Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Be care full of the pumpkins
don't get afraid
Hope you are well

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Boulder Damned

Oh sure, this sounds like fun...reminds me of the Catacombs of Paris! Would you like to descend 528 feet below the roadway crest of Boulder Dam and be led into a dark, tiled corridor and then find yourself cornered by a menacing group of the UNDEAD? Be my guest. I'll look at the dam from above and save this for some future Halloween adventure when I really want to be creeped out.

More Alternative Transportation -The Gama

The caption under this photo says "A Lady on the Chair Korean Gustoms." Litters and sedan chairs were used in many countries, including England, China, Turkey, and Korea. They were being used in one form as early as 250 BC. designs varied from one culture to another and also changed over time. Some were elegant and elaborately decorated and designed for use by royalty and other elite individuals. Others were fairly basic and used for public conveyance, similar to taxi service.

In Korea, the chairs were known as gama. They were generally used for royalty and government officials. They were also used for weddings though, with the bride and groom arriving in separate gamas. This one shown on this card is most likely a wedding gama, because it is relatively plain compared to the elaborate ones used by royalty and government. As with the Latin American Silla (see yesterday's post), gamas were preferred over wheeled transportation because of uneven terrain and lack of paved roads.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Alternative Transportation- The Silla

Looking at this picture, you wonder why the Cargador ( carrier or loader) doesn't transport his passenger in a wheeled vehicle. Although the pavement here looks flat, these chairs, known as Sillas, were preferred over wheeled transport in areas of Latin America with steep terrain and unpaved roads. The chair is supported by a rope or band that goes around the top of the carrier's head. Additional support is supplied by ropes held by the carrier or by the carrier holding on to chair legs. On a steep uphill climb, the passenger would be facing downhill. Although the passenger was most likely strapped to the chair, it looks very precarious.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Juarez, Mexico - O'Brien's Riverside Cafe

Prohibition in the U.S. during the 1920's and 30's was a boon for the entertainment business south of the border. O'Brien's Riverside Cafe in Juarez was happy to serve alcohol to Americans willing to take the short trip across the river.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Prohibition-The Noble Experiment

This card was sent in 1919, just before the enactment of Prohibition, which prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol for consumption in the United States. Prohibition was enacted as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution (the 18th Amendment.) President Woodrow Wilson did not support Prohibition, but was unable to stop Congress from passing the act to enable it. People did not stop drinking because of Prohibition (what a surprise!), but instead went to speakeasies and manufactured their own alcohol. Prohibition became increasingly unpopular, and in 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution repealed the 18th Amendment.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Stockholm, Sweden

Every Sunday I'm posting a card featuring a streetcar, tram or trolley. This is the third one, but there are lots more to come.

The most striking thing about this picture is not the streetcar or tram, it's the fact that the cars are driving on the wrong side of the street. Sweden had a long history of driving on the left, even in carts and buggies and on horseback, and all the way back to the 1700s.  In the 1920s, serious discussion began about changing to right-hand drive, but attempts to change the status quo were repeatedly voted down. Finally, in 1963 the move to right-hand drive was approved, but it required so many changes to intersections, bus stops, signage, and signals, that it wasn't implemented until 1967.

September 3, 1967 was designated as Dagen H or H Day (which is short for Högertrafikomläggningen), the day for the switch to right-hand traffic. At 4:50 AM, all traffic was stopped and had to move to the opposite side of the street. Then, at 5:00 AM, traffic was allowed to proceed again.

The trams in Stockholm were unfortunate victims of the change to right-hand drive, as they were all replaced with buses. Old buses were retro-fitted to include doors on both sides and new buses were bought with doors on the right-hand side. In recent years, the Swedish Tramway Society has worked valiantly to re-introduce trams to downtown Stockholm, although they are mostly operated by dedicated volunteers.

