Thursday, May 22, 2014

Memorial Day: A Sailor Remembers Mom

Last week's estate sale was at the home of a family that had been long-time residents of the city.  Among the items they'd saved was a pillow slipcover unlike any I'd seen before.

It measures about 16 inches square (not counting the Navy blue fringe) and is decorated with a variety of US Navy designs.

The slipcover is like a fancy pillowcase; one side is open on the back, so you can insert a pillow or square of foam rubber inside.

A quick search of the Internet told me that these slipcovers came in a variety of nautical designs.  A sailor, probably during World War II, sent this pillow slipcover home to his mom.  

The thing that really stands out about this slipcover is the inscription:

You are the sweetest Mother in the world
For you we keep our flag unfurled
It gives us courage way out here
To know you're waiting, Mother Dear.

It's good to know that simple household item like a pillowcase can bring comfort during difficult times.  

Even the bravest man or woman faces fear during a time of war.  And yet fear must be overcome for the battle to be won.  Nelson Mandela once said:

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, 
but the triumph over it. 

The brave man 
is not he who does not feel afraid, 
but he who conquers that fear.

So what helps a sailor, a soldier, or anyone able to face down their fears?  Love can be the motivation to take courage over fear.  Lao Tsu is quoted as saying:

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, 
while loving someone deeply gives you courage. 

Did the sailor come home from the war?  I wasn't able to find out.  Given the age of the other things in the estate sale house, it's possible that the sailor came home from the war, got married and bought the house, and that he saved this US Navy pillow slipcover from his own mother's estate, because he had sent it to her during the war.  

I like to think that this mother's love helped bring her boy back home safely.  At the very least, the love between the mother and son helped win the war.  As the Apostle John wrote:

There is no fear in love; 
but perfect love casts out fear...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Finding Dolly Dingle

The June 1930 issue of Pictorial Review magazine at the estate sale was missing its cover.  I still bought it, because even though the outside of the magazine was damaged, Dolly Dingle was still safe inside.

The paper Dolly, illustrated by Grace G. Drayton, made her debut in the March 1913 issue of Pictorial Review and was frequently featured in the magazine from 1916 to 1933.

The June 1930 Dolly Dingle paper dolls show just why Dolly was so popular.  The dolls had a variety of great period clothes, pets and toys.  Prior to the Great Depression, Dolly Dingle paper dolls were printed in full color, but during the Depression the magazine went to a less-expensive printing process, as shown in the dolls I found.

If Dolly and her brother look familiar, they should: in 1904, their creator also illustrated some of the most iconic advertising images of all time, the Campbell Soup Kids.

You can see the family resemblance to the Campbell Kid!

The blog Doll Kind explains how Dolly Dingle reflected cultural tourism trends of the early 20th century:

Dolly Dingle's adventures included travelling around the world to visit children of distant lands, including such characters as Beppo and Prince Dalim Kumar. These foreign friends came complete with costumes and symbols of their native lands. Travel by steamer had never been easier and even the most stay at home Americans were often turned into globetrotters visiting Egypt, Rome, and the Holy Land because voyages had become comparitively simple. The round the world set of Dolly Dingle dolls is a wonderful reflection of the new found fascination with distant lands. Dolly Dingle also celebrated American holidays at home, and, of course, she spent lots of time playing with her special friends and relations.

A scholar has done research on Grace Drayton and her art:

Grace G. Drayton is also considered a pioneer in comic strip art.  She was the first female cartoonist for the Hearst publishing syndicate, although she worked for other syndicates as well.  Between about 1909 and 1915, Drayton (sometimes working with her sister Margaret G. Hays) created The Turr'ble Tales of Kaptain Kiddo, Dimples, Kittens, and several others.  You can take a look at many examples of her work by clicking on the link below.

From .
The format of "Kittens" reminds me of the format of the current comic "Mutts."

