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!




Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I have a complicated relationship with posed cat photos. I find a lot of them (think cat weddings, cat hanging laundry, cats using a short-wave radio type Harry Whittier Frees photos) smarmy and the cats vaguely drugged and tormented looking. However, once in a while Frees and his wanna be’s hit it on the nose for me. (See a past post, Flying Dutch Kitties for a favorite example.) These cards by an unidentified photographer are another example.

Although neither card has been mailed, the second one has the following written in a neat script on the back, Mrs. Wm. Durrant, 810 West Fifth St, Plainfield, NJ.

I especially like the first shot – this cat looks nicely set up with the drinks and pipes, paws folded neatly in front of him. The cards seem a shade less than professional somehow and there is no studio marking or numbering system. The cat appears to be a gray tuxedo – a cat who is always in formal wear, by definition. Despite my disparaging of some of the Frees photos, I readily admit to a yen to pop a pair of specs on the kitties, bunny ears – or perhaps a well chosen chapeau. As I have mentioned previously, Kim has rescued the kits from this fate. I know it is undignified, but I can’t help but think it would be so much fun! I almost wonder if this was an early, similar attempt by someone with a well behaved cat.

This kind of dressing the cats up fiesta, always leads me to thinking about the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Dogville Comedy shorts. Made between 1929 and 1931, these shorts, enacted with an all dog cast, usually featured dog-centric remakes of popular recent films of the day. The selection of these on Youtube was a bit thinner than I expected. However, for those of you who have not experienced these before I will recommend you give this group of three a try, Dogville ComediesThe Dogway Melody is perhaps the best of the lot and is the last.

As with the cats posed in the Frees photos, sadly one has to assume not all was happy in Dogland when these were being made. Still, in my mind I imagine instead, a series of Catville shorts with all cat casts – all singing, all dancing cat productions!

The Easter Kitty

Scan copy

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Of course every day is a cat holiday in my book, but I have been holding this card for an Easter nod. Mr. Bunny is certainly the picture of calm and cool and fluffy at a dish (must be water because I can’t think of a food cats and rabbits share) with not one but three kitties. Granted, two are juniors kits, look about eight months old, not quite full size yet. They look like they could stir up plenty of trouble, yet somehow the bunny is not what they have in mind today. Something has the attention of the black one (Blackie’s great-great-grandfather?) off camera. Senior cat seems to be contemplating something too.

I can’t decide if what we see in the upper right corner is someone in a long dress – perhaps making sure everyone plays nice? I also like what we see of this yard. It is pleasantly run down and lived-in, but in a cheerful way with the potted plants and worn stairs. Clearly there was meant to be some sort of pre-fab decorative border, although on this one it has gone awry. (More sloppy printing! How disappointing for the recipient of the photo!) This card was never used and I assume just kept to commemorate a lovely afternoon with the pets outside; everyone enjoying themselves on a sunny day.

I have never known a rabbit very well. My colleague Morgan has a small black and white named Petunias, and I enjoy video clips and photos of his antics. I knew a woman who adopted her neighbors miniature rabbit, Bun Bun. He was extremely affectionate and holding him was the first time I realized that rabbits purr! Fascinating! My brother had a magnificent, enormous rabbit, Juliette. She deserves her own post really. He was an excellent rabbit parent – and later adopted a bird. Edward is pet-less now – a fact I think he should remedy.(Edward, consider this a public rebuke for your petlessness!) Eventually another animal will adopt him and his girlfriend, I’m sure. After all – he’s a Butler and they have a way of finding us.

Well, wouldn’t this make you exclaim!


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I can only feel fortunate that there was a cat on this card which allowed it to turn up in one of my searches. As it is, I have a soft spot for photo collage/montage cards, but the loopy handwriting all over makes it a really rare find. (Just a few examples of photo collage posts you can check out include, Cat Photo Collage and Dawn of a New Year.)

As you can see below, on the back, in the same decorative hand, it is addressed to Miss Mable Chandler, 402 Lincoln Ave, Eau Claire, Wis. c/o Miss M. Hammond and sent with a penny stamp, 8 PM, August 28, 1907 with a departure from a place in Wisconsin I cannot read (it appears to be BPM?) and it arrived in Eau Claire at 11 PM that evening. There is a small cryptic symbol – initials? – in the upper left corner.

