Welcome to the Green-Walled Time Machine!

GWT Time Machine

This is the first post in what will be a weekly segment here on the Green-Walled Tower. It will share selections from magazines ranging from 1908 to the 1930s and 40s and interesting insights into the culture and current events of the time. First though, let me give you a little history about how this all started.

About 17 years ago, my grandparents moved into a smaller house and were going to throw away two boxes of old magazines. I took them, although I had nowhere to put them. And so, they sat in my parents’ house for 17 years while I was in university, and then in Korea. They brought them to me a few weeks ago and I could finally look through them properly. The magazines are all ones my great-great-aunt collected over her lifetime. She was a school teacher and a devout Christian, so most of her magazines relate to teaching, Sunday School, or missions. Still, among the lesson plans and Sunday School stories (and in them too) were many fascinating details about life at the beginning of the 20th century. And now, without further ado…

Ads in Teacher Magazines

It appears that modern times are not alone in having ads crammed into every square inch. All magazines in the 19-teens and 20s seemed to have ads everywhere, especially in the teaching magazines. Here’s an example from the February, 1913 issue of Primary Plans:

ads in teacher magazines

What surprised me most were all the ads for other jobs. Most teachers today don’t get into it for the money, and it was even more so back then. The February 1913 issue of the Cambridge Tribune mentions in an article about raising teacher salaries that some teachers made about $800 a year (they also use the term “starvation wages”), which is about $18,600 today. So, it is not a shock that teachers would want to make a little extra money. What is surprising is the types and variety of jobs: watchmaking (if you’re a man), doing magic, sewing, organizing Lodges of the Owls, and even what looks suspiciously like spying, considering the phrase “reporting Information, Names, etc.”

Anything that says "Big Pay" has to be legit.

Anything that says BIG PAY has to be legit.

They even had for-profit schools back then, promising BIG PAY for people who wanted to pay them to help prepare for the civil service exam; i.e., to stop being a teacher.

Another surprising advertisement is the one right at the bottom, for Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup. It was a tonic whose principle ingredients were morphine and alcohol, and while that might seem par for the course for teachers, it was actually marketed for infants. Also, it was denounced by the American Medical Association two years before this magazine came out.

Morphine and alcohol: safe for infants since...never.

Morphine and alcohol: safe for infants since…never.

This Week’s Bonus Weirdness

A few pages over from the above advertisements was this tiny one, little more than half an inch high:

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Tell me, what do you think this ad is about? He is looking for subscriptions. Does that mean he wants you to buy subscriptions to magazines through him (with big savings) since he gets them at a discount? If so, it’s a strange thing for the magazine to print, since it would undercut their profits. Or does he want second-hand magazines, although if so, what does he mean by “big savings?” What do you think?


Doughnut Man – Friday Fictioneers

GWT Time Machine

As an update, my first Green-Walled Time Machine post is now up. Come take a look at the weird world of advertisements in teacher magazines in 1913.

copyright Claire Fuller

copyright Claire Fuller

Doughnut Man

We passed the Michelin garage and right on cue, Brad started to whine.

“I want a doughnut, Dad. I want a doughnut . . .”

I snapped at him. “Those are tires, not doughnuts.” No good, of course. I was too exhausted to argue. We went to Tim Horton’s and I watched him stick his finger through the doughnut hole, rolling it around and making car noises. From tires to doughnuts and back to tires.

“Dad . . . Can I get a toy car? I want a toy car. Please? Pleeeease?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“If I get you one, you’ll just want a doughnut again.”


Music to Write by

Last week, my class was working on posters for International Education Week and I put on some music while they were working. I tried to find songs on Youtube that everyone might like or at least things that I liked. After a few songs, I put on Lana del Ray’s Summertime Sadness, which I really love. One of the students, a 20-year-old Venezuelan guy gave me a look, as in “Really? You like this?” I defended myself by teaching them the word eclectic as in “Shut up, I have eclectic tastes in music” and then changed songs.

The fact is, I do love a very wide range of songs that produce some sort of emotional response in me. After all, as a writer I’m trying to evoke an emotional response in the reader, so call it research.

I listen to music when I write since it fuels the creativity pumps deep inside my spirit. Here is a sampling of songs that I really love and that help me in my writing. I can’t guarantee you’ll like all of them and actually, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t like all of them, since what would the odds be of that? (I also like Nightcore-style music, so some of these songs are the Nightcore remix version).