Here's another page from Comics Kingdom about Drayton:

Another web page focuses on Drayton's career as a comics artist:

Here's a link to Doll Kind's blog:

Here's a website with information on the history of paper dolls:

And if you want your own Dolly, you can easily find Dolly Dingle dolls, paper dolls (reproductions and originals) and other examples of Grace Drayton's art online by doing a simple search for "Dolly Dingle."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Travel by Hankie, Part Two: Oklahoma

Here's another in our continuing series on vintage souvenir handkerchiefs.  

This souvenir hankie from Oklahoma has a nice story to go with it.  

When I looked at the hankies at this particular estate sale, I originally found one almost identical to this one, representing the state of Nebraska.  Another shopper, who had also been picking out hankies to buy, asked me if I wanted to trade my Nebraska hankie for the Oklahoma hankie she had previously pulled out of the collection of vintage linens.

Having so many memories* connected with the state of Oklahoma, I said yes.

Thank you, unidentified fellow vintage hankie shopper!

*If you missed my previous blog posts on my 2013 trip back to Oklahoma, they're collected here:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Travel By Hankie, Part One

As regular readers of this blog know, I like to write about things I find at estate sales.  One of my favorite things to find is a collection of decorative vintage handkerchiefs, or hankies.  

Over the past few weeks, I've come across a number of souvenir hankies, which I will showcase here and in some subsequent posts.

When we look at a souvenir hankie, we can imagine our mid-century traveler visiting a new place, returning to an old one, or just collecting souvenirs along her journey from Point A to Point B.  A hankie would be the ideal souvenir for many reasons.  It's small enough to easily carry or mail to another person.  It reminds the owner of a place she once lived or visited.  Or, as a small gift, it can answer the question, "What did you bring me from your trip?" 

Our first travel-related hankie is from the state of Ohio.  If you're from Ohio, can you find your town on the map?

The whole hankie

The scarlet carnation is the Ohio State Flower

Wright Field is shown in this part of the hankie.  
It became part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1948,
so it's probable this hankie was designed before that time
(or the designer was looking at an old map).

I like the little cows on the hankie, representing agriculture

I think that's a paddle wheel boat on the Ohio River

Collector's Weekly gives a concise history of hankies:

Katie Dix's website provides some information on the history of vintage souvenir hankies:

Hankies were used to commemorate more than just travel:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Estate Sale Chronicles EXTRA: War Letters

Regular readers of this blog may remember that I've written several times about finding war-related letters, diaries and photographs at estate sales.

Collection of World War II letters to an American serviceman,
found at an estate sale

If you're interested in American history and storytelling, here are some interesting links you can check out.

May 2014 AARP Magazine interactive article by Andrew Carroll:

Andrew Carroll, editor of the New York Times bestsellers War Letters and Behind the Lines, was inspired to seek out and preserve wartime correspondences after a fire destroyed all of his family’s possessions. He recently donated his entire collection of 100,000 war letters to Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

"The Allies have the Germans on the run again... Pray God, this war is soon over."

The Center for American War Letters at Chapman University in Orange, California:

The Center for American War Letters (CAWL) is a unique and extensive manuscript collection of previously unpublished war letters from every American conflict, beginning with handwritten missives composed during the Revolutionary War and continuing up to emails sent from Iraq and Afghanistan. These personal war-time correspondences are a vital record of the collective memory of the American people, as witnessed and articulated by service members, veterans, and their loved ones, who experienced these wars firsthand.

The Center for American War Letters is committed to the ongoing collection, preservation, and promotion of these incomparable records of the American experience through various projects and media, including:

-- The production of plays and live readings throughout the United States

-- Documentaries and video recordings of troops, veterans, and their families telling their stories in their own voices and/or reading their letters

-- Traveling exhibits

-- Articles and books that incorporate the letters

-- Educational guides to assist teachers and community leaders with the interpretation of these primary sources in the classroom

-- Additional materials that will encourage Americans to recognize the extraordinary historical, cultural, and literary value of these irreplaceable documents.

Ultimately, the Center will work to expand its collection and strive to become the nation’s largest and most preeminent archive of personal wartime correspondences. The Center for American War Letters is directed by Andrew Carroll.

