Pull My Tail and Watch Me Jump!

Pam’s Pictorama Post: For someone who collects black cats a surprisingly small part of my collection is devoted to Halloween material, although certainly some has found its way in. (Former posts have shared Halloween items here, here and here for starters.)

I do love a good paper mache pumpkin or black cat lantern, and I can see a few more finding their way into the house. I remember the first time I saw the pumpkins was at a store in Cold Spring, New York and they had a load of them. The vintage decorations were amazing, but were way more than I could afford at the time and I was just agog. I don’t think I bought my first lantern until a few years ago, on Instagram, this nice cat one below.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

I don’t even remember where I purchased this little guy I am sharing today who is one of the few persistent Halloween decorations up in the house. I don’t think it was eBay, although I could be wrong. I think he may have come into my possession before eBay and probably at a flea market.

His tail, now gone, seems to have been a victim of persistent pulling over the years, and his back is marked with the residue of scotch taping. He has a bit of ancient string on his head where he hung from. I think the very first year I moved into this apartment I may have put him on the door, but now he resides comfortably on a shelf, tucked near yesterday’s feature coincidentally, my Oswald Rabbit. There are a few others scattered around him, a good cardboard black cat head or two.

A robustly decorated home near my Mom, taken on a recent run in NJ.

Jumping Kitty is a typical thin cardboard and I would say he might date back to the ’40’s or 50’s, at least in terms of design which may have continued to be produced over time. I have always liked his toothy smile and the slightly evil twinkle in his eyes. He shows us his claw paws and there is even an indication of fluffy fur. There is no factory mark on him, but I would guess he is a domestic product. For me he has a look of just the right period for Halloween decorations.

My childhood ran mostly to a slapdash sort of holiday decorating. We might carve the occasional pumpkin, there was a Christmas tree (artificial – Mom was against the killing of live trees), and there might have been this or that handed down in the family that came out at the holidays, but really Mom had three kids and a husband who traveled constantly for work, and she wasn’t devoting a lot of time or energy to it. We routinely carved pumpkins, dyed Easter eggs and made gingerbread cookies, more as activities to occupy us than any actual interest in the holidays.

Play the short video clip for this enormous moving black cat a block away from Mom in NJ.

I have a bit of an itch to decorate, but NY studio apartment living doesn’t afford many opportunities. I have let go of even putting up a small Christmas tree (mostly for the cats who like to claim it in a variety of ways, sitting under or climbing, eating things off of it, etc.) years ago as just too hard to negotiate in our space. Like my mom I guess I too don’t really have the time or patience.

Another spooky home in Fair Haven.

I thought I would be at my Mom’s house for Halloween this year and was looking forward to it until my schedule morphed. She lives in the sort of ideal suburban neighborhood, within walking distance of three schools, made up of medium-sized, well tended homes. A picture perfect for kids to trick or treat in. I would like to see what the costumes look like these days and would have enjoyed handing out treats.

This house, also on her block, was just the perfectly decorated autumn cottage I thought.

For those of you who follow my running journal on Instagram you know that it is full of cul de sacs and dead end streets where kids play unimpeded. The yards are a treat with seasonal decorations changing on cue. Those will morph briefly to Thanksgiving and of course large displays for Christmas. Maybe this will be the year to put up a tree again here in the apartment. I will let you Pictorama readers know.

Oswald

Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: A new friendship with a reader who is a fellow collector has lead to a cheerful volley of toy conversation via email recently which I have quite enjoyed. His collection runs broad and deep and some of the items he has shared photos of fascinate and entice! He recently shared photos of a few groups of rarified early character toys which were amazing. Among them a few examples of our friend Oswald rabbit which are from a different period from mine which turned my attention to cartoon rabbits today.

As you can see, my fellow is in very rough shape indeed. Many years ago I bought him on eBay where he was poorly posted and I acquired him for very little. I don’t generally purchase a lot of toys in a bad state as I don’t think I am the person to best figure out getting them repaired, but occasionally one comes over the transom and I cannot resist. (In the early years of Pictorama I wrote about visiting an elderly man who repaired toys on Lexington Avenue near Bloomingdales. That odd tale can be read here.)

