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“Ring Around The Sky” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on September 8, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the one and only creator of The Three Mosquitoes—Ralph Oppenheim! Mickey Rand trained pilots to be Aces using his infallible techniques of air combat. That is until it seemed the German Ace Kemmerer had found a way to beat these tricks, downing three of Mickey’s star pupils and he wasn’t about to let his latest protege, Jim Conway be next!

“Never Look Back!” That Was the Iron-Bound Rule of Micky Rand, Maker of Aces!

For more by Ralph Oppenheim:

Pick up any of our collections of Ralph Oppenheim’s intrepid trio––The Three Mosquitoes! “LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.



The Wizard Ace


The Magic Inferno


The Thunderbolt Ace

Pick up your copy today at all the usual outlets—Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

“Wings of the Brave” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on August 4, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

SKY DEVIL flew through the Hell Skies of 29 adventures in the pages of Dare-Devil Aces from 1932-1935. Cruickshank returned to the savior of the Western Front in six subsequent stories several years later. The first two were in the pages of Sky Devils (June 1939) and Fighting Aces (March 1940). The other four ran in Sky Fighters (1943-1946); and like Oppenheim had done with his Three Mosquitoes, so Cruickshank did with Sky Devil—he moved him to the Second World War where Bill Dawe changes his name to get into the air service and flys along side his son!

Here we have Sky Devil’s first appearance after his run in Dare-Devil Aces in the pages of the aptly named Sky Devils. Bill Dawe works a hunch as only he can that an old chateau that is supposedly neutral ground between the Allies and the Boche is actually a front for German forces! From June 1939 it’s “Wings of the Brave!”

This wasn’t the ordinary flame of Spandau Fire menacing the American Sky Devil’s tail—but the fearsome blaze of the Baron Von Ryter’s world-famous battle insignia!

For more great tales of Sky Devil and his Brood by Harold F. Cruickshank, check out our new volume of his collected adventures in Sky Devil: Ace of Devils—Nowhere along the Western Front could you find a more feared crew, both in their element and out. The Sky Devil and his Brood could always be counted on to whip Germany’s best Aces, out-scrap entire squadrons of Boche killers, or tackle not one, but two crazed Barons with an Egyptology fetish! But what happens when they find themselves up in a dirigible fighting a fleet of ghost zeppelins, or down in the English Channel battling ferocious deep water beasts, or even behind enemy lines dealing with a crazed Major Petrie? Plenty, and you can read it all here! Pick up your copy today at all the usual outlets—Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

“Lazy Wings” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 31, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

TO ROUND off Mosquito Month we have a non-Mosquitoes story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. It’s a humerous tale of Lieutenant Sleepy Miller—so named because he could fall asleep anywhere at anytime—even in the middle of a war with bombs going off all around him. From the December 1931 issue of War Aces it’s “Lazy Wings.”

Dogfights meant nothing to him—sleep was the thing. But when he went to sleep behind the German lines he learned that soft pillows have a way of being mighty hard.

Ralph Oppenheim and The House of Genius

Link - Posted by David on March 30, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

House of Genius

Continuing today with another chapter from Garrett’s book, The Golden Handicap: A Spiritual Quest.

The strain Garrett’s condition had put on their marriage and the increasing demands upon his time due to his writing led James to move out of their West 138th Street apartment in January of 1914 and into digs at 61 Washington Square South. In April 1914 he would publish Idle Wives—a novel about well to do women who have nothing to do and ignore their children while they themselves are ignored by their husbands. Lucy saw herself as one of these neglected women and filed for divorce which was granted in July of that year.

Lucy remarried the following year to a Dr. Meyer M. Stark who had been treating Garrett for some time while James eventually remarried one Gertrude (Smith) Drick—he called her The Golden Bird, she called herself “Woe”. When asked why she would reply, ” ‘Cause Woe is me.” She is only remembered now for the time she tried to declare Washington Square it’s own republic (Garrett mentions this in the chapter).

In 1921 James Oppenhiem moved to Glendale, California with Woe and Ralph. They were there for about two years returning in 1923 and resuming residence at 61 Washington Square South, a rooming house known as The House of Genius! The block had been dubbed genius row due to the creative geniuses that had lived there at one time or another, but number 61 was the house of genius.


The Row of Genius on Washington Square South. Number 61, The House of Genius, where Ralph lived and wrote his early pulp tales is the center house.

