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.

 

Spirit of the Golden West

 

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Of course I had to have this wonderfully whacky card. The giant cat with the curling tail would be enough, but the folks in the strange wizard outfits are also bringing something to the situation. I am interested in the man in front standing with his arms crossed – he’s almost falling out of the photo frame. The old blanket on the horse and the get up of the rider sets the tone too – and June or not, Portland is still looking a tad chilly and I am not seeing a lot of roses.

In the early days of this blog I opined several times on the evident greatness of early photos of Portland, Oregon as well represented in my collection. Among these Felix on Parade figured prominently, but Tom the Fire Boat Cat is a contender too.

However, it was researching this really splendid new card that I began to find out about the Portland Rose parade and the history of the parade and the roses. Evidently the parade started in 1905 when the mayor, Harry Lane, got the idea for a parade honoring Portland as The Rose City at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition – the first was held in 1907 and the parade, which was always held in June signaled the beginning of summer. Below is an excerpt from a website about the Rosarians which talks about the 1909 parade:

1909-In June, at high Noon, Rex Oregonus again coming up the majestic Willamette River from the greatest sea of them all, stepped ashore at the Stark Street wharf, masked and mantled in mystery, this time without a Queen. Great crowds of happy and enthusiastic people greeted his arrival. An epochal crowd, estimated by the press at 150,000, saw the stately floats glide by, among them the Queen of the Nile, the Palace of Perfume, King of the Artics, Fountain of Youth, Queen of the Flowers, and Father Time. The festival’s floats achieved national fame for beauty and cleverness of design. (See more at: The Royal Rosarians – The Early Years)

Roses aside – what about the use of black cats in the festival? In my post Cats on Parade I feature a card from this parade that is a bit a bit later than this one from 1909. That one seemed to be from about 1915 and in that image the black cats were riding in the car! Today’s card may provide a clue. Written on the back in a very neat hand is the following: Dear Mary – This is a floral representing the Fraternal Order of Hoo-Hoos, whose symbol is a black cat. Yours with best wishes, Tom (It was not mailed.)

This leads, obviously, to the question of who the Hoo-Hoos are and what’s with the black cat? The International Concatenated Order of Hoo Hoo (according to Wikipedia) was founded in 1892 as young men’s fraternal organization for those associated (at least broadly) with the lumber industry, or forestry. (Men only – 21 or older originally. Now you can be 18 or older – I am fuzzy on the admission of women.) Their symbol is a black cat with the tail curled into a #9. Sadly, the story behind the cat remains shrouded in the mystery of the Hoo-Hoos. I have, however, supplied a copy of their symbol below – and even better, an early photo of the Seattle lodge with, yes, if you look carefully, a pair of black cats guarding the door!

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Cranky Valentine

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Pam’s Pictorama: For all of you who still have the sickly smarminess of Valentine’s Day stuck in your craw and eating your teeth, today’s post is a logical antidote to show you that you are not alone. There is evidently a long history of the vinegar Valentine.

I am not sure why, but decided I had to have this card. I generally don’t like to go negative on cards, I really hate pawing through contemporary cards that often just seem mean. This card charmed me nonetheless. The poem does entertain:

Your crabbed actions are enough to vex
The most ardent admirer of your sex,
And you care for nothing that we can see
Except your cat and your cup of tea.

How much more does a girl really need in life? The black Halloween style cat is fun and she is mannishly well drawn. It is a common card, and I have seen others on eBay subsequently. This one wasn’t sent and I do wonder who exactly one would send it to – and also that they were kept all these years by the recipients!

A recent article in the New York Times discussed the history of the so-called vinegar Valentine and its popularity in the late 19th century. On February 14, 1871 the Times wrote the following:

Of all the valentines published those designated ‘comic’ are the most popular. They are the hideous caricatures which are to be seen at this season in almost every stationer’s window, and are made to burlesque every trade and profession. They consist of a few black lines and a daub of color, to which are attached a few doggerel rhymes. They pervert the idea of the valentine; for, instead of being love missives, or tending to afford gratification, they are too often sent out of spite, to carry anger or annoyance to the receiver. Of these there have been sold nearly 12,000,000, and strange to say, they are mostly purchased by women. Why women find more use for them than men would be a difficult question to answer, but such is the case, and the circulars issued by the publishers will bear out the assertion.

I believe our card in question is of a higher quality than implied here, but it is also clearly a later model. The poison pen Valentine clearly continued to thrive into the early part of the 20th century. Oddly, it is the one area I don’t find so many negative cards today – birthdays for example, almost hard to find an acceptable one. But the needling Valentine seems to have seen its day, although I know some folks who would be glad to bring it back.

Kayser Black Cat Wine

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Pam’s Pictorama Post: Frankly this was another case of not reading the listing carefully. I had envisioned this to be less than a quarter of it’s almost 30 inches! I had a clear image of a Mossbacher tin cup I own, and had somehow put these things together. Interesting how the collecting mind works.

Having said that – what cat collector could resist this great black cat advertising image? It is a wine company and they, obviously, sell Black Cat Wine. I assume that a (very large) bottle of wine was tucked in this glorious tin as a gift offering. The lucky cat collector indeed who invited that person over for dinner.

In my search for information about why a black cat was used by the company, I only turned up a bit of advertising from New York Magazine, dated December 20, 1971. It tells this story: Mrs. Kayser has burned the breakfast toast black and Mr. Kayser roars, “The toast is black!” Meanwhile, son Julius the wine maker, nose buried in the Traben Trarbach Gazette, absently passes his father a glass of black-cat-in-the-cellar or Schwarze Katz and we are to assume the black cat logo was born. Or Madison Avenue execs of the 1970’s wanted us to believe. Hmmm, anyway, that’s as close as I could come.

I am not sure what use I will put this item to, although this apartment can always use a place to stash this or that and a black cat tin will always be welcome.

Post Script: I rarely get an opportunity for such an interesting update so quickly, but a FB friend, Ryek Hvek, gave me the key to more interesting information. According to him, the wine was named when a black cat jumped onto one of three barrels of wine and assumed the pose while a customer was choosing among the barrels. He also directed me to the images below – a statue of the cat in question in Zell, erected about 80 years ago, and one of the black plastic cat figures that came on the bottle of wine. (My brother in-law says that his mom, Marie, a well-known cat lover, used to be partial to it.) Lastly, also a cat stamp from the town in keeping with the theme. Let’s all book a trip to Germany to worship at the altar of the cat statue and drink wine – I’m up for it!