More Mascots

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.

 

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OMI in Blue

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Pams-Pictorama.com Collection

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: There’s nothing like the blue of a cyanotype to add a bit of visual pleasure to an image. These (notably cat-less) images caught my eye for their particular attractive strangeness. I have been unable to pin the term OMI down specifically. I assume it is a fraternity, no specific tracks can be found – at least not by the folks here at Pictorama. Omi is also German for grandmother, and there also seems to be a use of it to refer to a diminutive high-energy (reads as somewhat annoying) person. Since we know that our O.M.I. bunch resided in St. Petersburg, PA the German allusion may make sense and tie out to this fraternity of sorts.

Neither of these cards were mailed and there is no writing on them, nor indication of the year they were made. Both are on the slightly fragile seeming cardboard that cyanotypes generally are found to be. (They required a porous paper, more like water color paper than photos are usually printed on.) To back up a moment, cyanotypes are literally “blueprints” made with ammonium iron and potassium ferricyanide. Founded as a process for reproducing things all the way back in 1842, it eventually enjoyed a somewhat limited, but persistent, use as a photographic medium into the early 20th Century.

Most striking for me is the array of costumes in the O.M.I. Bunch card on top. Frat boys, cadet type uniforms, a baseball uniform – the guy in whatever that athletic outfit of shorts might be – and of course the little fellow. O.M.I. sashes are worn by several. There are generally looking pretty pleased with themselves, especially the little guy with the sash which reaches the ground on him.

While I am very entertained by our boys in the car ready for their Automobile Tour, they are harder to see and the image is a bit blurry down one side. The car is the star here and it is enormous in the way that cars were at the time – like ships of the road. There are 7 seated in and around the car, and then the eighth gentleman perched on top of the hood. (I’m willing to assume some of the gents in the back are actually standing on a running board on that side, but the car still promises to hold a mass of people.) Their sense of adventure, as well as some pomp and circumstance, invokes the early days of car travel – as described in my post about the juvenile novels from the teens, The Automobile Girls. (Found in the post, Grace Harlowe, the Automobile Girls, and the Moving Picture Girls Novels.) I have pretty much located three men from the first photo appearing in this one – large hat guy, be-sweatered collegiate, and cadet with hat. I wonder where they went on their tour – was it far?

For those of you for who crave more cyanotype, I stumbled across a splendid small book a few years ago which is still available, Ipswich Days, Arthur Wesley Dow and His Hometown (this the link to the Amazon listing). It is just as described, an intimate look at a small town, turn-of-the-century by one man, rendered in cyanotype. Very pleasant indeed.

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Beer Break

 

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: While I am a fan of cat photos, and as my readers know usually buy photos because of the presence of a cat, in some photos like this one, it has to be admitted that the cat is coincidental at best. Although I do find it truly charming that the big fellow in the upper left snatched up that puss in time for the photo, it is not what strikes us most about this glorious photo of these men and boys in the midst of some sort of a beer break among whatever work was being done among these logs. This card is unused and undated – no identification of where or when this might have been taken. A guess puts it back in the teens judging from the clothing.

The kid with his hands on his hips and legs astride really helps make this photo – he is the only one who seems to be at the halfway point between the very young boys and the men. One can pretty much see him thinking that he too should have a beer in his hand. (However, as I look very closely, there are perhaps another one or two better dressed boys of tween age tucked in amongst the men.) There is a strange mix of those in working clothes and those in nicer shirts and even ties and jackets – some ties loosened against the heat of the day, relaxing a bit. Everyone is mixing however, and seem to be all of one mind – having a superb time. Not a hint of a woman or girl to be seen. This one is all men.

Many people have written about the demise of men’s hats and this photo tells quite a story through the hats. Every single man and boy is wearing one. The variety ranges from numerous bowlers on the suited men, a series of almost identical caps on the boys and then all sorts of well-worn broad brimmed hats on the men in work clothes. Everyone has pushed their brim back a bit for the photo. They are all photo conscious in a great way. And in some ways, this is why I collect these photos – to savor a moment of time in the past when everyone stopped for just a moment and said, “Look at us; we’re having a great time and we want to remember it.”

Fat Cat

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: It is hard to read, but at the bottom of this photo is written Alec – 5 yrs old. 31 lbs. In case you do not know, I am here to tell you that 31 lbs is an enormous kitty! Not surprisingly, it is a man in a chef’s hat that has treat trained this pudgy fellow. Kitty is clearly used to standing on his hind legs for food treats, although his ears are back here. This card was never mailed and there is nothing else written on it – no indication where it is from although it was purchased from someone in the United States.