The house had been leased by a swiss woman named Madame Blanchard in 1886 and she in turn converted the single family dwelling into a rooming house and would only rent rooms to bohemian writers, musicians and artists. It is said that notable residents of the building included Willa Cather, John Dos Passos, Alan Seeger, Stephen Crane—and to this list Ralph Oppenheim!

According to Garrett, James and Gertrude had a room on the third floor which overlooked the park—from the window, you could see over the famous Washington Arch straight up Fifth Avenue. The walls of the third and forth floors of the building were said to be emblazoned with artistic murals and poetry etched by the former guests. Ralph occupied a smaller room where he wrote his blood and thunder stories!

The Golden Handicap: A Spiritual Quest
A Polio Victim Asks, “Why?” and Turns His Life Around


THE PICTURE OF WOE by John French Sloan, 1918. Oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches

This time Garrett writes about visiting and then moving in with his father, step-mother and Ralph down in the village in a house commonly referred to as the house of genius, of the wonderful visitors—artists, novelists, poets, composers, even a well-known cartoonist—that would come; and of his step-mother who was more of a wonderful companion than a parent. In short: The Magical World of Daddy O!

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in reading Garrett’s whole book it can be found on used book sites and for as low as 90¢ used from other sellers on Amazon!

The Brothers Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 29, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY marks the one hundred and tenth birthday of Three Mosquitoes scribe Ralph Oppenheim!

Ralph was born on March 29th, 1907 to James and Lucy (Seckel) Oppenheim. At the time of Ralph’s birth, James was a budding poet who would go on to become an author, poet, screenwriter, director and Jungian lay-analyst. Best remembered today as the founder and editor of the short-lived The Seven Arts Journal—”It’s not a magazine for artists, but an expression of artists for the community.”

In 1911, James and Lucy had another son and named him James. When James was born he was a golden boy—good-natured, healthy and beautiful; full of laughter and fat chuckles. He was the picture of health, but as he began to walk he was funny on his feet . . . until one day his legs didn’t seem to want to work. The doctor was called in. It was infantile paralysis—Polio.

Although this pronouncement may have been a burden to his parents, James Jr. tried not to let it get in the way. Ralph’s brother also tried his hand at writing, but was never the success in the pulps his big brother was. There are some verses and such in some of the Love pulps, but no blood and thunder stuff. When he started submitting poetry and verse to publications he decided it was best if he change his name so editors wouldn’t think his father had diminished in capacity—and so changed his name to Garrett.

Garrett found work as a journalist for the New York Herald-Tribune where he became acquainted with Dr. Leo Wollman, head of the New York Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnotism. Upon the Herald-Tribune folding, Garrett became a hypnotist and counselor.

The Golden Handicap: A Spiritual Quest
A Polio Victim Asks, “Why?” and Turns His Life Around

In 1993 he wrote a book using his own life as case studies to help counsel the reader. In each chapter he would tell about a part of his life and then provide an analysis to counsel people in a similar situation. Garrett mentions Ralph throughout the early portion of the book as they’re growing up. Here we have chapter 9 from his book—sans analysis—My Big Brother and Me!

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in reading Garrett’s whole book it can be found on used book sites and for as low as 90¢ used from other sellers on Amazon!

It’s Our 10th Anniversary!

Link - Posted by David on March 23, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

IT’S HARD to believe it’s already been ten years since we introduced you to Jed Garrett, aka Captian Babyface, and his faithful dog Click, the hell-hound, but it has. It was ten years ago today Age of Aces Books published it’s first—Captain Babyface: The Complete Adventures, gathering together all 10 of Steve Fisher’s tales of Captain Babyface and his battles against the skull-visaged Mr. Death that ran in the pages of Dare-Devil Aces in 1936.

Over the past ten years we’ve published the best names in weird World War I fiction from the tattered pages of the old pulp magazines. In addition to Steve Fisher, we’ve published work from the illustrious likes of Robert J. Hogan (The Red Falcon and Smoke Wade), Donald E. Keyhoe (Captain Philip Strange, The Vanished Legion and The Jailbird Flight); C.M. Miller (Chinese Brady), Ralph Oppenheim (The Three Mosquitoes), William E. Barrett (The Iron Ace), Robert M. Burtt (Battling Grogan), O.B. Myers (The Blacksheep of Belogue), Arch Whitehouse (Coffin Kirk), Harold F. Cruickshank (Sky Devil), William Hartley (Molloy & McNamara), and Frederick C. Painton (The Squadron of the Dead). That’s quite a list and we’ve got more to come!

