Tales from the Past...Old Postcards

Category: What on Earth!?

Three a.m. has been an excellent time to wash bibs and go through old postcards that we found in the house.  Don't ask why I've been up at three a.m.

We have hundreds of postcards from the 1890's through the 1980's.  In rummaging through  them, I've noticed that many of them are ongoing conversations that span many postcards so I only get a short idea of what is being said.  Sometimes the messages sound like the ones which Garrison Keillor reads on his Prairie Home Companion Show...snippets of information sent through Keillor to the folks listening back home.  Other times, the lack of context can be very confusing.  For example...

niagra_sm.jpg

On the back, here is what it says:

Dated:  Feb 6 1921...Niagara Falls, NY...7 pm

Have been on the walk for nearly 4 hours on our old tracks.  Father

This makes me so curious.  What walk?  Which tracks?  What is the backstory?  I've been to Niagara Falls...was I on those tracks?  Ah, well.  I'll never know.

Then there is this postcard...

palais_sm.jpg

Message:

Dated:  July 16, 1930...Cherbourg...via S.S. Europa

You're a hound and probably don't deserve a card - but I'll send you one anyway.  How do you like my front porch?  Honest, it is!  My address is Conservatoire Americain - in case the bus leaves town.  Love, baby

Or this one (which is one of my favorites):

texasSteer_sm.jpg

Message:

Dated: Feb 27, 1908...San Antonio, TX...9:30 am

Murray, we was riding an auto yesterday from 11:30 till about 8 PM.  All kinds of trouble.  Will tell you the rest when I see you.  Help Mamma all you can.  Your Papa

These all seem like ideal jumping off points for writing a short story.  All of these writers have provided a tiny little window to peer out of...like the window of a moving train...we catch a glimpse, an impression of an exchange, and we are left to assemble the rest.

Not that I have scads of time to write short stories.  Which leads me to the obligatory picture of Miss Grace...my new general contractor, site boss and taskmaster.
 

graceface_sm.jpg

She's a slavedriver, all right!


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Comments

I find reading old postcards can be very addicting! I unearthed my Great Grandmother and grandmothers cache recently. Those of us with active imaginations enjoy expanding the story, and or wondering about the full context of the message. What's frustrating is I know something about these people! I suppose some were intentionally cryptic as postcards are notoriously read by postmasters, landlords and future generations.

cutest slavedriver I have ever seen!

Ohhhh, she looks so alert! What a cutie!

"What big beautiful eyes you have!"

"All the better to spot the tasks that my parents need to compolete!"

Just looked at my Sunday NY Times magazine-- The issue is all about real estate and your blog got a mention in a one page article about young couples who buy fixer-uppers.

I can't seem to find an on-line link but if you get the paper you can't miss the article.
Cheers.
Daniela, Philadelphia, PA

Your postcards sound like a treasure trove. /the questions you pose about what really went on are the just the kind that drive the passion of historians.

Robert Olen Butler, a contemporary writer of literary fiction, recently published a book titled "Wish You Were Here: Stories from Postcards" which uses antique postcards to form the seeds of ideas for short stories. His piece titled "Mother in the Trenches" is a haunting slice of one soldier's experience during World War I.

What amazes me is how big the US falls are on the first postcard, I'm sure it's about a tenth the size now!

 

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