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.
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Interesting that this card would attract me. Those of you who know my taste in canines know that I run a strong preference toward large dogs – in fact, I really like the largest of the species – Tibetan mastiffs, German Shepherds and Bernese Mountain dogs. When it comes to dogs I like ’em to be more or less horse size. However, I admit to a weakening over time toward adorable little mops like this girl here. Clearly she is someone’s prized and beloved companion – beribboned and quite literally on a pedestal here. Her name, Floss, has been neatly painted onto the neg to be printed on the card. I could be wrong, but I don’t think she’s a youngster either.
While the history of carrying a small dog seems to go way back in time (for example ancient China – and I gather from Wikipedia that in earlier times small dogs were kept to attract fleas away from their owners, rather than the other way around) there came a moment in our culture when suddenly toting a small dog around as an accessory came into fashion for the wealthy and never really went away. It was a status symbol – although I have always found it a slightly odd one admittedly. I think of films from the 40’s where as soon as a woman character actor, generally not the star, strikes it rich, she suddenly has a jolly little dog under her arm for decoration. (This is not Asta I am thinking of!) While it is no longer limited to ladies in long dresses with ropes of pearls drinking tea, the lap dog out in the world still conjures up a feminine image of a certain kind now too.
Sometimes I am jealous of how in general in Manhattan people take their dogs everywhere, but of course, most cats stay at home. (Cats on leashes and my nascent attempts at that I will save for another time.) And of course it is dogs of all sizes that one sees, but the little dogs, often tucked in special tote bags, although occasionally in dog-styled strollers, that one sees everywhere – from subway to supermarket, dining outdoors. Those pups get to see the town while my cats are home snoozing.
However, as for Floss, I’m sure she was someone’s devoted pal and this photo is a lasting tribute. Good doggie!
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: These uniformed fellows (police? firemen?) take a great photo and we are so glad that they snatched up the scrap of a pup and kitten for this photo immortalization. I have several posts that address the sub-genre of cat mascots including Butch most recently, but also Mascots and Mascot – U.S.S. Custodian. I assume that the cats in particular had a role beyond mascot – that of reducing the rodent population – but you can see from photos like this one that mascot pride and real affection play a role too. These are pets truly, first and foremost.
This card was never sent and is on what I think of as a slightly earlier paper stock, giving the photo a somewhat iridescent (solarized?) quality. It has no writing on it and, oddly, was printed wrong side up on the postcard backing.
I am sure among you there is someone who will know at a glance how these fellows are employed. Their jumpsuit style uniforms pushed me toward firemen, but I am open to opinion and information. The guy in the center is clearly a real card, cap askew and a trouble making grin on his face. However, it is the men up front holding kit and dog who we really look at. The pup has a, “let me at ’em” thing going on with the cat who, in the great tradition of cats, can barely waste a glance at him look of slight irritation. My guess is that the two of them probably spent a lot of time mixing it up and that poor eager Mr. Puppy spent some time with cat scratches on that nose of his.
A wily cat knows, however, that a frontal attack is rarely necessary when you can jump high and fit behind things that a dog cannot. Years ago I remember my sister’s cat Milkbone teasing the pitbull-mastiff mix Ron, letting him chase her around the house just so she could jump out of reach or behind something at the very last moment. (Despite her name, Milkbone was not destined to be anyone’s chew toy.) Growing up our cats enjoyed a more symbiotic relationship with the German Shepard, Duchess – one of occasional annoyance at food stealing and whatnot, but generally genial. Sadly, not all dogs are benign with cats, but we will assume that these two grew up together and forged a working relationship.
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Somehow it seems, if you are going to collect cats you are also occasionally going to end up with mice and dogs – if you’re me anyway. This is a dog entry. While having that luxurious dig through that drawer of photos on my birthday (see also my recent post, The Crimson) I found this fascinating card. Done in the fashion of the cards of those posing with a giant stuffed or wooden cut-out of Felix, these people put their shingle out for photos with this large stuffed and mounted dog. This card was not only never postally used, but you can see in this additional photo the lovely cardboard frame it has existed in for years.
There is nothing on the back of this card and I assume it has lived its life in this holder, although it is a bit big for the card. Regardless, it has been kept nice all this time and perhaps the holder is responsible. You can’t really tell from this photo, but the cover is meant to be for mailing – there is a place for stamp and address on the back when it is closed. The stuffed dog appears to be wearing a muzzle – seems unnecessary – and his platform is on wheels for easy repositioning. A jolly boardwalk scene in progress (with a hard forced perspective) has been painted as the background.
