Enough time has gone by since I last inflicted you with a compendium of strange and wonderful things I found used as bookmarks or tossed in among boxes of books back in the days when Huckleberry Books was still the home for blue-eyed Neuman, a large white cat of mixed parentage.
For instance, there was a small (4 inches tall, 3 inches wide) crocheted cross in blue stitches so tiny they must have been made with a toothpick. The link between the cross and its tassel is worn, but still intact.
A letter from the Work Progress Administration (WPA) to James Lector of Latona Street in Centralia gave fuel oil ration coupons to Mr. Lector for a total of 265 gallons. The letter was postmarked June 1, 1943, a time when our fighting forces had priority status, so it continued with a list of eight ways that use of fuel oil could be cut down.
It was not uncommon in the 1930s for sales people to cook a fancy meal for a gathering of guests in a home in order to demonstrate a process called “Waterless Cooking”... with the hope of making a sale or two, of course.
I remember being taken to one such gathering and, yes, one of the bookmark items in my collection is a handout containing a few recipes from just such a gathering. I know that the demonstration had to have been conducted before Dec. 7, 1941, because the products were called “Cook-Rite, Ideal and Japaneeso Ware”.
Another item which, sad to say, might still be applicable is a 1961 booklet titled “Fallout Protection (what to know and do about nuclear attack)” that looks as if it has hardly even been opened other than by yours truly. It begins by listing terms which have been almost forgotten today: A-bomb, H-bomb, kiloton and megaton, blast wave, blast wind and roentgen.
It describes the construction and stocking of a permanent fallout shelter, as well as temporary measures for survival. I started to build one for the home we lived in on Curtis Hill Road.
There was only a half basement under that home and I thought it’d be a simple matter to excavate enough dirt to provide space for one, but I didn’t know the toughness of the hard pan underneath it. A pick merely bounced off the surface and water wouldn’t even penetrate it, so I gave up.
The information is definitely dated by today’s standards. Near the end of the booklet there’s a chapter called “First Steps Toward Recovery” and includes such suggestions as using fire hoses and wheelbarrows to make things clean again! Farmers are advised that it’d probably be all right to drink milk from cows who had been grazing in contaminated grass!
Enough doom and gloom! Remember when you could have postcards made from old photos? There’s one in my collection with a picture that was taken on Dec. 22, 1917, showing two year old Ronald Barton Ormbeck wearing heavy boots and what could pass for a Russian or Slavic uniform. He looks cute, though.
A badly worn cloth bookmark honors the Minneapolis Harvest Festival and Parade which was held on Sept. 23, 1891, compliments of Ladd & Nickels, whoever they may be.
And, finally, a calling card of H. U. Roberson, local agent for World’s Star Knitting Co. of Bay City, Mich., Manufacturers of World’s Star Hosiery (the kind that wears) and “Klean-knit” Underwear (in sanitary packages).
The local address given is 603 N. Tower Ave. and the phone number is 193 which gives you an idea of its age.
Will there be more of these items still to come? Oh, yes.
Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at email@example.com.