What’s in the Mail: Books, big postcards and boomerangs

(Originally published June 2008.)

Normally I would not mention a blank-back card; however, since my friend-and-political-collector Hal Ottaway sent me “Walking in the Footsteps of Giants” with handwritten “campaign greetings” on the back, it seems a shame to dismiss this piece of current events. With a thin red border, black background and white text, very familiar faces encircle Barack Obama’s head. Three copies of this card are offered regularly from a buy-it-now dealer on eBay (type in “Obama”) for $3.99 plus postage.

For Democrats – whether Barrack or Hillary snare the presidential nomination – this 100-year-old “Our Turn Next” postcard seems relevant to the season. Unearthed by Denver resident Linda Lane while leafing through her grandmother’s scrapbook, the 1908 National Democratic Convention promotional card shows William Jennings Bryant atop a kicking donkey with a GOP elephant off to the right. To see more, check the Channel 9 slideshow at www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=91279. The Democratic National Convention will again be held in Denver Aug. 25-28.

Abraham Lincoln illustrated biographyReady in advance of Honest Abe’s birth bicentennial next year, Abraham Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography in Postcards by James D. Ristine is a new release from Schiffer Publishing. This 8 1/2-inch by 11-inch glossy, 144-page trade paperback includes more than 250 Lincoln postcards.

Leafing through this glossy book, I was amazed at the array of monuments dedicated to our fallen 16th president; according to a 1908 card, one of monuments these in Massachusetts was partially funded via “proceeds from the sale of this postcard.” Ristine points out that “130 photographic portrait images were made of Lincoln” and many of these appear on postcards from all periods. You can see our revered American leader in family and political settings; with flags, flowers and his fine writings; and in all manner of poses from horseback and seated at his desk to orating and reviewing troops. The book costs $24.95. The publisher is offering 20 percent off online orders of three titles plus free shipping. Another recent Schiffer book is Greetings from Columbus by Robert M. Reed. Check www.schifferbooks.com.

It’s quite unusual for one author to issue two postcard books at the same time from two publishers. Ristine accomplished this feat. Not only did he get out the Lincoln book this spring but for Arcadia, he compiled one on Atlantic City. With nicely written captions, his postcard assortment of hotels; boardwalk (first introduced in 1870); amusement piers (six had been built by 1913); fun-at-the-beach activities; and Miss America (that’s the 1926 winner on the cover) will entertain anyone fond of this seaside resort founded in 1854. The book reaches back to recreate Atlantic City from 1900 to 1930. I got a kick out of the postcards of couples dancing the tango in the sand (circa 1913), the bathing-suit censor and Captain John L. Young’s 12-room “cottage” constructed at the end of his Million Dollar Pier and bestowed with the amazing address “1 Atlantic Ocean.” To order, go to www.arcadiapublishing.com.

Since I’m not a baseball fan, news that the original Yankee Stadium is currently hosting its final season came as a surprise. Rod Kennedy clued me in by sharing a set of 10 commemorative postcards. All of the same crisp vertical design, they feature eight different stadium views (most are linens from Rod’s collection) along with a rendering of the new stadium which will open in 2009. The additional cards picture this logo for Yankee Stadium (1923-2008) and thumbnails of the nine other cards. Issued in a limited edition of 2,500, the set costs $10 plus $5 for shipping. Rod also sells a 32-postcard set that supplies the trademarked mascot and name for each of the Major League teams plus two logos-only cards for the American and National Leagues teams. The collector’s set costs $24 plus $5 shipping. For those who want to purchase both of these 4-inch by 6-inch sets, the total price is $42 (includes $8 shipping). You can order with credit cards online at www.stadiatins.com or write Stadia Tins Ltd., 219 West 16th St. #2B, New York, NY 10011-6068. If you have any questions, phone Rod at (212) 620-9697.

Hearing that Schlitz was reintroducing to select Chicago bars “the beer that made Milwaukee famous” in longneck brown bottles while using a revamped 1960s recipe, I was reminded that the brewery used to sponsor a storefront exhibit at one of my all-time favorite museums, the Milwaukee Public Museum. This memory inspired an outing north about 90 miles to Wisconsin. While strolling the cobblestone “Streets of Old Milwaukee” gallery, I toted along this standard-size card to compare it with the saloon, which has changed little since it first opened in1965. I went for the gusto but the gift shop did not sell any relevant postcards. And since all museum-goers were kicked out at 3pm due to the impending arrival of 4,000 healthcare guests, who were to be feted from beautifully decorated banquet tables set up all over the ethnic-cultures and stuffed-animal galleries, my desire to buy any postcards was thwarted.

