I've had this card in my collection for several years having bought it at an estate sale. Until today I never bothered to really look at it. What I've found is rather interesting.

Click on either image to see it larger.

The card was sent on June 18, 1907 to Miss Belle Gordy in Santa Rosa, California from her friend Edith. That's not the interesting part.

Nor is the publisher, Carter & Gut, all that interesting.

Note the caption on the front:
May Irwin and Company
So who is May Irwin and why should we be worried that Mrs. Black is back?

May Irwin (June 27, 1862 – October 22, 1938), was a Canadian actress, singer and star of vaudeville.
Born at Whitby, Ontario 1862 as Georgina May Campbell, her father Robert E. Campbell of Whitby, Ontario died when she was 13 years old and her stage-minded mother, Jane Draper in need of money, encouraged May and her younger sister Flora to perform. Creating a singing act, billed as the `Irwin Sisters` debuted at the Adelphi Theatre, in nearby Buffalo, New York in December 1874. By the fall of 1877, their career had progressed, and they were booked to appear at New York's Metropolitan Theater then at the Tony Pastor Theatre, a popular New York City music hall.

The Irwin sisters proved popular enough to earn regular spots for the ensuing six years after which a 21-year-old May Irwin set out on her own. She joined Augustin Daly's stock company from 1883 to 1887, where she made her first appearance on the theatrical stage. This comedienne was known for her improvisation skills. An immediate success she went on to make her London stage debut at Toole's Theatre in August 1884. In 1886 her husband of eight years, Frederick W. Keller, died unexpectedly. Her sister Flora married Senator Grady.

By the early 1890s, May Irwin had married a second time and developed her career into that of a leading vaudeville performer with an act known at the time as "Coon Shouting" in which she performed African American influenced songs. In the 1895 Broadway show The Widow Jones, she introduced "The Bully Song" which became her signature number. The performance also featured a lingering kiss which was seen by Thomas Edison who hired Irwin and her co-star John C. Rice to repeat the scene on film. In 1896, Edison's Kinetoscope production, The Kiss, became the first screen kiss in cinematic history.

Among her own pieces have been : " The Widow Jones," " The Swell Miss Fitzswell," "Courted into Court," "Kate Kip-Buyer," "Sister Mary," etc.

In addition to her performing and singing, May Irwin also wrote the lyrics to several songs, including "Hot Tamale Alley," with music written by George M. Cohan. In 1907 she married her manager, Kurt Eisfeldt, the same year she began making records for Berliner/Victor. Several of these recordings survive and give a notion of the actress's appeal.

May Irwin's buxom figure was much in vogue at the time and combined with her charming personality, for more than thirty years she was one of America's most beloved performers. In 1914, she made her second silent film appearance, this time in the feature-length adaptation of George V. Hobart's play, Mrs. Black is Back, produced by Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Film Company and filmed for the most part at her own sprawling home in New York. Still pictures, showing May, survive from this movie.

A highly paid performer, Irwin was a shrewd investor and became a very wealthy woman. She spent a great deal of time at a summer home on secluded Club Island a small island off of Grindstone Island of the Thousand Islands and at her winter home on Merritt Island, Florida before retiring to a farm near Clayton, New York, where a street would eventually be named in her honor.

Personal life
May Irwin was married twice. First Frederick W. Keller, of St. Louis from 1878 until his death in 1886. From 1907 to the end of her life she was married to Kurt Eisenfeldt. The couple lived at West 44th Street, New York.

May Irwin had two sons by her first marriage, Walter Keller (born ca. 1879) and Harry Keller (b. 1882).

May Irwin died in New York City on October 22, 1938, aged 76. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
So what was Mrs. Black is Back about?
Based on a play by George V. Hobart, the story concerns a peppery middle-aged widow who claims to be only 29 years old. Despite the fact that she is obviously well along in years, Mrs. Black (Irwin) is able to convince a marriageable professor (Charles Lane) that she is indeed as young as she claims. But what is the prof to make of the fact that Mrs. Black has a grown son named Jack (Elmer Booth), who is himself well past the age of consent? Featured in the cast as Mrs. Mason was (Clara Blandick), best known for her work as Auntie Em in 1939's The Wizard of Oz. —Hal Erickson, Rovi (SOURCE: NY Times)
Hankering to hear May sing? Just click below to here her sing "Don't Argify". Want to hear the other songs? Click on the source below the list. WARNING: Some of the songs are offensive.

