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.

A (Felix) Cat Book

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I’ve actually been in possession of this slim volume for a few years since purchasing it on eBay. I think it went to the shelf and somehow never made its Pictorama debut. But I was emailing about all things Felix with a fellow Felix-o-file and dug it out to show him. I have not seen it around much, but some digging shows that you can currently acquire a copy if you are willing to pay up. My copy is inscribed twice. The first is in a childish pencil scrawl which, oddly, reads, Elizabeth Butler, 1021 Craggmont. The other, in a neat pen, To Martha, from Mabel Crowe. Neither is dated.

Titlepage, Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

It is a somewhat odd book. To start with, across the front it announces that it was Published by Harper & Brothers – Established 1817. A quick check and Harper & Brothers, which started life as J. & J. Harper publishing in 1817 (brother Jay and John at the helm) until more brothers from the clan joined and the name changed in 1833 to recognize them. Then it changed again in 1962 and became Harper & Row, before later finding its 21st century moniker, Harper Collins. However, while new printing methods made them a leading publisher of books and textbooks, the influence of the famed Harper’s Magazine could evidently be felt through their publishing empire and its influence is felt in this volume.

Felix himself travels under an American passport and Harpers a US publisher, however the author is British essayist, E. V. Lucas, giving this something of the feel of a British product like one of their comics annuals. While this Felix volume was published in 1927 there is an earlier, 1902, version which has different and more traditional cat illustrations by someone named H. Officer Smith and in fact published in Britain. The illustrations have a whiff of Louis Wain to them.

The earlier version of the book with illustrations by H. Officer Smith. Not in Pictorama collection.

Lucas was a lifelong Punch author whose prodigious output of essays, commentary, verse, plays and was legendary in his day. His biography is sprinkled with references to hobnobbing with friends Barrie, A.A. Milne, Arthur Conan Doyle and the likes of his day, playing cricket and billiards. He has written the copy in simple verse with a sly eye to the beloved tricks, maneuvering and manipulation of cats.

Our volume (ostensibly illustrated by Pat Sullivan who signed each illustration, however we’ll assume it is of course Otto Messmer ready at the dip pen) is a slim one at about 30 pages, writing on each left side and illustration on the right. Felix takes on the role of a sort of every cat persona rather than doing a star turn as his famous film self here – although he seems to have some of the Felix wiliness and trouble-making charm as played out in the pictures.

The drawings show Felix in fine fetter and I can only imagine that for a pro like Messmer it didn’t take him long. However his skill shows in making every line count for maximum entertainment and raises it to the level of a Pictorama worthy Felix investment.

Ed. Note: After this was posted @judd_kid and @tomatitojose sent word that they think it was drawn by Dana Parker who drew many of the Felix theater posters and advertising art! Fact for the day!

Tooting My Horn

Pam’s Pictorama Post: It is a first day of vacation Felix party post today! This splendid item came in the door just as I was leaving for Denver on a business trip so I hardly had time to even look it over. As it happens I had lost a more or less identical one in an auction on eBay a few days before I saw this one – the first one went for a whole lot more so maybe I was the only one bidding who saw this version.

I wish I knew more about this horn. I have seen perhaps one or two others over time but they are not very common. He’s made of a sort of cardboard-y paper mâché-esque stuff and the end you toot is a light wood of some sort. A few years ago I wrote about a black cat Halloween horn I found, it too had a wooden end. (That post can be found here and it has a funny few seconds of Cookie reacting to the sound of my blowing it!) The sound of this item is remarkably similar, although that horn was somehow more substantial in design.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Because the poof of air comes out Felix’s mouth he looks like he is frowning or yelling – an angry Felix? I don’t know why the string is there – it is on all the few I have seen. His ears, a light cardboard paper are bent and are a clear weak spot in the design and admirable really that they have lasted all this time.

