Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tournament of Roses Parade Souvenir, 1927

I often find fold-out collections of postcards at estate sales, but I've only ever seen one collection of pictures from an old Tournament of Roses Parade.   (You do find these from time to time on eBay; they're not particularly valuable except in the most important way -- they show us, literally, snapshots in time.)

This souvenir of the Rose Parade dates to 1927.   Anticipating watching this year's Parade, I thought it would be fun to look at what the Parade floats looked like in 1927.  Exploring the history of the 1927 Tournament of Roses, I discovered some interesting facts.

A Pasadena physician, Dr. Charles D. Lockwood, was Grand Marshal of the Parade in 1927.  A notation on provides us with information about him:

Dr. Charles Lockwood was a physican and surgeon and Chief of Staff at the Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, California. In 1916, anticipating [US entry into] World War I, he organized the first Ambulance Corps in the country with his own money. He established base hospitals directly behind the front lines and performed up to 50 operations per day....  He was Grand Marshal, twice, of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.   

Interestingly, the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Authority notes that there was "no queen" of the Parade in 1927.  

The theme of the 1927 Tournament of Roses Parade was "Songs in Flowers."  Most of the photos don't show song titles.  Here are a few of the pictures:

City of Pomona parade entry

City of Pasadena parade entry

The Salvation Army's entry did show a song title, "Abide With Me."

Salvation Army parade entry, "Abide With Me."
Thank goodness for the archivists at British Pathe'.  They have preserved black and white film footage of the 1927 Rose Parade:

An eyewitness account of the 1927 Rose Parade has been thoughtfully shared on this blog.  The writer called it "most beautiful."

Of course you can't talk about the Tournament of Roses Parade without a mention of the Rose Bowl college football game.  

There's a picture of the gorgeous cover of the 1927 Rose Bowl program online:

Sports historians note that the Rose Bowl that year, between Stanford (10-0) and Alabama (9-0), ended in a 7-7 tie -- the only time the Rose Bowl did not have a winner.

That game was notable for many other reasons.  Stanford was coached that year by a gentleman named Glenn S. "Pop" Warner.  

Radio was becoming an increasingly important form of entertainment for Americans back then. Indeed, 1927 marked the first national broadcast of the Rose Bowl, by NBC.   

History also notes that a 13-year-old boy in rural Arkansas listened to that historic broadcast of the 1927 contest. He decided that football was so exciting, his goal was to go to Alabama and play in the Rose Bowl.

His name was Paul W. Bryant.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Gifts, London, 1925

It's fun to get out the (very) back issues of The London Illustrated News that I found at an estate sale and look at the articles, photos and ads.  

The December 12, 1925 issue provides an interesting snapshot in time by sharing advertisements for Christmas gifts.

They look like set and costume designs for Downton Abbey.

Suggestions for gifts For the Lady of the House come from an article called Christmas in the Shops:

 Chocolates and cologne.

A new watch.  Stockings.  Gloves.  A fringed shawl.

Jewelry -- er, Jewellery -- from Harrods is also advertised, including platinum and diamond rings starting at under 30 pounds.  (Oh, to be able to travel in time....)

Wilson & Gill offered diamond set hat ornaments and lace pins, starting at 12 pounds.

Faux pearls, one guinea for a 16 inch strand.

Fancy dresses for purchase or hire.  Toilet cream.  And the pearls.

More chocolates.

For her, a Dainty and Exclusive Evening Bag is useful and acceptable as an Xmas gift.  For him, a store that supplies Men's outfitting requirements.

For the gentleman, a new hat, a heater.  They didn't have video games back then, but there was an ad for an "ideal home entertainer" film projector.

In 1925, as now, men received shirts as Christmas gifts.

A fountain pen is a useful gift, too.  This one was called the "Red Dwarf."

For her, for him, for the home, there were a variety of Christmas gifts advertised:

A calendar, a clock, a cocktail shaker.

Books are always suitable gifts for small children.  Here's an ad from 1925, for Dean's Youngsters' Picture Books.

