Thursday, March 15, 2012

What is it about those Mainers?

I've just been reading through an amusing little book of Maine postcards from 1900-1920. The book was compiled by Deborah H. Gould and is entitled: Father is Here...He's as Fat as a Pig. Believe it or not, the title comes from a message on the back of one of the cards.

Some of the fronts of the postcards are featured in the book too, but the real focus is on the messages.  The book is tiny, barely larger than a postcard itself, but it is full of great messages:

Monday Morning I am feeling fine expect to get a new leg today.

Everything went fine, except the fire...

Do you remember the fat man we saw out here Aug 2

Sister I did not go to the fair after all. Jimmy brought home some real bananas kinder think he'll die before morning.

I have looked at a lot of postcards and I also tend to focus on the message side, but I have never seen so many unusual, cryptic, and hilarious messages on postcards. I wondered how Deborah was able to find these. She must have spent years going through boxes in antique stores and flea markets.

I also wondered if the unusual nature of the messages had something to do with the fact that they are all from Maine.  I have a number of Maine postcards. Here are a few.

Very few of my Maine postcards have any message at all on the back, including the ones that were sent. None of these do, not even the last one, sent in 1925 to Miss Elizabeth Hall on Great Diamond Isle in Portland, Maine. No message, not even a signature. I know that Mainers have a reputation for saying very little, so I assumed that this might account for the lack of messages.

Maybe the cards with the great messages never make it out of the state. I don't know. I noticed something else about the messages in the book though. Fat is mentioned in a number of the messages, something I found very unusual. I have also never seen haint written on a card, as in Dear Sister I haint heard from you for some time... I think it was a good idea to limit the cards in the book to Maine cards, because you get a sense of the place as well as the era.

If you want to take a closer look at the book or order one for yourself, you can find it here on


  1. What a fabulous idea, writing a postcard book with the emphasis on the messages, particularly with a regional focus. Would make a fascinating website too. (nope, not me....I'm at capacity!)

  2. Mainers' do indeed seem have a certain reserved quality to them, perhaps that includes a dry sense of humor that some of the messages might suggest. Can't say in my time there that I noticed an unusually high percentage of overweight individuals (I didn't see the nice Union Station shown on the second card either, since they mowed it down in the 60's for a strip plaza...). Maybe 100 years ago there were actually so few fat people there that seeing one was almost like a sideshow act at the circus, so they mentioned it.

  3. My grandfather, to whom I was closest to, was born in Bangor, Maine in 1900. You seem to be having some posts that hit close to home! He had a great sense of humor and had an affinity to his home state that went well beyond my own.

  4. That postcard of the old Portland train station is a treasure. To this day Portland folks lament the demolition of it in the 1960's. Aya! Thanks for sharin those down Maine postcahds. :)



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