I can only say that I would have liked ringing, let’s say, 1926 in with this fellow, but instead I blow it in tribute to the first day of a much needed vacation here at Deitch Studio.

Meanwhile, for those of you who have been following the saga over the past week or so we here at #teamblackie are pleased to report that our poor puss continues his recovery and is eating more. Hopefully he will start to gain some weight, but he is bright eyed again and fighting Kim hard getting his gloppy meds administered so he must be feeling better. We intend to rest and recreate with the kits and each other. Ice cream will be eaten. I promise to keep you all up to speed with the highlights.

Putting on a Show

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This card came to my attention because of the Felix-y costumed participant more or less in the center of the photo. I purchased it from an Ohio postcard dealer and have no reason to assume it isn’t from that region, but it is alas, without any further identification.

It is a photo postcard and there is evidence of it having been in a photo album, telltale black paper stuck to the back. It had never been mailed and is in fairly pristine condition for having been removed from an album page. The edges on either side are faded, but I think that is more of a chemical failure than one having to do with age or exposure.

Detail. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

I have attempted to provide some detail so you can really see all of the costumes – or at least highlights of them as it is a large assembly. At first I thought this was a recording of a large costume party, but as I looked at it more I realized that there are several repeated costumes which implies more of a production to me now that I look carefully.

Detail. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

It’s a bit hard to imagine the storyline of such a production. I spot some folks in Arab headdresses, numerous clowns, at least one man sporting a powdered wig, one person in black face and of course Felix. It is hard to reverse engineer a possible plot around this. I am deeply jealous however of the kid who is sporting the black cat Felix-esque costume. Clearly I would love to own that little number.

Detail Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

There is a range of ages represented so this was perhaps a community production as, although most appear to be young adults, there are some older folks and some quite young. The hall they are in is fairly luxe by the standards of amateur productions and the enormous mirrors on either side of the stage reveal high ceilings and a sense of space beyond. (I have written about photos of other such productions in much less lavish halls and one of those can be found here.)

I worked on high school plays and have memories of a few at a neighborhood playhouse as well. A good friend was the lead in Dial M for Murder as I remember, the first time I was to see that show. The theater in question was called simply The Barn and it sat on a now prime piece of real estate in the town I grew up in, Rumson, NJ. (Down the street from the high school and across an intersection from a tiny and wonderful one-room local library which for some reason routinely inhabits my dream life as an adult.)

Undated photo (but as I remember it) and the only one I could find on the web of Lois McDonald’s Barn Theater in Rumson, NJ.

The Barn was, among other things, where I took ballet lessons for a period of time as a tot. I believe on alternate days gymnastics and ballroom dancing also were underway at a given time. It was owned and run by a woman named Lois McDonald and I only have a vague memory of this gravelly voiced elder statesmen owner of the establishment, but it nibbles at the edges of my mind. It was more humble one by far than this one appears to be and I am sorry to realize that it must have slipped out of existence without my ever realizing its demise.

Margate Felix

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Yes! Kicking off this Deitch Studio weekend with a new photo postcard purchase of Felix posing with a pint-sized friend. Since I collect deeply in this area I can cheerfully say with some certainty that I really overpaid for this card, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to as a collector and of course each of these cards is singular. (I assure you I have bitterly regretted every one that has gotten away from me.) Also notable, it is the very first time in all these years I have purchased one of these cards from a US source. Every other one I own has come from Britain, Australia (Katoomba!) or (I believe) New Zealand.

Compared to many others in my collection, this photo suffers a bit from exhausted chemicals in the making and has faded. Somehow however it has become more atmospheric and this little girl in her white frock and falling knee socks, holding Felix’s paw-hand, is sort of emerging out of the image at us. Behind her we can make out a white hatted woman (or taller child) in the white cotton beach garb of Britain in the 20’s, carrying some sort of lap rug. There are other blurry figures behind her and the outline of the tall buildings that surround this beach area.

