Beer Break

 

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: While I am a fan of cat photos, and as my readers know usually buy photos because of the presence of a cat, in some photos like this one, it has to be admitted that the cat is coincidental at best. Although I do find it truly charming that the big fellow in the upper left snatched up that puss in time for the photo, it is not what strikes us most about this glorious photo of these men and boys in the midst of some sort of a beer break among whatever work was being done among these logs. This card is unused and undated – no identification of where or when this might have been taken. A guess puts it back in the teens judging from the clothing.

The kid with his hands on his hips and legs astride really helps make this photo – he is the only one who seems to be at the halfway point between the very young boys and the men. One can pretty much see him thinking that he too should have a beer in his hand. (However, as I look very closely, there are perhaps another one or two better dressed boys of tween age tucked in amongst the men.) There is a strange mix of those in working clothes and those in nicer shirts and even ties and jackets – some ties loosened against the heat of the day, relaxing a bit. Everyone is mixing however, and seem to be all of one mind – having a superb time. Not a hint of a woman or girl to be seen. This one is all men.

Many people have written about the demise of men’s hats and this photo tells quite a story through the hats. Every single man and boy is wearing one. The variety ranges from numerous bowlers on the suited men, a series of almost identical caps on the boys and then all sorts of well-worn broad brimmed hats on the men in work clothes. Everyone has pushed their brim back a bit for the photo. They are all photo conscious in a great way. And in some ways, this is why I collect these photos – to savor a moment of time in the past when everyone stopped for just a moment and said, “Look at us; we’re having a great time and we want to remember it.”

The Swimsuit Issue

 

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I stumbled over this souvenir photo postcard while searching for something else on eBay as occasionally (blissfully) happens. I love the frothy waves in the charmingly artificial background. Rough seas for Mr. Sailboat! Even that grimy box she is atop is sort of interesting to me. Our gal is both shy and bathing suit proud at the same time – maybe a tad of defiance thrown in? While certainly not risqué by contemporary standards, I get the feeling that posing in this bathing attire was a bit racy. The card is unsent, but written on the back is To Miss Sara Huffnagle and at the bottom Beulah Huffnagle. 

This swimming costume looks fairly new to me – although I guess no reason to think it was brand new. I like the little black shoes! In some ways they seem quite practical really – hot sand not mention the stones and hard shells in the water we have all stepped on would be avoided. I have written about my childhood and adolescence growing up at the beach on the Jersey shore, so for Pictorama readers it isn’t surprising that for three or so months of every year I lived in bathing suits.

As a more or less average woman with a fairly healthy body image, I have over my life thus far, gone the full gambit on my feelings about wearing a bathing suit. I remember being very young and a cousin giving me a very psychedelic bikini I adored. There was another two piece in a broad orange and white stripe I was very fond of before deciding in a subsequent year that I didn’t like two piece bathing suits. (I didn’t wear another until a few years ago when I bought one – a tankini which looks like a tank suit but has the freedom of two pieces. A grand invention.) There were, of course, reams of Speedo racing suits, unremarkable in design and fading with chlorine and sun over time, made for more serious swimming.

Please understand, I was never a serious swimmer. Unlike my sister who swam laps and joined racing teams, I swam for fun only – in the ocean riding waves, messing around a pool. I never looked at it as a form of exercise or discipline. Therefore, the swimsuits that live in memory were, while essentially practical, entirely about how they looked. I happen to have a photo of another favorite. I may have even had this one in more than one color combination.

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Fast forward to New York City post-college (a place profoundly devoid of bathing suit wearing opportunities) and what followed was literally decades of not wearing or even owning a bathing suit. Later, as business travel became more part of my routine, pools at hotels became available. For the first time I was confronted with an older body and the question of whether or not I wanted co-workers to see me in a bathing suit. The answer was, largely, no and I rarely if ever threw a suit in my bag. (I will save opining on the horror of shopping for a bathing suit in florescent lit dressing rooms of department stores, which tend to turn your New York City pallor an overall greenish hue, for a future rant. All the women already know it.)

