Monday, December 16, 2019

An Evening with William Shatner, 1976

Going through a box of old things from long ago, most of which should have been tossed out with the trash long ago, I found this ticket stub from an event I attended at Texas A&M University in 1976: An Evening with William Shatner at Rudder Auditorium. The promoters made sure to include "Star Trek" on the ticket and probably on all the promotional material, too. But the show had little, if anything, to do with Star Trek as I remember it. Or maybe just not enough for my expectations.

Somehow, this little ticket stub survived in mint condition among a jumble of paper, books, and other objects. I wondered how Shatner's one-man show might have survived on the Internet and began to search for other memories to compare with mine.                                                                                                                                                I remember being disappointed, as I was expecting Star Trek talk (that false advertising thing on the ticket, no doubt!)--history of the show, the characters, maybe a Captain Kirk scene or two reprised. I seem to recall he mentioned the show once or twice, but the great majority of his performance involved dramatic readings and other talk long gone from memory.                                                                                                                                                                                        But thanks to the Internet, there are a few other memories about that tour, including an interesting one from William Shatner as he nervously launched his tour at none other than Texas A&M University. So my ticket appears to be from the very first performance of this one-man show. 
The Wikipedia page, William Shatner Live is about a live recording of Shatner's 1977 Hofstra University performance for a double album [archaic term now]. The liner notes [more archaic terminology] from that album indicate that Texas A&M University was the first stop on the tour and provide great insight to what Shatner was feeling as he prepared to take the stage.
The idea of a one man show had intrigued me for a long time. It's a well known fact that the film is a director's medium and the stage belongs to the actor. Once the curtain goes up nobody yells "cut." But the one man show is the ultimate of the actor's medium and it was this thought that led me back again and again to what I could do, alone, on the stage. It would be merciless, I knew. If I were good, it would be the actor's dream-- but if it failed I would be alone. Alone up there with thousands of eyes peering at me -- opera glasses raised for a closer look, and the unasked but heavily felt question "what's he going to do?"
All this was going through my head as I learned the lines -- all this was in front of my eyes as I lay down at night -- and when the day came that I was to open at Texas A&M University I was filled with fear.
A very primitive fear -- the fear of the actor. The nightmare that all actors have from time to time is appearing naked in front of an audience -- not knowing the lines, not knowing the play -- I was living the dream.
Thirty-five hundred people awaited me expectantly; the buzz of their voices reached me backstage, the lights dimmed, the M.C. announced my name and I walked out. The spotlight hit me like a physical force and I was on -- oh muse, be with me now -- I took a breath & started to speak...
A University of North Carolina blog contains a post about Shatner's stop there on his tour. From the UNC archives, there is an indication that Shatner's talk was about the history of science fiction. I don't remember that from the show I saw. I doubt he came up with different performances for different venues, but while I'm doubting I should also doubt the accuracy of my memory of the show I saw. It was a very long time ago and I honestly don't remember much content from his performance--just that he was there, hardly referenced Star Trek, and still got rousing applause. 

Regardless of what I remember from that evening's performance by a fine actor, or what disappointed me about the performance, I do know that I'd sure welcome an opportunity to experience it again in present day with the advantage of maturity and greater appreciation for such things. Perhaps there is a recording of it somewhere and it will get beamed up to YouTube one of these days.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

World War II and the Dixie Motorcycle Club

World War II. It's May 9, 1945 and a U.S. Navy sailor aboard the U.S.S. Buckley hunting German subs lets his mind drift back home to Alabama and his friends who have formed a motorcycle club in Selma.

Seaman 2nd Class Ed Chambless yearns to be back in the states riding his motorcycle with "the fellows," but first, he writes, "I've got to broadslide right smack into the middle of Tokoyo then I'll be at the head of the line more than likely with that O.H.V. hung up in third gear"

Chambless may have thought his ship would be in on the invasion of Japan, but according to Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, U.S.S. Buckley "operated on anti-submarine and convoy escort duty along the eastern seaboard and in the North Atlantic until June 1945. During this period Buckley and Reuben James (DE-153) sank the German submarine U-879 on 19 April 1945. Buckley escorted one more convoy to Algeria during June-July 1945 and upon her return to the east coast commenced conversion to a picket ship."

Operation Downfall, the allied invasion of Japan had been in the planning stages that year and maybe rumors swirled onboard the Buckley about their involvement. Even if they had been in included in the inasion plans, the war ended after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 and the Japanese finally surrendered.

Back to May of  that year, we find the Buckley on escort duty along the east coast of the U.S. and North Atlantic. During this time, Chambless got a copy of the American Motorcyle (AMA) News and read about the Dixie Motorcycle Club. They formed in Selma, Alabama earlier that year, apparently, with 24 members.

Chambless was excited to hear about it, wrote to the members, and sent the letter in care of the  Montgomery club. He wished he had been there with them and looked forward to the day when he could join them on some motorcycle rides. He also reminisced about some fun times they'd had in the past.

Finding anything about the Dixie Motorcycle Club is difficult. There is a November 1956 American Motorcyclist issue in which the results of the famous Jack Pine 500-mile endurance offroad race include the Dixie Motorcycle Club from Selma. They finished a respectable 7th out of 29 in the Club Team category.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Elzee hats in Bellville, Texas, 1912

The year is 1912 and this is the latest in ladies fashionable headwear--an interesting hat with an uninteresting name: Style O.C. 3054.

This rare postcard from Elzee Hats dates to 1912 and features Style O.C. 3054 with an image of a woman wearing the hat. The reverse side has a stamped message for the recipient from a Bellville, Texas merchant that sells Elzee hats:

 "We most cordially invite you 
to attend our 
Spring Opening 
Tuesday, March 19, 1912. 
Schauerhammer & Roensch." 

Elzee was the brand name for hats made by Levis-Zukoski Mercantile Company in Saint Louis, Missouri. Their merchants were supplied with these postcards and this Texas merchant used it to advertise their Spring Opening event. Presumably, they had a few of these hats in stock. I wonder how many women came in and wanted one?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Remembering Levon Helm

One of the most cherished paper items in my collection of ephemera is a signed concert schedule from a Houston club called the Mucky Duck. The featured event for the month of January, 2001, includes a full page cover photo of the band appearing Friday, January 26: Levon Helm and the Barnburners. And I got to meet Levon Helm that night and get his signature on this item.

Levon Helm died yesterday afternoon at age 71. We lost a legendary artist and true American music icon. I'm remembering him today through both times I got to see him perform live--with the Barnburners in 2001 and earlier in 1996 with The Band, a reunited version without Robbie Robertson and Richard Manuel. I'm also remembering him through the wonderful music he made with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, The Band, and his more recent Grammy Award-winning albums.

My friend,  Fred O'Brien, had been corresponding with the band's road manager about this event and got an invitation for us to meet Levon Helm between sets. That meeting took place in the club's kitchen where some of the band members gathered for a quick bite and drink before heading back onstage. Levon was still recovering from throat cancer and could not talk, but he was nonetheless very expressive. He didn't sing that night either, but his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drumming, energy, and passion were on full display that night as the Barnburners ripped through a bluesy rock set that got the crowd on its feet.

Back in the kitchen, we chatted briefly with Levon, met his daughter Amy (she was in the band and also featured on the calendar above), and I got a picture of Levon and Fred. In our excitement over meeting this iconic musician and singer, we forgot to trade places and get my picture with Levon. No regrets, just being there in that space with an American music legend was good enough for me. That and getting his autograph makes this paper matter to me.

Rest in Peace, Levon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wagon delivery from the Harrison Coal Company

Here's an interesting unused billhead in a recently acquired pile of old paper. The Harrison Coal Company in Boston sold wood as well as coal for heating fuel, according to the billhead.

