Friday, October 25, 2013

Technology ~~ A "Sepia Saturday" Post!

This is the 200th anniversary of Sepia Saturday! I've participated off and on during the past four years, and didn't want to miss being part of its special week. Therefore, in accordance with this week's guidelines, I'm reprinting my favorite Sepia Saturday post, from March 26th, 2011. This and most (if not all) of this week's other Sepia Saturday entries will be published in a book called -- appropriately enough -- The Best of Sepia Saturday.

(Be sure to check out other Sepia Saturday entries!)

*  *  *  *  *

Every parent, so they say, dreams that his or her child (or children) will have a better life than the parent had. A better education, better financial status, a better marriage (if that applies), etc.

There were more technological advances during the span of my mother's life than I could list, even in a post of my usual entry's length. And say what you will about some of the downsides of "progress," we certainly have it easier in many more ways than those who lived in 1917, when my mother was born.

My mom lived to see high-definition, flat-screen televisions. When she was born, radio hadn't even entered its golden age. Commercial air travel hadn't even gotten off the ground... errr... so to speak. And I could go on.

Even during my own childhood, computers were enormous monstrosities that filled half a room. Using one of those babies as a "laptop" would crush you to death.

Now, of course, we have "personal computers."

And we have eBay.

Thanks to eBay, I now own something my own mother never got to own (due to its expense), but should have: Her high school yearbook, from 1935!

Northern Lights was the name of the yearbooks issued by North High School in Worcester, Massachusetts (during the 1930s, anyway). I recently purchased one at a relatively modest sum from an eBay dealer. The copy I own was originally the property of Alice I. Maki, an attractive blonde whom I can only assume is no longer with us... like my mom.

Upon receiving it, I read the thing cover to cover before leaving the post office lobby, looking for my mother's main yearbook entry, and any other listings, photos, etc. of my mom's senior year. There weren't many. I'm sure her chores at home kept her from being a social butterfly.

But I did expect at least one or two music-related activities, and I wasn't disappointed.

It didn't take me long to spot my mom's photo among the many students shown above.

It would have been nice if I'd thought to look for this a few years ago, when my mom was not only alive, but when her vision was still good enough for her to appreciate such a find. At least I have the comfort of knowing that it's not something I thought of and then characteristically put off doing until it was too late. That would bother me.

Before I even received my package, it occurred to me that, even if she had never owned one herself, my mom might have autographed Alice's copy. And I was right!

That was a nice touch. Almost like a brief note from my mom to her son and daughter, which "only" waited 75 years before we got to see it.

Gotta love eBay.

Thanks for your time.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Damaged Goods ~~ A "Sepia Saturday" Post

This week's Sepia Saturday theme deals with the less-than-perfect photos that we've all taken at one time or another. For me, those would probably be many images taken when I was in high school, briefly studying photography when I was a member of my school's Audio-Visual Club.

Unfortunately, I destroyed the “evidence” years ago.

My mom's side of the family had a minor love affair going on with the camera, but if there were any shots which were inadequate in any major way – and I'm sure there were – they were thrown out like my own poor attempts years later.

Therefore, I've decided to focus – the pun is unavoidable – on a few photographs which survived, although severely damaged.

1. This jigsaw puzzle masquerading as a photograph actually shows myself and my kindergarten classmates in the Fall of 1961. (And luckily for me, I have a black & white 8” x 10” of the same image.) Where am I, you may well ask, since there's no one there dressed in black, nor wearing a beard? Heh. I'm the second on the left in the front row... the one whose attention is focused elsewhere. Believe it or not, 50+ years later, I can still name most of the children in that photo. And if any of you are wondering – and I know some of you are – out of the seven girls in my class, I had crushes on three of them.

2. I used this next photo in a much older Sepia Saturday post. I'm repeating it with my original description attached and only slightly edited..

