Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gruesome Materials: October 1934

The Dead Man

It is the truth and not a tale
That once there was a man named Dale.
Alas it was his bitter lot
To murdered be quite near this spot.
(Groans and pauses.)

Now we have with us his remains,
So first I give to you his brains.
(Passes to the person on his right
a sponge dampened in ice water)

Now next I pass as you surmise
the murdered victims mournful eyes,
(Passes two grapes from which the
skins have been removed.)

The veins through which flowed
blood so red
Are now all clammy, cold and dead.
(Passes two or three long pieces
of cooked macaroni.)

And now your shuddering touch reveals
the teeth with which he ate his meals.
(Passes kernels of corn.)

And next your startled nerves prepare
To touch the late lamented's hair.
(Passes corn silk.)

The ear with which he often heard
Alas now hearkens not a word.
(Passes banana skin.)

His skin, the kind you love to touch,
Is left alone with naught to clutch.
(Passes skin of a peach.)

The heart which once did fondly beat,
Is cold as ice bereft of heat.
(Passes a chicken heart.)

Here's something hard and 'tis not bones,
What can it be? Just his gall stones.
(Passes a handful of small pebbles.)

And here's his stomach soft and chill,
Long since freed of digestive ills.
(Passes a wad of dough.)

His hand no longer yours can hold;
Alas it now in death is cold.
(Passes a rubber glove with wet sand.)

And now his sheeted ghost in white,
Is standing in your midst tonight.
(Ghost rises and stands a minute.)

Ere he departs with woeful groans,
Just list the rattling of his bones.
(Starts to walk out and as he goes
suddenly rattles a watchman's rattle.)

Prop clarification: WATCHMAN'S RATTLE

This rattle would have been used by a 19th-century watchman in a town without a police force or the means for rapid communication in case of an emergency.

Although many American counties had sheriffs during the colonial era, it was not until the mid-1800s that cities, and later towns, formed police departments. Morris County's first sheriff took office in 1739, a year after the county was created, but Madison did not have its own police department until the 1890s.

Without a police force, towns relied on hired watchmen to walk their streets, especially at night. A watchman would have used a noisemaker much like the one shown here to alert people in the case of an emergency.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Variety Thrives in Old Apple Orchard - Autumn 1975

1. Northern Spy
2. Red Delicious
3. Harlson
4. Yellow Delicious
5. Stayman Winesap
6. Fireside
7. Jonathon
8. Willow Twig
9. Red Gold
10. Cortland
11. Spartan
12. Wolf River
13. Hyslop
14. King David
15. Melba (Beacon, Milton and Dudley)
16. Macintosh
17. Secore
18. Connell Red
19. McCoun
20. Snow
21. Idared

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Newest Undies Are Cobwebby Creations of Real Lace and Silk - July 1922

Nowadays, flappers wear a tight little brassiere, and knee length bloomers under their frocks.
Crepe de chine, georgette, crepe jersey, fine batiste, and trousseau satin are the favorite materials for modish lingerie. Filet lace is still a favorite, and frills of soft footing and fine embroidery even appear on many of the loveliest garments.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wild Can Be Beautiful - April 1974

Lorrie Otto was The Nature Lady. She crusaded, ladylike and yet doggedly for the beauty in wildness.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kute Kunning Kittenettes - Memorial Day Weekend 1918

This Memorial Day week, Harry Steppe, the original Top Banana was playing at the Gayety Theater. Harry was one of Bud Abbott's first partners and he introduced Bud to Lou Costello in 1934.

Harry credits himself with not only the term, "top banana" but "second banana" also and he penned the Pokomoko (aka Niagra Falls) Routine: ("Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch. . .")

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ghostly Newspaper

Not much is required of the front desk on third shift. Enter a few wake-up calls. Hold on to the keys for parked cars until the valets come back on duty. Run the night audit and reconcile the cash sales for candy and cigarettes. And the newspapers. The arrival of the newspapers is one of the major events of the shift. New York Times. Wall Street Journal. Chicago Tribune. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. I divvy each day's delivery to the various departments: men's athletics, women's athletics, the barbershop, the ladies in the linen room, the restaurant, the table in the library - each gets their allotment. I get first crack at the headlines.

Despite the continued reports of the demise of the newspaper industry, or maybe because of it, I so enjoy perusing the fresh paper copy. Frequently, it will already be old news as Facebook will have already touted pertinent stories. But I don't mind old news, in fact I've fallen into the habit of scouring the genuinely old news with the addictively entertaining Google News Achive Search.

So: let me tell you what I've been reading in the papers.

The Booth Street fire reported on the front page occured right in my neighborhood. The husband was to have started teaching at

Riverside High School that very week. His wife was 19. He was 23.

None of this is mentioned in

Robert Bonner's recent obituary.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne - Tea and Swedish Coffee - Ten Chimneys - 1942

Order Early and Avoid Disappointment

Saturday, February 6, 2010

From The World's Smallest Postal Service

From the World's Smallest Postal Service, I've ordered the World's Smallest Package to be delivered to my sweetie with the proviso:

Do Not Open Until Valentine's Day!

Lea Redmond is the postmistress.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rhymes with "hi-fella"

Haven't had much luck in tracking down "Dan Briber - Greenwich, CT", presumably a mid-century menswear store. That was the label in a recently found impeccably woven and perfectly pristine wool plaid robe. Partially wool: Viyella. 55% merino/45% cotton. That was the other label: Viyella.

Wool robes are notoriously underused. The itch factor. Not the most inviting after a bath. But this one had never been used. Or maybe there is some sort of revivication quality that is woven into the threads.

Note: Father wore this shirt during the Boer War.