Saturday, September 27, 2014

310. When Bobbysox Music Ruled: RHYTHM TOTE

For almost all teens of the Baby Boomer years, music was an essential part of their life. It was the Age of Rock 'n Roll, of Paul Anka, Everly Bros., Frankie Avalon, Shelley Fabares, Fabian and Chubby Checkers--and of course, Elvis! American bandstand ruled the airwaves and millions of teens couldn't get enough of the bubblegum and bobbysox music that they sang and danced to, in their shindigs and barn dances. They took along their 45 RPMs in vinyl cases such as this "Rhythm Tote", when they gather 'round to share and review songs about heartaches, cheating hearts, hound dogs and puppies in the window. This cheap mid-century relic held 14 records in brown paper envelopes, plus an index page you can write on. Made by Teen Time Products in Rhode Island, it has a current market value of about $20.  Just 8.75 in. x 7.5 in., the "Rhythm Tote" is  a wonderful nostalgic record case to store those special memories in!

Friday, September 19, 2014

309. So Big, Yet So Little: BIG LITTLE BOOKS

I found this neat cache of books in a little shop called Round Trip Collectibles--a collectible store in Metuchen, years ago. I think I paid 5 dollars for the lot--7 Big Little Books, as old as the late 1930s and as recent as the late 60s (in the case of Batman). These kiddie readings saw print first in 1932, published by the Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin. They were small, they were compact and had simple captioned drawings opposite each page of the text. They soon became big hits among children, so competitor like Saalfield, copied this format. Back then, each book cost just 10 cents each.  Great graphics, great stories, great size and price...what more can you ask for in a book?

Friday, September 12, 2014


Captain Midnight was a popular U.S. radio series that began in 1938 in Chicago, created by Robert M. Burtt and Wilfred G. Moore. At the onset, "Captain Midnight" was simply an undercover name for pilot  Jim "Red" Albright. As an agent, he helped gather information to capture criminals. Captain Midnight was constantly trying to stop the plans of the evil Ivan Shark, remaining his evil nemesis throughout its radio run. He found help in Chuck Ramsey,a member of his Secret Squadron and Patsy Donovan. The series grew in popularity and was broadcast over the Mutual Network beginning in 1940 sponsored by Ovaltine.
The company had been looking for a heroic figure to sponsor their product, Ovaltine, as the country seemed headed for World War. Continuing the tradition of their previous series, Radio Orphan Annie, the company began to integrate coded messages and club identification into the episodes--brass examples of which were given out to viewers as premiums.
The "Mystery Dial Code-o-Graph" , first given in December 1940, was so called because the center of the inner disc was supposed to look like the dial knob of a radio. It was used to send a secret message to listeners about the next program episode. To decode, one had to turn the dial, which  proved to be a chore, what with the setting windows located at the back. The secret messages to decode were always given at the end as a "Secret Squadron Signal Session.".
The brass decoder has a slot for Capt. Midnight's picture (missing) and came with a manual, such as the one you see here. This highly prized radio collectible--available on ebay from a low of $69.95 to a high of $139--without a manual, was purchased complete and intact in its own envelope, originally addressed to a young radio fan from New Jersey.