He is my only example of this erstwhile character created by Walt Disney. As the story goes, Disney lost the rights to this his first popular character in a deal with Universal gone wrong. Disney limped off and made history creating Mickey Mouse and Oswald faded into obscurity

About 28 Oswald cartoons were made and over time disappeared from the public and most living memory. Several years ago a disk was issued with a number of the cartoons which are great. An example can be seen below.

An Oswald Rabbit cartoon via Youtube available at the time of publication.

My Oswald has his name and Universal Pictures emblazoned on his chest. I found a listing online that says he was made in 1930. He has a key in his back and would have wound up to walk side to side. The key in mine is long frozen in place and the mechanism seized up, but I’m sure he was quite jolly indeed. (Below is a fellow whose photo I found online who is clearly survived the years in better shape.) I love his little shoes complete with laces! If you look carefully you can see this is a slightly different version of Oswald with a larger nose and clothes made of flannel instead of cotton. (There is some writing on either side of his grin that doesn’t exist on mine as well.)

I think the overall shredding and wear on mine is beyond repair although my collector conversations have made me consider repairs on some of my toys, most notable a Kiko the Kangaroo who came to me in poor shape and has continued to lose ground over time. Kiko, a Terrytoons character, never enjoyed the widespread popularity of Oswald. He made his debut in 1936 with good ole Farmer Alfalfa and last only a year. With the help of my new toy correspondent I am in touch with someone in Canada who may be able to make some repairs and stabilize him. I would like to get him in better shape. I promise you a future post on him, the before and after, once complete.

A Kiko cartoon via Youtube at the time of publication.

Meanwhile, I promised a photo of Oswald to my new friend and so in taking him out for a turn today I thought I would share him to my Pictorama readers too, beat up although he is. My Oswald sits on a somewhat remote shelf where he is left largely in peace, spending his days with a Dean’s Rag Pluto and Flip the Frog. This volley of emails has me thinking rabbits however and I have long wanted an example of the Dean’s Rag version so stay tuned and see what time might turn up!

Tootsie

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: It’s a family photo day today. This photo of my father’s mother, Gertrude (Gertie or most frequently Tootsie) Butler, turned up in a folder where I must have tucked it when retrieving things from my mom’s house. This is not a photo that I remember being around the house or in any albums, which we had aplenty and looked at frequently. Both the age of the photo and her appearance makes me think it is fairly early, maybe the 1950’s. Her face is fuller than I remember it being for the brief time I knew her when I was a small child. It is sealed in a plastic cover and not marked. If I had to guess I would say it was a wallet photo carried by my father.

She always wore her hair in this style, done several times a week at a local salon. By the time I knew her it was of course also carefully dyed. I don’t remember any stray bits of gray. (What would she have made of my all gray hair I wonder?) She was small of stature, about five foot, and the hair gave her several inches on that. By the time I knew her she did not wear high heels, although she was always shod in beautiful shoes. I assume however that heels were in her past as she was always very fashionable.

My Grandma Butler was always impeccably dressed, her clothes purchased when she bought for the store I am told. I am unable to imagine her in trousers; it was always a dress, usually of a beautiful brocade fabric. (My mother said she once ventured into red velvet trousers, but my grandfather vetoed them.) The bit of fur on her collar in this photo reminds me that she was no stranger to fur and wore a long mink in winter.

Our Sunday meal always concluded with marble cake.

She worked (hard) in the family store six days a week on that, her one day off, she would cook a large meal for us. The menu had very little variation and was somewhat exotic and therefore suspect to my tiny tot taste. It was generally made up of a roasted chicken, her split pea vegetable soup (hers made with chicken stock, I intend to recreate a vegetarian version for a future post) or maybe matzoh ball soup, and often something like a noodle kugel. (I hated even the smell of the noodle kugel which for those of you who don’t know is an eggy, sweet noodle dish. Hers was the only I have ever encountered, but looking at it I don’t think I have changed my mind in subsequent decades.) Bread was either what they would call Jewish rye or a black bread. Dessert was almost always a marble cake, pound cake with a swirl of chocolate.