It isn’t a good photo. A lousy composition with cat and man way too small, it was obviously snapped in a hurry – perhaps kitty was harder to get agree to pose than I state above. However, it is sort of great anyway and I wanted it for my collection. The chef’s hat on the man really adds something and even though we cannot see kitty well, his personality is obvious. Despite his declared girth there is something of the working cat about him. I do not think he achieved 31 lbs on rodents alone, but I can’t help but suspect that numerous ones fell under his claw paws over time and supplemented his diet. He must have been beloved in some way for this inky card to have made it through time before coming to reside in the Butler archive.

Quite a ways back I posted another photo, Sporty, of a cat performing on his hind legs – that time for a toy and not food. As all of us who share a home with cats know, engaging them in feeding time rituals is necessary, but you have to be careful. Cookie and Blackie seem to attempt to move their feeding times (morning and evening) ever earlier each day. Everyday we do our best to remain firm, lest we end up feeding them on command hourly! Kim tells me tales of cats he knew who drove their owners out of bed in the middle of the night for snacks or would begin destroying the apartment. We had our own unfortunate brush with a cat treat obsessed kitty – treats have been banned from the house as a result and these kits do not even know of their existence. (I trust you all to keep the secret.)  Still, Blackie seems to know when smoked salmon for a sandwich is making an appearance in the kitchen, and Cookie will speak in full cat sentences if her dish of dry food reaches below a certain point. We are just glad they are unable to pop the top of a can or open the refrigerator on their own.

Felix Mugging

Felix on the beach w baby

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Some of you ongoing readers know that Pam’s Pictorama was originally conceived as a way of organizing my collection of photo postcard of people posing with giant Felix dolls. While I almost immediately switched course to incorporate all of my various collecting interests – toys, other photos and cat items – my collecting of these rarified beauties continues apace. That said, I generally only get one or two opportunities to purchase such cards each year. This one, as is the case with most, was never sent, and there is nothing written on it.

As summer hits its humid stride this year it seems like a fine moment to look back on a beach day long past. In the background we are treated to wonderful low wooden beach chairs and those fascinating little tents that people used to dress in. I have always been a fan of those – you see them in films occasionally and I have always wanted one or at least to be offered the use of one. You can just about make out what is probably mom and and older brother on the right hand side, blurry and behind them.

This Felix is a very fine looking fellow. I love that he sports a big bow and a careful look reveals whiskers on his face. Felix looks relatively new – in some of my other photos it is clear that the Felix doll in question has been dragged to the beach daily for numerous seasons and as a result he doesn’t stand quite right any longer, or he looks a bit ratty. Not this fellow. He and this youngster, who is wearing the least attractive sort of early children’s bathing attire-diaper thingy, are both pretty new on the summer scene; likely one of many to come for both of them. Perhaps his brother was up next for a photo and his still lurks somewhere out there, waiting for me to find it.

Picture Perfect

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Buried deep in the pages of this blog, this photo decorates my brief auto-bio and it has long been one of the favorites in my collection for years. I thought I would pull it out over this July 4th weekend. (If I can’t be on a boardwalk we can at least look at one!) These two fellows are in spiffy, if slightly bizarre, attire – speaking at least for the guy with the striped tie and ill-fitting tweed jacket. The gent with the pipe seems to be giving the photographer a dubious look, What the hell are you doing? While his friend is giving us a bit of a smile.

This card came from England and I have always imagined this is Brighton or the Isle of Wright. Like almost all of these cards, it was never mailed. When I first saw it I thought that maybe the guys were sort of scamming by getting the photo with Felix, but not paying for it. However, clearly they appear to be taken by surprise. My guess is that, perhaps on slow days, the photographer would take candid photos and offer them to the people for purchase later – someone did this to me years ago when I got off a plane in Peru. (Sadly it was a positively wretched photo – probably due to the 10 or so hours of flying I had just completed – and I really did not want it. The process and method of finding me later fascinated me however and I admired their industriousness.)

My favorite part of this photo though is, not surprisingly, Felix. He has a sort of brother can you spare a dime? look about him, and he is sort of looking over his shoulder. (As some of you know, it is my life’s ambition to own one of these giant Felix-es, several would of course be even better…) PHOTOGRAPHS is written across the doorway to the building and must lead to the studio. I would love to see inside. And oh, on a beautiful summer day, to stroll the and pause to have your photo taken with a giant Felix the Cat doll!

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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