;)  But oh, look at that beautiful interior!  It's one of the most wonderful things about vintage business envelopes - the cool designs!

Or take this envelope. Here's something you'll never see again, but was absolutely common 55 years ago - addressing the recipient's residence as "City".  No zip code, no city, no state - if the mail sorters were in charge of local mail, why would you need any of those things?  And I'll bet that it was received the next day, or in 2 days at the latest.  No return address, either!  There is also a lack of a postmark (because it was in the city?) but in my short research on the Martha Washington 1 1/2 cent stamp, I'm going to place this around the late Thirties.

I'll be honest - some of these envelopes are going to be cut up to use as backgrounds for collages I'll be doing (that vintage yellowed paper can't be beat), and some will be turned into handmade paper.  If this bothers you, take heart - at least I saved them from a thousand years in a landfill!  :D

Monday, October 22, 2012

People Today

Wow!  How times change!

How so?  Well, check out this "adult" publication from 1951:


If the magazine looks tiny, that's because it is!  It's pocket-sized.  This lascivious lady is hiding the title, but this is a copy of "People Today", which was published from the Fifties through the Seventies.  The copy I have, from August of 1951, has no advertising whatsoever.  I suppose that no "family" companies would want to be associated with such filth.

I mean, just look at this horrific smut contained in this rag!  How on EARTH are magazines like this allowed to be printed?  Someone should really do something about this - does the Attorney General know that disgusting printed material is being sent through the US MAIL?!  :D

I kid, of course, but I'll bet that there some folks who weren't kidding, 61 years ago.  Why, there are women in bikinis or less in these pages!  Just look at these!  And how many poor, unsuspecting young girls do you suppose these pin-up boys have corrupted? (Answer: zero, if you know what I'm sayin'.  Wink wink!) ;)

I can't even remember anymore where I got this mini-mag.  I just love it for the historical context - who would've known 1951 what would become of "adult" magazines in the future - or on the Internet, for that matter?  This cover wouldn't even warrant a second look anymore!

I sometimes wonder what else there is for us as a society to do for prurient shock value.  I don't really want to know about it, but I'm sure there isn't any 'theme' or fetish that hasn't been unearthed for those who enjoy whatever they want to enjoy.  I'm all for free speech and no censorship, unless it deals with minor children, so whatever floats one's boat is a-okay with me.  But if this is the "smuttiest" publication in my house, I'm okay with that, too.  :D

P.S.  The rest of the magazine has articles like this.  Hilarious!

Friday, October 19, 2012

SO Glad these are Obsolete...

I'll let you in on a little secret -

I LOVE doing laundry.  I do!  It's a "chore" I don't mind doing at all.  I have it down to a science, and because it's just Brian and me, it's a snap.  Three loads a week, always done on Sunday (because we're normally home that day) and it's done by 4 p.m.  My wonderful husby even helps with the folding.  :)

I think one of the reasons I love it so much is because I'm extremely grateful for the time we live in.  When I think back to the actual CHORE that laundry used to be, how can I be anything but happy that I have a washer and dryer, and that I don't have to use these:

So, what are these things?  To be perfectly honest, I didn't know either - I had to look them up!  I just bought them because I loved the packaging.  And for my art work.   :)

Let's start with the Satina, which claims to make ironing easier (I know what makes it easier - buying clothes that don't need to be ironed!  Amirite?).  What really intrigued me was the line on the box that says, "For use with cooked starch".  WHAT. THE. WHAT.  Yep, you had to take starch, break off a section of the Satina bar (I don't have the bar, just the box), add boiling water, and mix until it's a thick paste.  I honestly don't know what you're supposed to do after this - do any of you, my dear readers?

I grew up in a household with very little ironing.  I remember my mom ironing my dad's shirts - sometimes.  I think "permanent press" ruled the day, but there must've been some occasions (weddings? Funerals?) where my mom deemed it necessary to use the iron.  When she did, she only used Niagara spray starch, so this "cooked starch" nonsense must predate me by 10-15 years.  Let me tell you - if THIS is what it took to get ironing done, Brian and I would go around looking disheveled.

This next obsolete item (thank goodness!) is bluing.  You can still get bluing in the store, but it's now almost exclusively in liquid form.  The object of bluing is to get your whites looking whiter, and the color blue is used since it's a complementary color of yellow (the dingy color your whites have become).  These blocks you see here are actually British - Reckitt's has been around in one form or another since the 1840s.  As you can see from the directions on the right, you're supposed to wrap this stuff in cloth and stir while squeezing the Blue in the rinse water, and then dip your whites separately until all have been "blued".

Once again - if this is what it took to get your whites whiter, then Brian and I would be walking around in very dingy clothes.  Or we'd just take them to the cleaners every week.  :)

I actually bought the bluing at Silver Crow Creations (still available!) because I wanted to see what it would do to paper.  I had sort of forgotten about the stuff but now that it's right in front of me, I may have to do some experimenting today.  :)

I will leave you with this thought - the next time you need to find something to put in your gratitude journal, think about how totally easy laundry is compared to what our grandmothers and ancestors had to go through.  You should never complain about doing laundry AGAIN.  :)