Find Felix in the Photo

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: It is always a very fine day at Pictorama when a Felix photo postcard wanders in the door. Of course one never knows when an opportunity to purchase one will occur, and never have I seen one for sale outside of eBay with the exception of the one (rather glorious) occasion when someone contacted me via this site to sell me a cache of them directly. (This rather interesting tale can be found here.) This is a photo postcard and it was never mailed, nothing is written on the back.

Arguably, I probably like the shots of larger Felix dolls and one or a couple of folks gathered around him. I have long had an affinity for people posing at carnivals or seaside with Felix. (I’m also partial to people posing with moon cut-outs – folks just brought a special energy to those photo moments in life – photos being a bit more rarified in the pre-phone camera days. An early post with a moon photo can be found here.)

IMG_1545 collection


As I study today’s photo I have to wonder if it is an extended family gathering or one of another nature. Somehow all the women dressed in white have migrated to one side of the photo, the arches of an arcade coincidentally creating a greater visual division – somehow their white hats bob into the black spaces just right. As a group, the women are largely hat wearing, while of course their beach attire would qualify as cocktail wear in our more casual day. (And I refer to our day in general, not these bunker life days when we rarely get out of sweats and wear trousers with buttons it seems. A dress that requires ironing seems like something from another age indeed.)

Children clad in a variety of modes line up in front , a few brave swim togs, but most also tend toward dresses, hats and one little guy even has a tie. The bright prints of the girl’s dresses are a relief to all the white. The men are darkly suited up – a minimum of tie and vest. The gentleman wearing a suit in front is also sporting a very large rolling pin and of course the meaning of or reason for that is lost to us now. Two girls near him appear to have some sort of canes or croquet mallets or the like. A series of flag poles draw our eye up and back to some delightful looking buildings on a nearby bluff.

It is possible to miss Felix at first. He blends surprisingly well with the kids all around him, a bit short perhaps, but one of the gang. However, he poses dead center in the group so eventually he emerges into our consciousness. Once I saw him, it became a Felix photo and it has earned a place in the collection here at Pictorama.

Felix Beach photo

Hanging Out

Pam’s Photo Post: This card was purchased at the April El Dorado of a postcard sale here in New York this spring. The screwiness of it attracted me to it. I assume this is not a one-of-a-kind card, but the back does not however indicate commercial production. The card was mailed to Miss Lilly – Lane M B Elliott Dillon Mont. Also written in a messy pencil script is, as written, This is a very nice winter so far & how I would like to see all you folks and Janes folks. Was all well last Heard from J Sam Bell & girls Last week. Will. This card was mailed on December 7 at 10 AM, 1907 from Ames, Iowa. (A quick look tells me that Ames, Iowa is where Iowa State University is. No evidence that our less than literate writer was attending however!)

Under close examination, these gents on the card do not appear to be hanging from this light pole. There seem to be lines run down from the top which affords some sort of foot hold, while holding on above. I will guess that this was officially a function of telephone line repair? Isn’t it odd that many places don’t actually have phone poles and lines now? There was of course a time when they were ubiquitous. I remember though at some point being aware that they didn’t have them and how odd that seemed. The town I grew up in has phone lines above ground and as a place which is prone to hurricanes, which routinely knock them down, you would think they might have committed to the cost of moving them underground, but perhaps more to it than that. In Manhattan they have of course moved them underground.

When I first saw this card I could not help, but reflect that it would have been an impressive amount of upper body strength if these guys were hanging from the poles. As an adult I developed an addiction to working out at a gym – I find it very relaxing and work out four or five days a week. However, despite developing more muscle than I have ever had in my shoulders and arms, I doubt I could do more than a chin up or two – especially with my arms facing forward – let alone hang from something like this. Ouch! I was abysmal at these sorts of things as a kid, rope climbing, pull ups, push ups and the like. I do occasionally wonder – what were they thinking testing us that way as kids? If I can’t do it now, why on earth would I, as a more or less average kid be able to do it then? It remains a mystery to me.

