Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


The Dull Tool Dim Bulb Unidentified Flying Object Files ALIEN PROOF ON KODACHROME 1964 (Part Two)

Every serious photography collection should have a few original snapshots of Unidentified Flying Objects. These are original Kodachrome photos from a set dated 1964. I believe, I believe! Part one of the series was posted here a few weeks ago.

Two color Kodachrome Print Snapshots 1964 Collection Jim Linderman

Gust Pufohl "The World's Greatest Whittler" Real Photo Postcard RPPC

Gust Pufohl laid claim to the title in the 1920's. Who is to argue? Note the necklaces here are carved from one piece of wood. That's right...one board was cut down complete with links in the wooden chain. Little wooden dodaddles like this are called whimsys or whimsies in the antique trade. They were once common but peaked around the same time as radio...and declined like a stone when the TV (excuse me..."flat screen") remote began to fit into the hand better than a pocket knife. Mr. Pufohl is himself illustrated on page 129 of "Real Photo Postcard Guide" by Bogdan and Weseloh...which you can purchase following the Amazon link to the right.

Gust Pufohl "See Wonderful Whittling Exhibit of World's Greatest Whittler" Monona, Iowa. Real Photo Post Card, c. 1923. Collection Jim Linderman

GOOD DOG! Sit. Staaaaay. GOOD DOG! Dog Photography

Man tries to replicate his best friend in 1940. The pitiful attempt is a 65 pound aluminum Scotty breed named Sparko. Sparko was companion to Elektro, a mechanical man manufactured for the 1940 World's Fair. Pale substitute for the real thing, but then non-allergenic. For a wonderful web museum exhibit of the real thing, see Alan Griffiths show "Nature: Dogs" on Luminous Lint, the premier site for all things Fine Photography. Browse while there...Alan's site is a treasure, and he opens the entire world of photograph collecting.

Original press photograph, 1940 Collection Jim Linderman

The Reverend Morrill and his brother The Reverend Morrill

The family that prays together....Reverend D.T. Morrill and his brother Reverend D.D. Morrill were natives of Newark, New Jersey. The twins have "retained the art of being bachelors" and their revival meetings are conducted with a fifty dollar Calcium Stereoptican outfit which throws a 20 foot image. As you can see here the brothers also had a "$275 dollar tandem bicycle which they use for exercise" and drove over 3,000 miles.

Two Cabinet Card Photographs by Wendt, c. 1880 -1900. Collection Jim Linderman

Wax Prospector, Ashen Clementine (Horrors in Wax #11)

An astonished wax yokel stumbles upon a chunk of gold among the dusty plastic Ficus Benjamina leaves in a seldom traveled corner of the wax museum. Listen close and you might hear him yelp "garsh, it's gold!" Thousands of tenderfoots followed, though most of the profits went to merchants and brothels. (Early colloquial expressions for capitalists and whore houses, the latter of which I assume still thrive despite California's economic problems.) Leaving the effect this massive land rush had on Native Americans aside, one thing the gold rush gave us was the song " Oh My Darling, Clementine." Clementine was "the daughter of a miner" who dies in a drowning accident, but not to worry. The heart-broken prospector finds consolation with his beloved Clementine's LITTLE SISTER...a verse usually left out of songs books for children as it is of questionable morality. The oft censored eleventh verse follows:

How I missed her, how I missed her,
How I missed my Clementine,
Til I kissed her little sister,
And forgot my Clementine.

Clementine is also the name of a data-mining tool....so the search for lucrative nuggets continues.

(This is number 11 in the series "Horrors in Wax" which you can find spread among earlier posts like nuggets of gold)

Wax Museum Post Card c. 1965 Collection Jim Linderman

Jim Linderman Interviewed by Paul Harvey for Religion in American History

Take Me (Back) To the Water: An Interview with Jim Linderman

A little while ago, I noted on the blog a newly published collection of beautifully real and worn photographs of baptismal scenes from the earlier twentieth century, along with an accompanying CD, Take Me To the Water. This book comes from the collector Jim Linderman, who blogs about his own work on this particular project here, and reflects more broadly on free lance collecting, folk art, ephemera, and curiosities at Dull Tool Dim Bulb.

The combination of photographs, capturing emotional experience in unselfconscious ways, and the CD soundtrack bring alive a world of religious ritual in ways that the writer Luc Sante briefly suggests in his preface to the book. Below is an interview I've conducted with Linderman, in which he talks about this work, his feeling for these baptismal photographs, and his philosophy of collecting and presenting his work.

1) First, Jim, you are a collector of everything from toy plows to homemade dolls to old recordings, and have been for quite a long time. I'm not a collector; I always want to get rid of/throw out stuff. So, explain the collecting impulse to me -- what drives you in that direction? And, where do you find room for all your stuff?

Editing is the secret. What I've assembled has always been manageable. Other than a few pieces of folk art furniture, virtually everything fits in a few shoe boxes. That's one beauty of photographs...for a small flat object, they pack a large visual punch. I lived for decades in a small, narrow, four room railroad apartment near Times Square and never had a problem squeezing things in. Andy Rooney, who I worked with while at CBS News long ago, once told me to take out an old book from the house every time I brought a new one in. That's the key...weeding and upgrading.

Take Me to the Water from Dust-to-Digital on Vimeo.

Collecting comes naturally to me. Not only do I enjoy looking for things which have been neglected or passed over, the hunt wakes me up in the morning. When I was healthy and young, a 500 mile drive for a flea market was nothing...now I use the web. Everyone should collect something, even if only interesting rocks. Everything looks better in groups of three or more.

2) Most people who are into collections of folk religious stuff fall in love with the documents and recordings of religion. But you are not driven by a religious impulse to collect this material, but something else. What is that? What fed your passion for old baptismal photographs and recordings?

I had originally conceived the project as a response to Jimmy Allen's book Without Sanctuary, which documents through antique photographs African-Americans being lynched. It was a controversial but most successful project of considerable historical value. Jimmy's book was a model for future photographic projects. He presented the photos, many which were crumpled and torn, as historical documents as much as images. There was no embellishment, cropping or cleaning up. More importantly the pictures often had participants identified by pen marks or notes on the reverse. Photographs have age and wear like any other object, and over time, important ones gain legitimacy through the aging process. As you might imagine, original images of people being murdered are not easy to find, but Mr. Allen was fearless and he managed to ferret them out. Many of the photographs were what are known as "real photo post cards" which are actually "limited editions" of a sort, printed by a cameraman in quantities of a dozen or a hundred, depending on what he perceived as a market...possibly one copy for each attendee. As frightening as the photos were, the faces of the participants scared Jimmy the most, they often smiled into the camera seemingly not even affected by the horrible event taking place behind them.

I had seen a photograph by W.P.A photographer Doris Ulmann depicting a river baptism, thought it exceptionally beautiful and collected a few similar images when I could find them. When I saw Allen's book, I realized there was a need to assemble and preserve other events of a vernacular nature and that there might even be a market for them. At the least, the collection would be a contribution to our shared culture. I didn't initially recognize the collection as a spiritual antidote to Allen's collection, but the feel of the event, the spectacle and the participants had a similar feel with a more positive appeal. I was also on a sort of mission to convince photography collectors that condition matters far less than the "feel" of a photo...paper has texture, form and age...and I found photography folks were far too concerned with pristine condition. I like wear.

3) Your material has been put out by Dust to Digital, the remarkable Atlanta outfit best known probably for their collection Goodbye Babylon, for my money the greatest compilation of American religious music ever assembled. How did you hook up with them, and describe the experience of putting out a book along with a CD?

I've always prided myself at sorting through the commercial fluff and finding some authenticity. Early recordings, in particular blues, started interesting me as young as junior high...and while my older sister listened to Dylan, I was listening to the Harry Smith Anthology of American Music from my local public library. I pursue music vigorously, and had always held gospel in reserve as the last area to explore. Goodbye Babylon did it for me. I admired their work very much. Lance Ledbetter is a genius who has an amazing ability to actually produce solid, physical results from his passions. The design of Susan Archie was also incredible, and I not only recognized them as kindred souls, but had the notion of pushing them toward book publishing in addition to their sound recording projects. It certainly was a natural fit. I wrote them, sent some images and flew down with a huge file of photos. On my first visit, I left them in their hands.