Noodle kugel with raisons. No idea why this doesn’t work for me.

I cannot imagine she went to the store (Butler Dry Goods in Westchester, NY) less well assembled than she was for those Sunday lunches. She consistently wore bright red lipstick and some sort of eye and brow liner. Tootsie wore earrings, always clips, as her ears were not pierced and, as the person who inherited much of her (almost entirely costume and massive collection of) jewelry she did not favor screwbacks.

According to my mother, Grandma Butler really ran the store and kept the books. Like my grandfather she was a Russian immigrant arriving here even younger than him, right after WWI. She came with her sisters, Jennie and Lily. Jennie was the oldest and my grandmother the youngest – their mother died in childbirth with my grandmother. There were two boys also somewhere in the middle, Moe and Saul. My grandmother had been raised by a wet nurse and did even not know her father when he came to pick her up with a new stepmother, and take her to the United States. Rosensweig was their maiden name. I don’t know what her father did, but that side of the family dealt first in junk and antiques and eventually art.

My mother was very fond of her and I believe the feeling was mutual, despite the fact that my green-eyed and freckled mother, was of an ethnic mix that did not include Eastern Europe or being Jewish, which caused some initial consternation.

It is a bit odd to me that her nickname was Tootsie. In retrospect the idea of calling this formidable woman Toots or Tootsie amazes me. As I child I wasn’t familiar with the nickname and the name had an odd gravitas in my young mind. Meanwhile, my sister and I were Lori and Pammy to her (and no one else) and my father Ellie – mom was already Betty so no change there. I cannot remember what she called my brother who was very young when she died, but I will gamble on Eddie.

I share her love of clothing, jewelry and most of all of antiques. My father often said she would have gotten a kick out of my collecting habits (which have grown exponentially even since he knew it). She haunted the auction houses and their house in Westchester was chock full of oriental rugs (huge ones that were meant for hotel lobbies), silver, tables, cabinets, couches and chairs. Some inherited remnants of the furniture are in my room in the New Jersey house, a tapestry rolled up in the room I work in, along with a black japanned bookcase. One of the immense carpets is also stored in an upstairs bedroom.

Gertie died from an infection as a result of a cataract operation – hard to believe now that it is a procedure done in a doctor’s office which requires a commitment of a few hours, but at the time required a hospital stay. She was relatively young, in her early seventies, and still very vital.

In general I resemble my mother’s side of the family more, but one day in my twenties I caught my father unawares sporting bright red lipstick and I guess for a moment looked just like her. At five feet nine inches and with my hair shorn short at the time I couldn’t see it, but it was a lovely compliment from him I have never forgotten.

It’s Back

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I’m realizing that one of the signs of being back in the office and our hall more often is my aching back. Immediately preceding lockdown in March of ’20 I was routinely seeing an acupuncturist to relieve the lower back pain which was climbing down my leg and I was attributing to long hours in concert hall seats, airplanes and office chairs.

Over time at home, with a lousy “temporary” office, the back pain grew worse until I finally analyzed my computer set up and chair, added an external keyboard and a lift to the monitor as well as a carefully chosen chair, which I purchased after much reading and consideration. In addition, instead of my weight lifting regime as my only exercise, I began running and that made a dramatic difference too.

Cookie taking advantage of a light warmed space on my home desk.

My father’s back pain was a part of family life so I am no stranger to the concept. Dad was about 6’4″ and his career as a news cameraman meant he spent hours with heavy equipment on his shoulder (one ending up considerably lower than the other later in life) and straining his back. In addition, he drove for hours on end for domestic stories, and of course airplane travel when they went that route wasn’t much kinder. As a result my father’s mercurial back would go out reaching for a salt shaker at dinner or even sneezing, leaving him in bed or on one dreadful occasion, on the bedroom floor.

According to Blackie, the home desk is good for napping too.

