We're two sisters who are craft book publishers and found ourselves in the midst of an avocado grove. We bought this house where we planned to conduct our publishing business and in the deal got 4 acres of avocado trees thrown in. Now we're not only publishers but ranchers as well! This blog is all about avocados and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sepia Saturday #157 Santa, the Dutch Version

Here he comes, the Dutch version of Santa, called Sinterklaas and his helpers The Zwarte Pieten.  (Peter, I hope you don't get mad that I'm divulging the story of your Santa.) But I think it's so interesting. I first heard this story in a book by David Sedaris and I've included a recording of this at the end of this post for those of you who might be interested. But I'll have to warn you that it's really long - about 20 minutes.

Legend has it that Sinterklaas originally came from Turkey as St. Nicolaus, the Bishop of Mira, an honorable man who was kind to children. He lives in Spain, but comes by boat in mid-November and is welcomed by 400,000 spectators along the canals.

He then trades his boat for a white horse and the parade continues. He's accompanied by his band of helpers, the Zwarte Pieten.

Children lay out their shoes before bedtime, along with water (or wine) and a carrot for the horse. The very good kids are usually rewarded with chocolate and marzipan while the naughty anxiously wait to see if they've been given coal, again. In the past, Sinterklaas hit the children with a branch if they had been bad. But I guess this tradition has been thankfully updated.

I hope you have time to listen to this. It's pretty funny.

And if you have time after this, check out other Christmas and Santa stories here: Sepia Saturday. Happy Holidays everyone.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sepia Saturday #155 Overalls

Our theme for this week's Sepia Saturday is Oshkosh Overalls as depicted on a giant mural on the side of a building. They're advertised as "The big overall for all big jobs".

I wondered if I had any photos of men in overalls and bygosh, I did. In fact I have one of a man who must have seen this mural and was trying to mimic the model. Doesn't he look just as tough, like he could do all of your big jobs?

I don't know who he is. But he looks proud standing there between (probably) his mother and father.

When I looked through my many classroom photos I didn't think I'd find any overalls because in all of the photos the kids dressed up for the class picture. But then I found this one from Farmersburg, Ind. (as stated on the back of the photo). These boys were not afraid to be pictured in their overalls. They're pretty proud of their future occupation.

Then I found this photo of a little guy with overalls. He's too cute.

His mother must have written this note which I'll try to translate:

"Was going to take a picture of all three of them and this was all I got. Camera wouldn't take the
fat business (?) ha ha. But will try again sometime."

I have no idea what that might mean. Do you think it says "fat business"?  I'm not sure.
But isn't he just the perfect model for Oshkosh overalls?

Here's another cute picture. It's not a photo but two illustrations that someone pasted into their scrapbook. Just another cute kid in overalls.

For more overall wonderful photos and stories, click here: Sepia Saturday

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sepia Saturday #154 Down to the sea in boats

Our prompt photo for Sepia Saturday this week shows two men in a rowboat. I immediately thought of some photos I had in my stash that related to boats.

First we have a family on a cruise. It looks like they might be going from Berlin to Bremen according to the life saver (or else that's the name of the ship). I like how they documented their trip, even got the captain in on the shot. Poor captains. I wonder if they ever get tired of having to to be in everyone's photo.   

Here's a real fun loving group. They look like a prosperous bunch, maybe on a yacht. I'm thinking the handsome man in the foreground is not too happy. He was hoping to pair up with the cute girl in the center and instead got stuck with a not too attractive lady with very sad eyes. He wants off that boat fast.

This group isn't as prosperous as the ones above. They just have a rowboat. I wonder if it even left the shore or if they got in just for the photo. Too bad Handsome Man in the previous photo couldn't have gotten off his yacht and jumped into the boat between those two cute eligible females. He would have had much more fun. I also wonder about that ghostly shadow on the right of the photo. It's kind of eerie, isn't it?

Now here's what I call a Prince of a sailor. Do you think he has any idea at all about his craft?  He looks so young. Way before he met Wallace Simpson. If only he had stayed on the boat, history might have been quite different!

Just like the Prince, my ex-husband felt the sea calling. For some reason (not having any prior experience with boating) he got his captain's license and then proceeded to build a 64' catamaran, The Discovery (that's him on the right in the white shirt, waving). He sailed it down the coast from San Diego to Acapulco and used it to ferry tourists around to various sites. His undoing came when he decided to set out for Cancun. On the way there, he and his crew met with a terrible storm off the coast of Salvador. The Discovery was battered, bruised and almost sunk. The crew was rescued by the Salvadorian Navy. That was the end of the Discovery. I can't help but compare this story to Helen's post about her Grandfather Hector building a coffin and later turning it into a boat. My ex pretty much did the same thing, only he did it in reverse - he built a boat that almost became his coffin.