For the child whose parents or grandparents had a larger budget, there was a Juvenile Car called the "Prince."  The ad suggests that the parent could "help your boy to choose his car with the same care and discrimination that you would exercise in the choice of your own car."

Big boys wanted a car for Christmas in 1925, as they do now.  Here's the Fiat:

The Dodge:

For the smaller budget, a Rover or a Crossley 14:

And, when money was no object in 1925, there was the car that needs no photograph in its advertisement: the Rolls-Royce.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

1930: Merry Christmas, to Husband from Wife, and Vice Versa

I love finding old Christmas cards at estate sales.  At an estate sale in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California, earlier this year, I found a small box of old Christmas cards with gorgeous designs.  Most of them were dated by the recipient, and these were all dated 1930 (or thereabouts).

Two of the cards caught my eye because of the inscriptions inside.  This one reads "Merry Christmas to My Husband."

The personal inscription inside seemed oddly formal.

Here's a very Merry Christmas
To a man I'm glad to know,
Who has journeyed on beside me 
From the happy long ago;
And I hope his cup of gladness
Bubbles gaily to the brim
With the good cheer I am having
In my home sweet home with him.

Affectionately & fondly
Your Wife

To the dearest Husband on Earth --

No names, just "Your Wife."

Someone had also saved his card to her, from 1930.  It features a gorgeous Art Deco Christmas design:  Christmas Greetings to the "Pal-O'-My-Heart."

His signature is oddly formal as well:

True to me, kind to me,
   never deceiving;
Cheering me, helping me,
   ever believing;
Sad for me, glad for me,
   never apart;
Dear to me, near to me,
Pal of my Heart.
Clean-hearted, strong-hearted,
   all the way thru,
Uplifting and tender,
    Wonderful you!
Fair to me, square to me, 
   life's dearest part, --
Best to me, blest to me,
Pal of my heart.

Whoever the sender was, signed the card in verse:

Help to me, life to me,
Ne'er more to sever (?);
Friend to me, wife to me,
Mated forever.


I wonder if this couple was just very old-fashioned and referred to one another as "Mr." and "Mrs." -- or if the lack of the use of personal names was a special sign of affection?

Either way, they chose nice Christmas cards, and someone chose to save them, so we can look at them 84 years later.

However you sign your own cards, Merry Christmas to you!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reposting:Original 1937 Snow White Premiere Program

Since today is the anniversary of the release of the Disney classic animated film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," I'm reposting this blog entry from earlier this year.

Program for Disney's Snow White Premiere: December 21, 1937

It was a very important moment in the history of film: the premiere of the first feature-length animated film. Walt Disney's  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was first screened the night of December 21, 1937, at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles.

Someone -- I don't know who -- went to the event and brought home a copy of the program for that night.  

I found it at an estate sale the other day. It was stacked in a dusty garage with a bunch of old magazines.  

This program was a witness to film history, so I was very careful as I handled it to take pictures to show you here.

The program is in good shape for being over 75 years old.  The inside centerfold is printed on silver foil:

Other pages provide facts about the film, interspersed with congratulatory ads from local businesses and others in the film industry.

Walt Disney wrote a note of thanks to his staff.

A massive marketing campaign accompanied the debut of the film. I. Magnin & Co.'s ad in the opening night program showcased Cartier's 14k gold Snow White bracelet, a narrow gold link chain with charms representing Snow White and all seven dwarfs.  Cost: $100.  Suggestion: Christmas gift.

The program gave the history of the story of Snow White, a "paragon of girlish virtue" in Disney's version of the tale.

There were several ads for local businesses.  This one is for the Melody Lane, "the most beautiful cafe' in Los Angeles."

There was a page in the program devoted to the music of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  

And more congratulatory ads from local businesses.  It must have been tricky to print on silver foil.

Technicolor took out a full-page ad.

I wasn't able to find out the name of the person who went to the premiere of Snow White, on that December night so long ago.  Tickets were notoriously hard to come by.  Did the original owner of the program work for Walt Disney, or know someone who did?  She or he must have been aware, at some level, that the premiere was making history.  

