Pam’s Pictorama Anniversary Post: Happy Anniversary to us! Twenty years ago today Kim and I went on our first date. Important disclaimer – I’m very bad with dates, but it was Veteran’s Day so that helps. I had just ended a relationship and Kim and I knew each other slightly from openings and whatnot, mutual friends. When Kim found out that I was at loose ends, he got my number and called me up – yea Kim! I was a big fan of the work, and I had always thought he was a very handsome guy. Beyond the Pale was the first book of his I had read and I was crazy about it, just over the moon when I met him. I made sure I got all the Kim Deitch comics, books and silk screen print in the break up.
Kim and I went to a de Kooning exhibit at the Met; I was already working there. Funny because Kim more or less hates de Kooning. That is self-evident now, but I didn’t have a clue then. It didn’t seem to have a bad impact on the date however. Afterward we ate at a small Italian restaurant in my neighborhood where I was a regular at the time. The owner, a young man from Italy, took an interest in my love life and vetted the various men I brought in. Marino seemed a tad dubious about Kim at first, but grew to like him over time.
In honor of the occasion I offer some of Kim’s pencil sketches for our wedding invitation – I art directed Kim on this one, but he went to town on it. Noah’s Ark seemed perfect – and Kim did not disappoint. The original inked work is huge and glorious – and requires a drum scan so I can’t show it here. it was a long invitation that opened as a gate-fold and revealed me and Kim as kitties getting hitched inside. I especially like the inclusion of the sea monster among the animals!
Lastly I offer an undated photo strip of us smooching! We were at a party where there was a photo machine – you know I love those. Here’s to the next 20!
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This one is in pretty bad shape – and Kim even helped out by taking it into photoshop and lightening it up! I couldn’t help it – I love this image. These two little fellows, Peter and Plenty Joes (possibly the best cat name I never heard before) are such adorable little guys. They look like they have a little attitude to back up those names – especially Plenty Joes. No surprise that I find kittens quite irresistible, but anyone who has adopted one or (God help us) two at this age know that they are quite a handful – and I can only guess from looking at these guys that they were no exceptions! Blissfully, Cookie and Blackie have entered the easier to take adolescent stage – and only try to climb the walls to knock the pictures off occasionally.
Pam’s Pictorama Phot Post: I am a real sucker for a cat photo with a story, and so I went all out to get this unusual postcard. It appears to be a memorial card for the Loss of the ‘Gladiator’ – no date, not postally used. In case you can’t enlarge the image enough to read it, the typed article at the bottom reads as follows: Cat Found Alive. The only living thing found on board was the ship’s cat, Mickey – a black and white animal. Mickey was found in the men’s quarters rushing wildly about, mad with fear. The man who rescued Mickey was a stranger to him, and could not possibly calm the animal’s feelings. One of the crew of the Gladiator was fetched and the cat immediately recognized him and nestled lovingly in his big arms. The sailor then carried Mickey ashore, where he was received with great jubilation. Additionally the following is etched into the negative, Loss of the ‘Gladiator’ CRIBR. (?) This Bluejacket is seen with Mickey dressed in borrowed artilleryman’s clothes
Some quick research turns up the story. The British cruiser was rammed by an American liner, the St. Paul, in a snowstorm on April 25 of 1908 off the Isle of Wright. The Gladiator quickly sank – the St. Paul was damaged, but less so. Several lives from the Gladiator were lost, however the article in the New York Times archive mostly notes and praises the men for having awaited rescue in parade formation. No mention of Mickey is made in the Times article. I have included two images here of the ship and the accident – both are being sold on Amazon as historic prints. They are of interest, but I will stick with Mickey I think.
Cats on board ships are a major category unto themselves. I can’t say I thoroughly embrace these stories because more often then not these fine furry fellows seem to come to a bad end. Life on a ship for a cat seems to be cheap – although a bit rough on the humans too I guess and most of the cats, like Mickey, often seem to be much beloved by sailors. (Perhaps the high life of fish eating and vermin chasing may somewhat compensate for this?) However, Mickey, a fine looking tuxedo, seems to have kicked in with a few of those nine lives and made it out of this one alive and well.
Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: I first saw this toy back in the late 1980’s, not long after I moved to Manhattan after college. I had discovered Darrow’s Fun Antiques in their original location – high ceilings, deep shelves and cases and stuff piled up. 61st, I think, between First and Second Avenues. There it all was. Toys from my childhood and earlier. Toys I had wanted and never gotten; toys I did have and loved and lost; toys that my friends had and I coveted; and most interesting of all, toys I had never seen before or even knew existed. It was like I had found my niche in the universe – who knew such very wonderful things existed! This was why I had moved to New York – I just hadn’t known it.
I could not afford to buy much from Darrows in those days, despite that they were always lovely and willing to spend time showing me things. One or two purchases went to my then boyfriend (hey to Kevin!) as Christmas and birthdays gifts. Mostly battery operated. (I still have an excellent drinking monkey I bought from them – future post.) On one of my forays one of the gentlemen there showed me the toy above and I fell in love! Once I saw it move I felt it embodied everything I loved about animated toys. The gentle rocking, the honking goose, the breeze created by the turning umbrella. I don’t remember how much they were asking for it, except that it was way out of my price range.
Fast forward at least a decade, probably more, to Brimfield. It was my one and only trip to this amazing extravaganza of flea market. There it was on a blanket – the first time I had seen it in all those years. I picked it up and wound it – I was still entirely charmed by it. They wanted something north of $500 for it and that just wasn’t going to happen that day. For one thing, this toy falls soundly in my fear of celluloid category. An incredibly expensive, exquisite toy that looked like it would smash to pieces if you sneezed on it – or a paw got too curious. So, I moved on – but this time I didn’t forget it.