Ebmar Pines


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I bought this photo at a flea market a long time ago. No cats to be seen and no one in a costume so this is an odd one for me. There is nothing written on the back and I have been entirely unable to find any location for Ebmar or Ebmar Pines, although it is clearly a certain kind of camp ground or picnic area we are all familiar with to some extent.

I think it is the symmetry I liked on this one – mother, sweet faced and happy on one side, why-do-I-have-to-be-here resentful daughter on the other.  Hot summer day, the flies and bees are buzzing. Don’t know what is on the table between them. Looks like a jar of lemonade and some food. It is a pretty wooded spot, although there’s something a tad frowsy and uncomfortable about the long, prickly grass, a loose bag from their picnic perhaps and a blanket spread behind them. Mom is on a camp chair and daughter is on a wooden house chair. The house chair makes me wonder if maybe they aren’t the owners of the spot, sitting out by the sign, waiting to welcome possible business. I wonder how the daughter felt about this card being kept for all time – memorializing her summer of discontent! I hope she didn’t regret it too much. Hard to be reminded of one’s adolescent obstinance.

When you are little, summer is an endless delight. As you get older, even as a teenager, it can be more complicated. Working for some kids, traveling with family for others – camp for others still. Here at Pictorama, I have frequently referred to my growing up at the shore, and the glorious string of summers of swimming and sun I remember. In my high school years I had jobs though too – cleaning houses, short order cook and later in college, waitressing. Still, summer remained special and generally delightful in my memory for all those years.

Somehow none of us are prepared for the abrupt end of that once we take a full time job. The Met supplied a liberal amount of vacation, but I rarely was able to put more than two weeks together in summer – it wasn’t allowed. At Jazz at Lincoln Center, my new gig, I am experiencing summer Fridays for the first time, half days on Friday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. To be honest, I have yet to leave really leave early on Friday, but the place does clear out. I am easing myself into it I guess, but I like it. It is a tantalizing reminder of the slower pace of summer in my childhood and somehow two and a half days seems so much better than just two.

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.


The Peek-a-Boo Tent

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Occasionally I am in the process of purchasing (or just admiring) a photo on eBay and another by the seller catches my eye. In this way I, who generally am a purchaser of photos that include cats, am attracted to some thing utterly off-topic. (It is sort of the digital equivalent of thumbing through a pile in a flea market I guess.) This postcard (and another which also features a dog) turned up the other day and the next thing I knew, it was mine. It is unused and undated.

As often as people preoccupy themselves with selfies and camera photos today, I am not convinced that they show the same commitment to the comical posed photo that folks did back in the photo postcard day. I could be wrong (mine is not an exhaustive study after all), but I am willing to go out on a limb and say that men were more likely to be the photo pranksters, like these fellows.

Okay, I’m not even exactly sure how they did this pose unless they really were willing and able to perch on each other’s backs – like early camping vaudevillians. I can imagine getting about four up from the bottom without doing that, but not sure about those top two – and the top fellow so debonair with the cig hanging, jauntily, out of his mouth. Each has his “camp” hat on. And of course somehow the photographer also got the wonderful little dog to pose just right at the bottom. Well done gents! This photo is so splendid it makes me wonder about the other photos likely taken on this camping trip, although with the cost of film at the time perhaps this was their only foray on this venture. Meanwhile, it is worth noting – they are not truly in the wilderness. If you look carefully there is a pretty little town (church steeple and all) in the valley right below them.

So, if I am wrong let me know. I would love to see your jolly contemporary entries into photo comedy – no Photoshop however please. Let’s keep ourselves on something close to an even playing field and see if we can compete with the real photo postcard of the day.

Sunnyside Follies

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I may never find out what the Sunnyside Follies of Barrington, New Hampshire was, but I am pleased to have this remnant. Even I have a little trouble imagining what this act might have consisted of – I would love to have seen it though! Four women with stuffed, beribboned toy cats and wearing cute little outfits which appear to sport scottie dogs upon close inspection, seems promising to me. (I admit to possibly being something of a minority audience however.)

