Catching the Post

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This postcard was waiting for me when I got back from New Jersey last night. I bought it on Etsy from a dealer in Britain and it took so long to get here that I had forgotten about it! It’s a very British card with that red mailbox, a suggestion of a lamp post, and of course some fog. This black cat who has slipped on his bum has dropped a cigarette in the process. He’s a great pose – all akimbo – tail like a third leg, his pink tongued mouth agape.

Verso of the card. Maybe you can decode this better than I have?

The card was mailed and is postmarked Hastings, January 6, 1922, sent in the evening mail 101 years ago. It was sent to Miss Lulu Crosse, 158 Castle Hill, Reading Berks. To the extent I can read it, it says, I am so sorry not to have acknowledged your pretty calendar dear Lulu but have only just found it in our drawers where all our presents were put so it must have slipped out of the parcel I thought you might like this as it slightly resembles John. Such a lovely dog. With love, L.S. Dog?

As it happens I had the rare (and suburban) opportunity to hand the postman a bill that needed mailing yesterday as I had just finished putting it together when he arrived to drop a parcel and a bunch of flyers in the box affixed to the front of the house there. Could you take this too? I call that service!

Sunrise run at Mom’s this week.

I am learning that some of mom’s bills (taxes and sewer thus far) come with little coupon tabs that need to be included in the payment back. For some reason these local town affiliates have resisted auto withdrawal and in the case of the taxes you have a sheet of these dated tabs you must remember to pull off on a not-quite-quarterly schedule and pay. This is, in my opinion, a bit maddening and fraught with potential disaster as I take over helping mom with these tasks.

The main drag in Red Bank. I think there’s a post office in the other direction that I could check out.

The postman visit was especially good timing as I had recently discovered that the post office closest to mom within walking (running) distance is closed for what appears to be an indefinite time as someone drove through the front of it. Housed in a nondescript little shopping center it’s hard to see why this occurred – weirdly accelerating forward? Misjudging the front of the parking space? On the phone? It was the middle of the day – as it happens a friend was there shortly after.

In addition to the post office, the shopping center houses an A&P, a liquor store, and a really splendid homemade ice cream emporium that I have already made numerous visits to with my friend Suzanne. There is a large Dunkin’ Donuts and although we have nothing against donuts, instead we tsk tsk over the memory that a splendid and much beloved stationary store made its home there for many decades and was pushed out and so we don’t stop there.

Meanwhile, there is a nice looking sort of glorified diner, but I haven’t had reason to eat there yet because in an ajoining parking lot is my favorite lunch place, Tavolo Pronto, the home of the great sandwich, among other things, so I come often to this enclave when in Jersey. If I so inclined I can go to the bank, have a massage or get my nails done there as well. Really many essentials of my local NJ life are housed there or nearby including Mexican, Chinese and Japanese take-out or restaurants – a short run or medium walk from mom’s house.

Sickles the farm market, also sells flowers and I snapped this there the other day.

It would seem I won’t be using that post office for an indefinite period of time – a couple of months have already gone by. I am impatient and just think, Fix it already! How hard can that be? Meanwhile, there is another post office more or less equidistant in the town of Little Silver – oddly mom lives at the nexus of four towns, Rumson, Fair Haven, Red Bank and Little Silver – I can hit all four easily in an average run.

Waitress at Edie’s – a favorite watering hole that is a bit hard to get to or park at.

However that post office requires transversing several obscenely busy roads and I don’t generally don’t run on them. This keeps me from frequent visits to Edie’s Luncheonette (which I wrote about recently here) and our local farmer’s market and gourmet shop, Sickles, on foot. And although the idea of running through the Sickles farm property temps me, dealing with these busy streets does not. Perhaps I should consider the Red Bank post office as I run there periodically as well.

Sometimes, if I know I will be back in Manhattan soon, it is easier to tuck the mail in my purse and bring it home, to a city where mailboxes and post offices within walking distance abound.