Farewell Discovery.

For other stories about boats, bridges or dogs, click here: SEApia Saturday.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Sepia Saturday #153 Look A-likes

Here's our prompt photo for this week. When I saw it, I figured, hey this will be easy. The challenge gave me the opportunity to visit my stash of photos and that's always fun. I found so many photos of sisters and friends. But I found three photos of women who look so much alike. These are the ones that I'll feature.

Look Alikes No. 1 - The Secretarial Sisters

I'm not really sure if these two are sisters. They might even be mother and daughter or just friends. They're more dressed alike than look alike. With their puffy sleeve blouses and their crisp black bowties, you'd almost think they were dressed for a halloween party.  Maybe the lady at left with the top knot is holding the invitation to the party. They both look very excited, don't they? "Hey, sis, let's go to the party dressed as secretaries. What do you say?"

Look Alikes No. 2 - Help ! Our hair is caught on the fan - sisters

They do look like they are stuck to that fan. Is the fan part of the background or is it attached to them? It's kind of hard to tell. "Ouch, keep smiling but this really hurts."  But these two definitely look like sisters. They're going to star in the opera - Cossi Fan Tutte. They look like opera singers with their very fancy dresses. Or maybe they're on their way up that grand staircase to a debutante's ball. Good luck going up that staircase! Especially when you've both got a fan stuck to your heads.

Look Alikes No. 3 - Now this is what I call Look Alike sisters

Could they be any more alike? These are the Staley sisters (according to a note on the back of the photo). Not enough information to figure out who they are or where they came from. I love their outfits with the matching lace jabots (for you men, that's the ruffly thing at the opening of their respective dresses), the buttoned up feature on the front of the skirts and then those ties, Oh my, those ties. Could they be in some sort of organization - The elkettes, the moosettes? Whatever they are, they're very striking. You really would see those two coming and going. And I'm sure people really did a double take (so to speak) when they walked by.

I was going to have a contest on which are the most alike looking, but the Staleys would win hands down. So I'll just leave you to enjoy the photos, no need to vote. Unless, of course, you want to.

Check the other sisters and friends stories by clicking here Sepia Saturday.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sepia Saturday #152 The End of Public Libraries?

Our prompt photo for Sepia Saturday this week pictures school boys studiously perusing the books in their library. I previously posted about the library I remember as a youth, the Pomona library.

Since that post the news has come out that the Pomona Library is in jeopardy of closing due to serious budget cuts. They've managed to get enough funds together to stay open for another year, but the city has just voted down a measure that would have funded the library far into the future.  What's wrong with these people? Don't they treasure their library?

It seems that Pomona's is not the only library in the country that has been forced to tighten their belts. Even the Library of Congress is having funding problems and this seems to be part of a national trend. There appears to be unconcern about cutting library services until there is an emergency such as in Brooklyn when there was a threat to close 40 branches. Then the people staged a protest. Their slogan was "We will not be shushed".

The Huffington Post has even created a special section titled "Libraries in Crisis".

Photo from The Huffington Post Libraries in Crisis

Perhaps in the future we will only have Little Free Libraries such as the ones in Helen McHargue's post this week.

Speaking of reading, books and libraries, I did a post not too long ago about my favorite childhood books (all of which I read as library books). Anyway, they were a series called Betsy - Tacy by Maude Hart Lovelace. At the time I wrote that post I only had a few original copies of the books and I made myself a goal of collecting the whole series. Well, I've finally done it. Thanks to Ebay and Amazon I was able to find every single book! 

 This is the very first of the series:

And this, the final one:

Some of them aren't in the greatest shape, but I love them anyway - every single one.

For other biblio tales click here: Sepia Saturday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sepia Saturday #151 ERMA and I

I love this photo of the early telephone operators. I actually worked in an advertising agency where I sometimes had to work one of these complicated machines. It took me a while to master it with all those cords and a board that sometimes lit up like a Christmas tree. "Hello, Honig Cooper and Harrington, how may I direct your call" I would have to say. Quite a mouth full. But I'm not going to write about switchboards, instead I'm posting about another machine that I mastered on my very first  job in 1961.

I operated what we affectionately called the batch machine at a bank in Los Angeles. Here's what it looked like (that's not me, no one ever snapped a photo of Nancy, the batch operator).

I got to be really fast on the batch machine. Here's how it worked - I would get this big stack of checks and deposits. The checks were entered, then the deposits. If they balanced, the checks went into certain slots. I had to memorize which slot was which. The deposits went into another slot. After everything was entered, the checks and deposits went to some clearinghouse somewhere. Then they came back to the bank and each check was manually filed and checked against the customer's signature. Sounds kind of archaic, doesn't it? But it was 1961, afterall.