The following shot is one I couldn't even begin to restore. Surprisingly enough, the first time I ever saw it was at my mother's apartment, only a few years ago. Quite frankly, it's trashed... yet it's obvious why my mother saved it, preserved from further damage in a little Ziploc bag along with a piece of cardboard to keep it from bending.

It's a picture of my mom's sister Josie, lovingly holding her fifteen-years-younger sibling, my mother Anita. (It's also one of the few early shots of my mom actually smiling, rather than grimacing due to -- I assume -- the era's annoying necessity of the photo's subject(s) having to stare into the blinding sun whenever photographs were taken!) What's left of the caption hand-written in ink on the lower border reads "Sisters" and "April." (Although a lot of these little notations have faded into illegibility over the years, I remain grateful to my mother and whoever else supplied these bits of written information on the various early family photos. It's helped me a lot in terms of names and dates, obviously.)

Going through literally hundreds of photos as I began this task of posting my family's history, I was frustrated at the missing lower right-hand corner of this photo, however. "April of what year?" I wondered. I estimated it as being between 1921 and 1923. But luck was with me. In with a separate group of photos, I found one of Aunt Josie, standing alone on the very same steps, in the very same outfit, plainly labeled "April, 1922." So my mom was four-and-a-half years old, making this the second-oldest photo of her that I have! 

And here's the shot from April 1922 that helped me to solve the mini-mystery!

3. Hm. Not sure who tore this next photograph in half, but it sure looks deliberate!

 This shot of myself, age 5 or 6, proves once and for all what I've been claiming for years: I am a superhero!

4.  I recently posted about how my mom saved practically all of my dad's papers from his service in World War II.  Unfortunately, aside from a sole baby picture, there are no photos of my father from before their 1940 wedding. My Aunt Irene (my father's sister) once told me that my dad was quite a good dancer in his younger years... a talent sadly robbed from him, due to his WWII injuries.

I can't place a date on this photo, but I have to assume it was taken in the early 1940s. I also have to assume that his dancing partner is my mom. This horribly scratched-up snapshot was probably kept as a reminder of better times...

And after all, isn't that what most photos do? Remind us of better times? That often seems to be the case.

And, as always, thanks for your time.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Literally... (A Grammar Nazi Post)

Hey, guess what, fellow babies? The word "literally" has been misused by so many people, its new meanings are both "literally" and "figuratively!"

It's all here! Isn't this insane?!?

This is the type of thing I always rant about. I know the English language is constantly changing and evolving, but for people to throw up their hands and validate others' mistakes...!!!

Okay, I'll stop now.

Thanks for your time.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Ties and Suspenders ~~ A "Sepia Saturday" Post

I've always loved the fact that people used to dress so formally, as opposed to now, when they'll walk into a grocery store wearing pajamas!

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photo shows men wearing ties and suspenders. That was an easy one to play with, for me.

The following is a photo of most of my mom's family members, taken in (I assume) the 1940s. My mom and dad are noticeably absent, and I assume my Uncle Johnny was not yet married because his wife, my Aunt Wanda, isn't in the shot.

From left to right, top to bottom, the personnel are: First row, my Aunt Esther, wife of my
mom's brother Billy; my aunt Josie, my mom's older sister; Josie's husband Joe. Dominick,
second husband of my grandmother (who was also named Josephine). Second row, my
grandmother Josephine; my Uncle Eddie's wife Olga (?); my mom's brother Johnny; my mom's
brother Eddie; and mom's brother Billy! Seated on the floor at left is Josie & Joe's daughter,
my cousin Janice (whom I've never met). My Uncle Albert was the camera bug in the family,
and he's absent from this shot (but in the next one), so I assume he took this photo.

"The Hartman Boys," as I call 'em! Billy, Johnny, Eddie, and Albert. My maternal
uncles, obviously taken on the same day or evening as the previous photo!

I don't know whose idea it was that the four Hartman brothers all put their arms around each other, but you can tell from the photo that none of them were particularly comfortable. Ours was never a "huggy" family, and this photo of the Hartman boys clearly shows this. But I love the photo more since it illustrates that very fact.