I hardly know where to start with the image. The original card seems pretty cryptic to begin with. The woman at the top of the exclamation point is holding something – was it a bowl? – that our sender has inked over into a sort of smiley face. The decorative ferns and leaves in the background work visually, but what the heck are they there for? Then the woman with a white cap and finally, Mr. Kitty staring out, over the edge to the embracing couple below, a bit critical if you ask me. They, of course, are snuggled up and the writing nearest them reads, What is the fine definintion of a “Kiss and next to it, Ans: 0÷2 Can you make it out if not ask me Jean. Next to the couple she has written in a dialogue balloon, This is an Illustration of the ans.

I wonder if the card itself was a one off? If not – what the heck was it all about? I guess I may never really know, but I am pleased to have this dolled up example of someone’s handiwork in connection with it.


Springtime with Kittens


Pam’s Pictorama Post Post: This photo postcard is just so neat and tidy – I love it. A woman settled into this leafy patch, perfect white picket fence behind, with two wonderful kittens and a dog who appears to be very happy to guard all involved. The little handful of striped kitten on her shoulder seems a bit smaller (younger) than the one on her lap, but perhaps that is because we cannot see him or her clearly and they are siblings. The gray kitten is all happy sleepiness although that striped one looks like trouble. What is it with those tabby cats?

The woman looks like she is pleased to be posing with her pets on her mossy seat – and she is nicely turned out. I especially like those print stockings. This is an odd question, but is that a small photo sticking out of her hair? Keeps catching my eye. The gray kitten looks just like a pair of identical kittens I had when I was a kid – Ping and Pong, the offspring of Winkie. I can easily imagine being this contented woman – posing with my precious pets!

The back of this card reads, Kind regards & best wishes, Yours Sincerely, L. Scrugg 13.8.13. It is written in a beautiful, looping hand in red pen. It was never mailed. Like many, it must have been given to the recipient and treasured, as it remains today in our house.

The ABC’s of Kitties

School scene

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I was watching this postcard on eBay and forgot about the auction. Kim noticed it coming up for auction and scored it for me as a Christmas gift. It is of a certain genre, but I never saw one very much like it before.

All three cats look peevish, including the one sitting on the shelf behind the little girl – what project have they been gotten into now?  The one on the lap of the boy thinking, “Okay – so it’s a cat. So what?” I generally refer to that as a piss cat expression in our house.

While I am sorry for these kitties, I cannot begin to catalogue all the games I made my cat play when I was a child. I remember putting a reluctant Snoopy (patient heavy-set male, white with black spots) in a baby carriage on myriad occasions. I also distinctly remember trying to balance the cat on the back of the German Shepard – circus animals! Without success of course. (And I used to try to ride the dog like a small pony – but I guess that is a dog story.) Still, that cat slept with me and remained game for whatever I stirred up as a kid. The dog followed me around faithfully (I’m sure I was good for dropping bits of food here and there) and would have ripped anyone who tried to hurt me in two.

Kim feels strongly that I should not dress the cats up and take their picture, despite an equally strong desire on my part. I guess you never really grow up. However, I’m sure Cookie and Blackie thank Kim for saving them from that indignity.

Felix and the Gang

Felix and gang

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: One of my New Year’s resolutions is to get more of my Felix photos onto this blog. While organizing and recording them was one of the prime motives behind starting it, I realized recently that I have barely scratched the surface of my collection in this area. I have allowed myself to travel down many tributaries, but 2016 will be the year of Felix photos!

There is something a bit homemade about the Felix doll this very lively group is posing with here. One of my never-ending fascinations with Felix toys and photos is the huge variation of the off-model Felix-es one sees. Mickey Mouse can have a similar quality but Disney sat on pikers pretty quick and hard so there is less to choose from. But Felix, hand-made in factories in England, tends to have a wide variety of expression – most often goofy, sometimes downright insane.

Each and every person in this group, shown in their period swimming togs, seems to be enjoying this photo and their day at the beach. Even the fully suited gent in the back is smiling on them. The sun is glinting in and it looks like a raucously good time at the beach today.