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.

Has Anybody Seen My Cat

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I’ve seen this sheet music come and go and I finally grabbed it up. It occasionally turns up in my cat searches and I finally landed on this copy earlier this week. There’s another version with an equally good cover, but very different cover which I will still snatch up given the opportunity.

Pictured on the front between these two great black cats is, I assume, Emma Carus. Emma was a vaudeville performer who was the face and voice for putting this song over. According to the American Vaudeville Museum site (University of Arizona, here) although she was pleasing looking, she generally opened her act with the line, I’m not pretty but I’m good to my parents. However, her songs were incredibly popular and she sold reams of sheet music. She hit the big time as a performer in 1900 so when this sheet music (copyright 1922, but more about that in a moment) she was a well established star and money maker.

This Black Cat Hosiery Cat of the same period at seems to be a kissin’ cousin of the ones on the sheet music.

Emma gets the top credit, followed by Dan Blanco (of whom I find no real tracks) and then J. Walter Leopold. I am not sure I see real evidence of her actual song writing as I read her bio. J. Walter Leopold has numerous song credits, but was also a performer and he and Carus teamed up in 1918 and worked vaudeville until the end of that particular line. He drifts to radio and then manages some bands. She lived hard starting in her teems, has two failed marriages before she is 25, and dies in failing health at 48.

Emma Carus in all her glory in an undated photo, on Ziegfieldfolliesgirls.com

Sadly I cannot find a recording of her singing this song, nor can I find a recording of her singing at all.

While credit is given as above on the front of this sheet music, the internet reveals that the original song was song was British and was written and composed by TW Connor in 1899 for George Beauchamp – probably as a sequel to an earlier successful song Puss, Puss Puss (1897). A 1901 recording of the song can be found here with the slightly different name of Has Anybody Seen Our Cat, but virtually the same lyrics. There are recorded versions going back to 1897 under this name so I don’t know how to make that jibe with the claim of the 1899 authorship above – was it acquired and reacquired multiple times?

The copyright page tells us that Dan Blanco acquired the rights in 1916 and they were transferred to Emma Carus in 1922. So maybe Dan’s only claim to fame is acquiring these rights and selling them.

Children’s Book which claims to have roots in one of the versions of this song.

The song goes on to inspire a Tex Ritter tune, Has Anyone Seen My Kitty, (listen to it here) and eventually a recent children book, Anybody Seen Our Cat by Kenneth Griffin, illustrated by Brandon Weiner.

Below are the lyrics which bear their British roots and age, but produce a chuckle. Enjoy!

I'm upset now; let me tell you why,
Our old tom cat has been and done a guy (run away)
My old gal declares that it's a sign
Somebody's number's up and two to one it's mine
I've been wondering why I am to blame
For sneaking the bacon and the brawn
And the young man lodger's two-eyed steaks (bloater)
When they're missing on a Sunday morn.

Chorus: Has anybody seen our cat?
Has anybody seen our cat?
He's got a bit of black on the end of his tail
And the skin's all off where he's been fighting
Last Sunday morning we missed him from the mat
Puss! Puss! Puss! Meat! Meat! Meat!
Has anybody seen our cat?

How we loved that cat nobody knows
Put butter on his feet and pepper on his nose
When he caught cold gave myself a job
When the toothache troubled him so bad
And I found little Tommy couldn't eat
I tied up his face, put baccy in his ear
And got another cat to chew his meat.

Chorus:

I never thought he'd leave his happy home
Though after the gals he often used to roam
I've sent tripe hounds out upon his track
I'm doing everything to try and get him back
Got two cods heads stuck up on a pole
And nailed up a kipper on the door
And written underneath it ‘Welcome home'
And a promise not to kick him any more.

