The Old George

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Offered as a reproduction on Amazon, The Old George Hotel, in an earlier incarnation.

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: The Residents shown here are identified as Bonzo, Tou-Tou and Joseph. Silly me, I assumed the dog was Bonzo until I looked up Tou-Tou and realized it is French for doggie. So that leaves us to wonder if the cat is Joseph (my guess) and the turtle Bonzo or otherways around – or, of course, the cat or turtle could be named Tou-Tou and the dog Bonzo. Both the cat and the dog (and the turtle?) seem to be looking upward at where Residents is written – very nifty indeed.

Evidently the original Old George Hotel building dates back to 1314, although very little of it remains today – it’s ground floor knocked out to become the entrance to the Old George Mall shopping precinct. As recently as 1994 there was a restaurant, the Bay Tree, in residence – followed by the Old George Tearooms, which closed in ’09.  I gather that the building is open to the public on special occasions such as Heritage Days, whatever those might be. All this according to a BBC history site which goes on to share a short list of some of the famous guests which include Oliver Cromwell, Samuel Pepys and Buddy Holly – quite a diverse list. Pepys recorded the following in his famous diary:

Lay in a silk bed, and a very good diet…

The next day he wrote:

…paid the reckoning, which was so exorbitant…that I was mad and resolved to trouble the mistress about it and get something for the poor.

Actually, pretty tame for Pepys!  In addition, Shakespeare and his players are believed to have played in the courtyard, which had room for 50 horses. Last, but not least, Dickens mentions it in Martin Chuzzlewit. H.G. Wells has a turn in The Secret Places of the Heart referring to the Old George smoking room and he writes,

 The Old George at Salisbury is really old; it shows it, and Miss Seyffert laced the entire evening with her recognition of the fact. ‘Just look at that old beam!’she would cry suddenly. ‘To think it was exactly where it is before there was a Cabot in America!’

Of course, with the possible exception of H.G. Wells and Buddy Holly, all of this was most likely well before Bonzo, Tou-Tou and Joseph arrived on the scene and had their photo taken in the garden. (Of course, hard to tell with turtles.) No date on this photo postcard, nothing on the back. Photo postcards stopped being marketed by Kodak in 1930 although I am sure, like tintypes, they continued to be used for quite a while beyond – and since this is a promotional postcard for a hotel it could easily be much later.

In the end, I imagine it was a lovely place to stay and can see myself, drink in hand, enjoying the garden with Bonzo, Tou-Tou and Joseph and all those interesting ghosts from its earlier incarnations.

The garden at the Old George Hotel, 1928 in a photo for sale online.

Felix for a Cause

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Let us return once again to Felix, one of my favorite subjects. These two outstandingly unusual and interesting photo postcards capitalized on Felix’s appeal to attract an audience for their respective hospital fundraisers (Something in my role as a professional fundraiser I can really get behind.) One can only imagine they did brilliantly – after all, who could resist Felix?

The top card, and the first I acquired, was postally used, but has lost its stamp and postmark. The following (some writing faded or rubbed away) was written on the back in pencil, addressed to Mrs. J. W. Stoodley, Folly Farm, Crewkerne, Som (which appears to be short for Somerset):

Dear Mother, ….. am glad it is much cooler now but our place is cooler inside than out. The children had their carnival yesterday, but this is the one. Will

One can’t help but wonder if you got to ride with Felix in that nifty sidecar motorcycle if you attended?  I cannot answer that question, but much to my great surprise, I found a few minutes of footage of this very Carnival in June of 1925 to support Coventry Hospital and I offer it here:

 

While it is minus Felix, if you watched you did see that motorcycles seem to play an interesting role. The other pressing question – is that an enormous stuffed Felix (like someday I might find for sale on eBay and mortgage my house to purchase?) or a rather excellent Felix costume? (Which I would, of course, also be willing to go into hock to acquire.)

Then, just when I thought I would never see another postcard that was comparable, the second one showed up on eBay. While it is hard to see, if you look carefully you find out that each Felix is a tiny photo of a stuffed Felix toy, collaged on. I have supplied a photo of one of my beloved Felixes of the same type, an early addition to my collection, below. I adore this particular style of Felix and much to my surprise I came across someone with an entire basket of them at the Atlantic City antique toy show. That person told me that they were prizes at fairs in the twenties and thirties. They seem too well made for that, and I remain curious but have never heard anything more on the subject.

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I cannot find any reference to this event – no idea what the ladder is about or what the 250 (bps) refers to – a prize of some sort.  This one is unused postally and there is nothing to indicate a date. The person I bought it from said he had no idea what it referred to nor had he ever seen anything like it. (He was entertained by the image of the other one I emailed him however.) All this to say, call in Felix when you want to attract a crowd.