Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Vernacular Architecture Stump House Kind Two Views

Two Views (of a two room house with view!) Stump House of Washington. First pic a photo with dimensions (18 feet) and the other a Real Photo Postcard with inhabitants.
Both collection Jim Linderman

Mrs. Labelle and her Giant Papier Mache Heads Stephen Milanowski Photographer



While the site here may seem to be about photos, art and antiques, It is actually about stories. I'd like to consider myself a visual artist of sorts, one who uses things to tell stories.

There may be no better combination of "thing and story" than this one, and it comes to me courtesy master photographer Stephen Milanowski, who fortunately got in touch after I posted a big head. I found MY big head in the rafters of an antique store in Spring Lake, Michigan, where it cried out to me for several years before I took him down, talked THEM down (in price) and took him home. I posted the big baby HERE.

Imagine my surprise when I received a splendid present in the mail. A substantial and beautiful catalog from the Museum of Modern Art, their 2012 Appointment Calendar. Mr. Milanowski has a photo in the book, one which is in the MOMA permanent collection.

Nice as the book is, the card enclosed is what surprised me! Same scale, same surface, same curious holes in the head...My big baby had a FATHER and he had his portrait taken by an artist.

Mr. Milanowski (who has a splendid website HERE with some serious examples of his work over the years) later took the time to tell me the story. If you deal with the kind of material I love, the story is frequently as important as the object..and this is a good one.

I'll let Stephen tell it in his own words.

"How the Hell indeed. Some time ago, I believe on a FB posting of yours...I happened to notice, purely by chance, a snapshot of you in a den-like room, presumably in your home--and this snapshot showed you in that room with some of your collection...and I suddenly notice partly seen, in the corner of your room...Mrs. Labelle's Papier Mache Head. The Head I Photographed. And, my question was...How the Hell did Jim get his hands on Mrs. Labelle's Head?"

"The short version: before my wife and I & children moved to Madison, we lived in East Grand Rapids (my home town) for many years. On our street in EGR there lived a goofy old lady who, when I was introduced to her--I realized that she was the girls gym teacher and drama teacher at my High School--Catholic Central. I was introduced to her on her front porch...and I could tell that her house was worth being nosy about...I could see rampant pink everywhere in the interior--just by looking through the porch windows. When I then told her that I was an alum of the HS where she long taught (though then she was long retired)--she immediately invited me in--and I could tell this house was going to be a photographer's paradise. Mrs. Labelle gave me a tour...even into her basement...and it was there that she kept at least these 3 great and ancient papier mache Mardi Gras- style heads that she had long ago made for some drama class at Catholic Central. I flipped when I saw them and immediately asked if I could borrow them for photography; she said yes...and there you are."

"Every year in our neighborhood she would put the heads out on her porch for Halloween night. I should have asked her right then and there if she would sell them to me...but I could tell that she was quite attached to them."

"What I assume happened next is this--we later moved to Madison, she eventually died...and someone either got them in an estate sale...or they ended up in an antique store. And somewhere along the line...the head presented itself to you. Fill me in on the rest of the story."

"By the way--the promo card I sent you is also a Head by Mrs. Labelle."

Stephen Milanowski also has work in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, The Houston Museum of Fine Arts, The High Museum of Art and the Polaroid Collection. His Facebook page is HERE

The Museum of Modern Art Store (which is the finest shop for gifts in Manhattan) is HERE

Mrs. Labelle's Big Head Collection Jim Linderman

Article "Proto-Porn from the 1950s" by Jim Linderman

NOTE: The following is an article I wrote which was just published at Sugarcut Magazine. Sugarcut is THE premier erotic art and photography site, and I thought some of the camera and visual arts folks who follow Dull Tool Dim Bulb might enjoy seeing it without clicking onto a NSFW site! If you DO want to see the original article on Sugarcut, you can find it, and it has 25 illustrations in a slide show.