Thanks for your time!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby! ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

Jack Kirby, one of comic books' true gods, would have been 96 years old today, if he hadn't left us back in 1994. But the amazing artwork the man gave us will be ours forever.

I'm going to shut up in a minute and just throw a random sampling of stuff at you, fellow babies... "Stuff" from the King. "Stuff" that shows the power in the man's work. And forgive me if I've left out some -- or all -- of your favorite characters! The man created, co-created, and/or illustrated thousands!

Thanks for your time!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's a Doozy! ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

Are you old enough to remember when comic books featured ads like the one below?

Well, my writing partner, Skip Simpson, came up with an updated version. Hope you like it!

Click HERE for a larger version!

Thanks for your time!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The New Bedford Whaling Museum ~~ A "Sepia Saturday" Post

I'm ignoring this week's Sepia Saturday prompt, unfortunately, because I'm going to post the one I would have posted two weeks ago, if the library computer had cooperated with me. Make sense? No? Welcome to my world.

I've written a few posts about my love for Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Mr. Melville (whose August 1st birthday just passed) wrote a story which I've loved since childhood. More -- much more -- on that here.

I've decided to make this a very short post. Therefore, instead of sepia photographs and long-winded explanations for same, I've chosen a handful of postcards as illustration. The following three were bought several years apart, during three successive visits to the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

This first one was somewhere in the mid-1960s, probably less than five years after that photo of the NBWM at the top of this post.

During my second visit to the museum, I decided to buy a second postcard. (And frankly, I'm amazed that I still have the first one after so many years!) This was somewhere in the early to mid-1990s.

My third postcard was purchased during the early years of this century.

And the following photo is how the New Bedford Whaling Museum looks today!

Thanks for your time!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Is Petting Dangerous?" ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

Today I'm gonna shut up and let someone else do the talking! Here's some advice for the teenage girl, from November 1952's Love Journal #16! Have fun!

Click HERE to see a larger version!

Don'tcha just love timely advice?

Thanks for your time!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Story Behind the Cover! ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

Love that cover. "We are not dead, we are alive... No one believes us!!" Well, if a bunch of shrunken heads told me they were alive, I'd take their word for it.

So, what's up with that cover? Well, to make a long story short, the cover above -- well, a better-looking copy of it -- was the image on a postcard sent to me by my British friend, News from Nowhere's Alan Burnett. So, in Alan's honor, I am going to do something a bit different for today's Comical Wednesday post and focus on a single comic book story!

Now then, from 1951's Mysterious Adventures #5 -- and courtesy of the highly-recommended website, Digital Comic Museum -- here's the story based on the cover... or the story that inspired the cover. (Take your pick.) I'll keep my own blatherings to a minimum.

Eternal life, somehow worse than death? Hmmm...

The story begins as a plane crashes in the South American jungle. David Murdstone is the sole survivor, but he is near death!

The natives bring David to their priestess, the "snake mother," Konocry.

The Pool of Eternity. Sounds ominous. Konocry is cautioned against using the pool to revive David, by the "old hag" -- Hey, the narration calls her that! -- Mala.

I like the way Konocry thinks!

But the other natives rush in and take Konocry away!

David's not thrilled with the idea of going alone into the jungle, even when the natives tell him he's immortal now!

Ouch! I'll bet that hurts! Don't you love all the torture and death in this kiddie comic book?

Anyway, David cuts Konocry down and plans to save her life!

Why did Mala's ghost show up for one panel only? Hey, why not?

The natives catch David and Konocry, and the chief is royally ticked off!

Uh-oh... Ever hear of the Jivaros...?

And so ends our tale. As an afterthought, I'd like to show you a sample of artist Lou Cameron's work (for Classics Illustrated) a few years later, when he was quite a bit better!

And thanks for your time!
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