We’ve tried to make our website a place to help you Journey back to an Age of Aces by not only featuring content about our books—the authors we’ve published and artist we’ve printed, but also other aspects of the old air pulps that don’t make it into our books as well—The pulp covers and the stories behind them, the lives of the aces in pictures, and their most thrilling sky fights!

And there’s free fiction Fridays when we frequently post stories that can be downloaded and read! Since it’s our tenth year we’re trying to have more frequent content up on the site and more stories—trying to increase from one or two a month to practically every Friday—and from the authors we’ve published as well as recurring website favorites—Joe Archibald’s Phineas Pinkham and Lt. Frank Johnson’s Silent Orth.

So stop back often to journey back and here’s hoping for 10 more great years bringing you the best of old air pulps in a new package!

The Three Mosquitoes in “Dark Skies” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 17, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

“LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.

Were back with the third of three Three Mosquitoes stories we’re presenting this month. Every night at 11pm the Boche have been raining down bombs from seemingly nowhere with ever increasing accuracy—slowly getting closer to the Allies big supply dump in Remiens! Kirby, Shorty and Trav race to find out where the bombs are coming from and stopping them before the Boche finally hit their target! From the December 1930 number of War Birds, the Three Mosquitoes fly into Dark Skies!

Each day those death-dealing bombs came winging down out of space. Every ship on the Front rammed its nose into the skies on the vengeance trail, but their eager guns found nothing. Then came that mysterious light to taunt the Three Mosquitoes into the greatest mystery of their career.

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page!

The Three Mosquitoes vs. “The Riderless Plane” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 10, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THEIR familiar war cry rings out—“Let’s Go!” The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Captain Kirby, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Travis.

Were back with the second of three Three Mosquitoes stories we’re presenting this month. This week the inseparable trio tangle with the menace of the western front—the riderless plane! The mere thought of it sent a cold chill coursing up Kirby’s spine. It was all right to pit your skill and wits against an enemy pilot who, after all, was just a human being like yourself. But to face a freak plane which flew of its own accord, with its cockpit utterly empty—that was asking too much of any man. It seemed incredible, preposterous, this horrible machine without a pilot, shooting through the air like a streak, doing its deadly work, and then mysteriously vanishing. And yet, incredible as it was, it had taken its hold on the entire Allied air force and was slowly but surely breaking down their morale. From the February 1930 issue of War Birds, it’s “The Riderless Plane!”

Here, gang, is one of the great mysteries of the late war revealed at last! The hair seemed to rise beneath Kirby’s helmet, while a chill sensation of horror drove needles into his spine. He almost stalled the Spad as he kept staring, looking at that incredible sight—expecting to find his eyes deceiving him. The cockpit of that all-red plane was empty. It was the riderless plane!

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page! And come back next Friday or another exciting tale.

The Three Mosquitoes in “Devils of the Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 3, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

Yes! The Three Mosquitoes—the unseasonably warm weather has brought the Mosquitoes out of hibernation to help get through the cold winter months, at Age of Aces dot net it’s our third anualMosquito Month! We’ll be featuring that wiley trio in three early tales from the Western Front. This week we have their third tale—the classic “Devil in the Air” in which Kirby is determined to take on the Boche’s new Fokker all by himself to prove it can be done only to realize there’s no beating the Inseparable trio!

Here again is Kirby, the great leader of the “Three Mosquitoes.” The pilot of the new Fokker knew every trick, and Kirby matched him—then went into straight fighting. A brilliant air story—and one that is totally different.

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page! And come back next Friday or another exciting tale.

Ralph Oppenheim and Little Blue Books

Link - Posted by David on March 29, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

MARCH 29th is Ralph Oppenheim’s birthday! To mark the occasion we have an example of Oppenheim’s pre-pulp work. Oppenheim had his first pulp story printed just before he turned twenty in 1927, but he had been publishing work starting in 1926.

Ralph Oppenheim’s father was James Oppenheim who himself became a published author around the time of Ralph’s birth. James Oppenheim was a poet, novelist, editor and self-confessed Jungian. He is probably best remembered now as the founder and editor of the short-lived but ground breaking Seven Arts Journal. In addition to his own books, James had been contributing material to Haldeman-Julius’ LITTLE BLUE BOOK series of publications. Haldeman-Julius’ LITTLE BLUE BOOKS were an extensive series of small, pocket-sized booklets of generally 64 pages covering every topic under the sun. There were classics of fiction, drama, history, biography, philosophy, science, poetry and humor all in a 3½x5 inch package that was designed to be easily portable so the common man could improve his mind by reading in odd moments of the day.