There was the summer he was on the rigging of a tall ship in Newport for work (perhaps in 1976 as part of the Bicentennial) when his back went out. It was evidently a painful and prolonged trip getting both him and his equipment down in one piece. His colleagues then packed him in a car with pillows all around to enable him to drive the straight five hours or so back home in New Jersey. He spent the rest of the summer recovering, mostly in an ancient rocker which now sits in my apartment. At the time it seemed like the longest period he had ever been home with us which was probably true.

So I am no stranger to back pain, although I suppose if it came right down to it mine is a bit different than his which seemed to have been linked to discs that were being crushed by weight slowly over time. I have touched on my own psoriatic arthritis and exercise (a post can be found here) and at least some of my back pain is attributable to the inexorable advance of that disease, which expressed itself first in my lower back. And a recent hiccup with my longstanding meds (no one needs to hear an insurance company rant from me) has also exacerbated the problem again.

Cookie on the old desk chair which was killing my back. She still enjoys it however.

But one of the culprits is a byproduct of our return to the office (hybrid, three days a week) and sitting in lousy chairs. I realize now that my desk set up there is also a bit jerry-rigged, the chair (even with a back cushion added) is less than desirable and my feet at an odd angle. Add to that conference room chairs which seem to be down a notch from the one in my office and we have the recipe for worsening if not instigating said back pain. A long Board meeting on Zoom from there on Wednesday seems to have pushed me over the edge this week. Ironically now the home office is the better set up.

There’s always a certain amount of fighting over the new desk chair, regardless of whether I am in it or not…

I have always felt that the weird part of back pain is that there is a subconscious preference for maintaining the postures that in reality make it worse and perhaps helped to cause it. Back pain does not make me want to be at a standing desk for example. It makes me want to sit on my couch or curl up on the bed – neither exactly great for back pain. It makes me want to not move, when exercise and movement is the best thing to alleviate it.

So I will start to fight back today. It is a sunny crisp fall morning and I will be out for a run shortly and perhaps that and stretching before and after will start me on the path to recovery. (The stiffness and pain has dampened my desire to run this week, although I was out on Monday.) Meanwhile, I will see what I can do about improving my work office with some implements to arrange me in a better position. Not much I can do about the conference room or concert hall seats, but I will hope that this combined with a resolution around my meds and that issue, will tip the scales back in my favor. I will let you know.

Felix Sewn Up?

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This odd item came to me via a collector and reader who sold me a cache of items recently. Neither of us knows exactly what this is or how it worked, but the piece on the end appears to be a pin cushion. Therefore I think it was some sort of sewing implement which probably held a spool of thread on the other side.

Felix himself has leather ears. There are small holes on each side which I assume held spindly arms. In addition there are tiny metal loops below those holes which held something too. I have guessed this and that, but really don’t know what those may have been for. The other logical piece I can think of would be something to help you thread a needle (I use those gizmos on the rare occasions I sew a button, and did even before my eyes became middle aged), but no idea how that would have worked. As I contemplate it, I cannot vouch for the practicality of using it, but as a non-sewer it is hard for me to say.

This item is made of wood and has no makers mark, but to me it looks commercially made. It is without question old. I can cheerfully attest to never having seen anything like it despite looking at (literally) thousands of Felix items over time. A dedicated search did not turn up anything. Now that I own it perhaps they will start to show up – that happens sometimes.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

As a companion piece I offer an items one sees often, a Felix yarn winder that wandered into the house about a year ago. I see these frequently and although the Felix head seems a bit off model it does bear an official Pathe emblem in the middle. (I believe this came to me via my friends in Texas @curiositiesantique and a shout out to them!) I assume that wool winding on such an item is somehow better than just using it as it comes in those long lumpy skeins. Felix Keeps on Knitting we are informed.

Although I have written about sewing (I have a small collection of old needle packages and I wrote about them here and here) once or twice before I don’t seem to have documented my generally ham handedness for sewing. My mother had a sewing machine, a very substantial and insanely heavy, 1960’s table model, which I swear I never saw her use. (It seems that my sewing disability was passed to me via my mother who, to my knowledge, has sewn nary a button that I can remember.) My sister Loren took it over and produced some very credible items, although in somewhat typical fashion she wandered away from it once conquered.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

I personally never met a bobbin that I didn’t snarl and often destroy which was hard on me in the Home Ec of my junior high days. (I’m assuming Home Economics is one of those things that disappeared or at least has been renamed over time. It sounded dated even to my young 1970’s ears. Still, as I consider this I would encourage everyone to be taught the basics of cooking, rudimentary nutrition and maybe how to sew on a button. Useful life skills.) I mean, me and ten minutes trying to fill one of those things and it was a solid web of disaster. Whole machines were out of commission after me; amazing how fast it could all go wrong. I was also known to freakishly break a needle for landing directly on a pin.

I can only volunteer that I was only marginally better in Shop class which I migrated to once I had the opportunity, hoping to get away from the world of sewing machines. It’s amazing that I paint, draw, cook and lead a generally useful life despite all this. The attempts to teach me these allied skills having failed miserably.

I did do a bit of hand sewing while still very young. I achieved adequately well on cross stitch samplers, but tended toward large looping and uneven stitches for actual sewing. Despite multiple efforts and instructors knitting utterly confuses me and my brain refuses to accept whatever pattern is required to turn yarn into sweaters and scarves. I have never sewn a hem.

In college a roommate taught me how to sew a button on properly and I remain in her debt as it is a skill called for on a regular basis really. I don’t know what bit of hand-eye coordination so eludes me, but I have learned to accept it much as I accept my brown eyes and prematurely gray hair, and over time I have made the acquaintance of a good tailor.

Love’s Dream – a Listening Post

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This sheet music wandered into my collection recently via an eBay seller in Tasmania! I believe it is British in origin, but does have a Sydney, Australia copyright within. The photo on the front sports the Porter & Higgenbotham’s Danse Band, all six gents lined up in their rooty tooty suits with their hands in pockets, in order of size, instruments lined up.

Of course it has come to me because these fellows were cool enough to have a nice Felix, fully credited, on the front of their drum. An excellent indication for any orchestra and I would have followed them for that alone back in the day.

This sheet music also included are the little known tunes, All I Want is a Stay-at-Home Girl, The Rose of Flanders and a page of Dream House on the back as an advertisement. For better or worse I cannot easily find samples for your listening pleasure. Tasma Ockenden (?) has written his or her name on the top and it was stamped by Cawthornes Ltd. Music Warehouse.

I went searching for a version of Love’s Dream to share and came up with the one below. Give it a listen and let me know what you think. Hang in there for it to start to swing!

Liebestraume or Love’s Dream on Youtube available at the time of posting.

This recording is sort of in the sweet spot of my musical inclination left to my own devices, although I definitely like a good vocal too. Working for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra has broaden my musical jazz tastes a bit as well of course.

I like to say that when Phil Schaap (music historian, producer and DJ extraordinaire) was alive he helped bring me into the forties, the latter part of the Swing era, as I used to say my musical inclination ended in 1939, although Bebop and its kissin’ cousins still elude me. (I have written about the start of this musical journey in a post about the wonderful Rich Conaty which can be found here.) But of course now I listen to the orchestra’s new compositions, some of them beloved to me, and arrangements and am reminded that indeed, all jazz is alive and modern.

I am partial to Wynton Marsalis’s Swing Symphony, (you can listen and download here) and I run to it frequently. I often think that when I hear it next in a concert hall I won’t be able to stay in my seat so strong the inclination will be to increase speed on what tends to be the last third of my run.

Recently I wrote about our season opening (here), a fall ritual I was viscerally pleased to return to this year for the first time since 2019. Wynton’s Shanghai Suite was on the bill and it sent me back to thinking about my early trip to that city for work, (I wrote about that rocky and wild trip here), but also how different it feels more than five years later. I also considered how being back to a program of listening to live music has returned me to my endeavor of learning to listen more actively. I am privileged to live in a world of rehearsals, concerts and sets at our jazz club. I return to it with ears still responding anew to live performance.