Click here if you want to find out more about the Swedish Tramway Society or become a member.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nice, France

The top postcard may be more colorful, but I love the human element in the second one. These are circa 1910.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marie Blowing Bubbles

Marie Studholme was a British actress and singer, born in 1872. She started her stage career in 1891 at the Lyric Theatre in London, and starred in many musical comedies after that.  Because of her beauty, and perhaps her charm, she was widely photographed. In 1904, Marie brought a successful lawsuit against a London dentist who altered her image and used it to advertise his services. She retired from the stage in 1915.

Paris - Le Palais du Trocadéro

The Palais du Trocadéro was built for the 1878 World's Fair in the form of a large concert hall with two wings. It contained a large organ, the first to be installed in a concert hall in France. The organ was eventually moved to Lyon where it is still in use.
The Palais du Trocadéro, which was not particularly popular with the French, was demolished to make way for the new Palais de Chaillot for the Exposition Internationale of 1937.

This card was sent on August 10, 1918, three months before the end of World War I. The message reads:
Hello Mor:
Just to say that that just over here and still able to do my little share in this big thing. Regards to all the folks, I am

The card was also passed and stamped by censors and marked by the recipient as answered on 9/14/18.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Order for Shoes and Boots

This card is a wholesale order for boots and shoes, sent to John Leutz, Allentown, PA in 1895. The order was filled; you can see the word "booked" written in pencil over the order...also a blue check mark. It's not easy to decipher though. This is what I can make out of the message:
Please ship us
1 Case Ladies gums low cut
(various sizes listed)
12 pr boys gum shoes 1 to 5
6 pr misses gums #2
1pr boys gums #5 low cut fancy
If not all ready received ship us 6 pr boys gum boots leather sole #5
1 pr #8 shoes for felt boots.
yours truly
J S Wentz Co
Hazelbrook, PA  3/11/95

But J.S Wentz Co. was not a shoe seller, it was a coal mining operation! What were they doing ordering all these shoes and boots? I can only guess that since the company provided housing for its workers, it may have also operated a company store.

There was a history of labor disputes at J.S. Wentz. The Auburn Bulletin of June 23, 1887 reported a judgment for $300 in favor of six miners who had their "goods and chattels thrown into the streets" when they were evicted from the houses of J.S. Wentz Co. They were also awarded back pay. It was reported that J.S. Wentz Co. planned to appeal the case. The company's owner, John S. Wentz, was a millionaire and lived in Philadelphia at 38th and Locust streets.

In 1903, Edward Wentz, the son of John S. Wentz, disappeared in Virginia on his way to meet with land agents. A $30,000 reward was offered for his return alive or for the capture of his murderers. I think they were pretty much resigned to the fact that he had been murdered. All of the mining operations of the Wentz estate and the Virginia Coal and Iron Co. were suspended and the 1,000 miners, who earned $2 a day, were ordered to join in the search. It was suspected that Edward had fallen victim to a mountain clan in retribution for his crusade against squatters and moonshiners. His family dismissed rumors that Edward may have left the country because of a love disappointment, saying that he had no particular interest in any woman (Source: NY Times, October 24, 1903.)

Edward Wentz had indeed been slain, however it was not true that he had no particular interest in a woman either. In his will he left $500,000 to his fiancee, Cornelia Brookmire of St. Louis, Missouri.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Helena, Montana

Here's a lovely turn-of-the-century view of downtown Helena, Montana. I tried to figure out what's going on in the middle of the street and wondered if maybe it was some sort of early street sweeper. If you double-click on the picture, you can take a closer look and maybe you can tell what's going on. The message reads:
Thanks for your pretty card. Hoping to hear from you soon.
Your Friend,
Daniel E. Fowler
For more information and historic pictures of Helena, click here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pforzheim, Germany

This card was sent on May 20th, 1912
The message reads:
Dear Laura,
This card is to show you that there are a lot of pretty houses in Pforzheim. We have met a lot of nice people and have been out together in the Black Forest. I will write you a letter sometime soon, am anxious to hear from you. We have had some fine auto rides through the Black Forest. This week we move to little place right in the forest. Gertie will stay all summer. Love to you all from us all.
Lovingly, Mae
Pforzheim was (and still is) known for its jewelry and watch making. During WWII, the Allies thought that precision war instruments were being manufactured here. Because of that, Pforzheim was bombed numerous times, with one final air raid in 1945 killing over a quarter of the city's population and destroying 83% of the buildings.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Detroit without Automobiles