Chorus:

Match

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I have a strange relationship to matches. I tend to burn myself on lighters and cardboard matches often fail me. I would have made a very lousy smoker – or perhaps conversely my skills would have improved over time. It seems unlikely at this age that we will ever know. Perhaps it comes of being a well behaved child who accepted her parental advice not to play with matches – I didn’t and as a result I never really got the hang of using them.

Among other things, living with a gas stove means the occasional lighting of a pilot light and at some point I invested in a box of wooden matches for this and other fire lighting jobs. The tiny wooden sticks have a timeless quality. As you strike one you have the comfort of knowing you could easily have done exactly the same 100 years ago.

Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

This nifty black cat stands by a pot which I believe was designed to hold the spent matches more than those awaiting use, although I guess you could have gone either way. It entered Deitch Studio earlier this week from Great Britain. I was in East Hampton for work on Fourth of July weekend when I noticed it in an idle IG scroll of a jewelry account I frequent, @therubyfoxes. I was in the middle of too much to execute the purchase and asked Mia to hold it for me and I was pleased to buy it later – and even happier with it when it arrived.

Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

It shows pleasant signs of some wear from years of use and probably sitting near a stove. I would describe it as being made of pot metal. Meanwhile, it’s a fang-y black cat if you look carefully, exclaiming for attention, mouth open. He or she sports a yellow bow around the neck. Kitty’s back is arched, although not really threatening, and tail is looped over on his or her back.

In a way it would be nice if this could sit in my kitchen, but there is no space in that crammed corner for such an item to be displayed effectively. Instead it joins the cat congregation on the shelves in the living room, matchless, although perhaps eventually it could find a place on my desk and graduate to paperclips instead. Either way he’s another great black cat find.

On Stage

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Folks in early cat costumes is a sub-genre of the holdings here at the Pam’s Pictorama photo library. (Wow – I just upgraded my shoe boxes to a library.) I have long felt that there is a vintage Felix costume out there that will really scratch that particular itch of mine and actually owning such an item notwithstanding, I am always pleased to own the image and search for those with some vigor. (A few other Felix/cat costume posts can be found here and here.)

While I have to date resisted purchasing garments such as costumes given the storage restrictions of my abode, I have however come woefully close on the purchase of a few truly wild and wonderfully early Felix masks on occasion, but have sadly come up empty handed. Of course I am still on the prowl and I am also sure for the right costume I would make room here somehow, not to mention a place of pride for some extraordinary probably somewhat decaying and terrifying mask. (Kim, bless him, is ever indulgent and didn’t even flinch with I was considering a large drum with Felix painted on it that would have had to more or less be hung from the ceiling.)

Kim in a Felix hat/mask which I, very sadly, do not own! This taken in SF in September, 2015.

On the back of the photo postcard, which was never sent but was pasted into an album, Bethel School Interior is written in penciled script. The seller had the card listed as, from The Black Cat Society Play in Bethel, PA Berks Co. Berks County is evidently in Hershey, Pennsylvania, which in addition to being the dreamland of chocolate production (the name evokes a childhood vision of a town constructed entirely of Hershey bars that I have never quite fully eliminated from my adult brain), is also said to be a great flea market area as well. Sadly I have never had the chance to explore this place of glory on either level so for now it continues to live in imagination on both counts.

While I might have hoped the photographer would have gotten closer to these kiddies in the kitty costumes, the wider shot gives us a look at those in the audience which gives us something of a sense of period. I have no idea what the Black Cat Society of Bethel was (or is?) as the popularity of black cats in Pennsylvania buries that search in an avalanche of cat adoption offerings. Were there black cat plays every year with cat costume clad kids?

Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

Our six kitties are lined up over a bit of paper facade “brick” indicated below them – like they are on a fence? The set is an interior – lamps, drapes on windows and a striped rug. There is a flowered curtain to one side, which might be more about obscuring a backstage area than a curtain that would draw across – I do not see an indication of a rope. The whole affair seems to be on a wooden stage raised off the floor by sturdy wooden legs below, raising them up and making it more official feeling.

