Thursday, March 31, 2011

Japanese Baseball - Kawakami

Tetsuharu Kawakami is a former Japanese baseball player who played for the Yomiuri Giants from 1938 to 1958.  He was born in Hitoyoshi in 1920. During World War II, he took a break from baseball to serve in the Imperial Army, but returned to the sport after the war.  Kawakami was also in three movies; in at least one of them he played himself as a baseball player.

Rob of Rob's Japanese Cards has this to say about Kawakami:
Known as the "God of Batting", Kawakami was one of Japan's greatest stars in the 1940s and 1950s and became its greatest all-time manager. As a player, he played first base for the Yomiuri Giants both before and after World War II. He led the league in batting 5 times, in hits 6 times, in RBI 3 times, and HRs twice. He was also a three time MVP and selected for the Best Nine team 10 times. His .313 lifetime batting average ranks 5th on the all-time list. As a manager, Kawakami led the Giants from 1961 to 1974. During this 13 year period, the Giants won 11 Japan Series titles.

These cards seem to be fairly rare.

Here's a picture of Kawakami on a movie poster made by Nikkatsu Corporation in 1957.

Tetsuharu Kawakami monogatari sebangou 16 poster

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New York Traveling Rubber Co.

I have no idea what New York Traveling Rubber Co. produced, but they used these trade cards to advertise their business. It seems that Mom does not approve of the suitor, although he prevails in the end anyway. These are from the 1880s.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Giant Corn and Watermelon

It looks like there was a bumper crop this year in the land of the Jackalopes.

Here are the backs of the cards.
The message to A.V. Stroud in Lowell, Washington reads:

Seattle WA, Nov. 18 '09
Dear Sister:-
Well here I am in Seattle, got here 10 minutes past 9 o'clock. don't know just when the Portland train leaves but I think it is 1:15. I got off all right and there was a little Jap that works around the depot was out at the train + he carried both suitcases so I am fine. The sun I shining nice. I hope you get back all right. Myrtle

The second one is addressed to the same person, but it's harder to decipher.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Edwin Burt Fine Shoes

I posted a card previously for Edwin Burt fine shoes, but I like this one even better. Trade cards were very popular during the 1880s, but not really beyond then. Edwin Burt died in 1884.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Streetcar Sunday - Duisburg, Germany

This is a beautiful postcard, but it's also remarkable for the message and the stamps on the front.

Duisburg is located in the western part of Germany's Ruhr Area at the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers. It was (and is) an industrial center, known for its iron and steel production. The city was almost completely destroyed during World War II, so it doesn't resemble the picture on the card anymore.

Duisburg currently has electric light rail, but it started out in 1881 with horse-drawn trams. These were  followed by steam-powered trams before the whole system was electrified in 1897. There was also interurban service between Duisburg and Düsseldorf as early as 1899. That service continues today as Stadtbahn service.

The sender of this card was obviously a postcard and stamp collector, who purposely affixed the stamps on the picture side, and wrote "stamps on the other side" where the postage would normally go.
His message to Eugene Bloesch in San Francisco is also interesting:

Be so kind as to send me more postcards of the American army.  If possible, please use Jamestown stamps affixed on the picture side.
With greetings from afar,
Johann Kugler
Duisburg on the Rhein
Kraut (?) Street 33

The stamps that Johann refers to were issued in 1907 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement in America. They looked like this:

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Longevity of Bridges

This week's Sepia Saturday theme has to do with bridges. That started me thinking about various bridges and their durability. I had visions of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge swaying and twisting in the wind and the collapse of the Honeymoon Bridge near Niagara Falls.

And then there's the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, still standing today. It was completed in 1883 and is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. This is a tiny little (1.75" x 2.75") view card that fits inside an equally tiny folder with a number of other views as a souvenir from a visit to New York.  Despite the diminutive size, it is magical and a little haunting.
One of the best features of the Brooklyn Bridge is the pedestrian promenade, which allows large numbers of people to cross the bridge above the automobile traffic. Although the original bridge designers probably didn't foresee the importance of the promenade for transit strikes, traffic issues, and calamities, it has proved to be extremely useful in ensuring that people could cross the bridge during these events, perhaps most notably following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

A bridge built in 1883 doesn't seem so old when you contrast it with a bridge built by the Romans in 134 AD. Here is my father standing on the Ponte Sant'Angelo in Rome. Both father and bridge have withstood the tests of time very well.

And here is my mother standing in front of the sandstone bridge across the Neckar River in Heidelberg, Germany. This is a bridge with many incarnations. The original wood bridge was built in 1284, but fell victim to high water and ice, as did a number of bridges that followed it.  A  stone bridge was built in 1786, and lasted until it was partially destroyed in 1945. The bridge was quickly rebuilt, but has now been added to the World Monuments Fund, a list of the world's most endangered monuments. I am certain that I bear responsibility for this status, because as a child when we lived just down the Neckar, my friend and I would scratch our initials and whatever else into the sandstone with a stick. It's amazing how soft sandstone is. Even then I wondered how a sandstone bridge could hold up to the elements.

And then there are bridges that are never intended to be anything but temporary. Here is my brother with a self-built bridge across a creek in Oregon. Rest assured that he did not go on to become an engineer.

7 Seas - Miami, Florida

Classic Florida and classic streamlined architecture with a nautical touch.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How About That Box of Huyler's?

Huyler's was a chain of candy stores in the New York City area. May had probably discussed going to one of the Manhattan stores with Lizzie Graham for a trip that would include both sightseeing and sweets. The card was sent on this day 101 years ago.  If you'd like to look at more postcards to and from the Graham family, click here.

The message reads:
Hello Lizzie:
How about that box of Huyler's? Think I smell them but I would be wiling to get them if you will only fulfill your part of the bargain. Don't forget your camera for I want one or two snap shots.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Henry's Property Taxes

Here are two tax statements - one for 1934 and one from ten years later. Nothing's typed; it's all handwritten. And although the property valuation stays the same, the taxes actually decrease between 1934 and 1944. The school taxes don't seem to be included anymore. The best part is that the tax collector agrees to receive tax payments at his home during specified hours.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Boll Weevil Monument - Enterprise, Alabama

It has come to my attention that I have yet to post a single postcard from Alabama, and I seem to have quite a few, so there's really no explanation.  These views are from a postcard folder, circa 1950.

The postcard above shows the Boll Weevil Monument, but the one below has a close-up. Why would the folks in Enterprise build a monument to the pest that nearly wiped out their cotton crops? It's an interesting story.  Since they were losing their cotton crops to the vermin, a man named H.M. Sessions suggested that they plant peanuts instead. The peanut crop did well and they all prospered. They even grew cotton again, but they learned to diversify so their whole crop could not be wiped out by one insect. Instead of blaming that initial pest, the boll weevil, they credited it with providing the inspiration to innovate, and built a monument in its honor.

The original Boll Weevil Monument did not include a boll weevil at all; that was added to the top of the statue years later. Sadly, the statue (built in Italy) has been stolen and vandalized numerous times, so the original is now stored in the Enterprise Depot Museum. The one that stands in place of the original is a polymer-resin replica.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Military at Lunch, 1904 - Münsingen, Germany

Münsingen is a German town near Stuttgart. It was also the site of a German military training camp from 1895 until 2004.  Although the training camp is now closed, the barracks are still there, and you can now ride your bike around the natural areas on former training camp grounds. This photo was taken in 1904 or earlier.
I might have assumed that the gentlemen would remove their helmets for lunch, but apparently not.

The message reads:
Happy to have arrived after an unpleasant two-hour journey! Heartfelt greetings ...illegible.

 Here's a close-up of the table on the right.

The card is addressed to her Excellency Frau von Hugo, presumably the wife of Major von Hugo, the German Military Attaché to Paris. He may also have been the sender of the card.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Streetcar Sunday - Copenhagen, Denmark

This is not a very clear picture, but since it shows a double-deck tram I couldn't resist it. The message on the back of the card is amusing too.
Tram service in Copenhagen ended in 1972, after operating for 109 years. Some of the tram cars were then shipped off to Egypt where they were put to use in Alexandria. Years later, the Danish Tramway Society managed to bring two of them back for the tram museum.

The message on the card reads:

We walked down here yesterday. It is a beautiful town. I like it so much, shall be sorry to leave it. I do not find it very cold, the air is quite different to England so invigorating. I feel quite "buxom" already. The customs seem so very strange, but shall get used to them. Am writing a long letter, so shall close this with fond love. B.S.

Well, there's the trade-off of a postcard vs. a letter. You get a nice picture on the front, but the message often raises more questions than it answers. What exactly are those strange customs?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Beer in Munich

These cards show two of Munich's oldest breweries. The Hofbräuhaus is the most famous and the one tourists are most likely to visit, though they no longer arrive by horse-drawn carriage.  It was founded by the Duke of Bavaria in 1589.

It's still there and looks very much the same today.

The message on the card to Mr C. Solomon Jr. (with postage due) reads:

Munich , Sept 1, 1908

This is the place to get the best beer in the world. Have had one for you. Are having a fine time. We are leaving today for Heidelberg. Am getting quite a vocabulary in German.

The second postcard is from the Löwenbräu cellar which is across the street from the Löwenbräu brewery.  It was built in 1883, but sustained some pretty severe damage during World War II, so it's a little smaller now than what's shown on the postcard.

I like the buildings, and the beer is fine, but I personally would choose many smaller beer-serving establishments in Munich over these. The Hofbräuhaus, in particular, is a big noisy cavern, and both it and the Löwenbräu cellar lack the Gemütlichkeit that I find appealing in those smaller establishments.

I did attend a fun reunion event at the Löwenbräu cellar a few years ago though. Since I took this picture, I am not in it, although I promise I was there and dressed up.  To give you a realistic depiction, I've added myself in a somewhat more casual fashion, propped up in an empty beer glass. No formal group portraits were taken, and I'm not sure why.

Although there are no tales of drunken debauchery here, you may find some on the other Sepia Saturday posts.

B. T. Babbitt's Soap

Benjamin Talbot Babbitt was born in Westmoreland, New York in 1809 and became a very successful businessman. He is best known for his soap, but for a long time he also controlled the baking soda market, and sold baking yeast. Although Babbitt was somewhat of an entrepreneurial genius, he fell victim to an embezzlement scam by some of his employees. It is also rumored that he was the inspiration for Sinclair Lewis' novel Babbitt, about vulgar and ignorant businessman. When B.T. Babbitt died in 1889, he left an estate valued at $5 million.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

Here to brighten up your St. Patrick's day - Shamrocks, pipes, harps and green everything.

Here are the backs of the cards in the same order.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Freswick House

Freswick House is built upon one of the most important archaeological sites at the northern tip of Scotland, a former Viking settlement. Although it may look spooky and forbidding in this photo, it apparently now operates as a haven for artists to discover and develop their gifts. I'm afraid it would scare the gift right out of me.
My favorite story about Freswick House has to do with taxes. Apparently tax was assessed based on the number of windows. But the tax collector seemed to determine a different number of windows each year. Henrietta Munro has written an amusing article about the window taxes and Freswick House.


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