Posing on a black cat chair at Margate. Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

I have several photos of Margate’s summer pleasures past in my possession, most notably numerous ones of a giant cat chair one could pose on as well. A few of those posts and photos can be found here and here, although there are many so shop around in the archive for others.

The Felix in today’s pic is a low-rise model if you will, a pint-sized version whose pointy ears just come up to her tiny shoulder. (Many of my photos show this size Felix as opposed to the much larger ones I think of as “life sized”, closer to the size of a midget.) At a glance I don’t think this particular Felix is represented in my collection – he has a rather singular appearance – his face is rather tidy and his arms are very long! (My theory is these were designed this way to encourage people to throw his arm around them perhaps?) I imagine the arms on Felix were somewhat moveable and the head probably swiveled and turned a bit for posing. I generally prefer my Felix-es with a slightly more maniacal expression.

Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

This card was never mailed although the inscription on the back also endeared it to me. In a faded script it says Taken at Margate 21st of Aug 24 and below Our Alana 2 years old 23 Months To Gran Daddy at USA. So it must have been put in an envelope or package and mailed to our shores all those years ago. It has a pinhole from where it spent time thump tacked up on a wall. It is faded and tattered but those are signs of having been beloved I think.

Margate photo postcard. Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

As this card creeps close to its one hundredth summer since it was snapped at that sandy beachside resort, I am reminded that simple summer pleasures have remained largely the same. On that note, it is time for me to throw on my running shorts, finish my ice coffee and get out for a run as this beautiful June morning beckons.

Verso of today’s card.

Mangold Felix – aka Uncle Felix

Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: Today’s recent acquisition is a bit of a head scratcher. I purchased him at a Bertoia auction recently. I was laying in bed late one night when I saw the email for the auction. I threw a bid on him and more or less forgot about it until I won and an email invoice showed up, a happy moment indeed.

From a Bertoia sale. Not in Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

I know I have seen this toy once or twice before, but the price must have been high or I was too late because I never remember bidding on him. While it is not a common toy; I did find one or two other examples online sold at auction previously. He is memorable though I think and you could almost think it was a hand-painted one of a kind. I have christened this jolly fellow Uncle Felix.

It appears to come from a pattern by a toy maker called Gunthermann (or Guntermann) which seems over the decades, to become something of the epitome of extraordinarily rare and expensive Felix items. I show the Felix merry-go-round below which fetches the price of a good used car at auction these days. (Someone prone to hyperbole on Pinterest called it the rarest toy ever.) Sadly it is unlikely to ever darken my door (I don’t play the lottery) nor am I even likely to see one in person although I would very much like to see it move. The maker is also responsible for a pull toy of Felix chasing mice (shown near top) which seems to always go for a mint as well.

Also sold by Bertoia Auction recently, the mysterious Felix merry-go-round toy! Sadly unlikely to ever be in Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

There is no information about my fellow in particular and whatever the relationship between Gunthermann (a German toy company that goes back to the 1890’s) and Mangold is not readily obtainable. The names around the Felix walking toys of this type seems to be interchangeable, although this odd variant seems to go under the Mangold name. Please do enlighten me if you know the facts here.

My version of the Gunthermann walking Felix. Arms are not missing, they are pinned behind in the thinking position! Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Above is my own early (albeit beat-up) version of the Gunthermann walking Felix which I wrote about previously in a post found here. Also shown below is the more common version of the same toy pattern. The obvious question is, why did someone decide to disguise Felix in eyeglasses and a cheery black, red and white suit? How many could have been made and sold and why take a popular character make a very popular toy of him and then change it up? His red glasses taking the place of the black circles around Felix’s eyes. Mine wears a nifty white vest with painted buttons, white gloved hands and red trousers (with a pinstripe!) that end in black spats – his tail is painted white.

