Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Boston Ice on Galveston Island

The Old Reliable company in Galveston used to deliver by horse-drawn wagon a product called Boston Ice to families in all parts of the city. The billhead above indicates that information and also supplies a date of June 30, 1887 for a delivery of 16 pounds of ice to the Court House. Anyone living in Galveston, Texas in June of 1887 was going to want some of that Boston Ice.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A ticket to remember... Eat 'Em Up Coogs!

This past weekend, the University of Houston (my alma mater) Cougars routed their cross-town rivals, the Rice Owls, 73 to 34. Quarterback Case Keenum broke another NCAA passing record (he threw nine touchdown passes in this game... NINE!) and is in the running for the Heisman Trophy. Makes Cougar fans want to shout the team's traditional rallying cry, Eat 'em up Coogs!

There is a precedent for the Cougars winning a lopsided victory such as this. In 1968, they annihilated the University of Tulsa 100 to 6 and I was there. Even at age 12, I sensed the history of the ticket stub I held (the sentimental value kicked in later) and I wrote the score on it. I already collected baseball and football cards--why not game tickets?

My dad, also a UH-alum, took my brother and I to our first college football game that night and it was a doozy indoors at the still pretty-new Astrodome. The 1968 Cougars may not have had any Heisman hopefuls, but they had a solid team with several players going in the NFL draft the following year. Also on that 1968 roster was a future country singer--Larry Gatlin. Their longtime coach, Bill Yeoman, would make it to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

Just the week before the 100-6 embarrassment, the Cougars pounded Idaho 77 to 3. Their season opener set the tone it would appear with 54 to 7 victory over Tulane. They went on to win six games, losing two, and just to make it a really strange year, they tied two games. Their 1968 record: 6-2-2.

Eat 'em up Coogs!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mystery piece of equipment needs horse power

In a pile of postcards and other ephemera from an estate sale in Houston, I recently found this real photo postcard (RPPC) of a scene that has me baffled. And so I bought the postcard.

Three men are standing on a large pipe-like piece of equipment. Two teams of horses are in the background, one of which has a couple of men sitting on a makeshift platform harnessed to the horses. One of the men is holding on to a rope or cable that seems tethered to the equipment. The horses have been used to move this heavy object.

The western clothes, horses and wagon (far left side of the postcard) beckon the Old West, but the setting appears to be a neighborhood, not a ranch. Perhaps an old Houston neighborhood or a nearby town? Between the two houses on the left, you can barely make out what looks like an oil derrick in the background.

The back of the postcard offers a few names, which doesn't help identify the action in the scene. But the divided back offers a clue as to the age. Starting in 1907, postcards were allowed to have writing on the back other than the address and the divided back was born. Prior to that year, a message to the recipient could only appear on the front.

Could this mystery object be a piece of oilfield equipment? Maybe something to do with sewage? Whatever it is, the whole scene seems to offer snapshot in time when the ways of the Old West were giving in to a new century and technology. The juxtaposition of old and new are striking and that's what really attracted me to this image. Even if I don't know what I'm looking at!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mission Complete, Houston

Hot off the press and fresh off my driveway... Here is an item destined for collectible status among space collectors--the front page of today's Houston Chronicle:

I know it will go with my small collection of signed astronaut books and other memorabilia. 

What will the future bring for manned space flight, not to mention ephemera and memorabilia for post-Shuttle collectibles? Let's hope Drew Sheneman's op-ed comic that ran yesterday is not prophetic. 

 "As we prepare for landing, please fasten your seat belt and make sure your spirit of exploration is safely stowed in the overhead compartment."

And that provides the perfect opportunity to segue into these words from Ray Bradbury, which I blogged about in Archaeolibris.

From Colonies in Space, by T.A. Heppenheimer; Introduction by Ray Bradbury  (Stackpole Books, 1977)

"The Life Force speaks to all of us. We should, we can, we must listen. Because wouldn't it be terrible to wake up one morning and discover, without remedy, that we were a failed experiment in our meadow-section of the Universe? Wouldn't it be awful to know that we had been given a chance, a testing, by the Cosmos, and had not delivered--had, by a loss of will and a flimsy excuse at desire, not won the day, and would soon fade into the dust--wouldn't that be a killing truth to lie abed with nights?"
In the next paragraph, he writes perhaps my favorite passage, realizing one day the opportunity we once had and squandered:
"Our failed imagination tossed our seed onto the infertile sands of a barren river bottom on a lost world named Earth."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cooperstown trade card 1880s

Later this month, in Cooperstown, New York (one of my favorite places) is the 17th Annual Cooperstown Antiquarian Book Fair.

With that in mind, here’s a trade card for an old bookseller who had just purchased his partner's interest in a Cooperstown book shop, circa 1880s, and sent this card around to introduce the name change from Cockett & Wood to Delos M. Wood, Bookseller and Stationer.