This card was never mailed and there is nothing written on it so there is no indication of when this was made. From hair and outfits I am pegging it in the 1930’s. Barrington, New Hampshire appears to be a summer resort town – I am imagining it as the New Hampshire version of Catskill, New York in the same time period. Family camps on lakes – perhaps a WASP version of the upstate New York scene?

I am finishing up a week’s vacation between jobs as I write this – at home in Manhattan, what we might call a stay-cation these days. I have never been much of one for vacation travel, and Kim is even less likely than me to want to travel from home base when we take time off. For me this lack of vacation wayfaring may go back to my childhood. As I have mentioned, I grew up in a shore town in New Jersey within walking distance of the ocean. My father, employed his entire career by ABC News as a cameraman, traveled all over the country and the world for work. When he took his vacation (usually a month in the summer) he was also anxious to enjoy being home so we stayed put. Not a hardship, but I never got into the habit of going some place else to relax. My sister Loren did not have this limitation and was likely to take vacations to ski and even took a cruise or two. She was extremely fond of Italy, and traveled there frequently in the last several years of her life. I am sorry that she and I never figured out a trip there together although we talked about it.

My non-work travel has been to exotic places like Tibet, and I was lucky enough to do a fair amount of interesting domestic and international travel for the Museum as well – getting me to South America and Europe. However, I have never been one to travel to a resort (spa, beach or rent a house) for recreation. Perhaps being a pair of non-drivers has added to this travel inertia. For fun and relaxation we stay right here, denizens of Deitch Studio with each other and the kits. It is our slice of heaven and indeed good enough for us.

The Swimsuit Issue


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I stumbled over this souvenir photo postcard while searching for something else on eBay as occasionally (blissfully) happens. I love the frothy waves in the charmingly artificial background. Rough seas for Mr. Sailboat! Even that grimy box she is atop is sort of interesting to me. Our gal is both shy and bathing suit proud at the same time – maybe a tad of defiance thrown in? While certainly not risqué by contemporary standards, I get the feeling that posing in this bathing attire was a bit racy. The card is unsent, but written on the back is To Miss Sara Huffnagle and at the bottom Beulah Huffnagle. 

This swimming costume looks fairly new to me – although I guess no reason to think it was brand new. I like the little black shoes! In some ways they seem quite practical really – hot sand not mention the stones and hard shells in the water we have all stepped on would be avoided. I have written about my childhood and adolescence growing up at the beach on the Jersey shore, so for Pictorama readers it isn’t surprising that for three or so months of every year I lived in bathing suits.

As a more or less average woman with a fairly healthy body image, I have over my life thus far, gone the full gambit on my feelings about wearing a bathing suit. I remember being very young and a cousin giving me a very psychedelic bikini I adored. There was another two piece in a broad orange and white stripe I was very fond of before deciding in a subsequent year that I didn’t like two piece bathing suits. (I didn’t wear another until a few years ago when I bought one – a tankini which looks like a tank suit but has the freedom of two pieces. A grand invention.) There were, of course, reams of Speedo racing suits, unremarkable in design and fading with chlorine and sun over time, made for more serious swimming.

Please understand, I was never a serious swimmer. Unlike my sister who swam laps and joined racing teams, I swam for fun only – in the ocean riding waves, messing around a pool. I never looked at it as a form of exercise or discipline. Therefore, the swimsuits that live in memory were, while essentially practical, entirely about how they looked. I happen to have a photo of another favorite. I may have even had this one in more than one color combination.


Fast forward to New York City post-college (a place profoundly devoid of bathing suit wearing opportunities) and what followed was literally decades of not wearing or even owning a bathing suit. Later, as business travel became more part of my routine, pools at hotels became available. For the first time I was confronted with an older body and the question of whether or not I wanted co-workers to see me in a bathing suit. The answer was, largely, no and I rarely if ever threw a suit in my bag. (I will save opining on the horror of shopping for a bathing suit in florescent lit dressing rooms of department stores, which tend to turn your New York City pallor an overall greenish hue, for a future rant. All the women already know it.)