4) The well-known writer Luc Sante has prepared a preface and short introduction to your book. How did he become involved, and describe what you think drew him to this particular work?

The project began long before Luc was involved. I had initially thought a prominent religious figure should do the introduction and essay and didn't anticipate having trouble finding one. One day I showed the collection of original photos to Brian Wallis, the bright and innovative director of the International Center of Photography in New York, and he immediately recognized their historical value. He put my donation of the originals to the collection into motion. Later, he happened to ask if I had seen "Luc's show" which was an exhibit of ephemera and photos he found interesting, and apparently it contained a few baptism scenes.

I was familiar with Sante's music essays and reporting, and had read his landmark book Low Life. I knew Luc was a wonderful writer, then learned he was a professor of photography at Bard College....AND that Lance Ledbetter at Dust to Digital had sold him previous releases, including Goodbye Babylon. The fit was kismet.

5) When people went to "wade in the water," what do you think they were experiencing? How do your photographs capture (or not capture) that? What about the participants standing on the banks, or on the bridge overpasses overlooking the water?

As I mention is the book, I have always felt performers and artists work harder when they are working for the Lord. Years ago, when I was meeting and encouraging folk artists and primitive painters, they would ask "what should I paint" and I always suggested something from the Bible. Everyone knows the stories and everyone immediately visualizes their favorite scene the minute you suggest it.

I grew up next to Lake Michigan. Living close to a body of water is in itself a deep, moving experience. Like a turtle you place on the ground, I always sense the direction of the nearest lake. Add a touch of spiritual cleansing and you've got a highly personal AND public event. All the senses are at work...the individual feels it physically and emotionally at the exact same time. They are nervous, anticipatory, shocked and relieved. The viewers senses are also working...they share the passion, they feel the sun, they hear the splash, the preacher's powerful words, the crying out, the shout. What I admire most about the production of Take Me To The Water is how Lance was able to PERFECTLY combine an aural melding of the events with the visual. It is uncanny and not only a testament to his skill, but I think never done as well with a physical book.

6) When I first blogged about this book, a skeptic in the comments section wrote the following: "Can someone help me out with the theology here? These are churches that don't believe in baptismal regeneration and that one "chooses" Jesus, making them far outside the mainstream of historic Christianity. If the baptism effectively "means" nothing, why is it so important that immersion be used? --Clueless Lutheran stuck in the Bible Belt" How would you answer that query?

One should look at the images. Can anyone look at the faces of those emerging from the water here and say it means nothing? I believe at the moment captured in each photo, it means EVERYTHING.

7) How would you suggest first-time viewers/listeners approach the CD of music included with the volume? I ask because I'm an fan of these recordings, but those who aren't coming with that kind of knowledge may find them strange, distant, and primitive (as do my students). What would you saw as part of a "listening guide" to your photographs?

Pictures strike one immediately. Eyes being our first line of defense, an image is immediate. Music takes a bit longer. One has to reach a certain level of familiarity to experience it...part of the reason music works is that on repeated listenings we can anticipate the sounds we heard before. Even I like the selections here the more I listen to them. I guarantee after a few listenings, "Sister Lucy Lee" will make all the sense in the world, and if the quiver in Washington Phillips voice as he describes the differences between denominations doesn't reach you... just give it another play. As for a guide, the track listings and notes Lance wrote are astounding. Many of these performers are today genuine cyphers...but he finds them. We truly did create a little world there. The music stands alone on many levels, the photographs stand alone on many levels...but together the become even greater.

8) Speaking on this blog specifically to those interested in American religious history, explain what you think is most important about your work, and how perhaps classroom teachers might be able to use your work.

As I hope to do a few lectures and presentations, I am actually trying to figure that out now!

Fred, Mildred, Gladys and 1,200 carved pieces

Fred W. Stice liked to whittle. He whittled 53 intricate scenes with 1,200 pieces. He whittled from 1930 to 1977 and whittled through two wives. He whittled Minstrel shows, the Last Supper, JFK's funeral, Iwo Jima and much, much more. Mildred, his daughter, collected dolls. Gladys, his second wife, managed the collection as a museum until she was worn out, and the entire lot was donated to the State Historical Society of Iowa. "To some people, the thought of carving may seem a little silly, but it takes a lot of hard work. I was always interested in history and this is one way to preserve it. The scenes are interesting for the children who haven’t seen them, and for the older folks who remember them." – Fred W. Stice

Linen "bursheen" post card, c. 1954. Collection Jim Linderman

Chairs! Modern Chair Mystery Chair Designer Chair Handbag Chair Odd Chair Big Chair Ideal Chair and a Shout Out to Gary Panter

My favorite chair of all time is the one Gary Panter designed for Pee Wee Herman long ago. He also made one for the "kid's rec room" at the Paramount Hotel on West 46th Street, and I used to sneak dates in there late at night after shows in Times Square. He recreated the Playhouse in miniature, and for years it was the best-kept secret in Hell's Kitchen. Then they locked it...then they closed it. Sigh. Gary Panter is one of my favorite artists, search him up, you won't be let down. He is also a terribly nice fellow, I've met him briefly several times. He doesn't really look like Jimbo the pre-historic punk rocker.

The first chair here is a discovery. I found it in a flea market 15 miles from Herman Miller central, so I suspect it is an early prototype. It is handmade, without nails (glue) and the cut-out in the chair back is uneven...this was not a manufactured piece, although it should have gone into production, it is literally more sculpture than seat. As you can see from the average size banana clump, it is also quite small. I've submitted it to the editors at Atomic Ranch for their experts to figure out...any help out there in the meantime would be very much appreciated. The plywood is ancient.

The other chairs here? In order: The metal "one arm" school chair at the National Inventor's Congress in 1932 (are they only that old?) The fashionable "handbag chair" which is indeed that. A purse which opens up to "support the heaviest sitter" in 1925. The R. J. "IDEAL" chair in 1926. Finally, a huge chair made in the largest chair town in the world!

Modern three-leg chair, c. 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

Original Press Photos, 1932, 1925, 1926 Collection Jim Linderman

Gardner Largest Chair real photo post card 1908 Collection Jim Linderman

A Planned Community Built on a Solid Foundation...of Crime?

A serene, quiet, safe, modern, perfect example of WHITE COLLAR CRIME? "Another Planned Community" by Robert J. Schmertz. In addition to owning the Boston Celtics and the Portland Trail Blazers, Schmertz founded Leisure Technology, a developer of retirement communities. In 1975, Schmertz was indicted by a New Jersey grand jury on bribery charges. He was accused of bribing a local Mayor for favorable real estate deals. Schmertz pled innocent to the charges, but In July of that year he died. Leisure Technology would become a major developer of retirement communities, but would go bankrupt in 1991. I do not know if these models were ever built ... actually make that "Robilt...Homes of Guaranteed Quality".

Trio of Advertising post cards, c. 1970. Collection Jim Linderman

Laying Them in the Aisles for Jimmy the Catcher (The Jessup Brothers Religous Healing Act and Show)

The Four Jessup Brothers, Jimmy, Charity, Darrel and Byron, the oldest only 23, are putting on a religious healing show. The boys are literally "laying them in the aisles" as shown in the above photo of a woman patient swooning into the arms of Jimmy, the "catcher" after Charley finished his "cure."

Original 1939 Press Photo, collection Jim Linderman


PLAY SAFE (order early) Spencer Fireworks Catalog

Excerpts from 15 page Spencer Fireworks Company catalog, no date (1950?) Collection Jim Linderman

Authority Symbols of Tin from Japan

Group of tin Japanese badges, c. 1960 Collection Jim Linderman

Kings, Pop and Authenticity

The demise of Jacko has had me thinking about music, authenticity, value and how they intertwine. It is increasingly difficult for me to write about music without sounding bitter or elitist, so the best approach is virtually no approach. The incredible Joe Bussard probably has a greater effect on my ears than Entertainment Tonight or TMZ...so i'll just refer you to his website and leave it at that. I was born the same year Hank Williams died with his boots on, the year Elvis recorded his first tune, a year after Harry Smith released the Anthology, ten years before Dylan signed with Columbia and 20 years before Willie went outlaw. I was in the first row to see Muddy Waters, James Brown, RL Burnside, Dr. John, Bill Monroe, Ike and Tina and an 18 year old Alison Krauss...so I can hardly complain about anything musical anyway. But you know what? There just seems to be something wrong with someone taking "Thriller" money and outbidding Sir Paul for his own lifeblood (and later refusing to sell it back to him) I'll just post my two favorite publicity photos of all time and leave it at that. It's ALL good.

Two Press Photos. The Undisputed Truth 1971 and Take Me to your Leader 1958 Collection Jim Linderman

Choppers NBD! (Never Been Dropped) Stay Vertical!

Grab your ape hangers and hit the big slab! We don't need no skid lid brain bucket, just jack the jiffy, mount, blip, crack and catwalk. These sleds are pure NBD and they show it...just check the skin! Any one of the would blow any pasta or rice rocket, and if the pussies even TRY to SQUID, they'll sparkle the pavement and surf. Thrash it, but avoid static, and above all stay vertical, Angel. Keep the dirty side down.

Five Street Chopper Cards (from a set of 60) TRM publications, circa 1977 Collection Jim Linderman

The Dull Tool Dim Bulb Unidentified Flying Object Files ALIEN PROOF ON KODACHROME 1964 (!!!)

Well...since this blog is all about authenticity, be it in art, photography or culture...I feel it is my resposibility to share these rare DATED 1964 Kodachrome photographs. This is the first of three posts.

Three color Kodachrome Print Snapshots 1964 Collection Jim Linderman

Rod Raymond, The Worst Cartoonist in History Privately Printed Postcard Set

A set of privately printed postcards by "artist" Rod Raymond of Clare, Michigan from his "cash in on the folks driving up north to see the Mackinaw Bridge being built" period.

Printed postcards Rob Raymond c. 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

Bottle Tree of Winter Sellar Swartsel to the tune of "The Old Rugged Cross"

Bottle Farms are traditionally understood as an African-American phenom imbued with spiritual baggage from Africa. Could be...however, they are also a documented Caucasian practice. This is also my nomination for the oddest official historical marker in the country. See if you agree. Text of Roadside Marker follows:

A direct descendant of original settlers in Jackson Township, Winter Zellar (Zero) Swartsel was born in 1876. Throughout his life he was a natural born showman, teacher, eccentric, anarchist, and “possibly the grandfather of American Pop Culture.” At a young age and tired of the routines of Farmersville, he declared that, “He would live by his wits while his brothers lived by the sweat of their brows.” He and a friend bicycled first to New York City and then turned around to head west and eventually the world. Later his home would overflow with items collected while traveling the world. Outside was a similar story. While chiding the American people for their wastefulness and abusing their environment, his 22 acres of farmland became his artist's canvas filled with the thousands of items he collected from the “wasteful.” Winter Zellar (Zero) Swartsel's farm property became a field of glass as he adorned it with sculptures and “art” using glassware of all kinds, bells, bed frames, wood, and other discarded items. His finest works, fashioned from bottles titled “Kindly Light” and “Full Measure” created the popular Farmersville Bottle Farm. The farm also provided interesting listening experiences. In addition to the bells and twinkling glass that rang out in the wind, residents in town could count on hearing “The Old Rugged Cross” played on loud speakers on Sundays. Bells on grazing sheep added to the “noises” he described as restful. The farm attracted visitors from every state in the nation except Delaware. Dying in 1953, Swartsel bequeathed his land to the community to become the Farmersville-Jackson Township Joint Recreation Park to be used for the pleasure of children.

Snapshot of Swartsel bottle farm, c. 1955? Collection Jim Linderman

A Trip to the Desert 1905

Set of four postcards drawn by hand, 1905 Collection Jim Linderman