Maders PC 07-08 08.jpgBack in the 1990s I wrote an in-depth article about Mader’s Restaurant in Milwaukee (check PCC May 1992, pages 21-23). Founded in 1902, Mader’s frequently promoted its German cuisine with postcards (my collection contains more than 40 different). This past spring, I had the opportunity to dine there again and happily, the food remains tasty and they still supply patrons with postcards. Framed with a leaded glass photographic border, their latest card (a multi-view measuring 6-inches by 8-15/16-inches) shows the restaurant inside and out, a pane of historic stained glass and a couple of Mader’s renowned dishes. The card costs 26 cents each or 3 for 53 cents plus an appropriately sized self-addressed stamped envelope with 62-cents unused postage (includes a nonmachinable surcharge for this dynamic postcard’s oversized dimensions). Write Mary Niland, Mader’s Restaurant, 1041 N. Old World Third, Milwaukee, WI 53203.

The USPS’s cruel machines hate postcards but especially big ones such as this “Made of Thunder, Made of Glass” that painter-and-postcard-collector Gerry Biron mailed to me a few months ago. Even though the card got scuffed and torn, it’s a keeper. Until the end of November, Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, N.H., is displaying more than 100 bags and hats from Gerry and his wife JoAnne Russo’s collection. The items date from 1800-1900 and showcase “American Indian beadwork of the Northeast.” Several of his paintings are also being exhibited. If you can’t visit the museum in person, JoAnne’s Web site supplies a detailed overview of these beaded beauties at www.joannerusso.com/madeofthunder.htm.

pie in the sky pizza hutTo commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pizza Hut and his involvement with the company, Richard M. Hassur wrote Pie in the Sky: Adventures of a Pizza Hut Entrepreneur. His book came out in April with an inauguration at the original Pizza Hut building that’s been preserved on the Wichita State University campus. Hassur, who used to play bridge with one of the founding Carney brothers, established the first Pizza Hut outside of Wichita (in Topeka) and thereby became their first franchisee. After ordering this title from a Wichita bookshop, I wrote the publisher and inquired about a postcard. Much to my pleasure, I received this card that replicates the book’s cover. To learn more about the growth of Pizza Hut from someone who was there, order the book for $15.95 plus $3.00 shipping from Pie in the Sky, P.O. Box 812, Lawrence, KS 66044. (And maybe request one of their postcards at the same time.)

Thanks to Linda Grable-Curtis for continuing to share postcards from her travels. In Oregon she found the fun-looking cards from Cousins’ Restaurant & Saloon, known for “old style hospitality & home style cookin’.” The continental-sized postcards are of different formats. This triple-view, vertical card sandwiches the Quality Inn logo with a red-checkered border between the establishment’s rustic exterior and an interior shot of red booths and a John Deere tractor. The other card is horizontal and pictures an old, well-used tractor. The postcards cost 30 cents each plus a SASE. Write Cousin Susie, Cousins’ Country Inn, 2114 West 6th St., The Dalles, OR 97058.

Dr. Gunther von Hagens invented plastination in 1977. For teaching purposes, he has continued to perfect his process that transforms deceased, embalmed humans into hard skinless bodies to reveal how our organs work on the inside. After these cadavers have been drained of fluids and injected with such substances as silicon rubber and epoxy, they are posed and cured to harden. For more than a decade, exhibits of these specially manipulated, plastinated corpses have drawn huge crowds. While visiting the Milwaukee Public Museum, I partook of Body Worlds 1 (one of four different assemblages currently on worldwide tour). These bodies seemed kind of creepy but it was amazing to see our internal organs exposed. Body Worlds merchandise included a surprising variety of postcards: continentals, oversized, diecut, and an unusual design where a section of a male’s or female’s back could be lifted up to reveal the spine. I only this bought one titled “Obesity Revealed.” Mail-order possibilities seem nil, so when the exhibit travels to your area: go for the anatomy and the postcard selection. To learn more, check www.bodyworlds.com.
Boomerang postcard
Since I’m feeling sentimental about my rackcard grabbing-and-trading days, here’s an Austrian Boomerang focusing on an “extra loud” label for Buster Cannons firecrackers that stars a vibrant boomerang. Want a copy of this free card? Send me a note and SASE so I can get one off to you.

Jennifer HendersonWrite Jennifer Henderson, 1610 West Highland Box 23, Chicago, IL 60660. And to my U.S. readers, have a bang-up 4th of July.

This month’s headshot was taken at the 25th anniversary of the Milwaukee Irish Fest where on August 21, 2005, we took part in an early morning Sunday service which the President of Ireland also attended.