I started off with the Famous Five, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Gerry Anderson, Edith Piaf, Spiderman, Geoff Love and Big Chief I-Spy.
Big Chief I-Spy was Charles Warrell, a retired headmaster who started a series of spotter’s guides in the mid-1950’s called I-Spy. There were some forty volumes, which were intended to encourage young British children to take an interest in the outside world.
Each book focussed on one subject - I-Spy Creepy Crawlies, I-Spy Birds, I-Spy Working Vehicles, I-Spy Trees, I-Spy Wild Flowers, you get the picture, pocket books with various things to “spy”, with pictures, information and a few dotted lines to be filled with where you saw them.
Once all the contents had been marked up, the book was returned to the Big Chief (c/o his address at “Wigwam by the River”), who then sent you a feather and an order of merit. The I-Spy books lasted from the 1950s-1980s, and hundreds of thousands were sold to enquiring youngsters. In 1991 they were relaunched by Michelin, and again in 2009.
I’ve always thought it probable that the I-Spy books led to a generation of youngster taking greater interest in their environment, who then went on to become involved in various ecological or political groups. Charles Warrell died in 1995, at the age of 106, which suggests an active mind keeps you young.
The publisher and writer, Callum James uploaded these original I-Spy covers onto his website Front Free Endpaper, which is worth dipping into for its interesting book collections.
Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes is community page on Facebook, which re-unites individuals with personal items lost during the recent tornadoes that devastated the southern states of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana. Created by Patty Bullion, after hundreds of photographs and documents fell from the sky into her yard, last Wednesday, as the New York Times reports:
One document, lying face down on the wet pavement, was a sonogram, just like those she had saved from her own pregnancies. “I would want that back,” she said.
Ms. Bullion already had her own Facebook page with a few hundred friends, but the chances of any of them knowing the people whose items she had found were slim, she thought. So she created a new page with a title that described precisely what she hoped it would contain: “Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes.” She asked her friends to post a link to it on their own pages.
“I feel like I know these people,” Ms. Bullion said. “They could so easily have been us.”
The first of the images that Ms. Bullion had posted was identified a few hours later by the sister of two children shown in a black-and-white photograph. They were from Hackleburg, Ala., the sister wrote in the comments section, a town almost 100 miles away: Ms. Bullion’s husband, a forest ranger, looked it up on a map.
By Friday evening, more than 52,000 people had clicked the “like” button on the page, and more than 600 pictures had been posted: an unopened letter, a death certificate and scores of photographs. Some of the items were unscathed. Some were carefully pieced together by their finder. Some, like mortgage statements and canceled checks, evoked calls to be sure to block out account numbers and personal financial information.
One water-damaged picture of a chubby-cheeked toddler elicited over two dozen comments, its rips and smudges an unavoidable metaphor for what people feared had happened to the child. “This breaks my heart,” wrote one commenter. A digitally restored version someone posted yielded approving comments, almost as though saving the picture could ensure the child’s safety.
If you can help identify any of the people in the pictures, or have photos and documents to post, please check Patty Bullion’s page here.
The Daily Telegraph reports on massive floating islands of garbage, some almost 70 miles in length, caused by last month’s tsunami in Japan, which are causing chaos in shipping lanes in the Pacific Ocean, as they slowly head for the west coast of the America.
Cars, tractors, boats and the occasional entire house have been spotted floating on the surface of the Pacific Ocean in the aftermath of the March 11 Japanese tsunami triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake.
The largest “island” of debris stretches 60 nautical miles (69 miles) in length and covers an expanse of more than 2.2 million square feet, according to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, which is closely monitoring the floating rubbish.
“It is very large and it’s a maritime hazard,” Lieutenant Anthony Falvo, deputy public affairs officer for the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, told the Daily Telegraph.
“The damage it can cause is anything from piercing the hull of a ship to leaving dents or getting wrapped up in propulsion systems.”
Experts have reportedly estimated that it could take up to two years for the floating tsunami debris to hit Hawaii and three years for the West Coast.
The US navy is currently working with civilian construction companies from Japan on attempts to start removing the floating debris from the ocean.
This is what happened to Herk Harvey, who happened on the Saltair Pavilion on the south shore of Salt Lake, when driving back from California, in the early 1960s. Herk worked as a director for Centron Films, America's leading producers of industrial and educational movies, and he was inspired by Saltair's eerie, haunted appearance. Harvey devised a scenario, and with help from colleagues at Centron, money form his girlfriend, a budget of $33,000, an unknown cast, and three weeks to film, he made The Carnival of Souls. It was a kismet moment, as Harvey returned to his work at Centron, the cast continued with their own lives, and the film’s star, Candace Hilligoss, only made one other film.
Saltair was the Coney island of the West, opened in 1893, a large structure with Moorish domes, leading on to a pier:
The girth of the resort rested on over 2,000 pylons, driven into the bed along the lakeshore. Many of the original posts can still be seen today, over a hundred years after the resort’s initial construction.
With many resorts of unseemly repute dotting the Salt Lake shoreline, the predominant Mormon population of the Salt Lake Valley called for a retreat that matched their conservative standards; the Great Saltair answered their call. Mormon couples could visit Saltair by taking a short train ride and dance the night away without becoming victims of indecorous rumors. This was due to the open and frequent supervision of activities at Saltair by prominent members of the Mormon Church. The Mormon Church, however, suffered some criticism for the sale of coffee and tea—both substances prohibited by church doctrine—and for opening the resort on Sundays.
Owners of Saltair enjoyed the popularity of the Western resort. From the beginning, the lake retreat was intended to be a counterpart to Coney Island. Its pylon bridge led thousands of patrons through its gigantic doors to countless days of lounging and swimming and countless nights of dancing and romance. Being one of the first amusement parks in America, it became the most popular family destination west of New York.
Fire damaged the resort twice in 1925 and again in 1931, this time causing $100,000 worth of damage. Like everywhere else in the 1930s, the Depression took its toll, as did the war, which led the venue to close in the 1950s, leaving its massive decaying structure, disused rail tracks, and rollercaoster. No wonder Herk Harvey was inspired:
This was the Saltair I knew firsthand… the Saltair of the schlock horror movie classic Carnival of Souls..rotting wood, broken glass, collapsed staircases… and always, the smell of the lake, the stganation of the swimming pool dredged years earlier, littered with half-submerged dodge-‘em cars.
Saltair lay deserted for years, but reopened as a music venue in 2005.
As for Herk Harvey’s The Carnival of Souls? Well, what was intended as a low-budget B-movie is now rightly considered a classic of gothic-horror cinema. So, next time you pass a location that gives you goose-bumped inspiration, just remember Harvey and imagine what you can do.
GOOD magazine reports on the decade in environmental advances. Having spent the latter half of the decade in the green trenches, I’m not quite sure what to make of this. I worry that this decade, while it was clearly the “Tipping Point” on the environment, was largely a decade of greenwash and back-slapping. The results of the Copenhagen conference are a case in point. Time to get it together, instead of running business as usual with a green Smilex smiley face painted on.
This decade will be remembered, first and foremost, as the time we finally came around to understanding climate change?