From the World War I diary of a soldier with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in France

Monday, May 5, 2014

Estate Sale Chronicles EXTRA: Online Treasure Troves

Maybe you have some time on your hands.

Or perhaps it's a rainy day and you can't play outside, but you'd still like to have an adventure.

Or maybe you need to research a particular topic related to life in the 20th century.

Then I recommend spending a few minutes (or a few hours) with the Google Books online archives of Popular Science and/or Popular Mechanics magazines.  I find old back issues of these magazines at estate sales from time to time, but the digital version of an old magazine gives us a chance to read the stories and see the pictures without worrying about damaging the old paper.

For the lover of interesting old things, these websites are treasure troves.  

Here's the link to all the archives for Popular Science:

And here's the link Popular Mechanics.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Hollywood Starlet and the Make-Up Remover

At an estate sale a couple of days ago, I picked up a June 1930 copy of Pictorial Review magazine.  It contains an advertisement that, at first, puzzled me.  

The ad, placed by Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kleenex®, advocates using Kleenex® as "the daintiest way to remove cold cream."

From Pictorial Review magazine, June 1930

Then as I thought about it, I remembered reading the history of handkerchiefs and how soft paper tissues -- originally developed to remove cold cream and make-up -- were also discovered to be useful for blowing one's nose.  I decided to do a little more research on the topic.

Researchers at Kimberly-Clark, a paper manufacturer, spent their time in the post-World War I era looking at how paper products might help address women's needs, including the increased use of cosmetics. The researchers and marketing folks hoped that the paper tissues could be a convenient replacement for the unsightly "cold cream towel" that hung in many 1920s bathrooms.

So here's that history, illustrated in the pages of Pictorial Review:

 The advertisement warns readers:

"Most methods of cold cream removal are inefficient and even dangerously unclean.  Cold cream cloths, for instance, are usually filled with germs.  And germs in the pores are the starting point of pimples and blackheads.  Towels are inefficient, because their harshness prevents absorption, and thus oil and dirt are not removed....  It isn't necessary to rub and scrub and stretch the skin, which beauty experts say induces wrinkles and premature aging.  And it isn't necessary to soil and ruin towels."

The Kimberly-Clark website notes:

In 1925, the first Kleenex® tissue ad appeared in the Ladies Home Journal as "the new secret of keeping a pretty skin as used by famous movie stars..." Soon, ads were in all the major women's magazines….  In 1927, the ads began featuring screen and stage stars to endorse their latest beauty secret.

One of those celebrity endorsement came from actress Sally Eilers. 

The Internet Movie Database recalls:  Sally Eilers enjoyed lunch with a classmate from drama school, Jane Peters (who would later become known as Carole Lombard), at the Sennett Studios refectory. There, she was spotted by Mack Sennett and instantly became one of his "discoveries"…. Either Sennett or Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (depending on which version of the story is to be believed) tagged Sally with the publicity line "the most beautiful girl in movies".

The vivacious former brunette (quickly transformed by Hollywood into a blonde) spent her apprenticeship as a leading actress co-starring in westerns with her future husband Hoot Gibson and with Buster Keaton in Doughboys (1930)….

In the 1920s, major scientific breakthroughs included the discovery of Vitamin C, penicillin and and insulin.  You would think that researchers would also have been focusing on products that might reduce the spread of cold and 'flu germs.  But the Kimberly-Clark website notes that the use of their tissues in case of sneezing, came about by accident:

...Kimberly-Clark's head researcher started using the tissues in place of a handkerchief to help with his hay fever symptoms. He brought the simple but brilliant idea to market Kleenex® tissues for sneezing and other nose needs, instead of cold cream to the head of advertising. 

The concept struck and in 1930, the idea of Kleenex® tissue as a handkerchief substitute was launched. Sales of Kleenex® tissues doubled the first year of this new handkerchief strategy. Instead of being a product just for women, it now served men, women and children, too.

And thus the ad in the June 1930 Pictorial Review

"Many people use Kleenex almost exclusively for handkerchiefs," the ad says.  "Think how much more sanitary it is...!"

