Saturday, January 17, 2015

WRITING ON POSTCARDS...

I’ve got lots of old postcards, but I never can remember what’s on the front of them...Flowers, waterfalls, fat lambs with snowy fleece; windmills, mountain views, chickens or contented cows; old men sitting on stone walls, cheerful fireplaces in wayside taverns?
          I never know.
          I pay attention to the backside, to the messages written on the back; I search for the clever ones, the ones in secret codes, the ones that make me laugh out loud.
          I even published a book about messages on old postcards: Father is here...he’s as fat as a pig—you can Google it!

I’m always entranced, though, by the postcards that are real photographs of places and people; sometimes I buy them because I’m familiar with the place—I make the then/now comparison. And sometimes I buy them because of the clothing people are wearing...

Here’s three of those:

I don’t know who Harry is, but I suspect he’s married to the woman to whom he sent this card in the early 1900s. It’s a photo of Hammond Street in Bangor, Maine, and Harry has numbered highlights on the photo and written the key on the side.
          “You’ll know as much about this town as I will pretty soon,” he writes. “Don’t forget to kiss the kid for me...”


Union, Maine
The writer, Mrs. Willson, has crossed out the “South” in “South Union” and written “East” instead – she probably lived there, so I’m guessing she’s right. It’s 1903, and probably spring, since the river has washed over the wooden bridge!
          “Dear Mrs. Greenwood,” she begins. “I guess Mamie is enjoying herself—as we have pitcher of new cider in the house...”
          I have visions of Mamie, drunk as a skunk on the cider, careening down the street in East Union...



And, finally, the most sincere wishes of J. P. Lyman; white-shirted, vested, collared; a spiffy bow tie and a flower in his lapel.
“How about a game of bowling,” he says on the back, “if I ever get to Portland?”
         

I don’t know about you, but I’d certainly go bowling with handsome JP Lyman...strike, spare or whatever!

18 comments:

  1. I like finding interesting messages, but it seems like there are way too many "standardized" messages--we are well, hoping you are the same, please write, etc.

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    1. I agree -- but I've learned to take my time; sit there with a fistfull, turn them around and just read the messages on the back...those people were really funny!

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  2. J.P. is certainly a fine looking fellow. I'd go bowling with him in a minute, too! But he'd probably be appalled at my lack of talent in that area! I love to bowl, but I'm not very good at it. Oh well . . .

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    1. That makes two of us, Gail -- but I'd still give it a try with JP!

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  3. The only postcards I seem to get nowadays are from my dentist!

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    1. Oh, that's sad. I'll have to remedy that...

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  4. Most of the old postcards I've found are blank on the back, but I agree, odd messages can be very entertaining when you come across them.

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    1. Maybe it's a New England thing, Jo -- sellers up here have boxes and boxes of old postcards...with writing! I think they find them in estate sales...

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  5. I keep searching the local flea market but never seem to find any with interesting comments on them. Our children had the habit of sending cards to one another with a standardised comment (Glad you're not here!)

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    1. One of my favorites, Bob, is: "The weather is here; wish you were beautiful!"

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  6. I love your funny postcards. I recently transcribed one for the historical society in which a young girl was describing the latest fashions she had seen in Richmond, Virginia. She told her friend to get a pattern "and for heaven sakes sew a band around the bottom." Not as funny as the cider drinker, but still cute, for heaven sakes.

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    1. We tend to think of them as stolid, even dour...but when these little glimpses of lightheartedness come through on those postcards, we realize how wrong we are!

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  7. These are great. I’ve kept a few of my own and my family’s purely because of the messages, but they are all written on the reverse.

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  8. Hang onto those old family cards! I've got a family ones, too -- from children to their parents; parents to children, parents to each other.

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  9. Oh, the vision of Mamie 'hitting the bottle'!

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    1. I know...can't you just see her staggering down the street, heading for that washout? Must have been pretty potent cider!

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  10. I remember seeing your book on Amazon and I probably put it in my shopping cart. Never got around to buying it, but I'll have to take another gander.

    These are quite fun. I don't remember any of the cards in my collection being funny, but I did find some very funny letters at the flea market. A young boy writing home to his mom. Sadly the letters his mother wrote to another person spoke very unkindly of the boy.

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    1. That's sad! I found a whole collection of letters written to a mother from a son who was a student at Harvard...this in the early 1900s. Managed to locate a relative; sent all those letters to the Harvard student's granddaughter, who lives near Boston! What fun that was!

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