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.

A Century of Progress

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Poor Pictorama readers, I am proffering yet another murky tintype this week! Sorry! Kim has done his best with Photoshop, but I understand the limitations. Those of you who were devoted enough to come over and see it and what I have to say (and I thank you) may wonder why I persist and why I seem to find these somewhat irresistible.

First, for me there’s just nothing like seeing these giant examples of Felix and Mickey (or in the case of the recent post Riding the Big Bear a oversized Steiff-like bear) and admiring their oversized greatness. It gets me again and again with each one I find. I believe I have seen this Mickey before, but I have checked my files and it does not seem to be a photo I own, so it must have come and gone on eBay or passed by me on the internet. (He’s barely a Mickey – I think even Disney would have trouble with a trademark lawsuit against this guy. Can you see the big bow he is wearing?) However, I also love the idea that tintypes were still being made at fairs and things well into the 20th century. I think I would have been first in line.

I have made tintypes (wet plate photos) and the process, while fairly straightforward once you understand it, is not entirely uncomplicated, especially when executed outside. As far as I know, the makers of these had a pretty down and dirty process to churn them out, all day, everyday, and these have largely faded because the chemicals that fixed them were tired from overuse, and then probably washed in the equivalent of a dirty pail. It is a tiny bit miraculous to me that they can be made this way at all.

This photo has a tiny sticker, which under close examination, turns out to say A Century of Progress leading me to believe it was taken at the 1933-34 Chicago International Exposition or World’s Fair. (As is frequently the case – this is in a great holder which, if they sticker had been placed differently, had a spot where perhaps you could have written a name or a place below.) It is of course a bit ironic that at a World’s Fair representing a hundred years of progress, someone set up with such an old-fashioned souvenir stand for photos. After all, Kodak had made film available to the masses for three decades at that point, and perhaps color photos would have been a more appropriate for that modern age exposition. Still, for me, the tintype is undeniably special and maybe others agreed at the time, as clearly this one was kept safely all these years and has now found its way to me.

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.

Butch

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: By now readers know that it is hard for me to pass up a photo of a puss with a spotty nose and this guy had the ultimate in spotted-kitty face decoration. Not only does he have a big black nose spot, but that black spot on his chin is very deftly placed and makes him a pretty handsome gentleman.

This dignified fellow is identified as the mascot of the Oregon Humane Society in Portland – Portland is a place I have often mentioned as a El Dorado of superb early photos. (Some Portland posts include, Felix on Parade and most recently, Cat’s Eye on Parade.) This one appears to date a bit later than most of my pics, but has that good Portland photo spirit nonetheless. I have always enjoyed stories about the felines in the work force and those working kits (and their kissin’ cousins the mascots) make up a sub-genre of cat photos and tales. From Old Tom the Post Office Cat to Tom the Fire Boat Cat I have uncovered great stories of kitties in the working world.

Then there are those cats we all know, who reside in shops, vet’s offices and like Butch, make a permanent home of a place that is meant to be a way station for animals. Those employed to catch mice (and, um, larger rodents) in the bodegas and deli’s of New York City, are acquired for self-evident reasons like the more glorified working friends mentioned above. While I have no doubt that they perform this service admirably they do not seem to enjoy an especially notable status. (I have been tempted to ask if I could adopt one or another at times if I felt they were particularly unloved, but that will be another story.) Other workaday cats, however, are clearly beloved – I think of an especially lovely if aloof calico who presided over the Alabaster bookstore in Union Square for many years. Perhaps it won’t surprise readers that a great cat is enough to entice me into repeated visits to an establishment. There is a lovely striped cat who flies below the radar in a health food store I frequent who I often catch snoozing by a space heater behind the counter.

The stories of Butch and those like him who somehow either endear themselves so thoroughly to the staff of an adoption agency, or in some cases are special, but not easily adoptable for some reason, are on my mind today. How strange it must be for them to be the resident kitty in a place where endless cats and other animals come and go, or stay briefly. Years ago my vet had several permanent residents – one I remember was a sweet, fat fellow, who had a respiratory issue that made him sound as if he was constantly saying, “Peep!” Another one I remember coming to sit with me and Otto or Zippy, whoever was screaming bloody murder in the cat carrier at the moment, as if to both investigate and offer a paw in comradeship to the visiting kitty. (Understandably, this didn’t go over so well with my guys.) The current vet has a few residents who all seem to be of sound body, but seem to keep mostly to themselves – although they might demand a chin rub or two while I am paying the bill.  I wonder about each of their stories. For now we’ll salute Butch and his comrades, as well as the fine work of the generations of human folk, who find homes for our footloose feline friends.

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.

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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Riding the Big Kitty

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: We’re having a stop the presses moment here at Pictorama to bring you this latest acquisition. I initiated this blog as a way to bring some order to my photo postcard collection of people posing with outsized Felix the Cat dolls, other Felix related photos, and the even more rarified people atop of giant stuffed black cat photos. (For two earlier posts you can have a look at the very early Cat Chair or the more recent Cat Chair (episode 2) ) For those of you who have been on board for a bit you are probably aware that the blog has instead rambled, stretched and rolled in many directions to include toys and all sorts of personal whims. However, we here at Pam’s Pictorama still drop everything for the inauguration of these photos. They rarely come cheap, but after all, that is what we are here for!

Today’s photo has an especially great cat. I adore the agape and almost bejeweled looking kitty mouth, highlighted claw paws, white whiskers and a stitched nose which looks like a great arrow pointing down to that mouth! This cat has pop eyes, outsized bat-like ears and the very most glorious and enormous tail I have ever seen on one of these fellows. He is an extraordinary specimen. Not at all worn-out looking, this one is fresh and handsome. Another appealing aspect of this photo is this little girl. I don’t think even I could enjoy it more than she is. (Although I would love to try of course.) Children do not always embrace these opportunities appropriately, and they often look confused or generally put out by the experience. Not this kid – she’s astride this kitty and she’s got a great grin on her face. Her white strappy Mary Janes and outfit provide an excellent contrast to kitty’s black surface.

Like most souvenir photos of this type, this photo was not mailed. There is no writing on the back and, like all of the cards of this kind I own, this one came from Great Britain. (I have come to assume that giant cat chair photo opportunities were only available in Britain. Please do let me know if you have different information.) Looking at the background, and not being an expert in flora, I guess it is probably a seaside resort or amusement park.

While I am not sure where I would put it in our studio apartment, (get rid of the couch?) I do nevertheless dream that these giant stuffed cats and their Felix counterparts are extant somewhere and that one day I will acquire them. A girl’s gotta dream, right?