Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Do Not Cycle

The problem with a postcard, or even a letter, is that you may not know what was communicated in previous correspondence, so there are invariably mysteries.  There's nothing mysterious about the front of the card, but the message could use some explanation.
Wilf sent this card from Coventry, UK in May 1910 to Miss Polly Lee in Bridgnorth.
Here's the back of the card.

The message reads:
Dear Polly
have just received your letter but shall not be able to answer it very soon as I have got to go to Coventry for the Sunbeam on a little bit of business so I cannot say how long I shall be before I shall get back but I expect it will be Tuesday but I will write as soon as I can! I Do Not Cycle? Wilf

What could he mean? 

Here's a picture of Polly's house, courtesy of Google.

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I revised this post based on the comments below. Yes, it's Sunbeam, as in bicycles. And here's a great link to a blog that talks about Coventry's role in the bicycle industry. Those Sunbeams were beautiful. Here's the link that Lisa provided ion the comments below:


  1. He meant he doesn't recycle. [ :) ]

  2. "Coventry for the sunbeach"!! I have been to Coventry a good few times and rarely have I seen the sun shine, and certainly I have never come across a beach!

  3. Oh I love a good mystery too, and people's inside jokes and knowledge can sure lead to so much wonder. I too, was first puzzled by sunbeach? What did he mean? Now after Alan's remark I wonder even more! Recycle back then? Well yes they did a good amount of using stuff over and over or to good use, but no that word did it exist back then in everyday talk? Her house is just really cute, I'm glad you posted a photo of it....I have to do some research too, about this sunbeaching stuff for sure!!!

  4. I would have expected an exclamation point instead of a question mark if he was saying he didn't cycle, perhaps she mistakenly said he didn't and he was suggesting otherwise. Wilf seems a bit of a whirlwind in his writing, he might be a little tough to handle in person... Like the image on the card, not sure why it is broken into a triptych form though- to add some horizontality to compensate for the hyper elongated bodies?

  5. I think Polly must have reported a local bicycle accident, and Wilf wants to keep her off bicycles for her safety. :)

  6. I think it reads 'Sunbeam' (not Sunbeach) and the Sunbeam was a bicycle, and for some reason Wilf does not want Polly to think he is a cyclist (why I don't know) or is the I a bracket of some kind and he is warning her of the dangers of cycling.
    There were at a later date motorcycles called Sunbeams which I think have a Coventry connection, so maybe prior to making the motorcycles, sunbeam bicycles were also made in Coventry.

  7. Yep, Lisa is right, it is definitely 'Sunbeam', well known cycle manufacturers.

  8. Thanks Lisa and Howard!
    This is what makes blogging so interesting. I knew it didn't make sense, but I wasn't sure what did. Thanks for solving the puzzle for me.



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