The book trade is still going strong there as well as that other game in town—baseball. Whether baseball was invented there or not, as one version has it, the game has been integral to this community for some seventy years with the Baseball Hall of Fame there. And I would suspect book shops have always played a role in the area’s culture.

I was last there about four years ago and found two shops in town and more in the surrounding area. I only had time to visit Willis Monie’s shop and I could have camped out there all day. Much to see. As with the Baseball Hall of Fame. As with the whole area.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Greetings

Easter Greetings: Love, from Frank to Master Gordon Green of Brookfield, Ontario, postmarked 1909, Niagara Falls. The post card was made in Germany and published/distributed by E.B. in New York.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dugan's Patent Snow-Guards

Here's a timely piece of ephemera for all the snow the winter of 2011 has produced. It's an 1897 billhead from a New York company that made, among other things, snow-guards for tin and slate roofs--Dugan's Patent Snow-Guards.

M. Halliday was the proprietor of the roofing company at 281 East Ninth Street, between Second and Third Avenue. Snow guards on sloped roofs help prevent damage from sudden avalanches of accumulated rooftop snow.

This job was billed to the Department of Public Charities for work done at Bellevue Hospital.

From Sanitary and Heating Age (Sanitary and Heating Publishing, 1899), this entry indicates that Halliday's son, Charles, took over the business within a few years after this billhead was prepared.
Charles G. Halliday has bought out the business of his father, M. Halliday, 218 East Ninth street, New York City, and will continue the business of practical Slate and Metal roofer and manufacturer of Dugan's Patent Snow Guards for slate and other slanting roofs, cornices, &c.
I don't know how long Halliday stayed in business, but the historic Bellevue Hospital is still around. Well known as a psychiatric hospital, Bellevue is the oldest public hospital in the United States, having been established in 1736. But if Halliday were, or is, still around, their snow guards for a job at Bellevue might look like those shown in some of the images HERE.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lea Remonde - Old Pal, Fat Friend

Lea Remonde had a sense of humor, as her writing on this photo nearly a hundred years ago would indicate: "Lovingly your old pal Lea" and "Who is your fat friend? Why--Lea Remonde." But other than somebody's "old pal" or "fat friend," who was she?

I come across old photos from time to time and wonder how they found their way into stacks of paper in antique shops or scattered across cyberspace on dealer Web sites. Each one has a story to tell about life lived and all the drama that comprises the human condition, but so many photos stashed in one box or space just seem to add to the anonymity of the faces peering back at you.

Many tug at you and make you wonder how they got orphaned. Surely, the photo mattered to a friend or loved one, somewhere, sometime. But several generations later, who's left to remember or even care?

This photo was taken in Chicago in 1911, if the inscription date on the back is in the same year the photo was taken. Lea had a copy (or copies) with her in Indianapolis and presented one to a friend, inscribed on the front and back.

Almost a century later, the photo given a friend in Indianapolis sat in an antique store in Cat Spring, Texas, where I found it. The mounted photo caught my eye, as I rummaged through a stack of vintage paper ephemera.

I was attracted to some aspect of Lea's personality thanks to the inscriptions, without which Lea's photo would have languished there or elsewhere indefinitely, I suspect. Maybe someone like the blogger of Tattered and Lost: Vernacular Photography would have rescued her from certain exile to the dump. I bought it for next to nothing, hoping to discover something interesting about Old Pal Lea and the life represented in this neglected image that had done some traveling. And so her old photo traveled to yet another Texas county.

The only references I could find for Lea Remonde were about her acting appearances in various plays in theaters from Illinois to New York. The time frame is also consistent with the date of this photo.

Lea appears to have been an actor in an Evanston, Illinois theater's stock company, but traveled as far away as New York State for small theater productions of long forgotten plays. The only other reference I can find of her whereabouts is on the back of the photo. She was in Indianapolis at the time she inscribed this photo. As the photo I have is not personalized in the inscription, perhaps she had a stack of signed photos to give to adoring fans. I know of at least one fan--a writer for the Lakeshore News in a 1912 column about the Evanston Theater doings:
As one sees Lea Remonde from week to week, they grow to realize that in her the company has an actress of ability. Her "Lize Heath" is one of the strong pictures, this week.
The play the reporter writes of is Salomy Jane, by Bret Harte. The performance reviewed was before a packed house, a record attendance for a Monday evening for the Evanston theater.

Lea even had aspirations to write and did manage to write at least one play. In a catalog of copyright entries from the Library of Congress, Lea Remonde of Chicago has the following entry for March 30, 1910:
Mrs. Dolan's dream; or, The washerwoman's dream, comedy sketch or play in one act, by L. Remonde. Typewritten. 11 pages. Fol.
Whether it made it to the stage, I don't know.

Old forgotten photos make me wonder where my own photos will wind up generations from now. When there is no one around who remembers me, will my paper matter travel to the dump or wind up in some resale shop (I would hope for an antique shop!) and would anyone stop to ponder my life? I'd get a kick out of knowing someone did, just as I think Lea would now that someone has done it for her.