James Oppenheim had compressed his own seminal volume, Songs for a New Age as well as a number of books on psycho-analysis and and some self-help titles. Ralph also got involved with Haldeman-Julius’ line of LITTLE BLUE BOOKS. He authored five titles in all, the first seeing publication in 1926—while Ralph was still 19!

His five titles in the LITTLE BLUE BOOKS line are:

  • The Splendors and Miseries of a Courtesan (No.1067, 64p. 1926)
    Oppenheim compresses Honore de Balzac’s story of a brilliant criminal who manipulates other people’s lives to his own satisfaction into a mere sixty-four pages.
  • The Love-Life of George Sand (No.1085, 64p, 1926)
    Oppenheim delves into George Sand’s love life—but narrows it down to a period when she conducted “experiments,” as she term it, with love as her test tube and her true object being to prove that a woman could live and love successfully on the same independent basis as a man. It is through the stories of these “experiments” that we can best study the character of this remarkable and exceptional woman.
  • Wagner’s Great Love Affair (No.990, 64p, c.1926)
    Oppenheim explores the story of Richard Wagner and the great love of his life Mathilde Wesendonck giving it a significance much greater than personal interest—for it is due to this tragic affair that Tristan and Isolde became what critics generally acclaim Wagner’s most perfect opera.
  • The Romance That Balzac Lived: Honore de Balzac and the Women He Loved (No.1213, 64p, 1927)
    The title says it all—Oppenheim presents a biography of Honore de Balzac—highlighting the romances that wove through his life and influenced his writing.
  • The Younger Generation and Its Attitude Toward Life (No.834, 64p, 1927)
    Oppenheim lays out a strong argument for why the younger generation of the day—1927—is the way it is. The difference here is that this is written by a member of said younger generation rather than a study by an outsider, i.e. adult.

Oppenheim states his credentials up front in his book on The Younger Generation thusly:

I am nineteen years of age, born in New York city, educated in public schools, out-of-town boarding schools, and High School. It is true that in my case I have been met with understanding, so that although my problems have been similar to those which confront the American youth of today, their handling was easier. I have made numerous acquaintances among my contemporaries, not only here but in various other parts of the country, and these associations have given me a fair conception of the situation. I am going to try my best to describe this situation with sufficient clarity and logic to convince the reader that there is another side to the question.

Here now as a bonus is Ralph Oppenheim’s The Younger Generation and it’s Attitude Toward Life!

“Enemy Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 18, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

We’re back with the third and final of three Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes stories we’re featuring this march for Mosquito Month! And this one’s a doozy! Kirby and the boys stumble upon a German spy ring and find themselves in one of their most dangerous missions yet that takes them all the way to a face to face meeting with Kaiser Wilhelm himself! You don’t want to miss it—it’s a true group effort as Travis gets to shine in this tale from the pages of the July 1929 issue of War Birds—when the boys find themselves in”Enemy Air!”

Espionage! That sinister, silent net of war that caught men ruthlessly in its grip and crushed them. Now, in the innocent shape of a Fokker, it challenged insolently to those three sky warriors—the Three Mosquitoes. A story with a most thrilling and startling climax.

“Mosquito Luck” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 11, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

“LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.

We’re back with the second of three tales of Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes we’re featuring this march for Mosquito Month! This week, the germans are advancing troops to the front on road 12, but all reconnaissance flights report no activity on road 12! So it’s up to the inseparable trio to unravel the mystery of road 12—all they need is a little “Mosquito Luck!” From the February 13th, 1930 issue of War Stories

Hordes of gray-green troops were being moved up to the Front in broad daylight, yet Allied intelligence had failed to find out how. That was the baffling mystery the colonel set before the “Three Mosquitoes.” And Kirby answered the challenge with their famous war whoop: “Let’s go!”

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

“The Phantom Zeppelin” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 4, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

MARCH is Mosquito Month! We’re celebrating Ralph Oppenheim and his greatest creation—The Three Mosquitoes! We’ll be featuring three early tales of the Mosquitoes over the next few Fridays as well as looking at Mr. Oppenheim’s pre-pulp writings. So, let’s get things rolling, as the Mosquitoes like to say as they get into action—“Let’s Go!”

The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Captain Kirby, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Travis.

