At one time, Doc Webb's store in Florida had 1,400 employees. The retail mega-mall miracle had miles of merchandise and at least a few mermaids. Way ahead of his time, Doc opened the store in 1925 and it spread like kudzu. By 1951 it was bigger than a Wal-mart, but he had tricks they haven't even thought of. He would sell dollar bills for 95 cents and serve breakfast for 2 cents to attract customers. The shop grew to 85,000 square feet. The soda fountain was so long it had 60 employees. He sold 16,000 packs of cigs a day and 60,000 rolls of film a year. He invented the express check-out line (ten items or less) and eventually had 70 different stores on the lot. Doc even supported African-American civil rights before most of his neighbors and fought against high taxes...but all things must end and Webb's went belly-up like a dead mermaid in 1979.
Webb's Talking Mermaid Show Postcard, circa 1940. Note on reverse: "Hi Bud. Saw the mermaids today at Webb's City. They really talk" Collection Jim Linderman
Chuck Wagon! "Cook House of Stevensons Brothers Circus in 1946" by Robert D. Good. For an additional photograph and biographical information on the photographer, see earlier entries in the "At the Circus in Black and White" posts.
Original Photo 5" x 7" by Robert D. Good title typed on reverse Collection Jim Linderman
I haven't done a book review in a while, since like all the rest of us, I only look at pictures. It will be a few weeks before Kindle figures out how to incorporate graphics like these into their digital downloads, so I'll use the time to suggest a hardcopy purchase.
Canadian true crime pulp magazines! Written by Carolyn Strange and Tina Loo, I presume their real names...a fabulous collection of covers and entertaining text providing the history of detective rags from above. I suspect these magazines are FAR more scarce than those churned out in America during the 1940s and 1950s and as such seldom seen, so the writers have done us a service. As you can see, the covers are just striking. More primitive than ours, the Canadian illustrators opted for a sparse, open, esthetic as forlorn as their landscape during December. With their muted colors, these pulps seem as lonely as the folks who read them. Even the man on fire seems cold! I see a few soggy and nearly frozen pages of these in a pile on a cabin floor in my mind's eye as I type. The book, 100 pages of true north crime bliss was published 6 years ago, so my review is a bit late...but it doesn't diminish the appeal. Using images from the National Library of Canada and a wonderful layout and design, this is an inexpensive book as cool as a Canadian on a cooling bed...and even though it was published in 2004, It's still good...after all, it's a BOOK. Put on your cyber mukluks and go buy one.
(Book Linked at Amazon on the right here under "GOOD THINGS)
It doesn't matter if your problems involve determining the "small end of a reamer" or the "thickness of a Woodruf key size" the Simple-Fyer is the answer. Body Drill? Basic OD of a screw? Threads per inch or fine versus coarse? A cardboard disc with multiple circles, any Christmas problem involving sines, cosines, tangents, cotangents, secants or even CO-secants are no problem with the Simple-Fyer. This year, save time with Derck's. Only one dollar at all Cardboard Gauge Dial stores!
Derck's Gauge Dial, 1943. Collection Jim Linderman
The modest little postcard folder I found here opens up a striking world...Stryker's world! A regional photographer who deserves to be rediscovered, John A. Stryker obtained his first camera in 1916 while occupied as a penmanship teacher and was soon attracted to more adventurous activity. Stryker began photographing the local cowboys and rodeos. I don't know what type of lens he used, but these images would almost qualify him to take pictures in a war zone with combat pay. Kodak thought so as well and used one of his pictures in an early advertising campaign. Stryker also used his voice to advantage at the rodeo. Blessed with a barreling baritone larger than those rodeo clowns hid in, it is said he could be heard 3/4 of a mile away without a microphone. So while taking pictures, he became a rodeo announcer and was soon hired by no less than the Ringling Brothers to announce acts!
After years traveling with the circus, Stryker retired to Fort Worth and spent the rest of his life taking pictures. In addition to many postcards, he sold images for restaurant place mats and through mail order. The images here are from "Stryker's Famous Rodeo Folder Number Three" and the postcard book became a catalog for selling enlargements at $1.00 each, but "if special, made to order glossy prints are wanted for reproduction, advertising and publicity" one is instructed to write for prices. He sold photos up to 40 x 60 inches in size and would "travel anywhere to make up-to-date pictures of rodeos, ranches, historical sites...and individual poses of fine cattle, horses or mounted people" and at one time, his inventory contained 1200 photos.
Stryker's work is held in the Lamb collection at the National Cowboy Museum and in thousands of postcard collections. I based much of the above on the history provided in Buffalo County Historical Society newsletter by Mardith Anderson.
"Famous Stryker's Collection of Modern Fast Action Pictures" postcard folder circa 1950 Collection Jim Linderman
The great new blog documenting forgotten and unknown erotic and sleazy illustrators from the 1950s and 1960s! VINTAGE SLEAZE includes everything from matchbook covers and dreadful cheesy postcards to cocktail napkins and curious fetish ephemera. Featuring the essay series by Jim Linderman on the artists of Eddie Mishkin, the mob-connected publisher who hired Eugene Bilbrew, Eric Stanton, Bill Ward and Bill Alexander to illustrate his line of trashy paperbacks. A wonderful trip backwards to a time when scratchy representations of scantily clad women were traded like drink tabs among men in bars, this site is a fascinating trip through the corridor of crude cartooning. Watch forgotten and anonymous artists consort with speed-drugged criminals! The creation of Victor Minx, notorious nattering notable of nubility and noted author. Make sure to follow Vintage Sleaze the blog. Already called "Great Fun" one reader commented "I can't believe I'm looking at pictures of my Grandma!" Chock-Full of Cheesecake without the Calories! Hot but Harmless. NO NUDITY, just Nuts. A daily dose of debased debauchery. A glorious gaggle of galitude. Need I go on?
What is cooler than a slim strutting carny in a pork pie hat? One in COLOR! An exceptional exception to my "at the circus in black and white" posts. This a snapshot pasted on a page of circus scrapbook. Circa 1950? A tall drink of water, our slim striding sideshow side hand!
As a further aside, if you like sideshow folk, my Wondrous World of Frank Wendt site has some splendid examples, as does the Fringepop site.
Carnival sideshow Photograph, anonymous. Circa 1950. Collection Jim Linderman
May Houser and her Buffalo Bill (to whom I am proudly related (!) constructed from crepe paper and discarded ladies gloves. Prizewinner!
Original Press Photograph, 1946. Collection Jim Linderman
The remaining portion of a "place your head here" box from Holy Land environment in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Original Photograph (detail) Jim Linderman 1994
I don't collect folk art anymore, but who can help looking...and I certainly couldn't leave it in the pile I found it. A nice, in fact, quite nice signature Odd Fellows fraternal quilt with all the appropriate symbols, each of the TWENTY squares proudly made by the wife of one of the members. This was made for display in the lodge, not for warmth, and some squares are better executed than others giving it a lovely primitive appeal. Sorry it was too cold to take it outside and photo it properly. Real folk art isn't often seen these days. I put it on ebay where I will break even and someone who appreciates my find will hopefully display it properly.
Redwork Fraternal Odd Fellows Quilt, Dated 1907, Michigan Lodge.