THIS JUST IN: Motoring through the Depression: to Florida & New England by ‘House Car’

By Nicola Hellmann-McFarland, Special Collections Library Assistant

What exactly is a “house car”? It is, indeed, what it sounds like -a house that is also a car, very much like any other recreational vehicle (RV). However, it is often custom-built on a truck frame or a small bus, converted into a bulky sleeper and touring car made to allow its driver and inhabitants to romance the road with maximum convenience, celebrating their freedom to explore.

This was the idea of Winfield L. Markham from Lakewood, NY, who took to the road with his box-shaped house car in the early days of the Great Depression during the winters of 1930 and ’31. One of our latest additions to the Florida Photograph Album Collection at Special Collections, an album entitled “Motoring through the Depression: To Florida & New England by ‘House Car,’” showcases this excursions.

Camping-friendly alterations were generally made to cars almost as soon as they were introduced. Allegedly, the first version of a house car was the Pierce-Arrow’s Touring Landau from 1910 (America’s premiere prestige automaker at the time), which attracted quite a crowd when it was shown at the Madison Avenue Motor Show in New York that year. It was a nifty car to own, and only three Landaus were made, one of which was purchased by cereal magnate Charles William Post. A few years later, refusing to be outdone by Post, another famous cereal magnate, Will Keith Kellogg, requested his own vehicle -only fancier, of course. Known as the “Ark”, it was built from a white motor truck and was modeled after a classy Pullman railroad car.

The house car owned by Winfield L. Markham was not as dandy as those owned by Post or Kellogg, but it sure went places. In it, he made at least three long trips – a 5000 mile trip to Florida with a friend, a 1675 miles trip through New York and the New England States with his mother and a party of friends, and another trip to Florida, again with his mother and the same friends.

One of Mr. Markham’s hobbies was to produce travelogues of his trips, and he documented these voyages by taking many photographs of the places he went, with or without his travel companions posing in them. Afterwards, he arranged 95 of his images in a beautiful, hand-made photo album, each neatly captioned with typed titles, echoing both the diversity of the places traveled and the curiosity and eagerness of the travelers to explore unknown territories.

In his images, Mr. Markham’s eye for the quirky managed to capture the details of life on the road and his appreciation of nature side by side with his interest in cultural history. On one of the trips south to Florida, for instance, Mr. Markham and his travel companion Glenn W. Harris had made a stop in Georgia at the site of “Stone Mountain,” the gigantic memorial to the Confederacy of which had only been partially completed at the time –a surprising scene for today’s onlooker-, and in the following year, on their way back north from the Sunshine State, the group traveled through Florence, SC, where Mr. Markham took pictures and also gave a lecture at what his photos’ captions describe as the town’s “first colored high school”.

His pictures also reflect a fascination with Florida’s lush nature. He visited the state’s “Largest Cypress Tree” near Orlando twice, and there are several images in the album depicting the beauty of Florida’s royal palms and live oaks.

Furthermore, he documented himself and his travelers savoring Florida’s oranges, a Seminole Indian man fishing in the waters of the Everglades, and scantily-clad bathers and suit-wearing businessmen side by side at Miami Beach.

 

During his trip through New York and New England, his images brought a different set of interests into focus. There are images of the travel party roughing it between boulders in the Adirondack Mountains and marveling at the 228 feet high Taughhannock Falls near Ithaca, NY. The travelers were also captured admiring some Art Deco at Bok Singing Tower near Lake Wales and enjoying the simple pleasure of an Atlantic Ocean beach.

Throughout the entire photograph album, we get to see the quirky house car, framed by the great outdoors of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, on a snowy road somewhere in North Carolina, gawked at by a group of nosy school children in Clinton, NC, and appearing majestic by the rolling waves of Daytona Beach.

In our day and age, we often take travel experiences for granted and might not even be easily impressed by them anymore. But in 1930 when personal motorized transportation -let alone inside a bulky custom-made house car- was still a relatively new thing and other American states beyond one’s own hometown were thought to be far and mysterious destinations, it is easy to imagine how much of an adventurer’s heart Mr. Markham and his travel companions must have had to embark on such long expeditions. They belonged to the early camper culture of Americans, following their wishes to take to the road and explore their country while enjoying “the intimate pleasure of traveling in a vehicle that was both an oversized car and an undersized house.” (Home on the Road: The Motor Home in America by Roger B. White)

The photo album, “Motoring through the Depression: To Florida & New England by ‘House Car,’” can be viewed as part of the Florida Photograph Album Collection at Special Collections on the eighth floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: Althea “Gerry” Lister Papers

emily-headshot_thumbA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Emily Gibson

 

One of Pan Am’s earliest and most notable employees, Althea “Gerry” Lister made many strides as a woman in the aviation world, serving as the Secretary to the General Traffic Manager, then as an Assistant to the Passenger Service Manager, and finally as the Pan Am Museum’s curator and company historian.

Emily1

Althea “Gerry” Lister receives her 45-year service pin from Chairman William T. Seawell, July 30, 1973.

Gerry Lister began her career with Pan Am as far back as 1928 and was the first female employee to receive a 15-year pin, a 20-year pin, and a 30-year pin, and she was the first employee overall to receive the 45-year pin, indicating the wealth of dedication she had for the company. In an article from the July 1958 issue of The Clipper discussing the reception of her 30-year pin, Lister describes her most memorable moment in her 30 years with Pan Am as the day she was sitting with President Juan J. Trippe in his office in New York just as the Clipper America was preparing to take off on its very first commercial round-the-world air trip.

emily2

Lister dusts a model of the Yankee Clipper on exhibit at the Clipper Hall Museum located inside John F. Kennedy International Airport where she was museum curator, March 2, 1965.

This brand new collection that we recently received as an adjacent collection to our Pan American Airways, Inc. Records currently holds two fascinating albums, donated to us through a private donor, that detail much of Lister’s work through photos, clippings, documentation, and ephemera, all of which illustrate her accomplishments during the length of her service. Stemming from an early interest and technical understanding of planes, flying, and maintenance, she contributed to the company in ways that were highly unusual for a woman of her time. She herself had piloted nearly every type of plane from the time she was a young adult, a feat that had been largely restricted to men back then and one that still remains prevalent today given the ratio of female to male pilots.

One of the albums contains a draft written by Lister, entitled “Along Air Avenues,” wherein she describes the daily procedures of a plane’s pilot and its staff down to its most minute  of details, from pre-flight checks to the plane’s regular maintenance and safety precautions. The draft highlights her level of expertise in piloting and aviation management while also indicating her willingness to inspire and educate future pilots by explaining every facet of a typical flight with her level of depth.

This collection, now in process, will soon be available for research.

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: American Big Game Fishing, 1935

Emily GibsonA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Steve Hersh

 

American Big Game Fishing (1935) is a must-see for all fishing enthusiasts who want to learn more about the different kinds of fish that exist all over the United States and what methods, environments, and seasons are the most viable for a great catch. It likens fishing to an art form and describes it with open reverence, in which “no other sport offers such a panorama of beauty, never twice alike.”

steve1-cropped

Ernest Hemingway pictured with his catch in the chapter “Marlin Off Cuba.”

Captured within this large, comprehensive volume compiled by renowned sportsman and author Eugene V. Connett is an unabashed and fruitful celebration of the sport, giving vivid descriptions of baiting, luring, and catching fish while explaining their migratory patterns and how the weather and the ever-changing seascape affects their populations.

As opposed to most other sports, having the ocean as a playing field not only offers breath-taking scenery but also a tumultuous and unpredictable one, which promises its own unique brand of excitement. Learning to master it is a difficult task, and the book leaves no stone unturned in its quest to teach readers how to make the most out of their fishing trip and what crucial advice to follow. Several anecdotes by various contributors, including one by acclaimed American author Ernest Hemingway are also contained within, detailing some of the best catches the country has to offer accompanied with photos of the largest fish ever reeled in.

steve2-longcrop

Click to view full image.

Furthermore, many individual pages feature intricate drawings of fish that mirror the style of old illuminated manuscripts which would  begin the first paragraph of each chapter with a decorative letter and which would line passages with all kinds of ostentatious ornamentation. Hand-drawn diagrams of fish are also included to show certain details that photographs can’t capture, such as the different methods of baiting hooks, and the book’s many maps outline the specific locations of certain fish on various local American coasts. The volume finally concludes with a list of astonishing world records as of 1935, illustrating how vast and popular of a sport fishing is and how it has drawn people of all ages and cultures from all over the globe to take part in it.

 

 

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: aUI: The Language of Space

yvette-thumbA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Yvette Yurubi

 

Seeking to bridge the gaps of communication between ourselves and worlds beyond, John W. Weilgart created what is described as not a “concocted language” but a “rediscovery of the basic categories of human thought and expression.” In his book, aUI: The Language of Space (1968), Weilgart sought to reduce language to its most primitive and intuitive form to create a universal understanding of it that can bypass cultural divide and prejudices. The book also claims that his language of space, known as aUI (and pronounced a-OO-ee), is capable of simplifying our thought process to a bare state where one can only express what they truly mean without hiding behind metaphors and connotations.

Yvette2g

In The Language of Space Weilgart sought to reduce language to its most primitive and intuitive form. (Click to view full page.)

In addressing the origin of this language, Weilgart himself once explained that it came from a green elf-like humanoid from outer space who decided to teach it to him so he’d be able to transcend barriers and speak with all intelligent beings. In order to educate humanity as a whole and prepare them for their eventual contact with the unknown, he wanted to pass along the language to as many people as possible to inspire and encourage them to engage in civil  negotiations with extraterrestrials rather than approach them aggressively.

In keeping with his noble intentions, each page is outlined with detailed drawings and descriptions of the origins of each symbol, all of which illustrate what he indicates is simple and intrinsic logic. For instance, a single circle serves as the symbol for “space,” and a circle with a dot inside means “inside” while “power” is represented by what appears to be a lightning bolt. These symbols can also be combined in different patterns to form new words and meanings. The book goes on to explain the grammatical structures and pronunciation in further depth to leave readers well-equipped with all of the language’s nuances. So those of you who are interested in communicating with and flattering our future overlords to prevent our eradication as a species should definitely give it a look!

Yvette1-d

The book contains detailed drawings and descriptions of the origins of each symbol included in the language of the space. (Click to view full page.)

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: Train Approaching UM’s Student Union

marcia-headshot_thumbA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Marcia Heath, University Archives technician

 

Marcia2

Train approaching Student Union, University of Miami Office of Communications and Marketing Historical Photograph Collection [Collection in Process]

A recent and generous donation from the University of Miami’s Office of Communications and Marketing has provided us with several boxes of captivating photographs which hail as far back as the mid-1900s and capture the essence of university life from UM’s formative years to the present. The growth and transformation of our campus is well documented in these photographs through candid, everyday shots of students, faculty, and staff. The photographs also focus on a particularly interesting aspect of the University during the near decade in which UM owned its very own locomotive train line.

Marcia1

The Gold Coast Railroad operated from 1958 to 1966. University of Miami Office of Communications and Marketing Historical Photograph Collection [Collection in Process]

How this even transpired was largely due to the efforts of several train enthusiasts in University of Miami’s early administration, who managed to convince the U.S. General Services Administration to lease a set of railroad tracks that had been located near the University of Miami South campus to the University to be turned into a fully operational train. The Miami Railroad Historical Society was then formed and placed in charge of the entire operation, and they officially named the line “The Gold Coast Railroad.” It remained in service from 1958 to 1966, acquiring new train carts along the way through generous donations and concentrated efforts from the administration, and eventually expanded enough to offer rides to the general public.

The Gold Coast Railroad was discontinued during the Cuban Missile Crisis so that the land could be used by the CIA. The train line never reopened. However, the cherished memories of this once treasured University feature are well preserved through these photos. Be sure to visit the University Archives at the Otto G. Richter Library to view this collection.

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: The Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany

cristina-puffer_thumbA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Cristina Favretto, head of Special Collections

 

cristina2

More than 300 pages of the illuminated manuscript have large borders illustrated with a careful depiction of, usually, a single species of plant.

The Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany (Les Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne in French) is a book of hours that had been originally commissioned by Anne of Brittany, consort of King Louis XII of France and illuminated in Tours or perhaps Paris by Jean Bourdichon between 1503 and 1508. Though our copy is an 1861 facsimile of the book, it showcases the fine quality and care that went into the nineteenth century printing process.

Facsimiles like these often sell for prices well into the thousands today due to the level of accuracy they capture of the original, including its drawings and trimmings which are finely illustrated with rich, appealing colors. Its pages are also delicately lined with gold paint at the edges to emulate the air of luxury that the original contained, and the text inside is presented in beautiful calligraphy, surrounded by adornments of flowers, curling vines, and depictions of various daily scenes of Anne in worship.

cristina1

Scenes from the Life of Christ and that of Mary are depicted as well as a number of portraits and scenes of saints.

The book is so detailed and intricate that it contains over a hundred different species of plants simply being used as borders and decorations, and the portraits themselves are an excellent homage to medieval religious art, reflecting the essence of it perfectly.

Since the replica had been created to scale of the original, the weight of this volume truly feels massive in one’s hands, giving the reader a small feel for how the upper echelons of French society had chosen to conduct their persona l worship. Though some would claim this more as a work of vanity than anything else considering the sheer level of labor put into it and how many times Anne shows up as a subject caught in reverent supplication, it is difficult not to feel awed by the presence and magnitude the book has to offer. It’s a stunning work of art on visual merit alone that overpowers the actual text within which primarily offers daily prayers to be recited during canonical times of the day.