(SOURCE: Archive.org)

How about the famous May Irwin kiss?

All these years this card has been stuck in an album and I never once paid any attention to what it was. Only because I have a headache and grew weary of the work I need to do did I decide to see where this old piece of ephemera would take me.

I might still have the headache, but at least I'm not feeling so weary. In fact after listening to those tunes I'm absolutely serene.



We had a lot of odd and interesting things that ended up in the family cabin from other folks cabins. Friends sold and moved away and we got items they didn't want. Oh how fortuitous was that? How else would I have ended up with this Korla Pandit album?

Korla Pandit was an organist who is all but forgotten by most people. If you're around 60 you might recall the name and the image, but not the music. If you're in your 80's to early 90's he was your contemporary and you most likely heard him on the radio or television.

I actually only have vague memories of him. I hear the name "Korla Pandit" and I think turban. Who knew the whole bit with the turban was fake? Not me.

Korla Pandit (September 16, 1921 – October 2, 1998), born John Roland Redd in St. Louis, Missouri, was a musician, composer, pianist, organist and television pioneer. He was known as the Godfather of Exotica.

His first work for radio was in 1938 with the Central Broadcasting Company in Des Moines, Iowa. Arriving in Los Angeles, California by 1939, John Roland Redd donned a turban and performed under the name Juan Rolando. His sister, Frances Redd, was an actress in the film Midnight Shadow (1939), and his turban resembled the one worn by John Criner's character, Prince Alihabad, in Midnight Shadow.

During the mid-1940s, as Juan Rolando, he played the organ on the Los Angeles radio station KMPC, and he performed in various supper clubs and lounges. He also was heard on Jubilee, the program of black jazz and swing bands transcribed by the Special Services of the War Department for airing to WWII servicemen overseas.

In 1944, he married Disney artist Beryl June DeBeeson, and the two reinvented his image, eventually replacing "Juan Rolando" with "Korla Pandit" and fabricating a romantic history for him as a baby born in New Delhi, India to a Brahmin priest and a French opera singer, who traveled from India via England, finally arriving in the United States.

In 1948, while performing in Hollywood at a furrier's fashion show in Tom Breneman's Restaurant, Korla and Beryl met television pioneer Klaus Landsberg who offered Korla his own 15-minute daily television show with the stipulation that he would also provide musical accompaniment for , Bob Clampett's popular puppet show which featured Stan Freberg and Daws Butler as puppeteers and voices. Korla and Beryl's son, Shari Pandit, was born August 5, 1948.

Korla Pandit's Adventures In Music was first telecast on Los Angeles station KTLA in February 1949, and viewers soon became familiar with the musical opening, "The Magnetic Theme." Landsberg insisted that Korla not speak but instead simply gaze dreamily into the camera as he played the Hammond organ and Steinway grand piano, often simultaneously. Following Klaus's directorial and contractual stipulations, Pandit became an overnight star and one of early television's pioneering musical artists.

In 1951, Pandit left KTLA in a deal with Louis D. Snader of Snader Telescriptions, resulting in short films which gave Pandit a national TV audience. However, problems with contract negotiations prompted Snader to replace Pandit with Liberace by 1953, which launched the pianist to fame. Pandit then did a show on KGO in San Francisco.

In the 1970s, when his television popularity waned, Pandit supplemented his income with increased personal appearances at supper clubs, supermarket openings, car agencies, music and department stores, pizza restaurants, lectures, music seminars, private lessons and the theater organ circuit. He made a cameo appearance in Tim Burton's biographical film, Ed Wood (1994), playing himself. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
I'm trying to imagine how all of this worked. Did he do a fake Indian accent when he made appearances? Exactly how much did he stay in character? I have no idea.

To see more about Korla go to the Korla Pandit website which was run by a fan.



JANVIER T. LEE'S Moment of recognition

Do you have newspaper clippings that extol about a relative or friend? Little pieces of ephemera filed away that you occasionally come upon?

I have several, including one about myself, well actually a drawing I did that was published in the Honolulu Star Bulletin. Most of the others are about my dad or mother. I do have one about a friend who was a singer, one of a friend dressed in a bikini for a local department store, and one of a friend winning a prize. Someday someone will find these after I've died and simply toss them. The person featured in the clipping will find that their fleeting moment of "fame" is officially over.

This fellow, Janvier T. Lee, has probably run close to the end of his shelf life. This clipping is in the Montez Lawton scrapbook. Google his name and nothing shows up. Dig a little deeper and I find that he died on March 7, 1989 at the age of 75 in Danville, California. He was born November 11, 1913 in Nebraska. Doing a small amount of math would indicate this clipping appeared in a local San Francisco Bay Area newspaper in 1946.

The store mentioned, Lucky, was a grocery store. Several years ago it went out of business. Then another company bought what was left of it, including the signage, and opened them back up.

I'm fascinated by how much ephemera I have, including photo collections, that belonged to people originally from Nebraska. How did so much ephemera end up from Nebraska in my hands. I can't think of any other state that features as prominently in my collection.


MAURICE THOMAS meets Barbara Cartland

It would be too easy for me to write a snarky post about author Barbara Cartland. To those that didn't like her writing she became a caricature of the whole romance novel genre. She cranked out books like McDonalds cranks out burgers. Her physical appearance was of thin blond cotton candy hair, a ton of makeup, a sagging jowl, and pink; everything was pink. But people loved her.
Dame (Mary) Barbara Hamilton Cartland, DBE, CStJ (9 July 1901 – 21 May 2000), was an English author, one of the most prolific authors of the 20th century. As Barbara Cartland she is known for her numerous romantic novels, but she also wrote under her married name Barbara McCorquodale.

She also became one of London's most prominent society figures and one of Britain's most popular media personalities, appearing often at public events and on television, dressed in her trademark pink and discoursing on love, health, and social and political issues. She is widely regarded as having originated the phrase: "I'm bringing sexy back", as popularised by singer Justin Timberlake.

Cartland is the seventh most translated author in the world and published 723 books. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
I can still remember a tv show doing a piece about her which had me shaking my head. It showed Cartland relaxing on a settee, in full Cartland garb, dictating a novel to a secretary. I was dumbfounded by how this stuff just rolled off her tongue.
"No! No! Alex…no!”

The protest was not vehement, and the man whose lips were very close to Romina’s smiled a little smile of triumph before he answered:

“Why fight? You love me—I know you do. Stop fighting, Romina, and let us be happy. I will teach you what love really is—glorious, wonderful, overwhelming.”

The deep voice with its faint accent was hypnotic. So was the soft, experienced touch of his hands, and Romina felt herself drifting into a No-Man’s-Land of warmth and feeling. (from Danger by the Nile)

For those who need more of Barbara you'll be happy to know she has a website.

This book is another one from the cabin. I have never read it.

What about the illustrator of this book cover, Maurice Thomas? He actually gets credit on the copyright page. I know I've done a post about some of his work, but now can't find it. He was known for doing romance novels and pulp fiction covers. If I ever figure out which post from the past contained information about him I'll add a link to this post.

In the meantime here is a link to a site showing another one of his illustrations, including an original.

This book was published in September of 1967.


MIGNON G. EBERHART and a crazy woman

Another vintage paperback from the cabin. This one was published in 1966. I never saved any of these to read, just for the covers. Since I don't believe there's a market for these old books, I'll probably eventually tear the covers off and throw the remains away to be recycled. But before doing that....

There's no information given about the illustrator. I really don't know what it has to do with the storyline since I haven't read the book. Of course I'm thinking of the Hitchcock thriller The Birds. Was this book in some way inspired by that film?

So who was Mignon G. Eberhart? Turns out she was rather famous and prolific.

First off the woman has been dead since 1996, but she has a Facebook page. It doesn't look like her books are being published anymore so if you choose to read something by her you'll have to look through used stacks. This book goes for 1 cent up to 20 cents on Amazon. Okay, there is one seller claiming to have a "brand new and has never been opened" copy and they're charging $58.28. So looking at my copy I'm guessing mine is in the 20 cent range. Looks good, probably only read by one person, some scuffing.

Personally I've never heard of this writer, but then she writes in a genre, romance mystery, I gave up on back in high school. I used to love reading Mary Stewart books and some Phyllis Whitney. Now I run the other direction preferring Sue Grafton or the good old hardboiled stories of Chandler and Cain.
Mignon Good Eberhart (July 6, 1899, Lincoln, Nebraska - October 8, 1996, Greenwich, Connecticut) was an American author of mystery novels. She had one of the longest careers among major American mystery writers.