Let’s get things rolling with a tale from the pages of the December 24th, 1928 issue of War Birds.
London is being mercilessly bombed night after night by some unseen craft. The Three Mosquitoes are called in to find out what is bombing London and how they have managed to do this without being seen. It’s a puzzling mystery that Kirby manages to unravel when he finds unwittingly finds himself a stowaway on “The Phantom Zeppelin.”

London was being mysteriously bombed by this “Phantom.” Forty miles within the German lines winged the famous Kirby. He was on the trail of the invisible raider.

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

The Man Behind The Mosquitoes Pt3

Link - Posted by David on February 26, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

By 1975, Ralph Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World had been going strong in the Poconos. One thing leads to another, and as with most things in his life, Ralph had veered off in a new direction—furniture making.

Magic Puppet World turning to furniture world, too

The Pocono Record, The Stroudsburgs, PA • 2 August 1975


Ralph Oppenheim finishes handmade chair in his barn workshop.

SCIOTA – Always at work on another project. Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim have patience.

They have a reputation for creating fascinating mechanized puppet shows but they have turned their talents lo making hand-tooled furniture, including luxurious dog beds.

They always seem to get involved in time-consuming projects. First it was puppet shows that take months of delicate adjustments and modifications before the figures act flawlessly. The latest is the construction by hand of a 26-piece dog bed wilh a modern art design. The project took three weeks.

The Oppenheims are asking $1,000 for the bed. They have beds of several designs on sale at the Animal Gourmet, a restaurant for dogs in New York City.

The furniture for humans appeals to people of more modest means. They are making tables, stools and chairs just as they were made in early America. No power tools are used to shape the wood and neither nails nor screws are used to piece it together.

All of the furniture is made with pine, either clear, knotty or Southern. It is fitted together with blind pegs. Like the other work the Oppenheims do, they design the furniture together. Ralph does the carpentry and Shirley does the finishing.

“You rarely see furniture that someone puts any artistry into.” Shirley said.

The furniture-making started after people saw their dog beds and suggested they make furniture for people too. Oppenheim, 68, has been a skilled carpenter and tinkerer with machines for years.

After World War II, Oppenheim gave up a career writing Fiction for pulp magazines to put together puppet shows, the thing that really interested him.

Mrs. Oppenheim helped out and 11 years ago they opened the Magic Puppet World. The attraction, on Bus. Rte. 209 between Snydersville and Sciota, was oriented toward children until a few years ago.

Then, the Oppenheims started working on a series of displays of modern sculptures in motion. To their surprise, their original art-in-molion creations appealed to children as well as adults.


Hand-carved statue of modern design.

Because of the changes, the place was renamed the Oppenheim Gallery and Puppet World. Oppenheim describes the new sculptures as expressionistic studies in motion. They are much more abstract and sophisticated than the earlier more conventional pieces.

“We feel we haven’t completely developed it even now,” Oppenheim said. They will continue to make mechanized pieces when their attention is diverted from the furniture they are making now.

“Whatever we are doing at the time seems the most important.” Oppenheim said.

The early pieces are miniature shows. Lasting about a minute, the two- and three-inch high figures move and interact on a stage, their movements guided by an intricate network of fine silk threads.

Five of the shows are circus acts. The rest are children’s storybook scenes. An aerobatic act and an assembly line of a sausage factory are among the shows. A half dozen figures guided by 25 or 30 strings, each with a specific purpose, comprise each show.

The first one made was an animal circus act. It uses a motor-driven rotating cylinder with cams that push levers connected strings that manipulate the figures. The cylinder rotates once, taking about a minute, to create all of the movement of the figures.

To design such a piece, it is necessary lo plan the motion of several figures at once and prevent all of the strings from becoming tangled.

“By the time you get finished, you have to go back and do it over again, usually,” Oppenheim said. He slowly became experienced in selecting motors and other parts for the displays, accepting advice from parts dealers.

Oppenheim began the work without any mechanical training. Computer experts vacationing in the area who stopped to see the show told Oppenheim that the cam design is similar to cam designs used in some modern computers, Oppenheim said. They assumed he had some background in engineering, which he does not have, Oppenheim said.

“When it came to these things, I didn’t even know about gears, how they work,” Oppenheim said. “It was all trial and error up to a point.”

In one of the shows, a lion tamer sticks his head in a lion’s mouth. In another, a balerina walks down stairs and her partners dance. All are coordinated to music, accomplished originally with use of a stop watch.

