Sunday, February 25, 2018

Humor in the 1930s: Some Things Never Change

The scrapbooks of Sarah Eva Howe Salyers can tell us a lot about the past – and shine some light on the present in the process.

Today, as I browse a scrapbook centered on the early 1930s, I find a number of cartoons that strike me as both funny and timely. With a few tweaks of art and vocabulary, many of these cartoons could be pertinent to what people are talking about now.

First, the topic of personal finance. Many of us don't bother to carry cash anymore but use credit cards or electronic apps to buy things. In the late 1920s and early '30s, buying on credit was a new option but apparently a popular one, as illustrated in this cartoon:
The advent of consumer credit and buying on the "installment plan" correlated with the popularity of that newfangled mode of transportation, the automobile. The parallels between the economy then and now are striking.

Then there's the issue of personal income. The following cartoon from the 1930s reminded me of today's debates about salaries, tips, commissions, and minimum wage.

Now to the topic of relationships between men and women. Judging from the next four cartoons, human nature has not changed at all.
• Parents still embarrass their teenage children. (Someone labeled the young woman "MAS" for Mary Alice Salyers, Sarah's daughter. I have no idea who the mother and the young man represent. Maybe a boyfriend and his mother?)
• Young people still claim they're getting together to "study."
• The next two resonate with today's headlines about men who feel, shall we say, entitled.
• Then there's the matter of expectations. In the 1930s, men (in this case, boys) paid the tab when entertaining their girlfriends. After the Women's liberation movement of the 1960s and '70s and subsequent pushes for equality, women can offer to split the cost or even pay the bill themselves without raising eyebrows.
Here are more 1930s cartoons to enjoy.
A typical New Year's Eve bash?
(Mary Alice was a huge fan of elephants, so the scrapbooks are full of pachyderm references.)
If you're too young to remember Eddie Cantor, this won't be funny. He was known for his large, dark, rolling eyes, which he used for effect in his comedy skits and dramatic roles. His nickname was "Banjo Eyes." Dare I say "google" him?  
Then, of course, there's always talk about the weather. Today we say "in like a lion, out like a lamb" when the month of March starts with winter-like days but ends with warm temperatures. In 1932, today's lion apparently was a wolf, and he arrived cloaked as a sheep, only to shed that disguise to bring cold, blustery weather back again. Personally, I hope March 2018 in Kentucky is a lamb from start to finish!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

An Obituary Brings Life to Long-Gone Charles D. Salyers

Over the years, the descendants of Sarah Eva Howe Salyers have shared many facts, photos, and stories about their ancestors. Most of the info pertained to Sarah's maternal side – the Howes of Carrollton, Kentucky; the Costs of Cincinnati, Ohio; the Lamsons of Craig, Indiana; and others. I didn't know as much about Sarah's husband's Salyers ancestors – except, of course, its direct descent from Mayflower passengers John Howland, Elizabeth Tilley, John Tilley and Joan Hurst Tilley.

Imagine my excitement when I found in one of Sarah's scrapbooks a newspaper story about the death
Charles D. and Katherine King Salyers, c1880
of Charles David Salyers, Sarah's husband's father. The article, published shortly after his death (May 1, 1926) in Carrollton, likely in one of the local papers, reinforced some things I already knew. It also filled in the man's personality, making Charles D. much more than an entry in my database. But it also presented details I didn't know. In fact, his living descendants (my husband and his cousins) didn't know them, either.

Do you look for obituaries or news articles about the death of your ancestors? If not, you might give it a try. To convince you, I'm sharing the entire transcription of the article about Charles D. Salyers to illustrate what an extensive obituary can reveal. Many of the names, dates, and places I had already documented. There are opinions describing Charles that are delightful to read but which I doubt I can verify. Then there are the verifiable facts that are new to me. I have highlighted those in red.

Do I believe the information in the article is accurate? Because I have proof of the dates and places mentioned, I have no reason to distrust the other information. Of course, in time I will look for proofs, but right now I accept it as family record – and I assume that a family member either wrote the article or provided the information to the person who did.

I made no edits in the transcription, but I have added a few comments within bracketed Italics. Text lost from the tattered and torn clipping are indicated as “missing" in the final paragraph.

                                           C. D. Salyers Called Home.
It is well for us to pause in the whirl and rush of our present day life to turn aside and stand with bowed heads as a tribute of respect and esteem to one of our old and well known citizens – a grandson of the pioneers. The Salyers family came here from Fairfax county, Virginia, before the close of the 18th century, as they traveled the Wilderness trail about 1785, finally settling in Indiana, where David Hillis Salyers was born in 1812.

Benjamin Lamson and Abbie Freeman came from Massachusetts, across the mountains of Pennsylvania and down the Ohio, to Steubenville, where they were married November 19, 1818, coming at once to Craigs Landing, Ind., near where they built their first home, and lived in this neighborhood about 67 years.

They reared a large family of eight girls and six boys. The third child was Amelia Haskell Lamson, who was born December 31, 1822. She was married to D. H. Salyers September 12, 1847. Later they moved to Mississippi, where Charles David Salyers was born December 6, 1849.

Their other children were Abbie [I knew her as Rose A. and now suspect it was Abigail Rose], who died several years ago in Cumberland Gap, Tenn.; Will who died more recently at Middlesboro, Ky.; Thomas and R. F. Salyers, of San Diego, Cal., and Mrs. Ruth Cockrell, of Cumberland Gap, Tenn.

Except for his early childhood Carrollton had always been the home of Charles D. Salyers, and here about 1869 he opened his first tin shop and had been continuously in business for 57 years.

He was married to Katherine King in 1874, and soon after this their store was destroyed by fire.

In December of the same year his father died in Arkansas and as far as possible he faithfully tried to take his place and help his mother in the dark days that followed. His younger brothers learned in his shop. He had a great love for children and he and his young wife were almost heart-broken when their first children, James and Charles, died in infancy. Later their home was brightened by the coming of two little boys, Will and Robert.

In May 1883, a little girl was born, but only came to stay for a few days and took the wife and mother back to Heaven with her. [Her name was Katherine, after her mother.]

In this sorrowful crisis in his life his sister Ruth became his home-maker and gave a mother’s love and care to the little boys. About this time he became a member of the Christian church, and more faithfully than most any of us he met the requirements of God, which are to “Deal justly, love mercy, and humbly walk with Him.” He never turned a deaf ear to the cry of the needy or the orphan’s wail, and he kept himself unspotted from the world.

In 1887 he was united in marriage to Flora Geier, and for 34 years they lived happily together until her death July 2, 1921. Another hard blow he endured was the death in August, 1898, of his son, Robert King Salyers, just as he was entering manhood.

It would seem that he had more than the usual losses, trials and sadness that are the common heritage of us all, but he never gave up nor complained. He took every blow with a courage that [missing] with a courage that [missing] never became bitter. [missing] and eyes front he [missing] march and endured [missing] a good soldier.

The article appears to have been longer, but this transcription includes all text visible in the clipping. I'll be watching for a complete version as I explore more scrapbooks.

Thank you, Sarah, for preserving this article. It reminds all of us to go beyond the names, dates, and places to know the people in our past.

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.