Sunday, February 11, 2018

Valentines from the 1930s – Including a 'Complaint' From a Man Who Resents Being Ogled by 'Gals'

Today comes another set of valentine greetings from the scrapbooks of Sarah Eva Howe Salyers. Most of these were designed for children; a few at the end were not. I hope you enjoy these paper glimpses into another era.
This card was popular for several years. I've found duplicates in several of the scrapbooks. The front of the card unfolds to create a 3-dimensional scene.
Popeye first appeared in comic strips in January 1929, then in short films in 1933 The next image shows the inside of this card. 
These two pieces are separate in the scrapbook, but they are based on the same theme. I tried to imagine how they could be two sides of the same card, but the shapes are so different, I doubt that was the case.
Remember Lawrence, Mary Alice's suitor introduced in the post of Jan. 21, 2018? He was a beekeeper, so I can't help but wonder if he sent this card and the next to her.
This card and the ones that follow have more grown-up themes. Note that the one signed by Lawrence uses the term "girl friend."
The inside of the "cantaloupe" card
I refuse to assign too much meaning to this "ice cube" card!
Last but not least, this role-reversal message. Oh, to know who sent it and who received it!

Please look at previous posts to see antique and vintage valentine cards preserved in the scrapbooks of Sarah Eva Howe Salyers.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Valentines from the 1910s to 1930s – Some Sweet, Some Cute, and Some That Would Be in Questionable Taste Today

 Sweet or sassy, floral or funny, there's a valentine for every person and purpose – even in the early 1900s. Here are a few valentines received in that time by Sarah Eva Howe Salyers and members of her family.

The first card, probably from the 1910s, would raise eyebrows today because of the "mooning" suggestion and the mildly racist slang attributed to the Native American population. Did you notice the swastika symbol in the top corners? I didn't until they were pointed out to me. I didn't know until I researched "swastika in America" that the symbol is one of the world's oldest cross emblems, formed with four "L's" standing for Luck, Light, Love, and Life. It was a good-luck sign for centuries, and Native Americans as well as other segments of the population used it in art, clothing, home decor, and architecture. The symbol was abandoned here when it became associated with the Hitler regime.
The next card, with its caricature of a boy in Chinese attire, could also be considered politically incorrect by today's standards.
The following cards, many of them addressed to Sarah's children, are from the first years of the 1900s through maybe the late 1920s. That's my best guess, as dates are not noted in Sarah's scrapbooks.
The handwriting "He stole all hearts" may have referred to Sarah's youngest child, David, who would have been younger than 5 years old when this card was sent.
Next time, we'll look at valentines that I think are from the 1930s. In the meantime, take a look at some lacy, romantic valentines dating from the late 1880s to 1920. You'll find them in the Happy Valentine's Day post dated February 12, 2017.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Bits & Pieces: Sports, Politics, Advertising, Groundhog Day – More Scrapbook Ephemera from the 1930s

As we would expect, the scrapbooks Sarah Eva Howe Salyers put together in the 1930s reflect her family's activities and interests. The Howe-Salyers clan was interested in just about everything, so the scrapbooks are full of bits and pieces about this and that.


The Salyers males participated in sports, all of them as fans and some of them as players. (I found proof in the letters they wrote to each other and in these bits of memorabilia in the scrapbooks.

Students used books of tickets to attend UK athletic events. 

One ticket from the first-semester student admission book
Fans who were not students could use this form to apply for reserved seats at home football games. They would have paid a whopping $9.90 per person, plus the 20-cent fee, to attend all five games.

In the fall of 1932, the Henry Clay Blue Devils traveled to Louisville to meet opponent Male High.  The Lexington Herald ran this story:
I've heard family stories about Sarah's son Jim playing football and basketball and son David playing tennis, but I'm still looking for verification in the scrapbooks.


If you've read posts about Sarah's childhood, you know that she, her parents, and her extended family paid close attention to political issues. Several of her relatives in Carrollton ran for public office. Her children continued the interest in local, state, and national politics. I rarely turn more than 10 pages in most scrapbooks before I come across a mention of political campaigns, platforms, speeches, or elections. 

These two items are from 1932. The first appears to be a clipping from a magazine (not identified in the scrapbook). I think the second is a leaflet.


Sarah saved many ads. I don't know why she did that, but I'm glad she did. They provide insight into her life and times. 

Sarah did the household shopping, and I can picture her checking the grocery ads before venturing to the store. These prices seem low to us, of course, but consider that the average annual salary for those lucky enough to have jobs in Depression-era 1933 was (according to various online resources) about $1,370. Renting a 3-bedroom apartment cost $15 a month, on average. A gallon of gas cost about a dime. Also remember that in 1932-33 Sarah was buying groceries to feed a family of 3 adults, 2 college students, and one teen-age boy.

Notice the half-cent prices. The only references I've found to a U.S. half-penny say the coin was minted from 1793 to 1857. Maybe the half-cent amounts were totaled at the cash register and consolidated into the final price. Apparently, there was no half-penny coin, so I don't know how the clerk handled a single purchase priced with a half-cent amount. 

 This is one of several ads for retailers marketing to high school boys and college men. In the 1930s (and until not so long ago), men wore suits to athletic events. The Kaufman's store in Lexington ran an ad in the early fall of 1932, offering a Hart Schaffner & Marx suit for $25. 

Sarah's husband William Levi Salyers and her son Robert King Salyers worked for the Moore company. Will's job was to find retailers who would display and sell Moore products in their stores. This ad is a sample he showed to prospective sellers. Note the "Your Name and Address Here" near the bottom, with a space for a retailer to promote his own store.

The item at left was on the same scrapbook page as several others advertising an event at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington. The event brought several nationally-known radio stars to town to perform for a live audience. The event may have been broadcast live to the nation, but I'm hazy on that detail. 

The person in this ad appeared in small parts in a few Hollywood movies before he became a radio star at NBC. Jimmy Wallington  was the announcer or master of ceremonies for several popular radio shows in the 1930s through the 1950s. The Salyers clan no doubt found radio programs both entertaining and informative. Sarah probably kept this clipping because she often heard Wallington's voice – and possibly because he was part of that event at the Kentucky Theatre.

I speculate that Sarah saved the ad below not because of the product – I don't think she or her daughter ever smoked cigarettes and I saw her sons smoke only pipes and cigars – but because she liked the dress. Ultimate 1930s!

Last but not least, this tribute to Groundhog Day. The item below is a newspaper article clipped from a newspaper, probably published in an afternoon paper, the Lexington Leader, on Feb. 2, 1932. 

Based on current weather predictions, I'd say a groundhog who leaves his burrow in Lexington this Friday, Feb. 2, probably won't see his shadow. Will that mean the end of Winter 2018? We can only hope!


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Great Depression or Not, Sarah's Family Enjoyed Life in the 1930s

Like most if not all families at that time, the family of Will and Sarah Howe Salyers had financial troubles in the mid-1930s Great Depression era. True, they fared better than many others, but they felt the effects nonetheless. Still, life went on, and The Salyers family made the most of it. Here are some examples of good times in the midst of troubles.

Sarah's Malaise
In 1932, Sarah Eva Howe Salyers was approaching 50 years of age and apparently feeling the stress of housekeeping, cooking, and providing for her family on a shoestring budget. (Remember that three of her four children, who ranged in age from 18 to 26, lived at home – a common situation during the Depression.)

Will, whose job required regional travel, wrote to Sarah, urging her to get more rest. At some point, Will convinced her to take a break from her responsibilities in Lexington and visit their home town of Carrollton. She stayed in Carrollton a few weeks, reconnecting with friends and relatives. I can imagine how much fun she had! Sarah had been involved in many church and community organizations when she lived in Carrollton. She was respected and popular. She pasted into a scrapbook this picture taken during her visit:
Sarah Eva Howe Salyers (center) with relatives and friends during her visit to Carrollton, circa 1933

Beside the picture is this note, written by someone other than Sarah (who was called Sally):

"Let us be gay"'s our motto
Fun and frolic galore – 
We sit entranced –
bask in her smiles –
Sally's with us once more.