But the interesting thing about this billhead is the graphic depicting the delivery method. A large coal wagon with a team of two horses is delivering its product down a chute out the backside of the wagon. The chute runs down to what looks like an open manhole with the cover removed to the side.
To find out exactly what was going on here, I researched coal delivery methods via chute and quickly found an answer on an intriguing blog called Vernacular Typography, which collects examples of local history through images of lettering on old signs, buildings, and the like.

In a post about old manhole and chute covers on Willow Street in Brooklyn, I found the history I was looking for to match the image on my billhead. What looked like a manhole was actually a chute, usually located in close proximity to a home, i.e. the sidewalk or in the yard next to the basement. Coal could be shoveled down the chute, which would deliver it to the homeowner's basement to be used as needed in the furnace. More on these chutes was found on the equally interesting blog, PolyBloggimous, which also features Brooklyn chutes, coincidentally.

The date on this billhead is printed with the prefix 191__, so this transaction falls somewhere from 1910 to 1919. Though trucks were certainly being used in the early part of that century for various jobs, many neighborhood delivery services were still performed with horse(s) and wagon during the early decades of the 20th century.

The Madison-Jefferson County Public Library has an image online that depicts a coal wagon with two horses still being used in 1927--the last coal wagon still in use at that time in Madison, Indiana. There is a striking similarity to the graphic on the billhead.

As for any history on the Harrison Coal Company, information barely exists on the Internet to document this old company with the interesting Boston billhead. But Boston was likely one of many satellite offices set up where demand for coal warranted a business presence. So where was Harrison headquartered?

Maybe Harrison County, Ohio was where the company called home. In the late 19th century, large coal deposits were discovered in Harrison County, providing a dramatic turn in local history. And even if this is not where Harrison Coal Company mined its coal and shipped it to Boston, Brooklyn and other places, there is interesting history there.

General George Armstrong Custer was born there and the county also lays claim to the first African American Major League baseball player. And you thought it was Jackie Robinson (so did I). Nope. Read about Moses Fleet Walker (pictured left), who played for the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1883.

Prior to the discovery of coal in Harrison County, Ohio, the history referenced above has nothing to do with Harrison Coal Company and Harrison County itself may not either. But these are just some of the never-ending paper trails a piece of ephemera can lead one down.

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.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Gendron Iron Wheel Company

Here's an old advertising trade card for the Gendron Iron Wheel Company in Toledo, Ohio. The card was designed by lithographers Henderson-Achert of Cincinnati, circa 1880s.

The front of the card features the Gendron Iron Wagon and touts the product with the statement: "The Gendron Iron Wagon has no wooden bolsters and will stand the hardest usage." The back of the card makes the claim that the company is the largest manufacturer of children's vehicles in the world, including high grade safety bicycles.

The company still exists today as Gendron Inc., having evolved to specialize in products for bariatric patient care, including manual and power wheelchairs, as well as custom built power wheelchairs, and much more.

I came across an early predecessor of Gendron's wheelchairs on a blog about vintage bicycles. In particular, there is a post about Gendron Wheel Co.'s bicycles and the Invalid Wheelchair. Included is a picture of the wheelchair as well as images of trade cards for their bicycles. So the company's product line today does have deep roots in the company's history.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lucy and Ricky went grocery shopping

Actually, they probably phoned it in and had the groceries delivered. The receipts below bear the customer name "Arnaz." Lucy and Desi? "Mrs. Arnaz" appears on one of the receipts. Lucille Ball?

Before adding these items to my ephemera collection, I had to research the establishments where this Arnaz shopped and see if I could find some connection with Mr. and Mrs. Desi Arnaz. I found some pretty good evidence from an unlikely source that the shoppers were indeed either Lucille Ball or Desi Arnaz, or both.