Paw hands of our players are up in a gesture a bit more canine than cat. Each of our kids is in a suit of shiny black with a hood sporting ears and a tail – some tails are perkier than others and some wear their suits sportier and with more éclat. The line up graduates to the tallest participant in the middle and down again. The one second to the end on (our) left seems to embody the role best for me, clearly a future performer there.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection

Our broad perspective of the room also gives an indication of the covered wall of what appears to be a basketball court behind and the slightest indication of what I think is the bottom portion of an American flag hovering over the peering over the proceedings. The audience is seated in some sort of pew-like connected chairs. The one kid looks back at the camera, jaunty angle to his hat. #4 is written at the bottom and it is too bad if 1-3 are lost now.

I was an enthusiastic participant in junior theatricals as a tot and I would have been in heaven to be on this stage for my turn, suited up in cat garb.

Black Cat Fiesta

Pam’s Pictorama Post: We’re speeding down October’s path on a less than 24 hour countdown to another Halloween. It is a truly dark and stormy morning as I write this and I do hope it clears sufficiently for the activities of tomorrow for the local little ones – the holiday seems challenged enough in its Covid incarnation this year. Here at Pictorama I am sharing a few additional howlin’ Halloween bits I collected over the last few months in my search for all things early 20th century black cat related. Today’s items are from my go-to girl for Halloween items (and some other interesting bits) who hails from the Midwest, @missmollystlantiques, aka Molly Simms.

I have written recently about how Miss Molly has helped me achieve some of my early Halloween collecting goals. (One of those posts can be found here.) These little items today are some icing on the collecting cake and a reminder that one of the nice things about holiday decorations is that they were used and often lovingly stored each year, making for a great survival rate.

Dennison’s Bogie Book from the teens. Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

I can only say I wish the Dennison’s Black Cat streamer was sufficiently sturdy to put up in the apartment. They are very jolly and I can imagine them decorating the space above our bookcases nicely. (Perhaps I could press them in plexi? I wonder if they would survive the light? It is so fragile!)

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

This black cat banner immediately stirs an image of a much earlier Halloween party, say 1916, dripping with such decorations – table groaning with paper mache jack-o-lanterns and nut cups. I was collecting the Dennison books years ago, as below (that early 2015 post can be found here). Some wonderful copies were being put out for awhile – for you fellow collectors who may have missed them, poke around. The image that they present of the well appointed Halloween party from the teens has stayed with me – one chock-a-block and dripping with crepe paper creations. Those folks at Dennison’s knew how to sell crepe paper! I cannot help but feel there is a better steward of this particular fragile paper bit of history. Nevertheless, I will do my best until the next person comes along.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Less fragile and easier to revel in, is this cardboard Halloween Quiz overseen by a grinning bow-tied black cat and this serious owl. There is a 1940 copyright to H. E. Luhrs and a quick internet search shows that the Luhrs name was a significant one in ’40’s and ’50’s Halloween decorations and die-cuts. They were the maker of what I think of as the classic skeleton decoration (the one I would want if I wanted a skeleton) and evidently the “spinning” (it doesn’t really spin and I somehow doubt it ever did) fortune teller which they employed with several designs. While I could not find a proper history of the company, at a glance I would say they were the poor man’s version of Beistle, a somewhat more substantial maker of Halloween ephemera.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Questions run down one side of my version of the Quiz with answers on the right. Two spins would give you both a question and an answer – the answer might require that you perform the required stunt to achieve it. Questions range from Am I studious? to Do I like old people? and answers are along the lines of If you can twirl a pencil like a baton without dropping it the answer is no.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

I end with this small black cat jack-o-lantern style container which probably held treats on a very well appointed Halloween table. It survives in virtually pristine condition. No tricks, only treats here at Pictorama today. Have a Happy Black Cat Halloween!

A Halloween Post!