My pandemic music listening, aside from my job and what I listened to online for it, revolved largely around what I programmed for my runs once I started running in the November of ’20. Working in one room with my husband Kim at my side (happy 22nd anniversary Kim!) didn’t allow for a lot of music playing. My chatter on the phone was distracting enough for him poor man! Occasionally I would play some early jazz or dance band music when I needed serious mood enhancing, but mostly I would curl up on the couch and home renovation television, like eating junk food, to relieve stress.

Beethoven String Quartet Op. 135 in F Major, on Youtube at the time of posting.

Oddly, I mostly do not like jazz when I run however. Although I went through a long Billie Holiday phase, I generally listen to a sloppy compendium of classical and rock and roll from my childhood. (Yes, some Bruce Springsteen in there – cannot take the Jersey entirely out of the girl I guess.) This fall it has turned to Beethoven and there is something just right about the symphonies for the yellowing light of an east coast fall, temperatures rising and falling the way they do about now. Yesterday at my request Wynton suggested a Beethoven string quartet, opus 135, for my run which is slated for today. I am looking forward to it and will let you know how that goes.

Onward and Upward

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I purchased this pin back in August and it arrived during an especially hectic period while I was traveling and Blackie was in the kitty hospital. (He is slowly returning to his handsome, suave, feline self. I have promised him I will not post any photos of him until he is back to his full glory however.) I have written about my occasional dysmorphia when buying online – slightly enormous and smaller than anticipated toys show up all the time. (A post addressing that can be found here.) There is, for example, a huge wax cloth Uncle Walt doll on our shelf that I have not found a proper spot for yet. (Future post, I assure you.) Most famously, there is a beloved Mickey Mouse by Dean’s Rag that was a store display which is the size of a six year old in our bedroom. I have taken to measuring more often, which lead to my not buying a rather splendid Felix decorated drum that came my way. Alas, life in a small apartment.

I had my heart set on this sterling silver Victorian arrow as soon as I saw it posted in a coming attraction reel with some other items posted by one of my go-to’s, @marsh.and.meadow (Heather, one of these days I will be in Ohio with the band and say hello!) and I set my cap for it. I was admittedly rushed when it came up for sale. All this to say, I had not really stopped to consider that it’s three and a half inches is about an inch longer than expected. But it is a solidly beautiful item and frankly, it has sat on my desk where I have just delighted in it over recent weeks.

We all want to be Excellent! Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Although it is silver there is something vaguely more industrial looking about it, like steel. It is wonderfully solid looking. It was clearly meant for a scarf, shawl, hat or bulky knit sweater. While I had originally envisioned securing it, pointing upward of course, to the lapel of a blazer it is too thick for that and I am now thinking winter coat or hat – which assumes I will leave recent years of nothing but an outer attire of an old down storm coat and watch cap behind and resume wearing a nicer wool coat and with some attitude. (This also assumes that the moth farm I have inadvertently cultivated has left me a shred of wool to wear.)

Back of the pin. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

There are certain symbols that appeal repeatedly to me in jewelry. Although my recent fascination with insects confounds me somewhat (posts on those can be found here and here), I have collected a few old school medals which provide unabashed encouragement – Improvement! Excellence! – and a post on those can be found here. I like the idea of a sly advertisement or hopefulness, a horseshoe perhaps, and a bit of encouragement for myself to be found in my pins.

A favorite insect pin, also coincidentally from Marsh.and.Meadow.

I am far from the first person to wander down this path and for example it has been done much more intelligently by the likes of Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, as she famously signaled her diplomatic intentions with her pins. I like arrows and have been looking for one for awhile. Somewhere I have a nice rhinestone one I acquired all the way back in high school, but I cannot find it and as a friend of Kim’s says, if you can’t find it you don’t own it. (It has become a mantra in this house!) I have made a few attempts to purchase pins that depict Haley’s Comet (yes, those are a thing) which is more like an arrow shooting out of a star.

While piercing is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about arrow, the symbolism of the arrow goes beyond being a badass. They represent triumph over struggle, strength and perseverance. And of course optimism, upward, let’s go this way. I think it is always good to acknowledge triumph over struggles, both large and small, and also a good reminder to be pointed on the path upward and ahead.

Love From Aunt Lisa

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This cyanotype postcard caught my eye the other day. I have a special soft spot for cats sporting a mustache and it has given me an excuse for a very all #Caturday sort of Pictorama post today. My cat Otto was my only mustachioed cat and had a perfect little Chaplin (Hitler?) mustache on her tuxedo face. Our Cookie, below, has a sloppy half one which is more like a painted smile on one side. She is not a symmetrical cat.

Cookie in her asymmetrical glory.

The Japanese, a cat loving culture as a whole, seem to have a special yen for white cats with black mustaches, which do look remarkably like early Japanese prints. Instagram is full of them. Some are rescues with one ear clipped while others look quite posh. For some reason they look like the cat equivalent of used car salesmen to me. I cannot seem to find any particular reason why the Japanese are especially fond of the look, but I do love finding them in my cat filled feed. (My Instagram feed is an almost perfect cat, antique and jewelry filled delight. I fight attempts of the algorithm to lead me astray.)

Nemurimushi is a favorite I follow.

In the postcard kitty is perched in a wheel barrel which appears to be homemade from an old half barrel. Although this is a very fluffy feline and I would say there are a few years on this kit too, living an active farm life. For me there is just something wonderful about how this card comes together, sideways writing and all however.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Somewhat annoyingly Aunt Lisa completely ignores the presence of Mr. or Ms. Kitty on this card as she writes a rather mundane note, albeit in a lovely if occasionally illegible hand. To the best of my reading ability it appears to say, Dear Willie, Tell your brother that I had a personal…with a Lundberg today and he assured me that all would be satisfactory concerning the rubber heel. Hoping that…and is interesting and that papa’s cold is better. Love from Aunt Lisa. It was mailed on September 1, 1906 at 2:00 PM from Seattle, Washington to Master Willie Bailey, Port Townsend, Washington, Buf 244. The one cent stamp has gone missing. Alas, we are never to know kit’s name or any info.

Although cyanotypes appeal to me, they do not make up a significant portion of my collection. I have written once or twice about them (posts can be found here and here) and I have never had a chance to experiment with making them, although I gather that as early process photography goes they are pretty simple. (Iron compounds appear to be the active metal.) They were an inexpensive method of photography, invented in 1842 according to the internet, so the method was old hat by the time this one was produced in 1906.

Happy Hooligan from the 2014 post of the same name. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

I will close with a non-cat note that there is a gem of a little book I stumbled on years ago called Ipswich Days which is the reproduction of 41 cyanotypes made by Arthur Wesley Dow in 1899 and which I mentioned in one of the earlier posts. It is available inexpensively on Amazon (here at time of posting) and is an amazing reproduction of a slice of life and stroll through a small waterfront town at the time. Enjoy!

Felix Keeps on Walking

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I was thinking this morning that Pictorama is seeming a tad Felix deficient so I will swell the Felix quotient with two “walkers” that are currently in residence here. One I bought earlier this year from my antiques friends down in Texas (@curiositiesantiques) and the other which just wandered into the apartment from a Pictorama reader who contacted me and sold a few items to me recently, others to appear in future posts. So if you are inclined, settle in for a bit of contemplation on Felix and his favored mode of locomotion.

Youtube video of the cartoon, available at the time of publication. Perhaps the origin of the phrase.

Felix and his walk have always been a matter of some interest. His trademark hands behind the back walk as he thinks and dreams up tricks is a significant aspect of his devilish charm. It has been celebrated in song and film (the very funny lyrics to Felix Kept on Walking can be found here, and an early post I wrote on some of my cat sheet music including this one can be found here), but also graces everything from dishes to postcards. It was used for advertising and sometimes took on a more adult meaning – usually involving an enticing girl cat and sometimes batches of kittens.

Felix Keep on Walking plate, Pams-Pictorama.com

I share two recordings of the tune which were available at the time of publication. The Savoy Havana Band does a jolly instrumental illustrated with great photos, below. While a rendition with the lyrics sung by Clarkson Rose can be found on Youtube here.