The unlikely source is Mike Farrell. Farrell (B.J. Honeycutt in the television series M*A*S*H) wrote in his autobiography that he worked as a delivery driver for Sale's Fulton Market in Beverly Hills (see above receipt) and delivered groceries through the delivery entrances of homes of the stars, including Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. He specifically names them, among a handful of well-known celebrities, as store customers. Based on that, I'm convinced that these receipts are from a 1950s grocery order from the Lucy and Desi Arnaz home.

What was on their shopping list that day? Tobasco sauce, MJB long grain rice, raspberry jello, red cherry jello, Pet milk, Elberta peach halves, pears, prune juice, apple juice, and a can of Crisco. Wonder what Lucy was cooking up in the kitchen?

I assume that the other Arnaz receipts from New York, which were lumped in with the Beverly Hills receipt, were written for Lucille Ball (Mrs. Arnaz). All four receipts are dated in the September-December 1960 range. Two of them are made out to Mrs. Arnaz, the other two just Arnaz. Lucy and Desi divorced in May 1960, so Lucy was living in New York without Desi at that time. She was also starring on Broadway, which would account for the receipt address if she weren't already living there. 

Here's the four New York receipts from New Star Market at 1214 Third Avenue.

I can't find anything more on the New Star Market, but you can read more about Lucy and Desi here (no reference to their grocery shopping habits, though...)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Indiana medical ephemera

Here's a sampling of vintage Indiana medical ephemera--one doctor and several pharmacists to fill the scripts. I doubt this is representative of Indiana medicine in the late 1800s, but it was an interesting enough sample to make it part of my collection.

The lone doctor in the bunch, Dr. L.C. Cline, refers to his practice as "limited to the Throat, Nose & Ear (a TNE?). Today, that would be Ear, Nose & Throat, or ENT for short. For long, try Otolaryngology, the medical specialty that treats diseases of the ear, nose & throat. And by the way, Otolaryngology is the oldest medical specialty in the United States.

Here's Dr. Cline's script for a patient. Note that his office address and his home address are printed on the form. It was a simpler time...

And here come the pharmacists, lined up to fill those scripts.

Peters and Shoemaker from Whitestown, November 14, 1890:

Jones' Drug Store in Greencastle, December 3, 1891:

Ray & Sourwine Druggists, Bowling Green, September 28, 1881:

Another one from Greencastle... C.W. Landes & Co. Druggists, July 20, 1881:

Buntin and Armstrong Chemists and Pharmacists, Terre Haute, July 21, 1881:

Allen's Drug Store, another Greencastle druggist, November 14, 1881:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bullfight at the Juarez Bull Ring

The holder of this General Admission ticket to the Juarez Bull Ring was promised a "Great Bull Fight." Says so right on the ticket. For 50 cents American in 1935, one could take in a great bull fight across the border from El Paso. The Juarez Bull Ring is an historic arena, built sometime during the mid-19th century and later renamed the Alberto Balderas Bullring. I don't believe bullfighting goes on over there these days--there's another kind of fighting, and it's too dangerous for tourists. My wife grew up across the border and knew Juarez well enough. She showed me around when we were dating and after we were married. Used to be a fun place to go. Those days are gone like the bullfighting at the Juarez Bull Ring and even the other bull ring in town, Plaza de Toros Monumental, which was demolished to build a new Walmart, of all things. And that's no bull.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Guns and bikes

How about a bicycle to go with that rifle?

Former Town Clerk, Hiram Barton, had no need for either the day this billhead was prepared. He merely stopped by to pay the balance on his account. Could that balance have been for a bicycle? A gun?

W.M. Hastings of South Shaftsbury, Vermont was the man to see for all your gun, ammo, and bicycle needs back in 1898. Seems like an odd association today, perhaps not so much back then. He also sold "other supplies," so maybe there was a little something for everyone.

But was this a firearms and ammunition store that also sold bicycles or was it a bicycle shop that happened to also sell guns and ammo?