Just in case you missed last Sunday, I will be posting a street scene featuring streetcars every Sunday. Last week was Boston, This week it's Detroit, Michigan.
Detroit was a transportation hub long before the automobile. At the turn of the century Detroit was also known as the "Paris of the West" because of its beautiful architecture. Henry Ford built his first automobile here in 1896 and founded the Ford Motor Co. in 1904.  However, there is not a single automobile on the Detroit streets of  this picture, only streetcars and horse-drawn carriages.
The card was sent in 1907 and the message on the front reads:
How are you all. Maggie and I here for a few days.
4/22/07 Charles

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yamato Hotel-South Manchurian Railway

The Yamato Hotel was not in Japan as its name might imply.  It was actually in Lushun Port, China, formerly known as Port Arthur. Although I read somewhere that the hotel still exists, I couldn't confirm it, so I refer to it in the past tense.
The South Manchurian Railway (founded by the Empire of Japan) maintained five Yamato hotels in southern Manchuria in an effort to open up this undeveloped, mineral-rich part of China. Some of them are still operational, in case you're planning a trip to Manchuria. The hotels were reportedly very elegant, western-style hotels. From this picture, it looks as if they stood in stark contrast to their surroundings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Can't Judge a Flapper's Appetite...

I love the way she looks off into the distance as if she's contemplating what she will order next. More champagne?  This flapper girl from the 20's certainly knows how to live it up. Dancing the Charleston burns off a lot of calories.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Embroidered Silk Postcard

The recipient of this card may well have been the mother of "wee Edith" from yesterday's post. This silk embroidered card was made in France. The cards were very popular among soldiers stationed in France at the end of WWI, so it's not surprising that the golden years for cards of this kind were from 1914-1920. They rarely had postmarks because they were sent via free soldier mail, although sometimes they were also sent in envelopes to protect the fabric.
The text on the card reads:
Dear Mrs. Bee
Just a P.C. for Auld Times Sake. Hoping you are all in the Best of Health.
Love From

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wee Edith

This card, sent in 1917 to Edith in Edinburgh, Scotland, reads:
My Dear wee Edith,
This is the P.C. I promised you. Tell ma, and my two wee sisters I received their letters alright and was glad to get them. Katie arrived safe and sound. Love to all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dallas, Texas

This is one scary looking expressway! It seems like there would have been a lot of on and off merging collisions. What's really amusing is that if you want detailed information about the freeways of Texas, there is a website just for you:  Freeway nerds unite! Unfortunately, this express highway doesn't qualify as a freeway (those came later), so you can't get the history on this one on that website. There are lots of maps and photos of other freeways though and some history back to the 50's. But I would really like to know more about this expressway and how long it "worked" and what they did next (uh-oh, I may be a nerd.)
There appear to be be lots of trees and residential areas on either side of the expressway, so can we assume the entire expressway swath was also housing and trees that had to be cleared? I don't know the answer. The September 19, 1949 issue of Life magazine carried an article about the opening of the first two miles of the 11-mile expressway, saying that it was opened to the "blare of bands and the joy of its citizens, and that it would speed motorists out of the city's heart at 50 mph."

Love Field was the main airport for Dallas until 1974, the year that the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport opened. This is the airport of my dreams; it looks like you could park right next to the terminal and walk to the tarmac. That's very exciting. It also appears that you could stand outside and watch the planes land and take off from the second-story balcony.  I would be so happy, I wouldn't even care if I had to drive there on that scary expressway. Dallas Love Field still operates as a secondary airport for Dallas.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Chicks Have Arrived in Raymond, NH

Jesse writes:
Received the chicks all right  send me how much they are and we will send it
with love
 I think you can still order chicks through the mail. I had a friend who did it years ago. They arrived (lots of them!) in what looked like a pizza box. Even though it was after hours, a post office sorter called her and asked her to come pick them up. I think the peeping sounds were driving them crazy.  I just checked an online site for fun and it looks like you can still order chicks through the mail. The scarier part is that some of the businesses accept returns! Poor little chicks.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Boston, MA

Looking through old postcards, I realize how many cities and even very small towns had streetcars. Some still exist or have been brought back, but many disappeared in the 1950s. So, every Sunday I will highlight a postcard featuring streetcars, trams, trolleys, and cable cars. Stay tuned! I encourage comments from readers who are familiar with the particular systems and their history.