I loved working at the bank on Larchmont Blvd. Isn't it a cute street?

Larchmont Blvd. bordered a really rich neighborhood in Los Angeles called Hancock Park. Lots of our customers were really, really wealthy. People like Nat King Cole banked there.

Nat King Cole's house in Hancock Park

 and Dimitri Tiomkin (composer of the theme song from High Noon).

But I digress. Let's get back to the batch machine. It was developed by Bank of America some time between 1950 and 55 to speed up banking.

The early model was called ERMA (Electronic Recording Machine, Accounting). "The project that resulted in this engineering achievement made the automation of checking accounts practical and reliable, revolutionizing the world of banking system and ushering in the age of data processing machines for businesses."

ERMA's principal users were data clerks (that's me!) who were focused more on the information they processed than the machine processing it (that's for sure!).

In 2001 ERMA received an award recognizing its outstanding contribution toward the standard of living, peace and prosperity (Hey, I was only doing my job!).

If you'd like to read all the nitty gritty about ERMA's development, click here:  ERMA.

If you'd like to read about switchboards and other early machines, click here: Sepia Saturday.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sepia Saturday #149 Woman Removed From Her Property

Here's our photo prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday. You might wonder what's happening here because it's kind of a strange photograph. I think what's happening is this woman is being told she has to move from her little hovel to make room for a spa along this pretty river.

When I saw this photo it reminded me of another time when rich men wanted to take over property for their own benefit while at the same time removing people who were in their way. I'm thinking of the neighborhood in Los Angeles called Chavez Ravine. In the 1950s this property which was considered a slum was going to be converted to a wonderful housing project.

The people of Chavez Ravine were all evicted. They didn't want to move. These were their homes, their neighbors, their life. Some people moved when they were promised first dibs on the new, fancy housing. Others refused to move and were finally forcefully removed from their homes.

Aurora Archega being removed from her home of 36 years.
The proposed housing project was called Elysian Park Heights and was designed by the world famous architect, Richard Neutra. This is his plan for the new development:


and a closeup view of some of the housing:

But did this wonderful housing development ever get built. NO. Of course not. Once the politicians got involved, everything changed. The development was considered socialistic (this was the 50s afterall!). Instead the property stood vacant until Walter O'Malley (the owner of the Dodgers baseball team) spotted this nice empty piece of property right in the heart of Los Angeles. He wanted it and he got it. The previous tenants of the property got next to nothing. 

And this is what O'Malley and the people of Los Angeles got - Dodger Stadium:

They promised to at least build a park on the property, but that never happened.
See other stories about evictions, spas, rivers here: Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday 149 One More Photobomb

I just had to share this wonderful example of a photobomb (from our theme from last week). You might have already seen it because it's been all over the news, but just in case, here it is.

President Obama was visiting with some school children during one of his many campaign stops this past week and this photo was taken of the event:

He didn't realize that he was being upstaged by the little boy in the back row:

Now that's what I call the perfect photobomb.

For stories that follow this week's theme (which I did in a second post) click here Sepia Saturday.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sepia Saturday #148 Photobombs

I honestly had never heard of the word photobomb until Kat brought it up in relation to this week's theme. Here's the photo we're supposed to be inspired by to do our own Sepia Saturday post:

And here's the definition of photobomb:
An otherwise normal photo that has been ruined or spoiled by someone who was not supposed to be in the photograph.

See that man peering out of the window on the right. I don't think he was supposed to be in the shot.

So I did a search of some family photos belonging to a friend. And I found three wonderful examples of photobombing.

This particular photo goes nicely with our theme photo as there's a bike in it. Actually it's a boy on a bike. You have to look really hard to see him (he's on the right side of the photo).  Does he spoil the shot? No, I don't think so.

But if you look a little harder, there's another interloper here who really does ruin the shot. It's that poor dead animal hanging around the woman's neck. Can you imagine anything sadder than that? Even his little legs conveniently act as a closure for this goulish wrap. This was before Velcro so I'm not sure how the legs stick together. Maybe they were sewn together and then she drapes it over her head (before she puts on that enormous hat, of course).

Then there's Bernice and friend at the shore in their lovely bathing outfits. There are 3 people who are trying to get into this shot and Bernice and friend haven't got a clue, they're so happily mugging for the photographer. Not only are the 2 girls in the background staring, but also that man in the boat. Will no one give them any privacy?

This was written on the back of the photo:

No mention of the peeping Toms.

This photo is one of those real mysteries. See if you can help me with this one.

She's really all dolled up with her polka dot dress, her hat at a jaunty angle, purse on the arm. She's holding a sign that says "Men Wanted". And there he. Is this the man she wanted or is he an interloper? And why is she standing knee deep in Navajo rugs? (or some kind of rugs, anyway). Why the rugs? This is an extremely odd photo. But don't you just love it?

Thanks Kat, for introducing me to photobombing.  I will never look at a photo the same way again.

For other cop shots, peeping toms and photobombs, click on Sepia Saturday.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sepia Saturday #147 Military Uniforms

This week's Sepia Saturday is about the military. I looked through my collection of vintage photos and found some nice examples of uniforms. Unfortunately I know nothing about the men, their country of origin or anything else. None of these photos are marked in any way. But they're all interesting in their own way.

Wow, I wonder how many birds were killed to make this gentleman's hat. I like the background effect of this photo. It's painted so naively. Is it a scene of some sort? Hard to tell. But this is certainly a handsome man that seems awfully proud in his fancy uniform.

This is a much humbler uniform. It appears to be American, WWI. He also seems proud but his uniform doesn't even compare to Mr. Featherhat above. There's no decoration to his hat at all, no feathers. And no sword.

He's an all American Marine. This is a gorgeous uniform. I love the braid and the frog closures. It looks almost Chinese. Ouch - that stiff white collar. I'll bet that caused a few boils. But isn't he handsome?

I'm not sure about this trio. Those don't look like real military uniforms. In fact, they look a little shoddy. Maybe they're some kind of vigilantes. One has a gun, the other a rifle. They're up to no good, that's for sure.

This appears to be some sort of European officer. He certainly looks official. Seems like it would be difficult to button up that jacket and then drape those braids across it. But he's done it quite nicely, he probably had a valet to attend to those details.

This uniform isn't too remarkable. But the thing I like about this photograph is that it seems to include the original frame. I can picture that it sat in someone's parlour waiting for their loved one to come home. Hope he did.

That's all the military photos I have. Wish I had more information about them. But they're very interesting to look at and compare.

For other military uniforms, stories etc. click on Sepia Saturday.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sepia Saturday #145 What A Kick

Here's my dad. He went to the University of Chicago and I think this is maybe where this photo was taken. But I don't remember him being on the team. He was on the varsity wrestling team. Maybe this was for an intramural football team. Maybe that's why the "K" is part of the insignia.

I tried to find out what the fraternities were back then, but found nothing that had a K, only sororities. I doubt if he played for a sorority team!

His uniform looks pretty official, so this must have been a serious team of some sort. And the photo was taken by an official photographer. It's marked on the back - J. Sandy of Chicago.

When searching through the University of Chicago logos, I did find this:

T-Shirt Slogans
Houses often raise money for bonding events by selling t-shirts with the University logo on the front and a self-deprecating slogan on the back. Regularly sold during prospective student weekends, the shirts make parents think twice before sending their children to the U of C. Some of the most famous slogans are “Where fun goes to die,” and “Hell does freeze over.” But, as you’ll hear over and over again, don’t take them seriously; the only thing the slogans signify is the wit of the student body.
Overheard while selling self-deprecating T-Shirts: “It’s funny because it’s true.”

My dad would have thought these slogans were funny. He had a great sense of humor. I wonder, though, if he was a great football player. He looks like he knew what he was doing.

Check out other sporting stories by clicking Sepia Saturday.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sepia Saturday #144 Off With Their Heads!!

This weeks Sepia Saturday involves a photo with a headless man. So Alan suggested we find photos where the head has been cut off.

My mother was the grand master of cutting people's heads off in photographs. So I could have shown lots of examples of her photographic work. But then I remembered an instructional leaflet that our company had published years ago. This is what I've decided to post even though it's really embarrassing.

We've published lots of how to do it books during the years and that always involved doing cover photographs. We usually hired models for the covers. But somehow, this particular time we were in a hurry, the photographer didn't have time to wait, no models were available. I don't remember exactly why, but Barbara, Patty (an employee) and I  had to step in that day and model these lace decorated sweatshirts (yes, believe it or not this was a craze back in the 80s).

None of us wanted to model. We whined and complained about it. Our solution was to:

That's right. We did what these ladies had done:

We just merely chopped off our heads:

This actually turned out to be a big best seller. And remember our trip to China? That's why we were invited to go. We had sold so many of these collars to women who wanted to transform their sweatshirts, that we were awarded a free all-expense trip to China to find the next big craze.

You just never know where chopping off heads will lead!

For more posts along these same lines see Sepia Saturday.