On her first day on the job at Loyola Marymount University, Justine Clancy received a million post cards.
What Clancy inherited, as the head of the university's special collections section, was possibly the world's largest deposit of "wish you were heres."
"There are about a million," she said, "though we've only catalogued one-third of them in the three years I've been here."
Clancy said the Oakland Public Library previously had claimed the largest post card collection. That cache, however, amounts to no more than half a million.
Most of Loyola's missives were a gift from one person, the late photographer Werner von Boltenstern, who also founded an international post card collectors group (deltiologists, they call themselves). He donated the cards in the 1960s with the proviso that the treasure never be broken up.
The cards were promptly forgotten and sat in filing cabinets for two decades. But when Clancy came to the university, she saw them as a unique reference source with historic value.
Curiosities on display include German cards dating to the early 1800s, "Wanted" poster/cards of bad guys in the Old West, cards made of metal and linen, even a 78-r.p.m. Christmas recording by Rosemary Clooney that is stamped into a card advertising a 1956 Ford.
Among local oldies, Clancy found a 1905 leather greeting that shows a man and woman sitting on a hammock with the inscription, "I'm having a fine time in Los Angeles." (It looks like it was a clear day.)
Is Clancy still accepting donations?
"Sure," she said, "but, ideally, the person would also donate some cabinetry to hold them."
Southern California was the birthplace of kookie automobile commercials, beginning with dealer Earl (Madman) Muntz, who dressed in Napoleonic hat and red long johns in the 1940s and shouted: "I want to give them away, but Mrs. Muntz won't let me. She's crazy!"
There followed such offbeat television characters as Les ("Get off your couch and come on down to Hermosa Beach") Bacon, Chick Lambert with his dog Storm, and Cal Worthington with his non-dogs named Spot. So the employees at Glenn Thomas Dodge in Long Beach are only upholding tradition with their distinctly 1980s approach. They rap-sing their television pitch. Honest.
More than a dozen people phoned The Times Sunday night to report a mysterious aerial sight in the Encino area. "Two large bright orange lights, right next to each other," one caller said. "They moved away for a few seconds, then came back."
No explanation yet for the spacemen who got away, as usual.