Mignonette Good was born July 6, 1899, in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a teenager, Good often wrote short stories and novels to occupy herself. From 1917 to 1920 she attended Nebraska Wesleyan University but did not complete the coursework for a degree. In 1923 she married Allan Eberhart, and began writing short stories to combat boredom. Within several years she had begun writing novels, and in 1929 she published her first novel, The Patient in Room 18. Her third novel, The Mystery of Hunting's End received the $5000 Scotland Yard Prize in 1931. Four years later her alma-mater presented her with an honorary doctorate degree.

By the end of the 1930s, Eberhart had become the leading female crime novelist in the United States and was one of the highest paid female crime novelists in the world, next to Agatha Christie. Known as "America's Agatha Christie," she wrote a total of 59 novels, the last published in 1988, shortly before her 89th birthday. Eight of her novels were adapted as movies, beginning in 1935 with While the Patient Slept. The last adaptation, based on the book Hasty Wedding, was the movie Three's a Crowd released in 1945.

The normally prolific Eberhart delivered fewer books in the 1940s, possibly due to upheaval in her personal life. After twenty years of marriage, Eberhart divorced her husband and remarried in 1946 to John Hazen Perry. Within two years she had divorced her second husband and remarried Allan Eberhart.

Eberhart was one of the founders of the modern romantic suspense novel. In an unusual twist for the time, her mysteries featured female heroines. The year after her first novel was published, Agatha Christie followed her lead and introduced another female detective, Jane Marple.

Her works often featured female heroines, and tended to include exotic locations, wealthy characters, and suspense and romance. Her characterization is good, and her characters always have "genuine and believable motives for everything they do." Her "writing is spare but almost lyrical."

In 1971 she was awarded the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award. Eberhart also served as president of the Mystery Writers of America. In 1994 she received the Agatha Award: Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement.

In 2007, a posthumous collection of her short stories, Dead Yesterday and Other Stories, was edited by Rick Cypert and Kirby McCauley, and published by Crippen & Landru. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
The following is from the site girl-detective.net and pretty much convinced me that Eberhart books are probably not for me.
You have to be in the right mood to read Eberhart. Though plucky and well-bred, her heroines are some of the silliest in the mystery genre. The anonymous phone call bidding her hightail it down to the boathouse where murder has struck once before? She always answers on the first ring. Strange sounds in the attic of a house where murder walks the shadowy corridors? Sure, she's got five minutes to--er--kill; she'll just powder her nose and be right up. The smoking gun or bloody knife beside the still warm body? Never does the Eberhart heroine fail to pick it up and press her dainty little fingerprints all over it. Forget about the HIBK (Had I But Known) school, these chicks are at the top of the Why The Hell Would She class. They never have a decent alibi and they always have motive galore. (SOURCE: Girl Detective)
To see more about Mignon G. Eberhart:
Mignoneberhart.com where you'll also find a photo of the author

Mockingbird Creighton where you can also read a "selection" from one of her books.

The net has allowed me to add a little biographical information to this piece of ephemera that's been on a shelf for years. Never a priority item, but now not just a cover image. Hopefully, I've accomplished what I intend this blog to be for, which is to expose myself to something new by looking at something old.


PS: About that NIGHTMARE

Was this book better than its cover? I don't know because I've never read it. This is just another book that spent over 30 years on the bookshelf in the family cabin.

Funny thing is, according to the back cover copy, the story took place at a cabin in the California mountains. Maybe that's why I never read it. On moonlit nights walking through the snow from the parking lot to the cabin, around a quarter-of-a-mile, the last thing I wanted to think about was murder.

This book, as far as I can determine, is no longer in print. This edition was published in June 1968. The author, Dolores Hitchens, died in 1973, only a few years after this book took up residency on the cabin shelf. I'm not finding much about the author online other than Wikipedia, a nice piece at Mystery File (see D. B. Olsen), and a brief piece at Vintage Hardboiled Reads.
Julia Clara Catharine Dolores Birk Olsen Hitchens (1907–1973), better known as Dolores Hitchens, was an American mystery novelist who wrote prolifically from 1938 until her death. She also wrote under the pseudonyms D. B. Olsen, Dolan Birkley and Noel Burke.

