Mr. Frank, In the Dog House

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: The writing at the bottom appears to say “Interesting” Big Tree Park on Redwood Highway 222-Art Ray. May we assume that the dog in residence is indeed Mr. Frank? His tidy little house is evidently constructed of some of the castoffs from the redwoods in question and he looks like quite the official resident. My guess, after an internet stroll, is that this is probably from the Big Tree Drive-Thru, Avenue of the Giants in California, where according to Roadside America today you can still drive through a tree today. It features such entertainment as the step through stump, drive-on tree, immortal tree and world famous tree house. Let’s put those aside however and instead contemplate for a moment what was probably a similarly touristy, but somehow more charming and decades older version of the Redwood Highway stop, one where you would meet Mr. Frank and stop for a cool drink or picnic, perhaps as a break from a longer journey.

However, for me this photo brings to mind a doghouse from my childhood. I arrived at about age six in a suburban neighborhood with a fully formed, roaming hoard of kids and pets. In addition to sort of a dozen kids ranging widely in age, it also included numerous cats, and canines, including our German Shepard, Duchess. (I also remember a Dalmatian, aptly named Chief, who actually belonged to a child-free neighbor, but whose boundless excess energy urged him to routinely run up and down the length of many yards.) All of this chaos and claptrap ground on the nerves of our next door neighbor, a loudly proclaimed child and animal hating Mr. George Smith. To his oft lamented chagrin, he had the honor of being wedged between our house and another house chock full of kids, the Jakes family – who had as many kids and pets as we did, the three roughly the same ages as us. One day I may write more about that neighborhood, and George in particular, who was a well-known science fiction writer. He drank heavily and made no secret of his dislike of the kids and animals which encircled him and his wife on a daily basis. To the extent possible, we avoided him and his adjoining yard. The cats and the dogs could not be urged otherwise and he threatened them with buckshot.

The yards were unfenced and generally Duchess lived inside with us, although the cats were free range at the time. However, at some moment my parents were seized with I don’t know what inspiration (perhaps 3 children in a rather tiny house also sporting several cats and said large dog meant that moving anyone or anything out of the house was desirable?) and they built a pen for Duchess outside. Then, somewhere (I suspect a garage sale) my father acquired a gently used, quite sizable, wooden doghouse which was an unbelievably good match for our own green shingled house. He installed it in the backyard with the intention that Duchess should spend time out there. To our great surprise, shortly after George Smith brought over a tiny wooden tv antennae that he had constructed and painted silver. One couldn’t say he didn’t have a sense of humor. It was installed atop of  the doghouse, where it sat proudly for a number of years. Alas, Duchess hated the doghouse and I have no memory of her ever in it. (Instead she preferred wedging her 60 or so pound self between my parents on their bed, where she had nestled as a puppy.) I was somewhat fascinated by the doghouse, even if she was not, however we left it behind when we moved several years later.

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Feelin’ Bully!

Pam’s Pictorama Post: It’s a dog day here at Pictorama. This postcard came to me via the gentleman from whom I purchased the series of Felix tintypes all of one group, back in December. (I wrote about them back in December in my post Echo Point, Katoomba.) Having visited Pictorama and made a killing on those tintypes, he came back with photos of other cat postcards he had purchased from the same fellow. None of them interested me much except this one which somehow ended up in the bunch and, despite its obvious dogginess, it appealed and I purchased it.

The postmark on this card is incomplete and only Fremont is clear. There are Fremonts in a dozen states, but I can just about make out the abbreviated Nebraska in the postmark, further confirmed by the Nebraska of the recipient. All we know from the date is Nov 23, 8 AM without a year, but we can assume from the spats, watch fob, diamond tie pin and cufflinks, sported along with other bits of timely garb that this fellow hales from the earliest part of the 20th century. He’s just so jolly. That’s what appealed to me and this one may end up in my office to cheer me on my more dubious days. This bulldog is all self-confidence. He has the world on a string, he does, chomping on a big old cigar with is hands in his pockets! Show ’em how it’s done!

The back of the card, shown below, entertained me further when the card arrived as it seems to be correspondence between two fellows in the postcard business. Addressed to Mr. Harry Tronschel, Humphrey reads as follows, Received your letter today. Will send letter. Will you please try once more to collect that bill for the post cards of that section gang for use? I need the money. Gee, you fellows must be awful busy in turning out so many pictures in one week. Mel. Visions of a thriving photo postcard business immediately spring to my mind.

I will put this card someplace where I can see it often, a frequent reminder that a certain kind of swagger can carry you through a dog day.

 

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