“It took three months to get her to walk down the stairs to the tune of the music,” Oppenheim said. “The entire piece took over a year to make” working off and on, he said.

Major industries, including the Ford Motor Company, AT&T and Westinghouse, several years ago contracted with the Oppenheims to custom make puppet shows for display at trade conferences, museums and at the New York World’s Fair in 1964-65.

Always, they would work together, sometimes day and night for weeks, to complete the projects on time, they said.

“Both of us tear each other’s work apart and it really becomes a collaboration.” Mrs. Oppenheim said. She attended Cooper Union, a New York City art school, majoring in design.

Recently, the Oppenheims discontinued making ceramic and copper jewelry. They had no time for that project along with all of the others they have going.

 

With Ralph’s death in August 1978, Shirley closed up the Oppenheim Gallery and Puppet World and moved back to New York City to be near family. She passed away in 2006.

The Man Behind The Mosquitoes Pt2

Link - Posted by David on February 25, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

All three of these articles from The Pocono Record cover essentially the same ground. (Today’s and tomorrow’s have pictures of the man himself included.) Here it’s been six years since the first article, and the Oppenheims—Ralph and his wife Shirley—have expanded upon The Magic Puppet World, now adding The Jewelry Fair with handcrafted jewelry; The Luck-Lore Center where patrons can buy amulets and other objects of luck from age-old beliefs; The Humorosity Mart which featured the Oppenheim’s own line of hilarious souvenirs and gift-novelties; and The Trinketorium—exciting jewlry, puppets and novelties for children.

Puppetry reaches zenith at Oppenheim’s

By BILL ZELLERS (The Pocono Record, The Stroudsburgs, PA • 22 July 1972)

SNYDERSVILLE – Puppetry, which can be traced back as far as Greece in 300 B.C., has reached its culmination in the animated figures of Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World.

Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim have devoted 15 years of their lives to developing this form of entertainment and they have been running their automated show in the poconos for eight years now.

Oppenheim is not sure just what to call the shows he puts on since some of the figures are moved by strings like marionettes, but the fingers pulling the strings are automated and are moved by cams on a drumb.

He takes a couple of months to set up just one of these shows, Oppenheim says. First he has to think up a story for the little figures to act out. After this he must program the figures for each of their moves, each movement of the figures requiring weeks of work.

The intricate moves of each of the puppets has to be gone over time and time again to get them right, he says.


Ballerinas twirl in mini-theater.

One of his creations, a ballet with seven ballerinas, took a year to create. It look him three months just to get one ballerina to move down a set of stairs.

The staging is also important in these shows. Oppenheim likes the small three-inch puppets better, because they can be moved more easily and can act out a more detailed story on the small stage and are more impressionistic.


Fearsome Gulliver, four-and-a-half-foot marionette, glares down from stand along Lilliput Road at Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World—one of many puppets moved by automated mechanisms.

The larger puppels such as a four-foot Gulliver and a shoemaker and elves are controlled by wires from underneath. This allows for more fluid movement, he says.

Seventeen shows make up the program at the puppet world. Lilliput road goes by the stages of the three-inch puppets, which act out shows that run for one minute each.

All the stories for the shows are ones that Oppenheim has thought up or that come from fairy tales. Other are acts, such as the lion tamer act, and some acrobats.

Oppenheim carves all his figures himself and has put on industrial shows for companies such as Bell Telephone and Westinghouse.

His shows are not only for children, but interest adults as well.


Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim take in the sun in front of the Magic Puppet World and a board bearing examples of good luck charms sold in the World adjunct, Luck Lore Center. (Staff photos by Bill Zellers)

In front of the barn which holds the automated puppetry is the Jewelry Fair and the Luck Lore Center. The Jewelry Fair contains ceramics and wood earrings, pins, rings and Bobos for string ties made especially for children.

The Luck Lore center is a new feature at the puppet world. Here are replicas of all sorts of amulets and good luck charms based on ancient beliefs.

There are signs of the zodiac, African fetish charms, South American and Middle Eastern amulets, a tranquility amulet and a Teraphim with divining stones which is supposed to help people make important decisions.

“I don’t guarantee that they will work,” Oppenheim says, “but the psychological effect of believing in one might leave you with a better feeling.”

Magic Puppet World is on business Route 209 between Snydersville and Sciota. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from May 30 until Labor Day.


An ad for Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World from 1972 showing the diversification that the Oppenheims had expanded to.

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