The more common Gunthermann Felix walking toy. Not in Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Uncle Felix does still work, his key winds and his legs do a splendid sort of hopping walk. (He seems too fragile though to try to film it so you will have to take my word for it.) His paint is worn and chipped (and suffered a bit in transit despite careful packing), but his full glory is easy for me to imagine and dream about.

Pictorama!

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This morning I sit down to write my 871st post on this blog. For those of you who follow Pam’s Pictorama you know that with little exception, posts have appeared here on Saturday and Sunday morning (some exceptions for time difference during travel, once for illness in the family) pretty much like clockwork since the summer of 2014. While there are exceptions (notes taken in advance, work travel) when they were written in advance, the general “rule” is that I write them each weekend morning before otherwise starting my day. I drink coffee, look at the window, chat with Kim while I do it – pay attention to a needy cat if necessary – while writing.

I launched Pictorama while recovering from foot surgery, bored in bed and needing a project, I thought I would use it to organize my collection of early photos. (I didn’t do that – they are still not really organized as I sit here in 2022 although it has grown like topsy.) At the time the collection was mostly photo postcards of people posing with giant stuffed Felix dolls (some above), but I have always picked up old photos from here or there. I want to publish them as a book and still hope to figure that out.

My avatar, Felix on a scooter, is oddly one I do not own although I write pretty much exclusively about my own collection. It is an Italian version of the toy I continue to chase but fall short of acquiring to date.

Pictorama immediately expanded to include my burgeoning toy collection – again, largely but not entirely devoted to Felix the Cat items from the 20’s and 30’s – my other great love. Cats are an underlying theme for both the photos and the toys. Of course there are real cats and Cookie and Blackie make routine appearances and more recent guest spots have been for mom’s cat’s, particularly Stormy and Hobo Kitty, who were just featured yesterday in a post here. I dig out memories, do light research on the background and history of objects, consider the object. It has evolved into what it is.

Over time other bits of Deitch Studio daily life slip in. Posts have been devoted to the reveal of our holiday card each year and to Kim’s extraordinary series of Valentine’s he draws for me annually. Some of his books have been launched (a two-part series on Reincarnation Stories can be found here and here) as well. Over recent years a series of posts has been devoted to my professional life, fundraising and the challenges, changes and triumphs there. Apartment life (studio apartment living before tiny houses existed) and renovation has demanded my attention and been shared with you.

Kim’s kitty portrait for Valentine’s Day this year! Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

Tales of my childhood, pets and people I have known, tend to be an underlying theme for many of the posts. I try not to repeat myself – I am sure I fail occasionally. I will just hope that a good story is worth repeating.

Working out and most recently running has become another area I devote space to. At first writing about it helped ensure I would push forward and keep it up; keep me honest. It was not an easy habit to develop and no one is more surprised than me when I started to top out at over six miles recently. Persistence pays off. Meanwhile, a year ago next week (Memorial Day) I fell and broke two fingers while running and you all had a front seat for that as well as the recovery.

A photo from my first few weeks of running.

During the first months of Covid I devoted space to redeveloping my cooking muscles, baking in particular. I probably owe you all a post about the dieting I had to do to lose that pandemic weight subsequently – running alone did not do it. Dieting has inspired fewer recipes, but I will get back to recipes. I continue to cook – soup in particular remains a favorite here.

Cheesy Olive loaf, a pandemic favorite.

This week my readership crossed the 400 mark and so I started thinking about you all. I know from the likes and comments some of you who favor certain posts. I wonder if any of you crossover to other posts now that you are here – did you start by favoring the work related posts and then discover that cats were great too? Or did you find one because of work out posts and then stay for toys? Or do you only read the ones in the areas you follow? I have found that the readers who come for the book reviews seem to have a long read around. Most of those have come via Goodreads. (My review of the children’s book The Story of Ping, found here, remains one of the most read posts, although not the most likes. That may go to a post about a tin Krak-R-Jak box that sits on my desk which can be found here.)