More time passed. In the past decade I became a gym rat and gradually grew used to seeing myself reflected in multiple mirrors, in running shorts, tights, and other revealing clothing and in equally unflattering light. I slowly adjusted to seeing colleagues in the gym at 5:30 AM in my exercise gear. My reluctance to do so has faded as my devotion to working out increased and I wouldn’t hesitate to pull out my bathing suit now. Good thing too, because I understand there is a pool at the gym near my new office, and I am looking forward to swimming some laps. I will never be as good as a teenage Loren was, but I am looking forward to getting back in the pool and giving it a try.

 

 

Die Kleine Mutter

 

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This card turned up in my searching because Mary and her kid compatriots are dressing poor long-suffering kitty in this checked cloth regalia. Poor kit! Why do we love to dress them up so much? In fact, as I have discussed in Pictorama previously, there is something irresistible about it, at least for some of us. Wonder if Dr. Freud ever wrote about that!

This film was originally and more famously known under the original US release title Through the Back Door. Die kleine Mutter appears to be the German language version of this 1921 silent. Interesting that the original title makes reference an issue about class and money, and the German title focuses on a somewhat smarmy aspect of Mary caring for these war orphans she picks up along the way.

I don’t know the whole story, but I just watched the film and this scene does not appear. Therefore the scene was either specific to the German version, or it never made it into the film at all. Most likely the former I think. One does, however, see the kids and I think a tablecloth with this checked pattern fabric – but no kitty outfitting. Too bad! Kit belongs to a wealthy New York family – Mary’s mother who abandoned her as a small child and thinks she is dead. As I mentioned, the kids are some WWI war orphans Mary has gathered up as part of her retinue. The story is a bit complicated, but you are really in it for the visuals and the fun of it.

There is a cat theme running through the film, so I am not surprised that there was another cat scene shot. First in Mary’s childhood Belgium there is a fine looking white cat, short hair, wearing a large bow that gets into considerable trouble – a chase scene, and is responsible for a few plot points. The fluffy Persian has a smaller part in New York. In addition, there is a wonderful, huge Great Dane with her in the beginning of the film and a hot scene with a highly skilled mule who made us laugh out loud.

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Famous shot from Through the Back Door, not in my collection – I wish!

 

Some other highlights include an early appearance for a young Adolphe Menjou. Perhaps most notable though is the gorgeous photography by Charles Rosher. The first half of the film is comprised of one stunning landscape after another – much of my beloved diffusion lens used to create cunning little portraits and visual vignettes. The other highlight, again in the first half, is a series of capers with Mary playing her younger self, getting into all sorts of trouble. Clearly some influence on the Little Rascals, where some of the gags were clearly grabbed up later. The film is available on Youtube at Through the Back Door and I thank this eBay find for introducing me to it. I say there are worse ways for you to spend some time on this chilly Sunday in March!

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A scene grab off of Youtube posted on the internet

 

Musical Interlude

Pam’s Pictorama Post: It is a snowy sleety March day here at Deitch Studio and I have been rummaging around in the flat files, looking for some hidden gems in the line of sheet music, which I had a vague memory of tucking away. I was not disappointed as this splendid item jumped out at me. I know I purchased it on eBay,  but I have no memory of when or the specifics around it. I showed it in one of my first posts, Meow! Kitty Sing-a-long three years ago. Hotsy-totsy kitty illustrated here, doing his dance to a rollicking piano rag! I especially like his big tongue lolling out and the little lines of electric energy around him. That cat is taking off!

Strangely, if you search Youtube you pretty much find a pile of videos about cats on hot bricks. I didn’t watch any, despite the descriptions as hilarious. There were also several options for learning English, odd. Lastly there was just this one rendition of what we will assume this piece actually is and it does not really come across as my idea of rollicking, but you can make up your own mind if you wish here – Cat on Hot Bricks. Give a shout out if you can find a publication date and/or a better rendition!