Hitchens collaborated on five railroad mysteries with her second husband, Bert Hitchens, a railroad detective, and also branched out into other genres in her writing, including Western stories. Many of her mystery novels centered around a spinster character named Rachel Murdock.

Hitchens wrote Fool's Gold, the 1958 novel adapted by Jean-Luc Godard for his film Bande à part (Band of Outsiders, 1964). (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
Click on the source link above to see a list of Hitchen's books.

No information is given about the cover illustrator.



I've often mentioned the books that used to reside at the family cabin in the Sierra's. I don't know if I've ever said that 95% of the books came from someone else's cabin. Friends sold their cabin in 1970 and we inherited all sorts of stuff, including the odd book below.

No, I would never buy a book about barbarians hacking people with swords. I wouldn't even pick up a book with this cover, even if there was a 4 for a buck offer. I'm just not into wizards, barbarians, swords, magic, etc. I know there's a whole market for this sort of stuff, but to me it's mind-numbing.

Kothar of the Magic Sword_tatteredandlost

The Enchanted Sword_tatteredandlost

Kothar of the Magic Sword pg_tatteredandlost

And the cover illustration just looks like a cheap rip-off of Frank Frazetta.

But what of the man who wrote this, Gardner Francis Cooper Fox? Now there's an interesting story. The following copy is from Wikipedia.

Gardner Francis Cooper Fox (May 20, 1911, Brooklyn, New York – December 24, 1986) was an American writer best known for creating numerous comic book characters for DC Comics. Comic-book historians estimate that he wrote over 4,000 comics stories.

(Image to left: by Gil Kane)
Gardner F. Fox was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 20, 1911. Fox recalled being inspired at an early age by the great fantasy fiction writers. On or about his eleventh birthday, he "had gotten The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs, books which "opened up a complete new world for me." In a time before comics existed, he "read all of Burroughs, Harold Lamb, Talbot Mundy," maintaining copies "at home in my library" some 50 years later.

Fox received a law degree from St. John's College and was admitted to the New York bar in 1935. He practiced for about two years, but as the Great Depression dragged on he began writing for DC Comics editor Vin Sullivan. Debuting as a writer in the pages of Detective Comics, Fox "intermittently contributed tales to nearly every book in the DC lineup during the Golden Age." He was also a frequent contributor of prose stories to the pulp science fiction magazines of the 1930s and 1940s.

A polymath, Fox sprinkled his strips with numerous real-world historical, scientific, and mythological references, once saying, "Knowledge is kind of a hobby with me." For instance, in the span of a year's worth of Atom stories, Fox tackled the 1956 Hungarian revolution, the space race, 18th-century England, miniature card painting, Norse mythology, and numismatics. He revealed in letters to fan Jerry Bails that he kept large troves of reference material, mentioning in 1971 that:
"I maintain two file cabinets chock full of stuff. And the attic is crammed with books and magazines....Everything about science, nature, or unusual facts, I can go to my files or the at least 2,000 books that I have."
For years Fox worked for DC Comics writing Sandman, Batman, The Flash, Hawkman, and The Justice Society of America.
Fox stopped receiving work from DC in 1968, when the comics company refused to give health insurance and other benefits to its older creators. Fox, who had written a number of historical adventure, mystery and science fiction novels in the 1940s and the 1950s, began to produce novels full time, both under his own name and several pseudonyms. He produced a small number of comics during this period, but predominantly focused on novels, writing over 100 in genres such as science fiction, sword and sorcery, espionage, crime, fantasy, romance, western, and historical fiction.
According to this Wikipedia article Fox can be credited with creating around 1500 stories for DC comics "making him the second most prolific DC creator by a considerable margin over his nearest rival."

He died on December 24, 1989.
Among his output was the modern novelisation of the Irwin Allen production of Jules Verne's Five Weeks in a Balloon, two books in the "Llarn" series; five books about the barbarian swordsman Kothar (starting in 1969 with the anthology Kothar—Barbarian Swordsman) and four books about the adventures of "Kyrik," starting with Warlock Warrior (1975).
Strangely, there is no copyright page in this paperback. It doesn't even look like it was torn out. Standard placement of copyright information is on the verso of the title page. According to Amazon this edition came out in 1969. That would fit in with when it ended up at the cabin.

