Going A’ Milking in Corning, California

Divided back postcard. Postmarked August 17, 1909 from Corning, California. United Art Publishing Co., New York, New York. Printed in Germany.

Price:  $12.00

A happy couple, the man carrying his wife on his shoulder, crossing a stream to get to their cows.

The sender wrote:   “Dear B. J:-   Geo. has gone back to Mexico[?] and my good times are [?] for a while. Jim expects to come up this month some time but don’t know whether there will be any thing to go to or not. Aunt L – is in the City which I presume you know – Aunt M. is not feeling well but think we can manage until Aunt L – returns. Love to all – Joe.”

Ah, 1909, where did you go? This was back in the day when we used the dash after the colon for punctuation (  :-  ) instead of just either/or. (It was the norm; I’m not sure when it changed.) And maybe it’s just me, but I feel like it’s also back in the day when the physique on the husband (in this postcard design) didn’t have to be perfect – just whatever, normal. (Is it just me?) Anyway, a pretty typical postcard for the sender’s remarks – reports of the comings and goings, the social scene expectations, and who is not feeling tip top. George, we imagine, has gone back to do some more mining in Mexico. (Totally my imagination, of course, but I’ve seen this before.) Joe probably works a farm, Auntie L and M are doing the housework. A good life (we hope) in Corning, California.

Addressed to:   “Miss Ethel Chittenden, Box 127 R. F. D. #1, Los Angeles, Cal.”

Ethel M. Chittenden, was born in California in 1887, daughter of Albert Hawley Chittenden and Mary Lucelia (Atwell) Chittenden. A mention in The Corning Daily Observer, dated September 9, 1909, coincides with the postcard’s address:

She married Normal H. Schammell in September of 1910.

Sources:  Corning, California. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corning,_California (accessed May 16, 2024).

Find a Grave. Find a Grave®. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.

The Corning Daily Observer, (Corning, California). September 9, 1909, Thursday, p. 8. (Newspapers.com).

The Corning Daily Observer, (Corning, California). September 29, 1910, Thursday, p. 1. (Newspapers.com).

A Valentine’s Lament

Divided back, embossed, unused postcard. Circa 1910s. Publisher:  Whitney Made, Worcester, Massachusetts. 

Price:  $7.00

“O, Why Isn’t She Always Here”

A dejected-looking boy and his dog are missing their Valentine. (Sob!) A cute card, and another in our Alice Ellison Collection, this one from Louise to Henrietta.

Faithful Friends

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard. AZO stamp box. 1908.

Price:  $3.00

Well, if anybody can decipher the surname for our Ed, (intuition, psychic ability, maybe you’ve seen a similar name?) if so, you are utterly amazing. What do you reckon, Ed is maybe four years old? So, born around 1904. Given name obviously likely to be Edward or maybe Edwin or Edgar, middle initial “M” and he’s a Junior. Caton is a surname that comes up pretty frequently, and certainly the first three letters fit, but the rest – ee gads – that handwriting, wow. Cotman or Catman? If only the person that wrote this had given us a location. Still, the photo’s a total charmer….Ed in his white sailor suit, straight hair, short bangs, that steady gaze. His dog “Nig” or “Mig,” looks like some kind of shepherd mix, black with a little white, wearing a heavy collar, just look at those big ears and those dark brown eyes looking at the camera  – a bit of a worried look – he doesn’t trust whatever that weird apparatus is and he’s in protection mode…..It’s fun to pick up our own impressions from photos, but I think one thing we can say for sure – we’re looking at two best friends who took care of each other.

Jolly Jumping Jack

Divided back postcard. Postmarked December [?] 1919 from Sacramento, California. Copyright 1915. Publisher:  P. F. Volland & Company, Chicago, Illinois. Series or number 807.

Price:  $2.00

One more for now from The Alice Ellison Collection; our card shows an illustration of a child’s toy drum and jumping jack – in this case a monkey in a clown outfit.

“Jump, jolly jumping Jack;

Beat, booming drum;

Tell my little friend that

I wish I could come

To say to him gladly:

‘May Christmas for you

Be cheery and merry and

Jolly all through.’ “

Addressed to:   “Henrietta Ellison, 1314 F. St., City.”

“City,” of course is Sacramento, CA.

The sender wrote:   “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Miss Johnson.”

See Wikipedia’s entry for publisher P. F. Volland & Co. 

But what I really like about this card is the publisher’s Santa on the reverse (cleaned up in Photoshop). He with his handlebar mustache, holding the little candlelit tree…and that pointed beard, or is his beard tucked into his coat? (Your choice 🙂 )

Sources:  P. F. Volland Co. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._F._Volland_Company (accessed December 24, 2023).