Many of you are in different time zones and I frequently wake in the morning to your likes and comments, or even the occasional late night ping from my phone tells me someone liked something. It is always cheerful and encouraging. Thank you! I like to hear from you.

Me with a beloved Aesop Fable doll and a nice Donald Duck, wearing a Kim Deitch t-shirt, from a past post.

At first readers came almost exclusively from Kim’s extraordinary Facebook page which I felt privileged to guest spot on each weekend. (Others find me when searching for him on the internet as well.) Early on a friend suggested the title sub-header, All Pam All the Time, and I liked it as a nod to alert folks that Pictorama, while resident here at Deitch Studio, was a distinct subset that is from my perspective. Sadly, we’ve been locked out of Kim’s Facebook page for a few months now. My own nascent page recently taking its place with Kim weighing in as he likes instead.

Pictorama led me over to Twitter and then Instagram among other outlets. Instagram became a source for jewelry, photos, toys and interesting stuff as well as numerous online friends who come from across the United States and the world. Instagram Stories is primarily a journal of my runs these days and IG is probably second only to WordPress itself for leading new folks here. (I can be found as @deitchstudio.)

A first edition

While writing of WordPress, please know that I have a love/hate relationship with it. Things morph and get changed which I never figure out, such as where the ability to add accent marks disappeared to one day. Occasionally they get harder and then much easier – such as the posting of video snippets which was quite arduous, then impossible, now easy. Links necessitated a work around, until suddenly they are possible again.

Pam’s Pictorama.com Collection.

In all fairness, WordPress offers the chance to attend online sessions where I could learn more, but life is too hectic it seems. I always mean to, but never have. Meanwhile, while having a look around today I discovered a cache of comments I don’t believe I ever saw – they were direct inquiries rather than ones tied to posts. I spent some of this morning writing to folks to apologize for the oversight. They are tucked away and hard to find however even now that I know they exist. The myriad mysteries of the site.

I hope to see you next week for post number 872. A new Felix photo is winging its way to me even as I write. Thank you again for being such a very nice audience!

Walkin’

Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: It is a drizzly Sunday, Mother’s Day, morning after a downright stormy yesterday. Kim and I were out and battling it as he needed a new light board. (Light boards hold a special place in my heart as the first gift Kim ever gave me was a light board – we used it for many years before it passed away.) The one we bought is sort of space age flat and bulb-free; we’ll see how that goes.

I needed to pick up a pair of prescription sunglasses (yep, lost mine recently) in the same part of town, but those required a Saturday pick up so no choice but to fight the elements which were fairly ferocious. Photos below from our adventure to the art supply store and the Ukrainian restaurant where we stopped for lunch and to see if the weather would improve a bit. It did not.

A herd of zebra and some giraffes at Blick’s.
The East Village Ukrainian Restaurant on a very wet day yesterday. Christmas lights appear to be a year round decoration.

However, I digress and now onto the toys!

The motion of toys captivates me – wind-ups most frequently, ones that bounce and roll, battery toys on occasion. For this reason I generally acquire toys that still work – granted, usually simple mechanisms and motions. Toys are designed to entertain however and so they bump and hop and scoot along – we are missing something if they can’t do their thing. They make me laugh. Toys are distilled happiness and joy on demand.

Sometimes though the look of a toy is so great I am reminded of what my friend Mel has said which is, it’s okay if it doesn’t work, after all how often are you really going to play with it? This Felix falls in that category, although I am sad not to see him walk, his striped ball bouncing up and down and rolling in his hands! He’s a rare toy – I don’t remember ever seeing this one before. (However, every time I think that I can usually find a pristine version of the toy tucked away in Mel’s collection.) I purchased him on eBay and I paid a king’s ransom for him in a bit of a dog fight.

