Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ghost Writing

When I was ten years old in Mrs. Rogers 4th grade class, I was a member of the Scholastic Book Club. Illustrated catalogs would occasionally arrive from the book company featuring cheap paperback books on science, space exploration, adventure, elephant jokes, and sappy teen novels. Most of the covers were pretty goofy, however some were exceptionally nice with illustrated mid-century patterns. Surely it was a great source of income for many accomplished illustrators at that time. I'm not sure exactly why I was particularly attracted to this Spooky Magic book, but I suspect it was the wacky type with the googlie eyeballs on the coverA real deal at 45 cents!

Source of 1963 Scholastic Books order form and lots more: Tattered and Lost Ephemera.

Inside there were lots of amusing science and magic experiments, but none delighted me more than the chapter on ghost writing. It was a magic trick for secret lettering and could easily be performed at home with a fresh lemon, a paintbrush, paper, a candle, and matches. Was Scholastic Books encouraging child endangerment or was it spooky science? You decide! 

Being a bit of an arty nerd, I decided to make a haunted Halloween house, just so I could show all my friends this really neato trick I could do with spooky ghost lettering. I set up a table and chairs in a small hall closet where I could close the door and burn a candle in the dark (kids, don't do this at home), to expose the ghost lettering for a line of bemused and probably confused friends.  

Despite my lack of parental supervision, I didn't burn down the house. I guess it was a mild success. I must have earned my arty nerd badge for life, as I still enjoy this ploy. I hadn't thought about ghost lettering in years, but had a momentary flashback when I saw the Spooky Magic book here, where you can learn many more spooky magic tricks.

I had to try this trick once again at home. It's science-errific! For more Scholastic Books' flashbacks check out this fun Flickr set.

Arty Nerd Badge. Get yours here!

1 comment:

  1. That Scholastic Books ad from the early-60s certainly brought back memories (if you remember this from school, then we must be about the same age). My family didn't have much money, and I couldn't often order books (even at that price), but I did get some. I have to admit that I was disappointed about one-third of the time because their cover art and description often made the book sound more exciting than it was.


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