Batman goes to Kollege. Absurdity ensues.

“Batman (with [Kay] Kyser following for some reason) tracks the bad guys down, but after Kyser accidentally knocks Batman out with a wind instrument, the two are captured and placed in a room slowly filling up with deadly gas. Luckily, Kyser freed some putty from the floor and saves the day with some musical instrument knowledge…”

— From “Batman Meets Kay Kyser!” by Brian Cronin at Comic Book Resources (June 11, 2013)

How am I just now discovering this wildly imagined collaboration from 1949? Highly recommended! 

New in the collection: Charlotte double-dips

Paper with the words "Visit Charlotte, NC," "1732-1932, George Washington Bicentennial Celebration," and "May 20, 1775, 1932, Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence."

“Thousands of Mecklenburg citizens, many of them direct lineal descendants of signers of the famous document, are expected to gather in the open air theater of Independence Park to celebrate with salvo and song the 157th anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

“A dozen patriotic societies will commemorate the signing of the immortal document… and at the same time will honor the George Washington bicentennial observance in programs throughout the year.”

— From “Open air exercises to mark May 20 observance” in the Charlotte Observer (May 17, 1932)

Outside its home county the Meck Dec has struggled to entrench itself as  an “immortal document,” especially among evidence-demanding historians.

This image is from a poster stamp, intended for promotion rather than postage.


The rocky history of concrete ships

“Concrete ships were first built in the mid-19th century. There were some short-lived efforts to build concrete ships during and right after World War I, in part due to the high cost of steel.

“Wilmington’s Liberty Shipyard constructed concrete ships on what had been the Kidder Sawmill site. Work on the yard began in May 1918, but the first ship wasn’t launched until after the war ended. The Liberty Shipyard closed in October 1919.

“Less than one year later, the Newport Shipbuilding Corp. leased the old Liberty Shipyard land from the city of Wilmington. In May 1921, this new endeavor’s first concrete river steamer was launched. Still, this second concrete shipbuilding enterprise did not last long either — the yard stopped producing concrete ships in the summer of 1922.”

— From “In 1921, concrete ship launched into the Cape Fear River” by Jan Davidson in the Wilmington Star-News (

New in the collection: Iraq War protest pinback

Pinback with ffemale figure in hijab clutching two children. The words read "Together as one" and "March 19, 2005"

“Two years ago this weekend, Michael Hoffman, then a U.S. Marine, was marching across the border of Kuwait as the war in Iraq began. On Saturday, he marched through the streets of this military town [Fayetteville] with other veterans, military family members and anti-war activists protesting the invasion he now believes was wrong….

“[Such demonstrations come] as national anti-war efforts try to regain footing after the re-election of President Bush.

“That is partly why one of the larger events was in Fayetteville, home of Ft. Bragg Army base, the Army Special Operations Command and the 82nd Airborne Division, now on its second tour of duty in Iraq. Police estimated that 3,000 people gathered in a park Saturday for Fayetteville‘s largest anti-war rally since Jane Fonda protested the Vietnam War here in 1971.”

— From “Army town draws anti-war protest; Thousands march across U.S., Europe on Iraq anniversary” by Dahleen Glanton in the Chicago Tribune (March 20, 2005)

The initialisms around the edge of this pinback button represent organizations such as Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out.

‘Constitutional right to work’? No thanks

“The first federal child labor law was passed in 1916…. Less than a year later it was declared unconstitutional by a five-to-four decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, on the ground that it transcended ‘the authority delegated to Congress over commerce,’ and interfered with states’ rights….

“Six years after that decision a Scripps-Howard reporter interviewed Reuben Dagenhart of Charlotte, N.C., the boy whose ‘constitutional right to work’ overthrew the law which sought to cut his hours of labor as a 14-year-old, from 12 to 8 a day. ‘What benefit did you get out of the suit which you won in the United States Supreme?’ the reporter asked.

“ ‘You mean the suit the Fidelity Manufacturing Co. [his employer] won? I don’t see that I got any benefit. I guess I’d been a lot better off if they hadn’t won it. Look at me! I may be mistaken but I think the years I’ve put in the cotton mills stunted my growth. They kept me from getting any schooling. I had to stop school after the third grade and now I need the education I didn’t get… But I know one thing, I ain’t going to let them put my kid sister in the mill.’ ”

— From “Children Wanted” by Beulah Amidon, in Survey Graphic (January  1937)

New in the collection: High Point poster stamp

Blue paper with silver illustration of High Point building and the words "High Point Market, January 15-27, 1934"

“In 1919, the High Point Enterprise announced plans for the center, releasing a statement that didn’t mince words: ‘High Point aspires to become the foremost furniture market on this continent.’

