Cat of the Sea?


French card, collection


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Some photos are purchased for their sheer value of the bizarre and these fall into that category. These were purchased together on eBay recently from the same seller, but separate listings. It is somewhat noteworthy and interesting that they were addressed to different people, although both were mailed from different places in Canada – one from Ontario on August 3 PM, 1908 and the other from Quebec on July 29, 1909. I have asked Kim to scan the backs as well because they are so hard to decode. Clearly the Ontario one is addressed to someone in the hospital in Syracuse, NY. The message says something about seeing the person soon. The other is very light and appears to just say Adieu but the address has faded to obscurity.

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On the front of both the same message in French which roughly translated seems to say, It is the sea Michel – which I assume is sort of like into the soup Michel? My (very) limited ability to read music gives me a vague idea of the tunefulness of this – upbeat. Allow me to pause and make it clear that I do not approve of even the comical placing of cats in pots – while I do not condone this, you see it often in comical cards. Cats in soup pots seems to have made their way through novelty photo cards of the 20th century and we’ll assume beyond.

What a scary Melies-esque chef he is, popping out of that faux window. I hardly know what to make of the possible origin of these – frame grabs from some early film Segundo de Chomon films? Melies? 1908 and 1909 would be the territory of de Chomon, a bit on the late side for Melies. (Kim has pointed out that Melies was not given to this sort of close-up however and de Chomon was.) There is no credit or identification for the photographer or the maker. The action seems to be close together – will more eventually turn up from later in the film? I hope so! (I was lucky to be the only taker on these.) Given the Canandian stamps, we might assume Canadian rather than French, or so was my initial thought when I saw them. However, again Kim argues for French import to Canada and I can see the sense in that.

To this point, and for your general entertainment, I am including links to a Segundo de Chomon film and a Melies films. Here is de Chomon’s The Haunted House 1909 and the color version of the much loved Melies A Trip to the Moon, a much earlier 1902 but an irresistibly beautiful print. Enjoy!

Postscript: These came in after posting on Facebook! From Philip Smith, the words to the song and a Youtube link. It is as rollicking as I thought it would be – La mere Michel!

Old Ma Michel

Children’s Song

It’s old ma Michel who lost her cat,
Who’s yelling out the window, who will bring it back?
It’s old man Lustucru who answered her:
“Come on, old ma Michel, your cat is not lost.”
To the tune of tra la la la,
To the tune of tra la la la,
To the tune of tra-day-ree day-ra tra la la.

It’s old ma Michel who asked him:
“My cat’s not lost, you found it then?”
It’s Old man Lustucru who answered her:
“Give a reward, it’ll be returned to you.”
To the tune of tra la la la,
To the tune of tra la la la,
To the tune of tra-day-ree day-ra tra la la.

Then old ma Michel told him: “It’s settled
If you give my cat back, you’ll get a kiss.”
But old man Lustucru who didn’t want one
Said to her: “Your cat will be sold as a rabbit!”
To the tune of tra la la la,
To the tune of tra la la la,
To the tune of tra-day-ree day-ra tra la la.