I can guarantee that I won't be reading this book.

UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter who took umbrage to my statement about the illustrator of this cover, I now know the name of the illustrator, Jeff Jones. The commenter is correct to say that the illustrator was good as you'll see here in a piece written about his work. I still maintain that what the publisher was hunting for was a knock-off of Frank Frazetta. Having worked in publishing for decades I know what it's like when an editor gets an idea in their head which doesn't correspond to their budget. They say "get me..." the latest and greatest when what they really mean is get me someone who can do what they do for half the price. 


LITTLE ME by Bell Poitrine

Little Me sat on the bookshelf at the family cabin for years. I don't know if anyone ever read it. When the cabin was sold I brought home all of the old books. It turns out there's been a real lu-lu sitting on the shelf all those years.

Little Me says it's "the intimate memoirs of that great star of stage, screen and television" as told to Patrick Dennis.

Don't believe any of it, even the name Patrick Dennis.
Little Me was the parody "confessional" self-indulgent autobiography of "Belle Poitrine" (French for "Pretty Bosom"), subtitled The Intimate Memoirs of the Great Star of Stage, Screen and Television, by Patrick Dennis, who had achieved a great success with Auntie Mame. A bestseller when introduced in book form, the work was also later staged on Broadway as a musical.

The heavily illustrated work featured numerous photographs by Cris Alexander, who combined retouched stock photographs with original photographs taken to create Belle Poitrine's life. Published in 1961, it was considered pretty risqué at the time. (Several of Alexander's photographs were rejected by censors.) The book also featured family and friends of Dennis and Alexander, including Dennis' wife, Louise, as "Pixie Portnoy", and ballet dancer Shaun O'Brien (Alexander's life partner) as Mr. Musgrove. Actress Dodie Goodman and comedienne Alice Pearce were prominently featured. Actress Jeri Archer portrayed the often overexposed, self-centered and clueless Poitrine, and Kurt Bieber was her beefcake co-star and paramour, "Letch Feely". Little Me was reissued in 2002 with a new preface by Charles Busch and foreword by Alexander.

The plot of Little Me tells the rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches, etc. story of Maybelle Schlumfert, an overdeveloped and self-deluded girl who rises to become Belle Poitrine. (An example of her delusion: Belle is born in 1900 and the book proceeds with a chapter for each decade- but chapter six is titled "Frankly Forty") Throughout the book, Poitrine's character trumpets her successes (which are few) while glossing over her failures (which are many). The book was a stinging parody of the cult of celebrity and self-importance stemming from the numerous "personality overcoming obstacles" biographies of the late 1940s and early 1950s. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
So who was Patrick Dennis? Oh my, even the author isn't what he seems and doesn't that make this even more fun?
Patrick Dennis (May 18, 1921 – November 6, 1976) was an American author. His novel Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade (1955) was one of the bestselling American books of the 20th century. In chronological vignettes "Patrick" recalls his adventures growing up under the wing of his madcap aunt, Mame Dennis. Dennis wrote a sequel, Around the World with Auntie Mame, in 1958.

"I write in the first person, but it is all fictional. The public assumes that what seems fictional is fact; so the way for me to be inventive is to seem factual but be fictional." All of Dennis's novels employ to some degree the traditional comic devices of masks, subterfuge and deception.

Patrick Dennis was born Edward Everett Tanner III in Evanston, Illinois. His father nicknamed him "Pat" before he was born, after the Irish heavyweight boxer Pat Sweeney, "a dirty fighter known for kicking his opponents." When he was old enough to say so, he let it be known that he liked "Pat" better than "Edward," and so Pat he became. Pat attended Evanston Township High School where he was popular and excelled in writing and theater.

In 1942, he joined the American Field Service, working as an ambulance driver in North Africa and the Middle East.

On December 30, 1948, Dennis married Louise Stickney, with whom he had two children.

Auntie Mame
's first edition spent 112 weeks on the bestseller list, selling more than 2,000,000 copies in five different languages. The manuscript was turned down by fifteen publishers before being accepted by the Vanguard Press. Dennis and a friend marketed the book to the booksellers. At the height of its popularity, it was selling more than 1,000 copies a day; throughout 1955 and 1956, it sold between 1,000 and 5,000 a week. In 1956, with Auntie Mame, The Loving Couple: His (and Her) Story, and Guestward, Ho!, Dennis became the only writer ever to have three books on the New York Times bestseller list at the same time.

Working with longtime friend, actor and photographer Cris Alexander, Dennis created two parody memoirs, complete with elaborate photographs. The first, Little Me, recounts the escapades through life and love of glamour girl Belle Poitrine "as told to Patrick Dennis." His wife, Louise, appeared as "Pixie Portnoy" in the book's photographic illustrations, which included their children and an employee as well. The second "bio," First Lady (1964), is the life story of Martha Dinwiddie Butterfield, oblivious wife of a robber baron who "stole" the presidency for thirty days at the turn of the century.

Throughout his life, he struggled with his bisexuality, at one point becoming a well-known participant in Greenwich Village's gay scene.

Dennis' work fell out of fashion in the 1970s, and all of his books went out of print. In his later years, he left writing to become a butler, a job that his friends reported he enjoyed. At one time, he worked for Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's. Although he was at long last using his real name, he was in essence working yet again under a pseudonym; his employers had no inkling that their butler, Tanner, was the world-famous author Patrick Dennis.

He died from pancreatic cancer in Manhattan at the age of 55.

At the turn of the 21st century there was a resurgence of interest in his work, and subsequently many of his novels are once again available. His son, Dr. Michael Tanner, wrote introductions to several reissues of his father's books. Some of Dennis' original manuscripts are held at Yale University, others at Boston University. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
To see an article from the December 7, 1962 LIFE magazine about Patrick Dennis click here.

So what about the photographer, Cris Alexander, who created the altered photos?
Cris Alexander (born Alan Smith; January 14, 1920) is an American actor, singer, dancer, designer, and photographer.

As an actor he co-starred as Chip in the original Broadway cast of On the Town. Subsequent Broadway appearances included Present Laughter opposite Clifton Webb, Wonderful Town, and Auntie Mame. Mr. Alexander also appeared in the film version of Auntie Mame as the department store supervisor of actress Rosalind Russell.

Prior to retiring, Alexander was a successful photographer, noted for his celebrity portraits. For many years he was the official photographer for the New York City Ballet.

Alexander contributed hundreds of original and altered photographs to two of Patrick Dennis's best selling books. Little Me, a mock biography documenting the life of the world's worst actress Belle Poitrine, features more than 150 of Alexander's photographs. Alexander also wrote the novel's preface. Dennis' First Lady: My Thirty Days at the White House told of Martha Dinwiddie Butterfield (Peggy Cass), wife of a robber baron who literally stole the presidency at the turn of the century. Using friends and professional models and actors, Alexander's zany photographs were essential to the novels' success. For several years he served as Chief Photographer at Andy Warhol's Interview magazine. He is a long time resident of Saratoga Springs, New York, and he is also the life-partner of former New York City Ballet dancer Shaun O'Brien. In the 1940s, Alexander was romantically involved with the dancer and choreographer John Butler. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

I bet you were thinking I was going to post something from Montez Lawton's scrapbook? Believe me, there's nothing like this in her collection.

This edition of Little Me was published in November 1962.


Cards for MRS. LAWTON

Here are a couple more handmade cards that were given to schoolteacher Montez Lawton who taught in the San Francisco Bay Area. No indication as to when these were made.

Click on image to see it larger.

And the interior of the above card.

And here's the other handmade card Montez Lawton kept in her scrapbook.


MRS. MONTEZ LAWTON with friends

This is the only photo I have of schoolteacher Mrs. Montez Lawton (she is on the right). This is pasted in her scrapbook. No indication what the event was or when it was held. But there she sits in her fine hat smiling with Lois Raffetti and Rock LaFleche. Seriously? Rock LaFleche? That names a keeper. Has to be used in a story.

Just another image from Mrs. Montez Lawton's scrapbook. More odd and interesting things to come.


Young mister RICHARD JACOBSON, son of ELMER

Another little clipping from Mrs. Lawton's scrapbook. I'm guessing this was one of her students from Marin School in the late 1940s to early '50s.

The machinist shop in Richmond is the shipbuilding area where many of the ships for World War II were built. So it is also possible this little clipping was published during war time.



This newspaper clipping is actually pasted in Mrs. Lawton's scrapbook. No explanation. It's just another odd clipping that must have meant something to her. I'm guessing this occurred in the late '40s to early '50s. Very strange and very sad.

Click on image to see it larger.


Mrs. Lawton and HERB CAEN

This is another clipping from Mrs. Lawton's scrapbook. It was floating loosely between two pages, not pasted down. It's a clipping from a Herb Caen San Francisco Chronicle newspaper column, not an unusual item to find if you lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. I believe there are one or two squirreled away in my mother's jewelry box.

Click on image to see it larger.

Herb Caen was a famous columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. I'd say what he wrote was gossip, but that wasn't really what it was. He compiled brief bits and pieces of interesting and funny moments linked together by an ellipses, which he called "three-dot journalism."
Herbert Eugene Caen (April 3, 1916 – February 1, 1997) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist working in San Francisco. Born in Sacramento, California, Caen worked for the San Francisco Chronicle from the late 1930s until his death, with an interruption from 1950 to 1958 during which he wrote for the San Francisco Examiner. His collection of essays titled Baghdad-by-the-Bay was published in 1949 and in 1953 he published the book "Don't Call It Frisco". Caen died of lung cancer and his funeral was one of the best-attended in San Francisco history. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
Each morning I'd hear either my mother or father howling with laughter over something in the column. It was a sad day in the Bay Area when Caen was gone. He is missed.



Mrs. Lawton was well loved by her grade school students. Here's proof that one child took the time to create a special handmade card for their teacher.

Click on image to see it larger.

Notice the writing on the back which is clearly an attempt to make the card look official, done by a company; the RR company with apparently 113332 cards produced before this one.

Click on image to see it larger.

How would this child, now an adult, feel about having their artwork shared on this scale? Certainly it would thrill them to think that Mrs. Lawton cared enough to keep the very best.



My friend Bert gave me an old scrapbook put together by a woman who was a teacher. The book's pages crumble beneath your fingers. In fact you hold your breath when looking at it because even a slight movement makes it crumble even more.

Inside there are birth announcements, school programs, greeting cards, and all wonders of ephemera that at one point were important to this woman. So I really can't explain why the following were floating freely stuck between two pages. What was Mrs. Lawton's connection to Donald R. Hainey? I doubt we'll ever know.


FARGO, N.D. in Faux Day for Night

Another day for night postcard. As if the sky weren't enough to give it away; the flag should not be flying at night. I know, these days flag etiquette is a thing of the past for most people, but once upon a time people made a point of taking flags down at night. The "laws" are that it must come down unless displayed with some sort of light source. This flag does not have its own light source.

Broadway_Fargo N.D._tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

It is fascinating to look at the card and count how many ways the artist had to add to the image to make it a night scene. The sky, the moon, lighted windows, headlights, tail lights.... The road surface looks a little on the antiseptic side; no shadows or tread marks.

And then imagine the photographer standing in the middle of the road shooting this. Most certainly would not be doing it night, even a full moon night.

Fargo post card_tatteredandlost

The card was published by the Bloom Bros. Co. of Minneapolis. I'm not finding any historical information, but there is a souvenir and gift shop listed in Minneapolis named Bloom Bros. Perhaps someone will verify if this is the same group that once upon a time published postcards.



Continuing with my "theme" this week of nighttime postcards I give you one I bought a very long time ago, probably around 1970.

It was published by Hartmann, a card publisher in Great Britain.
Frederick Hartmann 1902-1909 
45 Farringdon Street, London, England
A publisher of postcards as fine tinted halftones. While most of his cards covered views from all over Great Britain, he also produced cards on various other subjects many of which were artist signed. In addition to having his cards printed in Saxony, he imported many glamour cards from the Continent as well. He was the British distributor of postcards for Trenkler & Company. Hartmann was a strong advocate of the divided back postcard and was instrumental to its establishment in England. Hartman may have issued the world’s first divided back card. (SOURCE: Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City)

Town Hall_Manchester_tatteredandlost

Town Hall_bk_tatteredandlost
Click on either image to see it larger.

I always liked this card with its mysterious look. The horse drawn cabs waiting beneath the street light. Though it's not London I can easily imagine Jack the Ripper lurking in the shadows or perhaps Holmes and Watson are in one of the cabs. Make up your own story.