“Though this goal might have seemed a bold claim at a time when Grand Rapids still held dominance as the country’s furniture capital, the manufacturers of High Point pulled it off: In 1920, the Southern Furniture Exposition Building opened for its first show, following a year-and-a-half-long, $1 million construction project. That year, attendance at the show numbered in the 700s, with visitors from 100 cities….

“Of course, even the savviest of business leaders couldn’t have protected the industry from what would happen less than a decade after the new center’s unveiling. With the economic devastation of the Great Depression, furniture sales fell to half their 1920s numbers….”

— From “How a Small Southern Town Became the Furniture Capital of America” by Hadley Keller in Architectural Digest (Oct. 13, 2017)

Although digital enlargement suggests a poster, this is actually a 3- by 1.5-inch advertising label known as a poster stamp. The blue eagle symbol in the corner indicates compliance with the wage and price policies set by the New Deal’s recently created National  Recovery Administration.


‘Omie Wise,’ early tale of true crime

“You’d be forgiven for thinking this was the plot of a moody drama or a Dateline special. Actually, it’s the story told in ‘Omie Wise,’ one of the many murder ballads that swept nineteenth-century America. After Wise became pregnant by an engaged man, he (allegedly) killed her to cover up the indiscretion. Court records of Jonathan Lewis’ trial [in Randolph County, N.C.] exist, so we know the tale is, chillingly, true….”

— From “The Murder Ballad Was the Original True Crime Podcast” by Jody Amable at JSTOR Daily (Jan. 30)

“All of North America eventually knew the story (by a number of different titles: ‘Naomi Wise,’ ‘Little Omie,’ ‘Oxford Girl’ or ‘Tragic Romance’), but only the town of Randleman, North Carolina, could embrace the murder as its own. And it did. Not only is Naomi’s grave located in Randleman but the town has named streets, churches, even mills and manufacturing plants after her. Its river is spanned by the Naomi Bridge and downstream its waters tumble over Naomi’s Falls.”

— From “Little Omie: America’s oldest murder ballad about a romance that for whatever reason just didn’t work out” by Tom Leonardi at (May 27, 2015)

Of course, “Omie” isn’t even North Carolina’s most famous murder ballad.

New in the collection: WWII ship-launching badge

Pinback that reads "North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Launching Admittance Within Lines"

“The opening of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in 1941 is what ultimately revived the region’s economy during the Second World War, transforming Wilmington into the ‘The Defense Capital of the State’….

“The plant… resulted in the city’s population increasing from 33,000 to 50,000. By 1943, the apex of national homefront mobilization, the shipyard employed approximately 20,000 people, [of whom] 1,628 were women and 6,000 were African-Americans….

“[The Cape Fear River shipyard] was one of ten in the country specializing in  Liberty cargo vessels, which transported ammunition, tanks, vehicles and other military supplies.”

-From “Wilmington, North Carolina (American World War II Heritage City)” by the National Park Service

Briefly among the city’s newcomers: playwright Arthur Miller.

This sample badge for launching-ceremony guests was manufactured by the St. Louis Button Co.

George Washington Hill, marketing mastermind

“The Lucky Strike Orchestra was the brainchild of George Washington Hill, the legendary president of the American Tobacco Company, and a seminal figure in the history of commer­cial broadcasting. The flamboyant Hill drove a Cadillac festooned with enlargements of the Lucky Strike package, chain-smoked Luckies despite a wracking cough, and insisted that all his employees smoke them, too.

“Hill, along with Procter & Gamble, was one of the first big-time advertisers to use radio.

“He knew instinctively how to program for a mass market. He believed the upbeat music played by the Lucky Strike Orchestra could help America dance its way out of the Depres­sion.

“Hill also broke through the early restrictions on low-class advertising with his classic line for Cremo cigars, ‘There’s no spit in Cremo!’ on the CBS network. Hill was a proponent of loud, obnoxious, repetitive advertising. His ‘Lucky Strike has gone to war!’ ads, aired during the early stages of World War II, were one of the great success stories in advertising history.”

— From “The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1920-1961” by Jeff Kisseloff (1995)