Jumping Jack. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumping_jack#:~:text=%22Black%20Jack%22%20Per shing%2C%20who,when%20the%20strings%20are%20tugged. (accessed December 24, 2023).

Comic Donkey and Couple Circa 1940’s

Old photo, circa 1940’s.

Price:  $6.00              Size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/2″

These type seem to be generally referred to as “face-in-the-hole-board.” Other names include photo cutouts, Aunt Sallys, peep boards, character boards, fat-lady-on-the-beach boards. This handsome and fun, young couple (out for a drive in the surrey – yep, surrey with the fringe on top 😉 ) look to be from the 1940’s era. 

Sources:  Photo Cutouts. https://photocutouts.co.uk/blog/peep-boards-face-in-the-hole-boards-cutout-boards-what-should-they-be-called/ (Accessed June 10, 2023.)

The Surrey with the Fringe on Top. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Surrey_with_the_Fringe_on_Top#:~:text=%22The%20

Surrey%20with%20the%20Fringe,jazz%20musicians%20to%20play%20it. (Accessed June 10, 2023.)

The Old Houseboat

Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1907 – 1915.

Price:  $4.00

What confirms this structure’s status as a boat is the name at the stern – though very faint and indiscernible. And since the postcard’s image is so washed out, here’s a darker version:

So, unless someone is writing a book on old houseboats, I don’t see much monetary value here for this card. But we’ve had sales on items in the past – cover of a book on one, fashion example used inside another book, etc. – so, value is relative. Ha, it’s definitely true, sometimes I ask myself later, “Why did I buy this one?”  🙂 (No names, rather light…) Harkening back now to my mindset at the time, it was for the romantic notion of houseboats I’ve had since a child. (At least, I think this can be called a houseboat.) Woven in there somewhere is an antidote for a feeling – a lament, a long-running perception (that surfaces pointedly at times) that our present-day “expectation” is one of making everything ascetically acceptable (a nice lawn, nice-looking house, etc.) – an expectation that, in my opinion, often usurps the more important things in life – real friendship among neighbors, for instance….So it’s refreshing to travel back to the early 1900’s, to a time when a hand-built boat like this one would not automatically be viewed as an “eyesore” but rather, just simply for what it was.

The story from this captured moment….of course, we can speculate all day long, but my take….The houseboat belongs to the older gentlemen with the walking stick, having built it and lived on it for a time in his younger days. He’s got great anecdotes (that the rest of the family have heard a number of times – rolling eyes, 😉 ). He’s here to retrieve some items resting in storage, and he and the family have turned the trip into a nice outing and a photo op. (Note the three hats that have been removed and are laying on the ground in a pile.) Check out the expressions – the rather comical upwards glance of the lad toward the old man, the come-hither expression for the young lady (gorgeous lace collar), the straight-on pose for the woman (daughter or wife of the gentleman?), that air of history and ownership emanating from the old man, and never forgetting to mention, the family dog, happy to be out for the day with his “charges.”

Back to the boat – it’s quite long. I thought at first that the roofed portion on our left was from some building behind it, but no, that part is attached. Note the animal skins that lay draped over the top edge of the cabin (for keeping out the rain?). And the wooden or metal box attached to the cabin’s front wall, left of the doorway – the box meeting some type of practical purpose.

Domed Building in the Middle East

Old photo, white border. Circa 1910s – 1930s.

Price:  $5.00        Size:  3 and 1/4 x 2 and 7/16″

Continuing with sort of an archway theme from preceding posts…..In an unknown location, a goat herd directs his charges up the road.

We’re guessing this scene was somewhere in the Middle East due to the architecture of the stone building with dome. (Tunisia comes to mind but I’m not too certain if the terrain matches.) And, perhaps this was a mosque however we don’t see a minaret which would often be in evidence. We can see that there’s been some additional work on the building:  a half-circle arch was filled in with stone (a lighter color or less weathered by time) and a window added; and maybe some earlier work was done there, too – that portion may have initially been an entrance way.

Street Shrine in Moscow, Russia

Old photo, white border. Circa 1910’s.

Price:  $15.00           Size:  1 and 3/4″ x 3 and 3/4″

Found at an antique store in California….this snapshot has made its way to us from Moscow, Russia.

In a high and fairly deep archway is a Russian Orthodox shrine (note the shape of the cross) painted on wood we believe, of the crucifixion of Christ; it’s set up in front of a pair of tall, ornate double doors in wrought iron. Was this a permanent display or something temporary for Easter? No other photos were found online for this location, nor were surprisingly, any similar street shrines in Russia. But maybe not so surprising given the political situation that (not knowing the exact date of this photo, so speculating) was soon to be thrust upon the peoples of Russia:  We’ve estimated 1910’s for the photo due to the Bolshevik takeover in 1917 and the subsequent “attitudes” toward religion by the Communist regime. (See the first link in sources below for more.)

Signage in old photos is very often the key to finding a time-frame and pinpointing location, and you’ll have noticed the plaque affixed to the building on the other side of the enclave, but it’s partially cut off from our view, so we can’t see the full wording on it, nor what appears above that, rather faint, and then, of course, we’re only seeing the last couple of block letters in whatever is displayed there denoting something. I’m wondering if the whole building would have been a church or if that’s a storefront or something like that next to the shrine. But note the images of saints and angels appearing on the stonework surrounding the 3-d crucifixion depiction, leading us to think that at least part of the building was a house of worship.

Last, but most certainly not least:  the mustachioed gentleman standing, leaning a little, next to the archway, in suit and visored hat of the type you can find in other circa 1910’s and ’20’s Russian photos, and high peasant-type boots – he’s a working man, holding one of the tools of his trade, a hand-drill. And then, about to lumber into our view, a draft horse that would have been pulling a cart or wagon.

Below,a clipped view of a Google.com search for antique hand drills:

Sources: Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union. n.d. (accessed April 2, 2023).

Nov 7, 1917 CE: October Revolution. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/october-revolution/ Accessed April 4, 2023.

“images of antique hand drills.” Google.com search. Accessed April 4, 2023.

Myrle and Kitten

Old photo, white border. Circa 1920s.

Price:  $4.00        Size:  About 2 and 7/8 x 2 and 11/16″

This photograph has optical illusions…..

The young lady is holding a kitten, not a baby raccoon. But the little guy looks like a raccoon – his chin is blending in with the stucco background of the house, giving his snout a more pointed look, and the girl’s fingers of her left hand, supporting the kitty, are creating a pronounced striped look for his tail, like that of a raccoon. Then the barely noticeable name written in ink at the bottom left – that long downward stroke of the capital “M” coincides with the horizontal mortar of the bricks, making the name appear to begin with “F.”

For the name Myrle, we can’t be sure on this, but with trying out different possibilities, it seems the best fit. It comes up fairly often in online records and we can find it’s origin:  Old French, meaning blackbird. (So pretty, like the young woman, of course!). And said to have peaked in popularity in 1915.

The writing on the reverse, in pencil and which looks to have blended somewhat with the general soiling over the years, is a major challenge and not seeming to fit the norm for a description. We can make out what looks like “J. J.” and “Belmont[?] Road” and “Jenson.” We’ll have to try to revisit this one from time to time, maybe the rest of the wording will “break through” at some point in the future.

Sources:  “Myrle.” https://www.thebump.com/b/myrle-baby-name. Accessed March 2, 2023.

“Myrle – Meaning of Myrle.” https://www.babynamespedia.com/meaning/Myrle/f. Accessed March 2, 2023.

Young Woman With Horse

Real Photo Postcard. Unused. Circa 1907 – 1909. AZO stamp box. 

Price:  $5.00

No writing on the back, so no way to offer up a great find for any potential descendant on this one. But, sometimes you’re just drawn to a photo or postcard image, and I think this one is beauty in its simplicity:  Girl and horse, part of a barn, a couple of trees, wooden fence, rolling hills – a nice blast back to our rural American past.

Looking off to her left, the young woman in skirt and blouse, hair pulled back in a bow, holding the rope halter of her horse, the animal’s expression faces the camera. (The nuances are lovely – who is looking where.) And first impressions are always interesting. To me, the girl’s skin coloring appears to be a trifle dark; she strikes me as being part Native American or having gypsy background. Of course, that’s only an impression on my part, and not meant to be taken as anything, really – only to share the thought. Do you think she wears wire-rimmed eyeglasses or is that a trick of the light? The horse (no horse expertise here on my part) looks young, and I like the square “star” appearing on his forehead. (Apparently the white markings, other than the vertical blaze, are called stars, no matter their shape.)

Per Playles, this particular AZO stamp box (on reverse) with diamonds in corners is dated from 1905 – 1909. We presume Real Photo Postcards followed the same U. S. postal regulations regarding “Divided Back,” the ruling for which started March 1, 1907. So, the date, at least, can be happily narrowed down to 1907 – 1909.

Sources:  Sanderson, David. “Naming Head Markings on a Horse.” Dallas Equestrian Center, May 13, 2015, http://www.dallasequestriancenter.com/naming-head-markings-on-a-horse/#:~:text=Star,of%20whether%20it%20resembles%20one. Accessed February 11, 2023.

Playle’s:  “Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes, A – B.: https://www.playle.com/realphoto/photoa.php. (accessed February 11, 2023).