More time passed. In the past decade I became a gym rat and gradually grew used to seeing myself reflected in multiple mirrors, in running shorts, tights, and other revealing clothing and in equally unflattering light. I slowly adjusted to seeing colleagues in the gym at 5:30 AM in my exercise gear. My reluctance to do so has faded as my devotion to working out increased and I wouldn’t hesitate to pull out my bathing suit now. Good thing too, because I understand there is a pool at the gym near my new office, and I am looking forward to swimming some laps. I will never be as good as a teenage Loren was, but I am looking forward to getting back in the pool and giving it a try.



Catting Around

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: While I am mostly known about the house as a rather superb sleeper (Kim says if it was a competitive event I would medal, maybe even take gold) recently I have been having some insomnia which for me takes the form of wakefulness from the hours of approximately 2:30-4:00 each night. However, unlike the gentlemen in this photo, I can’t blame it on the kitties. Generally speaking, I find them snoring gently at my feet when I wake. I occasionally nudge Blackie awake to have a conversation and some pets – I figure that keeping me company is one of their cat jobs. I guess he regrets not reading the fine print on his cat contract as he is usually anxious to get back to his Zzzz’s.

I had to look closely to find the black cats perched on and out the window in this odd scenario. I am not sure why the sign over the bed reads, Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast – referring perhaps to the kitty accompaniment responsible for their wakefulness? This reminds me of one of my favorite purchases and posts in recent years to be found at Kitty Sextette Singers – a kitty orchestra on a fence with a doggie audience. Noisy cats on a back fence make up an almost infinite string of cat cartoons, from Felix to Terry Tunes.

This photo postcard seems to belong to a bizarre sub-strata which I have tapped into lately of strange photo cards. It reminds me a bit of the recent photo and post Cat of the Sea? in that it appears to come from something other than just the origin of postcard photo. This one looks like it might be a still from a silent film, although that seems unlikely really. Perhaps a series of cards?

This card was mailed and has a postmark date of October 21, 1918. It appears to have been mailed in Scotland to Miss Smith, Seabourne, Broughty Ferry, Scotland. The pencil scrawled message on the back is a bit inane and what I can make out reads, Just a PC to let you know that I got your let allright (sic) Well I have not got a chance to write you but don’t send any word here till I write you as I am going to leave here and will send a PC at the end of the week. This is followed by a sign off and signature which goes over the message and is utterly illegible. All this to say, got your card, don’t write me – I’ll write you. Funny how rarely people write with pencil now, pens are so ubiquitously available, but they weren’t then. I am here to tell you that a message written with a blunt-tipped pencil more than 100 years ago is generally hard to read!

I have rarely, if ever, experienced first hand the kind of caterwauling this card pokes fun at – thankfully the stray cat population has been successfully reduced in a number of ways, at least in the places I have lived. However, just before I go to sleep most nights, Cookie and Blackie have a tear around our one room apartment, which generally ends in a fight and me yelling for Blackie to stop killing Cookie – right now! And then Blackie, feelings hurt and all wound up, goes and meows at the door to the apartment in a dejected fashion. I guess we have our own version of a late night kitty concerto.



Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This card is unused and has no writing on the back. A quick Google search tells me that until 2015 one could visit some incarnation of Deer Forest Park, which appears to have been a roadside family-run attraction with kiddy rides and petting zoo. I could not find a date of origin for the park, although an article about the demise of the park and advertising the auction of the then remaining property – most of the rides were sold at the time of that article, including a train that must have run through the park which many people speak lovingly of – referred to its heyday as the 1940’s. I would say that Dashington’s seems to belong to that era, if not earlier. At the time of the sale, June of 2015, the animals had all been purchased by an animal group which raised the money in a GoFundMe campaign so they would not be auctioned or euthanized. They were looking for homes for animals including: horses, a pony, a tree frog in a tank, a 15-foot python, a 5-foot iguana, one emu, peacocks, 12 chickens, three wild Mongolian Asses, a British Labrador dog and a cat. (Evidently the Mongolian Asses were especially hard to place as they chew through all fence board.)

