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Friday, December 27, 2013

Could You Give Me Information On Youngstown Kitchen Cabinets?

"I was online, looking at websites for kitchen remodeling and renovations.  I came across a photograph of a Youngstown kitchen cabinet.  I had never heard of this type; was it made in Youngstown?"  The Newton Falls Public Library staff found this to be intriguing as they had never heard of this kind of cabinet.

We searched online and discovered that this was a fascinating subject with links worth taking time to examine.  According to the website Retro Renovation, following World War II Youngstown Kitchens was the number one brand of steel cabinets.  The company was "originally called Youngstown Pressed Steel Kitchens, and was a division of Mullins Manufacturing Corp., of Warren, Ohio."  This site also has a 1953 B&W video of the Mullinaires singing the Youngstown Kitchen song.  The site, Internet Archives, gives more details about this "follow the bouncing ball" film of singing salesmen.

Page 6 of National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the Spain Housein Tupelo, Mississippi includes the company slogan, "The World's Largest Maker of Steel Cabinets" and noted their dealers were able "to show you your dream kitchen in perfect miniature."  The blogs, Retrochalet Vintage and Design-Swag have examples of the small plastic models of the cabinets and appliances.  Youngstown Kitchens' door to door salesmen carried the models in sample cases so homeowners could make their selections.

In November  2011, Teresa Wilmott  of Claremont, California posted an essay about Jennifer Vanderpool's exhibition  "Hometown Story: Youngstown Steel Kitchen.  An Exhibition of Media, Archival Prints, Historic Films, and Curated Objects" at The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown Ohio.  It includes the Mullinaires video and an additional one from 1950 by the Mullins Manufacturing Company titled "The Last Word in Automatic Dishwashing."  This video appears to be made for the company representatives to instruct them in all the details of the appliance.  Besides making cabinets, the company offered dishwashers to homemakers.  This video is over 21 minutes long and can also be viewed on YouTube.  Numerous online postings of Youngstown Kitchen advertisements note that the company offered both front and top loading dishwashers; food waste disposers; kitchen wallpaper, decals and fabrics; and for children, a Jet-Tower Junior top loading dishwasher which hooks up to the sink dishes, pots, and silverware

A Wikipedia article about Sharon Steel taken from "Farrell Golden Jubilee Souvenir Program 1901–1951" states that in 1936 the Mullins Manufacturing Corporation which merged with Youngstown Pressed Steel "has made great progress as a producer of kitchen equipment, automobile stampings, range parts, washing machines, and refrigerators, and is doing a thriving business under its new management." "Salem: A Quaker City History"  by Dale E. Shaffer, pg. 101, said the corporation's product line included "airplane parts to zinc centerpieces and ceilings.  Other products included architectural ornaments, signs, auto trailers, auto parts, kitchen equipment, shells and casings, statues, washing machine tubs and hundreds of other hot- and cold stamped products."  Page 103 of the book has a photograph of the employees and some of the statues they created.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

What Information Can You Give Me About Christmas Crackers?

"What information can you give me about Christmas crackers?" One of our patrons was interested in making her own Christmas crackers for a party favor, and wanted to be able to give her guests some information on their history.

We found several websites with the information we needed, including,,, and Invented by Tom Smith in 1847, Christmas crackers are popular in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and other Commonwealth countries. The crackers are made from a cardboard tube wrapped in paper and filled with small prizes. The tube also contains a small strip of chemically treated paper so that the cracker makes a small "bang" when pulled apart. Smith was inspired to add the sound effect after hearing the crackle of a log on the fire. He originally called his creation "Cosaques," because the sound reminded him of Cossacks cracking their whips.

While avid Harry Potter fans may remember the "wizard crackers" present at the Hogwarts Christmas dinner, containing elaborate hats, enchanted chess sets, and pet mice, most crackers contain a paper crown, a printed joke, and a small toy. However, luxury crackers have also been produced, filled with jewelry and gold coins. The crowns are said to hearken back to either the Magi or the Roman celebration of Saturnalia.

For more information on Christmas traditions, "The World Encyclopedia of Christmas" by Gerry Bowler, "Encyclopedia of Christmas & New Year's Celebrations" by Tanya Gulevich, and "Christmas! Traditions, Celebrations and Food Across Europe" by Stella Ross Collins are all available at the Newton Falls Public Library. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

I'd Like More Information about the Pelicano

"My pastor told us the story about the garbage ship, the Pelicano.  It was filled with toxic ash from Philadelphia and then no port will let it dock.  I would really like to know more about it."  The Newton Falls Public Library staff found this to be an interesting inquiry and told our patron we would see what we could find for them.

An online search brought us to the November 28, 1988 New York Times article "After 2 Years, Ship Dumps Toxic Ash."  According to the article it's cargo holds were filled with " 28 million pounds of Philadelphia's municipal and industrial incinerator ash."  "The ship left Philadelphia in September 1986 as the Khian Sea. It was renamed the Felicia in July and the Pelicano earlier this month, according to published reports and shipping officials. . . After the ship was barred by the Bahamian Government from dumping the ash, it wandered the Caribbean for 18 months, leaving at least 2,000 tons of ash in Haiti before making an attempt to enter Delaware Bay. Its later travels took it to West Africa, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. It was turned away from ports in at least 11 countries, including the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. . . Earlier this month. . .a court document showed that the ash had been dumped." 

The New York Times article is not the complete story.  In the March 18, 2001 Los Angeles Times article by Mike Clary titled "Wanted: Final Resting Place for Huge Trash Pile - Environment: 3,000 tons of waste from a 14,000-ton haul is all that remains of years of global travels and no takers. Its barge now sits in a Florida canal."  Fifteen years after this odyssey began "the last of 14,000 tons of incinerated garbage from Philadelphia has yet to find a permanent home." According to this article, 4,000 tons was dumped in Haiti when the officials were led to believe it was fertilizer. "Over the next two years, it sailed through the Suez Canal, changed its name again and was finally spotted in Singapore as the Pelicano--without the remaining 10,000 tons of trash. . .In court in 1992, the boat's captain admitted dumping the ash in the Indian Ocean." After about a 1,000 tons had blown away from Haitian land, the U.S. Department of Agriculture arranged to have Waste Management remove the remaining 3,000 and it was loaded on another ship which sits off the coast of Florida. At the writing of this 2001 article, Waste Management had neither found a dump site nor had been paid for the removal.

We finally discovered what happened to the remaining ash at the website  On June 15, 2002, Inquirer Staff Writer Tom Avril posted "Traveling trash Years later, long-fought ash returning."  The final resting place for the last 3,000 tons of ash is The Mountain View landfill in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

More information about toxic ships can be found in the Greenpeace report,

Friday, December 6, 2013

Can You Help Me Find A Short Story?

"Can you help me find a short story I read in high school? I want to read it again, but I can't remember what it's called or who wrote it." At the Newton Falls Public Library, we understand how discouraging it can be when you can't find what you're looking for. Our patron remembered that the story was about a son going through his father's belongings to discover that he had been a prisoner of war in Vietnam. She also remembered that her high school had used the Language of Literature textbooks.

Putting "Language of Literature" into an online search engine brought up, which gives a list of all the Language of Literature textbooks along with short summaries of the contents. After browsing the summaries, our patron found the story she was looking for: David McLean's "Marine Corps Issue."

Searching '"David McLean" "Marine Corps Issue"' turned up a lot of study guides, since it still seems to be a popular story to teach in schools. However, we did manage to find an archived review that David McLean had written. At the end of the article, there was a brief biography noting that "Marine Corps Issue" had been published in Prize Stories 1994: The O. Henry Awards. Our patron was very excited to be able to track down a copy to reread.

CLEVNET carries many volumes collecting the O. Henry Prize stories, including the 1994 edition. If our patron is interested in browsing through more short story anthologies, the Newton Falls Public Library carries a variety of different collections, including "Cold Noses and Warm Hearts: Beloved Dog Stories by Great Authors," "The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm," and "After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia."

Friday, November 29, 2013

How do I hem blue jeans?

"I need a book with instructions on hemming blue jeans; it is getting too costly to have someone else hem them for me.  I would also like them to still look as finished as they were before I shortened them."  The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library has their own memories of children complaining about the appearance of clothing after shortening or alterations, and can understand a mother wanting to be frugal.

We found a variety of instructions for hemming different types of clothing and fabrics in sewing books on our shelves, such as the "Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing." However, none seemed to deal specifically with blue jeans or denim.  From our shared CLEVNET catalog, our patron placed a hold on the book "How to Make Pants and Jeans That Really Fit."

In the event this book does not deal with alterations, we searched online for the words "hemming blue jeans."  There were many video tutorials available, but our patron wanted to have printed sheets to which she could refer. had instructions which included cutting off the bottom of the jeans to shorten them, adding a decorative backstitch with gold thread, and roughing up the edges with sandpaper to give them a more commercially manufactured look.  The websites Make It and Love It and Just Something I Made had similar instructions for hemming the jeans while maintaining the original bottom edge.  Our patron liked the option of folding up some fabric and stitching closely to the original finished edge.  As her children grew, she could let down the hem and make the jeans longer.  If the hem does not need to be re-let down, the excess fabric can be cut off and the edges finished.  Many websites also suggested using a denim needle in the machine to make sewing easier and to reduce the risk of a broken needle.

Friday, November 22, 2013

How Do You Get Rid Of A Woodpecker?

"How do you get rid of a woodpecker?" One of our Newton Falls Public Library patrons was being pestered by a  woodpecker, and was hoping to chase it away before it caused damage to their barn. Fortunately, there are several methods they can try.

According to the Audubon Society, woodpeckers peck for three reasons: to mark territory, to search for insects, and to make a hole in which to nest. If it looks like the bird is making a hole big enough to go into, Audubon suggests covering the hole with netting or metal flashing, though that may not be enough to deter a woodpecker looking to make your house its home. If it persists, the best solution may be to install a nest box near the hole in the hopes that the bird will stop pecking and choose to nest there instead.

If the woodpecker doesn't look like it's drilling out a place to roost, then it might be looking for food. It's important to make sure there aren't any insects in the wood, such as carpenter bees or termites, that the bird might be noshing on. Otherwise, placing suet nearby may be enough to distract it.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology suggests attaching netting to the building, keeping at least three inches between the building and the net to keep birds from getting through.

Plastic owls may scare woodpeckers off for a few days, but the birds quickly get used to them. Instead, try auditory deterrents, such as playing the sound of a predator or a woodpecker in distress, or hanging wind chimes. Reflective strips, pie pans, streamers, wind socks, and flags can also be hung to scare away birds.

For more information on woodpeckers, Paul Bannick's The Owl and the Woodpecker: Encounters with North America's Most Iconic Birds is available through CLEVNET. If our patron is interested in identifying exactly what kind of woodpecker is drumming on their barn - or for anyone who'd like to identify the birds near their house - James S. McCormac and Gregory Kennedy's Birds of Ohio is available for checkout here at the Newton Falls Public Library.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Can You Help Me Find A Sausage Recipe?

"I'm looking for a recipe for homemade sausage."  To the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library this seemed to be a simple request.  The library owns a copy of  "The Sausage-making Cookbook"  by Jerry Predika.  However, our patron already had their own copy of this title and it did not include a recipe quite to their liking.  At this time, she did not wish to get a recipe off the Internet; she preferred something from a book.

In our extensive collection of cookbooks, we found several books that we thought might have what she wanted including "The Complete Meat Cookbook: A Juicy and Authoritative Guide to Selecting, Seasoning, and Cooking Today's Beef, Pork, Lamb, and Veal" by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly, "The Way to Cook" by Julia Child, and "Lidia's Italian Table" by Lidia Bastianich.  These all contained recipes either too heavily spiced or with ingredients our patron did not wish to use.

Continuing our discussion, our patron explained that they were looking to make a lightly seasoned old-fashioned country sausage. The recipe in Mary Emma Showalter's "Mennonite Community Cookbook: Favorite Family Recipes" still wasn't exactly the recipe she wanted.  

Thinking a bit out of the box, we decided to take a look at our collection of Foxfire books. The first Foxfire book was published in 1972.  "The 'Foxfire Book' and its eleven companion volumes stand memorial to the people and the vanishing culture of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, brought to life for readers through the words of those who were born, lived their lives, and passed away there" [].  The full title of the first book is "The Foxfire Book: HogDressing; Log Cabin Building; Mountain Crafts and Foods; Planting by the Signs;Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing; Moonshining; and Other Affairs of Plain Living." The chapter on Hog Dressing included Slaughtering Hogs, Curing and Smoking Hog, and Recipes for Hog.  She said this sausage recipe might have the right combination of spices.

In the event the recipe did not taste as she imagined, our patron also placed holds on some of the other sausage making books in our shared CLEVNET catalog.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Could You Give Me Some Information About Buffington Island?

"Could you give me some information about Buffington Island?" One of our Newton Falls Public Library patrons who had recently traveled to Buffington Island wanted to know more about it.

The Battle of Buffington Island has the distinction of being the only significant Civil War battle in Ohio. The battlefield is in Meigs County, Ohio, and is owned by the Ohio Historical Society. It's free and open to the public year-round during daylight hours. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Buffington Island took place this past July, and was commemorated with a memorial service and demonstrations by Civil War reenactors.

The battle took place when Confederate Brigadier-General John Hunt Morgan and his raiders made an attempt to ford the Ohio River. They were met by Union soldiers and gunboats under the command of Brigadier-General E.H. Hobson and General H.M. Judah. Morgan and several hundred of his men escaped and headed north in the hopes of finding a better place to cross. They were finally surrounded and taken captive in Columbiana County, thus ending the raiding campaign. 

For more information on John Hunt Morgan's raids, "The Last Night and Last Day of John Hunt Morgan's Raid: Eyewitness Accounts of Morgan's Ohio Raid of 1863" and James A. Ramage's "Rebel Raider: The Life of John Hunt Morgan" are available through CLEVNET. For general information on Ohio's involvement in the Civil War, "Ohio's War: The Civil War in Documents" and Robert S. Harper's "Ohio Handbook of the Civil War" are both available at the Newton Falls Public Library.,, and all have information on the Battle of Buffington Island.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Do You Have Anything That Will Help Me Learn Medical Sign Language?

"I work in a clinic and some of our clients are deaf.  I need to learn some basic medical sign language in order to discover the problem and then give them the doctor's instructions.  Do you have anything that  will help me?"  The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library can understand why having this ability would be very important in making sure anyone dealing with medical issues has the correct information.

Searching our shared CLEVNET catalog, we found in our collection "The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary" by Richard A. Tennant for beginning signing and "Intermediate Conversational Sign Language: American Sign Language with English Translations" by Willard J. Madsen.  Madsen's book contained lessons for At the Dentist, In the Hospital, and At the Doctor's Office.  Each lesson included useful medical related signs.

While these were acceptable, our patron expressed a concern that in trying to mimic signs from a book, she would not do them correctly.  Could we find her a DVD with similar information?  The Newton Falls Public Library owns "Common Expressions in American Sign Language" but the this did not seem to have the specifics our patron needed.  In our shared catalog, we located the DVD "Emergency Medical Words & Sentences in American Sign Language" and our patron placed a hold on this item.  While she waits for it to arrive at our library, we searched the Internet and located the websites,, and that she can access for online instructional training.  There are also downloadable e-Books, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Conversational Sign Language Illustrated" by Carole Lazorisak and "Sign Language Made Simple: A Complete Introduction to American Sign Language" by Karen Lewis available in the Clevnet emedia collection that our patron can access using her Newton Falls Public Library card.

UPDATE 11/15/13:

The Newton Falls Public Library reference staff always enjoys receiving comments and input about our Ask The Librarian articles.  The recent column about signing in the medical field elicited a call from a certified sign language instructor.

Our caller wanted our readers to be sure to understand that there is a great difference between conversational signing and what is needed to deal properly with medical issues.  Miscommunication in this type of signing can result in professional liability lawsuits.  It is recommended that clinics requiring assistance in communicating with their hearing impaired clients bring in a professional interpreter.  The cost of the professional can be written off as a business expense by the clinic.  Our caller also said that this may be an issue for clinics dealing with foreign language speakers.

We appreciated receiving this additional information and will be informing the patron who asked the original question.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Do Peacocks Mate For Life?

"Do peacocks mate for life?" With bird-watching being such a popular hobby, the Newton Falls Public Library has quite a few books on birds that we were able to look through to find the answer.

The first thing we learned was that "peacock" technically refers to the male. Females are called "peahens," and collectively, they're called "peafowl." (Even the babies have a special name: "peachicks"!) Given the mutability of the English language, "peacock" is often used interchangeably for both the male and female birds. Still, when we hear the word, it's more often the male that comes to mind, with his characteristic splendid tail. Peahens are more drab, with primarily taupe feathers and shorter tails.

The Palomar Audubon Society has a list of collective nouns for birds. Like a group of wolves is called a pack and a group of lions is called a pride, a group of peafowl is called either a muster or an ostentation. Since "ostentation" is defined by as "a display intended to impress others," it's certainly appropriate.

According to "Birds: Their Life, Their Ways, Their World," published by the Reader's Digest Association, while many birds are monogamous, it's an old wives' tale that birds are always faithful. They might change partners from year to year, or even within a season. Peacocks aren't actually monogamous at all. A male will collect a harem of up to five peahens, each of which will lay, on average, four to six eggs. "Beautiful Birds" by Alvin Silverstein tells us that peafowl don't build elaborate nests. Instead, they scratch out a hole in the ground and line it with sticks and leaves. The peahens sit on the eggs by themselves, without help from the peacocks.

Fortunately for romantics, there are a few species of bird that are known to choose the same mate from year to year. According to "Bird Behavior" by Robert Burton, birds that return to the same nesting place stand a good chance of returning to the same mate. Also, if a pair is successful in hatching healthy chicks, they're more likely to partner up again. Swans, geese, and several seabirds (including gulls, albatrosses, and gannets) tend to be most loyal, with many of them pairing up for life.