I like this dog, but hey, he’s no Felix the Cat and I wonder about this as an attraction. Is it a real stuffed dog? Local hero? I guess we won’t get the answer to that part, but this gentleman seems quite engaged. While this canine seems to be a St. Bernard, it reminds me of a lovely Tibetan mastiff I met on the street once. He was a rescue and belonged to a curator I knew. Moose is the most enormous dog I have ever met and he was very friendly. As I started petting him and talking to him he was ready to climb into my lap – all 150 lbs. of him! After meeting Moose, I really wanted a Tibetan mastiff – I just loved him and I adore big dogs. But, as Kim pointed out, Moose probably couldn’t even turn around in our apartment so I tucked that thought away for that future day when we are living in a house in the country somewhere.
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: The slide back over to photographs continues with this recent acquisition. It made me laugh out loud – not sure that was its intended purpose, but it did. It was never sent and there is nothing written on it. Somehow the woman and the dog look like sister and brother. The birdcage appears to be empty – that little fellow has flown the coop one way or another I guess. For me, best of all of course, is that sharp looking tuxedo cat; all a-point, looking like the only one with any sense in the family. This woman looks as if she can use the help.
For regular readers it is not news that I tend to favor tuxedo cats. Although my very first cat was white with black cow-spots, and the one I really considered my furry sister was a calico, it has been tuxedoes that I have been drawn to adopting in my adult life. My first tux was a childhood pet, Mitzy. She was a pretty and precise little black and white girl who lived an extraordinarily long life considering I believe I was a teenager when we acquired her and she lived long enough that Kim met her. I forget now exactly how we ended up with her – I have a vague memory of a neighbor boy coming over with her and announcing that he knew we had cats and did we want this one? The young man in question was not a model citizen and I guess Mom had no real choice, but to take Mitz in.
Mitzy seemed to end up as my brother’s cat to some degree, although I think it would be fair to say that we were what I will call cat wealthy at the time. There were a few dogs too. I think my parents were taking the in for a penny in for a pound approach with animals and kids abounding at that time. Mitzy was a precise cat – as girl cats and especially tuxedoes tend to be. Kept her whites white and her black hair shining. Would always enjoy a few pets and didn’t fight with the other cats or cause much trouble, a model citizen. As I mentioned, she lived into her twenties. A Methuselah of cats. A series of tuxedoes in the family followed: Otto, Milkbone, Zippy, Roscoe and now the mantel is worn by Cookie who is asking for dinner as I write this. If it was Miss Cookie in this photo she probably would have eaten the bird and struck up a fight with the pooch. Not all tuxedoes have the same sense of responsibility.
Pam’s Photo Post: This is in the treasured family photo general category of pics. A handsome, faithful dog who is guarding this cat and her kittens. Of course I love the nice black and while (tuxedo-ish) pattern on the dog. What a very good doggie. Very serious and dedicated. Looks like a farm or at least a backyard farm as such. Pretty timeless, but there’s something about it that makes me think 1940’s.
The mom is a nice striped tabby and she has her maternal concerned look on. Nature is so funny – mom cats are so protective when they are kits and about a year later they could care less about them. (When I was little our calico, Winkie, had kittens she moved all around the house – evidently to protect them from us humans. Smushing them under furniture, snarling at us if we came near. Then one day she woke up and looked at them and more or less said, “Where did you come from YA BUMS and how can I get rid of you?” Mom declared Winkie an abusive parent and she was right.)
The spotty strip-y kitten is very cute, but of course the black one is my favorite. Blackie’s great granddad perhaps – wonder if there’s a little white star on his chest and little white spots under his arms?
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Sometimes when I look at photos like this I wonder if someone is merely recording an event (Sam does this with the cat and the dog everyday at four and I think I’ll take a photo…) or if it is specifically set-up with the photo in mind. Considering how hard it is to catch your pets doing amusing things, even with a handy iPhone camera that can be grabbed quickly, more went into getting a photo like this than we might remember today. (I know. I have been trying to record Cookie giving Kim a ‘high five’ for weeks now – she likes to do this starfish paw in the air when she is over-stimulated and wants something. Kim say Blackie will have to learn the brother handshake to keep up.)
The dog and cat seem to be looking at something – it amuses me up that they are really the same size. If anything, it seems the man’s hand is the indication for the pets to get on their hind legs, but what are they looking at in unison? (As an aside, Cookie and Blackie are the most standing on their hind leg cats I have ever had – I wonder if this is an evolutionary trait in kitties? They like tummy rubbing too.) It is a well-composed shot and I like the late in the day winter sun here with the long shadows cast of the three of them.
The card is unused and undated, although all indications of early 20th Century. Easy to see why it survived – too bad all the names and the places are lost to us. It doubles my resolve to get that photo of Cookie however.