Happy Halloween, 1917

Newscan #5Nuscan #4 Nuscan #3)

Pam’ Pictorama Photo Post: I have opined on the loss of a pleasure that is largely specific to flea markets – that is the happy surprise; finding the thing you never knew existed. Never knew you needed. It is possible, to some degree, to imitate this experience on eBay and one way I do that is to just leaf through the listings for various old photographs. It isn’t quite the same as sifting through a box of old photos, but sometimes it does yield the extraordinary, as it did in this case. The photos above were from an album and although they are not marked as such I do remember that it was indicated that they were from Brooklyn.  They were sold separately over a period of time and so getting all three was a bit painstaking, but worthwhile I think.

The one marked Chemistry Squad 1917 is postcard size, but is a regular photo printed on photo paper, not heavier stock. The baby buggy has a sign that reads, He won’t be happy till he gets it. (I pause for a moment to consider that baby strollers, the baby carriage or buggy of today, couldn’t possibly hold a costumed adult posing as a baby – how times change!) The other two photos are smaller and I have framed them together. Robinson-Vernet is smaller, only about 2 3/4″ x 3.5″ and the unmarked one larger at 2 3/4″ x 4″. This one, when blown up large, reveals bits of floats and banners in the background (Machine Construction and the beginning of a date on the banner) so we will assume it is a parade.

Nothing on the back of any, only the mark from where they were removed from an album.  Devil man, very debonaire, is the one that ties the three together photos together, appearing in each. His album we will assume? Although mysterious #7 man appears in the horizontal one (next to Devil man if you look carefully) as well as the one where they pose together by the fence.

These ribald fellows (yes, I think all fellows, despite the appearances in drag) certainly look like they knew how to kick up their heels! Halloween 1917, it was a hot day in the city that year.

Mine, all mine…at long last

Aesope's Fabkes toys

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  Sometimes as a collector there is something that eludes you over a period of time. And sometimes as a spouse there is something from your partner’s former life that scratches at the back of your brain. This wonderful photograph managed to embody both for me. While I have used this photo in a previous blog post (Van Buerens Aesop Fables, the Toys) it was pulled off the internet, not my very own copy.  It is the only publicity photo of these fairly rarified toys that I am aware of. (As you may know, I do have that rather sharp photo of Jane Withers holding one.) This one, for the record, is ever so slightly cropped, the serial number gone, probably the most notable difference. One of the important features of this photo is that each toy wears their name on a tag around their neck so those names are not lost to the sands of time: Milton (mouse), Don (dog), Mike (monkey), Raffles (or is it Waffles?) and The Countess. All except the wolf toy.  What on earth could his name have been? I must research that.

Meanwhile, years ago, as the story goes Kim was visiting a film collector (along with Leonard Maltin no less – this was of course in the days when film collector meant piles of film cans for those of you born in the post-DVD, streaming online era) and the fellow gave each of them a copy of this photo! Amazing!  He evidently had a pile of them. So far so good, except my husband (who is a lovely and very unselfish fellow) gave it to his then girlfriend Sally. Now this was bound to stick in my craw both on the spouse side as well as irritate the heck out of me on the wife side even all these years later – it happened in 1980. Obviously I understand – I wasn’t even a twinkle in his eye for another fourteen years, and I was in fact, still quite underage and yet to embark on my years of toy collecting. Still, in my jealous wife and toy collectors brain this has remained a wrong that needed to be set right.

Enter eBay last week – on a day when I had decided I really needed to rein in spending and behave for a while, but was having a little look nonetheless. There it was, mis-listed under Mickey Mouse photos and set as a buy-it-now for $25. Just in time for our wedding anniversary and our 20 year anniversary of our very first date. Bam! Mine!  Oh bliss! The universe set right at long last.



Pam’s Pictorama Post: Sam 3 mts. old it says on the back. This cat is a hot number. This appears to be taken on the deck of a large ship. Sam is clearly a perky fellow, and he is mesmerized trying to catch that mouse toy. This is British, no date – a photo, not a postcard. I love the suited arm that is reaching into the photo. A man in a suit having his photo taken on board a ship, playing with Sam the cat!

Cats standing on their hind legs could be their own genre. This one below is a photo I have owned for quite a while – a cat preparing to stand for a cat treat. Not as young or as sporty as Sam – this fellow is a tad stout from those treats. This time a mysterious female arm. (The humans are always on the edges of these photos – an arm, a shadow.) Although this looks like a photo postcard and has those dimensions, it is a lighter paper. Nothing on the back. I do not remember where this came from, but I am fairly certain it is from the US. I bought it because at the time we had a beloved cat, Roscoe, who was a fiend for cat treats and would catch them in his mouth if pitched. It reminded me of him.

playing cat

This one below had its own post recently. (Peeved Puss Postcard, August 24, 2014.)