Et Huomaa – Irina

L’autre – Mireille Mathieu

Fear of the Dark – Iron Maiden

Dust in the Wind – Kansas

Popcorn – Hot Butter

Blessed be Your Name – Matt Redman

Courtesy Call – Thousand Foot Krutch

Anima Libera – Emi

Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

Brother Louie – Modern Talking

Jai Ho – Slumdog Millionaire OST

Lady – Styx

Classical Gas – Vanessa Mae

Vampire Kiss (Nightcore version)

Helele – Velile & Safri Duo

Kernkraft 400 – Zombie Nation

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

And for my friend Miles, who also loves this song:

Kyrie – Mr. Mister

Do you listen to music when you write? What kinds of music helps you write the most?


Wishbelly

Roland went to see Wishbelly when his family finally ran out of money for doctors for his sick father. Not that the doctors were helping, although their increasingly bizarre treatments did provide Hope, which is a key ingredient to Life, as his grandmother said. The week after the money was almost all gone and it was clear that no more doctors would come, Roland saw something like a veil cover his father’s eyes, as if they were already staring up at the inside of a coffin. That night, Roland got a bottle of water and an apple and went outside by himself. This was a huge deal for a six-year-old.

Roland had heard of Wishbelly from other children in his neighborhood. None of them knew what he looked like—he was the kind of legend your brother’s friend swore he knew—but they knew where he lived: in the abandoned factory across the rushing creek and through the phalanx of rusting farm equipment that was a Tetanus Superstore, as Roland’s mother always said.

He opened the front gate and stepped out onto the shoulder of the rural highway, a tiny boy in a huge, monstrously dark world. He knew the way, even in the dark, but the blinding white beams of a car that rushed past gave him enough light to avoid stumbling over the guardrail and falling into the stream.

After the stream, it was a fifteen minute walk up the highway and then down a narrow dirt track next to a fallow meadow. The tall blades of grass bent and waved in the breeze, rustling and whispering to him.

“Roland, Roland,” they murmured. “Such a little boy. What’s he doing out at this hour? Wishbelly will eat him for a midnight snack. Such a little, little boy.”

This almost made Roland stop and go home. He had always thought of Wishbelly as being good and willing to help, but now the idea came into his mind that maybe he was a terrible creature who ate children foolish enough to fall into his snare.

The voices were spreading. The wind had picked it up into the trees and bushes and now all around him, Roland heard the mocking pity. “Poor Roland. So young to die. Such a little boy.”

He was about to turn back when he heard one voice among the others. “Go!” it said. “Go. You can make it, Roland.” It sounded so different from the others that he planted a small boot resolutely in front of him and continued on until the sighing voices of the grass and trees were behind him.

But now there was a greater obstacle in front of him: one made of terror and decaying metal spikes showing black against the thinly-veiled moon. Roland shuffled forward slowly, groping in front of himself. Almost immediately, a corroded spike reached out and tore his jacket, almost scratching him. He wished he had brought a flashlight.

He was almost considering going back for one when he noticed a dot of pale green luminescence off to the left. He went towards it instinctively and noticed another. They were appearing more frequently now, one every foot or so. Roland felt pieces of metal brush past him on both sides, but he kept his eyes on the dots. After a hundred feet or more, the glowing dots spread out in a carpet and in their midst sat a dark figure.

The figure was seated with its head down. Roland took a step further and it spoke, soft and raspy. “Yes?”

“I want to see Wishbelly,” he said, his voice shaking.

The figure laughed, a low, dusty chuckle. “Wishbelly, is it? Why?”

“My father is sick.”

“That’s not what Wishbelly does.”

“Oh.” Roland started to turn around, but stopped. “Why not?”

“He can only do things for the people who come see him. If your father came here, Wishbelly could make him better then.”

“But he’s sick! He can’t come.”

“That’s not Wishbelly’s concern,” the figure said. Roland could not see his face. “But you are here, so what can he do for you? You took the leap of faith to come. You made it past the obstacles.”

“Did you put the obstacles there? Did you make the grass mock me?”

The man shrugged. “There are always naysayers and obstacles in life, especially when you are doing something important.”

“And what about the encouraging voice, and the glowing path?”

“Everyone who truly seeks will find.”

“Are you Wishbelly?” Roland asked.

The figure laughed. “Possibly. But you haven’t answered my question. What do you want? To be smart? Strong? Would you like to always be happy?”

“Can he . . . can you make me able to heal my father? That’s all I want.”

“All you want is to help him?” the figure said. He stood up and Roland saw that it was an old man with a bald head and silvery skin that glowed slightly.