The first city in this series is Boston. Years ago, I read a very interesting book by Sam Bass Warner entitled Streetcar Suburbs: The Process of Growth in Boston, 1870-1900, which traces the influence of the streetcar on the pattern of housing development in the suburbs of Boston.  In the mid- to late 1800's, people generally walked to work. Streetcars enabled people to move out of the downtown, so that the inner city became an area of commerce. Lower-income residential areas surrounded the inner core and wealthier residents moved farther out.  Although the book is specifically about Boston, a similar process took place in many other cities.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gerald Matthews' Museum of Un-Natural History


Recently, we took a trip to Walla Walla, Washington. Along the way I tried to pick up postcards, but to no avail! Small towns don't seem to have postcards anymore. We were determined to get a postcard for Uncle Milton in the town of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, but we looked everywhere and finally gave up. Poor Uncle Milt.

Luckily for us, there was a veritable postcard bonanza in Walla Walla. We had seen a postcard for the Museum of Un-Natural History and I was pretty excited about going there. At first I was discouraged when I read that it was only open on Saturdays and the first Friday of each month, but then I also saw that it was open by appointment. Not being shy, we called to make an appointment and Gerald Matthews answered the phone and said he would meet us there in 20 minutes.

When we arrived, Leon Redbone was playing in the background and various mechanical exhibits were turning and whirring. Mr. Matthews was eager to tell us about all of the pieces and about his interesting life (he has been a clown, an actor, and the voice of Sugar Bear...remember Sugar Bear?) Visiting this museum is a little bit like going to a carnival. Mr. Matthews readily admits that some people hate it and leave in disgust. The museum is full of humor, sarcasm, absurdism, and political commentary. It's also full of beautiful and haunting images. If you're ever in Walla Walla, you should definitely make a point of stopping by.  If you aren't, you may want to take a look at the website; it doesn't give you the full flavor, but it does give you a hint of the nature of the place.

Walla Walla feels like it's in the middle of nowhere (because it is), but it has great wine and fabulous restaurants out there surrounded by wheat fields. Equally strange was the fact that we kept running into Eric Idle everywhere we went (remember him from Monty Python?)
Check out the Museum of Un-Natural History at:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Vintage Tacky Hawaiian

I'm not an expert on the Hawaiian language, but even I recognize that this Hickey Dula nonsense bears no resemblance to real Hawaiian words. What I didn't know is that these Hawaiian Territory cards from the 1920's refer to lyrics from a well-known song composed in 1916 by  E. Ray Goetz,  Joe Young and Pete Wendling. Many famous musicians recorded this song, including Fats Waller, Al Jolson, and Woody Allen and His New Orleans Jazz Band! You can even get it as a ring tone for your cell phone. Where have I been? And although the song was designed to appeal to mainlanders entranced with tropical Hawaii, the strange song was also a big hit in Hawaii.

Here are the lyrics:
Down Hawaii way
Where I chanced to stray
I heard a hula maiden say; singin'
Yaaka hula hickey dula
Yaaka hula hickey doo

Down Hawaii way
By a moonlit bay
As I lingered awhile
She stole my heart away; singin'
Yaaka hula hickey dula
Yaaka hula hickey doo

Oh, I don't care if you love the ladies far and near
You'd forget about them all if you could hear
Yaaka hula hickey dula
Yaaka hula hickey doo

I'm coming back to you
My hula lou
Beside the sea at Waikiki
You'll play for me
And once again
You'll sway my heart your way
With the yaaka hula hickey dula tune Yaaka hula hickey dula
Yaaka hula hickey doo


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