It nagged at my brain for several more years. Finally I began searching for it on eBay. It wasn’t especially easy to search for – celluloid woman rocking? Eventually I found my way in and discovered that many, many variations exist – some made of tin and celluloid and close to this one – up to more recent, all plastic ones of the same essential type. Along the line I discovered the name, The Happy Life Toy! Never had a toy been more aptly named! I lay in wait, carefully watching eBay. Then, there it was one day, an early model in good condition, almost perfect really. The opening bid was reasonable – a bit more than $100 as I remember. Bam – I won it! No one else bid and there was no minimum. Well, the seller was actually quite annoyed – it is a more expensive toy really – and made no secret of it. They honored the sale however and here it is!
It is so delicate that I have brought it to my office where it sits (safe from cats) on a bookcase across from my desk. Everyone knows that if they need a lift they can come wind it up and be cheered up. In fact, there are folks who come running to see it if they hear the goose honking. It is indeed, a Happy Life Toy! Oh toy bliss!
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Happy first snow in Manhattan! I’ve been saving this one for you!
Another area I have trailed off into a bit is photos of cats in snow. Those of us who have lived with cats in the suburbs or country know that they have mixed feelings about the stuff, at best. On one hand, they love to watch it fall! For apartment cats this is pretty much where it starts and ends – although I used to bring snowballs into the bathtub for my cat Otto who enjoyed them immensely. The world as a snow dome. Few things are funnier than watching a cat try to negotiate outside in the snow – especially deep snow. They can walk on it for a second before breaking through – which eventually leads to hopping until they get to a secure dry spot. It is worth noting that none of the cats pictured are actually touching any of that cold wet stuff.
The cyanotype is the photo I have owned the longest and, I assume, the oldest of the bunch. Like many other things I have shared, it lives in my office where I see it everyday. It is backed on a bit of cardboard so I am unsure if it has anything on the back. I believe it came via Canada. It takes a moment and then you realize that it is a photograph of a good size cat clinging onto the front of a very large man. Ouch! Good thing he has layers on. Probably turn-of-the-century, but the farm probably already looked that way for fifty years – and perhaps did for fifty more.
The featured photo is marked December ’49 and I love this kid with his double-fisted cat hold. He too is dressed for the snow around him (snow shovel seems to be right behind him) and a good looking barn behind him. Boy, do they have some snow! Look how high it is on the ladder in the back. He’s got two nice looking cats and they look pretty pleased with their perch on his lap. He’s a pretty old guy today – wonder how this photo got away from him.
Lastly we have my most recent snow cat purchase. It is marked on the back 1942 John Duke & Honey. Cannot say if Duke is the cat (my vote) and Honey the dog or the other way around. These folks had some serious snow drifts as well, up to the second floor of the house. This kid has his arms around a contented, fat tabby – the dog (dogs really like snow) is guarding them in that proud way dogs do.
I don’t know why, but these photos remind me of my own childhood – which had what probably amounts to an average amount of snow. Still, no one can resist the thrill of a snow day.
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I realize that there should probably be a whole category on this blog of photos only I could love. This one would go in I suspect, but maybe you will love it too. This is a small snap shot from Great Britain of a girl with a sizable, fluffy kitty in her arms. This cat reminds me of a wonderful Tuxedo who our cat Cookie is unofficially named for – a huge, wonderfully good natured boy cat who belonged to my friend Bridget, who lives in Massachusetts. That Cookie met an untimely end, they think due to a fox or something along those lines. I was heartbroken when I heard and thought of the name when we got the kits. (Our Cookie doesn’t take after him at all however, tuxedo or not – her skin seems to crawl when you pet her, assuming she lets you, and she has a horror of being picked up.)
I guess it wouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that my happiest hours as a small child were spent with the family cats. I too would carry them everywhere. We had a lovely white cat with black cow spots whose name was Snoopy. He let me carry him around and dress him up and all sorts of things. I would tell him everything and I prized his attention, especially when he would decide to sleep on my bed. He was a dignified cat of some girth. He would walk in that slow deliberate way cats have sometimes. (See my post Passin’ Through.) He was very tidy and kept himself very nice, whites very white. When we adopted a young kitten who didn’t seem to understand that he was meant to clean himself, we placed him in a bathroom with Snoopy overnight and he had him ship shape by morning – and more or less comprehending the self-cleaning nature of cats.
Snoopy also met an unfortunate end – killed by a dog. If Kim was here he’d say cat life is cheap and sadly he’s right – especially for the outdoor guys. Still, no one understands you or loves you like your cat and when you are a kid your pets can be a whole universe.
Pam Photo Post: This photo postcard has the penny stamp on it, time stamped for an age when there was more than one delivery a day perhaps, and the back (which is water stained and difficult to read, although in a fairly clear, female hand): Dear old Chum – Well how are you? Did you think that I would never answer your card? Well you know how good I am at writing. I was in Rochester when your card came and didn’t know until I got home that you had gone back. Well what do you think of this for a comic postcard? Ans. (?) There is also something thoroughly blotted out. It was addressed to Miss Katherine Keleher, Woodville, NY. Not surprisingly, both Corfu and Woodville, NY seem to be way upstate, near Rochester. Corfu evidently named for the island in Greece (thinking of the winters there I can’t imagine why) and had a population of a little of 700 people in the most recent census. Woodville seems to have remained equally small.
Looking closely I think it might be a family of girls and their mother – there is a general resemblance between them. Of course, I love the fact that the family cat got into the action and posed so smartly as well. He’s quite a card, that stripe-y fellow – a perfect foil to the women lined up, each with their hair up, most with a similar bow, every one of them staring off in a different way, thinking their own thoughts. Cat too, as he seems to be studying the hand of the woman on the end. We assume he was off and running a bare few minutes later.