Picking up matches from merchants is a common habit. Eventually, when a glass bowl or drawer becomes full, it is likely some people throw the books away or leave just a few to form the base layer for a new pile when next they empty their pockets. Yet others keep the souvenirs from visits to other states and picturesque eateries in folders. The H. Bells Fire Protection Co. Book Match Album in the shape of a 17×11 matchbook that I found at an antique show contains an assortment of books accumulated by one collector.
The Thrifty Market in Fairbanks, Alaska points inside the flap for its motto: “We don’t sell cheap merchandise. We sell good merchandise cheap.” Other grocery stores from Grosskopf’s in Swan Lake, Wisconsin to the Sunset Grocery in Cody, Wyoming claim to be “Always happy to serve you.”
Restaurants favored by this collector included George Diamonds in Milwaukee’s Republican Hotel, Moxie’s in Ripon, the Wonder Bar in Green Lake, and the Darboy Club, “where our chicken dinners are worth crowing about.”
The matchbook for a county park garners the prize for most clever wording with added graphics. Starting on the back and working toward the message on the front, it reads “The Queen of [club symbol]/says to the King of [spade symbol]/Have a big [heart symbol]/I don’t want your [diamond symbol]. Just take me to Shawano County Park.” That this is a vintage piece is noted by the Park’s succinct phone number of J-I-X.
It was also a time when Riponites frequented friendly local shops like Butch’s Shoe Hospital and Jack’s Service Station. The book of another business in Ripon was most subdued as befitting its line of business. The cover bears just the name of the firm (Butzin) and a terse phone number (BLack 217). Opening the cover reveals the Butzin profession: Funeral Directors.
Certainly Digby O’Dell, the dark-humored undertaker heard on The Life of Riley, would find items of interest in this collection before “shoveling along” on his moribundant way.
One can safely ignore the “close cover before striking” admonition on the cover of the album and instead quietly close the cover after reading the 89 mini-books inside.