Not surprisingly, the expression cat on hot bricks is akin to like a cat on a hot tin roof, meaning skittish, restless or anxious. Our friend Mr. Google also reveals an even earlier rendition of the expression, like a cat on a hot bake-stone (nope, doesn’t roll off the tongue, I agree) which evidently dates back to John Ray’s proverbs of 1678. Poor kitties! Cat on a hot tin roof is an expression I use frequently, but not without an unpleasant image coming to mind.

Ezra Read, the person who is credited with penning this ditty, lived from 1862 until 1922. He was born into “humble circumstances” to a master lock maker who had him and his brothers apprenticed to a blacksmith, which evidently was considered a step up. Ezra and his brothers, James, John Colley and Eber, also worked in the lock shop. However, their father found the money for piano lessons for John who in turn taught Ezra to play. John became an organist of note. Ezra married Beatrice Ida Hampton (known as Ida) who played piano and violin, and together they composed over 4000 pieces under a pile of pen names. Their biggest hit seems to be something called Cinderella Waltz (1910). How popular is questionable as I cannot find a recording of it despite the sheet music having sold millions of copies. (Although, in all fairness, this may be due to the popularity of Cinderella theme music in general.) Ezra and Ida led a somewhat itinerant life until Ida’s death in 1912 at age 45. He eventually settled in Derbyshire where he played for silent films at a local theater. At his death it is said that barrow loads of music were taken from his house. (We collectors all have visions that are a variation on this in our future!)

This fine piece is officially getting dusted off and, along with a few other gems, such as this one below featured in Felix – Here He is Again, will be framed up and brought to my new office at Jazz at Lincoln Center!

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Felix sheet music, my collection, Pams-Pictorama.com

 

Catting Around

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: While I am mostly known about the house as a rather superb sleeper (Kim says if it was a competitive event I would medal, maybe even take gold) recently I have been having some insomnia which for me takes the form of wakefulness from the hours of approximately 2:30-4:00 each night. However, unlike the gentlemen in this photo, I can’t blame it on the kitties. Generally speaking, I find them snoring gently at my feet when I wake. I occasionally nudge Blackie awake to have a conversation and some pets – I figure that keeping me company is one of their cat jobs. I guess he regrets not reading the fine print on his cat contract as he is usually anxious to get back to his Zzzz’s.

I had to look closely to find the black cats perched on and out the window in this odd scenario. I am not sure why the sign over the bed reads, Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast – referring perhaps to the kitty accompaniment responsible for their wakefulness? This reminds me of one of my favorite purchases and posts in recent years to be found at Kitty Sextette Singers – a kitty orchestra on a fence with a doggie audience. Noisy cats on a back fence make up an almost infinite string of cat cartoons, from Felix to Terry Tunes.

This photo postcard seems to belong to a bizarre sub-strata which I have tapped into lately of strange photo cards. It reminds me a bit of the recent photo and post Cat of the Sea? in that it appears to come from something other than just the origin of postcard photo. This one looks like it might be a still from a silent film, although that seems unlikely really. Perhaps a series of cards?

This card was mailed and has a postmark date of October 21, 1918. It appears to have been mailed in Scotland to Miss Smith, Seabourne, Broughty Ferry, Scotland. The pencil scrawled message on the back is a bit inane and what I can make out reads, Just a PC to let you know that I got your let allright (sic) Well I have not got a chance to write you but don’t send any word here till I write you as I am going to leave here and will send a PC at the end of the week. This is followed by a sign off and signature which goes over the message and is utterly illegible. All this to say, got your card, don’t write me – I’ll write you. Funny how rarely people write with pencil now, pens are so ubiquitously available, but they weren’t then. I am here to tell you that a message written with a blunt-tipped pencil more than 100 years ago is generally hard to read!

