Monday, November 23, 2009


A special tribute is happening all this week for one of the best remembered and fondly loved actors from the golden age of Hollywood. More than one hundred blogs are celebrating the life and films of Boris Karloff during the Boris Karloff Blogathon, created by Pierre Fournier, the curator of the Frankensteinia: The Frankenstein Blog.

The celebration starts today on Karloff’s 122 birthday and ends this Sunday, November 29. When you visit Frankensteinia or simply click on the Blogathon banner in the sidebar, you’ll find the long list of Boris bloggers.

I just added my bolts into the Blogathon and you can catch my simplistic Karloff posts over at Weird Hollow.

Also, be sure to visit the Official Boris Karloff website by clicking here.

The photos came from Heritage Auctions.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Could this original cabinet card photograph of a man standing next to a roasted pig be Samuel L. Clemens?

This is the question that’s been rattling around in my head ever since I purchased this mid to late 1800's photo. Years ago, I discovered it at the antique store that I used to work at. It was buried in a stack of photographs that were mostly of babies and regular looking people.

When I first looked at the photo, I joked to a co-worker that it looked like Mark Twain. The price was affordable, so I decided to buy it and add it to my “found” photograph collection.

The odds are slim that this photo is really of the famous author. More than likely it’s a coincidence, but the man does have a striking resemblance to a younger Mark Twain.

Sorry for the watermarks, but I probably should protect the image just in case. Now let’s take a look at some of the similarities.

- Mustache, check.
- Hooked nose, check.
- Curly hair, check.
- Solid jaw line, check.
- Twinkle in his eye. (Ok, maybe not a twinkle, but it sounds good!)

Take a look at the collage of Mark Twain faces that I put together. The man’s face from my photo is stuck in the middle. Click the image for a closer look.

Now here’s a comparison of old man Twain and my photo guy.

Kind of uncanny if you ask me!

I’m not sure if this is a clue, but it is interesting that the man is photographed with a roasted pig. There must have been something significant about the roasted pig. If there wasn’t - why would he be photographed with it? Was it presented to him in his honor or was he just the cook?

If you go back to the top and look at the bottom of the card you'll notice the photographer's mark. The photographer was S. Goldman from Jefferson City, Missouri. Jefferson City is only about a hundred or so miles from Hannibal and is the capital of Missouri. (Looks like I need to do some research on S. Goldman.)

Ok, here’s a few knocks against my photo and the biggest one is that this card has scalloped edges. Supposedly, scalloped edges didn’t show up on cabinet cards until the 1890's. Maybe S. Goldman was ahead of his time!

This man looks to be in his late 20's or early 30's and Twain was in his 50's during the 1890's. (Is it possible that a negative made many years before was reprinted and mounted on this style of card?)

Twain left Hannibal in the 1850's, but he did return a few times after. I haven’t found any evidence of Twain visiting Jefferson City, Missouri.

Unfortunately, the back of the card is completely blank, void of any writings or marks.

I’m far from a Mark Twain scholar and I haven’t done the proper research, but I’ll always wonder who this 19th century mystery man is/was.

Twain would probably be laughing if he knew someone in the far future is fretting over an old photograph wondering if the image is of him. Ah, the life of a collector is an odd one and Mark Twain summed it up best about people who collect -

No one puts bric-a-brac to any very practical purpose. There’s some human instinct which makes a man treasure what he is not to make any use of, because everybody does not possess it. From an interview, “Mark Twain in London,” London Chronicle, 3 June 1899, p.3. (Found this over at

Monday, November 16, 2009


Leave it to me to throw a wrench into historical fact versus historical fiction. Most all the regular Neato Readers know that I collect old “found” photographs and that I enjoy posting them here on the blog.

Back in 2007 I posted a vintage snapshot of two young teenagers sitting in the grass.

The boy sort of looks like a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Even though the photo is probably from the 1920's it made me think of Leo’s character Jack Dawson from 1997's Titanic. For some silly fun, I titled the post TITANIC’S JACK DAWSON WAS REAL. Just like I do with most of my “found” photos I try to add a goofy title or comment.

Unbeknownst to me, I didn’t realize that people really believe (or want to believe) that Jack Dawson was real and that he sailed on the Titanic. Out of more than one thousand posts on this blog - a snapshot of two unidentified teenagers sitting in the grass gets the most action. It’s rapidly approaching 10,000 views all because I put “Jack Dawson was real” in my title.

Actually, I get a big kick out of the comments that come in from time to time for this post. Take a moment to read thru ‘em, ‘cause they’re a hoot! To make matters even worse, I added the photo to my flickr photostream just like I do with most of my blog photos. Thanks to Yahoo! and their image search my flickr photo was number one for awhile. Now Google has found the image and it ranks high in their image search. Really, this makes me kind of embarrassed, but that’s the wonders of the internet for you.

Also check out this video (click here) made from my photograph by soccergoalkeeper1. The video has more than 45,000 hits and more than 175 comments. My photo went viral and I didn’t even know about it!

The photo was mentioned in a yahoo answers post here.

Now for a little history about this “found” photograph.

I really can’t remember how I ran across it. I think it came out of a large group of photos that I purchased at an auction or estate sale. It's probably from the 1920's and it has no identification on the back. Who knows who these kooky kids were? Some have said in their comments that the photo looks photoshopped. (I wish I was that good!) No, the photo has not been photoshopped. And to answer another comment - it is not Leo’s ancestor.

I wonder why people didn’t go ape over my Indiana Jones look-a-like snapshot? Oh, because everyone knows that Indy is a fictional character just like our pal Jack from Titanic! Ah the great controversies & conspiracies of the internet. You got your UFOs, JFK, Moon Landing, 9/11, Bigfoot, 2012 and now Jack Dawson. Hey kids, Jack was not a real person, but a fictional character from the mind of James Cameron.

From now on, I better be careful with making sarcastic, smart aleck or silly post titles for the blog! Yeah, right!

(This post has inspired me to dig out another photo from my collection. It’s a photo of a man who looks very much like a famous (real) author of the 19th Century. Actually, I’ve always wondered that it might be. Check back on Thursday to see the photo.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Wow! It’s hard to believe that Sesame Street turns forty years old today. As part of the original target audience in the early 70's, I never missed watching Sesame Street. The show really clicked with my preschool era brain and jump started my learning and creativity.

I loved all the characters, but Cookie Monster was my favorite. I just snapped this photo today of one my favorite and earliest toys.

It’s Cookie Monster from the Sesame Street Muppet Puppet toy line as seen in the 1974 Sears Wishbook.

Everywhere I went, I carried Cookie Monster and I was always making him eat everything and anything. I’m surprised that he doesn’t have play-doh stains in his mouth. The orange chair that CM is sitting on was my chair of choice for all my TV watching as a kid. I would sit in that chair with my Cookie Monster Muppet Puppet and act along with the latest Sesame Street episode.

To help celebrate the 40th anniversary, the Sesame Street website is showcasing some of the best clips from each decade. You can vote for your favorite clip from the 70's! It was hard to pick just one, but my favorite is the Pinball Animation clip. Groovy fun!

A big thank you to all the folks that have worked and played on Sesame Street these past forty years. If it wasn’t for you guys and gals, I might not be able to count to ten!

This post was brought to you by the numbers 4 and 0.