Today’s Felix bares some resemblance to this French wind-up toy, shown below, which Kim me for Christmas in 2020 and which was sold under a Krazy Kat listing at auction. (I wrote a Boxing Day post about him that can be read here.) That toy is a wind-up however and this one is a more simple friction walker which would have taken advantage of an incline I think.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Unlike the French toy, this one is much lighter and simpler. The head on the one is made of a heavy plaster material and of a lighter version more like papier-mâché on this one. His feet are broad wooden slats which allows him to stand nicely on the shelf despite his disability. I do feel like if I was about 10% smarter I could repair the leg mechanism which seems to be a wire that has gone missing. As we can see, a wooden and cardboard construction make up his body. Sadly his silk suit has torn where his leg broke.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Felix’s garb is a sort of jolly clown costume however, a look which is complemented by his big clownish feet. I especially like his big bow. There is a tiny (very hard to read) tag remaining under one foot which reads, made in Germany.

Despite his disabilities, Felix has a place of pride front and center on a shelf devoted to some of the finest cats in my collection. Mel has a point. I enjoy him each day, just looking at him.

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.

The Mysteries of Felix

Pam’s Pictorama Post: After a long hectic week I take refuge in toy talk today. When I rolled out bed this morning and walked to a shelf of toys and took this fellow out Kim looked at me inquiringly and said, “Somehow you’ve never written about that particular Felix?” I have not. He arrived at a very busy time around my birthday and just the other day I thought about him, went looking for him and realized that I had unpacked him and tucked him on a shelf without serious consideration.

It probably won’t surprise Pictorama readers to discover that I have many rather compulsive collecting habits, formed and honed over years of searching for certain toys. I receive myriad notifications about auctions and notices about toy cats for sale on various sites such as Ruby Lane which is the origin of this guy. I’m sure there are people who have more refined processes and mine requires mulling through a lot of really dreadful items before occasionally there is something worth investigating. Maybe it is the only way to do it, maybe not.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

As I said, this fellow turned up on Ruby Lane whose daily listings are among the worst really, at least based on whatever search I saved there. Infuriatingly, on the rare occasion something great turns up it is generally already sold and don’t even ask me what that’s all about and why they need to tell me. Still, I give it a cursory morning glance each day. It’s like the lottery – you have to be in it to win it.

One morning in early February (while still in bed) I saw this and did a double take. He is 12 inches long (ears included) and made of a fluffy mohair which is unusual, however I have at least one other, very small and very old Felix made of a similar wool. He is, as you can see, oddly pristine making me wonder if he was somehow newly made. Yet a close look at his face pulls me in the direction of older.

This has happened to me once before, back in 2018, and I wrote about it in a post here and the toy is shown below. He is also rather pristine, but of an entirely different type. Although I thought there was also a chance he was somehow newer, he seems even less so than this fellow featured today.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

He was very (relatively anyway) inexpensive so, after I had a cup of coffee and could reason a bit, I figured it was worth taking a chance. If I ended up with a weird modern reproduction of an old Felix so be it. I purchased him and he arrived on my birthday, with some other nice items since it was my birthday, and I unpacked him and placed him on the shelf until my examination today.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

His head rotates, but his arms are not movable. Most notably his tail is just knitted wool whereas most Felix’s have a stiff tail for better tri-pod style standing. This Felix sports this brand new looking red bow, has shoe button type eyes and nose along with his stitched on Felix grin.

All Felix toys have an expression which helps define them and this one has a benignly slightly cross-eyed one, maybe not too bright but affable. He has long pointy ears, not unheard of in Felix design, but a tad less common. His most notable feature though is the fluffy mohair he is made of which hovers off him like a halo. As mentioned above and shown below, I have another very unusual one (featured in a 2014 post here) with fluffy mohair, but a very different design.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

My final analysis is that he is old, but of somewhat mysterious origin. Much like the off-model ones hand assembled on the East End of London (one of my favorite posts about that can be found here) there is a story here about the who and the how this was made which I have yet to figure out. Please send any information you may have. Meanwhile, Pictorama is on the case and will of course share any discoveries ultimately made.