I think the former. Until the 1890s, bicycles enjoyed no popularity among the masses--they were toys of the well-to-do. That changed in the 1890s with a revolutionary design that made the bicycle safe and accessible for all. And probably something for which a firearms and ammunition shop could make extra cash by having a few stocked on the side.

Read all about the 1890s "Bicycle Craze" HERE.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Telegram: Getting remarried in El Paso

Back in the "old days"... Before there was an Internet and email and before telephone service became popular enough and long distance calls became cheap enough, the best technology for delivering messages was via the telegram, such as this one below.

Here is a 1923 Western Union telegram from El Paso, Texas to Alpine, Texas, with the happy news that Arthur and Lillie had "adjusted all differences" and would remarry in a few days. That phrasing makes me wonder if the couple actually resolved all their differences or merely made some adjustments to accommodate them. The tone and wording make me suspicious of the second time around being the charm for these two.

From, here's how Lillie would have gone about wiring the good news to friends or relatives in Alpine:
"People sent telegrams by calling a telegraph office and dictating a message over the phone to an operator: the cost of the service was added to the customer’s phone bill. Customers could also appear in person at a telegraph office and write their message on a blank form, which would then be rendered into Morse code. Telegraph companies supplied pads of blank forms to business customers, and messenger boys would carry the forms to the telegraph office throughout the business day. Full-rate telegrams were hand-delivered by a company courier, but some cheaper services featured telegrams that were delivered by mail. In some European cities telegrams were also delivered via pneumatic tubes."
Telegrams likely outlasted Lillie and Arthur, finally succumbing 83 years later to the Internet Age and lack of demand. In 2006, the wires were metaphorically cut and telegram service died. The announcement came over the Internet. Ironic. Stop.

The obituary for the venerable old service, as well as a part of American culture, was reported in various newspapers and online venues. They're not hard to find. Click HERE for one example.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Cosmic Aeroplane

Crossposting from Bibliophemera, this ephemeral piece of paper seemed a natural fit for this blog, too.

Here's a relic from those heady (pun intended) counterculture days of the 1960s-70s when headshops appeared on the scene. I remember one close to where I grew up that was called a record shop, but it was a headshop, too. As a teenager circa 1969-1972, my memories of that place were incense, paraphernalia that had nothing to do with music (or perhaps it did in an enhancement kind of way), hippie-looking staff and patrons, and some really cool records. I got introduced to the music of Townes Van Zandt there with his 1972 album, The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. But I digress.

Getting back to that other headshop... In a Salt Lake magazine article by John Pecorelli, a brief history of the Cosmic Aeroplane credits Stephen Jones with opening the business in 1967 as a headshop (the first in Salt Lake City, I'm sure). According to the article, the Cosmic Aeroplane developed a loyal counterculture following:
While Jones’ Cosmic Aeroplane was a good place to find out about bands coming Utah and purchase “imported beads and bells from San Francisco,” the shop, originally located on 900 E. and 900 S., provided a rallying point for Utah’s expanding consciousness until its closure in 1991. Books, used records, underground comix and dope paraphernalia were available, and with a move to larger digs, the Aeroplane opened an experimental theater in back (the Human Ensemble, then featuring KSL news fixture Shelley Osterloh). The larger space also accommodated a draft counseling center run by Hal Sparck, who had frequent legal wrangles with the Selective Service as a result, but always prevailed.

I don't know if books were part of the mix when the place opened, or if they were gradually introduced into the shop's inventory, but in 1977 two new business partners ensured its legacy as a bookstore. Bruce Roberts and rare book dealer Ken Sanders provided an infusion of cash and expertise in books to help the shop blossom into a million-dollar business (at least one year reportedly).

This trade card or business card may be from the Roberts-Sanders era, as the address given is 366 South West Temple and the original location, stated in the quoted passage above, was elsewhere. Regardless, its ancestry boasts of vintage 1960s. But nothing lasts forever. By 1991 the Salt Lake City icon of counterculture and subversive literature and music met its demise, reported here in the Deseret News.