I have rarely, if ever, experienced first hand the kind of caterwauling this card pokes fun at – thankfully the stray cat population has been successfully reduced in a number of ways, at least in the places I have lived. However, just before I go to sleep most nights, Cookie and Blackie have a tear around our one room apartment, which generally ends in a fight and me yelling for Blackie to stop killing Cookie – right now! And then Blackie, feelings hurt and all wound up, goes and meows at the door to the apartment in a dejected fashion. I guess we have our own version of a late night kitty concerto.

 

A Page of Life

 

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This is more a doggie page than anything else, although I see a nice gray kitty at the middle bottom as well as one in the arms of the be-hatted woman, middle right. However, it is the feisty little Jack Russell terrier and the more thoughtful looking Pit Bull that grab you on this page. Like several other recent posts (Doggone and The Crimson) this came from the depths of that interesting drawer at the store I discovered on my birthday, Obscura Antiques and Oddities, and the resulting haul.

Several pages of collaged photos from the same source were in the drawer. I assume these were pasted onto the page at the time they were taken, but of course there is no way of knowing for certain. I regret now not buying them all and keeping the family together, but they were not inexpensive. I may need to go back and see if they are still there.

I have examined some early photo collage in Pictorama as in early posts Flapper Page – Photo Album cont. and Photo Collage – Blame It on the Blog! which deal with actual photos cut and pasted together like these, as opposed to the more numerous posts about collaged images designed into the photo process, like Cat Photo Collage. I think the person behind putting this together liked the border created by the paper used, which seems, according to the back of the page, to be illustrations and information on blast furnaces. You can see the tiny tip of the chimney of one, exhaust puffing out, in the top right corner, where the moirè pattern peering out from under the photos.

This page lacks the artistry and elaborate precision of the collage pages mentioned above, but it makes up for it by being a window into the sprightly life of what appears to be a fairly well-heeled family and their charming pets in the 1890’s. And despite the fact that each photo tends to suffer a bit from poor execution, somehow the effect of the overall page is evocative and interesting. The photos of the homes, which seem to be very different locations, show big, roomy houses – and I do especially like the photo of the three women from behind, their long, matching black skirts. It takes us off to a long ago, meandering summer, with family and beloved pets, and not a bad trip at all.

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Doggone

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Somehow it seems, if you are going to collect cats you are also occasionally going to end up with mice and dogs – if  you’re me anyway. This is a dog entry. While having that luxurious dig through that drawer of photos on my birthday (see also my recent post, The Crimson) I found this fascinating card. Done in the fashion of the cards of those posing with a giant stuffed or wooden cut-out of Felix, these people put their shingle out for photos with this large stuffed and mounted dog. This card was not only never postally used, but you can see in this additional photo the lovely cardboard frame it has existed in for years.

There is nothing on the back of this card and I assume it has lived its life in this holder, although it is a bit big for the card. Regardless, it has been kept nice all this time and perhaps the holder is responsible. You can’t really tell from this photo, but the cover is meant to be for mailing – there is a place for stamp and address on the back when it is closed. The stuffed dog appears to be wearing a muzzle – seems unnecessary – and his platform is on wheels for easy repositioning. A jolly boardwalk scene in progress (with a hard forced perspective) has been painted as the background.

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I like this dog, but hey, he’s no Felix the Cat and I wonder about this as an attraction. Is it a real stuffed dog? Local hero? I guess we won’t get the answer to that part, but this gentleman seems quite engaged. While this canine seems to be a St. Bernard, it reminds me of a lovely Tibetan mastiff I met on the street once. He was a rescue and belonged to a curator I knew. Moose is the most enormous dog I have ever met and he was very friendly. As I started petting him and talking to him he was ready to climb into my lap – all 150 lbs. of him! After meeting Moose, I really wanted a Tibetan mastiff – I just loved him and I adore big dogs. But, as Kim pointed out, Moose probably couldn’t even turn around in our apartment so I tucked that thought away for that future day when we are living in a house in the country somewhere.