In retrospect, we know that making Snow White was a massive gamble for Walt Disney.  There had never been a feature-length animated film before this one.  It cost a fortune to make; production took three years and the talents of 750 artists.  Hollywood gossips called it "Disney's folly." America was still reeling from the shock of the Great Depression.  Would people pay to see a full-length cartoon?  Would the dark themes in the film be considered too frightening for children to see?

The build-up to the premiere was intense. The 1500 tickets sold out quickly; the audience included Hollywood luminaries from Shirley Temple to Cary Grant to Charlie Chaplin.  Several hundred Disney animators who worked on the film bought tickets so they could see how the finished product came out.

It was reported that more than 3o,000 people who couldn't get tickets for the premiere packed the streets anyway, just to be part of the event and get tickets for later showings.  Bleachers were set up to accommodate them, and extra police were brought in for security.

The premiere of Snow White was accompanied by a number of special exhibits and activities. One was the outdoor "Dwarfland" diorama created along Wilshire Boulevard, a couple of blocks from the Carthay Circle Theatre.  It featured actors dressed as the Seven Dwarfs, complete with cottage, a working water wheel, and diamond mine.

Here's a YouTube video clip of the premiere event:

There are several blogs dedicated to All Vintage Things Disney.  Perhaps the most comprehensive source for information on the premiere of Snow White is the blog Filmic-Light.  Here's its report, complete with lots of pictures, on the premiere:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs lived up to, even exceeded, its hype. The website summarizes:

The stunning success of “Snow White” marked a turning point in the career of Walt Disney, and established him among the world’s most celebrated filmmakers. The quality of its animation, voiceover work and musical score set a high standard for all future animated features made by Disney or any other studio. 

And the old program I found at an estate sale, was there at the premiere.

(Yes, I know.  This original program needs to be in the hands of a real collector of vintage Disney. I'm sure one will come forward, once I post this piece on the blog.)

Additional resources:

Filmic-Light (above) also has a Facebook page that features Snow White memorabilia.

Here are more web pages related to the premiere of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:"

The Disney Family  Museum website tells about the opening:

As does the official Disneyland blog:

Sidebar: I remember that my mother did a dandy impersonation of Snow White singing, "I'm wishing {echo: I'm wishing} / For the one I love...." and "Someday My Prince Will Come." Mom was a little girl when the film first came out, so she had plenty of time to practice her coloratura voice before her kids were born. "Whistle While You Work" and "Hi-Ho" were easier to remember, though.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Annual Christmas Date Nut Cake

Christmas is all about tradition, and when I was a kid, one of our family traditions was receiving a date nut cake in the mail from my father's aunt in Oklahoma.

The Annual Christmas Date Nut Cake.  My dad's aunt baked one in a large Bundt pan, wrapped it in several layers of aluminum foil, and mailed it to us every year, so it would arrive a couple of weeks before Christmas.  There was no need to ask what was inside the heavy box -- it was the same cake every year.  And we enjoyed it!  But the cake was so...huge.

To my young eyes, the Annual Christmas Date Nut Cake was the size of a small automobile tire, wonderful to taste but impossible for four people to finish eating during the holidays.

That's why, when I saw the vintage yellow Pyrex loaf pan sitting sadly by itself the other day, I decided to cheer it up by baking a Christmas Date Nut Cake in it.

I don't have the exact recipe Dad's aunt used, because she baked the cake with black walnuts instead of the regular kind.  But this recipe is very close; it makes one 9x5" loaf cake.

1 cup pitted and chopped dates*
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (not margarine)
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

* I think the texture of the cake is better if you cut up whole dates yourself, rather than using pre-chopped date pieces that many stores sell.  You may use a little more than 1 cup of dates, if you like.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan.  In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the dates and the water to a boil.  Stir in 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup sugar until melted.  Remove from heat; stir in baking soda.  Let this mixture cool (should take about 10-15 minutes).