 

 

 

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: Tomato Pickers of Immokalee, Florida from the Florida Photograph Album Collection

Yvette YurubiA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Yvette Yurubi

yvette 2Written and photographed by Shiho Fukada, Tomato Pickers of Immokalee, Florida is a stunning piece of photojournalism held in the Florida Photograph Album Collection. Produced in 2003, the piece exhibits a series of images that narrate the hardships experienced by immigrants who live and work as tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida. Fukada explored the remote and transient life of the town, comprised mostly of immigrants from Mexico, Haiti, and Guatemala, who set out early each day hoping for work, and performing the jobs that no one else will take.

Fukada also went into the crowded homes of workers, often affording rent by sharing bedrooms with as many as nine or ten others. With few establishments or recreational services in town, workers have limited options for spending their free time, leading to rampant alcoholism and high crime rates of which the author describes as one of the highest in the United States.
yvette 1Conditions have slowly improved for workers since this publication was originally released, due in large part to the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which formed in 1993, and has fought relentlessly to improve wages and conditions for these workers.

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: A Guide to Tourist Services: Hustling Jamaican Style, How to Speak Jamaican, and The How to be Jamaican Handbook

Emily GibsonA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Cory Czajkowski

cory 1

This set of recent acquisitions to our collections, which includes A Guide to Tourist Services: Hustling Jamaican Style, How to Speak Jamaican, and The How to be Jamaican Handbook, is a series of handbooks from the 1980s aiming to help the reader acclimate himself or herself to life in Jamaica—BUT they would be most useful to someone in the academic setting who’s studying the use of satire and cultural stereotypes in novelty tourist items printed in the 1980s.

Extensive research on Jamaica has led to the completion of these works, offering practical insight for anyone and everyone who is preparing to interact with the Jamaican culture.

One article in A Guide to Tourist Services: Hustling Jamaican Style, for example, walks a tourist through the potential scenario of being hustled to buy sexual potency medicine (said to be commonly advertised as “health juice”). The following list presents some of the author’s suggested responses:

“I already have 11 children – I don’t need any more.”
“All my wives (husbands) tell me I’m too much for them already.”
“This is my last holiday before I go into the monastery (convent).”
“I’m allergic to all forms of vegetable life.”
“Since I won a gold medal in the Olympics, I decided to slow down a bit.”

Similar uniquely specific scenarios fill the pages of this condensed manual.

The How to be Jamaican Handbook approaches similar subject matter through which the reader is exposed to several Jamaican stereotypes and clichés, including diagrams indicating proper dress for Jamaican locals and accompanying “facts” about the culture.

cory 2

Clearly, these guides would be on the packing list for any sensible tourist.

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: Miscellaneous Photographs from the Ruth and Richard Shack Papers

Emily GibsonA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Bea Skokan

bea3Former Dade County Commissioner, Ruth Shack, recently donated her and her husband’s papers to the University of Miami Special Collections, which offer a lot of history and insight into her political career that began in the 1970s. She was a noted social rights and women’s rights activist, and she was also one of the key political figures in support of the Gay Right’s Movement here in South Florida, going so far as to sponsor an amendment in 1976 that would grant equal rights to homosexuals.

bea11She’s an inspiring role model who was elected three times as Dade County Commissioner in response to all the reforms she fought for, and these photographs are mere glimpses into the colorful life she lead, including a signed photo of her with Johnny Cash, another one with her and former president Jimmy Carter, and one featuring her and former attorney general, Janet Reno. The last picture is a shot of her campaign billboard in which she gained recognition in South Florida as “the woman in the yellow dress” and centered her campaign on that key image.

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: Ball and Cotillon Articles Decorations

Emily GibsonA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Steve Hersh

steve 2A rare, vintage catalog from around the year 1908, Ball and Cotillon Articles Decorations bears many parallels to modern-day Party City catalogs and offers an array of costumes, props, and decorations that can be used to create overall themes for balls and cotillons. The costumes are of the outlandish variety, represented by detailed images and exaggerated poses, and suggested party themes of the time include such unique titles as “A Night in Japan,” “Duel to the Death,” “An Evening with the Merry Widow,” “Ticklish Party,” “Nose Party,” “Encampment of the American Army,” and so on, giving an idea of what sort of festivities people at the turn of the twentieth century might have enjoyed.

Since the catalog predates commercial use of photography, the images within are hand-drawn and offer very little to indicate the actual quality of what’s being ordered aside from the creator’s assurance, that “All of our goods are made up in the most attractive style and look so large and money-like that you can not make a mistake in adopting our suggestions and give them a trial.” Scant descriptions and prices are featured below the images for interested parties to purchase items either in person or through the mail, and there are several articles that expand on the many ways one can make their party stand out and attract attention.

steve 1

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.