December 23, 2016

Little Folks - Salem, Massachusetts


Little Folks Magazine Subscription (c. 1914-1928)

Subscriptions to magazines published by Salem's Cassino publishing company were popular gifts, especially for children. S.E. Cassino Co. was a Salem and Boston based publishing company, operated by Salemite Samuel Edison Cassino and his daughter Margherita Cassino Osborne.

The two branches of the S.E. Cassino Co. focused on vastly different topics. The Boston branch, which was run by Samuel, focused on naturalist topics; the Salem division, which was edited and operated by Margherita and her husband Frank Wellman Osborne, concentrated on the more profitable sector of children’s magazines and books. One particularly popular publication was Little Folks, which was a children’s magazine published in Salem from 1914-1928.


*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

December 21, 2016

Ghost Signs of Salem, Massachusetts


Newmark's Ghost Sign on Essex Street c. 1970

The term "ghost signs" refers to now weathered, hand painted brick advertisements that were popular during the late 19th and early 20th century. In the days before digital marketing, this form of advertising was used by a variety of local and national businesses to promote their locations and products. Remnants of these signs can be seen throughout the city of Salem, Massachusetts. Though multiple ghost signs remain, many have been lost over the last century to revitalization projects, rezoning and demolition. 
             
Pillsbury Ghost Sign on Endicott Street
The most famous of these advertising signs are for Coca-Cola, many of which are still visible throughout North America. Between 1890 and 1920, an estimated 16,000 murals were painted across the United States. In 1910, a quarter of Coca-Cola's advertising budget was used solely for the creation of wall murals. 


Lost Coca-Cola Advertisement on Boston Street c. 1930

Recently, Coca-Cola launched a ghost sign revitalization project, where the company employs artists to restore their ghost signs. The project has already breathed new life into over two dozen murals, across fifteen states. 

Almy, Bigelow & Washburn Ghost Sign on New Derby Street
Beeman's Pepsin Ghost Sign on Peabody Street

December 5, 2016

Harry Houdini - Salem, Massachusetts

Courtesy: Salem Patch
Courtesy: Hawthorne Hotel
In April 1906, Harry Houdini visited Salem while on tour. For three consecutive nights he performed sold out shows at the Salem Theatre on Essex Street. During his stay, he was challenged by the skeptical chief of police to escape a locked cell in Salem’s police station, at the time located on Front Street. It is said that Houdini, stripped of his clothes, was placed in three sets of handcuffs and two pairs of leg irons, in the jail’s middle cell. In a reported 13 minutes, Houdini had freed himself and opened the neighboring cell, where his clothes were being held. He then proceeded to unlock all of the remaining cells and handcuffed himself to a fellow prisoner. Fully clothed, prisoner in-tow, he walked outside and mockingly stood in the window where the police chief was waiting.
Courtesy: Salem Memories II -
Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.
Harry Houdini died in Detroit, Michigan on October 31, 1926 after days of suffering complications of a ruptured appendix. Following a large funeral of over 2,000 mourners, he was laid to rest in Queens, New York.
On October 30, 1990, a séance was held in the grand ballroom of Salem’s Hawthorne Hotel in the hopes of summonsing the spirit of Harry Houdini on the 64th anniversary of his death. Despite being unsuccessful, this séance helped lead to the introduction of the annual Halloween Party, which premiered in 1991.


*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.