We aren’t quite sure what they were doing to encourage him to stand up but clearly he isn’t happy about it.

Cookie and Blackie are the most standing up cats I have ever had. Kim and I have speculated that it is an evolutionary aspect of cats. I don’t believe I have captured this in a photo so I will have to work on that. Mouse toys at the ready!

A Rare Little Felix


Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: By now you probably realize that I spend a lot of time looking at (and, yes, acquiring) Felix the Cat toys from the 20’s and 30’s.  The above Felix is one I purchase years ago on eBay, there was this one and an even smaller version for sale at the same time, and I have never seen the likes of them since. (I could only afford the one – they went high!) He’s about five inches, seated, but is fully jointed.

He has, as you can see, the Felix hunchback that the Brits almost always give their Felix toys. (This came from Felix in his leaning over walking and thinking position.) This Felix is fluffier than most, a real long-hair. I like the expression on his face – he’d wink if he could! He has all the charm of these off-model numbers I love yet is entirely different from my others. His joints are a bit loose and I try to keep him away from much activity, on the cat shelf at the foot of the bed, but low enough where I can admire him every single day.


Men in Hats with Cats

Pam #1

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Hailing from McMinnville, Oregon, October 3, 1911!  Still yet another terrific turn-of-the-century postcard from the great Pacific northwest. Evidently McMinnville is in the heart of the wine country, between Portland and the coast – these fellows look as if they may have been imbibing a bit, or preparing to, but that is pure speculation on my part.

Here we are cats and all ha ha is inscribed on the back with the date and the location. It is a photo postcard and these gentlemen are all dressed up and raring to go I’d say. Of course I love the fact that they are holding these two tabby cats – wearing typical looks of cat concern. The cats are identical so I take them for siblings. The one on the right is clearly considering making a break for it, and the guy holding him seems well aware of the cat’s intention to become a projectile any moment. The other guy is holding the cat in what my family refers to as cat prison – the two-handed you ain’t goin’ nowhere hold. (My father gets credit for naming this cat hold.) As a result he is able to look squarely into the camera. (His suit is a bit ill-fitting; too big for him. Perhaps it was a loaner? Growing into it?)

The guy in the lower left looks like a bit of a bum for my money – not as natty as the others, pork pie hat shoved back on his head; couldn’t be bothered. No cat holding for him – he’s too cool. I love that these guys, all dressed up, bowler hats and all are posing with these two kitties. Tabby cats always strike me as especially scrappy, so they seem a good choice for these young gentlemen. Cool with cats, I’d say.

Snapshot of Dad



Pam’s Pictorama (Family) Photo Post:  You would think that given my predilection for early photos that I would have tons of old family photos, but in reality I am not the keeper of many. I found this one of my father in an old desk years ago and framed it up so as to slow the disintegration.  I have always been fond of it – as I am of the small cache of photos that I do have around. I will probably get to sharing some others over time in different contexts. (A heads up that there’s a super one of my mom surrounded by toys one Christmas morning when she appears to be about seven. She doesn’t like it however, which is one of the reasons I have it – she didn’t want it.)

This one came to mind when I was working on my other motorcycle photo posts (The Mysteries of Felix and White Cat and the Art of Motorcycle Riding) and I got it off a top (cat protected) bookshelf and asked Kim to scan it for me.  It was taken on June 18, 1952 and someone (not my father) has scribbled “eeee gads!” on the back with the date. Dad is a handsome devil (still is!) and he’s got his best JD thing going on here. I assume it was taken in Washington Heights and that this was probably the motorcycle he subsequently rode across the country. The story goes that it made it out there, but then died on him and, broke, he had to hitchhike home.

I don’t know much about motorcycles, but I figure it is safe to assume that this one was old in 1952. Since this is 1952, I also assume it is after he returned from a stint in the army, in the Arctic, filming manuevers during the Korean war – which ultimately lead him to getting a masters in film at BU on the GI Bill, and his eventual career as a camera man for ABC news.  Much of that still ahead in this photo; it’ll be about eight years before he meets my mom as well, ten before my sister Loren is born, and twelve before I show up. (Almost 19 years before my brother Edward is on the scene – shout out to Ed!)  He’s not so good on dates these days (in fact, never his strong point) so I am doing some guess-timate work. Wonderful though, to have this photo and a record of my dad poised to set off on a great adventure.

Dog, Cats and Kittens

Pam #3tif

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: The sincerity of the dog in this photo made me love it.  He’s guarding the kittens while Mom cat herds them along – looks like a great place to be a pet, perhaps a small farm. A naughty looking spotty fellow getting licked by Mom and, of course, an excellent all black kitty. (Blackie’s forefather?) Dogs seem to cast themselves in this role of ensuring that there’s no monkey business going on – the cop on the beat of the domestic animal world. It is an interesting thing about collecting photos like I do though.  There are times when I am struck by the fact that this was just someone’s pets and they were just taking a picture of them. Somehow it was a really appealing photo, and transcended being no more than John Doe’s cats and dog. It has survived, presumably outlasting the photographer, and found its way to stand on its own, to me via eBay to live in my collection for the price of a few dollars before it passes onto the next person. I am pleased to have given it a home – at least for now.

A Photo Only I Could Love?

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  More Pre-Halloween seasonal fun! I fell hard for this card, but it was one if those rare occasions when Kim just couldn’t see it. Don’t get me wrong – he would never actively discourage me from purchasing a photo I was crazy about, but sometimes when he seems truly mystified it does take the wind out of my sails. There’s nothing about marriage which makes me think you should like all the same stuff – more interesting if you don’t really and Kim readily agrees. And I know that the kindest thing he can say about some of the most ratty of my toy purchases is that this one or that one look like a stuffed demon, or worse yet, a roll of the eyes and a (sad) shake of the head – but somehow I expect our esthetic sensibility for images such as photos to be more aligned. But on the other hand, how can my husband fail to see the bizarre greatness of a card of someone in a homemade Felix costume, with a mask made out of a bag and an advertising sign that says, Felix left off walking when he bought a bike from Curry’s? Or am I really just crazy? I mean, it was The Prize Winner at Boston. Really Kim!

Another time this happened was an attempt to purchase these photos of co-eds donning Felix-y costumes. I was seriously jazzed when I saw them and Kim…wasn’t. I was so befuddled I put it out to Facebook for a vote. The buys had it (by a good margin, but not unanimous) but so shaken was my confidence that I underbid and ultimately lost it. (Below is the scan pulled off of Facebook from eBay.)


There are those occasions when Kim seems unimpressed until the photo enters the apartment. There are numerous examples of this, but the most recent is the photo featured in my post Cat Hat, sadly this was not one of those times.

For me, the costume, complete with broken cat tail and white socks for feet (those folks at Curry’s were nothing if not resourceful), posed on an early British version of Astroturf just tickles me silly. I hope it does as much for you, my reader.

The Strangeness of French Betty and Felix


Pam’s Pictoram Toy (?) Post: Don’t know why, but this item has been on my mind lately so I thought I would write about it. Those of you who followed my purchases in the flea markets of Paris a couple of years ago (heaven!) might remember this. Never saw anything like it when I bought it, nor have I seen anything that was a kissing cousin to it since.  It is a lightweight wood and decorated on all other sides with the sort of alligator print you see on the edges. Too flimsy for a lunch box – a purse perhaps? I guess the French really are different from us, yes? I mean, to think they live in a country where women once walked down the street carrying accessories such as this. Really a very civilized place.

Aside from its use (and practicality, or lack thereof) what in the name of goodness is going on in that image?  Betty, complete with beauty mark (but maybe minus a mouth?) seems to be getting a come hither look from that goose – and Felix is playing some nefarious role peeking out from that tree.  All playing out in front of a castle-esque building in the background – I like to imagine that Betty has an apartment in that building – like the cartoon Betty’s Penthouse:

Although that was a more urban setting. Still, her place with a turret or a balcony?

Betty looks worried here – and I think she’s got good reason. Felix and the goose are up to no good. (Really, I hate to see an evil Felix.) This appears to be an unlicensed piece. Absolutely no manufacturing information.  Needless to say the moment I saw it I knew I had to have it.  While the owner of the stall did politely allow me to bargain a bit (as I said, very civilized place) my memory of it was that I was holding it possessively the entire time, and did a very bad job of hiding the fact that I absolutely was not leaving without it. (As I remember, Kim kicked in a bit to help make the transaction happen.) I know I paid a lot for it, but like many a really fine purchase, I don’t remember how much, even roughly.  Just that it is mine – oh happy toy lust!


Tea Party

Krazy lunch

Pam Pictorama Photo Post:  Much like the recent My Little Pony post, this is another glance of real life into an idyllic looking childhood.  This photo postcard, discovered in a search of Mickey Mouse photos (Mickey in chair, left) is beyond charming – I want to be this little girl with the dolls and the adorable pet rabbit! (I think the rabbit is real not stuffed, don’t you?)  Check out that nifty rocking toy behind Mr. Bunny, shaped like a chick, reminiscent of Boston’s swan boats – and the nice chair Mr. Buns is sitting on. This kid had great stuff!  She sets an elegant table – and she’s wagging her finger at the doll in the high chair – you rogue. Dolly, you!