In the 1940s and 1950s, Kimberly-Clark enlisted the services of another pop culture icon -- the cartoon character Little Lulu -- to promote using Kleenex® instead of hankies.


Here's an article on Pictorial Review magazine:

The history of Kleenex® is here:

Sally Eilers's bio is here:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Swaps, in Photos and by Hagen-Renaker

While I waited (and waited) (and waited) for the Kentucky Derby to start this afternoon, I decided to share some photos and links related to the winner of the 1955 Kentucky Derby, Swaps.  Like this year's Derby winner, California Chrome, Swaps was a chestnut from California.

This picture of Swaps came from an old Sports Illustrated magazine that I found at an estate sale.  


No one would question that Swaps was one of the all-time great American race horses.  Here's a profile video of him, with color footage:

Turf historian William H.P. Robertson wrote that Swaps "entered stud with the largest collection of recognized world records (five) in history, and a lifetime performance summary, as follows: 25 starts, 19 wins, two seconds, two thirds, earnings of $848,900."

Like other famous Thoroughbred race horses, Swaps was immortalized with a big statue...

Statue of Swaps at Hollywood Park

...And with other statues, small enough to fit on a model horse collector's shelf.

Hagen-Renaker issued two different ceramic "Swaps" model horse figurines, designed by the incredibly talented Maureen Love.  This one is the Designer's Workshop, or 7" size:

And the one below is the Hagen-Renaker ceramic miniature "Swaps" figurine, also designed by Maureen Love.  (Mine has a restored right hind leg.)  

Breyer Model Horses reproduced both versions of the H-R Swaps, in plastic.

Here's a video of Swaps winning the '55 Derby:

The Hagen-Renaker Museum website shows photos of the ceramics model of Swaps, as well as those representing other famous Thoroughbreds:

Kirsten Wellman traces the connection between Swaps and the model horses named for him, in her blog:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

White Rabbits (Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit)

This being the first of May, it was entirely appropriate that I found a number of rabbit items at an estate sale this morning.

What do rabbits have to do with May 1st?  There is a tradition in Great Britain that it brings good luck to say "white rabbits" or just the word "rabbit" three times, on the first day of the month.

I first ran across this tradition in the classic book Thrush Green, by Miss Read (Dora Jessie Saint).

The story opens with Paul, a little boy who is excited about going to the traveling fair, which was coming to his small town in rural England.

"At last -- at last, Paul told himself, it was the first day of May!  And at this point he sat up in bed, said 'White Rabbits!' aloud, to bring luck throughout the coming month, and looked eagerly out of the window into the dewy sunshine which was beginning to shimmer on Thrush Green..."

That quote from Thrush Green came to my mind when I spotted a white rabbit at the estate sale:

This isn't just any white rabbit, though.  This is a Hoppy Vanderhare, created by the North American Bear Co. as the "bosom bunny" companion for their smallest teddy bear, Muffy Vanderbear.  Muffy and Hoppy are a young female bear and bunny, and NABCO issued a lot of cleverly-clothing and accessories for them.  

This Hoppy is not particularly valuable -- she usually sells for $5 or $6 online -- but she's still cute.

Other rabbit items from the estate sale:

On the upper left is a rabbit Christmas ornament, and just above Hoppy's arm is a Hagen-Renaker miniature Mama Cottontail rabbit figurine.  So we have a white rabbit, and two of the three other rabbits we need to make the first day of May complete.  

The final rabbit from this morning's estate sale is the one you are probably the most familiar with:  

The children's classic book The Velveteen Rabbit was originally written in 1922 by Margery Williams.  The story is wonderful, but William Nicholson's illustrations are what really make the story stay in a child's mind.   There is no publication date on this copy, but it was published by Doubleday and Company, so that might date it to 1958.  

One of the most wonderful things about this edition of The Velveteen Rabbit is the William Nicholson design on the end papers:

Happy May Day, everyone.

Here are some links you can follow, to find out more:

Miss Read:

Hoppy Vanderhare:


The Velveteen Rabbit: