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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."