Pam’s Pictorama Post: The Halloween season is upon us and brief morning trips to run in the park have revealed some serious dedication to decorating for the holiday. I used to enjoy seeing the townhouses near the Met decorated for the season – some would really pull out all the stops and put on a show. I am less often over there now, but one townhouse near Carl Schurz Park is really throwing down the holiday gauntlet with this tableau of a chain of skeletons climbing down the front of the house from the attic!

Decorated townhouse near East End Avenue, taken this week.

The Mansion Diner, on the corner of 86th Street and York Avenue, has long dedicated themselves to decorating their entire building for the holiday. They were a little late getting them up this year and I wondered if, short handed, they would skip it, but the decorations appeared earlier this week.

It’s interesting that I only rarely had reason to frequent The Mansion pre-pandemic, but now it is a regular stop for breakfast sandwiches post run and frequent meetings with a Board member from work who lives around the corner. I spent the summer eating ice cream outside while talking with him about work, Frank Sinatra being piped out loudly for our listening pleasure.

The Mansion Diner on the corner of 86th and York, also earlier this week.

But if part of your collecting gig is black cats this is a great time of year. I think I have mentioned that my collecting has blossomed thanks in part to an online dealer from the Midwest, Miss Molly (@missmollysantiques). My friendship (consumership?) started with purchasing a black cat jack-o-lantern head. (You can see that post here and the kitty below.) Overtime I have also purchased photos from her (the most recent of those can be found here). And she nicely gives me a heads up on cat items before posting them, but once in awhile it is the stuff around what she is posting that catches my eye and she sold me the wonderful Krak-R-Jak Biscuit box that sits on my desk. (That is a sort of oddly outrageously popular post that can be found here.) I have a rather spectacular Nestle chocolate tin box to share in a future post as well, but today we are talking Halloween.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

The fact is my yen for these early paper mache cat JOL’s goes way back. I remember visiting a store in Cold Spring, New York that had a huge collection, but very expensive and utterly out of my reach. (Fall is a beautiful time to visit that area, an hour and a half or so up the Hudson, right on the water. It is a picture perfect little river town and Kim and I spent one night there for our “honeymoon” there, 21 years ago this past week.) I had resigned myself to never owning one, but the internet has become a great equalizer and prices are lower – and I spend more money!

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

All this to say, recently she came up with this cat jack-o-lantern and it entered my collection as my second such item. Like the first one I purchased, the paper inserts remain intact. It is hard for me to imagine safely putting a candle in these, but I guess that was the idea. There is no evidence of this on the inside, but there is a wire on the top for hanging it and that would have been jolly indeed.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

He shows some signs of wear, especially the tips of the ears, which I guess if you were hitting the hundred year mark you would too. It is a common design and I assume it is a black cat sitting on a fence post, green eyes and red mouth glowing. His fur and whiskers are embossed. (The molds that these were made around must have been great – would love to see one of those.) He would be just the right combination of scary and wonderful. I get the vague idea that these are German in origin, although upon reflection, do the Germans even celebrate Halloween? It would seem that it is a recent development (according to Google), so perhaps these were German American companies? Anyone who knows how all that works give a shout and let me know.

Meanwhile, Halloween is the seasonal gateway to fall and then winter. I have already started eyeing warmer running togs and dreading those very cold mornings to come. Nonetheless, I think I probably have a few more Halloween collectible posts in me this season. More from Pictorama to come.

Cat Chair Cont.

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Returning today, as I ultimately always do to cat related photos, I share this great photo postcard I recently added to the Pictorama collection. I always consider these cards of folks perched on a giant cat especially good finds – perhaps even as beloved as my collection of photo postcards of folks posing with giant Felix the cat dolls, a find in this category to add to my small holdings of these is a reason for celebration here at Pictorama. They are an extremely jolly and jaunty variation and always find a place of pride on our crowded walls.