Of course my card belongs to the time when such small parks and attractions made up the bread and butter memories of many summer tripping families for decades, as the family vacation by car became the preferred post-war pastime. The fact that it is black and white makes me think it is perhaps a bit earlier – all of the other images I found online were in color.

Deer Forest At Paw Paw Lake Coloma

Early postcard, not in my collection



Postcard collection


I doubt that the remaining cat and dog which needed homes were descendants of my crew here, although you never know. You will note the sign on the wall only promises Dogs and Cat. It took me a long time looking at this photo to find that single cat – up on the highest platform, white with dark cow-spots and wearing a harness. It is impossible to see for sure, but I can almost detect what I call piss-cat ears of annoyance on the fellow. The fact is, we all know cats don’t train especially well and do not appear to enjoy it. While dogs seem to like the interaction and having a job, with cats at best it seems to be a treat filled system which involves an uncomfortable level of coercion. (You may remember a post that provides an even earlier glimpse into the world of trained kitties, Mad Jenny.) Still, in my imagination somehow I persist in seeing glorious Busby Berkley type cat performances – glittering collars and dozens or more happily dancing kitties – with me as the mistress of ceremony, wearing my circus-girl costume, right in the middle of it all.


The Wigwam


In my collection


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: In the course of my persistent (some would even say relentless) searching of photographs for my collection, I occasionally stumble on one that is entirely outside of my area of interest and collecting, but thoroughly captures my imagination. If it isn’t too outrageously hard to get I will add it to the Pictorama holdings. This card wins on two counts – there is something shining and glittering about the light in the trees that caught my attention, and I have always had a fascination with the idea of staying in vacation cabins and these wigwams would definitely have won me over. As I sit and write this on a snowy January day in New York City, the mind drifts to hot summer days and fantasy vacations in places like Maine. The reality is that Kim and I do not drive and generally speaking do not vacation away from home, but fantasy is the key word here. For the record, the postcard is unused and The Wigwam was neatly inscribed by hand.

Many years ago I did in fact stay in a bungalow (although not of the wigwam variety) in Maine, on my way to attend the wedding of friends. My then boyfriend and I were torn between finding it charming and being faced with a certain musty, buggy reality. It is my only experience in one. It did not dim my theoretical interest in them however. I do not think I ever mentioned that growing up we also did not travel on vacations as a family. From what I hear such trips were mixed bags of great and awful memories, but I really have none. My father was a cameraman for ABC news and traveled constantly so vacation for him (and therefore for us) was spent at home at our house on a river inlet and within walking distance of the beach and the Atlantic ocean, a boat or two moored off a dock in the backyard. Growing up in a beach community we were not deprived in the least. (My childhood summers are an endless string of sparkling days at the beach strung together in my memory.) However, I have few childhood memories of long car rides and family vacation hotel stays of any sort with the exception of visits to family which usually resulted in staying with them. Somehow I don’t see my parents as the types to embrace ancient bungalow holidays anyway, and I have little doubt that my sister, brother and I would have torn each other to shreds trapped in a car together.

Perhaps my apparent adult disinterest in traveling on vacation is rooted in this lack of childhood family vacations. It just wasn’t a habit I formed. I have traveled to far flung places – Tibet twice, Patagonia, much of Europe, but I have never plunked myself down on a beach in another state or country on vacation, and it has been decades since I have been on so much as a random weekend away for the sheer novelty. In reality I travel more on business these days than I manage to for pleasure. Much like my father, vacation has come to mean time with Kim and the kits here in glorious Manhattan, reveling in the novelties that Deitch studio and Pictorama have to offer.