“Would you still want that if none of your own wishes could come true? If you could only help others? I wasn’t the first Wishbelly, you know. There were others before me who passed on the gift. So this is what I will do, Roland, conqueror of fears, asker of audacious requests.”

He touched Roland on the head. “All who seek, find, but they often find much more than they could ever have dreamed of. You are Wishbelly now. You wished to help others and you have that chance now. You can wish nothing on yourself, but I hope that helping others makes you happy.”

“Who are you?” Roland asked.

“Just an old man now,” the man said, smiling. “And in need of some rest.”

“How does it work?” Roland asked. “How can I make my father better?”

“He must want it,” the man said. “He must ask. That is the only way. It may be difficult, but I wish you luck. Now go on home and get some sleep.”

Roland walked back along the luminous path through the Tetanus Superstore and through the sighing grass and trees. The dissuading voices had gone silent. All he heard was the one small voice. “Courage, young Roland. The hardest part is behind you, the longest is ahead. Courage.”

~*~

This story is a strange one and it has taken me a long time to write, for one reason or another. Don’t ask me where the name came from, since I’m not sure. You may be tempted to see allegory in it, but it was not written explicitly as one. Let me know what you see, since I am always curious how my readers take my stories.


First interview of David Stewart- an amazing author!

David Stewart:

My dear friend, Sharmishtha Basu, did an interview with me for her blog BOOKS (UN)LIMITED. Go check it out.

Originally posted on BOOKS (UN)LIMITED:

Well, David is ONE amazing author, if you are not reading his works then you are missing some really good stories, I believe that. He has been too busy with his new life in USA, so after keeping me hanging for long long time he has finally shared some words about his life and works. I am waiting for the day when he will publish/self publish a collection of his amazing stories.

Here we go:

1. Where are you from?

I am originally from Newfoundland, Canada. It has a cold, harsh environment in the winter but it’s beautiful and the people are very friendly.

2. Tell me something about your present life.
I’m currently working at Upper Iowa University as an English teacher.

3. Tell me something about your childhood days, anything that has stayed with you!
We used to drive to see our relatives in the summers, which was…

View original 485 more words


Chillin’ in Alaska

This was inspired by the photo prompt and also because we just got a fresh blanket of snow last night. Hopefully I’m a bit more prepared than the girl below.

Chillin’ in Alaska

Ramsey cursed. Who knew that Alaska in the winter would be so cold? She trudged through the snow, icicles forming on her Ray-Ban sunglasses and looked for a Four Seasons. Even a Marriott would work.

There was nothing but trees.

It was all Google’s fault. She had woken up two days before just hating the world and everyone in it. She needed to get away so she had searched for the place with the lowest population density in the US. It had said that Alaska had 1.3 people per square mile, but that was BS because she had walked at least a mile and hadn’t seen anyone.

She dreaded seeing the 0.3 people.

Her feet were frozen and she was ravenous. “I’ve never been this miserable in my life,” she said out loud. She had to tweet about it. She pulled out her phone.

No bars.

What was the point of being miserable if nobody knew about it? She had to go back, if she could just find her tracks. She set off, going back, and started recording a video to post later.

“Hey friends! Ramsey here. Just chillin’ in Alaska. Wish you were all here!”

It was dark and getting colder. There was a growl in the woods somewhere behind her.

“That had better not be the 0.3 people!” she yelled.


Powdered Sugar – Friday Fictioneers

I was a little late getting this story in this week since I was at a conference yesterday with my students, who participated in a panel discussion about their experiences learning English.

On an unrelated note, I recently received two boxes of magazines that my great-great aunt had collected over her lifetime. There are some amazing things in there, from bizarre advertisements to an account of the Titanic disaster published the week after it happened in 1912. And much more. I’m starting a weekly segment known as the Green-Walled Time Machine where I’ll share things from the magazines. A new one will be up every Thursday from next week.

GWT Time Machine

And now, on with the story…

copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Powdered Sugar

The expression on the people’s faces looked like acceptance, just as anthrax looks like powdered sugar.

The fat man on the balcony saw nothing but powdered sugar as he beamed down at the crowd.

“Good morning, everyone! I’m Mr. Krantz, your new owner. I just bought you and this whole street from Mr. Grouse, who’s retiring from the chattel business. I’ll leave your shops alone, don’t worry, although we’ll probably sell off some children here and there. Just business, of course. Nothing personal.”

He chuckled. These people wouldn’t be a problem. They looked weak and insubstantial. Just like powdered sugar.


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