Proto-Porn from the 1950S

By Jim Linderman
6 March 2012

Shown is a wide-angle lens full of vintage camera club pinup digests from the early 1950s. Long ignored progenitors of pinup pulchitrude! It was illegal to sell nude photographs in the Eisenhower days, but some enterprising and greedy shutterbug gahoots found a way around the law, frequently in cahoots with the guys downtown, if you know what I mean.

“Figure Study” publications for the artist and photographer!

These obscure digests were all purportedly aimed at the burgeoning nude photography hobbyist, or at least they claimed to be. They were available under the counter or through the mail, at least until Uncle Sam got wise. The models, some famous (Blaze Starr, Judy O’Neal, Bettie Page and many more) were pulled from burlesque routes and strip clubs…others were amateurs who replied to ads. There are no less than five devoted to Ms. Page alone from various publishers. All are hard to find today. Each is now over 50 years old… and since they were published in small editions by phony companies, then carried by trunk and hand to the shop, few survive today. Many have no return address or date. Shop owners priced them at what they thought the risk was worth.

The models in these “proto-porn” periodicals never had pudenda or pubes. The photographs were black and white, and each digest-sized booklet ran from 20 to 50 pages. The colorful covers belie the blurry pages inside. The men behind the camera were seldom identified, but with care and a loupe, one can often identify the photographer’s swinging pads from the wall decorations and curtain designs.

Who was responsible for these stroke books masquerading as figure studies for photographers? At least one series was produced by a later prominent publisher of fetish pinup periodicals. Others came from a husband and wife team living in Midtown Manhattan a few doors down from Bettie Page, and a big load from a mysterious photographer with a Florida address…a sunny address he began using after apparently thinking the city up north was “too hot” and left Brooklyn behind. Nearly all were published in series, but a complete set is unheard of.

The books are today relics of days gone by. Despite history books which credit Hugh Hefner with starting the modern revolution in nude photography, not to mention sexual mores, it was a dozen independent small presses with moxie (and buxie) with a few mob-connections who got the balls rolling.

Jim Linderman is an author, collector and editor of the daily blog VINTAGE SLEAZE. This group of original “Figure Study” digests come from the author’s collection and date circa 1950 – 1955. Vintage Sleaze the daily blog is HERE.

Vintage Sleaze

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I've Been Working on the Railroad (In China with Warren) Folk Art Railroad Men

Another pair of honest. hard working guys (see post of yesterday) but today our worker class members are tin articulated railroad men. Bonus below is Warren Buffet singing the song to the Chinese.

Tin articulated toy, circa 1900? Collection Jim Linderman


Looks like Warren is getting better along with the rest of the world than some Republicans I know. Railroads are good here too...one can move tons freight with a few gallons of gas and without the diesel pollution. Warren seems to have the right idea.

Derogatory for Mechanic, Wearing the Evidence of their Labors on their Clothes Grease Monkeys, Greasy Big Petroleum and JOBS

A pair of grease monkeys. By the way, I might have thought of a way to help with the unemployment situation. Require all gas stations to have one or two guys there to pump your gas. There are some 150,000 gas stations in the United States, putting two guys on the pumps would eliminate a week's worth of unemployment claims, and give that many folks a feeling of self-worth. Don't make the independent owner pay their salary or their benefits, they are being bled by the big guys just like you and I.

Instead, make the record earning petroleum companies who blacken our waters and settle claims out of court rather than going to trial and risk exposing their shoddy practices, their disregard for the environment and their unmitigated greed pay their salaries. 300,000 new jobs, many of which could be returning vets, and I figure British Petroleum owes us.

Each time a guy fills the tank, he could lean in and remind you not to text while driving, ask how your family is and suggest you might need some air in the tires.

By the way? Those prices at the pump? They did it the last time it looked like a Democrat was going to win the presidency too, and it didn't work then.

Derogatory for mechanic and wearing the evidence of their labors on their clothes...and working hard to provide for their family with dignity, self-worth, honesty and pride.

Original Snapshot circa 1950? Collection Jim Linderman


Hex CRAZY Zook's Distlefinks and Barbeque Signs of Plywood

Distlefinks and such threaten to bury a likely commissioned BBQ Pig at the Jacob Zook Hex sign factory and house of crafts in Paradise, PA. I believe I remember seeing that very pig sign rotting away behind a restaurant which served breakfast in a skillet 20 miles past the Delaware Gap! I had just filled up and didn't have the gumption go back in to ask if I could have it, nor the energy to steal it. It COULD have been a "later edition" as it looks like Zook could crank them out.

YES Zook is still in business and has a most handsome site HERE

Zook's hexes have "traveled to the fifty states and many foreign lands" according to the reverse.

Jacob Zook House of Crafts Postcard photograph by Jim E. Hess, no date. Collection Jim Linderman.

SEE ALSO IN SITU: American Folk Art in Place Book or Ebook HERE

Hagenbeck Wallace At The Circus in Black and White #31 The World's Lowest Type Human

Caption on reverse "September 2, 1938 L.A Calif. Afternoon crowd now leaving the circus. Sideshow Band was playing in the midway."

Look close and you will see one of the acts was "The World's Lowest Type Human" and I hate to speculate on that one. Suzie born with the Skin of an Elephant.

If the date on the reverse of this photo is correct, you are seeing the sun go down in the afternoon and the lights go out in the evening. Hagenbeck-Wallace ceased operation the same year.

For those of you animal rights folks out there, in 1913 the circus lost 8 elephants, 21 lions and 8 performing horses in a flood in 1913. That pales in comparison to the train wreck they had five years later, in which an engineer further down the track fell asleep at the throttle and crashed his train into the rear of the Hagenbeck's. Kerosene lamps on the circus train spread fire immediately to the wooden cars, and 86 circus members died, another 127 were injured.

AT THE CIRCUS IN BLACK AND WHITE is a occasional feature on Dull Tool Dim Bulb. This is number 31 in the series.

Original Snapshot 1938 Collection Jim Linderman

Order Dull Tool Dim Bulb / Vintage Sleaze / Jim Linderman Books and Tablet downloads for iPad HERE

Rock City? I thought you said TRAVELocity Snapshot Collection Jim Linderman

Visit the Gnome? First Travelocity booking? No, ROCK CITY!

Certainly makes me want to hike the trail. Rock City, or "SEE ROCK CITY" as any traveler as old as me will tell you, is an extensive tourist attraction anchored by Lover's Leap, a place you can see 7 states while you ponder jumping. At one time, according to Wiki, there were
900 barn roofs in 19 states painted with their slogan. This little shack may have been a part of the famous Rock City Corn Maze, or maybe not.

As for the gnome, the goofy wife of creator (Rock City creator that is, not THE Creator...who put the rock there) Garnet Carter was probably responsible, as she had a thing for European folklore and she likely made her husband Garnet spend a fortune on such things.

Rock City is also credited as creating the first miniature golf course, an accomplishment which darn well automatically puts the place on my first choice for historic site. (I'm not kidding. I LOVE putt-putt golf!)

Rock City is also home of the famous "Fat Man Squeeze" which I am SURE traps far more people now than when the place opened in 1932.

Rock City has a website
HERE with the appropriate address seerockcity.com

Original snapshot "Rock City" circa 1940 Collection Jim Linderman


How-dy Bub Racist Lapel Pin Carnival and Sideshow Premium

A MILLION LAUGHS! It's New, It's Different, It's Terrific and It's Racist.

Ad for Carnival and Sideshow premium, 1950 Harris Novelty company


Scarecrow Snapshot

I'd like to have met this fellow.
See his brother at rest HERE.