The trip must have been the tonic Sarah needed. I see no mention in the next few scrapbooks that she endured fatigue or headaches after her return.

Mary Alice's New Beau
On a summer Sunday in 1933, Mary Alice's friends Virginia Nevins and Bill Shafer introduced her to a young man from Falmouth. His name was Lawrence Colvin. Lawrence was a farmer and beekeeper who sold honey. The scrapbooks include several letters Lawrence wrote to Mary Alice. The letters are delightful to read and never end without compliments to the recipient and comments on the fun Lawrence had when he was with her.

Lawrence sent this letter from the Chicago World's Fair, where he went with others to learn about the latest approaches in agriculture. I include it here because it offers insight into the life and times of the era. A partial transcription follows the image.

Among the most interesting of Lawrence's observations:
I spent Tue[sday] and Wed[nesday] at the fair. I suppose that I had expected too much for I was disappointed in many of the exhibits. Ripley's Odditorium is a collection of freakish people and of people who seem to enjoy torture. I am sure that most of the acts hurt me more than it did them. For an example one man lifts a heavy weight by a hook pushed through a hole in his tongue.
They say that a visit to the hall of science is worth a year in college but one would have to go to college twn years in order to understand it. A lecture on "The Use of Silicon and Maganese [sic] Briquets in the Cupola" left me leaning weakly against the railing. As soon as I had recovered sufficiently I left. I went to the Chicago Theater this afternoon. I saw Sally Rand in her famous fan dance, Joseph Chemavsky and his orchestra, and Cab Calloway."
Lawrence went on to write that Calloway "leads his band with a vigourous manner dancing up and down the stage much of the time, and occasionally bursting forth in his famous 'hi-de-ho.'"
(Lawrence sounded serious about Mary Alice in his letters, but I have yet to find any evidence that she was serious about him. By the mid-1930s she had met a young man named Richard Allen Hays, who lived in Anchorage in Jefferson County. She married him in 1939.)

Music was a major form of entertainment for members of the Salyers family in the 1930s. Some of them played instruments, some of them sang, and all of them listened to music either on the radio or in live performances. The scrapbooks are full of references, and many of those references in the mid-1930s were about the youngest of Sarah's four children. David was known for his singing, both when he was a child in Carrollton and later in high school and college. A proud Sarah wrote to her husband (as usual, working out of town) about their son's performance at the Methodist church. A partial transcription, complete with Sarah's footnote, follows the image. The names she lists are Sarah's Carrollton relatives who traveled to Lexington for the performance.

Dr. Banks [the pastor] commented on the large congregation (and someone said 'You can thank David Salyers and his following for that!"). Miss Lucy Winslow and Lida, Uncle Will and Cecil and Katherine Howe, Jean, Mary and Wilhelmina, Aunt Sallie Goslee and George who hardly ever comes to church, and at the last minute in came John Howe with Aunt Sallie Froman and Caby, just as [David] began to sing. . . . No one ever has seen all these people together at our church before, perhaps.* They were all delighted with him and can't compliment his voice enough, it seems.
*And never did again.

David and his voice were in high demand. He sang at weddings, funerals, and other special occasions, and he performed in many stage productions, both at Henry Clay High School and at the University of Kentucky. A page in this event program from February 1933 lists David as the lead in "Iolanthe," a Gilbert and Sullivan opera staged by Henry Clay High School.

The scrapbooks for the 1930s are full of programs from musical events at the University of Kentucky, Lexington churches and auditoriums, and other locations. There are also many clippings about movies that played at the Kentucky, the Grand, and other Lexington theaters. I don't know how many movies the Salyers family members attended, because the 25-cent admission was more than the cost of a hot meal in a local cafeteria. Still, ads like this one for a 1932 production are fun to see.
 Over the next few posts, we'll explore more about the 1930s in Carrollton, Lexington, and other places in Kentucky. Depression or no Depression, those were lively times!