Meanwhile, I found an interesting essay which discusses the dialogue between Buster Keaton and Felix from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (which can be found here) noting that Keaton’s film Go West could have been inspired by a Felix cartoon a year earlier, Felix Goes West, and Keaton pays that off with a bit of the Felix walk while contemplating his situation.

The walker from Texas is a somewhat more available model and mine is missing the stick with which to animate it. This one is a simple toy and a stick would have affixed to it for a child to push it forward. There are no indications of where the stick attached and no evidence that this fellow ever had arms. His feet are the only bits animated, head and tail do not move. I like his simple stenciled face – and there are two mysterious purposeful sort of holes in his eye which I cannot image what they were for. His silhouette is a bit bottom heavy rotund. He is made of a light balsa type wood.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

A very similar item is for sale on eBay with the stick in place and as far as I can tell there is a space between back of head and tail where it would have gone. The item on eBay has a date of September 8, 1924 scribbled on the back. I would have thought this was a bit later myself. I think these days we might be a tad concerned about toys for small children that are animated with large sticks out of the back, but as I do not have any small children I cannot say if this is a fact.

The more recent acquisition is by far the more substantial of the two toys, made from thick wood and with a hefty roller and even the stick is a more finished item with a handle making it seem like it is less likely to poke an eye out. This Felix animates with arm movement and he seems to have had a moving tail at one time, there is a slot for it. One arm on mine still moves but the other is disengaged – it would be easy enough to reattach with a tiny nail although I don’t think I am that person. Nonetheless, this fellow does indeed keep on walking.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Opening

Pam’s Pictorama Post: As most of our readers know, I work for a well known performing arts organization and you may remember that last year I missed our opening weekend, pushed late into November to avoid inevitably Covid related early fall issues. My mom landed in the hospital and needing to be with her trumped even our long-awaited post pandemic opening. So for me, although I attended concerts later in the season last year, this was my first opening weekend since the fall of 2019. While it lacked the heavy emotion of last year, last night was more than suitably festive and, despite masks still dotting our landscape, came close to feeling like at least the return to a new normal. There was a real joy in the room.

For me it also marked the launching of many colleagues who joined the organization recently and wonderful to see them each fully assume their new roles. (I have written some about the interview process and the overall state of the office here and here.) Like the slow forward movement of a mighty ship, the gears slowly turned and it was something close to full speed ahead by the end of the evening. For my folks the weeks and months of getting to know the organization and about our supporters was like the musicians and their hours or practice and rehearsal.

Birthday cake for mom earlier this week. I started the week working from New Jersey so I could be there for a small, but festive birthday celebration. Being able to work from there periodically is a post-pandemic blessing.

An evening like this is marked with a certain expected stress and mishap as is the nature of our business. Tickets gone missing (and a supply chain issue with ticket stock having made us crazy), introductions needing to be organized and executed, catering issues. (Last night a vegan sandwich made with beets appeared – which oddly looked remarkably like corn beef. They were enormous – and well, made with beets. Ultimately we had them quartered which made them more approachable and in the end they were surprisingly good.)

I was endlessly pleased to see my folks embrace their new roles, talking with guests, moving the reception along seamlessly. Our fundraising work bounces back and forth between the administrative and in person, a delicate dance really between the two. It is a a miracle when it all meshes into a successful evening like last night and fascinating to see the new people embrace their roles, each in a different and singular way. The trained singer who came to us to be back in this milieu taking obvious pleasure in the music and in meeting the musicians, the talented and personable young man who has taken a flyer on working for an arts organization for a totally different experience finding his voice. Our events manager fully in charge and in his glory after a few spring trail runs.

Mixed in of course remains a core group of hard working and great long-standing colleagues who have stayed through it all and helped introduce the new people to their roles while continuing to keep things afloat, as we have for months and really years now. It was a moment to glimpse the future and how a new team will work together and for all the bumpy starts see how the road ahead will shape up. It is just the start of the season, but I return with a new sense of swing to my step.