For more information on avian courtship, Jean Leveille's "Birds in Love: The Secret Courting and Mating Rituals of Extraordinary Birds" is available through CLEVNET and Marie Winn's "Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park" is here at the Newton Falls Public Library.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I'm Worried About My Dog's Health

Newton Falls Public Library patrons often come into the library seeking information to help their pets. "I think my dog has allergies.  His eyes are red rimmed and he is scratching himself."  "I'm worried my dog has been poisoned. He is vomiting.  What things are poisonous to dogs?" Most of our staff members have pets, so we understand the concerns our patrons have about theirs.
We were able to locate some information about allergic skin reactions in the The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health, Bruce Fogle's ASPCA Complete Dog Care Manual and Caring for your Dog.  The website, had a wealth of articles about dog allergies for our patron.
PetMD was also a useful source of information for our second patron.  Our patron's description of symptoms matched some described on the website: "Your pet may be experiencing unexplained vomiting, diarrhea, or may appear to be weak (lethargic) to the point of being unable to move."  There was some information about poisonous substances, but not a list that our patron wanted.  We located additional websites for her which included: 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center run by ASPCA (phone # 800-213-6680); that has a list of the top ten poisons; and  that has "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook." This last site had the type of listing she wanted printed to take home.
Each book and website we consulted encouraged the user to contact a veterinary professional in order to correctly treat both allergies and poisoning.

Friday, October 11, 2013

What Can You Tell Me About Tenosynovitis?

"Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with tenosynovitis in my hand. Could you find me some more information on it?" Though none of us here at the Newton Falls Public Library are doctors, and therefore aren't qualified to give medical advice, we could certainly provide the resources to help answer our patron's question.

First, we wanted to define tenosynovitis. -Itis means "inflammation," which gave us a clue. According to Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, tenosynovitis is the inflammation of the protective sheath around the tendon. The cause is often unknown, but it can be related to overuse of the tendon.

According to our patron, hers had been bad enough that her entire right hand had curled up, leaving her unable to stretch out her fingers. Fortunately, after a trip to the doctor, it had gotten much better, but she still had trouble bending her wrist and was hoping for more information on possible treatments.

We looked in the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book and the Merck Manual Home Health Book. Both stressed the importance of seeing a doctor, because if the tenosynovitis is caused by an infection, it's necessary to treat it immediately before it causes any permanent damage. Otherwise, both suggested treatments including over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol, Advil, and aspirin; resting the affected area; splinting; and changing one's activities, especially when the inflammation is caused by overuse. According to the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, if these methods aren't effective, a doctor can inject a steroid, such as cortisone.

Our patron gained some relief by rearranging her computer so that she could rest her arm while using the mouse. She was hoping to also find some exercises or stretches that might help. Typing "tenosynovitis exercises" into an online search engine brought up "De Quervain's Tenosynovitis Exercises." Although De Quervain's tenosynovitis is a particular kind, affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist, our patron felt that the exercises  would be beneficial. Suggested exercises included grip strengthening (squeezing a rubber ball for five seconds at a time) and the finger spring (placing a large rubber band around the outside of the thumb and fingers, and then opening the fingers to stretch the rubber band).

Friday, October 4, 2013

What is a blue moon?

"What is a blue moon?"  All of us here at the Newton Falls Public Library had heard the expression "Once in a blue moon," but none of us were exactly sure what a blue moon was either.

The answer turned out to be a little complicated. Doing an online search for "What is a blue moon?" brought up articles from and The most common  definition of a blue moon puts it as the second full moon in a month. However, this is actually a misconception. Going by the original definition, a blue moon is actually the third full moon of a season that has four moons. Typically, there are three moons in a season, and they're referred to as the early moon, the mid-season moon, and the late moon. When there are four, referring to the extra as a "blue moon" allows the late moon to be the fourth and final in the season.

According to "Blue Moon Tuesday, But Not the Kind You Think," written by Michele Berger for, and "Blue Moon Rises: What Does It Mean?" written by Joe Rao for, the misunderstanding comes from a 1946 article in Sky & Telescope magazine. The article was then referenced on a popular National Public Radio program in 1980, and people have been using both definitions ever since.

Given the mutability of the English language, both definitions are listed as correct in The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition

There's also such a thing as a literally blue moon. According to "Blue Moon Rises," the ash from volcanic eruptions like Mount St. Helens and Krakatoa can cause the moon to take on an azure hue.