A careful look at the other versions I have hanging on the wall confirm that this is likely a different giant cat than the others – although the variations are very small, like the size of the eyes or nose. As for location, I have every reason to believe that is different too, although similar as these, like the Felix cards, always seem to be photos taken at the beach resorts, usually in Britain. (Although I have a number of examples taken in Katoomba, Australia, as well and at least one series showing such a Felix in Kuala Lumpur, below, where he appears to be directing traffic. Those posts can be found here and here.)

Pams-Pictorama.com collection

Today’s card was never sent, but J. Easton, Clifton Paths, Margate is printed at the top of the back, along with (Extra copies please quote number.)

Impressively Margate’s history as a seaside destination for health and recreation dates all the way back to the 1750’s. An early photo of the cliffs referred to in Clifton Paths, are very dramatic, high cliffs in dramatic relief to the beach below which I assume are still in situ today. During this early 20th century period the area and its Dreamland amusement pier and beach were likely reaching a zenith of popularity for the sort of seaside retreat the British became known for. Another photo taken at Margate in my collection is below and the post can be read here.

Margate holiday photo, Pams-Pictorama.com collection

Meanwhile, this youngster seems remarkably unimpressed with his perch – ungrateful child! I would love to swap places with him for this pic. His expression and body language, hands on hips, say it all and the language of small boys remains legible decades later – come on and take your stupid picture already! One imagines that a small child would have to be lifted atop of this large and wonderful kitty.

This photo below was also taken in Margate and identified as being in Cliftonville which seems to be adjoining or the same resort. This could be the same kitty, just a bit older in this photo. (That post, published on my birthday in 2017, can be read here.) The precise location seems to be different and this one does not have Mr. Easton’s logo so my guess is they were most likely competitors.

Cat Chair Photo, collection Pams-Pictorama.com

These kitties (Are they the same manufacturer? They look like Steiff toys but I can find no tracks to confirm they actually were produced by them) each seems to have the same little tongue sticking out, which always looks like a nose ring to me at first glance – here it looks like white beads or tufts outline the tongue. Most kitty chairs have a bow or a collar similar to this one, and many have white outlines defining the toes. Oh how I would love to see one in person!

Unlike some of the Felix figures, which even when their size approached that of small human probably allowed for the tucking under the arm and moving about, which means they are sometimes tatty compared with the apparent pristine of this fellow which somehow looks like he mostly stayed put – just being tucked away in the evenings or on rainy days. It appears to be an overcast day and the legions of beach chairs lined up behind them are all empty. Apartment buildings line the area, which I am figuring overlooks the water, as far as the eye can see here. There may be some vendors with stalls, likely on a boardwalk there. A sun spot has marked the photo there so it is a bit hard to see. Mr. Easton, photographer, has a tiny brand mark in the lower left corner. I wish I could find out a bit about his business but my research skills seem to be inadequate to do so.

While several of the photos I have of small children posing with an imposing Felix often larger than themselves occasionally look a tad worried or concerned, this cranky fellow is the only kid in my collection who is not enjoying his time on the giant black cat. I share some women who know how to have a good time on a black cat below – this photo lives on my site, but somehow there has never been a post devoted to it which it certainly deserves. They know how to have a good time. Go girls, go!

Pams-Pictorama.com collection

Black Cat Clown Car

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: As I recently explained in my post Borrowed Photo (which can be found here) bunker days have lead to the loosening of a primary posting rule – that I own all that I post about. It was a rule rarely bent in the past, but in these days of both reduced circumstances and getting out rarely, the powers that be at Pictorama are loosening the rules a bit. So today we are considering this postcard which was for sale on eBay which quickly ran up alarmingly high and well beyond my purse. Leaving me to think that someone actually did want it more than me which was saying a lot, but true nevertheless. Sigh.

Black cats and Felix were irresistible decorations for early parade floats and these could form a sub-genre of my photography cards. Examples of the Felix floats can be found here and here, but black cats can also be found here  and here. Another one, Spirit of the Golden West is shown below.

parade

This postcard depicts a Lansing, Michigan parade – that hint from a truck boasting, Ingham County Commission behind our car. It is undated and evidently was unused. Judging from the cars in the background, parked roadside under some nice old store awning I would put this in the 1920’s, although it could be a bit earlier. Someone smarter about cars feel free to chime in.

The clowns occupying this car frankly terrify me and I am sort of glad we cannot see them more clearly. All white faces, their wizard peaked caps, and eyes blacked out. Yikes. I bet some kids went away with nightmares after an eye full of these guys.

 

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Most wonderfully though, this garlanded clown car is largely decorated largely with the black cats of Black Cat Hosiery advertising fame. (So was it their float or did they just borrow the image?) A small cardboard version of this advertising graces the wall near where I am currently camped out for work, my drawing table acting as a desk, is shown above. I wrote about it back in April of 2015, in Time Out for Our Sponsor (it can be found here (and again, here) and that grinning black advertising cat has long been a favorite of mine. These commercial kits are interspersed with black cat witches on brooms, Halloween kitties, some sort of winged critters and a black cat and jack-o-lantern garland wrapped all around it. The huge tiger (if you look at him right royal is spelled out in his stripes) gives the whole production some teeth. However, lastly and best is that big white kitty is smiling at the front of the car, leading the way.

 

Sewn Up

Pam’s Pictorama Post: As I type I pause to consider if today’s post was a Pictorama Toy post or not, because while I think of this little fellow as a toy, he isn’t. He is a sweet little practical item from a time more or less gone by days – a sewing pin cushion and tape measure. Now, I admit it is hard to imagine sticking pins in this fella (making him perhaps more hedgehog than kitty), but he would be very cheerful and perky to perch on your sewing table or to find in your sewing basket. When grasped you can hear the crunch of his kapok or sawdust filling (aren’t pin cushions filled with something to sharpen the pins though?), his eyes are glass and his cheerful red tongue can be pulled out for a tape measure. (I cannot not display this as it no longer can be made to retract.) He has a tag on his tummy, but any manufacture information printed on it has long faded away. I like his red plastic collar which has remained firmly in place.

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I have already opined previously on my inability to sew. (That post which features another pin cushion cat can be found here.) My maternal grandmother didn’t sew a lot, however she did have a sewing basket which I now only remember as round and I believe covered in fabric, although most I see from the same period are wicker so perhaps my memory is flawed. As a child the magic of the sewing box was all about the rare occasion of when it was opened and I could peer into the interesting bits and pieces inside. Sewing baskets make tremendous sense, housing all those sewing necessities in one place so that one can quickly get down to the task at hand. However, as I do it so seldom I seem to be loathe to spare the shelf or table space and instead have to scramble each and every time I sew a button on.

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The pleasant jumble inside this sewing box reminds me at least a little of my grandmother’s.

 

Crammed inside there were scraps of fabric, thread of course and fascinating tools whose use I had no idea of – nor have I necessarily learned about them since. The exception was the shiny coin-like needle threaders which always interested me – so bright and tempting! They are an exception because I eventually learned to use one and ultimately became utterly dependent on them for threading needles, especially as I get older and my eyes get more frustrated with the difficulty of this task. Wikipedia tells me that these have been around since the late 18th or early 19th century and that a head of a woman is generally stamped on them, which is how I think of them. I show the classic version as I know it below. Genius!

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Additionally, I am familiar with this model below of porcelain doll as sewing kit although I cannot remember who used one. Perhaps my father’s mother who sewed less than my other grandmother, but I have a very specific tactile memory of these. I think I was very small and slightly afraid of it.

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If I had discovered this little kitty along the way I don’t think anyone could have stopped me from nabbing him for my own. As it was, he was one of my very first black cat purchases from a now defunct antiques annex in Red Bank, New Jersey. He sits proudly among the other black cats where to my knowledge no one remarks on his utilitarian beginnings.