Place the date mixture in a large mixing bowl.  Blend in the egg, vanilla and flour, then mix in the walnuts.  Pour the batter into a prepared pan.

Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Then you can remove it from the pan (it's a little easier to slice this way) and let it finish cooling.  Serve by itself, with butter (if you want to treat it like bread), with ice cream and/or a glass of milk on the side.

You can replace 1/2 cup of the flour with whole wheat flour, if you like. You can also bake the cake in a greased and floured 9" round or square cake pan; this way, it won't take as long to bake (perhaps 20-30 minutes; check the cake after the first 20 minutes to see how it's doing).

I have a very clear memory of one particular Annual Christmas Date Nut Cake: it got lost in the mail en route from the Midwest to the West, and arrived a couple of weeks after it was baked.  Mom cut a slice out of the cake cautiously. The inside of the cake was still soft, but the outside of the cake was about the same consistency as that small automobile tire.  

Mom looked at the large, round, brown object for a bit; then she got out a recipe card and proceeded to make a slightly thin version of the penuche candy I told you about a few days ago, by adding another tablespoon or so of milk to the recipe.  

Mom frosted part of the Annual Christmas Date Nut Cake with the penuche and let it sit for a little while.  The frosting softened the outside of the cake and we were able to enjoy it, in spite of its long stay with the US Postal Service.

I probably don't have to explain that I always put 
the same frosting on a date nut cake, now that I'm in charge of baking it.

"Why does she always send us such a big cake?" I remember asking my mother.  "We can never eat the whole thing during the holidays."

"Love," Mom said, simply.  

In thinking about her reply now, it occurs to me that the Annual Christmas Date Nut Cake is a lot like love.  

Crafted by hand, made from the heart, given regularly, given freely, and given in great abundance.  No matter how much we want, there's always more.  And if love is delayed in its arrival, we can make it all the sweeter for the wait.

Here's a link to the penuche recipe:

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Vintage Paper Nativity Scenes

It's common to see Nativity scenes among the Christmas items at estate sales.  Usually the ones I come across are three-dimensional, a stable made of wood or plastic with human, animal and angel figurines, as follows:

1 Baby Jesus
1 Manger
1 Mary
1 Joseph
1 Donkey
1 Cow
Shepherds, assorted
Sheep, assorted
Lambs (optional)
3 Magi
At least one Camel
1 Star
At least one Angel

At a recent estate sale, though, I found a couple of fold-out Nativity scenes made of heavy cardstock paper.

The first one is small, about the size of a postcard.  It folds out so that you can stand it up, perhaps on the mantel above your fireplace:

The text reads "GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO."
It's missing most of the animals you usually see in a Nativity scene, but we still get the point.  The back of the card the tiny maker's mark of the Rust Craft greeting card company.

The other cardstock Nativity scene from the estate sale is much larger, and much more complex:

Deer, goats, a dog, a kitten, a phoenix (?), giant fruit and flowers, angels that look like little blond girls -- they weren't part of the original Christmas story.  But the Nativity scene is a charming piece of mid-20th century Christmas design. It's signed "Artelius."  Helge Artelius (1895-1989) was a Swedish artist.

Here's a link to a great web page with lots of fold-out (and other) Nativity scenes:

Here's a link to a Pinterest page with lots of Christmas art by Artelius:

Speaking of "not in the original story" -- did you know that the donkey is not in the original Biblical accounts of the birth of Christ?  So if you hear someone object to Christmas because they can't believe in a God Who would be so cruel as to make a pregnant woman ride a donkey all the way to Bethlehem, tell them gently that the donkey in the Christmas story is a piece of artistic license.  It isn't there in the Gospels.

And did you know that the three Magi almost certainly didn't meet Jesus until he was a little older?  The real "wise men" were not in the manger scene; we know that because Luke uses the Greek word for "baby" to describe Jesus as a newborn, and Matthew uses the Greek word for infant, a child who was a little older.

Here's a link to a website with the original Greek text for the story of the shepherds:

And here's the story of the Magi: