WM. Standing • William Standing • FIRE BEAR

In 1949 my folks drove my maternal grandparents from Harrisburg, PA to my folks house in Chula Vista, CA in a 1947 Oldsmobile along Route 66. Along the way my grandmother bought all sort of touristy items, mostly salt and pepper shakers to add to her collection. She also, or maybe it was my grandfather...yeah, mostly likely Pap Pap, bought postcards. 

There is a series of cards shown below done by WM. Standing. On the back it says "From an original etching by WM. Standing, noted Indian artist" and was published by Western Stationery Co., Yachats, Oregon (click on image above to see back of card). They're the typical type of sex and bathroom humor cards that always seemed available when traveling. I remember being in a Stuckey's in Georgia in 1988 and finding a whole rack of weird risqué cards, but they were really disgusting. These cards have a certain fun charm.

Over the years I wondered who WM. Standing was. I'd type in this name online and nothing would show up except for other examples of his postcards for sale on ebay. Then the light bulb broke over my head and I typed in "William Standing" and quite a few things showed up. 

William Standing, or Fire Bear as he preferred to be known, was born on July 27, 1904 on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and died June 27, 1951 in an auto accident. To read more about him click HERE. He sounds like he was a pretty interesting fellow:
"William Standing lived in Oswego. Attached to his cabin, he had a sixteen foot by sixteen foot addition with three shelves on each of the three walls. He would mix up one color and go around the room applying that color as needed to each of the canvases on the shelves."

"At present he works for the Western Stationery Co. at Poplar, Montana, illustrating stationery with a western motif and making comic cards. In his spare time, Mr. Standing studies nature and his own people and looks to them for subject matter. His palette reflects his soul, and his soul relects his love for all living things."

References are made to his paintings, but I've yet to find one. The only other item illustrated by him that I've found is a book called "Land of Nakoda: The Story of the Assiniboine Indians" originally published in 1942. I see that copies are available online used for 200 to 400 dollars. A reprint was issued  in 2004 by Riverbend Publishing. I've put a link in the left column. I haven't seen any of the illustrations from within, but from the skill shown in his line work in the postcards I think with a serious subject matter it might be well worth seeing.

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NATURAL DISASTERS and how to make a buck

Nearly a week doesn't go by without a natural disaster somewhere in the world making us pause and think "Those poor people. I'm glad it wasn't me." Because of the speed with which news travels we're aware of these events moments after they happen. We forget that word used to travel slow and before the advent of photography most events remained foreign to all but those involved. 

Today is the 103rd anniversary of the Great Quake in San Francisco. Unless you live near San Francisco it probably never even crossed your mind or was mentioned. For those of us who live on the fault line it's an annual reminder of what may lay ahead.

I purchased this postcard at an estate sale. I've never seen another, though some postcard collectors have told me they've seen a few, but rarely. It depicts a street in San Francisco following the quake. Attached to the card with a purple ribbon is a Chinese coin. A man from Oakland, California named Ben Michaels produced this. It's copyrighted 1906. A penny postcard to send to friends far away letting them feel somehow part of the event. The copy is of it's time and belittles those of the Chinese community. Old Ben was out to make a buck or two. How genuine the coin is I don't know. Ben gives no credit to the photographer so I don't know if he took it or misappropriated it. Ben was the same as the hucksters today who try to take advantage of a situation. Ben has disappeared into history, but his little penny postcard has survived.

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Click on image to see it larger.

To see an amazing photo of the city in ruins over a month after the quake and fire look here. To see some recently discovered photos following the quake look here. And lastly, to read a little about the event look here.



It's all about money. It's always about money.

Someone doesn't have any. Someone has barely enough. Someone has too much. Money is fascinating. Money corrupts. Money soothes.

As a child I loved playing with money. Lightweight aluminum coins and fake paper money. I'd put it in my toy cash register, shut the drawer, pull the handle and do it all over again. And a jar of pennies was heaven. Line them up, stack them and knock them down. A few in my pocket and I'd run across the street to the candy store after school and buy something sweet to eat on the bus home. Or just hold a bunch of coins in my tightfisted hand and shake them listening to them clang against each other.

My parents were children of the depression and their feelings about money were different than mine. They were fearful of the lack of money and so they saved. They were not extravagant. I grew up to be mostly the same. I fear being without and imagine myself in a dark hotel room with a single bulb with a thin string hanging from the ceiling over a barren table. Outside the window is a buzzing broken neon sign flashing "OTEL." That's how I grew up imagining my life without money. That's my nightmare scene in the lizard part of my brain.

These days money is what has all of us fearful and angry. It's the way of money.

This booklet from the 1930s belonged to my mom. I no longer remember where she got it, but I think in the 1930s for a brief period she worked for the National Cash Register Company. I would sit for hours looking at the maps and photos imagining myself playing with money from all over the world. Playing with the fancy cash registers. And then of course when I got to school and had to do reports about exports from countries I'd get this little book out to help.

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I still enjoy looking through the booklet, only now with a critical eye and a somewhat snarky attitude. Some of it haunts me because of a world long gone. Countries no longer under colonial rule. Countries that were about to face devastating war. Countries that would be broken in two. I've only included a few countries to be viewed.

Click on any image below to see it larger.

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And now, a little song, a little dance, a few coins down your pants.



When I was in college I began to earnestly collect children's books and works illustrated by David Palladini were some of the first. I know he still works as an illustrator, but I haven't seen anything new in a long time, so it was fun to find this brochure from 1970 at the flea market. 

The brochure was published by Eaton Laboratories, Division of the Norwich Pharmacal Company. They put out a series of, as they called them, "vignettes based on 'Troubled Waters,' a manuscript of the late Benjamin S. Abeshouse, M. D., a practicing urologist whose lifetime avocaton was the collection of historical data dealing with the influence of genitourinary disease in the lives of famous men and women." 

This particular piece is about Henry VIII. I thought it appropriate since "The Tudors" begins its third season tonight on Showtime. Below are the pages of illustrations. For any Palladini fan this is a nice little find.

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And for a moment of levity I present in honor of Henry the following which has a good beat and it's easy to dance to.


IT HAS A GOOD BEAT and it's easy to dance to

I never know what I'm going to find. "Hidden" away amongst my old 45 record collection I found this. Wow. That's about all I can say. Wow. I have no idea where or how I got this. 

Just like those time warp collections Time-Life sells to make you think you're back in high school, I can imagine just a few moments of this and I'll be tripping into 1968.

I'm left speechless, but fortunately Nixon is here to help with that. I imagine I could even find a YouTube video of this, but no...a thousand times NO. The man still leaves a bad taste in my mouth so many years later. For any good he did in his life all I'll ever remember are his failures. What a sad legacy.

Remember, it's just ephemera:

        ephemera |əˈfem(ə)rə|   plural noun
        things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time

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