I think it will cheer you up…

Pam’s Pictorama Post: We here at Pictorama feel the need for a good shot in the arm by this point in the winter. January was a grueling month to get through and spring is still so far off, alas. Therefore, as we stand perched on the threshold of February, I offer this entertaining Louis Wain tidbit, The Street Orchestra, to those like me who need a boost.

I have been much taken with Louis Wain recently and you may have noticed that I have been indulging rather freely in the purchase of his postcards. All of the elements of this 1904 street scene symphony remain relevant today – the children, (are the kittens also selling fruit? with a flag of Italy stuck in their cart?), the musicians, beggar and beg-ee, the laborer and onlookers. The fellow seated in the middle of the card could be taken either as a stump speech-maker (my first thought), or my preference is that he is Mayor of this block so to speak. Squarely in the middle of things he observes and comments on all. Every active block needs a Mayor it would seem.

The restaurant in the background is what really makes this card however. While the offerings are all very entertaining, some still have a tiny bit of bite by way of a kind of cat cruelty that Wain tends to lace through his work and specifically his postcards. Louis Wain does not just give us toothless, jolly felines – his kitties still exhibit some of their teeth and claws, their cat nature.

The restaurant offerings here include: Pickled Red Herrings and Boiled rats in sauce, (and my favorite albeit almost illegible) Cats Meat a la East End – where a plate of leftover mystery meat bits comes to mind, and we are Noted for our mice soup, with Best chicken patties and finally the appeal that You can milk your own cow – 20 cows to choose from. Cow milk is additionally advertised on the fence, somewhat cryptically, as Try our noted cow  – best milk, no pump kept on the premises. And finally, if that doesn’t work for you there is also, Good beer – best in town.

While some collectors might turn their noses up at a card that has been written on by the sender, I feel as though the neat script addition to this one adds to the charm of this card, If you look hard at this I think it will cheer you up. HMD. I couldn’t agree more! On the back, in the same hand it reads, So pleased you are a little better. Love to Sis as well as yourself. It is addressed to Miss N. Harrison, 6 Strensham Road, Balsall Heath. It was sent from within Birmingham in 1904, but the month on the postmark has been obscured. I am sure it did its job of cheering though.

So, happy February dear readers – and I do hope that if you look hard at this, it will cheer you up.

Some Snow!

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Brrrr! This is the kind of snow you somehow imagine when you are a kid, but never really experience – at least most of us won’t anyway, global warming notwithstanding. I think every kid who has built a snow fort has dreamed of something as grand and massive as this. Bigger even than the igloo I always imagined building, but evidently quite secure since our four formidable ladies perch safely atop.

It is indeed unfortunate that there is no indication of where or exactly when this was taken and I can’t help but wonder. It is a photo postcard and there is nothing on the back. The clothes lead us to realize this was probably no later than the teens, a full century ago, the women above in full length dresses, thick warm black stockings on all. There are coats of the heaviest wools with trims and bits of fur. I am not positive, but this image may be populated entirely by women. There’s one figure, on the bottom, second from the right, which may be a young boy, but I cannot see well enough to declare.

I assume that the tunnel through was perhaps of necessity – a path through this extraordinary snow drift – but maybe it was also for fun. I do wonder how someone even managed to make that tunnel though – and where did the excess snow, no small amount, go? Is it just off camera?

As I write this we are commencing the earliest days of winter after a notably mild fall here in the Northeast. (And I for one am heading for Florida for work as I write this – I will be searching the closet for something to wear in 80 degree weather later this week.) The other morning, up very early, I was surprised to see about 20 minutes of hard, fluffy snow – the first of the season, to my knowledge anyway. It didn’t stick. Our extraordinary and notable weather events have been more of the hurricane nature this fall. However, one never knows with winter and weather. Perhaps this will be the year of a big one and we too will make strange burrows and pathways under fifteen and twenty foot drifts here in Central Park.