Wednesday, December 30, 2020

New Year Greeting Postcards


These postcards from the Benton County Historical Society's collection may be from an earlier time but the sentiments remain appropriate today.  The first card is from  circa 1915 and the second from 1923.  The third is undated.


Here's hoping for a calmer and healthier 2021. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Jigsaw Puzzles: A Holiday Tradition


Except for the uniforms, the scene in this photograph would look familiar to many households these days. It is certainly one you would see in my house, although with fewer people.

Christmas time 1943 jigsaw puzzle at
Camp Adair, Benton County, Oregon

With many places closed due to public health protocols, people are looking for recreational activities they can do at home.  One of the activities they have turned to is doing jigsaw puzzles like this one from the Benton County Historical Museum's collection.

 This particular puzzle dates from the late 1940s or 1950s.  But the first jigsaw puzzles were introduced much earlier. John Spilsbury, an English engraver is credited with making the puzzles when he pasted his maps onto wood and cut them into small pieces.  Early puzzles were different from modern ones in that the pieces did not interlock so they often came apart,  the cuts were often made along the boundaries between colors,  and the boxes they came in did not include a picture of the finished puzzle. 

The first would be annoying but the other two features reminded me of those modern puzzles that are all one color. The big innovations in came in 1909 (interlocking pieces) and in the 1930s and especially after World War II when improvements in lithography and die-cutting improved cardboard puzzles and made them more affordable, as indicated by the 29 cent price on the one shown above.

That puzzle has 300 pieces, which is considered small for an adult puzzle. More popular are those in the 500 to 1500 piece range. The largest jigsaw puzzle produced (in 2020) has 54,000 pieces! I don't know where you could do one of those as even a finished 42,000-piece puzzle measures 24 feet long.

Beginning with the stay at home orders in March, demand for puzzles soared.  Ravensburger, a major manufacturer, averaged North American sales of 7 puzzles per minute in 2019.  In the spring of 2020, it was selling about 20 per minute!  In some places puzzles were hard to find.  I was lucky-- as I get a puzzle for Christmas most years, I had a huge pile I could re-work.  I've still got a few to go.  

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Christmas Cookies

Do these scenes look familiar?

Though taken nearly a quarter of a century apart, the photos should what is often a holiday activity—baking cookies!  The first shows Mary Jane White Hubbard baking cookies in her home near Monroe in 1955 while the second shows Khome Kam and her sister mixing up cookies in 1979. 

There are all kinds of cookies.  My guess is that Mrs. Hubbard is some kind of drop cookie which are sometimes flattened a bit with a fork, leaving the tell-tale tine marks.  An alternative would be to use a cookie stamp, such as this Rycraft stamp with a holly wreath design.

Rycraft cookie stamp
The girls seem to be making sugar cookies or some other type of rolled cookie as the photograph shows a rolling pin on the counter.  The girls would then need cookie cutters, like these two from the Benton County Historical Museum's collection.


All this reminds me to get baking.  Now, if only I can find red candied cherries. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon