Sunday, November 11, 2012


We probably all went through the “code” phase! I remember creating codes in grade school, usually simple letter substitution (s = a, like the daily cryptoquote in the newspaper) or number codes, where each number stood for a letter of the alphabet (1= a, 2 = b, 3 = c, etc.).  And I vaguely remember a Sci-Fi “decoder” ring that made the rounds – it had two rings of alphabets to make letter-substitution codes easier to transcribe. There were also some cardboard dividers in Shredded Wheat packages that had Native American codes written on them, although I’m pretty sure that was just an advertising scam.

But take a look at this: I found this postcard at a show in Portland, Maine, and bought it instantly – the code looked too good to pass. It took me a while to solve it, but it helps if you know the names of the sendee (Gertrude) and sender (Burleigh). It was mailed on July 29, 1910, in East Union, Maine.

Gertrude Mae Wentworth was born in Hope, Maine, in December of 1890, to Charles M. and Carrie P. Wentworth. By 1910, her family was living in Union, Maine – mother, father, Gertrude and her two sisters, Florence and Olive.

Burleigh Esancy was born in Union in September of 1890, son of William H. and Bertha E. Esancy; his younger sister was Beulah. His WWI draft card describes him as of medium height, medium build, light grey eyes and black hair.

I like to imagine that Burleigh and Gertrude were high school sweethearts – after all, they lived in the same town, their fathers were both farmers, they were probably in the same grade in school. At any rate, whenever their courtship started, it clearly succeeded: Burleigh and Gertrude were married on May 29, 1912. They had several children (Mabel, Bernard, Thelma, twins Agnes & Arlene, Winona, Herman, Arnold).

Burleigh Esancy died in 1967; Gertrude in 1980.

So, good luck with the code; let me know how you do!


  1. Hi, Deb ... Way cool! I am not too good at dechiphering other folks codes, but my BFF in junior high and I did make our own code, and this post bings back fond memories.

    Hope that you have wonderful week!

    1. I worked in public schools for years (ASL interpreter); kids STILL write notes in codes, and teachers still are able to solve most of them! Let me know if you can get this one...

  2. It looks sci-fi to me. It seems that someone wants to be hugged but that's all I can decipher.