Anonymous Snapshot circa 1940 Scarecrow
Collection Jim Linderman
Order Dull Tool Dim Bulb books and ipad downloads by Jim Linderman HERE

American Library Association Newsletter Mentions Dull Tool Dim Bulb

American Library Association Newsletter mentions Dull Tool Dim Bulb

An image of a Valentine novelty gag, from Jim Linderman's Dull Tool Dim Bulb blogMining the margins of pop culture
Every morning Jim Linderman gets up in his home in Grand Haven, Michigan, grabs a cup of coffee, and sits down at his computer to blog. A former librarian and archivist, Linderman collects, researches, and writes about the marginal, the forgotten, and the not quite seemly in American folk art and popular culture. In his three blogs—Dull Tool Dim Bulb, Old Time Religion, and Vintage Sleaze—Linderman also discloses an underground history of American popular culture, one oddball tale at a time....
New York Times, Feb. 9

(American Library Association e- Newsletter February 15, 2012.


African-American Yard Art "Does Nothing" Press Photo Collection Jim Linderman

African-American Yard Art "Does Nothing" while being great.

Irving Keene construction, December 1956 Original photograph by Robert H. Burgess Press Photo Collection of Jim Linderman

Carnival Cut-out Standee AKA Faces in Holes People Posing in Plywood

Carnival Cutout Standee. Three lovely woman on a "girls day" at the carnival! (Does this suit make me look hippy?)

Who doesn't have a photo in the basement or the attic of the kids in fake stockades at some western tourist trap? They are back, if they ever left, that is. Here is a company which will make them, disco-style.

Original carnival cutout snapshot circa 1940 Collection Jim Linderman


Dr. Locke Famous Phony Faith Healer 1933

I'm a little busy today, so no story, though I am sure there is a good one. Just a few real photo postcards of a "faith healer" at work. NOTE: This post is also on the blog old-time-religion, where miracles such as this occur on a regular basis.

Pair of Real Photo Postcards 1933 "Dr. Locke, Faith Healer" Collection Jim Linderman


Indecipherable Sign Says ? No Trespassing Homemade Sign Free Styling Picking Handmade Folk Art Signs

The best "no trespassing" signs are the ones you have to trespass to read. You can click to enlarge this one, but it won't help any. Usually, the worse the sign looks, the most you want to follow the directions. I once had a shotgun pulled on me near a no trespassing sign. I had stopped not to read it, but to steal what I thought was portions of a LONG abandoned whirligig nearby. I was wrong, but learned having a gun drawn on you isn't really so bad. I was worried more about buckshot in the rental car than I was for my life.

I saw those nice boys on American Pickers buy a factory made porcelain no trespassing sign this week. Two comments. Boys? That weren't no good no trespassing sign, and you don't even KNOW "Free Styling"

Original Snapshot, circa? Collection Jim Linderman


What Makes a Washer Woman Work on Wash Day? Whirligig with No Wind Works Revealed

A pair of snapshots reveal the workings of an articulated sign. Both women here are among the most commonly seen whirligig figures, but no wind is required for these.

Anonymous Photographs, circa 1920? Collection Jim Linderman


Jim Linderman Slide Show New York Times 2/12/12

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SLIDESHOW from "Mining the Margins of Pop Culture" profile article by John Strausbaugh from the New York Times February 12, 2012

Roly - Poly Carnival Sideshow Sign and Tommy Duncan Throttles Bob Wills

I never did find out what sideshow game Roly-Poly was, but if they really did award a prize to every player you can be sure it was from under the counter, not from the wall display in back.

I will, however, take the slightest excuse to share Bob Wills, especially when it is a number performed by the great Tommy Duncan. Tommy was smooth as the expensive whiskey Bob was able to drink to excess every day, but what made the pair work so well was the suppressed, seething tension in Tommy's voice every time the lovable drunk buffoon stepped on his lines with a patented "Aaah Haah" aside. You can tell Tommy wanted to throttle Bob, the biggest country ham in the state of Texas, but it was a good gig.

He finally left...and as the clip below shows, he should have stayed. Still, you have to see a real roly poly play the Bob Wills part. Gnaw on a biscuit.

Roly-Poly Carnival Sideshow Sign. Circa 1930 Collection Jim Linderman